What You Need to Know About Comodo’s DCV Changes

What You Need to Know About Comodo’s DCV Changes

Changes To Comodo’s Domain Validation Procedures Coming Next Week

Comodo will be improving their domain validation methods to meet new industry standards. This will result in small changes to how you validate your Comodo certificates, and will actually be a big improvement for those using file authentication.

Conceptually, these methods continue to work the same way. The implementations have just been tweaked slightly to comply with new industry standards and the end result is that the processes have actually gotten easier. Three cheers for security and simplicity!

The average user will not notice an impact to how you request and validate certificates besides a small tweak to the file path for file validation. But businesses that resell certificates or enterprises that automate deployment will want to consult the specific changes to make sure they are ready.

These changes take effect shortly – less than one week from today. Here is a quick summary of what’s changing so you can be prepared.

Validation Changes

Note that this only applies to Comodo. Symantec and Certum made similar changes earlier this year.

There are changes with two of the validation methods: File-based validation and CNAME (aka DNS) validation.

File Validation:

Things are getting much simpler. Before, there were different procedures depending on the type of certificate or the hostnames you wanted to protect.

Now there is just one rule. Place the file at the following path:

<domain.com>/.well-known/pki-validation/<MD5>.txt

Each certificate request will still receive a unique .txt file with a random-looking name (it’s really an MD5 hash of your request). Inside, the file will now contain a unique SHA-256 hash and comodoca.com in a separate line underneath.

CNAME Validation:

As before, you can create a specified CNAME record to validate ownership of your domain. This value will still be provided to you, and you will create it in your DNS manager the same way.

The specifics of the record will change, and this really only affects those that like to familiarize themselves with every detail. There will now be an underscore (“_”) before MD5 hash values and SHA256 hashes that are split into 32-character strings will now be used.

Here is an example of a new record:

_c7fbc2039e400c8ef74129ec7db1842c.<domain.com> CNAME c9c863405fe7675a3988b97664ea6baf.442019e4e52fa335f406f7c5f26cf14f.comodoca.com.

When Do I Need To Make These Changes

These changes will take effect next Thursday, July 20, 2017.

For “retail customers,” who purchase directly from Comodo or from a reseller like us, you will automatically start receiving the updated files and instructions. Because these files and CNAME values are prepared by Comodo, you may not even notice a difference.

Resellers, enterprise customers, and other high-volume certificate users will need to spend more time preparing.

If you use a plugin or API to purchase your Comodo certificates, check with your provider what (if any) update needs to be made so you can be compatible with the changes.

Our resellers and enterprise users can update anytime between now and the 20th, which is the deadline for the switch. New versions of the plugins and updated API calls and documentation are available here.

[“Source-thesslstore”]

2017’s SEO Job Trends: What Does it Mean for Your SEO Career? [DATA]

2017’s SEO Job Trends: What Does it Mean for Your SEO Career? [DATA]

As we enter 2017, it’s natural to reflect on the past year and make predictions on what’s to come. As such, here are some interesting data points from nine months of research on SEO job market trends, as well as suggestions how each one may impact your career.

I don’t want to lull you to sleep with all of the methodology, but it’s important to know what data I’ve been pulling:

  • SEO Title Openings – # of full-time job openings in Indeed.com within 50 miles from the nearest location* with “SEO” in the title
  • SEO Skill Openings – # of full-time job openings in Indeed.com within 50 miles from the nearest location* with “SEO” anywhere in the job posting (title or description)
  • SEO Workforce – # of LinkedIn profiles within 50 miles from the nearest location* with “SEO” in their current job title

*Location – I looked at the top 75 most populous CSAs (Combined Statistical Area) or MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Area). You can learn more about what these are and why I chose them over just using cities here on my personal blog. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll just refer to the biggest city in area.

1. If SEO is dead, its job market hasn’t got the memo.

The overall job market has been good, but SEO has been growing over 5X faster

"SEO is dead" - some guy named Steve, probably

The total job market has grown by 0.3% from August through December, while SEO has surged by a whopping 2.0% in that time span!

Cities pulling more than their weight

Top 5 Cities in SEO Title Opening Total Growth (Aug-Jan)

Top 5 USA cities in SEO job growth: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Philadelphia & Miami

Top 5 Cities in SEO Title Opening Percentage Growth (Aug-Jan)

Top 5 cities in SEO job growth by percentage: Omaha, Tulsa, New Orleans, Columbia (SC), McAllen

SEO Title Opening Growth (Aug-Jan) by Region

SEO job growth by region: West, Midwest, South, Northeast

What it could mean for your career

OK, this one’s probably obvious but don’t switch careers!

We often hear things like “SEO is dead” and “content marketing is the new SEO”, but it’s important to understand SEO remains the dominant title preference on an upward swing. And I know, yesterday’s words don’t make themselves heard and the past doesn’t always predict the future, but these trends look promising.

2. It’s not all up and to the right. SEO openings are trending downward.

Despite its growth in employment, SEO positions aren’t opening at the same rate.

Indeed listings with “SEO” in the title are down 13.2%% since May with a Pearson correlation of -0.8244 when compared to SEO workforce growth in LinkedIn.

SEO workforce to openings trended over time

At face value, there appears to be a couple “no duhs” with this finding.

  1. Of course there’s a strong negative correlation between job openings and closings. However, that’s assuming you’re working with a finite amount of job openings, which is far from the case.
  2. Couldn’t this be due to seasonality? Everyone knows the job market can tighten up towards the end of the year as budgets run low and uncertainties of next year loom. However, Indeed tells us total job postings in our broader industry have only declined by 6.1% in that timeframe, just half the rate of SEO.

So seasonality appears to be a main factor, but certainly not the only one. Another potential contributor could be SEO jobs are slowly being called something else. We’ll get into this a little more in the next point, but while SEO Title Openings decreased by 13.2%% since May, SEO Skill Postings (“SEO” anywhere in the job posting) only fell by 10.3%.

It’s also important to note that LinkedIn and Indeed use entirely different data sets. If Indeed is declining in popularity, which doesn’t appear to be the case, it could inflate the perceived decline.

What it could mean for your career

If you’re looking elsewhere to let your SEO skills shine, consider the time of year when making your move. Indeed says job seeker interest is typically lower in the first half of the year, which according to the data I’ve pulled, may be when the job postings are cyclically high. On a side note, Team – if you’re reading this, please know that national trends may not reflect what’s going on in Kansas City. Please stay. We have a good thing going right now. Let’s keep it that way.

3. SEO jobs are slowly being named something else. And the key word is ‘slowly’.

The ratio of SEO as a job to SEO as a skill has only declined 3.2% since May

There’s been legitimate acknowledgement of SEO becoming less of a job title and more of a skill within a role of broader scope. While I agree this seems to be the trend, it appears it is heavily slowing in the past 6 months. Take a look at the graph below. The coasts appear to have already leveled out from this trend with the South and Midwest regions basically caught up.

ratio of SEO title to SEO skill openings trended over time

Here’s the same graph with the middle months removed to more easily see the contrast:

ratio of SEO title to SEO skill openings in August 2016 and January 2017

What it could mean for your career

The “SEO” job isn’t going anywhere. If you’re a job seeker, it’s perfectly fine to assume a title with SEO in it. And if you’re an employer, don’t feel like you need to switch out “SEO” with the latest buzzword alternative.

To be clear, I don’t mean to use “buzzword” with a negative connotation. ‘Content marketing’, ‘inbound marketing’, ‘growth hacking’ and ‘website optimization’ can all describe different job roles, but two things are clear about each of them: they’re on the rise, and their duties often overlap with traditional SEO.

While these other names are in fact trending up, it may be too early to predict their staying power, at least relative to how SEO has fared over the past decade.

4. The best city in America to get an SEO job right now is Phoenix

When weighing SEO’s job availability to its interest, no city has looked better over the past 6 months than Phoenix.

Using a method called feature scaling, I developed a formula to compare SEO job supply vs. demand to rank the best cities in America to get an SEO job, one through seventy-five. You can read them all on my latest post that was linked in the beginning, but here are the top five.

Best Cities in the US to Get an SEO Job

Top 5 cities in America to get an SEO job

What it could mean for your career

No, I’m not telling you to move to Arizona. Relative to many other fields, the SEO job market is favorable in most places. Also, with technology paving the way for more telecommuting roles, you can practice SEO from basically anywhere in the world.

What I am recommending is if you’re thinking of relocating, don’t just evaluate the job and the pros and cons of living in the new city. You should also consider the SEO job market as much as you can. If it doesn’t work, how easy will it be to get a similar position nearby? Of course, you can always increase your odds by building strong networking relationships and continuing to deepen and broaden your skillset.

Here’s to a great SEO career for you in 2017!

two people toasting beers

Image Credits:

Image courtesy of Unsplash (Pixabay, edited via PAINT.net)
Image courtesy of geralt (Pixabay, edited via PAINT.net)
All other images from Tylor Hermanson and SandboxSEO.com

[Source:-SEJ]

What Google’s Mobile-First Index Means For Your SEO Strategy

Google is working constantly to keep its search engine updated and reflective of the needs of its users. Today, users rely on mobile devices for the majority of their online activities, so it’s only natural that Google is spending more time catering to those users.

Google has released a number of updates designed to make the web a friendlier place for mobile device users, but now it’s rolling out a “mobile-first” version of its index, which could change the game significantly for search engine optimizers and webmasters.

Mobile-First in a Nutshell

What is the mobile-first index?

Google collects information on every web page in a massive catalog, known as an index, which it then uses to formulate and display search results for various queries. Up until recently, Google primarily viewed web pages through the eyes of a desktop user, treating mobile pages as important, but secondary to those desktop pages. Now, Google is treating the mobile versions of each page as the primary page to index, with desktop versions being secondary.

The mobile first index has already rolled out to some users, but like with most of the search engine’s major updates, it is being rolled out gradually. Though no firm dates have been given, experts suspect the rollout could take place over the next several months.

Google’s Stance on Mobile Friendliness

This isn’t the first time that Google has released an update intended to address the increasing needs of the mobile population of users. Mobilegeddon and its follow-up were released in 2015 and 2016, respectively, to encourage the web to become a more “mobile friendly” place, and even before that, Google worked hard to reward sites that offered mobile compatibility.

What does Google count as mobile friendly? The simple definition is any webpage that views “correctly” on a mobile device. For the most part, Google just cares that people will be able to load all pieces of content on your page, read the text without having to zoom or scroll, and interact with any buttons present.

If you’re concerned about the mobile friendliness of your website, you can use Google’s mobile friendly test here to determine if any of your pages are lacking. Though Google is mostly concerned with all sites adhering to a “bare minimum” of mobile friendliness, it’s often worth the extra effort to make your site especially appealing or targeted toward mobile users.

The Impact of Mobile-First

Keep in mind that the mobile-first index does not affect what Google has considered to be mobile friendly, and your site will not be rewarded or penalized in the rankings based on your mobile friendliness. In fact, Google has stated specifically that the change should not affect the search rankings in any major way.

Instead, the impact of mobile-first indexing will come into play if your mobile and desktop sites are significantly different. For example, if the mobile version of a page of your site has significantly less content than the desktop version, the mobile version will now be treated as the primary version, which could have a significant bearing on your visitors’ impressions of your brand and site. Mobile-first is also important because it reiterates Google’s commitment to appealing to mobile users.

The Broader Trend

Google has proven that its vision for the future of mobile is about more than just making all sites mobile compliant. In addition to changing how sites are ranked based on their use of mobile features, Google has been steadily rolling out new features that favor mobile-exclusive functionality. Some of these include Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs), which allow users to access content almost instantaneously when the protocols are included, and app streaming, which allows users to preview content within apps they haven’t even downloaded to their mobile devices.

It’s clear that Google is building a bold new future for mobile content and mobile users, and the mobile-first index is another herald of those changes to come.

[Source:-Forbes]

Death Stranding Spoilers: 3 Core Themes In The Trailer That Reveal What The Game Is All About [VIDEO]

The trailer for Kojima's upcoming game has a lot of spoilers what the game is all about. Read on to find what those hints are.The trailer for Death Stranding has been released and there are three core themes scattered all throughout the trailer which reveals what the game is all about or at least what the story is all about.

Connection/Relation

Hideo Kojima himself has highlighted these elements in his interviews and official statements. If you have noticed it in his interviews, he hints a number of metaphors that points to this idea.

One of the biggest examples of this theme is the umbilical cord that connects Norman Reedus and the baby. Even the dead things, crabs, and whales, littered in the game has this umbilical cord that hints at the connection. Even the title flashing on the screen has this “cord” growing out of them.

The umbilical cord symbolizes the connection of two living things where one living thing gives life to another. Thus, as you see this umbilical cord connecting these organisms in Death Stranding. This also suggests that this is not a normal world as men and creatures are bound by this single cord.

Relativity

The first hint that suggests relativity is the dog tags or the necklace Norman Reedus’ character is wearing. Kojima already referred to these necklaces as “dog tags” in his interviews. One Reddit has found a high-resolution image on the servers of Kojima Productions and found that two of the dog tags have been etched with scientific equations.

The first equation contains the Schwarzschild radius, which is related to black holes. The other equation contains the Dirac equation, a breakthrough accomplishment in particle physics by British physicist Paul Dirac. This equation accurately describes particles, such as quarks and electrons, in the context of quantum mechanics. This equation also led to the discovery of the existence of antimatter.

With those elements in the game, Death Stranding must have something to do with quantum mechanics or something related to it. However, both of these equations are related to relativity.

Concept of Rapture

In Christian eschatology, the rapture has something to do with the end times. This belief holds that in the last day of humankind, everyone will be judged. At this time, sinners will be punished and good people will be rewarded. This judgment is also one of the main themes of the William Blake poem used by Kojima in Death Stranding.In one of the stanzas of the poem, it talks about cruelty to animals and the judgment that will occur as a result of the cruelty. Blake talks about how human cruelly killing animals, even if it’s just a moth, can lead to retaliation. Death Stranding’s trailer has hints of this cruelty.

[Source:-Itech Post]

What To Expect In 2017: 5 Key Themes

The year 2016 was dominated by an environment of multi-year lows in oil prices and global bond yields as well as political surprises. Much of this is set to change in 2017, where we see five key themes emerging. First, we expect a shift in policy focus from monetary to fiscal in AEs. Second, we expect expansionary fiscal policy in the US to push the Fed to tighten monetary policy at a faster pace, raising US yields.Third, higher US interest ratesare expected to increase the risk of capital flight from EMs. Fourth, we expect a recovery in global oil prices as the market rebalances with OPEC production cuts and strong demand growth. And fifth, we expect heightened political risk with the rise of populism and important elections in Europe.These themes predominantly offer positive growth dynamics for advanced economies (AEs), but could act as a drag on growth for emerging markets (EMs).

First, the anticipated fiscal stimulus in AEs in 2017. In the US, Trump has promised tax cuts and infrastructure and defence spending. Elsewhere, monetary policy has reached its limits with interest rates as low as they can go and quantitative easing losing efficacy. For instance, the ECB’s deposit rate is at -0.4% and it is running out of assets to buy due to restrictions on its quantitative easing programme. Years of fiscal austerity and falling interest rates have helped create fiscal space and a number of major economies are now planning a stimulus for 2017. In Europe, draft budgets submitted to the EU point to stimulus and spending tends to rise in election years. Both Japan and the UK have announced increased infrastructure spending. The fiscal stimulus in advanced economies should help raise growth to 1.7% in 2017 from 1.6% in 2016.

In the US, fiscal stimulus is expected to raise growth and inflation, implying faster rate hikes by the Fed. This leads to our second theme of rising US yields. The US Treasury 10-Year yield has risen around 50bps since Trump’s election on the expectation of a large fiscal stimulus. If Trump’s tax cuts and infrastructure spending are implemented, US interest rates are likely to continue to rise.

Net portfolio flows of EM equity and debt (USD bn)

Net portfolio flows of EM equity and debt

Net portfolio flows of EM equity and debt

Sources: National Sources, Bloomberg, IIFand QNB Economics

Third, higher US interest rates are likely to encourage capital flight from EMs. Following the election of Trump, EMs experienced their worst month of capital outflows in 2016 with an estimated net outflow of USD 24bn in portfolio flows in November. Additionally, Trump touted a number of protectionist policies on the campaign trail, which, if implemented, would also be negative for EMs. As a result, 2017 could be a tough year for EMs with growth expected to slow to 4.0% from 4.2% in 2016.

The fourth theme is the global recovery in oil prices. We expect oil prices to average in the range of USD55-60/b next year, depending on the extent to which the recent OPEC agreement is implemented. The agreement committed to 1.2m b/d of cuts within OPEC and 0.6m b/d from non-OPEC. Overall, EMs should benefit from the recovery in oil prices, while higher oil prices should act as a drag on growth in the US and euro area, which are net oil importers. However, higher oil prices are unlikely to offset the more powerful growth drivers mentioned above.

Finally,politics in 2017 will be in the spotlight. Populism was on the rise in 2016 with nationalist, anti-immigration and anti-globalisation sentiment voiced loudly through Brexit, the election of Trump and the recent Italian ‘no’ vote on constitutional change.In 2017, ongoing Brexit negotiations and elections in France, Germany, Netherlands and potentially Italy all pose downside risks. Election victories by populist candidates could increase isolationism and protectionism, calling into doubt the very existence of the EU and the Eurozone. This would increase uncertainty, financial market volatility and could negatively impact growth.

Since the financial crisis, global growth has trended downward along with falling inflation and lower interest rates. However, the global economy is set to see a significant shift in 2017 as it moves from ever easier monetary policy to fiscal stimulus and as the oil price recovery becomes entrenched. This could lead to an about turn in the global economy, starting in AEs with higher growth and inflation. As such, 2017 could be the year when the new normal turns old.

[Source:-Investing]

SEO trends in 2017: What do the experts predict?

What will 2017 bring for SEO?

Our experts have already weighed in on the biggest trends that happened in 2016, now they look to the future.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this article. In no particular order, they are:

  • Andrew Girdwood, head of media technology, Signal.
  • Max Holloway, senior search manager, Pi Datametrics.
  • Glynn Davies, head of search strategy, Pi Datametrics.
  • Will Critchlow, founder & CEO, Distilled.
  • Ruth Attwood, SEO consultant, 4Ps Marketing.
  • Felice Ayling, SEO and Social Director, Jellyfish.

And for more on this topic check out these resources from Econsultancy:

  • Search Marketing Training Courses
  • SEO – Digital Marketing Template Files

Now, on with the trends.

New search considerations

Andrew Girdwood, Signal:

Remember trying to pin down the Year of Mobile? I can’t but help wondering whether 2017 will be a candidate for the Year of Everything Else.

What do I mean by that? This year I’ve encouraged clients to think about how chatbotswork, when they suggest search results and how to optimise for those search terms.  I think we’ll see more of that in 2017.

I’ve helped brands think about how their Alexa recipes might be found. That’s another form of search engine optimization; just as App Store optimisation is for mobile apps.

All these new ‘search’ considerations, landscapes and audiences will be things to think about in 2017. We might get fed up of people talking about Voice.

google assistant

Mobile growth and semantic strings

Max Holloway, Pi Datametrics:

Mobile will continue to gain dominance across the search market and I think will consistently have higher search volume than desktop next year.

In SEO we will see a bigger push towards mobile-first design and copy aimed at targeting semantic strings.

We conducted an experiment earlier this year of 2.8m search results which showed that only 35% of pages had a traditional keyword ranking i.e. “London tailors” and its semantic cousin “Where can I find a tailor in London” within 20 positions of each other.

This shows us that there is still a lot of work for both search engines to improve their understanding of user input and search marketers to optimise their content for semantic strings to ensure that the correct and best content is being shown to users.

local search

Artificial intelligence (& voice)

Will Critchlow, Distilled:

I think that machine learning will continue to have a massive impact – in ways both visible and invisible.

The rate of progress with tasks previously only humans could do (like image recognition) and even those that humans aren’t great at (like lip-reading) is astonishing.

I definitely buy into the thesis that some of the cutting back of the crazier Google projects is because Sundar is doubling down on artificial intelligence / machine learning as the future and culling projects that don’t fit that model and vision.

We’ve been experimenting with doing our own little bit to combat machine learning with machine learning, and I’d be excited to see more intelligence built into the tools that marketers have available.

As a result of the machine learning explosion, voice search in particular is going to continue to improve, and I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of that through 2017. Dr. Pete’s post is a must-read on that subject.

voice search

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Ruth Attwood, 4Ps Marketing:

For 2017 the only thing I’m reasonably confident of is that AMP is going to get bigger before it goes away.

Google is pushing it immensely hard and it seems to be only a matter of time before it extends to full capability deployment in new verticals like ecommerce.

This will be particularly interesting as and when the mobile-first organic index gets rolled out, as despite Google’s claims that they’re aiming for a “low delta” I suspect that non-responsive sites are going to see some big shifts in visibility if they don’t get their content and markup synced up.

Andrew Girdwood, Signal:

AMP (and Instant Articles) are interesting. I wonder if Google will continue to tweak how it copes when a brand has both an indexable app and AMP content; it seems likely, especially as app builders get better about considering SEO factors.

amp

A change in SEO procurement

Andrew Girdwood, Signal:

I predict there will be a glut of experienced SEOs who get to say, ‘Look, I think my track record proves I, and my agency, can keep up with algorithm changes.’

This means some of the procurement focus might shift towards areas like delivery techniques, creative ability, transparent costs and access to technology when it comes to SEO pitches.

Mistrust in advertising leads to organic focus

Glynn Davies, Pi Datametrics:

In 2017, growing concern for paid channels’ performance (due to click fraud, misreporting, ad blocking, etc.) may lead to more emphasis on organic in digital strategy.

ad blocker

SEO closer aligned to business strategy

Felice Ayling, Jellyfish:

Moving into 2017, traditional SEO performance will become almost inseparable from the overarching business strategy. SEO is no longer a channel that can be isolated in its implementation.

Areas such as your customer service record, competitive position, price points and service offerings will continue having a greater impact on the overall performance of your digital assets.

With this in mind, the role of content within SEO will once again grow and rich media such as video, interactive assets and graphics will continue to contribute to search campaigns in capturing the interest and interaction of users.

Successful campaigns will be the ones that blend brand awareness, creativity and innovative marketing with technical excellence to give users a high quality, relevant and increasingly personalized experience.

Progressive web apps (PWAs)

Glynn Davies, Pi Datametrics:

Growth in PWAs may bring content out of the mobile app ecosystem and back to the web, providing both new opportunities and challenges for SEO.

Growth in experiential marketing (and VR?)

Felice Ayling, Jellyfish:

If content was king in 2015/16 then experience will rule in 2017, meaning that it’s no longer just about serving the right content at the right time on the right channel, but also delivering the best possible experience to your customers.

Whether it’s in-app uses of VR to bring together a variety of content assets, or immersive video that the user controls, the role of SEO and improved organic performance will rely on its ability to utilise new technologies.

Combined with the increased power of 5G next year, the mobile experience will potentially change the way we interact with brands, share content, shop or travel.

VR provides the biggest opportunities to brands that can connect physical assets with the online experience – virtual stores you can walk around, test driving a new car, walk around a hotel room before you book, the possibilities are endless.

[Source:-Econsultancy]

Here’s what the new Allo chat themes are going to look like when they launch [Gallery]

We told you in our quick teardown of Google Allo 2.0 just a couple days ago that we found evidence that Google is preparing to add chat themes to its Allo messenger. Now we have actually managed to enable these themes on a rooted device and we’ve screenshotted them for you to check out before the app actually gets them…

If you have the latest version of Allo, you may have noticed that Google added a “Monochrome” theme option in the “General settings” menu. That option doesn’t make sense in the current version, because the monochrome mode isn’t really all that much different than the mostly-monochrome default theme. But that’s about to change, because you’re soon going to be able to pick from a variety of colorful themes for each of your chats.

As you can see below, these match up pretty well with the many theme names we discovered the other day. They range from “Moon” to “Sorbet” to “Clouds”. Please ignore my terribly hideous Allo selfie.

It seems that the app is going to suggest that you pick a theme every time you start a new conversation, and then you’ll be able to change it at any time from the same menu that houses other chat details like notifications and seeing a gallery of shared media.

Here’s what the theme picker and the chat settings menus look like:

The Google Allo 2.0 update is a pretty substantial one, but this is one of those features that look to be waiting for a Google server-side switch. Other than this, Allo 2.0 has app shortcuts that let you create a conversation by tapping and holding the icon from the home screen, Quick Reply for replying from an Allo notification, multi-window mode for using the app alongside another one in Android Nougat, and a new accessibility mode.

We still don’t know when chat themes will roll out in Allo, but stay tuned as we learn more.

[Source:-9 to 5 ,mac]

What is SEO and Why Does Your Company Need It? A Beginner’s Guide

So what is SEO, exactly? Search engine optimization, which Search Engine Land defines as “the process of getting traffic from free, organic, editorial, or natural search results on search engines,” is the foundation of digital marketing. These efforts lead to your website being found online and users clicking through to learn more, which can ultimately result in conversions and/or purchases. Without an effective SEO strategy, it’s practically impossible to have a successful web presence.

In the digital-first world we live in, SEO has become a more competitive landscape, with industry players large and small fighting for that top spot in search results. But how do you get there?

Even if your marketing team and budget are nowhere near as large as the Nike’s and GM’s of the world, your company still needs a search engine strategy. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to rank first for terms like “shoe retailer” or “car company” – but how we search is trending away from simpler terms anyway.

More people are conducting searches on mobile devices, and these queries tend to be in the form of longer, more specific phrases or questions. So, while someone might not search for “car company,” they very well could be searching for “GM dealers near Buffalo, NY.” And it’s these kinds of phrases that any company in the industry could potentially rank for.

But keywords are just the beginning of developing a strategy that will get your website found. From the factors that go into your search engine rankings to the impact SEO has on your online presence, consider this your guide to everything you need to know about SEO!

What is SEO? The Fundamentals

Keywords

Where SEO got its start and where most marketers focus their attention is keywords – the terms and phrases that are directly related to a product or service a company offers. Keywords reflect search queries that you want your website to rank for, and can be either short-tail or long-tail. Short-tail keywords are very concise, often more general terms, whereas long-tail keywords are typically phrases, questions, or sentences.

To increase the likelihood of ranking for a particular search query, a relevant keyword should be incorporated within the page’s content and headings as well as in your social media posts. This indicates to Google that your content pertains to the search being conducted and should appear in results returned to the user.

But be careful. It’s easy to think that by simply plugging a keyword into a web page as many times as possible will increase your chances of ranking. That tactic did work in SEO’s early days, but it certainly doesn’t anymore. You should find ways to incorporate the keyword naturally into the content a few times, but don’t ruin the reading experience by saying the same word over and over again.

Backlinks

Along with keywords, backlinks have been a fundamental component of SEO from the beginning. There are two types of backlinks: external and internal. External links are hyperlinks to your website from another website. For example, within this post I hyperlinked to several resources that I collected my research from. By doing so, this indicates to Google that the resources I used are ones I trust, which makes them more inclined to feature them in search results.

Internal links are hyperlinks within your own website, connecting one page to another. Ecommerce sites often do this through “You might also be interested in” sections on a product page, encouraging shoppers to check out similar products they offer.

image: http://cdn2.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/iPhone-7.jpg.jpg

iPhone 7 Amazon

There are several ways to acquire backlinks, but most often it happens naturally when someone wants to incorporate information from your website into their piece of content and includes a hyperlink as a reference. So for the most part, your backlink profile grows without much effort by you; you just have to monitor these links and remove any spam – and, of course, create content worth linking to in the first place.

To go one step further, you can also reach out to companies in your industry and ask them if a specific piece of your content might be interesting to their own readership. Ensure that the content you’re offering is directly related to their company’s offerings. This strategy could help you earn some quality backlinks.

Above all, never acquire backlinks by purchasing them. Like keyword stuffing, it’s a dated, spammy SEO tactic that today’s search engines won’t reward websites for. The user is the priority, so no matter how many links are pointing to your website, if they’re not quality links, Google won’t give them any consideration.

Content

Website content quality has become one of the most important SEO factors in recent years, as tactics like keyword stuffing and buying backlinks have gone by the wayside. Content that educates, engages, and empowers users is heavily favored in search results because it has the greatest likelihood of meeting the searcher’s needs.

You can develop quality web pages by utilizing a variety of content types, including text, images, and videos as well as making the message and goal of each page’s content unique. By teaching the visitor something they didn’t already know and avoiding pushy sales tactics, you’ll encourage them to dig deeper into your website and learn more. It’s all about adding value, so write content for your users, not search engines. Google can figure out what content is high-quality and what isn’t, so keep your focus on the potential customers reading it.

URL Structure

Search engines also determine if your page is relevant by looking at the keywords included in the page’s URL. Make sure you include the target keyword and try to keep the URL length to less than 90 characters so it fully displays in the search result.

Once you know the keyword you want to include in the URL, it’s time to lay out the URL structure. It should show the hierarchy of the information on the web page, first including a high-level product or service category and then the specific item on that page. For example, Mainstreethost’s SEO Services page has a URL of www.mainstreethost.com/services/search-engine-optimization. This indicates that you’re being directed to the Services section of our website, specifically the SEO Services page.

Incorporating an important keyword and organized structure to each URL sends a clear signal to both search engines and users that the page directly relates to a particular search query.

Title Tags/Alt Text

Search engines handle millions of queries every day, so they have to be able to quickly scan a web page and determine its relevancy. Title tags and alt text are two places that search engines look to decide if a page should be ranked. Title tags describe what the page is about and are located at the top of your internet browser and as the page title in a search result. Like the URL, the title tag should include the most important keyword for that page. It should also be around 50-60 characters to ensure the entire title is visible on both desktop and mobile devices.

image: http://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Mainstreethost-Search.jpg.jpg

Mainstreethost

Alt text is inserted into your website’s HTML and is used to describe the images included on a web page. Search engines can’t read images, so you have to explain what is in the picture in order for it to be indexed. Be as descriptive as possible to maximize the likelihood of your page being featured in search results as well as the image appearing for relevant image searches.

Meta Description

Included below the title tag and URL in a search result is the meta description, a 160-character snippet that summarizes what the web page is about. Again, you should try to include the most important keyword in this section to show the page’s relevancy to a search query. This description plays a major role in convincing users to click through to your site, so take your time when writing meta descriptions.

image: http://cdn2.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/On-Page-SEO.jpg.jpg

On-Page SEO

Source: Moz

Page Load Time

When a searcher clicks the link to your website, they want to arrive at your page quickly. With so many businesses to choose from in search results, no one is going to waste their time waiting around for a page to load. They can easily choose another link from the results.

Page load time is the amount of time it takes for a web page to fully display, so if your pages are bogged down with lots of images and videos, this time is likely to be much higher. But that doesn’t mean you can’t include a variety of content types on your website. Use an image compression tool to make the file sizes of your page’s images smaller, which will ultimately decrease load time. You can also optimize your website’s code by removing unnecessary characters that often get added in, like extra spaces or commas. Any additional information that an internet browser has to load will slow your site down, which could ultimately lead to a higher bounce rate and lower conversion rate.

User Experience

The most recent addition to the growing list of SEO factors is user experience, which refers to the positive or negative experience a visitor has interacting with your website. Having an organized layout, easy navigation, clear calls-to-action, and a mobile-friendly site create a better user experience and encourage people to stay and explore.

With an increase in searches and website visits coming from mobile devices, a mobile-friendly site is no longer an option; it’s a necessity. If users have to pinch the screen to zoom in and out in order to read your content, they’ll likely give up before completing a conversion and maybe even seek out a competitor’s help.

Aside from the mere functionality of your website, user experience is highly dependent on how your company’s personality comes across. Content that is personable and focused on meeting a consumer’s need will create a more positive experience and indicate that you’re a trustworthy and approachable company to work with.

How Google’s Algorithms Play a Role

The topics discussed above are among over 200 factors that Google takes into consideration when determining where sites rank in search results. There are hundreds of minor algorithm updates every year that go relatively unnoticed, but there are usually several major updates that make headlines. These are the updates that can significantly impact rankings and, ultimately, web traffic and conversions.

The most talked-about Google algorithms by far are Panda and Penguin. Panda focuses on content quality, preventing pages with thin or poor-quality content from ranking well. Penguin’s intent is to analyze the number and quality of backlinks a website has, determining if the links were earned in a respectable manner from trustworthy sources. These two algorithms play some of the largest roles in SEO, so it’s important to take them seriously.

While some Google algorithms occur in real-time and don’t typically lead to major changes in rankings, some are only updated every few months or once a year. So if you receive a Google penalty due to an algorithm update, it could take several months before your rankings and traffic improve. But as long as you steer clear from “black-hat” SEO practices like keyword stuffing, buying backlinks, and writing spammy content, you generally can avoid being penalized.

SEO, Traffic, and Conversions

Now that we’ve discussed what is SEO and the impact Google’s algorithms can have on rankings, we should dig deeper into the impact this can have on your web traffic and conversion rate.

It’s important to note that your rankings are going to shift a little every day, as Google is always working to better understand its users and provide them with the most relevant content. However, if you see a major drop, it could be due to a Google penalty, algorithm update, or the presence of newer and better content on the web.

In the earlier days of SEO, keywords and backlinks were the only factors that marketers had to focus on. They could stuff keywords as many times as possible within the site’s content and most likely get the page to rank on the first page of search results.

But now, Google’s focus is the user’s needs. If you’re stuck in old school SEO tactics, you’re not going to get traffic or conversions – which could lead to your competitors capturing a larger share of the market.

Maximize your site’s traffic and conversion rate by optimizing for the consumer, not Google. Taking the time to optimize your content to make things easy to find and understand will benefit your customers, making them more likely to purchase from you. Use your keywords strategically, only accept links from reputable sources, and put yourself in your user’s shoes to create a positive user experience. Your efforts won’t go unnoticed – by your customers or by Google.

Where to Go From Here

In order to maximize your website’s visibility in search engines and improve both traffic and conversions, a well-thought-out SEO strategy is a must. First, take a look at your current site and consider the users you’re targeting with your content. Does each web page have a specific purpose or goal and is the information valuable to a potential customer? Are the most important keywords incorporated naturally throughout the content – not stuffed in as many places as possible?

Once you’re confident in the quality of the content on your website, you should then focus on ways to promote it. Social media in particular is critical because your target audience is likely on at least one social network and there are SEO benefits associated with a social presence. If search engines see that you’re regularly updating your profiles and sharing helpful information via social channels, they’ll take that into consideration when it comes to your rankings.

The most important takeaways are to always adhere to SEO best practices and to put yourself in the position of the audience you’re marketing to. If you’re bored or turned off by the content or structure of your website, there’s a good chance visitors will be too.

SEO isn’t just a formula you can follow to immediately improve your search engine rankings; it takes regular upkeep to develop and maintain a prominent web presence. But by keeping the most important ranking factors at the forefront of your strategy and never losing sight of your customers’ needs, you can establish yourself as a company worthy of a first-page presence.
[Source:-B2c]

What is SEO and Why it’s Important

You’ve come up with a promising business idea, spent months designing and building your site, and submitted your URL to the major search engines. Now, all that’s left to do is to wait for visitors to discover your site and spread the word! After a few months of waiting, your hit stats still haven’t gone through the roof. What gives? Alas, with over one billion websites competing for views, this “build-it-and-they-will-come” approach to marketing is likely doomed to failure. The solution is to learn and apply SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization. In today’s article, we’ll learn what SEO is, and its role in making your website a success.

The Role of SEO in Search Engine Optimization

SEO is a set of rules that can be followed by website administrators to optimize their website(s) for search engines and thus improve their search engine rankings. These rules are necessary, because, in order for a search engine to return the most relevant results, it first needs to parse web pages and index them for both relevance and popularity. There are literally hundreds of factors that influence a page’s relevance, both large and small. Popularity is determined using complex mathematical algorithms that comprise numerous variables. These variables are referred to as “ranking factors” in the search marketing biz.

SEO vs. Internet Marketing

SEO is not the same thing as Internet Marketing. A more apt description would be that it’s one type of Internet Marketing. As such, it should be part of your overall Internet Marketing campaign, which normally includes other things like social media promotion, email campaigns, and other activities. In fact, SEO is really the first marketing initiative, as designing a solid document structure and authoring engaging content contributes directly to SEO.

How SEO Benefits You

Studies have shown that the majority of users are most likely to choose one of the top 5 suggestions in the results page, so it’s highly advantageous for you to rank as high as possible. Doing so will help direct a far higher number of visitors to your website and/or customers to your on-line store.

Moreover, most searchers don’t just search once before clicking on a website. Rather, people tend to search, click on some websites, edit their search terms, search again, click on more websites, further hone their search terms, search again, and so on. This honing behavior means that if your site continually shows up in all a user’s search results, their trust in your site will grow accordingly. After enough exposure, the user will very likely click on the link to your website. Moreover, the chances of the user making a purchase are also increased by the built-up trust.

Speaking of studies, several have shown that SEO can have a better return on investment (ROI) than traditional forms of marketing such as TV and print ads. There is such a thing as paid search engine ads (i.e. Google AdSense), but what we’re talking about here is just the regular search results. SEO’s superior performance can be attributed to the fact that it markets to people when they are already looking for the products and services your business provides. As such, you don’t have to interrupt their favorite TV show, or compete for there attention on a page where they are reading a news article. Nor do you have to convince them they need your product or service; only that you are the right business to purchase from. In that sense, good SEO preaches to the choir.

Understanding SEO allows you to properly build, format, and annotate your web content in a way that search engines can digest. Without SEO, a website can be invisible to search engines. According to Robert Nicholls, founder of Capital City Web Solutions:

“Unfortunately, a great website is only great to those who see it and without SEO, the chance of a new website being found in search engine results is practically zero.”

The good news is that the steps required to make your site rank higher in search engines has the beneficial side effect of increasing the quality of your website by making it more user-friendly, faster, and easier to navigate. In the case of an online store, SEO plays a major role in helping your business grow and achieve its potential.

The traffic generated by SEO tend to be more valuable than by other means because it allows for extensive behavioral tracking. Probably the best example of this is Google Analytics. The data and metrics that Google Analytics provides is highly relevant because they give you insight into your customers: how they search, how they browse, the language they use, the technology they use, the region they live in, the days they are most active, the times of day they are most active, etc. All of this information can be extremely useful in helping you make more informed decisions regarding your business and its strategies, both online and off.

The battle for Rob Gravelle supremacy:

google_search_results_for_rob_gravelle.jpg

SEO Gone Bad: Tricking the Search Engines

Some unscrupulous individuals have gone to great lengths to achieve a top ranking in popular search engines by resorting to hacks. Many attempts to manipulate search engine results were successful for a time, until search engine bots wised up and began catching the fraudsters in the act. Sites that were propped up by artificial means were promptly blacklisted and removed from search engines.

Tricks include:

  • Paying unscrupulous companies to submit a site to a bunch of dubious link directories.
  • Selling text links on the site.
  • Article marketing. Thats where you write multiple similar versions of the same article, making only minute adjustments to the wording, and then submit those versions to different websites that collect free articles in exchange for a link back to your site.

Google has become especially adept at catching deceptive SEO practices. According to Nicholls:

“With updates to Google’s algorithms, website are not as easily able to trick the search engine into a higher rank than they deserve and this is good. The hard part to these changes is that it makes SEO a lot harder to get quick results for a competitive market and a lot more work to improve the website’s rank than it was in the old days.”

In Closing

Even if search engines don’t catch you today, they are always evolving. Thus, they are guaranteed to catch you at some point in the future. So always do SEO the right way. How to use SEO correctly will be the subject of an up-coming tutorial.

[Source:-HTML Goodies]

What you need to reach the big leagues of local SEO

Ffooter / Shutterstock.com

It’s that time of year again. The air becomes crisp, the crack of the bat fills the stadium, the crowd roars — Chicago Cubs fans like me get that old, familiar feeling of foreboding. Major League Baseball’s playoffs are upon us, and in the spirit of the postseason, it’s time we explore how the great American pastime applies to building a successful career in local SEO.

The right stuff

If you aspire to local SEO success, you’ve got to have the right stuff. The competition in the industry is fierce, and it’s not easy to stand out among your peers. If you’re looking to wow the scouts, or if you’re considering lacing up your cleats for the first time and joining the local SEO game, these are the qualities and skills that talented young SEOs must have:

  • Adaptability. The local SEO landscape is constantly changing. SEOs need to be comfortable with the fact that each day they log on in the morning, it’s a whole new ballgame. What was relevant yesterday might no longer be relevant today. Google alone updates its algorithms over a thousand times a year. If you’re looking for consistency and predictability in a career, local SEO is not it. However, if you thrive on the challenge and excitement of never knowing what Google will throw at you next, you might just have what it takes.
  • Hunger for continual improvement. You’ve got to have that hunger, that desire to constantly learn and improve your SEO skills. Good is never good enough — not if you want to rise to the top. There’s always a way to improve SEO performance. Find it!
  • Become a stats fanatic. Search algorithms are so complex and have so many variables that once you’ve learned the SEO basics, any additional performance gains come through constant experimentation and complex data interpretation. A successful SEO relishes A/B testing and digital sleuthing. Embrace the stats. SEO is a lot like the movie, “Moneyball” — though it’s more Jonah Hill than Brad Pitt.
  • Talk the talk. Communication is an absolutely critical skill to local SEOs. Maintaining quality relationships with both clients and the other departments within your organization requires effective oral and written communication skills.
  • A knack for behavioral science and psychology. At all times, a local SEO must have three groups in mind: 1) the end user who actually uses the search results, 2) the brand you represent and 3) the search engines. Local SEOs who can intuit the needs of these three groups are setting themselves up for a long career of SEO success.
  • Specialize. Whether you focus on enterprise brands or SMBs, it’s important that you play to your own strengths. Just as in baseball, there are different positions and skillsets; find your own niche, and play to your strengths.

Learn from the best

If you’re looking to get a leg up on the competition, it’s important to learn from the best, from those who lead and define the industry. In local SEO, you’ll find that there are a few who stand taller than the rest of the field. If you’re not already following local search experts like David Mihm, Mike Blumenthal, Mary Bowling, Linda Buquet, Darren Shaw, Mike Ramsey, and the other local search columnists at Search Engine Land, now’s the time to start.

But it’s not just the league leaders you should be paying attention to. If you’re just starting out, look to the veterans on your own team. The quickest way to develop your skills is to work alongside someone who can show you the ropes. Likewise, look to the communities and forums for help and insight, especially after any major algorithm updates. The collective knowledge of local SEOs is a powerful tool. Use it.

Striking out

Local SEO often feels like you’re up to bat with Google on the mound, and the search engine giant is staring you down, and you’re left trying to guess the next pitch. You might be expecting a fastball, but inevitably Google will throw you a curve and change up the algorithm on you. The result: a swing and a miss.

Here’s an important lesson for all local SEOs (and for all SEOs, for that matter): failure is an unavoidable aspect of the SEO game. The search algorithms are so complex and change so often that after you’ve mastered the basics, it’s mostly trial and error to achieve significant gains after that.

If something you tried didn’t work, dust yourself off, study the data and try something different. Remember, it’s a long season. Tomorrow is another day. Learn from your last at bat and try something different the next time. Striking out every now and then is inevitable. Failing to learn from that experience is unacceptable. Just don’t fail too often or you’ll be out of the job and out of the league. No pressure.

Be a utility player

Though it’s important to specialize in your given field, that doesn’t mean you should be a one-trick pony. When it comes to local SEO, the hat you wear today might not be the hat you wear tomorrow. Things change so rapidly in this business that you should expect your role within the team to constantly evolve.

For example, cleaning up geocodes and manually placing pins is a time consuming process. But that doesn’t mean tomorrow Google won’t come out with an update to the Google My Business API that will allow us to automatically update geocodes. If that day comes, acknowledge the change, adapt, improve, and look for the next area to put your effort into.

In local SEO, it’s important to constantly look to the future and anticipate it. The Penguin update was predicted long before it actually arrived. All signs point to AMP being the future of mobile. The signs are there for those willing to look. Begin laying the groundwork for looming industry changes now and you won’t get caught flatfooted when they do come to pass.

Play the local SEO game the right way

“Say it ain’t so, Joe,” but integrity is an important aspect of both baseball and local SEO. Sure, you have your cheaters in both domains, but eventually they get caught and punished. Google is constantly getting better at catching spam links and bogus local listings. You might be able to stay ahead of the search engines for a while, but eventually you’ll get caught, and you’ll have to pay the consequences. Play the local SEO game the right way, and you’ll be much more likely to have success in the long run.

And that brings me to the most important lesson about local SEO. There are no shortcuts. No easy ways to the top. To gain expertise in local SEO, you’ll have to earn it, you’ll have to grind it out. But hey, that’s part of the fun.

[Source:-Search Engine Land]