Link Popularity Isn’t So Popular Anymore

Link-popularityIf you’ve been in business more than a few months and have a website, you’ve more than likely gotten several calls or emails promising to get you #1 in Google.  And some of you may have even paid one of these “SEO geniuses” to do that for you.  If you did, you should read on.

For several years, the preferred tactic of SEO companies was to create an inbound linking strategy (inbound likes refers to links to your website from sites other than your own.)  Strategies varied from link exchanges with other sites to adding your site to every possible directory on the web all the way to commenting on blog articles.  This was a very effective strategy.  I have a client that paid a SEO guru megabucks to build a link campaign, plus build 30+ keyword-rich articles, that resulted in a top 3 listing on Google for a competitive national keyword.  My client was enjoying the success that brought — until the May release of Google’s Penguin and Panda updates.  Shortly thereafter, his site plummeted below 150 and in some cases 300.

As I began exploring the causes, Google Webmaster Tools began reporting Manual Actions, a section that showed when Google took adverse action against a site.  Exploring that showed that his site had be penalized for multiple reasons.  First was for having an excessive number of links on his site, all revolving around a couple of keyword phrases.  Google considered those as spam links whose only purpose was to artificially influence the search results.

After removing those, the next Manual Action report showed a large number of inbound links from what Google considered low quality sites.  Many of these sites are nothing more than glorified link farms, sites with little or no content, created for the purpose of displaying Google ads and generating revenue for the site owner.  The process of removing these links has proven to be an arduous task, investigating the links, finding a contact for the site, sending a link removal request and following up.  Google has initiated a Disavow process, which as a last resort, will help disassociate those spammy links from the website.  I say last resort because with Disavow, the link is still out there. Lets face it, we’ve probably all seen an instance when a software update caused something that was working to stop.

To check your site for low quality links, it’s as simple to check.  Do the following Google search – (using your website address).  The resulting search will show you how many links Google finds. Examine the list and look at each site that’s linked back to your site.  Some factors to look for:

  1. Does the site have any quality content?
  2. Is the site just a directory of web sites?
  3. Is the link just a listing to your website or is it a blog article someone has shared?
  4. Is the related to your industry (a complimentary, non-competitor business)?

Make a spreadsheet or list of the sites that have low content quality, low value directories or web site listings.  In that list, add the contact email for the site if you can find it.  Contact the site owner and ask them to remove your link.  Periodically, do the Google links search again to see which links have been removed.  Once you have exhausted the removal efforts, you may want to use the Google Disavow tool, a part of Google’s Webmaster Tools.  Or better yet, contact your webmaster to have them handle the process.

Be proactive.  Don’t wait until Google slaps your site to take action.  While you may never have a problem with links, it’s like buying insurance.  Better have it before something happens because after the fact, it’s too late.

Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo.  The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.


Number 1 in Google – The Easy Button

SEO companies aren't magiciansTo my knowledge, most SEO experts don’t have a degree in quantum physics, aren’t proficient in calculus or even have a degree from Hogwarts school of magic. But clients seem to think a search engine optimization company can work magic. (Though, based on the sales pitch you hear from the SEO telemarketers, they would make you believe they can.)

Everyone today is searching for the easy button – that quick fix that will catapult their site to page one of Google. And there are lots of SEO companies out there promising to do just that, when, in reality, they are just taking your money. The truth is Google is slowly whittling away at the tactics used by most of these companies. Link building, blog commenting, and optimizing anchor text, all common practices, are now being penalized by Google’s latest updates.

That spells bad news for the SEO companies that are looking for the fast buck. For the business owners, it’s both good news and bad. The good news is, the playing field is being leveled so that your competition can’t cheat the system as easily. The bad news – now your site must stand on it’s own merit. If you want to be at the top of Google for “Money Saving Widgets”, you better have the most authoritative site on “Money Saving Widgets.”

easy-buttonThe easy button you’ve been searching for is content. Every time I tell a client that they need to create content, you see a dejected look, a “I was hoping you wouldn’t say that” look. Creating content conjures up unpleasant memories of high school English. “Where am I going to find the time to write content?” “What am I going to say?” “Everyone knows what our business does.” Here are some suggestions to help you start creating content:

1. Create content that educates – A website/blog is the best source for educating your customers/clients. Regardless of the subject, people want to make sure they are making an informed decision and your content can reinforce those decisions.
2. Create content that entertains – We buy based on emotions, then justify it with logic. Content that entertains the reader taps their emotions and forges a bond between your site and the reader.
3. Tell a story – Storytelling is an effective content strategy. Readers can immerse themselves into the story line and identify with the characters. Consider a testimonial type of story that demonstrates how your company solved a problem. Readers will remember you for your problem solving skills rather than your list of services.
4. Forget the sales pitch – If your content is done right, you won’t need to have a sales pitch. A sales pitch immediately shifts the focus from the reader to “me, me, me”. The harsh reality – no one cares about you or your business. They care about whether you can solve their problem, increase their profitability or make their life easier. If your content gets that message across, you will never need a sales pitch.

So as you’re looking for that elusive shortcut to the top of Google, remember, there is no shortcut. The easy button is only in commercials. If you are committed to forging your way to the top of the search engines, you need to be ready to start creating dynamic content and keep creating dynamic content. Like any sporting event, the playing field will be dominated by the person or team that is the most dedicated, consistent and prepared.

Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo.  The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.


Of Pandas and Penguins – SEO for 2013

SEO-panda-penguinNever have 2 cuddly animals struck fear in the hearts of online marketers as the Panda and Penguin, thanks to Google.   And for business search engine rankings and SEO, Panda 2.0 just reinforces that fear.

In case you aren’t familiar with Google search engine ranking algorithm, let me give you a brief explanation.  Google was created as a search engine whose mission was to give the most accurate, unbiased and fair results.  But with everything else on the web, people learned how to work the system in their favor – it’s call search engine optimization (SEO).  Some less scrupulous marketers found ways to trick the Googlebots even more.

One of the most successful techniques was inbound link building.  They found that the more links that pointed back to your site, the higher the ranking.  Entire websites were devoted to nothing but links.  Sites were being thrown up that had little or not value, landing pages that were essentially sales letters.  And with the onset of cheap offshore outsourcing, site owners could pay to have several thousand links created for much less that it cost to create a full website.

In an effort to protect the integrity of their search results, Google engineers developed more complex algorithms to detect search engine spammers and those wild west gunslinger type SEO guys that pushed the system for their benefit.  The latest round of changes were labeled Panda and Penguin by Google and their effect has been dramatic.  Notably, sites with little or no content of value were hit the hardest.  And sites that had their link on such sites also felt the sting, with lots of sites falling drastically in the search engine rankings.

Today,  the push is toward quality content.  That doesn’t mean pages of endless dribble just repeating the keywords over and over again.  Here are some suggestions for content creation:

  • Content should be written for the consumer and provide value.
  • Content can be humorous, educational, informative or even controversial, as long as it’s original.
  • Avoid scraping content from other sites.  Google can identify pilfered content and you won’t get any credit for it.
  • Attach your authorship to all content you create.

While some of the link strategies are still effective, i.e. links from quality sites, it falls back to having quality content .  If that means hiring a writer to create that content, it’s well worth it.  Don’t take a chance on getting Panda or Penguin slapped.

Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo.  The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.


Ninja Marketing Tips for Creating Your 2013 Plan

At the beginning of each year many businesses spend some time thinking about their goals for the coming year. And while setting goals is an important exercise, the implementation steps are equally critical. The goal is the benchmark we establish to measure our success. One major reason that goals or New Year’s resolutions are so quickly forgotten is the lack of steps to reach the goal.

Before creating your marketing blueprint, you first need to understand some basic rules of online marketing.   Below are four rules to consider.

Basic Rules of Internet Marketing

JumpOffCliff2Look Before You Leap – The latest and greatest social media site may not be for you.  Just because everyone is talking about it doesn’t mean it’s for you.  Before taking the plunge, decide how you will use it and how it fits into your plan.  Can you devote the time and attention to another social channel?  What existing channel will you remove?


Attention Overload Doesn’t Apply To Search – We are bombarded with information but when someone is searching for you, they still need to find you.  And once they do, the more information you provide, the better your chances of being considered.  I hear people say, “I just want a 2 or 3 page website because nobody reads more than that.”  But if you are researching an upcoming buying decision, will a couple of pages suffice?  Not likely.  The more information available, the more likely that site will have a greater impact on your decision.

Content is King – The trend that started a few years back has continued to steamroll.  Forget fancy tricks and focus on creating content of value.  Not everyone will read everything you create nor will everyone be looking for the same thing when they visit your site.  Your goal is to have the solution to your visitors problem or dilemma readily available.  In a face to face selling situation, you’re going to point out every advantage doing business with you affords.  Your website/online channels should be as thorough.

 It’s Not The Yellow Pages –  You’re website and online presence is not a “set and forget” program, like a Yellow Page ad.  It should be dynamic content, updated frequently to reflect the changing landscape of your business.  I’m amazed (not really) at the people that study their Google Analytics and wonder why their traffic isn’t better.  Could it be because you aren’t giving your visitors any reason to come back to your site?  Once they’ve seen what you have and realize nothing has changed, it’s on to the site that has fresh, current information.

So before you create that grandiose plan, first visit your website and make sure all that traffic you are planning on driving to your site will actual take the action you want them to take.

Gary Wagnon is the owner of 800biz Ninja Marketing Strategies and the Ninja Marketing Dojo, a program designed to help businesses master all aspects of online marketing.  The goal of the Ninja Marketing Dojo is to improve search engine rankings, increase web site traffic and convert more browsers into buyers.

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Google + For Business – Top 5 Reasons To Join

Google+ for business is now open. “Oh great,” I can hear you say, “another social network I have to keep up with.” Yes, I know the traffic is not on Google + like it is on Facebook. And I don’t expect a mass exodus from Facebook. But, here are my top 5 reasons you should be on Google +.


5. It’s easy to sign up. To signup, you enter your business name and phone number. Google + then matches that to your Google Places Page. (You DO have a Google Places page, don’t you?)

4. Sharing is Easy – Others can share your business page either through the Share Page button or by +1′ing the page. Either way, it increases the chances of virally spreading your page.

3. No Finding Friends – With business pages, you don’t have to go hunting for friends. You share your page and post the page link to your web site and the traffic comes to you.

2. Build a Following and Improve Your Traffic – Because Google customizes the search function when you are logged in to a Google product (Gmail, Google +, Google Reader, etc.) the results you see are based, in part, on your connections. For example, if someone in one of your circles has +1′d a page, and you do a search on a keyword that related to that page, Google is going to show you that page higher up in the search results than normal.

The bottom line for a business is to have as large a following as possible, so when a follower searches for your catagory, your site will show up much higher.

1. Faster Indexing in Google – The number 1 reason to create a Google + page is speed up the process of getting content indexed in the Google search results. When content is shared in Google +, Google sees the content much quicker and as a result will add it to the search results page, based on the content.

I have seen this first hand within my blog articles. I created a blog article with the title Ninja Marketing Tips. Within 3 days of sharing the article in Google +, it was ranking at the top of an incognito Google search for the term, Ninja Marketing Tips.

Judge for yourself. What is your marketing strategy? Would improved search engine visibility be a plus? I welcome your thoughts.

Gary Wagnon is the owner of 800biz Ninja Marketing Strategies and the Ninja Marketing Dojo, a program designed to help businesses master all aspects of online marketing. The goal of the Ninja Marketing Dojo is to improve search engine rankings, increase web site traffic and convert more browsers into buyers.


Google Plus 1

Goliath has started its latest foray into the social media arena.  Google this week announced the launching of its +1 feature, its answer to the Facebook Like and LinkedIin Share buttons.  While previous attempts in social media (like Google Wave and even Google Buzz) have not had the level of success they expected, +1 could well be the social media success Google has  been searching for.

What is Google +1? +1 allows Web surfers, while logged in to their Google account, to share sites they like or recommend within the Google search.  The plus one button can be added to any webpage or blog with a few simple steps (which we will describe below.)

Google +1 on Website

When do you see the Google +1? To begin, you must have a Google profile or a Google account such as Gmail.   To find your Google profile, go to  If nothing comes up for you,  then you may not have created a profile or you could have it private, in which case you may need to create a public profile (do a Google search for details how to do that.)

Once you’ve logged in to your profile and do any search, you will see, at the end of the top line of the search results, the greyed out +1 button.  Simply click the +1 button and it turns to full-color, leaving a trail for your Google contacts to see.  When one of your Google contacts does a similar search, they will see your +1 link recommendation.  There is also talk that in the near future the link will be visible to your Twitter and Flickr contacts as well.

Google +1 Search Results

Google publicly says that +1 activity will be used to show more relevant ads on non-Google base sites, however, you do have the ability to disable that feature within the +1 settings in your Google account.

But what’s the real value of the Google +1? From the initial announcement of +1, speculation has centered around the effect it will have on search results and search engine ranking.  Google has long had, as part of their algorithm, the relevancy and popularity of a website.  By adding +1 to a website, the webmaster/owner may potentially have a positive impact on their search engine rankings.  How big an effect is yet to be seen but with more and more emphasis being placed on social media and the social aspects of the web, logic says this can have a significant impact.

How you add the Google +1 button? The process is a very simple one.  You will need FTP access to your website to complete the process or you will need to have your webmaster complete the process.  Below are the four steps:

  1. Go to Google +1 page
  2. Choose your button size and language.  The advanced options allow you to include the +1′d count and include the target URL you want attached to the +1
  3. Copy the first section of the code and paste it just above the closing body tag of the page
  4. Copy the second section of the code and paste it where you want the button to appear

Creating a Google +1 Button

That’s all it takes.  I hope you found this blog useful.  If so, +1 me.

Gary Wagnon and Online Marketing Solutions specializes in helping small to medium size businesses to drive traffic to their door through web site design, search engine optimization, text message marketing and social media marketing and coaching.  Gary is also the co-founder of SocialMediaLab, an online education and training program to help business owners master social media.


Ultra Secret Ninja SEO Trick – Spread The Word

Ninja Blogging Secrets to More SEO trafficYour blog is written, it’s got the keywords in the right place and it’s posted for all to read. The final step is to spread the word. The purpose of your blog is to drive traffic — either to your web site, landing page or event. And the broader your readership, the more traffic you can expect.

To increase your blogosphere, you need to expose more readers to your content. Sharing your blog through social media is the best place to start. If you have a business Facebook page, you can have your blog automatically update your status. The same can be done on LinkedIn. Assuming you have dynamite content, it’s an easy step for your friends, likers or connections to share it with their friends.

But how do you expand beyond your sphere of connections? One of the easiest ways to do that is through social bookmarking sites, like Stumbleupon, Digg and Reddit. As of January 1, 2011, Stumbleupon generated more website traffic (referrals) than any other social media site, including Facebook. Social bookmarking sites are the equivalent to your favorites, only made public for all to see and share.

There are a number of social bookmarking sites, some general and some industry specific. The most popular general interest sites are Digg, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Diigo, Mixx and Fark but there are dozens more. To submit a site, you will need an account setup at each of these sites. When you are ready to submit your new blog post, you then login to each one and add the link.

But I’m all about time saving. If you have to go to each site, add the link, add an excerpt, then submit it, it’s going to take some time. Despair not, grasshopper. Simply add a plugin to your WordPress blog called ShareToAny. Once you activate the plugin, ShareToAny adds a button to the bottom of each blog post that will automatically connect you with all the above social bookmark sites, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and close to 100 other potential sites.

When I first discovered this technique, I closely monitored my web traffic to see if it did have an effect. Almost without exception, every time I submit a blog post, I see a significant spike in traffic to my web site as a result.

Now, you’ve learned some of the ninja master’s most guarded secrets. It’s time for you to go forth and make your way in the blogosphere.

Gary Wagnon, owner of Digital Marketing Solutions, specialize in helping small business owners maximize their traffic through web site design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and mobile text message marketing.


Ultra Secret Ninja SEO Tricks – Keywords in Your Blog URL

ninjaNow we get into the really cool stuff only the advanced warriors know. It’s common knowledge that keywords in domain names are given high importance by the search engines.  But it’s not possible to have a separate site for every keyword phrase that applies to your business.

With a WordPress blog, you can do the next best thing.  Every blog post you create has a unique page name.  By default, that page name often looks something like, .  No search engine value there.  Take heart.  There is a simple fix and a stealthy super fix.

The simple fix first.  At the top of each post between the title box and the body box, you will see the Permalink.  Following that you will see an edit button.  Clicking the edit button will allow you to change the name of the post to the article title or any keyword phrase you want.  This will give the search engines a keyword phrase to work with.

Now for the stealthy super fix.  Under the setting tab on your dashboard, click on Permalinks.  This will open the permalinks settings page.  You will see several choices.  Choose the Custom Structure option.  In the blank box, enter the following:


Once you save the changes, immediately test your blog and see if your page displays.  Some servers may not be setup for this and may require a manual entry to the .htaccess file. (Your web designer or server should be able to help.  If your site does not work or you don’t have access to change this file, use the simple fix above.)

What this change does is make the url of each blog post the domain name plus the category and post title.  Assuming your category is also a keyword or keyword phrase, now you’ve doubled your SEO keyword exposure in the prime real estate of your domain url.

You’re almost there.  One more big secret to share before you become a black belt blogger, so stay tuned.  The secret to skyrocketing traffic is the final secret.

Gary Wagnon and specialize in online marketing solutions, including web design, search engine optimization, social media marketing and mobile text marketing.


Ultra Secret Ninja SEO Tricks – Blog Keywords

Now that you’re blogging (I assume you read my last blog), you’re no longer a white belt (novice). So now let’s give you the next secret techniques to earn your green belt (intermediate) – SEO Keywords in your blog.
Black Belt

My blog is done through WordPress, so that’s the platform I will be talking about. I know there are other blogging platforms but in my opinion, WordPress is far and away the most powerful in terms of functionality and overall SEO ability. So aside from just writing a blog and hoping for the best, what specifically should you be doing.

Let’s start with keyword usage. The same rules apply to a blog as to a website. If you have a major keyword phrase you want to get indexed, that phrase should have a web page devoted to it. In the case of your blog, don’t try to cram every possible keyword in your post. That only waters down the entire importance of every keyword phrase and, as a result, your post won’t get optimal results. If you have more keyword phrases, put them in separate posts.

WP-keywordsPost tags and Categories. Every post should have a keyword rich category and keyword tags. In WordPress, those are added to the post on the right hand side. Once a category is created, all posts assigned to that category will appear in the blog menu (if you choose to display it.) While categories are permanently incorporated, post tags (the WordPress term for keywords) are not. You will need to add them to each post. One common question I get is how many keywords should I add here. If the keyword phrase isn’t mentioned in your blog title or body, it probably shouldn’t be one of the post tags. A good rule of thumb is no more than 5 post tags per post.

In my early martial art days, I couldn’t wait to get to the really cool stuff the brown and black belts got to do. Well, you’re almost there. The really cool stuff is coming up so keep practicing what you’ve learned so far.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz specializes in website design, search engine optimization, social media marketing and mobile text message marketing.


Ultra Secret Ninja Tricks to Higher Search Engine Ranking

kung-fu_tv-master_po-young_grasshopper“Ah Grasshopper, when you can snatch the pebble from my hand it will be time for you to leave.” Okay, I’m an old Kung Fu fan but the master’s comment still holds true. When you learn to master a few basic secrets, it will be time for your business to soar.

So, Grasshopper, are you ready to get started? Secret Number 1 – You must learn to blog. Now before you get that dear in the headlights look, hang on. Like any good master, I’m going to impart the knowledge you need to master this needed skill.

I can almost always predict the reaction when I tell clients they need to start a blog. Their shoulders sag, they expel a huge sigh and look like they just got punched in the stomach. The hardest thing for most business owners is writing about their business. We can talk about our businesses in person, but when it comes to putting it down on paper, that’s a different story. Maybe it’s insecurity in our writing style, maybe it’s the time it takes to peck it out on the keyboard. But fear not. Help is here.

Let’s address the easiest one first – slow typing skills. Even though I’m pretty proficient on the keyboard, my best writing is done as I speak. So I bought Dragon Speak software and with my headset microphone, I talk, it types. It takes a little training but the more you use it the better it gets. It was the best $40 I’ve spent.

With that excuse down, let’s tackle writing insecurity. The beauty of a blog is your high school English teacher isn’t going to be grading it. If you can “fool” most of the people most of the time verbally, you’re in luck. A blog should be in your voice. Let your personality show through. People do business with people they know, like and trust. If your blog reflects who you are, your readers will get to “know” you. Besides, if your blog is a boring lecture, your readers will only come back when they have incurable insomnia.

Now for the serious decisions. What direction do you take your blog? Do you go serious or humorous? Witty and sarcastic or reassuring and calming? Or maybe controversial? A couple of notes on controversial. If you choose to go down the controversy road, be prepared for responses. A controversial post will frequently generate lots of comments. While that is exactly what you want, engagement from your readers, you also need to be thick-skinned enough to handle it. You will also want to respond to every comment. Just don’t be argumentative. Acknowledge the commentor’s points and either defend your position, recant it or just thank them and let it go.

KungFuGrasshopperOne last hidden secret Grasshopper. What do you talk about? Do you read newsletters, trade journals or other publications about what’s happening in your industry? (If you answer “No” we need to go back to Grasshopper kindergarten. You’re probably way behind the times and your competitors are more than likely taking your lunch money!!)

The information you read is loaded with trends, techniques or knowledge your customers would find valuable. All you need to do is take that information, put your spin on it and there’s your blog post. Sight the article source and wrap your take around it. “Just read this article about the new 2011 widgets. Their going to make your life so much easier because…” Or the article may trigger something you want to let your customers or clients know. Don’t hesitate to dip into this limitless well of information.

So now you’re ready to start practicing. Remember Cain was in the Shaolin Temple many years before he could grab the pebble. But feel free to test your skills when you feel ready.

Need help with how to write your content?    Creating a Buzz with Word Of Mouth Advertising is a 64 page ebook loaded with ideas, tips and techniques.

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