Elements of the Ultimate Infographic

Today I’d like to talk about infographics and why you should be using them to improve your SEO. Now, for those that might be unfamiliar with the term, before you nod off after reading the word “infographics,” know it’s not what you might think. Infographics are a graphic visual representation of information, data or knowledge. They are meant to present complex information quickly and clearly and can also serve as sexy, eye-candy and a break from blocks of text. Many of us are visual learners. Until things are displayed in a visual way, the light bulb doesn’t always come on.

I realize a lot of you might be skeptical as to how infographics can impact your SEO, considering search engines can’t read images. While that is true, an infographic benefits SEO because they are more likely to be shared. In the world of SEO, Increasing the number of inbound links that point to your website or webpage is a huge win. People like infographics because they display information in a pretty package, making them more likely to want to share that visual with others.

Coming up with an effective infographic is not always easy. Know it takes time and talent. Below are some industry tips in creating useful infographics:

1. Accuracy

The information in your visual should be up to date and from a reliable source. Use the most current information available. If the most current information is from several years ago, it is acceptable as long as it’s the latest available information. WHERE your information came from is equally as vital. Scholarly or governmental sources are typically the most factual and least likely to be biased. Be sure to proofread the info and check the facts. It’s also a good idea to have someone with fresh eyes take a second look at it. A designer will have a hard time seeing his or her own flaws.

2. Simplicity

An infographic should not confuse or overwhelm the viewer. It’s best to keep it to a single topic, or only to try to answer one question. Trying to address more than one idea can complicate the visual and lose the viewer’s attention. Simplify the design in order to prevent misinterpretation or frustration. A crowded design will often drive away the viewer.

3. Narrative

An effective infographic can manage to tell a story with illustrations and graphics. It should be able to say something so that it can relay the information even if they haven’t read the text yet.

4. Visually attractive

In addition to conveying a message, a visually appealing design should be your aim. No matter how simple your infographic, be creative in its design. Pay thought to the colors, type layout and the use of white space. People are more likely to take the time to interpret an infographic with a pleasing design.

5. Limit text

Remember, infographics are meant to be a VISUAL representation so text should be brief and to the point. These could be labels or short messages that can support your visuals. Choose readable type fonts and cut back on unnecessary wording.

If you’ve never given thought to infographics, I hope you’ll start thinking about how you can incorporate these visuals into your marketing strategies and especially your SEO. By following these tips, you have the opportunity to increase your brand visibility. Feel free to leave us your own comments or questions about infographics here.


Google’s Algorithm Change is an SEO’s Hail Storm

Google Algorithm Change

My wife is an insurance adjustor. She looks at cars that have been wrecked or damaged for a living. So when we get a big hail storm here in the Midwest, her life can be turned upside down. Seriously, she can go from handling three to five claims a day to as many as four times that amount. So when we see hail, it means she’ll be working extra hard for a few weeks.

Google’s algorithm changes are an SEO’s hail storm. One day, the SEO is marching along, building links, optimizing content, submitting press releases, and their client is ranking well and very happy. The next day, Google decides that their press releases are too spammy or the anchor text is over optimized. Their site falls from position three to page three. WTH? I specifically remember Google telling SEOs at SMX two years ago that they should use keywords in their anchor text as a signal to Google as to what keyword they’re promoting. Now that exact practice is considered “over optimization”.

Press releases used to be considered a great way to get word out about your business. Now pretty much everyone using PRWeb is doing so for the link juice so it’s unlikely that it’s as effective as it once was.

Blog networks used to work. Now they are being de-indexed.

Quality of Links

The quality of links, the anchor text, the diversity of links, the freshness of content, even URL structure – all these things play into this “hail storm” that SEOs are reacting to.

What is the extra hard work this creates for them? They must calm down their clients – explaining that, while they have been using best practices, they will now need to determine what are the new best practices by analyzing who lost ranking and who gained. SEOs are theorizing and analyzing and reading everything people are willing to write about what they are finding. It’s hard work. But it’s the challenge that SEOs signed up for.

Of course, a hail storm isn’t bad for everyone. The roofers and body shop owners see dollar signs when those little chunks of ice fall from the sky. So who wins when there is a Google hail storm? Google AdWords (aka PPC). It’s the quickest, easiest way to get to page one when SEO fails. I know I personally advised a couple of folks to fire up their PPC campaigns as soon as their rankings fell. They were able to recover a percentage of the traffic they lost when they fell to page three, but they’re having to pay Google for every one of those leads.

Conspiracy theory alert: Maybe Google just tweaks the algorithm to increase Adwords spend?

So which works better – SEO or PPC? There is a lot of debate on this subject. Obviously a lot depends on your goals, keywords, competition, ROI, etc. Personally, I think this LinkedIn Poll is a fantastic look at SEO vs. PPC. I would never try to answer this question in a blog post. There are way too many variables.
What I can tell you is that when there’s a Google algorithm change, PPC managers aren’t working overtime to right their whole world. In fact, they may actually be the salvation for those who are negatively impacted by Pandas and Penguins.
Thanks for reading.

David McBee
David McBee writes about SEO and Internet Marketing Education on his blog “Let’s Translate – Making Sense Out of Internet Gobbledygook.”


Google Releases Over-optimization Penalty

Over Optimization

The algorithm for the so-called over-optimization penalty which sparked fear and murmurings all over the web has now gone LIVE. And now most people can breathe a sigh of relief, except for of course, the ones being penalized. Not to rub it in the faces of those who do their SEO the shortcut way, but “We told you so!” OK, maybe I’m rubbing it in their faces a little bit. The official statement from Google is titled “Another step to reward high-quality sites.” Referring to white-hat SEO and black-hat SEO as the good and dark sides, respectively, Google explained the intent of the new algorithm to reward the sites that take the high road. Google is officially calling the update the Webspam Algorithm Update. Ultimately, the goal is to improve the search experience for Google users, which as an SEO professional AND a consumer, I appreciate. Something I found especially validating was this statement from Google:

“We also want the ‘good guys’ making great sites for users, not just algorithms, to see their effort rewarded.”

High-Quality Content

But moving on to the important stuff, this is how the algorithm will work…the change will decrease rankings for sites that are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines in order to reduce webspam and promote high-quality content. Of course, Google isn’t releasing too much info on specific signals to keep from people figuring out a way to work the system. Their advice for webmasters is simple: Create “high-quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.” Examples of aggressive webspam tactics are keyword stuffing and unusual linking patterns, (placing outgoing links that are completely unrelated to the actual content). From looking at various webmaster forums, there are already many reports of sites being affected. I mentioned in my last post that shortcuts and shady tactics may bring people to a site, but only high-quality content will keep them there. Now we see the tides are changing.


SEO: Can there be too much of a good thing?

Over Optimization

Rumor has it that for the past few months Google has been working on a new penalty that targets sites that overly optimize for search engines.  Basically, the idea is to reward sites that have valuable content over sites that have low-quality content but rank higher because of more effective SEO.  Google has always frowned upon websites that abuse SEO tactics to optimize sites while ignoring quality content and user value.  Especially within the last few years, Google has encouraged webmasters to provide original, rich content instead of solely using insider tricks to improve search engine rankings. Only recently has there been talk of actually penalizing the sites.  During a panel hosted by Search Engine Land in mid-March, Google’s Matt Cutts announced that Google is working on a search ranking penalty for sites that are “over-optimized.” However, Google has not officially made any statements about the potential upcoming penalty.

Create Useful Content

Being in the business of SEO, I’d imagine that many of my peers have mixed feelings on the issue.  Personally, I fully agree with the principle of continually creating useful web content for users, but my business is also built on the backbone of utilizing SEO practices to improve website visibility.  I believe the correct philosophy is a good combination of both worlds: content and technology.  In other words, to apply the principle of providing valuable, original content along with smart and fair techniques that improve search engine optimization.  Although SEO might bring a customer to your website, good content should keep them at the site and motivate them to come back.  When I approach clients with my plan of action, my ideas include ways to improve or create valuable web content.  What are your thoughts?  Should businesses have their rankings penalized for using insider tricks to bypass quality content? google adsense banned .


What is SEO? (Part 1)

This might just be the million-dollar question…unfortunately, it can’t be answered in one post. The answers to SEO take years and years to figure out and are found in thousands of books. Our goal is to put together a series of posts to help you better understand how SEO works and why it is important. So if you are looking for answers read on and check back for the next post for more information.

Users turn Online

Now, whether your business is just getting started, or you’re in need of some improvements and looking for your business to grow, your website will play a key role. Today’s consumers are turning to the Internet to research products and services and to purchase items rather than shopping in person. The convenience of shopping online makes it more necessary than ever before for businesses to have a high impact website and Internet marketing strategy to stand above their competitors. If you want to be found easier online and help your organization find success, an understanding of Internet marketing strategies is a must.

Search Engine Optimization

Internet marketing is centered around one thing, Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. SEO is a system by which search engines are able to find and index content on a site. By using this system, websites are able to rank themselves higher on search engine results, which will put them ahead of their competitors when customers are in search of products or services. Based on the SEO strategies used by a business, it’s possible to be ranked at the top of results for search terms related to the products and services offered by the company. When building a business or fine-tuning a marketing strategy, SEO professionals will put various techniques to work in order to achieve the best online rankings.

Understanding How Search Engines Work

Your understanding of SEO will rely on your ability to grasp the ways in which search engines work. SEO professionals use various tools and methods to make your site “search engine friendly”. This will make it so search engines can easily find content on your site, index it, and rank your site higher in the query results. Because search engines are so text-driven, the content of your site will be the biggest influence on how search engines respond to your website. SEO companies will recommend making use of several strategies for best results and as they are all important, keyword usage is perhaps the most powerful optimization tool of them all. The secret is how to use all the strategies together to find the best formula to be found.

Having an understanding of search engines and SEO as a whole will come into play when you work with an SEO company. Your understanding of the process will assist in your ability to work with the company for the best possible rankings for your company. The right SEO professional will be able to create a customized method based on your businesses objectives, which will be much easier to communicate with you with a better understanding of optimization tools and strategies.

Check back next time for a more in-depth look and understanding of “Keywords”.


Happy Valentines Day SEO, I Love You!

It’s that time of year again, love is in the air and millions of keywords are being searched for that perfect Valentines Day gift. I don’t know about you, but that excites me.

Now, I know it might sound cliché, but I am so lucky to have found a career that I truly love. I love it for some of the same characteristics and steps that it takes to find your true love in life.

Do you remember when you first realized you had a crush on that special someone? You would go around and ask everyone what they knew about her? What she likes, who she hangs out with, what makes her happy, you know, doing your research. Well in SEO I get to do that every day.

Research In SEO

Research in SEO is so important as well as so rewarding. Doing your research will allow you to be one step ahead of search engines and be able to adapt faster when thrown a curve ball. Just like your crush, being prepared paid off when asking them out for the first time.

Now as time goes on and your little crush begins to mean more to you, the hard work you put in the beginning becomes to seem easier and you want to spend more time and attention on them. This is so true in every aspect of SEO.

SEO Is A Process of Accumulation

The more time a business uses SEO their rankings (love) will grow. And, as that love grows it becomes important to never become complacent and just settle with that ranking. It has been said that a love that is not growing is only dying. Your SEO ranking is the same if you don’t give it the attention it desires you’ll lose it to someone who will. Adding fresh content, backlinks and social media is important all the time and helps strengthen the relationship with search engines.

SEO is challenging, nobody said it would be easy…just like everyone told you that there was no way your crush would say yes. However, how much more rewarding was it when she did say yes? It might have been easier to ask out someone less attractive or not as interesting as your crush, but you would have just been settling, and you can never just settle with SEO.

When it comes to love I’m in it for the long haul. I was never the type for a one-night stand, and SEO is the same. SEO is an ongoing, never-ending process. As soon as SEO stops your competitors will see you as weak and steal your rankings.

True love can be hard to find, but when you do find it you’ll never let go…SEO, I love you!


Quick Rules For SEO

WHAT IS SEO?

SEO is the process of increasing a site’s visibility in the search engines like Google Yahoo and Bing. SEO is broken up into two parts on-site SEO and off-site SEO.

ON-SITE SEO

On-site SEO is editing, improving, and adjusting the HTML and content on a website. Optimizing a website increases its ability to be found, indexed and ranked for specific searches in search engines such as Google.  In general on-site SEO can also enhance the user experience by making it easier for them to understand where specific content is and what pages are about.

The simplistic view of on-site SEO consists of two types of activities:  Optimizing content and removing errors, removing errors could be considered optimizing content. I see these activities as separate because optimizing content generally involves the creation of new content. Removing errors comprises of fixing missing pages, server errors, and maintenance activities.

Simple things to look for when Fixing Errors

  1. Fixing any missing pages created by deleting old pages, client errors or server errors
  2. Fix duplicate content errors, the most common duplicate content errors are duplicate titles and descriptions
  3. Fix any missing titles or descriptions.

Rules of Optimizing Titles

  1. Titles should target one-two keywords
  2. Titles should always be unique for each page and never duplicate
  3. A title should be under 70 Characters

Rules for Optimizing Descriptions

  1. Descriptions should be unique for each page and never duplicate
  2. Descriptions should be around 155 characters
  3. Descriptions should contain keywords, don’t repeat a keyword more the twice

Rules for Optimizing Content

  1. Use appropriate HTML for the content
  2. Use Heading tags, Paragraph, and other tags
  3. Use keywords in the text on the page.
  4. Use closely rated terms like the road: biking, cycling
  5. Create New and Fresh content, Blogs, news, etc…

OFF-SITE SEO

The second element of SEO is Off-Site SEO. Link building is the primary off-site activity; every link pointing to a site is essentially a vote for that site. However, not every vote is created equal; some links carry more value than others. Sites that have more popularity and more authority provide more weight if providing a link.

Rules for Building Backlinks

  1. Links should be from high-quality sites
  2. Links should be from relevant sites
  3. Links should contain targeted keywords, this is called anchor text
    <a href=”http://sitename.com”>Keywords</a>
  4. Links should come from a variety of different sites
  5. Links should look natural

These quick rules are not the “tell all secret” to SEO. However, if you are looking for a basic start and looking to get the greatest bang for your buck when performing your SEO, follow these quick SEO rules and you can begin to see an impact.