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LinkedIn Hacked: What Security Precautions Can You Take When It Comes to Social Media?

Jun 8, 2012   //   by AmandaDi   //   Social Media  //  6 Comments

Whether it has affected you or not, a headline reading “LinkedIn Hacked: 6.5 Million Passwords Leaked to the Web” gets people thinking. Social media security has always been a constant discussion since the networks began to grow in popularity, yet as with many things security, businesses are still staying basic when it comes to protecting their accounts. While changing your password is a great idea and trying to monitor who you are connecting with might help deter a hacker, a business should be taking more serious precautions. Hackers can hurt not only your social media presence, but actually hurt your SEO if they can figure out a way into your website. This naturally brings us back to that very familiar question: What can I do to keep my accounts secure?

Tips and Tricks to Avoid a Social Media Breach

It first helps to understand a little bit about security. There are many different types of security software out there to help a business stay secure, but there aren’t many that focus specifically on social media. After all, security for other aspects of a business—finances, important records and documents, etc.—is often a bigger concern to businesses. However, security software and precautions will generally cover everything online. In other words, if you were to implement security precautions to help protect your financial information, your social media and SEO efforts will likely be protected as well.

Below are a few basic things you can do to help make sure your passwords and accounts are secure across the board:

  • Bitdefender Antivirus Software – It is extremely important that you have some sort of software in place to help with your online security. I have used Bitdefender both with my company as well as for personal use in the past and highly recommend this software because it is affordable and works well with all types of computers. It was rated the #1 antivirus software of 2012 by Top Ten Reviews and is something that will help keep your entire computer protected, including your social media and SEO passwords.
  • Get Patched – Making sure your computer is patched, or making sure that you have the latest software updates, will help eliminate your risk of hackers. The reason that you always need to keep your system updated is because hackers can often figure a way around certain software, so new software has to be implemented.
  • Password Manager – Setting up a browser password manager will help your company create passwords that are more difficult to crack and help you remember these passwords. Although there are many different types of password management tools, I find KeePass to be one of the easiest to use and one of the most successful (and it’s free!). You can learn more about KeePass here.

There are also new software and new tactics that have emerged specifically for SEO and social media. It is important that businesses take precautions not only from hackers, but also from potential employee abuse. Below are a few different tools you can use and approaches you can take when it comes to SEO and social media specifically:

  • Hootsuite Security – The social media dashboard Hootsuite has put a lot of effort into social media security. You can setup secure profiles so that you have to approve everything that gets posted onto any of your accounts, and setting up limited permissions makes certain that employees can only create drafts of all your social media messages. Finally, this tool allows you to turn on HTTPS, which will encrypt your information so that hackers cannot see your information if they try to break into your accounts.
  • Avoid Add-Ons – People are usually pretty careful when it comes to downloading something onto a computer, but for some reason people are usually not as careful when it comes to social media. It’s easy to download an add-on or click “ok” when asked if the add-on can have access to your account. This is one of the easiest ways for a malicious program to get into your account and take your password and personal information.

Security will unfortunately always be an issue when it comes to online marketing, so it’s good to continually go back and check what security measures your company has in place. Security is something that needs to constantly be updated (as annoying as it may be), and keeping up makes this easier. After all, if a hacker can get into a site as large and protected as LinkedIn, there is a good chance your site could be next.

What do you do to help make sure your social media accounts and SEO efforts are protected? Do you use any tools that you find helpful? Let us know in the comments!

Photo Credit: defensemedianetwork.com

AmandaDi

Amanda DiSilvestro is a graduate of Illinois State University. Although she graduated with an English Education degree, she found herself working as a full-time blogger in the SEO/social media department at HigherVisibility SEO, a leading franchise SEO company.

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Google Places is No More, Long Live Google+ Local!

Jun 4, 2012   //   by Obaidul Haque   //   SEO, SEO Blog  //  19 Comments

Things are changing pretty fast now. Google continues to make one move after another – launch of Google Plus, quicker algorithmic updates, roll out of Panda and Penguin. You can stay tuned as more exciting pieces of news come your way. However, here’s one that should attract the eyeballs of all local business owners. Yes, Google’s newest move is the launch of Google+ Local.

If you thought Google+ (the search giant’s social network) won’t stick, you need to think again. Though Google Places is not closed completely yet, millions of these pages have been converted into Google+ local pages. According to Google, this step is taken to improve how people discover and share local business information within Google+. Google, therefore, makes this effort to help local businesses leverage the potential of the Google Plus community.

Now, isn’t that a sensational change?

What one can really wonder is how this dramatic transition of Google Places pages to Google+ is going to impact business owners who have products or services to sell locally.

As Google Places pages are replaced with Google+ Local pages, Google Plus now features a new local listing tab (towards the left of your Google+ page) for businesses. That means your local business pages will become more socialized with the launch of Google+ Local.

The Newly Added ‘Local Listing Tab’

Here’s how it happens –

Connect your local business with millions of Google+ users
Let people find your business via Google search, maps, mobile and Google+
Make it easy for customers to recommend your business

Now, users can use different ways to find a local business. The recent transition of Google Places pages to Google+ Local widely increases the visibility of your company information by making Google Plus a new search destination with all its highly user-friendly features and functionalities. Imagine what happens when all the social features of Google+ are implemented into your business pages. This will certainly add new life to your business by making it more interactive for both existing and prospective customers.

SEM Group’s G+ Local Page

Definitely, the benefits that you have now as a local business owner far outweigh those that Google.com provides at the SERP level.

One of the best things about this roll out by Google is that it changes the way reviews were done until now. Since all the reviews will now be linked back to the reviewer’s Google+ page, there will be no anonymity. And it will highly discourage those that intentionally leave fake negative reviews on company’s business pages. Additionally, it will create a tough situation for companies that indulge in leaving bogus or non-legitimate reviews on their pages.

In the midst of all these changes taking place, business owners also need to pay careful attention to how it changes the local SEO requirements. You should be informed that all the Google+ Local pages will be indexed. Whether it’s about creating more Google+ votes and social signals or optimizing your local pages for increased visibility in Google search results, this transition also creates more opportunities for doing SEO.

What to Do Next!
Now that Google Places pages are moved to Google+, local businesses that aren’t yet familiar with how this social network works need to increase their knowledge and learn more about the same. Eventually, all the social functionalities of Google+ (i.e. hangouts, sharing, voting, and circles) will be added to your local business pages. That’s why it’s really vital that you become well-versed with all that Google+ has to offer.

How do you see this transition? Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below.

Obaidul Haque

Obaidul works as an SEO manager handling client projects. He focuses heavily on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM). Also a passionate blogger and freelance writer, he shares his insightful views regularly on HelloBloggerz . You can follow him on Google Plus or Twitter.

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How to Know When It’s Time for SEO Marketing Services

Jun 1, 2012   //   by AmandaDi   //   SEO  //  14 Comments

Many startup companies put SEO last on the list because you can “fake it.” A business absolutely has to have a finance department and an IT department because these are such specialized fields, and many see paid search as beneficial because you can see the results of your campaign immediately, but many assume that SEO can be figured out by anyone. It’s a long process and it takes a while to see results, so that can just be put on the back burner for a little while, right?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long to discover that SEO is not easy to figure out and SEO does need to be part of the initial strategy for a startup company. However, many small startup companies can get away with implementing SEO strategies without enlisting the help of SEO marketing services. This then begs the question: How do you know when it’s time to hire an SEO marketing service?

Top 5 Clues You Need SEO Marketing Services

For those who are unfamiliar, SEO marketing services can come in two forms: In-house or agency SEO services. No matter which route you decide to take, an SEO marketing service is in charge of your organic search rankings. Below lists a few clues that tell you when it’s time to stop attempting SEO on your own and begin searching for SEO marketing services:

1.    If you’re so overwhelmed with social media that you are only sharing your own content.

Social networking is quickly becoming one of the most important aspects of SEO and user experience. In fact, Google+ is now beginning to integrate social and SERP rankings. This makes growing your social media communities extremely important although it can be time consuming. You must try and build a community of strong followers and industry leaders on at least LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. With the new Facebook Timeline layout and the new social media analytics tools, social media is becoming more and more overwhelming. If you are finding that your company cannot manage building these different communities and sharing others content, it’s time to get help.

2.    If you find that you can’t understand the Google Panda/Penguin algorithm changes.

Seeing that your rankings are dropping is one thing, but understand why they have dropped is quite another. Google is constantly changing their algorithms that determine where a site will rank on a SERP, so it’s important that your company is able to keep up with all of these updates and really understand what they mean. If you’re finding this is too much to handle or you don’t understand the terminology, you have your second clue.

3.    If you’re still ignoring your competition and keyword research.

Those who don’t have a lot of experience in SEO generally just plug in a few keywords here and there and try and track the results. While this is a good strategy, it is only a fraction of the things needed to create a successful SEO campaign. It’s important that your company understands how to complete keyword research for SEO and look at the competition to determine where improvements can be made.

4.    If you’re getting hit with Google penalties and you can’t understand why.

This is one aspect of SEO that a small business can probably figure out on its own, but it would likely be time consuming. SEO marketing services, whether an agency or an expert, can usually tell right away what needs to be changed on a site—Meta descriptions, content being copied, authorship tags, etc. Google penalties need to be tended to right away to ensure that you don’t get banned from the search engine, so if you realistically don’t think that you have time to figure out why you’ve been penalized, an SEO marketing service is probably a good idea.

5.    If your website is designed for aesthetics and not user experience.

Many websites begin by trying to look nice. Although this is a big plus, this isn’t always best for SEO and user experience. You want your site to be easy to navigate for users as well as search engine bots. If you’re unsure how navigation changes between the two or if you created your website without any consideration for either type of navigation, you’re likely due for a redesign. An SEO marketing service can help.

Usually an SEO marketing service can come into your company and tell you quickly what needs to be changed and what needs to be added to your current strategy. The practice of SEO is now a full-time job, and as businesses get larger it doesn’t make sense to continually assume you’re doing SEO correctly and effectively. If any of these clues are popping up in your business, it’s a good idea to at least get a consultation by an SEO marketing firm.

Photo Credit: culpwrit.com

AmandaDi

Amanda DiSilvestro is a graduate of Illinois State University. Although she graduated with an English Education degree, she found herself working as a full-time blogger in the SEO/social media department at HigherVisibility SEO, a leading franchise SEO company.

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10 Reasons Why Your Site’s Rankings Won’t Be Affected by Penguin [Infographic]

May 29, 2012   //   by Aleh Barysevich   //   SEO, SEO Blog  //  27 Comments

Rolled out over a month ago, the Penguin update keeps causing a stir in the SEO community. Some webmasters are removing links and keywords in panic, others are sharing tips on how to overcome the Penguin’s grave aftermath.

Whether you’re new to SEO or have been driving websites to Google top for years, listen up.

There’s nothing new nor drastic about Penguin – it’s just another Google’s quality-related update. There were many updates before Penguin, and many will follow.

Whatever the update is, you’re on the safe side if you craft your SEO strategy in line with Google guidelines and don’t fall into “SEO is dead” panic.

Wondering if your SEO strategy meets Google’s search quality expectations? Want to stop sweating about Penguin, adopt a positive outlook and a broader perspective on the current state of search?

Learn why your site’s rankings won’t be affected by the Penguin update:



Infographic transcription:

10 Reasons Why Your Site’s Rankings Won’t Be Affected by Penguin

Off page

1. You ensure sufficient anchor text variation

Aggressively used exact match anchor text is the most widely reported Penguin-related risk factor. You’re on the safe side if you’ve developed a link building strategy which combines relevant keywords and decent amount of anchor text diversity. [1]

2. Your backlinks are relevant and diverse

As with all Google updates, previous and coming, quality of your backlink portfolio was, and is to remain important (unless Google redesigns its PageRank algo).

Your site’s rankings are unlikely to be affected by Penguin if your inbound links

- come from thematically-relevant sites
- are diverse by type: guest blogging, valuable forum posts (not profiles), media coverage campaigns (newsworthy press releases and such), social media shares
- point to various pages of your site, not only the home page

3. You’re not involved in link manipulation schemes

You have nothing to worry about if you’re NOT into any of these: building link wheels, submitting spam links (e.g. automatic submission of forum posts and blog comments) and other types of links intended to manipulate PageRank and search results. [2]

4. You work hard at social media engagement

In the search world today, social media engagement is a must. Make sure you include rich, interactive element types on the page e.g. video, images, social media buttons, moderated comments, PDF downloads, etc, to increase your visitors’ engagement. [3]

When targeting social networks, pay special attention to Google Plus. Google is said to be creating an influence metric that will impact how content is ranked within search, and Google Plus might well be the center of this effort. [4]

On page

5. You have enough compelling and unique content

What your website covers should be just the opposite of “thin” content.

Take a hard look at what value your website is providing: ultimately, it’s those sites that provide that something extra that Google wants to showcase on the first page of search results. [5]

6. You shun abundant on page optimization:

- You don’t build internal links with your main keyword stuffed all over the place, be it site copy, your site’s header and footer, h1, alt and <b>/<strong> tags.
- Your pages’ titles and descriptions vary from one page to another and sound as natural as possible (with user in mind).

7. You avoid keyword stuffing

For your pages not to trigger Google’s keyword stuffing penalty, you need to either forget about keyword density and write as naturally as possible, or spot the ideal keyword density which works for your competition. [6]

Common sense

8. You don’t panic and don’t fall into SEO asceticism

Even if you’ve spotted warning signals of poor SEO practices on your part, don’t panic, i.e. don’t take pseudo-appropriate actions like removing backlinks and keywords. Learn your lessons, and work out a new comprehensive SEO strategy.

Guilty of using only one anchor text variation? Perform an additional round of keyword research to add more diversity to your anchor text list.

Building links of one and the same type and linking only to the home page? Research more advanced link building opportunities and analyze which pages of your site (other than the home page) are worth linking to.

9. You know Penguin is neither the first, nor the last Google update

Florida, Jagger, Real-time search, Panda, Search+ Your World – since 2003, Google has implemented several quality-related updates, wreaking havoc in the SEO community and causing “SEO is dead talk”. Yet, none of them proved to be fatal for SEO. Neither will this one. [7]

10. You realize that there are SEOs who survive any update

Here and there in search results, we see examples of websites ranking despite any much-hyped-over update. [8]

Without favoring any of the SEO techniques used by the webmasters, let us bring these cases to your attention to show that Google search quality updates are not worth your agony.

Aleh Barysevich

Aleh Barysevich is a Marketing Director and Co-Founder of Link-Assistant.Com, the company that makes SEO PowerSuite website promotion toolkit for bloggers, webmasters and online marketers.

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‘Appreciation’ is Key to Building an Online Community!

May 28, 2012   //   by Obaidul Haque   //   SEO Blog, Social Media  //  4 Comments

Creating an online community of loyal followers is not important only because it helps you expand the presence of your business and fulfill your goals. An online community can also help you create a new product or develop an entirely fresh approach to your present activities. However, building a community around your brand is not child’s play. It involves understanding your organizational strong points, your business goals and the staffing qualifications.

Definitely, gaining a deep insight into the demographics of your target audience is where you start. Apart from knowing what your audience’s requirements are, you also need to know the purpose and plans of your business. At the same time, it’s vital to be well aware of your limitations.

But, there’s one more thing that you need to focus on – ‘appreciation’.

If you’re really serious about building an online community around your business or brand, you need to learn how to appreciate. First you need to identify the genuine contributions of your community members and then find ways to appreciate or reward those activities (participation, loyalty and patronization) in one way or another. It’s not just the members of the community that need appreciation. In fact, you need to appreciate even the non-community members.

So, you need to know how to appreciate. Appreciating community members or customers is an excellent way to make them feel passionate about your brand, compel them to visit over and over again and encourage them to interact with the new members. That’s how you keep an online community growing and going really strong. That’s how you build momentum among the audience. That’s how you expand your business and make more money.

Why you really should care about creating a strong online community is due to the fact that it follows you throughout the company’s lifecycle.

Here’s how you should appreciate –

a) Say ‘Thank You’ publicly
b) Respond to questions in a timely manner
c) Organize contests and giveaways
d) Share your best customer stories
e) Offer rebates, coupon codes and discounts
f) Start affiliate and incentive programs
g) Give away rewards for referring others
h) Ask for your customer’s feedback and suggestions
i) Live up to your promise

Basically, there are four big reasons that would compel people to do things – recognition, power, money and sex. By getting involved, the members of your community are doing plenty of good for your brand. To build a strong online community and keep it growing too, you need to give something back and continue with it in one form or another. It’s about making something happen in the everyday life of your customers and community members.

Any online community will have both ‘active’ members and ‘silent’ members. So, it’s important to pay attention to those secret members as well. Most importantly, you need to be consistent in you efforts because community building is not a one-time activity or task. Keep on benefiting from the online community and continue to give back to get even more.

Remember, a strong online community is the proof of your brand’s genuineness and credibility. The loyal followers of your brand can quickly elevate your business to new heights. So, let them speak for your business!

What tips do you have in mind to build an online community of loyal followers around your business? Let’s talk back in comments.

Obaidul Haque

Obaidul works as an SEO manager handling client projects. He focuses heavily on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM). Also a passionate blogger and freelance writer, he shares his insightful views regularly on HelloBloggerz . You can follow him on Google Plus or Twitter.

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Joomla SEO Plugins for the WordPress Graduates

May 25, 2012   //   by AmandaDi   //   SEO  //  14 Comments

Although WordPress is still amongst the most popular program to create a website, Joomla is gaining speed. Joomla sites allow for easier customization and are considered easier to use than WordPress, so more and more websites are beginning to get creative and try something new. Unfortuately, while Joomla may have content management and usability down, it lacks when it comes to SEO. WordPress does a good job of helping users customize a website for search engines right at the start, but Joomla requires users to install a plugin.

Joomla plugins work in the exact same way as WordPress plugins—you download the plugin and then click “install” once you are in the admin section of your blog or website. It doesn’t take long to download a plugin, but there are quite a few different choices.

Most Popular Joomla SEO Plugins

Joomla plugins are not nearly as discussed as WordPress plugins, so it’s important to really do your research before making your decision. Different plugins work well with different SEO skills and different SEO levels. Below lists five of the most popular Joomla plugins:

1.     Smart SEO is all about the Meta data: Great for Beginners

This is probably the most well known plugin for a Joomla site. The plugin is great for beginners because you can navigate around your website and make changes to titles, descriptions, and Meta tags right there on the page. A bar will appear at the top of the screen and let a user know which fields still need to be filled in; thus helping walk a beginner through the process.

2.     SEO Pagination is all about page titles: Great for Beginners

This plugin puts a focus on creating unique titles for pages. Being that duplicate content is one of the most important things to avoid when it comes to SEO, this is a great plugin for beginners who aren’t used to creating unique titles. It’s easy to use and great for websites that have a lot of different categories.

3.     Joom SEO will help you save time automatically: Great for Beginner to Intermediate

If you think you might know a little bit about SEO but are not sure, this is a great plugin. This plugin will automatically create your Meta data for you to help save you time. Most SEO experts will recommend checking this data, which is why it helps to understand a little bit about SEO, but in general the plugin has good reviews and seems to automatically create great Meta data for a website.

4.     Sh404SEF incorporates Google analytics and social sharing: Great for Intermediates

This plugin takes things a step further by offering Google analytics and social tracking to help make SEO decisions. It’s important that you understand how to read analytics and reports in order to take full advantage of this plugin, but it is said to have great customer service.

5.     Unicode Slugs SEF is for the person who loves fancy features: Great for the Advanced

This plugin allows a user to add in punctuation and different types of characters to a URL, which can help make sure your site is unique (and these types of characters are just as easy for Google to fine!). Definitely a plugin for someone who really understands SEO.

Although creating a Joomla site may be overwhelming if you are used to WordPress most find (myself included) that it is actually very intuitive. However, it needs some help in the SEO department. Installing SEO plugins should be the first thing that you do when you get create to publish content on your site.

Do you use any particular Joomla plugins? Which have worked for your website and which have not? Let us know in the comments!

Photo Credit: blogohblog.com

AmandaDi

Amanda DiSilvestro is a graduate of Illinois State University. Although she graduated with an English Education degree, she found herself working as a full-time blogger in the SEO/social media department at HigherVisibility SEO, a leading franchise SEO company.

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A 5-Step Formula to Conduct Your ‘First A/B or Split Test’

May 22, 2012   //   by Obaidul Haque   //   internet marketing, SEO Blog  //  6 Comments

If you ask me what the most effective method of boosting the performance of a website is, I’ll give you an instant reply – ‘split testing’. And I really hope you wouldn’t like to differ with me on this point, would you? Since I stepped into the internet marketing industry, I have met very few (can count them on my fingers) webmasters or web property owners who bothered to utilize split testing to find out what worked best and improve the rate of conversion.

Why do most of the internet marketers ignore split testing, while investing plenty of time on just guess-optimizing their websites over and over again? Optimizing your sites on the basis of gut instinct or guesswork may bring you better results. But it won’t ever tell you what really works and what doesn’t. Split testing is the single most effective technique to ensure the best ROI possible.

Split or A/B testing is a proven technique to discover what makes the most impact on visitors, thus helping you to tweak your sites appropriately and improve the rate of conversion. Though conducting a split test consumes time, the result will be much more than the effort that you invest.

So, are you ready to conduct your first split test ever? Don’t worry. Given below is a very simple 5-step plan that you can use to get started.

#1. Choose a Web Page
Find those pages on your site that help you fulfill some important goals. Select a web page that focuses on a specific goal and have one call to action. If you think improving a web page can increase the number of sign-ups, boost online sales or assist you in achieving other significant conversion goals, you can conduct a split test for that specific page.

#2. Create Another Version of The Selected Page
After you’ve picked an important page that you would really want to split test, it’s time to create a new version of the same. To create the new version, you’ll need to list out all the important elements (that you think can increase the conversion rate) the original page contains.

You should decide to test these –

Headings and subheadings
Introductory paragraph
Images
Call to action
Links
Color
Placement of elements
Pricing
Offer (bonuses)
Related Products

You may focus on other important elements that your selected web page contains and make the necessary changes to create the new version. So, you’ve two different versions – Page A (original) and Page B (new).

#3. Set Up the Test
Now, you’ll need a software or tool to set up the test. If you have adequate expertise, you can make use of Google’s Website Optimizer. Otherwise, you can hire the services of an internet marketing firm that’s known for conducting split tests. There are also several paid split testing tools that you can use. No matter which split testing tools you use, you should make sure that it’s easy to set up, easy to understand and accurate (in terms of tracking results).

#4. Experiment
The two versions of the page (original and new) will either be shown randomly or simultaneously to visitors. The tool that you use will track the number of visitors, the rate of click-throughs and the rate of conversion for both the pages. Make sure you run the test for an adequate time span and that your sample size is big enough to track accurate results.

#5. Use the Version That Works Best
Analyze the results of the split test and go with the variant that makes the most impact on your site’s visitors.

Have you ever conducted a split or A/B test for your website? Please feel free to share your experiences and opinions.

Obaidul Haque

Obaidul works as an SEO manager handling client projects. He focuses heavily on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM). Also a passionate blogger and freelance writer, he shares his insightful views regularly on HelloBloggerz . You can follow him on Google Plus or Twitter.

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Will the New Google Knowledge Graph Have an Effect on SEO?

May 18, 2012   //   by AmandaDi   //   Google, SEO Blog  //  16 Comments

Google is on the move yet again, but this time the news is better than the usual surprise Panda update. As of two days ago, Google launched its Knowledge Graph in order to better a user’s experience. The new feature will be rolling out in English in the U.S. first, but will soon be available in all languages. Matt Cutts explained that the graph is supposed to help make search results and algorithms “more human.”

How the Google Knowledge Graph Works

Because of the sheer amount of information about users and information about different topics that Google has available, this new feature has the potential to really get search right. Google will be using nearly 500 million different things (people, places, objects, ideas, etc.) and will utilize more than 3.5billion facts about all of the connections between these different subjects. Below is a screenshot Google provided to illustrate how the new graph will look when you type in a search:

As you can see, the bulk of a SERP will remain the same, but the right hand side of the screen will change. Although this map will not be a part of every single search at first, basic search queries will soon have this option.

Benefits of the Google Knowledge Graph

This new feature will do three things for users:

1.     Help eliminate ambiguous language so that search results are less confusing.

One of the main problems that Google discussed was the ambiguity of language. The new knowledge graph will help make separate different meanings of the same word. For example, the search query “staples” could mean the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the office supply store, or information about actual staples that hold together paper. The graph will work to make sure that these different results are more separated.

2.     Create an easy to understand summary of the topic.

The new graph will make it easy for users to get basic information quickly, much like Wikipedia style content. Google will pull information about past search queries for a given subject and base the summary on those past results. For example, if the majority of people have been searching for the novel To Kill a Mockingbird as opposed to the film, the summary will be largely based on the history of the novel.

3.     Help illustrate connections between different subjects.

The graph will help show connections between different things across the Internet. Cutts explained that one of the most important aspects of search is being able to learn something you didn’t even realize you were looking to learn; the Knowledge Graph will help make this possible.

Will the Knowledge Graph Affect SEO and Rankings?

Google changes always seem to mix up rankings and cause trouble for many small businesses, but this change isn’t intended to make things harder on your typical website. It seems as though information resources, such as Wikipedia, could potentially lose traffic, but the majority of websites are specific enough that people will still want to click. The Knowledge Graph will be kept to the side and should not affect rankings. However, it will be a few weeks before we can be absolutely sure.

Do you think the Knowledge Graph will affect a website’s SEO in any way? Do you think the Knowledge Graph is something needed or something that you will when you use Google? Let us know in the comments!

AmandaDi

Amanda DiSilvestro is a graduate of Illinois State University. Although she graduated with an English Education degree, she found herself working as a full-time blogger in the SEO/social media department at HigherVisibility SEO, a leading franchise SEO company.

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Who Will Do a Better Job of Capturing the Right Tone and Feel of Your Blog Business?

May 15, 2012   //   by Bill   //   blogging, Copywriting, link building, SEO, SEO Blog, Social Media  //  21 Comments

While press release writing is specialized work, there are many cases of businesses wanting to write their own press releases instead of outsourcing the work.

It might be that you are a new startup with a limited marketing budget (and thus want to avoid the costs), or maybe you feel that yourself or an in-house employee will do a better job of capturing the right tone and feel of your company.

Whatever the motivation, there are pros and cons to both approaches. This content will discuss the advantages of both options, and then (hopefully) help you make the right decision for your company.

Writing Press Releases Yourself

After reading through this blog post, you should have a clear idea of what is required to write a press release. In short, you need:

  • A good story.
  • Good writing skills (specific to press releases).

There are distinct advantages of writing your own press releases, and I would fully encourage you to do so if you can consistently write well (or have an employee to write for you). If you are unwilling to invest in an employee, or unsure of how eschewing a professional PR service can help you, read through the following reasons:

Cost

A professionally written press release can cost you anywhere from $200 to $500. Considering that this is just a 1-page document, which will eventually contain information that you will provide, this seems an exorbitant price.

Personalized

While press release writing services make every effort to personalize every press release, there is a distinct style for each writer and for each company as well. Personalized ‘style’ of press or media releases. A powerful example of this is Google – check Google Press for a sample of effective personalized press releases can be.

Be warned though. This is not something easy to accomplish. As press releases are terse, 1-page news items with a very big emphasis on content, it is difficult to establish a style.

Practice will help you improve, and if you feel that the identity and image of your company will be better served by writing the press release yourself rather than outsourcing it, then make sure you read many different press releases from other companies to get a feel of how to build your unique style.

Other Benefits

Being directly involved with your industry, you are in the best position to highlight the advantages of your ‘news’ to your potential consumers and competitors.

You will be able to provide relevant, current information and your insight into your industry will also help you to pinpoint which news hook will be most successful.

Verdict

Matching the expertise of a professional press release writer is a difficult task. On the other hand, in-house press release writing, especially if done by an employee, can be ‘good enough’ if due attention is paid to getting the details right.

Professional Press Release Writing

Despite the obvious advantages of writing your own press release, a professional press release service gives you specific, money-valuable benefits:

Experience

Professional press release services have the advantage of having working in this field for a lot longer than you – they have written (hopefully) dozens of press releases, and know the industry inside out.

As such, they are well placed to avoid mistakes that beginning press release writers might make and are likely to produce good, reliable press releases.

Of course, there is also a chance that the press release might not be what you are looking for – maybe the writer gets the tone wrong, or underplays certain features that you wanted to give prominence to.

The added experience will also ensure that the writer will be able to judge better whether the information you’ve given him is enough, not enough or too much. In addition, there is the value of having an ‘outside’ perspective. Outsourcing your press release to an independent PR service will:

  • Allow them to present the news in a more realistic light.
  • Discourage you from making a press release without having effective content.

Be careful about putting too much faith in the press release service to tell you what is right or wrong, however. The responsibility of ensuring that there is enough ‘newsworthy’ information in your press release is yours, not of the service.

Time

A press release can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a day to write, revise and get just right. If you are part of a fast-paced company where you measure your time in hundreds of dollars, then spending that much time on a press release might seem expensive especially since you can get better results by outsourcing the press release.

Do not underestimate the time required to write a press release – for your news to be a full-blown success, every little detail has to be just right.

Verdict

It’s just a 1-page document. Why does it cost so much?

I’m faced with that question every day. Considering that you will still have to provide a lot of the information to the press release service, it seems ridiculous to pay over $200 (and up to $500) for a press release. But in the end, it’s the results that justify the costs.

A professionally written press release will always have a better chance of being accepted for distribution, and the experience of a professional PR service will serve you will in making your press release successful.

Another factor working in the favor of professional press release services is their ‘package deals’ – a promise to distribute your press release at a discounted rate if you have your press release written by them.

Costs vs. Expertise

I’ve been saying this throughout the content, and I say it again:

Your press release is (almost) worthless without newsworthy information. Keep this point in your mind as you make the choice between writing the press release yourself (using the advice in thisblog post) and outsourcing it to a professional press release service. Where will that newsworthy information come from? From you.

In fact, even if you outsource the press release, the bulk of the information put in the press release will come from you, either as part of the original specifications presented, or from the questions that the writer will ask you to help him write the press release.

So what are you really paying them for?

Their experience – press release writers have considerable, battle-field knowledge of writing press releases – the kind that only comes through time. You are also paying for their language and marketing skills, as writing a press release requires a specific writing style that does not fit into traditional sales copy.

Don’t hire a sales letter writer to write your press release until you are sure they have experience in writing successful press releases.

However, if you are willing to learn and apply the knowledge from this content (or have an employee as a suitable candidate), in-house press releases can be just as successful as those from a PR service. The key is to do two things repeatedly:

  • Ensure that you are fully prepared.
  • Differentiate between traditional sales copy and press release writing and make the effort to write ‘in a reporting, unbiased style’.

Choosing the Right Service

While this content goes a long way towards helping you write your own press releases, the primary aim is to guide you into preparing the best press release for your company, each and every time.

And sometimes, a company does not have the time, or the technical skills, to dedicate resources towards in-house press release writing.

In such cases, outsourcing your press release requirements becomes necessary. This section, although concise, will help you in picking the right service for your company.

Hiring a PR service

If you are looking to hire a professional press release service, make sure that you complete the following checklist.

  • Does the service have a portfolio or a client’s list? Make sure that you can see visible results, and don’t be afraid to ask for proof.
  • Compare costs and services between different PR companies to make sure you get the best deal.
  • Understand the fine print. Some PR firms may not allow for more than 1 revision, and some also don’t allow for free consultations – which essentially means that if the PR firm decides that your ‘story’ is not newsworthy, you would have ended up paying for nothing.
  • Don’t automatically jump for combined packages (press release writing and distribution). Make sure the investment is worth it, and that you see a list of the media contacts (at least their names, if not their contact information) that your press release will be distributed to.
  • Themed distributions are very different in impact to generic distributions, so don’t fall into the trap of paying less and actually getting something that is worth nothing to your company.
  • If you like the company’s portfolio, try to negotiate a discounted package in return for bringing all your press release business to them. PR firms would normally not refuse long-term business relationships, and the promise of continued business can possibly lower your long-term costs as well.

Hiring a freelance writer

Of course, if the cost is a really serious issue, and you cannot have the press release written in-house (for various reasons) then you may be better served by outsourcing to a freelance writer.

There are several online freelance websites from where you can hire good writers – Elance and RentACoder are the most popular, and most effective.

With freelance writers, there is the advantage of saving on money – a good press release can be written for $100 or less. On the other hand, there is a risk of not getting what you really want.

I’ll not go into the details of how to ensure that you don’t get your money’s worth as there are many ”freelance hiring”guides on the Internet (some good, some bad, and some bad copies of good guides).

Just make sure that you follow the same pattern as you would when hiring a PR service – check their portfolio, and do your best to provide them with complete information.

RentACoder has many safeguards that prevent buyers (like you) from projects that go bad, so trust the system and follow their advice.

However, one bad apple does not make everyone else incompetent. Freelance websites are full of hard-working individuals wanting to earn good money – make sure that you find someone who is capable of doing the job, and then enjoy the benefits of a well-written press release for a fraction of the price.

What is your opinion on DIY vs Professional writers?

Bill

Bill Achola is on a mission to help small business people get traffic they deserve. If you’re one of them, check out his Affordable SEO Service for Small Business that will drive targeted traffic to your website. Be sure to follow him on Twitter

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Do Your Images Attract Google’s Attention?

May 15, 2012   //   by Obaidul Haque   //   SEO, SEO Blog  //  10 Comments

It’s not just the Googlebot that crawls images on your web properties. There’s also an image-specific robot for indexing images – Googlebot-image. And the best idea to attract maximum attention from Google is to get your images (and pages) crawled by both Googlebot and Googlebot-image. Properly optimized images can prove to be a source of additional traffic. As internet passes through a phase of ‘visual boom’, it’s vital to make sure all the images on your website and blog get quickly indexed by Google, so they can appear in Google image search.

While publishing images, one thing that should always remain at the top of your mind is that it enhances the experience of users. Image search and web search are like the two sides of a coin. Even when it comes to searching images, Google strives to return most relevant results to users.

Google-Supported Image Formats
If you really want to help Google index your images quickly, you should always remember to use only those formats that it supports. On its official blog, Google mentions its supported formats including BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, WebP and SVG. Therefore, you should always avoid using those image formats that are not supported by Google.

According to Google, it can index images of almost any size. Though size does not matter (it depends on your specific requirements), images formats must always be paid careful attention.

Googlebot vs Googlebot-Image
As mentioned above, both Googlebot and Googlebot can index your site’s images. But many times, webmasters notice that their images are only crawled by Googlebot. When there’s some confusion regarding the image URL, the image is first indexed by Googlebot. Once Googlebot is sure that the URL leads to an image, Googlebot-image re-indexes the image.

That’s why, getting your images and pages crawled by both Googlebot and Googlebot-image is a good idea from SEO point of view. Getting your pages indexed by both these robots is a way of attracting maximum attention from the search engine giant Google.

Ranking Algorithm for Google Image Search
Earlier, it was believed that PR played the biggest role in the search ranking of an image. Though the PR of the page (where the image is published) also plays some role, there are a host of other criteria that Google uses for ranking an image in its image search results.

Here’re some of the most important ones –

Placement of the image in a page
Image Alt tabs and filename
Image content (identified via the optical recognition system)
Domain authority of the website the image belongs to
Authority of the page that contains the image
Text surrounding the image

Though there are many other criteria that Google may use, these are the most important ones. Therefore, you should optimize your images by using appropriate filenames, alt tabs and the surrounding text. In addition, you should consider submitting an image sitemap to help Google know more about your images and rank higher in image search results.

Don’t Forget to Optimize for Social Sharing!
If you plan to increase the visibility of your images across the web, it’s a good idea to optimize your visual content for the social media as well. Social signals carry a lot of weight in terms of textual content. The same goes with the images that you publish. Always use superior quality, inspiring the relevant images. However, you should also remember to protect your images by making them available under an ‘attribution license’ so that those who share those images can attribute you (link pointing back to your domain) as the source.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

Obaidul Haque

Obaidul works as an SEO manager handling client projects. He focuses heavily on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM). Also a passionate blogger and freelance writer, he shares his insightful views regularly on HelloBloggerz . You can follow him on Google Plus or Twitter.

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