google reviews

What to Know About the New Changes to Rich Snippets for Google Reviews

When people need answers, a quick Google search makes life fast and easy. Today, we rarely need to click on a search result to find the answers we’re looking for. Instead, Google often provides snippets to reveal the answer for us.

In fact, a little less than half of all websites use schema markup or structured data. This rate continues to increase as more companies learn about how to use Google rich snippets. Companies can even display reviews on their websites using schemas for Google reviews.

However, that’s about to change.

Google recently announced an algorithm update that’s changing the game.

So what’s changing with rich snippets for Google reviews, and why should you care? Keep reading to find out more!

What Changed?

The Google reviews star rating, or Review Rich Result, is the star rating that appears alongside organic results on Google search pages.

Before, companies could display organization-level rating markups across an entire website. However, these reviews didn’t always match the content displayed on the page.

To respond to these inaccuracies, Google used structured data penalties. However, enforcing such rules on a mass scale proved too difficult. Instead, Google is using this update to maintain a stricter ruling.

The Google reviews snippet update now allows Google to determine when they will or won’t respect ratings structured data.

As a result, the Schema.org property used to trigger these search results is changing as well.

For example, you’re no longer allowed to use a rating widget to display reviews on your company website. These widgets include hardcoded and Trustpilot.

When Rich Results Reviews Display

Google’s announcement also revealed it’s limiting when rich results reviews will display. Any reviews outside of these will no longer appear as Google review snippets:

  • schema.org/Book
  • schema.org/Course
  • schema.org/CreativeWorkSeason
  • schema.org/CreativeWorkSeries
  • schema.org/Episode
  • schema.org/Event
  • schema.org/Game
  • schema.org/HowTo
  • schema.org/LocalBusiness
  • schema.org/MediaObject
  • schema.org/Movie
  • schema.org/MusicPlaylist
  • schema.org/MusicRecording
  • schema.org/Organization
  • schema.org/Product
  • schema.org/Recipe
  • schema.org/SoftwareApplication

The list removes the schema types LocalBusiness and Organization (along with their subtypes). Before, companies could add a review markup to any page on their website. However, Google considered this “self-serving” because the company added the markup to their own website.

Removing the LocalBusiness and Organization types means businesses and organizations can no longer display self-serving reviews.

Technically, companies can still attach a review markup to any schema type. However, many don’t provide value to the searcher when it doesn’t match the content.

Google’s change allows them to limit which schema types trigger for review rich results.

With this list, Google can provide content that’s in the best interest of the searcher.

The “name” Property

Google reviews for rich snippets also require the “name” property in featured snippets.

This property ensures websites will now specify the name of the item associated with the review displays.

If you’re using a plugin for your schema structured website data, check to make sure it’s already including the “name” property. However, if the “name” property isn’t included, check for an update to the plugin.

If the “name” property is missing from your structured data, contact the plugin creator.

Google didn’t indicate what would happen if websites failed to include the “name” property within the structured data. However, Google’s update did say the name property is now mandatory.

What’s Google’s Goal Here?

Google’s main goal is to improve the Google rich snippets functionality for searchers. This update creates limits that determine where and when rich results will appear. As a result, Google schema is now able to limit the inaccurate implementation and use of these reviews.

Previously, the use of Google reviews across company websites was sometimes considered misleading. When a rating displayed on a page didn’t match the content, the review didn’t accurately represent the product or service displayed on the page.

Structured data allows companies to speak directly with their potential customers.

By improving the Google reviews rich snippets, Google makes it easier for users to find the information they’re looking for. Improving user experience can help companies attract new customers. When information is easy to find, searchers are more likely to make a decision about their purchases.

What Should I Do?

Google only recently announced this update. However, we may start to see changes to the algorithm take effect as early as next week.

So how should you prepare?

First, take a look at the Google reviews star ratings on your site. If they’re localBusiness or Organization type schemas, there’s a possibility you’ll lose your star ratings. However, it’s not yet clear how the update will impact these reviews.

If the schema type does impact existing Google reviews, it’ll impact your competitors as well. This will give you a chance to make the necessary updates.

But if you’re up-to-date with your schema, you’re already good to go!

However, you may want to double-check if you’re using a plugin or platform. Make sure everything’s set to reflect Google’s update.

In the meantime, don’t remove Google reviews from your website. Reviews provide your website with social proof, which can help customers learn to trust your business. Reviews are still important; however, this update might change the star ratings that appear in your organic search engine result pages.

This update also shouldn’t change your Google search engine rankings or cause penalties. You may, however, notice the star rating won’t appear alongside your search results anymore.

In the meantime, we’re still waiting to hear more about how the algorithm update will change Product schemas.

5 Stars for Schemas: How Rich Snippets Are Changing Google Reviews

Overall, Google’s goal is to improve the user experience for searchers. The Google reviews rich snippets update will help Google ensure the review ratings display more accurately for the content they represent.

With the update expected to roll out soon, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest Google news.

Keep up with the latest updates by exploring the Search Engine Updates section of our blog!

content marketer

Do You Need to Hire a Content Marketer?

There are two words that will turn every consumer’s head at any time: “ad-free.”

Everywhere you look, people are more resistant to ads than ever. They’re paying extra for their streaming services to watch their favorite shows without ads. They’re installing ad blocking software in their browsers.

People don’t like to feel like they’re being “sold to” and manipulated. When you’re trying to advertise your business, don’t get discouraged. Get creative by hiring a content marketer instead.

Is a content marketer the next step your business needs to take on the road to success?

Signs You Need to Hire a Content Marketer

If you don’t have a content marketer on your team or a content marketing agency available, you may not realize how much your business is missing. Look for these tell-tale signs.

Your Website Has No Blog (Or a Sparse One)

A blog is one of the best things you can do for your website. It needs to have a steady flow of valuable, well-written content about relevant topics.

When we offer this advice, the same question always follows: how often do companies need to post on their blogs? The answer varies from one website to the next.

Overall, it appears that blogging every few days is optimal. However, it all depends on your site and your audience, so you need to experiment and watch your site’s metrics to find your “sweet spot.”

Or a content marketer can oversee that process for you.

Your Blog Posts are Snooze-Fests

Merely having a blog with frequent posts isn’t enough. Those posts have to be riveting. Spectacular. A TED Talk on the page.

Maybe they don’t all have to be masterpieces but your blogs should be engaging and interesting to read. The information they hold needs to be practical and applicable as well.

Not sure if your blogs fit the bill? Reach out to someone in your target audience. Ask them to browse your blog posts and give you their unvarnished opinion.

You can also see the evidence by looking at the average length of time users spend on your blog pages. If it’s a few mere seconds, you’re losing their interest. 

You Aren’t Getting the Traffic You Want

One of the easiest metrics to track is website traffic. It’s easy to track over time and most importantly, it’s easy for you to see when it drops off.

If your numbers aren’t living up to your dreams, your content could be to blame.

Content that is optimized for search engines can pull in traffic like a magnet. It will use keywords that are searched frequently and that will land your site on the first page of search results.

If the lack of traffic is your problem, make sure you find a content marketer who has extensive SEO knowledge.

Your Social Media Following is Stagnant

Most of your content will live on your website, but its influence doesn’t stop there. To get more mileage for all the glorious content you produce, you should be sharing it on social media too.

If you do this, it also gives you one more way to tell if you need a content marketer.

When your content is strong, people will notice it. Then they’ll notice you and start following you.

If your social media engagement and your follower numbers are dropping or sitting still, it could mean your content isn’t attractive enough. A content marketer can turn that around in a hurry.

Your Blog Roll Sounds Like an Ad Campaign

When you’re producing content for your website’s blog, your ultimate goal is to drive revenue. That won’t happen if your content is too “on the nose,” though.

Let’s say you run a dog grooming business. When you look at your blog roll, it shouldn’t be full of titles like, “Why you need dog grooming,” “Why dog grooming is the best,” and “Why dog grooming is important.”

A few straightforward self-promotion blogs are fine here and there. The bulk of your content, though, should be genuinely valuable information readers are searching for.

For example, better titles would be, “How often should I groom my dog?” and “The hottest dog haircut trends in 2019.” A content marketer can find those valuable topics and craft expert blogs for them.

You Don’t Have a Dedicated Content Strategy

When content marketing first started taking hold, it was a cutting-edge luxury. Today, it’s essential for any business that wants to be proactive in reaching and gaining customers.

No matter how strong your business is today, you need a content marketing strategy. It should be a distinctive part of your marketing plan.

That content marketing strategy should spell out the overall message and image you want to portray. It should also outline different campaigns and focus areas throughout the year.

Finally, your content marketing strategy should have a decisive content calendar. It should include the types of content you need to produce, when to produce them, what purpose they serve, and more.

Feeling a tad overwhelmed by how much you’re missing? A content marketer can design your strategy from start to finish.

What to Do if You Can’t Afford a Full-Time Content Marketer

Let’s assume you fit some of the criteria above and you’ve confirmed that you need a content marketer. The problem is, you don’t have a full-time employee’s salary and benefits sitting around in your budget.

The solution is simple: hire a content marketing agency instead. You’ll only pay for the work you need and there are no benefits or additional workspaces to afford.

As an added bonus, you get the expertise of the entire agency that has trained the person building your content. Compare this to the knowledge a single content marketer has.

Want to give your content marketing an extra boost? Learn more about buying text links today.

setting up a domain

Setting Up a Domain For Your Website

A website is an essential part of doing business. Customers who are looking for your product or service will turn to search engines first. And if your business doesn’t have a website they can find via search engines, then they probably won’t find you at all.

So, building a website for your business should be a top priority. Once the website is built and ready to launch, the final step is securing a domain name that works for your business.

Have questions about setting up a domain name? This quick guide will walk you through everything you need to know.

Choosing a Domain Name That Fits Your Business

What’s a domain name? It’s the web address that shows in the URL bar of an Internet browser. Think of a domain name as the name of your website. 

Because it’s the name of your business’s website, the domain name you choose should reflect your business. Ideally, the domain name you choose would be the name of your business – www.yourbusinessnamehere.com. 

However, this isn’t always possible, especially if your business has a common name. The domain name needs to be available for you to use it for your business’s website.

How Do You Find Out if a Domain Name is Available?

Domain names are registered by companies known as domain registrars. When you’re looking for a domain name for your site, you can use the website of one of these domain registrars to check if the domain name you want is available. Each of these domain registrars checks a database that tells them which domain names are available.

If the domain name you want is available, then the domain registrar will allow you to purchase the domain name and register it on your behalf. If the domain name you want isn’t available, then the domain registrar will usually offer suggestions for an available domain that might work for your business.

When the domain name you want isn’t available and you don’t like the suggestions made by the registrar’s site, you can brainstorm your domain names as well.

Using Different Top-Level Domains

You might start by checking to see if your domain name is available on another top-level domain name. Top-level domain names refer to the end of the URL. Usually, this is .com. But other top-level domain names include .co, .biz, .net and many others. Your preferred domain name may be available on one of these top-level domains when it’s not available on .com. 

Using a different top-level domain has advantages and disadvantages. The major advantage is that you can usually find the domain name you want on a less popular top-level domain. But some customers are skeptical of sites that end in top-level domains other than .com, .org, and .edu because they are so used to seeing these top-level domains.

In general, it’s better for branding to stick with your preferred domain name, even if it’s on a less popular top-level domain.

Tweaking Your Preferred Domain Name

If your preferred domain name isn’t available on any top-level domain or if you’re adamant about having a .com site, then you’ll need to get creative with your domain name. 

You can try using recognizable abbreviations for part of your business name in the domain name. Or if you use abbreviations in your business name you can spell them out in your domain name. You can also try adding a word that describes your product/services to your business name in the domain.

Make sure that your domain doesn’t get too long though. Long domains are confusing for customers and don’t work well for branding.

Setting up a Domain Name

Once you’ve chosen your domain name and verified that it’s available, it’s time to set up the domain name. You’ll need to purchase the domain name and register it with a domain registrar.

Often, the service you used to build your website will have the option for them to purchase and register the domain on your behalf for an extra fee. The fee structure for this is usually a one-time purchase to secure and register the domain name, and a yearly fee to renew the domain registration.

If the service you used for your website doesn’t offer domain registration or you don’t want to use their service, you can set up your domain directly with a domain registrar. Some popular domain registrars are GoDaddy, Bluehost, Domain.com, and NameCheap. There are many others out there as well.

Choosing the Right Domain Registrar for Your Business

When choosing a domain registrar, pay close attention to the services they offer as well as their prices. It can be tempting to go with the registrar that’s offering the cheapest price for your chosen domain. But if they don’t have the customer service to support you, you’ll have a hard time when you have issues with your domain or if you want to make changes.

Look for a registrar that offers good customer service, auto-renewal for your domain so your ownership of the domain doesn’t lapse, transfer lock so domain auction services can’t sell your domain out from under you, good site load times, and privacy measures so your personal information doesn’t show when others search to see if your domain is available.

Once you’ve chosen your domain registrar and set the domain up through them, they’ll help you launch your website on your new domain. They’ll also give you a login to their back end so you’ll be able to make changes to your domain settings if needed. If you’re unsure of how to use the backend or make changes, be sure to contact the registrar’s customer service.

More Tips for Launching an Effective Business Website

Choosing the right domain name for your business’s website is key to your website’s performance. It’s also essential for your business’s branding. After reading this quick guide, you should have all the information you need about setting up a domain.

For more tips on how to launch and run an effective website for your business, check out our blog.

transitionsentences

Transition Sentences For More Powerful SEO Marketing Content

SEO covers a lot of topics, including backlinks and web design. However, there’s no doubt that the backbone of any SEO strategy is content.

The content serves as the “bait.” Your posts lure readers into your website, promising the exact information they seek.

Like a good backbone, it also supports the SEO of the rest of the website. It allows you to place internal links, external links, and so on.

That said, it should be high in quality. Interesting topics and proper grammar are a given, but there’s one element of it that only a few writers take seriously: transition sentences.

These sentences help readers get through the content by bridging one idea to another. Let’s learn more about them below.

First, What are Transition Words?

Transition words show the relationship between two sentences, phrases, or paragraphs. It links the two together so that the reader knows to connect the meaning of the two. 

Take, for example, the sentences below.

Example A: “I have a 63-year-old grandmother. She looks beautiful.”

Example B: “I have a 63-year-old grandmother. Despite that, she looks beautiful.”

In example B, our connecting word – or phrase – is “despite that.” Using it, the sentences flow more fluidly. It also lets the readers know that the grandmother looks beautiful despite her age.

Without the transition phrase, it looks like the narrator was spouting random facts. 

What are Transition Sentences?

Transition sentences, like connecting words, then bridge one idea to another without letting the readers fall into a state of confusion. 

Like so, they have the same uses: 

  • To change the subject
  • To introduce a contradiction
  • To emphasize a point
  • To show agreement to the preceding idea
  • To show cause and effect
  • To provide clarification
  • To give examples
  • To conclude an idea
  • And so on

They establish an organizational flow, making a blog post look more cohesive rather than pure word vomit. 

Types of Transition Words

Transition sentences make an explicit connection between two sentences, paragraphs, and ideas. It’s best not to use the word “this” when referring to the previous point, as it’s not always clear what the word refers to.

Like you would expect, they use transition words. Check out some essential words/phrases below that will help you make good transition sentences. 

1. Contradiction

These are words showing a contrast between two sentences, phrases or paragraphs. You use it to point out alternatives or introduce a change of reasoning.

Examples are “but,” “although,” “instead,” “however,” “otherwise,” “whereas,” “albeit,” “besides,” and so on.

To give you a simple example, here are two contrasting sentences:

“I’m not fond of social media. But I have a Facebook account for keeping in touch with friends and family.”

For a transition sentence, you can say something like:

“However, the scenario we explained isn’t always true.”

Then, proceed with a contrasting point.

2. Similarity

In contrast to the above, this type shows a similarity between two thoughts. It’s used for reinforcing the preceding idea or agree to it.

Examples are “as well as,” “together with,” “in addition,” “likewise,” “in the same vein,” “by the same token,” and so on.

Let’s use that in a sentence, “In the same vein as ~this example~, here’s ~another example with a similar result~.”

3. Cause / Condition

This type of transitional words shows there are a cause and an effect. Other words under this category also present specific conditions or intentions. 

In many cases, the cause/effect’s implied, like so: “I’m tired. I’m going to bed.”

However, not all sentences make themselves look this clear. These cases then elicit the use of a transition word or phrase. You can use “therefore,” “thus,” “as a result,” “under those circumstances,” “consequently,” and so on.

4. Example

This one’s self-explanatory: you use a transition word to give an example. Phrases that can help the readers grasp the concept include, “for instance,” “for example,” “to demonstrate,” “to illustrate,” and so on.

What follows right away is an example; you might even notice some scattered here in this article. 

5. Clarification

This one’s used for clarifying the previous idea. In other words, it’s used for presenting the same idea in a manner that readers might understand better. 

See what we did there? For this one, you can use “in other words,” “that is to say,” “to clarify,” and more.

6. Emphasis

Don’t confuse this for clarification. It’s used for emphasizing the previous point, like so:

“Many Americans are obese. In fact, over 50% of American men and women are obese or overweight.” 

7. Time

To give the readers a clear indication, limitation, or restriction of time, we use transitional words of this type. You can use “at the present time,” “meanwhile,” “subsequently,” “until,” “since,” “henceforth,” and so on.

Let’s use an example sentence to connect two different ideas:

“In the past, women weren’t able to vote. They weren’t able to enjoy much freedom as the men did.

That was all in the past, however.

At present, women are now enjoying the same privileges only men were previously entitled to.”

You can see how the transitional phrase prepares the reader for the different idea that it was about to present. 

8. Space

Much like in the case of transition phrases representing time, those that represent space give the readers a description of the spatial order or reference.

Examples are, “in the middle,” “here,” “next,” “around,” “alongside,” “before,” and so on.

9. Conclusion

This type summarizes all the points presented or indicate a general statement. You often use phrases like, “to summarize,” “in conclusion,” “in short,” “in either case,” “in any event,” “by and large,” “for the most part,” and so on.

An example sentence will be “All things considered, there’s a strong hint of life beyond our galaxy.”

Use the Right Transition Word, Phrase, or Sentence

Follow these guidelines for effective transition sentences. Yes, attracting readers is one of the main goals of SEO, but making them stay is another.

Don’t worry, it won’t be long until you see the results of being nitpicking each part of your SEO strategy. Check out how long it takes to get results in this guide here.

branddesign

Make an Unforgettable Company Identity with Smart Brand Design

When most people think of the concept of “branding,” they have a tendency to write it off as little more than a buzzword

“Branding” can be a bit difficult to define, but the reality is that it’s the difference between success and failure for many companies across a variety of industries. Branding isn’t just about choosing company colors or dreaming up a logo design. 

Instead, think of it as the entirety of your company’s image. 

It helps to think of brand design as a person. People don’t show their identities solely by the clothes they choose to wear, right? They also show people who they are by the way they talk, the hobbies they’re interested in, how they respond to stress, where they work…this list could go on forever. 

Your brand is like the personality of your company — and you need to take corporate identity design seriously to stand out. 

So, how do you create winning brand designs? 

Keep on reading to find out. 

Start With Questions

Before you do anything else, you need to ask yourself and the other founders of your company a few questions. 

If you didn’t know anything about your brand, what kinds of questions might you ask? These are the things you need to consider when developing your brand design. 

For example, why did you start your company? Why does what your brand does matter to you on a personal level? How will it make peoples’ lives better? What’s your experience within this industry? Who do you primarily sell to? How are you different from your competitors? 

These questions will help you reintroduce yourself to your brand, and allow you to build a foundation for your overall brand design. 

You can also send brand surveys like this one to your employees and existing customers to learn about what other people associate with your brand. This way, you’ll learn about what other people actually think of your brand — not just what you want them to think of it. 

Make a Customer Prototype

In the introduction to this guide, we talked about the advantages of seeing your brand as a person. 

Next, you should take things a step further and create a customer prototype personality to assist with your brand identification plan. Essentially, you’ll need to create a character of your ideal customer — and tell the story of how your brand can help them. 

Decide how old this customer is, what they struggle with the most, their income level, their priorities, their location, and their hobbies/interests. Then, tell the story of how your product or services will help to improve their quality of life. 

You can even use this mock customer in your marketing materials. People will certainly see themselves in your creation. This means that it will be even easier for your market to identify themselves and choose to follow your company because it’s relevant to their interests. 

Create a Mood Board

Next, you should create a mood board for your brand — the first step towards truly visualizing what your brand design will look like. 

If you’re a tour guide company, put up pictures of popular destinations. Write down a list of adjectives that people associate with your brand. Figure out the different phases a customer goes through before they decide to buy your product/services, and put those phases up on the board. 

Even put up a few images you’re considering using in your logo, and pin a few potential color palettes to your board. 

Once you see everything laid out, it’ll be much easier for you to create a brand story and make the right choices when it comes to typography, social media presence, your logo, and your company colors. 

Make Brand Design Choices

Perhaps the most well-known aspect of brand identity development is the design element. 

Look back at the way customers and employees have responded to surveys and questionnaires. Notice words that keep coming up over and over again, like “outdoors,” “dependable,” or “time-saving.” 

These words will inform your brand design elements, like your company colors, your logo, and your business’s slogan. 

For example, let’s say you’re a wedding flower shop, and “creative” is a word you see over and over again in your results. You want to pick a logo symbol that makes it clear what you do, but also differentiates you from your competitors. 

We love the logo design idea of having a bride walking down the aisle carrying an oversized, over-the-top bouquet.

First of all, the design is active. Secondly, it’s obvious you’re a wedding florist. Finally, it says that you’re for offbeat brides that want something different than what everyone else has. 

You’re Ready to Get Started with Brand Design

We hope this post has helped you to understand just how important brand design is to every business. 

A solid branding strategy is what helps you to connect to your target market, allows you to evoke emotion in your customers, and separates you from your similar competitors. 

Once you’ve developed your brand design, you need to start thinking about how you’re going to share it with the world. 

Search engine optimization — SEO for short — is the most effective way to get your message out there in today’s climate. 

We can help you to master it with the fine art of backlinking. 

When you’re ready to take your digital marketing level to the same high level as your branding strategy, rely on us to help make it happen. 

see results

How Long Does it Take to See Results from SEO?

The great thing about this SEO (Search Engine Optimization) question is that you can run tests of your own to verify our results. We have created and built hundreds of search engine tests to try to figure out how to get results and see results more efficiently. Our experiences are listed below in this article, and each experience is repeatable.

What Replaced Google+?

In the old days, if you had a new web page, you could post it on a semi-popular Google Plus profile, and it would be indexed within as few as two hours. Even if you submit URLs to the Google Search Console, it takes between two days and two weeks before you see any impact. Link to a page from a popular YouTube channel (YouTube being owned by Google), and it takes longer than if you submit a sitemap or URL to the Google search console.

So, what has replaced Google Plus?

The odd answer may be Facebook and you can run a few tests of your own. If you post a link to an un-indexed page on a followed Facebook profile, on a followed fan page, or into a Facebook community where you receive an additional share, then your page is indexed in as quickly as two to four days. Make sure the Facebook page is open to the public (aka, you do not need to sign in to see it).

Google may be monitoring Facebook more closely than it is letting on. Try an experiment for yourself but remember to run dry tests to see how quickly Google crawls your pages without you affecting the crawl rate.

Submitting a Sitemap to The Google Search Console

To start with, make sure you read an SEO guide on how to submit a sitemap for your website. It is easy to get wrong, and despite our own troubles submitting sitemaps, it is often easier than you think to submit a sitemap to Google.

Our results were very odd in this regard. For example, we submitted a sitemap for a Blogger blog called Reasons To Giggle. We were sure that it would be crawled and indexed quickly because it is running on the Google-owned Blogger and Blogspot system.

We later discovered that it took over 2 weeks to be crawled and indexed. What is more, only around five of its dozen web pages ranked inside of the 100,000 page result mark. We submitted using this line after the “Add/Test Sitemap” function:

atom.xml?redirect=false&start-index=1&max-results=500

We suspect that some of the website’s pages did poorly on the Google search engine results because they are a little on the short side. There is also suspicion that some posts had no easily quantifiable theme, which may have also hurt their search engine rankings.

Submitting A Second Sitemap to The Google Search Console

We submitted a sitemap from a website called, “Findoutfree.co.uk,” which is an older website with a very strong gaming-forum following. The SEO results showed it was indexed within 12 hours and its page update had also been cached.

We also submitted a sitemap from a financial news website, with 500% more online content and a smaller online following and it took three and a half days before we started to see results.

It seems that if you have numerous and different types of links from active websites, forums, social media pages, and online apps/tools, then your website is crawled more quickly when you submit a sitemap to Google.

Do We See Results from The URL Submitting Function?

This is the “Submit a URL” function at the top of the Google search engine results. We have noticed that it takes roughly the same amount of time it does to validate an error fix.

Our experience is that a submitted URL takes four working days. This is the same amount of time it takes when we have an error reported on a URL and we click the “Validate Fix” button on the Google search console.

Adding Meta Tags to Websites

The very notion of adding keyword tags and descriptive tags to websites was laughed at during the late 00s, and yet these days they are as important as ever. But, it is not because Google is using them to rank websites. Google ranks websites based on their popularity with each user, which is why your search query results may differ from that of another person who searches for the same thing.

Adding meta tags helps online tools, online software, apps, web spiders, and other websites to find and identify your web pages. This exposes your pages to more people, which makes them more popular, which help rank them up through the Bing and Google search engines.

How long does it take for your meta tags to have an SEO effect? They cannot take effect until Google and/or Bing have crawled and indexed your website unless your website is being monitored by certain web crawlers; such as how Amazon is frequently crawled by price-comparison websites.

In truth, the positive effect of meta tags can take between two weeks and years to have any effect.

Adding Alt Tags and Titles to Images

Some of our most exciting results have come through experimenting with images and Google.

Professionally sold and licensed images such as those on ShutterStock will often rank very easily on Google images and as a byproduct on Google’s primary search engine. If the image is already listed on Google thanks to the image selling company, then it will appear very quickly in the search engine results, which will help drive traffic to your website.

If you are using a picture that you copied (legally or otherwise) and that you didn’t buy from a major image seller, then your image will have very little effect on your SEO. In fact, other than improving the usability of our blog posts, we have seen less than a 5% benefit from adding images to blog posts.

However, if you take a brand new photograph, and you add a suitable title, and you add a descriptive (not too long) alt tag, and you upload it on your website, you will see it listed on the Google images search engine very highly. You may also see it listed for other keyword searches.

In short, a “good” and original image that has been correctly optimized can act as an ambassador (and traffic funnel) for your web pages. In terms of SEO investment, this is the most volatile (in a good way) method. It won’t help your web pages get to page one on Google, but it will draw traffic to your web pages and draw positive attention if it is done right.

The Obvious Conclusion is to Experiment A Little

What we didn’t expect was how much fun we would have while experimenting with SEO and how long it takes to see results. We were having ideas such as starting five new Twitter accounts and seeing if posting the same link on all five would have it indexed. We also considered starting experiments with competing websites where all meta tags on the web pages were deleted.

We encourage you to play around a little too. We are not living in an age where you can damage your website’s SEO too deeply (unless you start using black hat SEO), so we encourage you to experiment a little to see what new SEO tricks you can discover.

It is good to experiment for yourself but professional online marketeers already know what works. We offer a number of services to improve your SERPS. Create an account and get started today.

seo terms

10 SEO Terms Everyone Should Familiarize Themselves With

Feeling a bit lost when it comes to SEO?

93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. You can’t afford to not take your SEO seriously. 

There are a lot of terms that are thrown around when it comes to search engine optimization. It can be hard to keep up with the constant changes in algorithms and all the confusing jargon.

Still, your website can’t thrive without SEO. Which means neither can your business. 

The importance of SEO is universal to every industry in 2019. Here are 10 SEO terms everyone should familiarize themselves with.

1. 301 Redirection

Every once and a while you may upgrade your website or decide to change your business’ domain name. When this happens, your old pages will no longer be connected to the same links. This can be a problem for all the traffic and SEO that you’ve built up over the years.

It also means that any backlinks on other sites that are directed to your old pages are going to break. That’s where a 301 redirection comes in. What this does is redirects someone who clicks on the old link, to the location of the new page. 

This is a permanent redirection. It allows you to keep the traffic coming and not lose your SEO ranking even when you want to change the domain name of your site. 

This is opposed to a temporary redirection that would not keep its ranking and is only used for a period of time before returning users back to the original page.

2. Affiliate

This term can refer to a number of different business connections and agreements between companies. When it comes to SEO, affiliate programs are created to help different sites build traffic or sell products. This can be done by exchanging commissions or fees for doing a service.

For example, a company might have a blogger write an article on their site and include their product as a recommended purchase. If people click on the link within the blog and purchase the article due to the recommendation, the company provides the blogger with compensation for making the sale.

In this way, both the blogger and the business benefit from this transaction. This is just one example of how an affiliate could work.

Having an affiliate program on your website can help you earn extra money on top of ad revenue. If you are looking to become an affiliate, this can help you increase traffic to your website. 

3. Backlinks

These refer to links that are on other websites that point back to your site. Having backlinks on high traffic websites can not only direct users to your site. It can also help your site rank higher the more backlinks you have.

That’s because backlinks show search engines that your site is a reliable source and recommended by other websites. Sometimes businesses will work together to either purchase backlinks or exchange them. 

It’s a great way to improve your site’s SEO!

4. Algorithm

When you hear SEO experts talking about an algorithm or “algo” it is usually referring to what automated formula search engines use to rank your site and also how they determine what pages to suggest to users. 

The reason an algorithm like Panda or Penguin is so important to SEO specialists is that this is what they use to build a strategy. Knowing what methods the algorithm uses to make your site appear first is key to good ranking and increasing traffic to your page.

5. Duplicate Content

This is referring to the amount of content on a website that is repeated. A search engine will actually search for duplicate content on a site. If your page has a lot of duplicate content on it, the search engine will penalize it. So you may not be ranked or approved by Google Adwords.

Therefore, an SEO expert may tell you to avoid or reduce duplicate content on your website.

6. Gateway Page

This is an SEO term that refers to a page that is meant to bring traffic onto your website from a search engine. It will then redirect users to other pages within your site. It is yet another tactic to increase the traffic to your website.

7. Impression

When used in an SEO context, an impression is any time a user views or visits a webpage one time. Impressions are also used when referring to someone viewing a digital ad.

8. Keywords/Key Phrases

If you’ve been in the world of SEO for even a little while, you’ll hear the term keyword and/or key phrases tossed around a lot.

A keyword is a search term that a user will type into a search engine in order to find information. Key phrases are also tracked by search engines, which are a string of words or a full sentence. 

The reason they are so important in SEO is that these search terms are used to increase traffic to your website. This is done by researching which keywords or key phrases are searched most often.

If your website can rank for a popular search term and be the first website to pop up on a search engine, your site can gain a ton of traffic.

9. Internal Vs. External Links

When it comes to internal and external links, both are important parts of good SEO. Internal links are any links on your website that send users to other pages within the same site. These are recommended to keep users on your site and lead them to more of your pages.

The longer a user is on your site, the more likely they are to take an action such as purchasing a product or service, as well as clicking on an ad.

External links are ones that connect to pages on a different website. Search engines also look to make sure you are using external links on your pages. Both types of links are used to improve your ranking on search engines.

10. Alt Text

This refers to the text used to describe an image on your website. It’s important to provide alt text on all of your images. This is because it is used if the image is unable to load.

The alt text is also read by search engines to know what types of images you have on your website. It can contribute to your site ranking and help users more easily find your pages.

Discover SEO Terms

We hope this guide to essential SEO terms will help you and your business create a successful website! 

If you’re looking for more ways to boost your SEO and enhance your site then check out our blog for more amazing tips and tricks.

social media shares

7 Awesome Strategies for Boosting Your Social Media Shares

Social media is one of the hottest ways to market your products and services, largely because it makes information so easy to share. 

But while you can create a fantastic ad or informative post, that doesn’t guarantee a lot of people will see it. In fact, if you don’t have a strategy for how to reach more eyes with your social media, then it can fall flat. 

You could spend a bunch of money on sponsored posts, or you can grow your reach organically. One of the best organic methods is to encourage social media shares. But how do you do that? 

Let’s take a look at 7 strategies…

1. Create Emotional Content 

It’s easy to play it safe and create content that doesn’t evoke many reactions, whether happy or sad. But is mediocre the way you want people to think about your business?

Using emotion in content writing is one way to do this. You can do this by telling a story that the reader can connect to. You can also achieve emotional responses by creating video content that engages the viewer. 

But keep one thing in mind: it will make a difference if you evoke happy tears or sad tears. Engagement is high either way, but people are more likely to share positive content than they are negative. 

Whatever you do, don’t create social media posts that make your followers say “meh” and move on. 

2. Target Social Media Influencers

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or just arrived from 1920, then you’ll know there’s this whole movement of influencers online. These are generally younger, photogenic people who have amazing adventures seemingly every day. 

While some people roll their eyes at influencers, they also create an opportunity to really boost your shares. One way to do this is by figuring out a way to mention a celebrity in your content and to say something nice about them – perhaps how they run a charity to save endangered animals, for example. 

Or you can even ask an influencer if they’d like to create some content with you. For example, you could interview them about a particular topic and write an article that can be shared. 

3. Create a Contest

Dream up some kind of contest that people can take part in by sharing your content. Tell people one of the stipulations is they have to share the contest post to be eligible (but that’s not a requirement.)

You can also encourage the contestant to tag a friend to be considered for the prize. That way when the tagged person sees it, they may be inclined to allow it to be posted to their page, especially if that person stands to win something as well. 

One idea is to give away a pair of tickets to an event. Instruct entrants that the tagged person in your share is the one they want to go to the event with. 

4. Use Quality Images

While you may have created some insightful or informative content, it might not be shared without an image. A beautiful image can increase your likelihood that your post will be shared (or at least looked at more.)

Just make sure you have full permission to use the image in the post, whether it’s from a free site or you took the photo yourself. You may also think about hiring a professional photographer if you really want to invest in original, quality images for your posts. 

5. Post at The Right Time

Did you post a great piece of content, but it’s only received one like after an hour of going live?

There are a few possible reasons for this. One of them could be that your content just isn’t engaging, as was noted earlier. Another could be that you’re just posting the material at the wrong times. 

Think about when people will have time to sip a coffee and scroll through their social media feeds. This could be at 7:30 a.m. when people are sipping their morning coffee, or at 8:30 p.m. when people are done watching their primetime shows. 

The right time to post can vary by social network. You can try to use analytics to see spikes in your web traffic, or you can just use the trial and error method to see what time works best for engagement. 

6. Try a Guest Post 

A guest post is when you establish a relationship with another media site (or blogger) and write a post for them. You can choose blog hosts that specialize in the type of business you run – then your post will be from a bonafide industry insider! That’s a benefit for the host’s web traffic. 

The advantage of a guest post is that you or your business name will be made available to all of the audience of the hosting site. With larger media sites, that can be a very large number. It also means a lot more potential for sharing. 

Then you can add a backlink at the end of the guest post, which brings people back to your website or social media channel. 

7. Use Multiple Social Platforms

Some businesses only use one social media channel, such as Facebook. That’s not a bad thing, but you’re limiting the scope of how many people you can reach if you ignore Twitter and even LinkedIn. 

When you post a piece of content through apps, it will often give you the option of whether you want to share it through your other channels as well. You’ve instantly increased your audience and the potential for shares. 

You can also post something on Facebook and then do a teaser on Instagram that brings people to your Facebook page.

Social Media Shares Mean More Exposure

The power of social media for marketing is hard to deny. By creating the right kind of content that evokes emotion in your audience, as well as paying attention to timing and quality, you can enjoy a lot more social media shares. 

In the meantime, if you run a quality site that can host other people’s content, then you can make money in an affiliate program

business blog ideas

4 Tips for Brainstorming Business Blog Ideas Your Audience Will Love

Would you like to have 67% more leads? What about an average of 434% more indexed pages for your website?

If so, then you don’t have to spend a ton of cash on marketing gimmicks or spend hours in Photoshop editing images and postcards.

Instead, all you have to do is start a business blog. You can do it for free on your own, or hire a freelancer to write your posts to keep costs to a minimum. Not only does blogging allow you to prove your industry expertise and let customers know about upcoming products/services. It also improves your website’s overall search engine ranking.

Need a little help coming up with business blog ideas?

If so, then read on to learn all about some of the best blog topics to keep visitors coming back week after week.

1. Your First Blog Post

Your introductory blog post is one of the most important ones that you’ll write.

In it, you need to focus primarily on making a connection with your target market. In other words, your readers need to be able to see themselves, their problems, and their priorities in your post. You should also strive to create an emotional response in these readers — because that’s what keeps them reading.

Remember, the longer people stay on your page, the higher your SEO score climbs.

In your first blog post, talk about why you started your business, and how you fill a need that your competitors haven’t. The more personal you’re willing to be here, the better — honesty and vulnerability go a long way towards establishing brand trust.

Briefly discuss your company’s values, the industry you work within, and casually mention a few standout products/services (but make sure it doesn’t read like an ad.)

You should be sure to follow up with any blog comments that readers leave you, and always encourage them to share the post on social media.

2. Check Out Online Forums

Your blog topics should primarily focus on answering some of the most common questions that your target market has about not just your business, but also your industry as a whole.

What’s one of the best ways to find out exactly what kinds of questions they’re asking?

Visit an online forum website like Quora or Reddit.

Here, you’ll be able to search for questions within your industry and pick out which questions you see asked over and over again. You should also read the answers that others have left, so you can have the chance to clear up misinformation if needed.

You’ll likely get at least three blog topics all focused on providing easy-to-understand, brief, and genuinely helpful answers. Not only will you prove that you know you’re stuff, but you’ll also prove your value to consumers.

3. Research Popular Keywords

Do you still need to come up with engaging business blog ideas?

Why not use popular keyword search tools (try this free one to get started) to help you learn what your market is talking about?

For example, let’s say you run a catering company, and you find that one of the popular keywords for your industry is “best catering company near me.”

From that simple keyword phrase alone, you can write about numerous topics.

Try what to look for in a catering company, how to find a last-minute catering company, the top questions you should ask a catering company, and the most in-demand foods that catering companies provide.

This isn’t just beneficial because it helps you to come up with things to write about. It’s also a wonderful way to give your SEO score a quick boost. Just make sure you avoid keyword stuffing — or risk turning off clients and being penalized by Google.

4. Your Competitors

What’s one final way to figure out the kind of content your blog should — and shouldn’t –contain?

By researching the topics your competitors are writing about.

First of all, this will prevent you from creating blog topics that are practically identically to the ones that your competitors have already covered. The last thing you want is a blog that’s just the same as everyone else’s.

But looking at your competitors’ blog posts will also help you to identify common themes, popular topics, and even the kinds of posts that generate a good response from readers.

Take a look at the comments sections in particular.

Are readers asking questions that you know you can answer?

If so, why not write a post about it? After all, it’s a great way to jump on a popular topic without coming across as a content copier. You can also figure out how to put your own spin on a hot topic your competitor has written about in the past.

After all, everyone wants a second opinion.

Generating Business Blog Ideas Is Simple

Whether you love writing tutorials, reviewing popular products within your industry, or sharing new business developments with your readers, we hope these business blog ideas have you feeling inspired.

Of course, once you have a strong list of topics, you’ll need to include excellent internal and external links in the content to increase your SEO score. You’ll also need to optimize the content with keywords, images, and the right kinds of promotion on social media or e-newsletters.

If you’re curious about link building, in particular, you’re in the right place to learn about buying and selling backlinks, starting affiliate programs, and much more.

Make sure to explore the rest of our site so you don’t miss out.

copywriting vs. content writing

Copywriting Vs. Content Writing: Know The Difference

For more than 3,500 years, Aesop’s Fables have used storytelling to teach lessons to children. 

The Tortoise and the Hare fable teaches that it is better to be slow and steady than it is to be fast and over-confident. The Lion and the Mouse fable illustrates that you can still help someone or something much larger than yourself, no matter how small you are. 

Storytelling is so effective at conveying a message that people still use it to this day, but it has a new name: 

Content Writing. 

When done well, this type of writing draws its readers into a world of their own and helps them to understand how a brand or product can affect their lives for the better through a story. 

When done exceptionally well, content writing interweaves copywriting throughout the story to convince the reader they need something and calls that reader to action. 

For this reason, it is important to understand what both types of writing are, how they are similar, and how they are different. To help you with that, this article gives you a rundown of copywriting vs. content writing. Read on to learn more. 

What is Content Writing? 

The modern era has made it easy to learn anything you want. All you need is a computer and an internet connection, and you have a compilation of the world’s knowledge at your fingertips. 

Add to that the fact that everyone wants something for nothing and you have the backbone of content writing. 

Content writing provides useful, often actionable, information to people through story. The lessons learned and the information provided is often free. The hope is that this free information plants a seed of trust that causes them to come back when they need more information. 

YOU Make Content King

At first glance, you might think the headline has a typo in it, but you would be wrong. Content is not made king by you the writer, it is king because of the word you. 

Content writing is so powerful because it brings the reader into the story. It makes them a part of what they are reading and it does so with the use of the word you. 

When you use the word you in your content, you are giving your readers the power to imagine themselves with your product or service.

Content writing is suggestive. It plants an idea more than it convinces. 

What is Copywriting? 

Copywriting is less storytelling and more direct selling. It tells the reader what you want from them and asks them to do it. 

You see copywriting every day, but if it is done well, you won’t even realize that’s what it is.

It is the button that asks you to subscribe to a newsletter. It is the last paragraph of an article that tells you to click a link and read another post. It is the headlines that convince your readers to continue digging through your content.

Copywriting is your call to action, in whatever form that takes. 

The best way to be successful at copywriting is to hide it naturally within your content. 

Where Does SEO Come Into Play?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is what helps your readers find their way onto your website. Setup your website with quality content that follows certain standards and you increase the chances of your audience finding you. 

There was a point in time that a website’s primary goal was to stuff as many keywords and links on their webpages as possible. Most of the links led to irrelevant or spam-filled websites. But doing this would cause their website to rise to the top of a search engine result page. 

There were few websites with any valuable information on them, and it was hard to find legitimate websites with reliable information. 

Google founders Sergey Brin and Lawrance Page saw this and realized people were not finding the quality content they deserved. In 1998, they published The Anatomy of Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search.

Soon after, search engines began to use algorithms to help them identify useful content and promote it. Website developers found they had to up their game if they wanted people to find their sites.

Since then, SEO remains a part of copywriting, but for your website to get pushed to the top of search engine results, it must meet certain quality standards.

Enter Content Writing. 

Copywriting vs. Content Writing

Since 1997, Google has redefined the way people use the internet. As algorithms improve, so must the content found on websites.

In a way, it is a lot like the experience you might have at a library. 

By using certain standards, the Dewey Decimal System allows library-goers to locate specific books by subject, author, or title. SEO does the same but on a much broader, more complex scale. 

Once you know where to look for your book, you inspect the cover. The front of the book jumps out and grabs your attention over all the others. The back of the book gives you a hook that makes you want more.

This is the book’s version of Copywriting. 

Then you get home and read the story, or content. 

It draws you in and you find that you can’t put it down. You want more. You read the excerpt about the author and the next day you find yourself at the library looking for more books by that writer.

Now you find yourself in that author’s “sales funnel.” This method is similar to SEO. Google acts as the Dewey decimal system of old and the book is the website that it leads you to.

How Can an Affiliate Program Help? 

As SEO algorithms improve, the line that divides copywriting and content writing gets thinner. It is no longer copywriting vs. content writing so much as it is copywriting AND content writing. 

One of the elements SEO algorithms look for are links to other websites with good, quality content. Backlinks.com gives you access to those links and pays you for it. 

We have two ways to earn: As a Publisher or an Advertiser. 

When you sign up as a publisher, you sell links to your website through the Backlinks brokerage. 

When you register as an advertiser, you use your website to sell access to the links provided by Publishers. 

If you have additional questions, please check out our FAQ’s for Link Buyers and FAQ’s for Link Sellers or use the comments below.