SEO Guru Blog – Part I: The Benefits of an SEO Copywriter & SEO Agency

We’re giant nerds for all things copywriting and SEO here at the iCopyInsider blog. Turns out we’re not alone. To get another take on those burning SEO questions that businesses face everyday, we turned to some of the amazing project managers we know at a couple of our favorite SEO firms.

We wanted to pick their brains about what it really means for businesses to dive into the giant, sometimes overwhelming world of search engine marketing.

Needless to say, it was a long conversation, so we’re splitting the results into several parts. Up first, three SEO questions every business should know the answer to.

And so, without further adieu, your expert panel of SEO gurus:

Fumi Matsubara, Director of Account Services at Geary LSF Group

http://LSFinteractive.com

http://Gearyi.com

http://GearyLSF.com

Miguel Salcido, CEO of Organic Media Group

http://www.organicseoconsultant.com

http://organicmediagroup.org/

Jenna Allison, Account Services Manager at Geary LSF Group

http://LSFinteractive.com

http://Gearyi.com

http://GearyLSF.com

And here’s what they had to say.

 

Q: What is the most misunderstood aspect of SEO you find when speaking with clients?

FM — Meta keywords.

“Most major search engines ignore these Meta tags, so there is no sense [in] spending too much time on this. They were useful back in 1999, but they are virtually extinct in terms of ranking factors in this day and age.”

MS — ROI is long-term.

“What people do not realize is that SEO almost always has an ROI, eventually. It may take two years but you will earn your money back because there is equity in every search position that you can gain. That means long after you’ve stopped paying that SEO consultant or agency, you’ll be reaping the benefits of the traffic they grew for you.”

JA — It takes patience.

“It can take anywhere from three to nine months to see any progress for your traffic/conversions/keyword rankings. It’s sometimes hard for a client to see why we are doing certain things to their website, like content re-writes, title and Meta tag description updates and then not see immediate results, especially if they are also doing paid search, where you can see changes almost instantly.”

Q: In your opinion, does every site need to hire an SEO agency or expert?

FM — Yes.

“This will free you from the time-consuming work of understanding search engine algorithms, which allows you to focus on what’s most important to you: your business.”

MS — If it’s the right fit.

“If you are a small bakery then you may be better off with PPC or Facebook ads because you may only have a few hundred dollars a month to spend on online marketing and because chances are there is not much search volume for your target keywords. But if you have the budget, then you should absolutely hire an expert. SEO is so specialized that it’s tough to build an effective in-house team.”

JA — Absolutely, even for simple stuff.

“Even if it is just doing something as simple as making sure you don’t have duplicate content on your pages, this will help you. Google has pushed out more algorithm updates in the past year than we have seen in the last several years combined, making the ‘rules’ of how you should be running your site much more specific.”

Q: What is the importance of the actual writing component in an SEO campaign?

FM — Unique content is critical to high search rankings.

“Time and time again, we see clients’ sites littered with content that has been borrowed from here-and-there to create Frankenstein pages of content. If brands think they can get away with copy-and-pasting content from another company’s website or blog, think again. Your website should always have original and unique content. We see that companies that invest in good content not only rank well, but also have high engagements and conversions.”

MS — Excellent content means more sharing.

“You have to produce great content that people are engaged with and want to share. That is the way to increased branding, links, and traffic.”

JA — SEO doesn’t work without great writing.

“If you just put a bunch of gibberish on a page with a link, Google is smart enough to realize that you are trying to cheat the system by just putting a bunch of links out into the universe without making the content beneficial to anybody. Make sure you look into using a copywriting team if you don’t think you can handle creating a good piece of content on your own.”

Stay tuned for Part II of our Guru Blog. Check out iCopywriter for YOUR online content needs.  

Photo Credit: FindYourSearch

FreakyFriday: Weird of the Day – The Twinkies are All Right

By: iCopy Blogger Alex Dalenberg

With snack-making giant Hostess Brands announcing that it intends to close shop after some 80 years, the social Web is mourning the death of the iconic Twinkie.

Both Hostess and Twinkies are trending today on Twitter. To paraphrase the classic film Ghostbusters – and the greatest Twinkie-related line in film history – let’s say your average Twinkie represents the normal amount of social media activity related to cream-filled sponge cakes.

Well, according to this morning’s sample, it would now be a Twinkie 35 feet long weighing approximately 600 pounds.

As Winston would say, that’s a big Twinkie.

But don’t weep for your snack food yet. According to USA Today, it’s very likely that another company could pick up the brand, which still has plenty of name recognition, given today’s social media spike.

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

Photo Credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Freaky Friday: Weird of the Day – #drunknatesilver Ruins Freaky Friday, Debunks its Freakiness

By: Alex Dalenberg, iCopywriter Blogger

“Statistically speaking, Friday isn’t freakier than any other day of the week.”

OK, New York Times über stats geek Nate Silver didn’t actually say that, but we imagine that he might, especially after putting back a few. Welcome to our favorite Election Week meme, #drunknatesilver. Twitter is having statistically unprecedented amounts of fun (unprecedented except to Nate Silver) imagining the math man carousing about the town to celebrate his dead-on prediction in the presidential election.

This isn’t that surprising. Silver was more or less dead on predicting the 2008 presidential election, missing just one state. And while some see Silver as a wizard, he uses a fairly straightforward forecasting model that averages the results of numerous polls and gives more weight to the ones with a better track record of picking the eventual winner. The idea is that, this way, outliers have less of an effect on the prediction.

A few of the best #drunknatesilver tweets.

@davelevitan: Drunk Nate Silver stumbles through traffic on the Jersey Turnpike, screaming out what time each driver will get home. #DrunkNateSilver

@kelkulus: Drunk Nate Silver stumbles through the streets, shouting obscenities at the future ex-wives that he has yet to meet. #DrunkNateSilver

@copyblogger: Drunk Nate Silver says “Call me maybe? I’ll know it’s you because your number is …” #drunknatesilver

All kidding aside, Nate Silver is a model of viral success for every blogger seeking to create compelling, vital content. He started as a relatively humble contributor at liberal political blog Daily Kos http://www.dailykos.com, but because his work focused less on the ideology and more on the numbers, he found a much wider readership.

Silver turned his musings and number-crunching into the smash-hit website FiveThirtyEight.com which was subsequently picked up by The New York Times. According to the executive editor, it’s now one of their biggest traffic generators.

His new book, “The Signal and the Noise: Why so many predictions fail, but some don’t” is also worth a read. Not just for political junkies, but any business decision maker who wants to better understand how to sort good information from the bad.

As we see it, here are three lessons to takeaway from sober Nate Silver.

1) Use content to address an unmet need.

Silver saw that most political coverage struggled to rise above the day-to-day minutiae, spin and partisan emotion dominating the news cycle. Silver found a way to let the data speak for itself. Readers looking for a better way to make sense of the political climate flocked to his approach. What need does your content fill?

2) Don’t just aggregate, interpret.

Polling is a mainstay of modern politics, but Silver isn’t a pollster. He’s an aggregator but, more important, an interpreter. The numbers aren’t his, but he explains them. Don’t just retweet and repost. Give readers context.

3) Make your content indispensable. 

Easier said than done, but there’s a reason the bleary-eyed hordes of political junkies keep Silver’s website bookmarked: his take on the polls are can’t-miss content. These days, if Silver isn’t part of your repertoire, love him or hate him, you just don’t follow politics. If only all of us could say that about our industry blogs.

#drunknatesilver says be like him and you’ll have at least a 72.3337492 chance of content success.

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

Photo Credit: joewcampbell

FreakyFriday: Weird of the Day-We Can’t Think of Anything Freakier than Sandy, So Here’s How to Help

By: iCopywriter Senior Editor, Heather Price-Wright

Is there anything freakier, not to mention more tragic and disturbing, than the havoc wreaked by Hurricane-turned-Superstorm Sandy this week on the East Coast? As a New Yorker myself, I can attest to the massive damage, physical, psychological and spiritual, that this freak weather event inflicted on my city, state and region. From elderly people trapped in high rises without power or water to unprecedented damage across New Jersey and other states to the loss of more than 100 homes in Breezy Point, Queens, it’s hard to fathom the destruction, let alone imagine rebuilding.

That’s why today’s Freaky Friday is dedicated to letting you know how you can help. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10, or visit the American Red Cross’ website and make a donation there. If you live in the area and have the resources and means, plenty of organizations and makeshift shelters are looking for volunteers and donations; find something in your community.

To those affected by the storm, you’re in our thoughts.

Have you checked out iCopywriter.com lately?

FreakyFriday: Weird of the Day – Top 3 Spooky Halloween Tech and Apps

By: iCopywriter Senior Editor, Heather Price-Wright

It’s that time of year when things around here get extra freaky. Halloween is just around the corner (and for our East Coast friends, it’s bringing Frankenstorm with it! Run for your lives!)

Our modern era, with its high-tech gadgets and smartphone apps, means there are more ways than ever to have a seriously spooky Halloween. Here are a few of our favorites:

  1. ‘Killer’ Shower Curtain: If someone you’re dying to scare this season still has the creeps over the Psycho shower scene, treat them to a shower of horrors. Sure, it looks scary enough – the curtain is spattered in blood and has the outline of a menacing serial killer on it. But the best part is that this gadget is sound and motion activated to play the Psycho music, along with the sound of a screaming woman. Eek!
  2. Spooky Sounds Toilet Paper Holder: We’re clearly going with a bathroom theme for these first couple, but hey, what room is scarier? All that shining white tile, just waiting to turn red with blood … (evil laugh). To spook potty-going partygoers at your next Halloween shindig, replace your regular toilet paper holder with this one, and it will play eerie music, moans, shrieks and other ghoulish noises when it senses motion. You’ll literally scare their pants off.
  3. Ghostly Presences in your Android Pics: Convince your friends they’re being haunted with this fun (if rather hokey) app for Android. After snapping a photo, you can add ghosts to the pic, sneaking up on your buddies or just hanging out. Granted, these little guys are cuter than they are scary – they remind us a bit of the Pac-Man ghosts.

What are your favorite high-tech Halloween hoaxes to play on family and friends? Or are you more of a good old cold-spaghetti-to-feel-like-intestines kind of household?

Have you checked out iCopywriter.com lately? It’s positively spooky how much quality content matters for your Web presence!

Photo Credit: WordRidden

Google’s Latest & Greatest (?) … The Disavow Tool

By: iCopywriter Blogger & Senior Techie-Researcher, Kimberly Crossland

Search engine optimization continues to advance as Google announces yet another update to their algorithm. This time, however, Google is giving power back to website owners to help them fight back against backlinks that may be considered ‘spammy’ and harmful to their rankings online.

Earlier this year, Google released their Penguin update to their search engine algorithm. One of the most controversial changes in the Penguin update was the punishment on websites that appear to Google as having purchased backlinks to try to boost their website in the search engine results. The concern with this was not against the companies who were doing this, but that competitors to websites could potentially do this to try to hurt their competition in the search engine rankings, and a legitimate business could be severely impacted with no way to retaliate or recover.

Now, the Google disavow tool has taken this concern and given website owners a way to disavow the links that they feel are hurting their site. According our friends at Elevated Search, this is:

“…for all of the people who were affected by the Penguin update that had over-optimized anchor text. A lot of people had gone out to try to request the web masters to remove these links and a lot of situations happened. One, they were successful in getting the links removed. That’s not a high percentage. And two, these webmasters are now actually charging you to remove the links… Now you can actually tell Google, here’s a list of the links, I have tried to remove these links, please disavow them.”

Through the new Disavow tool, found here, website owners can enter websites that they feel are hurting their search engine results because of their poor backlinks. Here’s how you can disavow any links you feel may be hurting your site:

  • List harmful URL’s in a text file
  • Access the Disavow tool by Google (Bing has one too)
  • Select your website, follow instructions and submit

Once you have finished submitting your links, Google warns that it could take a few weeks for Google to accept your submission. And in some cases, Google may revoke your request. Google warns that you should take caution when using this tool. An accidental submission could take even longer to resubmit or reavow a link. The team at Elevated Search agrees with Google:

“This tool is dangerous for your…amateur SEO. It could hurt you if you are not careful.”

If you were impacted by the Google Penguin update, as many English websites were, this tool may be your lifeline to help you recover from their algorithm changes. But, as we mentioned, it is a tool that should be used with caution. If you are concerned that you may need to disavow links, here is the full blog post from Google with more information.

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

Photo Credit: ivanpw

FreakyFriday: Weird of the Day – Collection of Houseflies has Twitter Account, Despite Being Houseflies

 By: iCopywriter Senior Editor, Heather Price-Wright

And you thought Justin Bieber fans’ Twitter feeds were inane.

An artist named David Bowen has set up a colony of houseflies in an acrylic sphere equipped with a hanging wireless keyboard so that the flies can send messages to a Twitter account. The flies, unsurprisingly, don’t have much to say – mostly long strings of punctuation, interspersed with the occasional number or letter – but what they lack in wit they make up for in sheer volume.

How, exactly, does this work? A camera captures the flies’ movements inside their sphere, and every time one lands on a key, transmits the corresponding symbol into a tweet. Tweets are posted when the flies rack up 140 characters or when one lands on the Enter key. You can learn more about the project on Bowen’s website, or watch a pretty dull video of the tweeting flies at work.

Which basically means just being flies.

The flies seem to be on some sort of hiatus; their latest message, sent Oct. 17, was the single number “5.”

We can’t help feeling that this project reveals the rather sad nature of Twitter and other social networks as a whole. After all, are most of the tweets we follow actually that much more interesting than the random movements of flies on a keyboard? Excuse us as we have an existential crisis.

Meanwhile, if this is art and/or social commentary, then we’re just going to go ahead and set up a Facebook for our cats walking across our keyboards while we’re trying to work.

Fjdsiafu8789&*)(*YILHJklfhdsjklfhdjkshfdjkslhfkhkhyiuY&&*YFS&*YFGSHjklfhdjksghdjshgkly7ity78yds78f6Y&*^&*(TYHJB

–      Fluffy

Have you checked out iCopywriter.com lately? That is, if you’re not secretly a fruit fly.

photo credit: orangeacid

Black Hat Vs. White Hat

Guest Post by: Long-time iCopywriter Blogger, Jessica Towne

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), can be a powerful tool when it comes to getting attention on the web. This is because Google, Yahoo and other search tools use your keywords to determine where in the list of search results your particular site will land.

Using the right keywords for your site is the most imperative when it comes to online business marketing. This is because the more relevant phrases you plug in, the better the chance that search engines, and thus, consumers will find you.

Knowing which magic words to use – and how often, in combination with rich, pertinent content – is the key to creating effective copy. This is a balance I’m always striving to achieve for iCopywriter clients.

Understanding “Black Hat” and “White Hat” SEO practices is also helpful. If you’ve never heard of these terms, here’s a little primer to get you in the know.

Black Hat SEO

  • Black Hat SEO is basically trying to fool search engines into ranking your site high on results page by using practices that searching sites frown upon.
  • Typically this involves irrelevant content that doesn’t really help information seekers. It can be found in the form of one or two keywords being used excessively, or posting lots of links meant to redirect users.
  • It can also take the form of repetitive tags, or “hidden” text (characters the same color as the background, which make them fade from view).

Why should you care? It’s possible to be banned from certain search bars as a result of using Black Hat practices.

White Hat SEO

  • White Hat tactics direct attention to your site in an ethical, organic way. They involve taking the time to research and write content applicable to one theme and using related keywords to naturally direct readers/consumers to that content.
  • You can use synonyms to make multiple tags, headlines and titles that are associated with your topic, and include links to other useful information on the same idea.
  • This is an ongoing process, because it involves coming up with fresh news/stories all the time and properly using HTML code to link all of your work together.

Why should you care? With practice, time and a willingness to learn, White Hat SEO tactics can really work. Keeping this information in the back of your mind when you set out to create a winning webpage is key to making something that search engines – and customers – will trust and flock to.

For more information, check out this helpful (and user-friendly) site:

http://www.webhostingtalk.com/wiki/White_hat,_black_hat,_and_gray_hat_SEO

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

Photo Credit: V&A Steamworks

FreakyFriday: Weird of the Day – Top 5 Google Bombs

By: iCopy Senior Editor, Heather Price-Wright

This week, our social media was crawling with updates and Tweets to the effect of, “You have to Google image ‘completely wrong.’” What came up was page after page of photos of presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Romney used the words “completely wrong” to describe his comments, released in a video last month, that he “didn’t have to worry” about 47 percent of Americans.

While search results like this are often referred to as a “Google bomb,” Google itself stressed that this time, it was not a prank. Instead, it was the organic effect of Google’s algorithms, and of a high volume of linkage between the phrase and Gov. Romney’s image. Unlike other such “bombs” in the past, this one was not a deliberate hoax, but a “natural” result of such links.

Still, we couldn’t help but find the association just a little bit funny, and it brought to mind some of our favorite Google bombs of the past.

  • One of the most famous came about in 2003, when the phrase “miserable failure” brought up, as its first result, then-President George W. Bush’s biography. That bomb has long-since been fixed, as part of an algorithm update in 2007 that stopped such mass linking pranks from working.
  • By now, most people are familiar with Rick Santorum’s “Google problem,” so we need not rehash the exact results here (suffice it to say, don’t search Santorum if you’re at work. Or squeamish). This one was the brainchild of advice columnist Dan Savage, who took issue with Santorum’s views on homosexuality and gay marriage.
  • The phrase “weapons of mass destruction” linked to a page stating, “these weapons of mass destruction cannot be displayed,” presumably as a commentary on the buildup to the Iraq war.
  • In 2010, a group of French bloggers unhappy with Nicolas Sarkozy’s policies managed to get the phrase “trou du cul du web” to lead to Sarkozy’s Facebook profile. This became the first search result on Google. The phrase is a rude one, meaning “the a**hole of the Internet.”
  • The first use of the phrase “Google bomb” occurred to describe a prank played by a man named Adam Mathes, who was one of the earliest Internet jokesters to figure out how links related to page rankings on Google. He got his friend Andy Pressman’s site to appear as the top result for the phrase “talentless hack.”

What do you think of Google bombs? Are they harmless pranks, or malicious and potentially destructive? Let us know in the comments!

Have you checked out iCopywriter.com lately?

 

Freaky Friday: Weird of the Day – New Low For Humanity? Man Steals Smartphone from a Toddler

Photo Credit: USCPSC

By: iCopywriter Senior Editor, Heather Price-Wright

It was like stealing candy from a baby.

Candy that probably cost upwards of $600, that is.

The UK’S The Sun reported Wednesday that Luella Reid, a 20-month-old, was watching Barney and Friends on her mother’s iPhone when a man sidled up to her, snatched the phone, and “calmly” walked away.

What’s worse, according to the child’s mother, is that she believes the man and a female accomplice saw the child with the phone and actually followed them into the store to steal it. Police agreed that it seemed the alleged thief deliberately targeted the little girl, knowing it would not be difficult to steal from her (see the above cliché about stealing from babies).

The man’s despicable act was caught on closed circuit TV in the store, and the video is available on The Sun’s site (but be warned: Only watch it if you want to have a bad taste in your mouth and be grumpy about humanity for the rest of the day).

The man was described as middle-aged (really, dude?), with graying hair and glasses.

While we’re totally disgusted by this creep’s behavior, we have to wonder: Should your baby really be holding your smartphone, especially in public?

What do you think? Do you let your children play with your phone? Would you let them have it in a public place?

Have you checked out iCopywriter.com lately?