Archive for the ‘Link Building’ Category

Are Bad Reviews Good For SEO?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately regarding the topic of bad reviews on websites like Yelp or Get Satisfaction, or any of the other review websites online.  People are asking me if those bad reviews have an impact on the SEO of those bad businesses and if they are actually HELPING the bad business by providing an inbound link from a fairly reliable source (the review website).

The recent buzz on the topic was started, in part, by a lengthy feature in the New York Times which highlighted how an online “designer” glasses reseller, DecorMyEyes.com, enjoyed high organic search engine ranking in Google for designer brand names and keyphrases like “designer sunglasses” – not despite bad reviews and complaints, but BECAUSE of them.  The owner was claiming that all the “link juice” from the mentions of the brands in the poor reviews on reputable websites are actually helping him rank for the terms organically and helping him get new customers every day.

BUT IS IT TRUE?!?

Google addressed the issue on the Official Google Blog earlier this month, tweaking their algorithm to penalize merchants that provide an extremely poor user experience, and explaining the issues they face when considering such upgrades.  As Google pointed out in their blog, many review websites actually use a bit of code known as a “rel=nofollow” which tells search engines that the link is not to be considered an endorsement and is to essentially be ignored.  Most of the “link juice” to the vendor in question actually came from articles by reliable news outlets writing about the owner’s arrest and antics!

the best businesses practices still apply, good customer service is important.

Good Business Practices Still Apply

Even if this “Negative Marketing” was somehow helping the company rank higher in organic search results, a little research would have shown potential buyers that the business has a lot of negative reviews, complaints, and lawsuits against it.  Search engines are trying to provide users with the most relevant content to their search query.  It’s ultimately up to online consumers to use their search engines to research merchants.

I want to assure you that the old saying that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” just isn’t true online.

The unethical marketing techniques exercised by Decor My Eyes to take advantage of loopholes in search engine algorithms are just an expansion of “Black Hat” SEO tactics.  There may be short-term tricks for temporary manipulation of search engines, but algorithms are constantly evolving and changing.  Eventually, bogus tactics are discovered (remember keyword stuffing, anyone?) and improvements are made to the algorithms to make search results even more reliable.

THE TRUTH ABOUT NEGATIVE ADVERTISING

As a consequence of all this “Negative Advertising”, search providers and review forums such as Google, Get Satisfaction, Yahoo, and others have already taken direct action against Decor My Eyes.  I did a quick search on the brand names he mentioned ranking for in the interview for the New York Times article, and at the time of writing this post, he is no longer showing up in top results for any of them.

Look what happens when you start to search for the company name, Decor My Eyes, in major search engines now!

Google recognizes DecorMyEyes is a scam immediately

Immediately After the Word "my", Google Suggests a Scam

Interestingly enough, at the time this post was written, if you were too quick and used Yahoo Search, you could land on the company’s website without ever being alerted to any scams or complaints, as shown in the screen shot below.  Although, as soon as you start to type the word “eyes” into the search field manually, suggestions about scams and complaints start to appear.

Yahoo DecorMyEyes Search without warning

Yahoo Search - "decor my" WITHOUT Warning of Scam

Yahoo Search Results Warning of Scam

Yahoo Search for "decor my e" Suggests Scams & Complaints

BE A SMART CONSUMER

Bad companies like Decor My Eyes are only able to succeed because of uneducated consumers.  Consider this story as an example of why you should take the extra few moments to do some research on a company before giving them your business!

Seek out and read reviews to see what others are saying about the company.  Look for reviews by established community members, not people who are anonymous or who have reviewed a low number of business, because reviews by less established members are not as credible.  Note whether there are any relevant news articles in your search engine results for the company, such as the final link appearing just above the scroll on the Bing search results about the Decor My Eyes guy getting arrested in the screen capture below!

Bing Search Results Showing DecorMyEyes Bad Reputation

Bing Reveals the Reputation of DecorMyEyes

In this modern age of technology, consuming is easier than ever; we can even do it from the comfort of our home!  This is very convenient, but  it can also lead to the dangerous habit of engaging with businesses we know nothing about.  The best way to avoid being the victim of a scam is to do your research.  Search engines are also a great tool for researching company histories, not just what to buy.

WHY BEING GOOD IS ALWAYS GOOD FOR BUSINESS

This story should also serve as a warning to businesses engaging in bad practices in efforts to trick search engines and customers.  Search engines will continue to filter out “black hat” SEO techniques and scams like this “Negative Advertising / Link Building” tactic Decor My Eyes was utilizing.  Any advantages received from unethical ranking techniques are only temporary.  If caught using unethical techniques, search engines can penalize and even ban you.

There are also real-life consequences from the bad press, consumer reviews, and Better Business Bureau complaints this company has been receiving.  The website’s hosting and credit card payment service providers are ending their associations with Decor My Eyes for fear of being associated with an unethical business.  Search engines have also deliberately targeted his company as a result of the bad press.  In the end, the technique had failed, and eventually so will his business.

Businesses would be much better off putting their time and efforts into creating happy customers, writing valuable website content, blogging, and building a positive social media presence, which will only increase in value over time.  You’ll probably also get more sleep than the owner of Decor My Eyes, and not be afraid to have your photo in the paper!

socail media feedback counts

What People Say Counts. Be Good to Your Clients.

Analysis of Some Common Link Building Strategies

As a website owner, chances are you already know that backlinks from external sources are important to achieving high rankings in search engines. The following is a brief breakdown of the major link building tactics that you can utilize for generating inbound links for your real estate marketing strategy.

1. Internal Links

Internal links occur within your website, and offer you two great advantages:  1) The ability to develop silos of authority within the hierarchy of a website, and 2) The ability to assist search engine spiders find new content.

Benefits: Internal links are most substantial low hanging fruit of link building, but this tactic is frequently overlooked by website owners. Effective Internal Links are blended seamlessly into web page and blog post text, are not navigational, and aren’t clustered at the end of content.

2. SEO Directories

Essentially, web directories are the telephone book pages of the Internet. There is generally no relevance, ranking, or human input with the listings. They have in the past been an integral part of real estate SEO strategies, as it was believed that having inbound links from these directories was not only valuable for your website’s credibility in the eyes of the Search Engines, but it also validated your links so that Search Engines didn’t have to. However, now it’s important to hone in your focus on the big players in directories, and do your research as to which ones are relevant to you.

Benefits: With the exception of Yahoo, DMOZ, Google Places, and Yelp, many directories can potentially be a waste of time and resources. They’re basically a paid link that passes rank.

 

link building strategies

 

3. .Edu/.Gov Extensions

These websites are legitimate sites of authority, and getting your website placed on sites like these that are relevant to your business is great news for your real estate SEO campaign.

Benefits: Your URL placement on these websites will have a massive impact on your website’s keyword rankings. If you have “political connections”, these can go a long way, but a campaign dedicated only to obtaining these links may not be the best use of your time.

4. Social Media

Social media marketing has always been a great channel for spreading the word about your website through link sharing: the top dogs here are Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. Just remember to not become a Twitter spam Robot by posting only links to your site over and over again!

Benefits: There are tremendous ancillary benefits to social media link building: one tweet can generate dozens of high-quality backlinks across the blogosphere.

5. Link Baiting

Link baiting is the process of creating incoming links through the generation of engaging content and tools. If you are considering link bait, follow one simple rule: make your content something an audience will want to share with others.  There is also no risk level: Matt Cutts of Google has even encouraged link baiting. Famous examples of link baiting include Office Max’s “Elf Yourself.”

Benefits: Excellent. Link baiting is one of the most reliable long-term real estate SEO strategy for developing a high performance domain in search engines.

real estate seo

6. Press Release Links

Press Release links requires using a press release firm such as PR Web or PR Newswire to generate incoming links. This is a great strategy if the press release is both useful and relevant to your content. Tip: Check over your site content: determine the most relevant page to link to, and be sure to link deep, if possible.

Benefits: When appropriate to your business and website, releases can quickly drive quality backlinks from reputable news sources.

Link building is a constantly growing and changing process. One of the favorites of link building strategies is link baiting is because it’s creative, fun, and users want to share them with their friends. Take time to find something you enjoy creating and see if you can use it as a method to drive incoming links. Not only will this be something you enjoy participating in every day, but it will also encourage your  link building to a part of your daily real estate SEO routine, and thus make your website an SEO success!

Simple SEO for Your Blog

Optimizing your blog for search engines is similar to optimizing your website.  With a little planning and effort, your blog will give your SEO efforts a big boost!  It will take some time to establish yourself as a reliable information source in the blogosphere, and the more relevant blogs you post with valuable content, the sooner this will happen.  We try to encourage clients to blog twice each week.

SEO your blogHOW TO START:

You want each blog post (or web page) to focus on one subject or topic.  Your topic should be fairly focused because you want to keep your readers engaged and make sure you leave yourself topics to cover in future blogs, too!  This will also help you determine which keywords each blog post should try to incorporate.

Much like writing a research paper in school, you should develop an ‘Introduction’, ‘Body’, and a ‘Conclusion’ or ‘Call to Action’ to get the reader to engage in your site further, and become a Lead.

Read our blog on developing subjects to blog about if you’re stumped on what to write about.

KEYWORD STRATEGY:

If you want to optimize your blog, you’re most likely also optimizing your website as well, and you are using your blog as a way to increase traffic to your website and get new leads.  When developing your website/ blog optimization strategy, you need to determine your list of ‘keywords’ (or phrases) that you will focus your optimization campaign around.

Your keywords will be terms you think potential clients you’d like to reach would type into a search engine while looking for your services.  For example, if you are a broker focusing on student apartments in the Fenway neighborhood, you might choose a keyword like ‘Fenway apartments’ or ‘Fenway student apartments’.

There are a variety of free online tools you can use to learn about the popularity of the terms you are considering using and also to get suggestions for new terms.  You can also view the presentation from our Logic Classroom about Long Tail Keywords and Keyword Strategy to learn more.

I’VE GOT MY KEYWORD LIST, NOW WHAT?

It’s important to try to keep these terms in mind when writing your blogs, and develop blog topics that incorporate these words to help improve your site’s organic search engine ranking for them.  As a result, more visitors interested in what you’re selling (Fenway student apartments) will find your blog, and therefore your services, more easily.

You want to use your keywords in as many places as possible, such as in the URL of the page, in the Title of the Page, in the Header, etc. without being ‘spammy.’  If you want to learn more about keyword placement on your website, please read this blog about optimizing your website with keywords.

PRACTICAL TIPS FROM THE PROS:

Meta Titles:  It’s always good to add your company name to the end of your Meta Titles, such as ‘Extremely Relevant Meta Title Here | My Company Name’ to help increase your brand awareness.  You always want the Meta Title to be in ‘Title Case’ (instead of all lower case) so it looks good to a reader because they do see your Meta Titles in search engine results and at the top of the page in the browser tab.  Search Engines typically only index the first 65-70 characters or so (including spaces) of your title, so make sure the important keywords are towards the beginning.

Meta Descriptions should also include your keywords.  Your descriptions should be a brief summary (approx. 160 characters) of what your blog post or page is about.  You should write it using proper punctuation and grammar because the descriptions are seen by visitors using search engines and by search engines to understand what your page is about.  Here is an example of a description I might use for this blog post:

“Learn how to optimize your blog using these helpful tips on keyword strategy, meta data, and more to help increase your website traffic and capture more leads.”

A screen shot of search engine results for keywords

Links: When you add a Hyperlink leading to another page from your blog, especially in the beginning or middle of your blog post, I prefer to have the link open a new window or tab in the visitor’s browser instead of replacing the page they are on (your extremely interesting and informative blog).  This is easy to do with a Boston Logic Sequoia real estate website.

When you create your hyperlink, be sure to click onto the ‘Target’ tab when you are entering the Link information in the Link popup window.  This tab will allow you to choose if you want the link to appear in a new window, and also provides the opportunity to name the link- which is great for SEO.  I’ve attached screen shots to help walk you through it.  Making the links bold is a good idea, too, because search engines know to considered words in bold to be highly relevant to the content of the page.  Just don’t go making everything bold or it will lose its effectiveness (and annoy readers).

It is better for your SEO (and human visitors) if the links are using relevant keywords, not just ‘click here’, and if the link leads to a page that has those words or something similar in the URL and page title.  For example, if you were writing a blog about the amenities of the Fenway neighborhood you could mention ‘ living in an apartment in Fenway’ and make ‘apartment in Fenway’ an internal link to your ‘Fenway Apartments’ Town Page.

Categories: Blog categories are not as important to SEO as some of the other elements mentioned, but they are VERY important to your visitor’s experience.  If you have relevant blog categories that are well-organized (you can have ‘parent’ and ‘sub’ categories) and make it easy for readers to find what they are looking for, they will be more likely to read several of your blog posts and return for more information in the future.

You want to make sure you make a category for each of your keywords, and that you are putting blog posts into every category they are related to.  Visitors will see and use these categories when searching your blog, so don’t just add your posts to categories for the sake of trying to increase ranking on certain keywords because it will actually hurt your SEO if visitors are regularly bouncing from your blog when they find that it’s unrelated to the keywords they typed into their search engine.

Meta Tags, again, are not as important to SEO as the content, Titles, Descriptions, and Links, but they are still worth putting effort into.  You want to make sure you’re not wasting your meta tag space with extremely broad, single word keywords such as ‘luxury’ or ‘Boston’, however, because they will not help your SEO.  Instead, try to be creative and use more targeted keywords, such as ‘Boston luxury apartment’.  You want to make your tags as specific and relevant to the post/ page as possible.

Also, be careful with where you place the commas in your list of meta keywords.  For example, if you entered ‘Mandarin, Oriental’ into your keyword list, that’s actually telling the search engines that you are using the two words separately ‘mandarin’ and ‘oriental’.  Instead, you should keep the name of a building as one key-phrase by not putting a comma between the words you want to be seen as together, like ‘Mandarin Oriental’.

Calls to Action improve user conversionCalls to Action: One final suggestion is to leave the reader with some sort of internal link and a call to action to keep them engaged.  Each blog should strive to do this in some way, even just ‘Contact a trusted advisor for more information’ with a link to the blogger’s email or a link to the Contact Page.

IN CONCLUSION:

Having a blog is a great way to add fresh and informative content to your website to help potential clients find your website and see that you are a knowledgeable leader in your industry.  You need to create a list of relevant keywords (or phrases) to help you focus and organize your blogging strategy and bring you the type of readers you are hoping to find and convert to leads.

If you take the effort and time to optimize your blog, and consistently blog at least twice each week, you will begin to see an increase in your search engine ranking and site traffic as a result.

If you have any questions regarding optimizing your website and blog, or wish to learn more about the services we provide, please feel free to contact the Boston Logic Marketing Department.

Facebook has the Hot Potato- Foursquare’s Out!

Facebook Announces ‘Facebook Places’ and purchase of Hot Potato!

Facebook recently announced a new geolocation feature for its users, Facebook Places.  You may be familiar with other geolocation services, such as the start-ups Foursquare, Gowalla, or Hot Potato.  Hot Potato was recently acquired by Facebook, which has brought all eight Hot Potato employees on-board, presumably to expand and develop Facebook Places.

hot-potato-logoIn a statement released to Mashable.com, Facebook announced, “We’re excited to confirm that we recently acquired Hot Potato, a service that helps people socialize around live events and share what they’re doing with friends.  We’ve admired for some time how Hot Potato is tackling this space and look forward to working with them to bring Hot Potato innovations to Facebook.”

Will Facebook Places eliminate these other small geo-location services?  Only time will tell.  Foursquare and Gowalla offer fun game-like features with their services, and often work with business to offer discounts for users.  Facebook Places doesn’t offer any of these features yet.  One thing’s for certain, though- Facebook serves over 500 million users compared with Foursquare’s 3 million users, and Gowalla has even less.  Also worth noting is the strong relationship between Facebook and Yelp.  I can only imagine there will be more integration with Yelp and Facebook Places in the future.

But how does Facebook Places work?  How will this new feature be implemented and effect user privacy?  How can Business Owners capitalize on Facebook Places?

Facebook Places Basics:

Facebook Places is currently only available to some users in the united States and on the Facebook iPhone app.  Places will be available to other smart phones that support HTML 5 geolocation, such as the Droid, in the near future.

Facebook Places on the iPhone

Facebook Places on the iPhone

Places works by allowing Facebook users to ‘check in’ to the various locations they visit, such as restaurants and bars, your local library, a friend’s home, etc. by logging into Facebook Places from their phone application or via touch.facebook.com.

Upon checking in, Facebook will announce to your friends that you have arrived at this destination.  You can also ‘tag’ your friends that are with you, much like you would tag someone in a photo, and find out who else is currently ‘checked in’.  If you tag a friend that is not using Places, it’s just like mentioning their name in a status update.

If you tag someone who is already signed up for and using Facebook Places, it will mention it in their Newsfeed and add them to the ‘checked-in’ list as if they checked-in themselves.  The first time you are tagged, Facebook will send you a notice and give you the option of allowing your friends to check you into places or not.  You are always notified of when someone checks you into a location, and you can always selectively delete check-ins, much like you can delete a comment on your wall or a status update.

Privacy Concerns with Facebook Places:

Facebook learned a lot (the hard way) when it changed the structure of its Privacy Settings, automatically setting all users’ accounts to share EVERYTHING with EVERYONE as the default setting.  This time around they have made the automatic sharing settings much more conservative, with the default setting only sharing your location with the people on your Friends list.  However, what if you still want more privacy?  Maybe your boss is on your Friends list, or you have an ex you’re trying to avoid.

Don’t go deleting your Facebook profile yet!  You can customize, or even completely disable the Places feature!  Facebook has even made a helpful demo video for you to show exactly how to customize your privacy settings.

Facebook Places for Business:

Right now, Facebook Places is in it’s Beta version, so there’s not too much information about how business will be able to interact with it and use it to promote their business, although when Mark Zuckerberg announce Facebook Places he hinted that there is more to come.  If Places follows in the footsteps of Foursquare, business could start offering promotions to customers that check in a certain number of times, etc.

yelp-logoIn the meantime, if you’re a Business Owner, you should probably log into touch.facebook.com, add your business address, and check in!  There still aren’t a lot of businesses listed, and new users will be eager to test the software out and visit new places they find.  You should also make sure you have a business listing on Yelp, too.  Your clients/ customers can and will add your business to these listing services sooner or later, if they haven’t done so already.  It’s in your best interest to be an active member of these online market places.  By adding your business to Facebook Places, you are making your business easier for the 500+ million Facebook users- for FREE!

If you want to learn more about Facebook Places, visit the Facebook Blog.

Keeping Up with Facebook! Tomorrow’s Logic Classroom

Tomorrow at 5:00 pm we will have our Logic Classroom covering some of Facebook’s latest applications and updates.

Facebook is now more than ever an integral aspect of any real estate search engine marketing campaign. The popular social media site hasn’t stopped growing – and neither can you. Facebook’s recent upgrades to privacy settings make it easier for you to control what your viewers can see, and who sees what. We have had Facebook training sessions in the past, at which you have probably learned the basics: but in this Logic Classroom, we are going to take this knowledge to the next level.
facebook
Little time and discipline is required to fully utilize Facebook for your real estate social media business strategy. We’ll talk tomorrow night about how to formulate appropriate campaigns and methods, and how to more effectively streamline the content production effort required for your real estate internet marketing campaign.

For this classroom, you are more than welcome to attend at the Boston Logic office (view map), or to participate through an online webinar at your convenience. This is an excellent opportunity to learn real estate SEO best practices and other means of search engine marketing to further grow your business.

Contact Katrina at ksierant@bostonlogic.com or 617-266-9166 to attend. Please also specify if you will be attending in the office or online via webinar. See you there!

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