You’ve Got Questions About SEO, and We’ve Got Answers!

Our clients often ask us questions about SEO, and for good reason! The rules of SEO seem to change frequently and keeping up with the current recommendations is a daunting task. Here, we answer the most common questions our SEO team gets.

We hope that you find the SEO answers you seek on this page. If you don’t please do not hesitate to call 888-886-0939 to speak with a member of our U.S.-based SEO team.


 

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  • What is the difference between hard and soft 404 errors?

    Difference between hard and soft 404 errorsSometimes, old or outdated pages on your website need to go. Deleting stale web pages or content is just part of regular maintenance, but deleting a page leaves a void on your site—and you need to take the steps to let Google and other search engines know if the content is really gone, or it has just moved. This is why it is so important to understand the different between “hard” and “soft” 404 errors.

    Wait a Minute: What Is a 404 Error?

    When a searcher tries to open a page on your website that no longer exists, your site generally reacts two ways: by displaying a generic or custom “Page Not Found” page and by returning an HTTP response code 404 from your server that indicates the page isn’t there. While the reader may be satisfied with the displayed message or a redirect to other content, the crawlers from Google and other search engines depend on the code returned from your server to determine if there is content on the page that should be indexed.

    Why the Difference Between Hard and Soft 404 Errors Matters to You

    There’s a right way and a wrong way to delete pages. Although the difference may not seem that important, especially compared to content creation and your other marketing tasks, going the wrong route means that you’re essentially wasting Google’s time and taking some of the juice away from your real pages—the pages that feature unique information and core content.

    Think about it. Do you really want Google to continue to index a bunch of pages on your site that just say “File Not Found,” or would you rather let search engine crawlers focus on crawling your content that still exists?

    The Wrong Way: Soft 404 Errors

    Don't let the name fool you. Soft 404 errors are much harder on your website's visibility than a hard 404 error. A “soft” 404 error happens when the wrong code (often the 200 response code) is returned by your server when someone tries to access a page that no longer exists on your site. Even if your website displays an error page to the reader, it still needs to return the right error code to let search crawlers know to ignore the page. Or, you have deleted an old page and you redirected it to a new page that isn’t relevant to what the original content was on the old page.

    When your website’s server does not return a 404 code (or a 410 “Gone” code in some cases), search engine crawlers are essentially being told content does exist on that page, and will spend time attempting to index that “content.” If the number of soft 404 errors is high, especially in comparison to the number of “real” pages on your site, it can have a negative impact on your organic search performance. Google recommends using Fetch as Google or similar tools to verify whether a particular URL on your site is using the right HTTP response code.

    The Right Way: Hard 404 Errors

    When everything is working the right way, your reader will see an error page, and your server will return a 404 or 410 response code. This lets both readers and crawlers know that the page doesn’t exist anymore and shouldn’t be indexed,  and that page will be removed from search results over time.

    This means that the possibly limited time Google’s crawlers spend indexing your site can be concentrated on the pages you really want indexed—and it helps the crawlers better hone in on what your website is really about. And, by using a custom 404 error page or redirecting readers to other relevant and helpful content on your site, you basically eliminate the potential for problems when you remove a page.

    Solving the Problems With 404 Error Pages: The 301 Redirect

    At Foster Web Marketing, the confusion over soft and hard 404 errors is handled automatically for our clients in DSS. By using a 301 “permanent redirect” we essentially offer an easy way to direct users and crawlers away from a deleted page and toward an updated or similar page. In DSS, you can redirect pages automatically when you delete them. However, you still need to select the most relevant new page of information to send the old page traffic to, or you could still have issues with soft 404 errors. You don’t want to be in a situation where readers are directed to irrelevant pages that don’t answer their questions or where crawlers index the same page over and over again through removed pages. So, if you have content on your website that is not relevant to anything else on your site and you want to get rid of it please reach out to our customer service team to help you figure out the best course of action.

    Do you have questions about 404 errors, page redirects in DSS, or how Google indexes your website? Don’t hesitate to give our friendly SEO team a call at 888-886-0939.

  • Does the domain extension for my website affect my search engine rankings?

    Choosing the wrong top-level domain name can put your site at a disadvantage.Domain extensions can be helpful in giving consumers basic information about a website, such as .gov for municipal sites and .edu for online homes of schools and universities. However, there is no ranking benefit for using .edu over a .com—and Google won’t be handing out any bonus points for newly-minted domain extensions, either.

    You may remember from our previous blog posts on domain extensions that many new domain extensions are becoming available. In addition to .com, .gov, .org, and .edu, we may soon see .app, .radio, .help, and nearly any other extension imaginable. These new extensions are called Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs).

    Google has recently confirmed that websites with new gTLDs will be evaluated based on the same geo-targeting settings as other sites, and will not be given any more or less weight when the search engine crawls, indexes, or ranks URLs. In short, using a new gTLD will not give your website any advantage in search results.

    How Can I Be Sure My Domain Name Isn’t Working Against My Marketing Strategy?

    As long as all domain extensions are treated equally by search engines, businesses have the freedom to choose and create a domain that best fits their brand. The SEO strategists at Foster Web Marketing can help you find the domain extension that makes the most sense for your long-term goals. Call us today at 866-460-3724 to find out which domain names and extensions would be best for you, or browse through our links to learn more about how to apply search engine optimization to your website.

  • What is Universal Analytics and how do I make sure that I have it?

    Some people love to hate Google because of all its updates, changes, and rules. We acknowledge that this can be frustrating, but we also know how valuable the search tool is! And, every now and then, Google gives us a gift that doesn’t require a mad dash to fix our backlink profiles or clean up our over-stuffed content.

    This time, we’re excited to receive Google’s gift called “Universal Analytics!” You should be excited, too.

    Whether you have your own personal Google Analytics account set up for your website, or you use the information that Foster Web Marketing supplies (or both—bravo!), you should know that Google Analytics is upgrading to “Universal Analytics.”

    Universal Analytics will give websites:

    • Better mobile tracking
    • The ability to track user IDs across all devices
    • Demographic information
    • “Lighter weight” for your website (performs in a less resource-intensive way so as to not slow down user experience)
    • Better marketing integration
    • Better forward compatibility

    It’s important to note that if you’re a client of Foster Web Marketing, you automatically have a Google Analytics account set up for your website, and therefore your account has been already upgraded to Universal Analytics.

    And even if you're not a client, Google has automatically upgraded most accounts, so chances are you don’t need to worry about doing it yourself. However, we operate by the philosophy “trust but verify,” so if you want to verify that your account is good to go, just follow these steps:

    • Login to your personal Google Analytics account.
    • Go to your Admin page.
    • If you see “Tracking Info” under the “Property” column (the middle column), that means your account is already upgraded. You’re done!
    • If you don’t see “Tracking Info” and instead see “Tracking Code,” then your account has not been upgraded. There should be an option in that same middle “Property” column that says “Universal Analytics Upgrade.” Click this and follow the steps.

    As always if you need any help at all, or would like us to walk you through the new features, call 888-886-0939 or shoot us an email.

     

  • How do I prevent reviews for my business from being removed from Google, Yelp, and other review sites?

    Reviews have become increasingly important for all businesses. If you want to do well, you have to have a good review reputation online. Unfortunately for attorneys, podiatrists, and other physicians, these reviews are hard to get. That’s why so many of our clients ask us questions about how to make sure that the reviews they get stick—that they aren’t filtered out by the big review sites (Google, Yelp, FindLaw, HealthGrades, etc.).

    To answer your question, and to help you ensure that you’re following best practice review-gathering strategies, we’ve compiled a list of the questions clients ask most often along with our best, most ethical advice:

    Can I have people leave reviews from my office?

    Yes and no. The one big no-no here is setting up a computer in your office for reviews. Review sites are onto this and can tell if reviews are all coming from the same IP address. If they see it happening they will yank all these reviews.

    However, it is acceptable to have them leave a review from their phone, so don’t be afraid to encourage pleased patients, clients, or customers to submit a review before they leave your office. For more on how to ask for reviews, read our article on exactly how to ask for reviews.

    Can I offer a discount or gift for a review?

    No. Never offer an incentive for people who leave a positive review. This is strictly forbidden. Some people have tried to get around it by giving the gift and saying it’s for any review, positive or negative, but we don’t recommend doing so. Just get reviews the old fashioned way: earn their praise and then ask them to share the love.

    Can I send people to review sites from my website?

    You can send people directly to most review websites and not have any issues. Here is an example of our “Rate Us!” page:

    Our 'Rate Us' Page

    Keep the content on these pages short and sweet. Don’t distract visitors with a ton of modules or other info; you want to point their eyes directly to the review site buttons, leading them down a clearly marked path to review success!

    It is important to note that while we normally don’t see reviews cleared out when a review site is accessed from a website, there is one notable exception: Yelp. To avoid this, only send users to Yelp thorough a button on your website that uses a Google search link. This way Yelp won’t see you send people to their site, but the link will still offer direct access to your page on the review site.

    To do this, type in “Your Business Name site:www.Yelp.com,” using your actual business or practice name at the start. Here is an example:

    How to Get Yelp Link

    To get this link for your site, right click on your business name for Yelp, select, “Copy link address,” and then embed this link into the Yelp button on your website. This link will be long, and should look something like this:

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CDQQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.yelp.com%2Fbiz%2Ffoster-web-marketing-fairfax&ei=OmnjVI7cCYuwogTEr4LwCg&usg=AFQjCNGsVyE3EVd5VgV6wEVKFPRiEFJKqQ&sig2=vQwkZkEhQTNmKLEP7lFN9w

    One word of caution: Make sure you choose the right link, the right business, when you look at your search results. That may seem like a no-brainer but it can be tricky, especially given how many similar brand names there are, particularly in the podiatry field.

    Should I pay someone to get reviews for me?

    If someone offers to dramatically increase the number of good reviews you get, run away! The only people who offer instant positive reviews are cheating cheaters who cheat, and any reviews you get will be fictitious and almost guaranteed to get your reviews, both real and fake, yanked from review sites. Goodbye hard-earned, legitimate reviews!

    Now, if you have a law firm marketing company helping you run an ethical review acquisition campaign, that’s a different story. There is a lot of leg work involved in getting good reviews and managing your online reputation, so there is no problem if you hire this work out. Just never hire someone who promises are too good to be true.

    Can I transfer testimonials or written reviews to review sites?

    No. If you’re sent a kind, glowing email, or someone responds positively on a comment card in your office you absolutely cannot transfer these kind words to reviews sites.

    What you can do is use this opportunity to ask for a review. When you get a positive email response or comment, either verbally or in writing, ask for a review. Thank them for their kind words and ask if they wouldn’t mind sharing them with other looking for excellent legal or medical care, pointing them to your “Rate Us” page.

    Should I ask friends, family, and my employees to write reviews?

    No. While it can be tempting to send out an office-wide memo to ask employees to write a positive review, or to broach the subject with your family over Thanksgiving dinner, don’t. Not only could this get reviews yanked (if they all come from your office, for example), it’s just bad business. It’s disingenuous, it’s cheating, and it can create a bad feeling among your staff; nobody wants to feel forced into this kind of thing. So save your relationships, and your reviews, and work on getting legitimate reviews using advice from our Reviews Matter webinar.

    I hope that I’ve answered all of your questions on the right and wrong ways to get reviews. If you have any other questions about reviews please do not hesitate to call 888-886-0939 or fill out a contact form on this page. We’d love to hear from you!

  • I am a doctor who recently got divorced and have legally changed my name. Do you think I should keep my former name on my website and online, to assist in patient recognition or for SEO purposes?

    This excellent question was posed by one of our clients. The physician had legally changed her name, but didn’t know the best way to proceed when it came to changing it online. On one hand, she was ready to be done with her old name, but she didn’t want this change to affect her visibility online.

    She was right to be concerned! There is a very good chance that patients who haven’t seen her in a while, or prospective patients who have been referred from a friend, will search using the old name.

    Three Steps to Name Change Success

    Whether it was a divorce, marriage, or entrance into the witness protection program, it’s important that you change your name not only on your website but also on external directories and profiles like healthgrades.com or avvo.com. I’m not going to sugarcoat it: this is going to be a tall task, but it’s a necessary step. To help you through this process I will outline exactly how to go about finding where your name is listed on the Internet, and then give advice on how best to make the changes needed.

    Please note: As the client who asked the question was a doctor I am going to use a physician in the examples below. However, any professional or business owner who relies on her name for brand recognition needs to attend to each of the steps listed.

    Your Website Makes the Transition

    This will be the simplest step in the process. We recommend that you find all mentions of your old name on your website and change them to your new name. The only exception to this rule will be on your bio page and perhaps your homepage. Mentioning your former name on these pages will prevent prospective clients from thinking, “Oh, I’ve got the wrong person!” On these pages, your new name should be prominently displayed, but under that you should add something to the effect of, “Dr. New Name, formerly known as Dr. Former Name.” You can even wield a bit of wit here, saying something like, “New name, same excellent medical care.”

    Audit Your Local Listings

    Ideally, you’ve already performed a local listings audit and have an extensive, well-organized list of everywhere your business is listed. If so, please move on to step three. If not, it’s a good idea to do this now. Start by searching for your name and your profession on Google. You will use the search string equivalent to “former name doctor”; for instance, “Rachel Elkins podiatrist.” You may wish to make repeated searches using synonyms: “Doctor Rachel Elkins,” “Rachel Elkins foot doctor,” and so forth. Make a list of every website that pops up in your search results.

    Add to this list every website you know you’re listed on. This should include Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and any listings or social media sites that you’ve already claimed (Healthgrades, Avvo, etc.). Another good idea is to use the free services at Yext. Yext will show you exactly where you’re listed, Internet-wide. Add any sites that Yext finds to your list. You should now have a very thorough list (we suggest using a spreadsheet to organize this list) of the places your name is listed online. With this list in hand, move on to step three.

    Change Your Information

    It’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of this process. Starting with the results that popped up in the search of your name, begin visiting the websites and editing your name. This will be a tedious task, as it’s possible you’ve never claimed the majority of your listings and will therefore have to register on with website before being able to make changes. But don’t let this deter you! It’s a crucial step that you simply cannot skip! Go down the list, one by one, making notes in your spreadsheet when you successfully make changes. As you do so, feel free to add your new name disclaimer in the description box that most of these websites provide. “Dr. New Name, formerly known as Dr. Former Name; new name, same excellent medical care.”

    Pro tip: Make the most of your time by ensuring that your name, address and phone number are identical on each site. Even a “&” on one site an “and” on another, a listing of “Stephanie” on one website and “Steph” on another will wreak havoc on the success of your local listings. So scrutinize each of your listings, correcting these mistakes as you go.

    Successfully Establishing a New Web Identity

    Has this answer helped you better understand how to change your name online? If so, please feel free to share this article using one of the buttons on this page. And for timely, expert information be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Good luck out there, and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to call us at 888-886-0939.
     

  • Should I embed my YouTube videos onto my website or host them myself?

    In the majority of cases for our clients, I do not believe that it's a good idea to embed YouTube videos onto your website. While this topic is hotly debated in the video and SEO world, I would argue that more times than not, doing so will actually drive people away from your site. Talk about counterproductive!

    You will find that the majority of information out there says that it is a good idea to embed YouTube videos, but those people are referring to content management systems like WordPress and Joomla. DSS, our proprietary CMS and inbound marketing software, has a lot more going for it than these less sophisticated systems and actually makes hosting videos extremely easy.

    Here are the top four reasons I believe you should think twice before embedding a YouTube video:

    • Advertising for the enemy. When you embed a YouTube video you can’t control what shows up after the video. Videos from other lawyers or competing businesses are likely to pop up as recommended videos after yours has stopped playing. Modern humans are more distractible than goldfish, so when they get to the end of your video and see other options you run the very real risk of having them go off-page and even find another attorney, doctor, or business. No bueno!
       
    • Loss of control. The fact that you have full control over the video you host is very, very important. When you add your video to YouTube, you lose full control of your videos; it's the price you pay for their hosting services. However, when you load your own videos, you have total control of them, and don't have to play by any else's rules.
       
    • The annoyance factor. As I said in number one, when you embed a YouTube video on your site that video is likely to begin and end with an advertisement. Ads annoy users, so when they pop up, you run the risk an ad sending people off your website. However, when you host your own videos, users will be able to watch your videos without having to worry about an ad popping up on their screens.
       
    • Level of difficulty. You hear a lot of people recommending embedding YouTube videos on a website because it is hard to create a separate video section. And with systems like WordPress or any similar content management system, this is true! But our clients have access to DSS, our proprietary marketing software, which includes a video section and a crazy easy uploading system. People also say that load times are improved with videos embedded with YouTube, but for our clients, bandwidth isn't an issue for websites run through DSS.
       

    The Right Time to Embed YouTube Videos on Your Website

    Though I've given you several reasons not to embed YouTube videos in your website, I am not totally against embedding a few of them on your site. A few embedded here and there can give the YouTube videos additional views, thereby boosting their search rankings on YouTube. And some people do like to see the YouTube logo on your site; it can make the videos seem more "legit." But I really wouldn’t recommend making this the main way you are posting videos on the site, so choose the videos you embed carefully and keep an eye on how they're converting.

    Want to know more about video and its role in your SEO plan? Then call 888-886-0939 to speak with myself or a member of our team. We would love to help you make the most out of every video you post.
     

  • Should I copy and paste reviews from online review sites onto my website?

    Reposting (copying and pasting) reviews from popular websites such as Google Local, Yelp, and Avvo may Duplicated Online Reviewsseem like a good idea. After all, someone went out of his way to review your goods or services, and he posted to a reputable site, so why not use their words to your advantage?

    Here are four good reasons that our team does not recommend reposting online reviews:

    1. Poor user experience. When a potential client, patient, or customer reads the same review on multiple sites (your website, on Google+, and your Facebook page), it provides them with a bad reader experience. The more places the reader finds the review, the less likely she is to view it as authentic.
    2. Permission repercussions. You should never repost a reviewer’s comment from another site to your own website without asking the reviewer’s permission first. Ever. This violates the writer’s rights and is just plain shady.
    3. Review removal. If you repost a review, even with permission from the reviewer, the original review could be taken down. Why? Because review sites have stringent and ever-changing terms-of-use-policies and guidelines. This makes reposting reviews a bit too risky for our liking.
    4. Duplicate content issues. Google and all other search engines frown upon duplicate content. When you repost a review, you must rewrite it verbatim, which is, of course, duplicate content. In some instances, it has been found that a reposted review gets the original review page—from Yelp or Google—taken out of search results. And this is the last thing you want to happen.

    Instead of Reposting Reviews, Utilize Unique Testimonials

    If you’d like to harness the power of reviews on your website, without reposting reviews from elsewhere, we recommend using a form of reviews on your own website: testimonials. These testimonials lend credibility to your business and can be a powerful converter. Also, asking for testimonials is a fantastic way to start a conversation with the satisfied customer or client about reviewing your business on an independent review site.

    To learn more about our best practice review strategies, read our article, “Why Your Local SEO Efforts Better Include an Online Review Strategy.” And to keep up with all things in web marketing, be sure to follow us on Twitter.
     

  • What are backlinks and how can they help my website rank better?

    We will start with a basic definition of a backlink:

    backlink: an incoming hyperlink from one page to another website.

    Basically, a backlink is any link on another website that points to your website. Here is an example of a backlink for Best of the Web found on our website:

    Backlink: Illustrating a link to a reputable external website.

     

    The words "Best of the Web" are highlighted in blue, and when the cursor hovers over them, they become underlined. This embedded link is known as a hyperlink. Hyperlinks can be internal—taking you to another page on the same site—or external—taking you to a page on another website. In the case of backlinks, the link is external, and the backlink on our site takes you to botw.org.

    I am sure you have clicked on a link like this before; a link that took you to a website that explained a term or expanded upon an idea in the article. The link you clicked on to go to the explanation page was a backlink. These links often provide useful information and—as we will discuss in this article—can help improve your search engine ranking when done right.

    Now that we’ve covered the backlink basics, we are going to dig a little deeper into this often-misunderstood topic. My goal is to arm you with the tools you need to not only get backlinks, but to get the best possible backlinks; those that help build your brand and increase your reach.

    All Backlinks Are Not Created Equal

    Backlinks are powerful. They can be used for good—helping your website achieve page one status—or they can be used for evil—as part of link-buying schemes that do nothing but cause harm. Next, we are going to explain both high and low-quality backlinks, and show you exactly how to get the type of backlinks that will improve the search engine ranking of your website.

    What Constitutes a High-Quality Backlink?

    The previous backlink example was intended to show you exactly how backlinks work. However, I’d also like to use it to illustrate the benefits of high-quality, ethically garnered backlinks. By linking to an external site, we have consented to give Best of the Web a bit of link juice. The more people that link to the Best of the Web site, the better it is for the site’s search engine ranking.

    Since Foster Web Marketing is a reputable business that often writes about Web-related topics, and since our website isn't crammed full of other external links—a sure sign of a link farm—Google will view this backlink to Best of the Web as high-quality and, hopefully, reward the site for the backlink. This is exactly what you want for your site.

    You want high-quality sites that contain a link that point back to your website. What this does is show Google that you are respected on the web and that people often link to you as an authority. But as you may have gathered, not all backlinks are equally beneficial. So to begin with, we need to discuss exactly what constitutes a high-quality backlink.

    • A high-quality back link is one that:
    • Is relevant to your niche.
    • Is from a trusted website.
    • Sends in referring traffic.
    • Is embedded in the content of the site, not listed in a sidebar.
    • Is not paid or reciprocal.
    • Is located near other high-quality links.
    • Is from a variety of sources—not 100 backlinks from one referring domain.
    • Helps your page rank.
    • Is hard to get.

    That last one, "be hard to get," is the most important. Why? Because Google knows when you try to cheat the system—when you buy or trade backlinks. You may not get caught in a week, you may not even get caught in many months, but you will get caught. So, even though getting high-quality backlinks is a chore, it's one worth doing. Next, I’ll show you exactly how to get the kind of backlinks that you need to fully realize your SEO potential.

    How to Get More High-Quality Backlinks

    It's important you that you understand that backlinks are something to be earned, not bought. To get the kind of backlinks that will stand the test of time—Panda and Penguin be damned—you need a link-building strategy based on one concept: hard work. You don't simply "get" them by buying or trading for them, you earn them. Here's how.

    The Wrong Way to Get Backlinks: Backlinks have long been an important part of a successful SEO strategy. They are so important that many website owners and shady SEO companies began buying into link-sharing and link-buying services. But, like any cheat, Google caught on and has been steadily de-indexing these services and blog networks.

    And if you cheat, once Google catches onto your cheating ways, your website is going to be in a world of hurt. All of the good, honest, organic work you've done on your site will be lost. Your SEO ranking will plummet. Forget page one, you won't even be on page 21! That's how powerful backlinks are. They have such great potential to elevate your SEO game but, in the wrong hands, can decimate your SEO efforts.

    Cheap, fly-by-night SEO companies will try to tell you that they can dramatically increase the number of links that point to your site, and they can. But they cheat. They pay for your site to be part of a shady linking scheme, like a private blog network. This may work for a time, and you may see your page rank improve greatly. But with Google, Bing, and Yahoo getting better at spotting cheaters, you are going to get caught.

    And the SEO company you gave your money to and put your faith in? Will they help you out when your site tanks? No way. You've given them your money, and they are on to a new scheme—a new, get-links-quick trick that will work just long enough for them to get paid.

    If it seems too good to be true, it is. Never forget that.

    The Right Way to Get Backlinks: There is most definitely a right and a wrong way to get backlinks. The wrong way is easy to figure out: don't cheat. The right way is a little trickier, and like all natural, white-hat SEO strategies, it takes time and effort to get quality backlinks.

    Here are five ways to get quality backlinks:

    • Enlist the help of reputable directories. Put your name and information on high-quality, human-edited directories such as Best of the Web, Yahoo, dmoz.org, and lawyers.com. Having your link on these reputable sites will give you a few powerful backlinks. Tip: Although dmoz.org is a free site, you will have to pay to be listed on other quality directories. Before you pay to be listed on any site, ensure that it is a trustworthy site, is free from spam, and contains high-quality content. I want to stress that there are precious few directories that are worth your money, so choose with caution.
       
    • Produce effective link bait. If you write and publish interesting, well-written, and timely content, you increase your chances of getting natural backlinks. This is because good content gets shared and linked to. Tip: To create tasty link bait, think hard about what clients and those in your field want to read about. Be sure your content is free of mistakes, easy to understand, and furthers your image as an expert in your field.
       
    • Be a guest blogger. Guest blogging is a fantastic way to get quality backlinks. Just be sure that you never pay for a guest blogging opportunity. This is a big no-no. Tip: To become a guest blogger, be sure that you are involved with the targeted blog. Share interesting posts and comment when appropriate. You should basically "get to know" the blogger. And, as always, make every piece you write interesting, informative. and well-written. Matt Cutts wrote about how guest blogging is dead, but if you are doing it the right way this is still an acceptable practice.
       
    • Get involved. Another way to earn high-quality backlinks is to get involved in your community. Often, when you give money or time to a charity, they will reward you with a thank you on their website. Sometimes there will be a link that points back to your site with the thank you; powerful!  Also, ensure that you're listed with local organizations like the Chamber of Commerce. There is almost always a link on these sites. Tip: Our SEO team came up with a brilliant way to use community involvement to earn top notch, sustainable backlinks. Elsewhere on our site we discuss how we created this natural, sustainable link-building strategy using the charitable work our client has done.
       
    • Link out. When you link out to other reputable websites within your field, you give their website a little boost, a little Google juice. And sometimes, they may give you some back. In this “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” situation, many people who have been linked to will return the favor and link back to your site. Tip: This reciprocal linking can be a good thing, as long as it’s done in moderation. What you don’t want to do is link out to hundreds of sites just for the sake of linking. If you do this you are not only giving away too much of your linking power, if many of the sites link back to you, Google could get suspicious and deindex your website—a death blow in many cases.

    We've Got Your Back(Links)

    Want to know if Google is punishing your site for bad backlinks? Then get your free site audit today. After we comb through your site, we will give you a full report, free of charge. What you choose to do from there and how you decide to go about fixing your site is up to you. We can help make the changes needed, or you can use the information we provide to make the changes yourself.

    For more information about our full line of website services, or to ask specific questions about backlink strategies, call 888-886-0939 to speak with a member of our U.S.-based SEO team.

  • Is it a good idea to delete old content from my website?

    Deleting old content is an excellent way to improve your site, boost your rankings and provide a better user experience—but only when done the right way.

    Identifying Unwanted Content

    Before you begin the deletion process you'll need to determine which pages need to go. This process can be daunting, but it's necessary to the success of your website clean-up efforts. Your first step is to identify all the pages on your site that haven't been viewed in a year or longer. Once you have your list of neglected content in hand, you'll have to decide if the content on the pages is worth saving or not.

    In general, if a page hasn't been viewed in a year, if ever, it's a safe bet that nobody is ever going to need the information in the content. However, before you delete unviewed content, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Is the information in the article relevant and timely?
    • Is the content unique?
    • Is it stuffed with keywords and little to no real information?
    • Has it been modified before and still isn't performing well?
    • Are page views extremely low?

    If the answer to any or all of these questions is no, then it's probably a good idea to delete the page. But before you begin deleting left and right, know that there is a right and a wrong way to delete bad content. If you do it right, Google will reward you. If you do it wrong, your SEO rankings could take a serious hit.

    Delete Content

    The Proper Disposal of Unwanted Content

    The most important thing to remember when deleting content is this: Never ever delete without implementing a 301 redirect. It doesn't matter if you don't think anyone will ever find the page, you must redirect traffic. Period! If you fail to do so, anyone who happens upon the deleted content will be shown a 404 error page. Now, 404 error pages don't just undermine confidence in your abilities; Google hates them. If you have too many 404 error pages your site will under perform.

    If you're using DSS, implementing a 301 redirect is simple. We have built an automatic redirect into the page deletion process. This way you're reminded to pick a relevant page to redirect to each and every time you delete a page. If you're not a FWM client, then you'll need to get with your webmaster and ensure that each deleted page is properly redirected.

    When redirecting, choose carefully. Proper redirection means linking the deleted page to the most relevant topic possible:

    • First choice: Redirect to a relevant related page.
    • Second choice: Redirect to a relevant practice area page.
    • Third choice: Redirect to an associated overview page.

    Under no circumstances should you link to your home page. Google doesn't like this and neither will website visitors. What they're looking for is information that answers their search query. So if they search for "Why my bunions hurt when it rains?" they should, at the very least, find information about painful bunions.

    And one more thing: you'll need to repeat the 301 redirect process each time you delete a page. There is no quick fix here, no way to delete and redirect 10 pages at a time.

    Is it Tedious to do a Content Audit? Yes. Worth the Effort? YES!

    Don't let the process of identifying bad content and deleting it intimidate you. Deleting irrelevant, unviewed content may be painstaking, but it's pretty much guaranteed to boost your search engine rankings and improve user experience.

    Just like all white hat, ethical SEO techniques, there is no silver bullet to ridding your site of old content. So dig in and get it done; the sooner the better! Once you have removed the bad content you should be left with only great content that attracts more business.

    If you'd like help better understanding this process, call 888-886-0939

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