Examples of Unethical SEO Practices

Image result for white black hat seo
Soolepp, E. (2018). What’s the Difference: Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO [infographic]. Medium.
 If you’ve ever watched an old western movie, you may have noticed that the good guys typically wear a white hat, while the bad guys wear a black one? Well, this is where the term black hat and white hat came from. Today, we will be discussing white hat and black hat SEO practices. I will give you an example of a company that got busted by Google for their unethical practices, what methods are considered black hat, and why you should avoid them.

What does white hat and black hat really mean?

Well, white hat SEO practices refer to those that are fair, honest, and ethical. They are beneficial for your visitors, and they follow Google’s rules and regulations. Black hat practices are those that are unethical, deceptive, manipulative, and go against the guidelines set forth by search engines. These practices typically don’t benefit a company’s visitors. So, what do black hat SEO practices look like?

BMW gets busted for using doorway pages. 

Back in 2006, the automaker BMW was busted by Google for using doorway pages. These are web pages that were designed to trick search engines. They are unhelpful for the visitor, typically redirecting them to duplicate pages or pages that are not useful for their search (Google, 2018). In the case of BMW, they created a web page stuffed with keywords, particularly “used car.” This page then redirected visitors to their home page, boosting the company’s inbound links and search ranking. Well, Google caught wind of this and penalized the company. Google reduced their PageRank to 0, plummeting their organic search results (Devaney, 2017). As they say, the bad guys never win. To read more examples of companies using black hat practices, check out Hubspot’s article, The Biggest SEO Blunders of All Time.

Unethical SEO Practices

We have seen how using doorway pages can negatively impact a company. Here are some other black hat practices to avoid.

  • Hiding Text. This can be implemented by using a white background or size zero font.
  • Using plagiarized, auto-generated, duplicate, or keyword stuffed content.
  • Trading inbound links with other websites.
  • Exposing visitors to malicious content.
  • Using automated queries.
  • Using Javascript to redirect search engines.
  • Incorporating hidden links.

These practices are manipulative and sneaky. They don’t serve to benefit the visitor, and they typically don’t help them in their search. These practices are unethical and are frowned upon within the industry and by search engines (Ethical SEO, 2013). And as seen in the BMW example, they can end up hurting companies in the long-run. Instead, companies should seek to optimize their website and search rankings by integrating ethical SEO practices.

Ethical SEO Practices

Implementing white hat practices will help your site become an SEO hero! Ethical practices include those that follow the guidelines laid out by search engines. These are techniques that are designed to help your visitors find what they are looking for. They are obvious, helpful, and honest. These techniques include:

  • Creating different links for distinct web pages.
  • Creating relevant and useful content that contains helpful keywords.
  • Integrating inbound links.
  • Updating web pages and content regularly with relevant information.
  • Reviewing keywords frequently to determine which are best suited for your audience’s searches.
  • Creating a sitemap on your website.
  • Avoiding link exchanges and irrelevant/low-quality content (Ethical SEO, 2013).

Why are ethical practices important? 

Implementing unethical SEO practices is risky. While it may generate immediate results, it will ultimately hurt you in the long-run. Particularly, when the top search engines find out and penalize or ban your site. Ethical practices may take a little longer to generate results. However, the lasting impact will be much more beneficial. These practices will improve your search rankings, increase organic traffic, create a better user experience for your visitors, and encourage customers to return. It will also help you maintain good relations with search engines, such as Google (Biggs, 2012). Remember, the good guys always win!

What ethical practices are most important to you or your business?

To learn more about SEO, and the pros and cons associated with it, check out my previous blog post, Pros and Cons of Using Organic and Paid Marketing Strategies.

 

 

 

 

 

References

Biggs, A. (2012). What is ethical SEO and why is it important? Retrieved from http://www.highimpact.co.uk/blog/ethical-seo-important/

Devaney, E. (2017). The biggest SEO blunders of all time. Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/biggest-seo-blunders#sm.0000y8mse0slcf1bq2321erjcypni

Ethical SEO vs. Unethical SEO. (2013). Retrieved from https://www.optimus01.co.za/ethical-seo-vs-unethical-seo/

Google. (2018). Doorway pages. Retrieved from https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2721311?hl=en

Pros and Cons of Using Organic and Paid Marketing Strategies

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Pearl, M. (2018). Paid vs organic [infographic]. Uick Marketing
Ok, so you just started your own pencil-top eraser company and you need to increase your visibility. Or maybe, you are an already established pencil eraser company but wish to increase the traffic to your website. You decide to invest in some digital marketing to give your company a boost. So, is it better to invest in increasing organic traffic, or should you drive traffic with paid strategies?

Well, it depends on your company’s objectives, budget, timeline, and competition within the marketplace. I have compiled for you some pros and cons of using organic and paid marketing strategies.

Let’s first look at the pros and cons of increasing your company’s organic traffic through search engine optimization, or SEO. 

Pros

  1. Drive brand awareness by increasing your company’s visibility in search results with targeted keywords.
  2. Many users perceive organic search results as being more trustworthy than ads.
  3. Increased website traffic.
  4. SEO can often produce a higher return on investment over paid strategies.
  5. Increased click-through-rate.
  6. Organic strategies can often be more cost effective than paid ones.
  7. SEO only gets better with time. The more time, effort, and resources you put in, the more you get out (Miller, 2017).

Cons

  1. Results typically come slow. It can take up to 6 months, in some cases, before a company begins to see an increase in their web traffic.
  2. You may have steep competition with commonly used keywords.
  3. A developed and robust content strategy is typically needed to achieve effective SEO (Miller, 2017).

A company can integrate search engine marketing, or SEM by implementing paid search tactics through PPC (pay-per-click) ads. Here are some pros and cons to using this strategy. 

Pros

  1. Using a paid ad will position your company “above-the-fold,” or at the top of the search results page, increasing brand visibility.
  2. Paid ads allow your company to specify what specific information to include in the ad. This could be location, hours of operation, site links, pricing, differentiating features, and more.
  3. If your company sells a product that would benefit from a visual ad, you can implement a Product Listing Ad (PLA) on Google. Providing your customers with a visual image of the product can increase the click-through-rate.
  4. Paid ads allow you to target your ideal audience, putting your company in front of those interested in your product or service.
  5. PPC ads are fast to set up, and your company could begin seeing results within hours!
  6. Algorithmic changes often have less impact on PPC ads than on SEO efforts (Miller, 2017).

Cons

  1. PPC costs can add up depending on the size of the area that you are targeting.
  2. You must continue to invest in the ads to keep seeing results.
  3. If you are trying to use popular keywords, you may get into a bidding war with larger companies.
  4. Paid ad campaigns are most effective when someone skilled in PPC efforts manages them (Miller, 2017).

So, which strategy is best to implement? Well, according to Search Engine Land, it really all depends on your company’s budget, the competition in the space, when you need to see results, your targeted area, and your long-term goals (Miller, 2017).

A small, local company may see good results by implementing some “DIY SEO” tactics, where an e-commerce site competing with larger retailers may benefit more from paid strategies (Miller, 2017).

Ultimately, if your company has the resources, implementing a mix of organic and paid strategies will be most beneficial in creating both immediate and long-term, sustainable results.

Either way, it is critical to have clear goals and a strategy in mind.

What are some of your company’s top goals? Let me know in the comments below.

Do you know how to set SMART GOALS and KPI’s for your company? If not, check out my post about it here.

 

Have a magical day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

References 

Miller, M. (2017). SEO vs. PPC: Differences, pros, cons, & an integrated approach. Retrieved from https://searchengineland.com/seo-vs-ppc-pros-cons-integrated-approach-274643

Pearl, M. (2018). Paid vs. organic – What is the difference? Retrieved from http://www.quickmarketing.com/paid-vs-organic-difference/

Why Your Business Should Be Using Twitter

Image result for twitter

Tweet. Tweet Tweet. A little birdy told me that you should be including Twitter in your company’s social media strategy. Did you know that in the last month, 41% of Twitter users have purchased a product after seeing an ad for it on the platform (Newberry, 2017)?

Twitter has quickly become a widely utilized social media platform, particularly for medium and smaller businesses. According to The Balance, three-quarters of online businesses are now utilizing it in their marketing tactics (Ward, 2018). There is good reason as to why.

First, Twitter allows a business to engage with customers. Yes, you can promote your brand, but you can also connect with your customers and learn more about them, which may be just as valuable. Through Twitter, you can learn what your customers like and don’t like about your company, you can hear suggestions, and learn how your customers feel about your brand. Twitter provides your business with an opportunity to engage with your current customers, and a chance to make more (Ward, 2018).

Twitter is also a great way to inform your customers. Keep customers up to date with new product launches, specials, promotions, events, or any other additional information that they may be interested in. Twitter can be another useful platform for providing your customers with valuable content. Show off your expertise in your field by providing your customers with tips, tricks, and information pertaining to your industry (Ward, 2018).

Twitter can also help drive traffic to your webpage. Embedding a shortened URL into your tweets can help encourage customer click-throughs. However, you should be careful to include a compelling message that encourages customers to click your link to learn more (Kingston, 2013).

Use hashtags and targeting on Twitter to grow your audience. Look up hashtags that are applicable to your business and see who else is talking about it. This is a great way to connect with new potential customers. Additionally, Twitter allows you to target potential customers based on their interests. This helps you grow your audience, relationships, networks, and eventually sales (Kingston, 2013).

How to tell if Twitter is working for your business.

To monitor how well your Twitter tactics are performing, you will want to track a few key Twitter Analytics.

The first is Top Tweet. This will show you which tweet has earned the most impressions within the last month. This will help you identify what you are doing right, including time of posting, content created, or what hashtags were used (Sehl, 2018).

Next is New Followers. Use this metric to monitor how many followers your page is gaining (or losing) within a given month. This helps you monitor when you have done something right, or when it’s time to make adjustments (Sehl, 2018).

You should also be monitoring Engagements. This metric gives you insight into how your audience is engaging with your posts. This measures likes, clicks on links, photos, and videos, expansions, and retweets. This is an important metric for monitoring the success of your call-to-actions (Sehl, 2018).

You can also monitor the Engagement Rate to see the rate at which a user engaged with a tweet in relation to how many saw it. This will give you a better idea of how well a tweet has generated engagement (Sehl, 2018).

Twitter Reach Percentage should also be monitored to know how many of your followers saw your tweet. This can give you a better idea about when is the most effective time to post your tweets (Sehl, 2018).

If your business is utilizing Twitter Ads, you should be familiar with Results and Cost Per Result (CPR). Results let you track how well your ad achieved your desired campaign objective by tracking total impressions, conversions, followers, click-throughs, video views, and more for a particular ad. CPR shows you how much you have paid for each user’s action (Sehl, 2018).

Finally, tracking Conversions allows you to see what people do after they have viewed your ad. You can monitor post-engagement and post-view conversions, transaction values, and sales. This will give you more insight into where you are seeing the most return on investment (Sehl, 2018).

Are you using Twitter for your business? If not, Why?

 

 

 

Resources 

Image retrieved from http://reputationtoday.in/scribe-view/despite-wild-side-twitter-charm-remains-unique-media-platform/

Kingston, C. (2013). How to use Twitter for business and marketing. Retrieved from https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-use-twitter-for-business-and-marketing/

Newberry, C. (2017). 28 Twitter statistics all marketers need to know in 2018. Retrieved from https://blog.hootsuite.com/twitter-statistics/

Sehl, K. (2018). How to use Twitter analytics: The complete guide for marketers. Retrieved from https://blog.hootsuite.com/twitter-analytics-guide/

Ward, S. (2018). How and why your small business should use Twiter. Retrieved from https://www.thebalancesmb.com/top-reasons-why-your-small-business-should-use-twitter-2948523

The Business of Facebook

12 Facebook Ad Examples You Wish You Made

Hello readers!

In this week’s post, we will be examining the marketing content on Facebook. You may notice an ad here or there while scrolling through your feed, but have you ever really realized all the different ways that companies attempt to reach you through the social platform?

Facebook offers a variety of different ways for brands to create marketing content in an attempt to reach their audience. Per Hootsuite, these marketing efforts can include link click ads, video ads, boosted page posts, carousel ads, dynamic product ads, lead ads, page like ads, offer claims, and more (AdEspresso, n.d.). For the majority of us, it would be likely that we come across many (if not all) of these marketing tactics during our daily Facebook browsing session.

Let’s take a closer look at these different types of Facebook ads and some personal examples that I have come across.

Let’s start with link click ads. This is probably the most common ad one will see on Facebook. This typically involves a company posting a clickable link that takes the user to their blog or landing page. This ad works best for increasing website traffic as well as page likes. The link click ad can feature text, a picture, or a video (AdEsspresso, n.d.). On my personal Facebook, it didn’t take but a few scrolls on my mouse to find a link click ad. The particular one I ran into was for DIFF sunglasses. The ad featured a short clip and a link taking you directly to their online store.

Moving on, we turn to boosted page posts. Boosted page posts allow a company to “boost” any post they make on their timeline, increasing the reach of their post. Additionally, they are able to target exactly who sees their post and exactly how much money is spent on the boosted posts. Again, this ad is effective in driving users to a website or landing page. These ads are identified in your feed with a “sponsored” note on top of the post. They can include text, picture, or video, and are, again, probably the most common ad you will see in your feed (AdEsspresso, n.d.). On my personal feed, there was a sponsored ad, just 2 posts down, for a skincare company called Paula’s Choice (a brand I have researched in the past). This post included information about a new product, a short informational clip, and a link to the company’s website.

Next, we look at ads focused on driving sales and leads.

We will start with carousel ads. I am sure many of you have seen these, although personally, I tend to see them more on my Instagram feed. The carousel ads allow a company to feature up to ten ads in one post. The images or videos scroll from right to left. This is typically used by companies seeking to promote multiple products from their online store. It is effective for seeing what specifically attracts leads with their targeted audience (AdEsspresso, n.d.). On my personal feed, it took quite a bit of scrolling before I finally found a carousel ad. The one I found was for (yet another) skincare company called Origins. The ad featured five slides including four featured products (with their name, price, and a link to purchase) and one slide with a special offer and a link to the company’s webpage.

Dynamic product ads target users based on their previous browsing history, likes, and other interactions with a company’s website or application. Delivering the right message, at the right time, to the right person, allows a brand to better connect with their audience while increasing conversions, click-through rate, and ultimately, revenue. Dynamic product ads will find users (based on their previous actions) and display the brand’s selected message/product (AdEsspresso, n.d.).

On my personal feed, I believe many of the ads I run into are dynamic product ads that have been selected for me based on my previous interactions with companies and browsing history. For example, there are ads on my feed from companies where I have actually browse their website, like HYLETE (a fitness apparel company) and there are also ads from company’s I have never heard of before but relate to my interests like Ollie (a dog food company). Additionally, Facebook allows personal users to click on ads and see “why am I seeing this ad?” When I did this for Ollie, it said I was seeing the ad “based on my activity such as liking Pages or clicking on ads.” Try it for your self, it is pretty interesting!

These are just a few of the many types of ads one will see on Facebook. Hootsuite goes into much greater depth, on their AdEspresso page, describing the various Facebook ads.

In addition to these advertisements, I have also received marketing content through Messenger. This typically required me to “opt-in” to a company’s promotions for one reason or another. However, I usually quickly become bombarded with marketing content and opt back out. Finally, users are exposed to marketing content through right-side ads. These are sponsored ads that are stationed on the right side of the users feed. For me, personally, these typically consist of larger companies where I have recently viewed their website (like Ulta), or companies with products that I may be interested in based on my likes and interests (like a dog toy company).

I find right-side ads to be the least effective because they typically get tuned out while I am scrolling through my feed. In addition, I typically opt-out of Messenger ads quite quickly. This leaves newsfeed ads. I may interact with these ads, from time to time, if the product or promotion peaks my interest!

Which type of marketing content do you see the most in your feed? Which do you interact with the most? I am so curious!

Until next time my bodacious blog browsers!

 

 

References 

AdEsspresso. (n.d.). The beginner’s guide to Facebook advertising. Retrieved from https://adespresso.com/guides/facebook-ads-beginner/facebook-ads-types/

Image retrieved from https://sproutsocial.com/insights/facebook-ad-examples/