Monthly Archives: May 2012

5 Reasons Why Google Might Indirectly Promote Spam

Spamming is never cool

No, I don’t believe that Google is deliberately encouraging spammers. However, they may well be indirectly encouraging spammers to spread their garbage all over the web. How could this be? How could it be that the company which claims their motto as “don’t be evil” is actually supporting spam? Well, it’s not that they’re deliberately encouraging people to spam the web. It’s just that their policies may well encourage it without intending to. Here’s what you need to know:

 

Google Bowling is Back

First and foremost, the Penguin update is, in my humble opinion, an absolute disaster waiting to happen and which is probably happening even as you read these very words. Around 2005 or so, some black hat SEO genius (I mean that in a derisive way, not in the sense of praising them) realized that they could make their sites rise in the rankings by simply trashing the rankings of their competitors.

How did it work? Simple really – Google was penalizing sites which turned out to have lots and lots of junk links from poor quality website and was either delisting them or dropping them to the bottom of the rankings. So, people would fire up SENuke or any of a dozen other programs which could build thousands upon thousands of junk links all over the web very quickly and they’d use that service to go out build junk links to their competitor’s sites. The idea was that if they eliminate the competition, they should rise up in the rankings.

This insidious practice became known as Google Bowling and Google was forced to simply ignore junk links because there was really no way to know who had built them to begin with. Well now that the Penguin update is once again targeting websites for unnatural link building, I’m quite certain that Google Bowling is back and stronger than ever. Tools have only increased in sophistication and it’s not hard to overwhelm your competitor’s legitimate links with junk links.

The result of course is that Google is encouraging spam. I realize they don’t mean to do so, but unless they have some super secret way that I’m not aware of to figure out who placed which links and thus eliminate the problem of Google bowling (no clue how that would work – even if they could trace the IP address back to the original poster of a link, there is nothing to stop people from spoofing IP addresses).

I have addressed this in the past and I sincerely hope that Matt Cutts is paying attention because this will very quickly get out of hand.

 

Content Farms Are Still Popular

 

content farms

Do a Google search for a particular subject which is popular and inevitably, eHow will pop up in the top results. Why is this the case when eHow is a known content farm which is little more than spam on steroids? To answer that question, we have to do a bit of guess work. There is no firm answer to the question but I do have my suspicions.

First and foremost, eHow generates millions of dollars of revenue for Google. They use adsense on the site and because they have millions upon millions of articles, the site is able to provide Google with a platform for selling lots and lots of adsense ads. Now, you may be asking: why would Google give them priority?

I thought that adsense heavy sites were getting deinedexed or at least dropped in the rankings? You’d be right to ask that question. To the best of my knowledge, most MFA sites are not doing too well these days. Google after all would rather just keep the revenue from the direct advertising on their own site rather than share it with someone else.

However, I believe that in the case of eHow, Google may deliberately have given them a pass simply because of the sheer scale of the site and the fact that they use Adsense to do their advertising. Of course, I can’t say for certain, but there seems to be no other explanation as to why eHow seems to rank well while I don’t tend to find stuff from other known content farms like Wisegeek nearly as often (even though Wisegeek ostensibly has higher standards than eHow had).

In either case, I’m not sure that this one qualifies as accidentally encouraging spam as much as deliberately encouraging it. Mind you, Google is a business and they need to make business decisions to make the most money that they can.

Demand Studios, which owns eHow (amongst many other sites) is also a business and there is no reason that the two of them couldn’t have a strategic partnership which benefits both of them. It’s not like giving eHow a bit of preferential treatment violates antitrust laws…

Of course, as I said, this is just me guessing…though I do recall reading an article once where someone suggested that the CEO of Demand Studios was pretty cozy with some of the higher ups at Google. Then again, I probably shouldn’t be feeding into the rumor mill, right?

 

Blog Commenting and Guest Blogging

These are two of the biggest staples of the SEO world when it comes to building backlinks. Also, article marketing (or rather, article directory marketing, as Alexa Smith on the Warrior Forum likes to call it). Alll of these methods of building links are rife with spammers though and they are indirectly encouraged to do this by Google, though in this case, it’s probably Google’s most innocent situation of all.

In essence, everyone knows that you need lots of backlinks to get your website noticed on the web these days. So it’s not surprising at all that Google inadvertently encourages spammers to try their best to get their links onto every possible platform that they are able to find, including the blogs and article directories. And of course, the pervasiveness of the duplicate content myth also helps to push people to engage in spamming because to actually write unique content every time would take too long.

Every other day it seems someone is on the Warrior Forum asking about this or that spinner and saying that they think spinning is wonderful and it’s bound to pay off. Others inevitably will tell the person that they are wasting their time, but it doesn’t matter – there are always going to be people who are convinced that magic shortcuts exist.

Of course, in this particular case, I believe that Google is not doing this deliberately and in fact discourages spammers as much as possible. The Penguin update is in fact one effort to address this pervasive problem on the web and it may well stop people from trying to game the system by creating spam links for their own websites, but this of course then encourages them to try to game the system by trashing competitors.

I suppose in a way, it’s a Kobayashi Maru situation and unfortunately, even Captain Kirk wouldn’t be able to find a way to get around this one by reprogramming the simulator to allow him to win, because we’re talking about real life rather than a simulation. Now if only Spock could come up with a way to program Google’s computers out of this mess…

 

The Need for Keywords

I am one of those people who generally says, don’t worry about keywords. They generally take care of themselves. However, it is true that when we write for the web, we tend to subconsciously at least keep the whole keyword issue in mind. I mean, let’s face it – we need to find a way to get our stuff noticed and so we tend to target keywords in our writing. When the keywords are not grammatically correct, guess what? We get spam.

I’ve been pretty creative about getting around the keyword problem, including the non grammatically correct keyword. I found for example that it was possible to split a keyword using punctuation and that Google would treat it the same even if you put the keyword into quotes (so for example, if you were to put a keyword into Google like “hotels New York,” you could get an exact match for a sentence like: When it comes to hotels, New York has an abundance of variety.

However, the fact is that this obsession with keywords does tend to encourage spammers even though it’s really not all that necessary anymore. People who are inexperienced in web writing will inevitably think that they need to have a high keyword density in order to rank well online for a particular keyword and can make the life of writers (like me), miserable with their insane demands.

It’s not uncommon for example for demands of 5-6% keyword density with a non grammatically correct keyword to be made.

To give you an idea of what that might look like (and this is a classic example of unintended encouraging of spam by Google), check out this paragraph which is over-pptimized for the keyword “hotels New York, New York:

If you’ve been looking online for hotels, New York, New York then you know that there are lots of choices of hotels. New York, New York is after all known for all the hotels. New York, New York is in fact one of the best known hotel destinations in the world and thus you can find all kinds of hotels. New York, New York really does have it all.

Of course that is an utterly ridiculous paragraph, but if you demand heavy keyword density (5.79% in this case), then that is the kind of spammy gobbledygook that you’ll end up with.

 

Mostly, It’s Encouraged in Newbies

 confused newbies

I think however that the bottom line of all these things is that Google is inadvertently encouraging spam amongst newbies in the world of internet marketing. I mean, let’s face it – most newbs know precious little about what it takes to make a business work online and they know they face very stiff competition and as such, they will often end up spamming because they simply don’t know better.

Of course, this is not at all Google’s fault – they usually try to discourage spamming (with the possible exception of eHow, which as I said, I have suspicions about), however when there are billions of people in this world and everyone and his brother seems to want to find a way to make money online, Google inadvertently encourages spamming on the part of newbies who are looking for the shortcut to the truck backing down their driveway with piles of cash.

 

Bottom Line

Google generally has a vested interest in keep the web clear of spam. Spam heavy search results means that Google is less likely to remain the king of the search engines. They already know that Facebook is taking away many of their customers from looking at Google and Bing, much as I don’t happen to like Microsoft, is also sniping at Google’s heels and becoming an increasingly popular alternative to Google’s search results.

In short, Google is worried about becoming the next Yahoo!, a once proud company which is still hanging on and which frankly still has an awful lot of traffic but which is no longer the crown jewel of the Internet that it once was.

By the way, I happen to have a copy of the dot com edition of Monopoly which came out right around the time that Google was founded. It’s somewhat telling to note that Facebook and Google appear nowehere on the board, but sites like Excite! and Pets.com do appear on the board and are actually rather pricey.

Google doesn’t want to end up being one of those has beens that we read about in Wikipedia when we want to be nostalgic about the old days of the web and so I believe that they will continue to do whatever they can to discourage people from engaging in online spam even though they may well be inadvertently encouraging people to do exactly what they don’t want people to do.

 

5 Ways to Use Images to Drive More Traffic

Let’s drop the cliché (the one with 1000 words) and put it this way, an image can say a lot more than you want to convey to your website visitors. How many people out there would love to read oodles of text endlessly and not get bored? A very well-written page is sort of incomplete without a communicative, gripping picture to go along. An expressive image performs three very important actions:

  1.  It connects with the reader
  2. It engages them
  3. Propels them to read further

Isn’t that exactly what you’d want for your website?

 

 So let’s talk about ways to use images to drive more traffic.

Rule # 1 Use Images for Your Reader to Drive More Traffic

  •  Target the audience directly. Avoid posting random images. Think from the reader’s perspective and post what they would like to see and that they could relate to. If you create or market beautiful home interiors, include pictures which would attract both men and women, as they perceive images differently. Generally, men are the more practical ones and most women connect with the emotional aspect of most of the things.
  • Include sizable pictures. Tiny pictures are as good as no good. So include moderately sized images or if necessary large pictures to attract viewers and keep them hooked. Check out the VW bus event company’s website and see how engaging large pictures can be.
  •  Go for Live Images. Images that have direct eye contact with your reader have a huge impact, a lot more than an abstract image.
  • Use clear and quality images. Of course! Who would enjoy looking at a blurred or unclear image and continue to stay on the webpage. Get best images for your website for optimizing conversion rates.

Rule # 2 to Drive More Traffic – Turn your images SEO friendly

 Isn’t SEO the God of online marketing? We all turn miniscule in view of the immense power of SEO. Let’s waste no time and get friendlier with it!

  • Keep file size small You do not want to turn away visitors because your images take forever to load, do you? Achieve ideal image compression to keep the interest intact.
  • Use fewer images per page to avoid unnecessary congestion. Readers will also feel bogged down if they see too many images at once.
  • Consider getting a landing page for each image with unique information pertaining to each image. This will give you a chance to enable interaction with viewers by allowing them to rate or comment on it.
  • Give images informative names. Also, powerful alt text is preferred by search engines because it serves as important information for people who use screen readers, who have visual anomalies and those with slow internet speeds.
  • Use keywords in correct context This enables the search engine to return an appropriate image in response to a user’s inquiry.

An efficient SEO plugin to create SEO compatible images for your website is all you need to optimize your website for search engines.

Rule # 3 to Drive More Traffic – Get Social Networking Sites Working for You

We all know the spread and reach of social media on the internet today. If you are famous on social networking sites, you are famous. Additionally, propagating your work via social media is a low-cost method to achieve high returns on investment. One of the ways you can achieve this is through images.

  • Get really catchy images so that the visitor on your website cannot restrain from sharing it via social networking.
  • Use standard formatting types like TIFF, .jpg, .png or .gif which are most widely accepted and compatible with most devices.
  • Post images on your blog if you run one or are associated with one and share it on all possible forms of social media to increase the chances of reaching larger number of people.

 Rule # 4 to Drive More Traffic – Keep Your Image Fresh, Usable and Matching Content

 Make sure people relate to your image almost immediately. Let your image ooze a fresh feel. Make your image usable so that when people click on it, they can reach your site.

  •  Upload images periodically because the newness of the image does impact its rankings with search engines.
  • Ascertain usability When a person clicks a link to view the image you uploaded, they must reach your website, instead of getting a ‘click to view larger picture’ message.
  • Relevant Content is a must within the image keywords, URL, captions; to align with the text on the webpage for the search engines to believe you are a non-spammer.

Rule # 5 to Drive More Traffic – Optimize File Names and Alt Text

  •  Appropriate keywords in the file name of your images are a must, exactly like those in URLs for content.
  • Prominent search engines recommend saving similar images in a unique folder rather than randomly scattering them.
  • Exceptional Alt attribute for your images is another plus point for your website to be popular with search engines. Instead of stuffing it with random keywords or nothing at all, create it to give constructive information about the description of the image.

 We all know how difficult it is to survive tough competition and stay among the frontrunners. Using images optimally, for both the kings, the customer and SEO, is one of the easiest and doable ways you can use to boost your profits on a large scale and gain an edge over competition.

 

 Customer is King

 I would recommend you to check whether your images are SEO ready and better the chances of conversions. These handy and useful tips will ensure you go a long way in optimizing images for a successful website and hence an enhanced success rate for your business. There are a multitude of plugins and tools you can put to use to make your images ready to drive more traffic to your site. Of course, you will have to be a little time-tolerant for the results to be visible.

Have you already implemented similar image optimization strategies and techniques and seen wonderful results? Share with us and let’s discuss the possibility of discovering better ideas.

     

 

Top 10 Myths About Online Marketing.. Dispelled

Online riches

As a business owner, everyone wants to be online, market their site there and crack a sale with each visit on their website. But does everyone seriously undertake what it takes to be successful online? Or do you get swayed by every piece of information you read about online marketing in an effort to establish your presence on the coveted, oh so hallowed world wide web?

Beware! You might be taken in by such piece of information. It might be just a myth. These online marketing myths have the power to determine your success or failure on the internet.

Let’s debunk the myths about online marketing:

 

Myth 1: Create a website and you did it!

Most people and businesses consider it a must to have their own website and list their products and services, albeit for no good. I have come across several websites where the homepage looks so interesting and makes me actually want to delve deeper and check out what the site has to offer. Alas, my enthusiasm receives nothing but the message – “This page is under construction.” at the next click. Too bad!

It is not enough to own a website for your product or business and let it out on the www. You need to market it to your intended audience so that they visit your site. It requires out-of-the-world online marketing approaches and strategies to reach out to your target audience and convert them into customers and reap profits.

 

Myth 2: Online Marketing is similar to traditional marketing

This doesn’t hold true. In fact online marketing is an extremely special and a far-reaching mode to extend the scope of your product-line or services. Online marketing is like having an active conversation with your global potential customer, unlike the traditional marketing methods that are passive.

In the traditional marketing, you just advertise your product and wait for the customer to reach you. However, with online marketing you can reach your customer and that too at a time convenient to your customer (or prospective customer). Such is the revolutionary power of online marketing.

I recommend some more awesome points covering online marketing myths and how to bust these.

 

Myth 3: Professional online marketing services are redundant

Your prospective clients are out there, trying to reach product/ service providers like you, every moment. With experienced and professional online marketing service providers your business will stand out from the rest.

I’m sure you do not want to come across as an amateur struggling to make it online. Whether you are or not, your potential client should look up to you as someone who’s ‘been there, done that’, and not only once but many times! You cannot afford to lose any prospect. Can you?

 

Professional Aid

 Myth 4: Presentation is hyped too much!

Ok, now I am going to take the liberty of assuming that you do not want to follow the old norms. The very fact that you are reading this post corroborates that you want to stay ahead of others and bust the myths and set the facts from fiction. So here we go. No matter how authentic your product/ service and the related information is, what matters the most, at least at the outset, is how it comes across to the buyer.

Does the information about your product/ service reach your target buyer? It needs to enchant them, spell-bind them for that one moment in which they will decide to go for it! A run-of-the-mill website design or lackluster prose style definitely aren’t going to create magic! Extraordinary is what is expected.

 

Myth 5: Asking for your customer’s personal information is a no-no

Not really. It actually depends on how you present your business and your offering. Not all visitors on your website associate giving email address or other personal information with receiving spam (be sure to check out this resourceful article for an insight into this online marketing myth). You need to first build that credibility, that relationship with the prospective buyer so that they can trust you and go ahead with sharing their information.

They will then not hesitate and choose to be informed about your business and all what you have to offer in the future. Blogging can be used as an excellent online marketing tool to get larger number of people interested in signing up on your mailing list thereby giving you a chance to building a relationship with them.

 

Myth 6: Pricing the product/ service HIGH will portray it to be of high quality

Unfortunately for all businesses that believe this, this globally competitive age has something else in store for them. Prospective buyers are so aware and so savvy that they compare at least three products/ services before they zero in on one. Make sure your prices are, if not reasonable, at least competitive so that you don’t end up shooing away the customer at the mere mention of the word ‘price’.


 Myth 7: Pricing my product substantially lower than others on the market will attract more buyers

Again, it is an era of alert and knowledgeable buyers. They don’t mind spending a buck extra for dependable quality. And your price, lower than the most, is likely to make them lose confidence about your product. Don’t under-price your product so as not to repel the prospective buyer with aversion.

 

Myth 8: Building more and more new customers is the only key to successful online marketing

It is no doubt essential for the continuous growth of your business; but in the process of attracting new ones do not forget that it takes a lot more investment to create a new customer than it takes to retain the existing one. Be loyal to your current clientele and make sure you cater to their needs first and then go about building new customer base. Be in touch with the seasoned ones and keep strengthening your relationship with them so that they keep giving you business and new customers as well by way of recommendation.

 

Myth 9: Buying traffic is an effective way for online marketing to boom

Think twice about it. Does it make sense buying traffic if it isn’t resulting in   increased turnover for your business? If you don’t earn more than what you spend, it ain’t going to do you good. If you get fewer clicks, so be it, but make sure you convert most of the clicking visitors into clients leading to sales. And gradually establish your presence rather than resorting to unreasonable tactics. Explore a different angle to this myth to get more clarity.

 Myth 10: Online Marketing ought to give fast and visible results

Trust me, I have taken years to build my business. There was no magic in my case (magic sagas & fairy tales are good for fictional books only). Incorporate measurability in the form of the number of subscribers and eventual buyers. Constantly monitor the figures and you will definitely need a little patience for the results to start pouring in. Watch this interesting video that busts some more myths about online marketing.

Even though I have a successful online business that gives me great results, I still introspect in retrospection and plan for future. I make sure I am worth that space I am using on the World Wide Web; else I would be wasting my time and your time. Make sure you do the same for your website and your visitors too! You cannot afford to build your website and have myths hovering around your online marketing efforts like the albatross around the neck it.

If you want to stay in vogue, be sure to get rid of those myths that I stated above. I know my list of myths isn’t exhaustive and being a keen listener that I am, I would love to hear from you. Send me your thoughts about other myths that I missed, your comments about this post and your views in general.

 

by sandhya, on       Comments are off for this post