What are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ links?

Bad Links

What Is Link Building?

More and more customers are becoming aware of “bad” links. They might even bring up “Penguin” and ask, “What is a bad link?” Here we look at what unnatural links might look like and, even better, what a “good” link is and where you might acquire them.

Up until now many SEO companies relied heavily on link building and acquisition. The idea is simple; create a link from external sources with an anchor matching a popular search query. So I could use a link to my site with “New Jersey SEO” as the anchor from multiple locations in an effort to improve my search placement for that term. Google has always stated that “paid” links are against their guidelines. Last year, however, Google started to devalue these types of links and many sites with large link profiles found themselves further down the page or completely vanishing from search.

What are “Bad” Links?

So what makes a link ‘bad’? It’s pretty simple really. Did you pay a service to acquire links? If so it’s very likely considered to be “unnatural” by search engines. The internet is laden with article sites full of duplicated or poorly spun content and marketers would be wise to avoid them at all costs. Often misinformed business owners participate in article marketing or comment links without knowing the long-term consequences.

What are “Good” Links?

So if paid links are ‘bad’, what makes a ‘good’ link? If you aren’t participating in a paid link service or ‘link wheel’, where you link out in return for reciprocal links, chances are your links are natural. For example, if you’re an attorney and you have links from Avvo or Lawyers.com, two authoritative lawyer sites, those should be considered ‘real’ and ‘natural’. If you write a great article or blog on your site and it gets attention in relevant searches it might get linked from other blogs and used as a reference. This is a great way to build relevant and authoritative links.

Other Things to Watch Out For

The two big mistakes I see are using the same anchor text repeatedly and using incoming links from every page on a domain. Google likes to see varied anchor text from incoming links. So using the same anchor every single time is not a good idea. Instead try and mix up your keywords with the actual domain name and/or the company name. Some folks even use anchors like “Click Here” which seems like a pretty natural approach to me. This issue can be compounded by affiliate links from every page on a site when the anchor exists on a sidebar or footer. Ask people linking to your site to keep it to a single page, preferably the homepage.

What can you do if you used ‘bad links’ in the past?

Getting back on track can be difficult. You can disavow those links through Google web master but that can take some time and there is no guarantee that you will see your site return to it’s former glory. You can reach out to the webmaster for links you do not want to disavow and ask them to remove the link or change the anchor but you’ll likely see limited success with getting people to comply.

Contact us

Let’s face it, links can be dangerous to your marketing campaign. While great links can be huge for your search results the wrong ones can kill it. Many companies, or their SEO companies, got involved with building links since that seemed like the “thing to do” at the time (up until Penguin 1) and it was proven to work for many industries. As Google continues to move toward a quality-centric algorithm we expect to see quality search results with authority instead of those with the most links for their keywords. This should be embraced by companies and SEOs alike. Contact our New Jersey SEO team to learn how we can help your internet campaign.

Best SEO Company in the World?

Is there such a thing? With the quickly changing SEO landscape it’s very difficult to stay on top. How do you judge what the “best” really means for Search Engines? How would you judge the best SEO Company in the world?

SEO Results

The results an optimization team can provide is always a great metric to demonstrate the acumen of an SEO approach. Google constantly changes their search engine algorithm (how they figure out who #1 should be) and SEO specialists are always in a perpetual state of catch-up.

Being the best SEO Company in the world certainly means being able to adapt to these changes. Unique and creative content has always been considered to be the backbone of great search results. While this is true, creating great content alone is not enough to flourish in this extremely competitive online marketplace. The right combination of optimization, great content, and successful off-site tactics are necessary.

Return on Investment

Return on Investment or ROI is usually a good measure of how profitable a SEO campaign has been. Of course the age of a campaign is a tremendous factor in the overall return a customer will see. And, since many customers want an affordable package, their return can often be limited.

The best can often mean how much money you’ve made for your clients but there is more value to SEO than just immediate return. The long term benefit of being on top of the search engines is amazing. Not only does it create a respectable brand image but it also draws customers to your site via search over many years.

How do you find the Best SEO Company in the “World”?

Search For One! Put your money where your mouth is! Fortunately for you there is no shortages of SEO companies. You can look for the “best” SEO specialists and literally browse for several days until, in many cases, you feel like an expert yourself! However, if you want to rate a search engine company based on their own ranks you might need some training to judge which phrases are actually the most competitive.

So What Should I Do?

Many small business owners will often do some level of SEO on their own, many successfully. Most, however, realize how complex, time-consuming, and often confusing it can be to start much less maintain a good campaign.

If possible, find a local SEO firm that you can deal with face-to-face at least once if not more. Word of mouth is always a great way to find a reputable company. Of course doing some searching is also recommended. If you like in New Jersey, for example, you might search something like “new jersey SEO company” or “NJ SEO”. Also, find a company who can tout some success in your given vertical. For example, if you’re a law firm make sure your SEO company has some experience with lawyer and attorney web marketing before moving forward. You can also check their web design experience if you’re interested in a new site or a redesign of your existing.

You should also interview several companies before making a decision. You can learn more about them and their team before making any commitments.

Best SEO Company in the World

Get SEO Search Results For Your Law Firm

Need Great Search Results for your Law Firm?

91% of all people choose results on the 1st page

Attorney SEO ServicesCastronovo & McKinney, LLC opened a NYC law office and needed quality SEO services for the new office and new website. They are NYC Employment Lawyers that specialize in discrimination and harassment lawsuits. They also handle the negotiation of severance agreements, employment agreements, non-compete agreements and all other contracts. We’re working on several fronts to create a powerful SEO Campaign. Check out their website here. There are several components we want to cover including:

Local Listing Optimization. As more and more people type simple phrases like “harassment lawyer” without a geographic location like “nyc harassment lawyer” local listings are going to become more and more meaningful.

Social Signals. Including Facebook, Twitter and Google+ we’re creating a web presence that not only captures attention but lends credibility to the site and it’s authors.

Content. We’ve started updating and creating content both on-site and off-site. The site’s blog has begun with some posts that will gain natural attention and links by means of good unique content. In addition we are looking at high quality article links for authority sites.

Video. We’re in the design process of creating video for various places on the site including the home page, blog posts and, eventually, video testimonials.

Stay tuned for updates from our Attorney SEO company.

Google Street View in California’s National Parks

Google does a road-trip through some iconic parks

I’m not even sure my neighborhood is mapped using Street View but I’m sure this is a better use of the technology. You’re now able to follow Google Maps through five of Californa’s historic national parks in a 360 degree panaorramic view. They’ve also updated their Street View maps of the entire state allowing you road-trip through the entire state from north to south.

Yosemite National Park, CA

View Larger Map

Now everyone is able to enjoy the magestic imagery these places have to offer. Of course it’s not quite like driving through but it allows you to control the experience and take the time to really look around. Its inspiring enough to make you want to visit and plan a road-trip right now. You can read more about the details of each location on the Google announcement.

Of course Google doesn’t pass up the opportunity to advertise right on the page. Notice the Ads on the sidebar? What if you wanted a hotel for the night? Type “Hotel” directly in the search box and Google will find one relative to your location using Google Local Places. Also, you will see the Zagat ratings for those hotels giving you even more information to make a decision. That means properly optimized local places is key for attracting business and integrating that with the proper social media channels is becoming equally important. Our NJ SEO Company provides Local Listing Optimization with Social Media to give our clients visibility whenever possible.

How to Choose a Domain Name

Brand Name vs. Search-Term Domain

One of the major decisions when initially creating a website is the domain name. The two general approaches are either a search-matched domain name or a brand-centric name. Search-matched domains have search related keywords in the name itself while brand-centric approaches typically use the company name as the domain name. We’ll discuss the benefits of each and help you decide the best approach.

Let’s create a pretend company named Delicate Creations that sells jewelry in Chicago. Let’s say we did some research and found that people searching the internet for this type of service typically use “Chicago jewelry”. We could choose to create a search-matching domain or use the company name and create a brand. Assuming we’re not limited to a domain choice for a local business, then combining a geographic location with a service or product works well. The address www.chicagojewelry.com is sure to get noticed for that search phrase. In this example, since the domain name matches a target search, the website will see a bump to their search results. This is because there is relevance in the URL to the search. There any many such factors the search engines evaluate when returning search results and since this is only one component, the benefits may taper off long-term.

There may also be some negative effects of choosing a search-matching domain name. Savvy internet customers may see those names as an blatant attempt at advertising. In addition, if a customer wants to branch out to other products or services the domain name should still be relevant. Perhaps the biggest impact of a exact match domain is the inability to create a branding with your website address since your website address and company name have nothing in common.

The alternative is to work with a brand as the domain choice. This typically means using the company name as the domain name. Doing so creates a brand that customers can associate with and they can use again and again to find your webpage and your company. Some of the largest brand-names have nothing at all to do with their products. Names like Nike immediately make you think of sneakers, but the name itself isn’t associated with any product. In addition, a popular approach is to use keyword-friendly URLs on internal pages to keep relevant in searches. A URL like anystore.com/archery-targets-nyc can both retain a brand name as well as cater to the search engines.

Using a brand specific name is likely what most businesses would rather do. Creating a brand image is very important in today’s long-term marketplace. However, often the benefits of choosing a matching domain are too obvious to ignore. More and more people find companies on the internet and the URL is not often the most scrutinized element. More times than not, however, the perfect domain name choice isn’t available. This can often limit your ability to choose a geography or keyword-rich domain name without having it be long or difficult to read. In the end, you want a domain name choice to suit your customers goals and needs.

Protect Your Marketing Budget

A Successful Marketing Campaign consists of more than just a single-minded approach

The search engine optimization industry has become commoditized. The market is flooded with “SEO professionals” that offer the same set of services such as Keyword Research, Link Building, Article Writing, and not much else. There is a systemic inefficiency occurring in the SEO community coming at the expense of business owners.

A profitable website encompasses numerous factors beyond Keyword Research, Link Building, and Content Development. When done properly, all of these services are essential to a successful online marketing campaign. Unfortunately, a majority of SEOs base their knowledge and business models on outdated, misunderstood ideology.

For example, an exploited and overvalued component of SEO is link building. Link building is instrumental in a comprehensive online marketing campaign, but not the keystone to success many SEOs think and claim. Links are susceptible to many factors, but they do serve as a functional portion of a well balanced marketing strategy. Here are few examples of link weakness:

  • Improper use of links can result in a website being penalized by the major search engines
  • Sites built on a faulty link structure can impede search engine bots from crawling or even indexing pages
  • Algorithmic changes by Google that downgrade valuable links could cause long-term damage to page rank

A strategy built with an over reliance on link building is ripe for failure. Far too many search engine optimization providers place the foundation of their clients’ websites on the shoulders of link building. Put simply, it is irresponsible. Technically sound SEO begins with a site’s infrastructure. Before article writing, before keyword research, even before the basic content is decided upon, a website must be designed to universally perform. A streamlined architecture allows search engine robots to easily crawl and index your site. SEO techniques are futile without proper indexing.

Business owners must educate themselves on how to reach their website referral goals without wasting their marketing budget. Consult with many internet marketing firms to determine what services best fit your company’s objectives.

H1 Tags: An SEO Guide

What do Headers do?

Headers are intended to provide structure on a webpage.  Typically, the most important items on a webpage are the largest and most obvious. H1 tags, or Header1 tags, are an HTML term used to indicate the most prominent text or image on a page.  These are followed by other H tags, H2 through H6. These tags ordered from most important to least. These are not only important from an SEO perspective, they also make the page easy to read. An great analogy would be a newspaper.  Important things, like the papers title or front-page feature, is the most obvious.  Other article titles might be H2, then maybe a subtitle as H3, and then finally the article text which is usually handled with a ‘p’ or ‘paragraph’ tag. Google expects a webpage to be laid out with a series of headers that makes sense to the reader.  Contact the New Jersey SEO Firm. for more information.

H1 Tags for SEO

But, is it OK to have multiple H1 tags on a single page?

This is a contested topic among SEO professionals.  Some will argue that it’s fine to include multiple H1 tags on a page, within reason.  Others will insist that only one, the most important element, should exist. One thing that they agree on is that abusing H1 tags will definitely get a webpage penalized by Google and Bing.  So creating multiple H1 tags on a page for the purpose of trying to improve ranking is definitely frowned upon.  In 2009, Google made a statement that multiple H1 tags on a page are not a problem as long as kept within reason. For example, look at WordPress.  It’s widely accepted to be a great web platform for SEO. Their default theme, Twenty Eleven, creates two H1 tags by default; one for the site title and one for the page or post title. That’s a pretty clear message that having two on the page is not a problem. Of course, just to throw things off, Bing recommends only one per page.

Should I use H1 tags on images?

Often well-ranking websites utilize these tags. Bing suggests that all H1 tags are text only. So, it doesn’t appear as if using H1 tags as part of images is a huge problem, but should be avoided when possible.  If they truly appear to be a prominent part of the page then a Header1 tag may be a sensible approach.  However, typically it’s preferred to leave H1 tags to the title of a page or post, and leave images without them. This is because the same image, whether it be a logo or other image is displayed on multiple pages. SEO specialists may want to use a unique H1 tag on every page from an SEO strategy perspective, and not repeat the same phrase multiple times.  This is much easier to achieve by reserving the H1 tag for text.  One could, however, choose to use two H1 tags on the page, one on the logo and one for the title.  However, since the logo appears at the top of the page it would be evaluated first.

How much SEO benefit will I get from using Header tags?

Tags are proven to help gain positive search results and on-page search engine optimization. On-page SEO only goes so far. However, if your only means of promoting a website is organic, on-page SEO, then page layout and tags are the most important factors. In this scenario, designers would certainly want to take advantage of whatever tools are at their disposal.

What have we covered?

H1 tags are certainly important to the search engines. Of equal importance is that they make pages readable and accesible. They break a webpage down into sections that catch the eye. Also true is that Google and Bing both disapprove of abusing H1 tags on a page. So, while there appears to be no penalty for using two, it’s typically recommended to use only one. Using an H1 tag is a great way to focus the reader and the engines to a page’s purpose. These can also be kept different from the page title since this is also considered by Google (and the reader). Using this method, when Google and Bing evaluate a page, developers can create unique keyword phrases in both places and take advantage of as much on-page SEO as possible.