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Posts Tagged ‘search engine optimization’

Do You Wear the White Hat or the Black Hat?

December 4th, 2014 Manasi Kulkarni No comments

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a necessity that no website can afford to escape if they wish to see good traffic to their website. It is impossible to imagine a top ranking website on Google without a lot of SEO strategizing and hard work. But as with any other activity to make your business a success, there are good and bad ways of doing things with resulting consequences that could severely damage your brand value.

Search engines such as Google have a set of guidelines that websites are expected to follow when conducting their SEO activities, and non-compliance can get a website penalized by being banned completely from the search engine’s search results. In such cases the company would have to work hard to earn back the search engine’s confidence and redo all its SEO activities ethically.

In this article, we will look at the different types of doing SEO and what you should avoid if you are looking to build your brand online and get your website to rank higher for a long time.

White Hat, Grey Hat, and Black Hat – What Do They Mean?

The various SEO activities can be broadly categorized as White Hat, Grey Hat, and Black Hat activities.

As the name suggests, Black Hat activities are those that are frowned upon by search engines, are against the search engine’s terms of service, and can land your website in serious trouble. The Grey Hat activities belong to that grey area between Black Hat and White Hat practices that tread the fine line and about which the jury is still out. Whereas White Hat activities are strategies that search engines fully approve of, and which focus on a human audience as against simply winning the ranking race.

Guidelines for White Hat Activities

When undertaking SEO activities, the following checklist can help you determine if your activities belong to the White Hat category.

  1. Is your content original? Did professional SEO content writers or guest writers write the content specifically for your website such that it is relevant and adds value for the users visiting your site?
  2. Does your content infringe upon anybody’s intellectual property rights? If it does, then you should immediately take action to remove such content from your webpages, or ensure that the right sources are given credit and linked.
  3. Is your content of high quality with impeccable use of the rules of language?
  4. Do your images and videos include Alt tags and appropriate descriptions?
  5. Are your keywords relevant to your subject matter? Is the keyword density on your web pages unnaturally high such that it makes coherent reading impossible?
  6. Have you used the correct HTML markups for your heading tags etc.?
  7. Does your website have a good sitemap?
  8. Are the links coming or going from your webpages relevant and naturally appearing, or have they been purchased/exchanged with the sole purpose of increasing links and ranking, without regard for relevance?
  9. Are you aware of the search engines’ terms of use and do your activities adhere to their norms and practices?
  10. Does your client (in case of an external SEO strategist) know all about the SEO activities you have undertaken and any risks associated with it?

Avoiding Black Hat Activities

While you follow White Hat activities, it is equally important to be aware of what activities constitute as Black Hat activities. The following are some Black Hat activities that you should strictly avoid when planning your SEO strategy.

  1. Stuffing web pages with keywords: The importance of keywords in search engine ranking is well known. However, simply stuffing your web pages with irrelevant keywords make for a poor user experience and harm your web page’s ranking. A particularly damaging tactic is to use keywords such that they are hidden from users and visible only to the search engine.
  2. Cloaking: A guaranteed way to get penalized if caught, cloaking is the practice of showing different content (keywords, descriptions, titles, etc.) to search engines and users. This is usually done by identifying visitors by IP address and displaying content accordingly.
  3. Gateway Pages: Using this method, a different page is shown to search engines, and when the user clicks on it he is redirected to a different page altogether. These gateway pages are usually stuffed with keywords to fool the search engine into ranking them higher.
  4. Purchasing old domains: It is possible to purchase old unused domains that are lying around dormant with the purpose of creating a lot of backlinks to your web pages and increase ranking. While such back linking might yield results initially, search engines would eventually catch up with you.
  5. Content Spinning: The freshness and uniqueness of your content plays an important role in getting your webpages to rank higher. However, it is not easy to create rich content on a regular basis and SEO strategists tend to resort to article spinning whereby they simply play around with the words on a page and present it as a new page. Such content spinning damages the quality of content. It is possible for search engines to catch on to such content spinning, not to mention the damage it does to your credibility due to low quality, grammatically poor content.
  6. Link buying: A lot of websites engage in rampant link buying with other websites to increase the page ranking. However, such link buying is not supported by search engines and can be severely penalized. At the same time, you can exchange links with relevant websites for things such as sponsorship of events, etc. Search engines usually maintain a list of such approved websites where links can be exchanged. 

While some of the above Black Hat activities when done in moderation could be considered Grey Hat activities, it is difficult to pinpoint specific activities that are definitely Grey Hat. One tactic that is definitely grey because it is not yet in Google’s blacklist as yet is social media automation and purchasing followers on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Various tools are available that automatically follow thousands of social media users for a small fee. This helps increase your website’s social media footprint, which is seen to be of consequence to its overall ranking.

Search engine optimization is a great tool to create long-term value for your brand and increasing loyalty and retention. But such long-term relationship with search engines cannot be achieved by cheating them into ranking your web pages higher. While Black Hat activities might bring you instant gratifying results, they are not sustainable in the long run and can severely damage not just your page ranking but your brand value as well. Following the simple White Hat guidelines provided here will help you generate favorable results, while ensuring a good night’s sleep.

If you have any questions about how to boost search engine optimization for more online business, please email us at eCommerce@ignify.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, eCommerce, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify is winner/finalist of the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.

SEO/SMO Tips to Get Your Web Store Ready for the Holiday Season

December 2nd, 2014 Manasi Kulkarni No comments

In a previous post we discussed how Ignify eCommerce provides various customer-friendly features to help you make the most of the holiday season. Along with setting up those features, you would also be sprucing up your product catalog and bring out the discounts in preparation of the holiday season. We bring you some search engine optimization and social media optimization tips that will complement your efforts and help you stay on top of your game, and ring in higher footfall and revenues.

As elaborated in earlier posts, optimizing your web store for search engines is a long term activity and your SEO/SMO strategies have to be well drawn out to bring great results. But there are some focused activities that can be implemented to capitalize on the holiday traffic.

1. Identify top pages/products: No matter how big or small your catalog, there are certain items which you would like to particularly highlight during the holidays. Identify such important pages that display not only the products you want to sell at that time, but also those that have traditionally been the crowd pullers. Your SEO/SMO efforts should be concentrated on pushing out those pages even further.

2. Create holiday themed pages: In addition to your regular pages, create temporary holiday themed pages and promote them through your SEO activities. These pages should be optimized using holiday-specific keywords and rich content. You can use these pages to link to your PPC/Google ads, Facebook ads, etc.

holiday themed pages

Optimizing holiday themed pages with holiday-specific keywords and content is a helpful way to pull in holiday-focused traffic.

3. Check if your title tags, meta descriptions and keywords are optimized: Revisit your pages, particularly the top pages you have already identified and ensure that they have been optimized as per SEO best practices. Ensure that these pages have unique title tags that are informative and include the relevant keywords. The meta descriptions should be checked for their keyword density and compelling copywriting to ensure higher click through rates when they show up in the search results. Also, revisit your keywords to see that they are competitive and best describe your page.

4. Add images and Alt Tags: Images not only add to the aesthetic value of your page, they also help elaborate upon the product’s features in a captivating manner. Search engines such as Google tend to rank pages with images higher. So it can be beneficial to add a few colorful images to your important pages complete with Alt Tags. Check if existing images on your important pages have Alt Tags and add them if absent. Alt Tags should crisply describe the image and add to the keywords on your page.

5. Get creative with social media campaigns: The importance of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest cannot be overlooked during the holiday season. Facebook and Pinterest particularly lend themselves to creative and colorful holiday campaigns that get the shopper into the festive mood, choosing you over the competition and increasing the click through rate. It is a great opportunity to engage with your customers through contests and giveaways.

social media campaigns

Social media campaigns

Social media campaigns are important for creatively engaging with customers and persuading them to choose your business over the competition.

6. Use PPC ads aggressively: Holiday time is targeted marketing time, and nothing reaches your target audience faster than pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google, Facebook, etc. Create a themed and targeted copy for your PPC ads, and ensure that the keywords in the advertisement and your landing page align. PPC ads are a great way to bring customers to your important pages and drive sales there. Given that you would be making a bulk of your revenues during the holiday season, investing in PPC ads is a wise choice.

pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google and Facebook

pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google and Facebook

Pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google, social media, etc. are highly targeted toward your audience, pushing traffic toward your pages and driving sales there. 

For more tips on how you can optimize your online store for the holidays, please email us at eCommerce@ignify.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, eCommerce, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify is winner/finalist of the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.

Making Online Shopping Fun with Social Media Integration

November 5th, 2014 Manasi Kulkarni No comments

In a previous post, we discussed how the Ignify eCommerce Manager Panel is equipped with various tools to help a merchant optimize his social media presence and boost his online marketing efforts. These tools enable merchants to directly share their products, discounts, promotions, etc. from the web store to Facebook and Twitter, lets customers ‘Like’ pages from the web store on Facebook, or ‘tweet’ about them on Twitter. Similarly, customers can share products, discounts, etc. directly from the web store to Google+.

Like and share buttons directly on the product page

Like and share buttons directly on the product page make sharing items simple and instant, giving your web store more social media presence.

Ignify eCommerce further uses social media avenues to make shopping an enjoyable and convenient experience for your customers. Customers can easily login to your web store using their social media credentials, saving them the effort to create new login credentials, while providing the merchant access to valuable profile information about his customers. This information can help the merchant better understand his customers and their needs, while providing customized services and products.

Login via social media

Login via social media makes online shopping simple and convenient, saving your customers the time of creating a separate login for your store.

The integration of social media tools on your web store comes in combination with other SEO tools and Google Analytics/Universal Analytics, making it a comprehensive package that boosts your brand’s online presence and impacts web store footfall.

With Google Analytics, you can keep a track of how many people are actually using your social media login and sharing buttons, which of the platforms receives a greater number of clicks, etc. This data can help you reorganize your social media optimization (SMO) efforts such that your social media presence converts into sales. However, it is advisable to use Google Analytics alongside social media reporting information as provided by Facebook, etc. to get a more comprehensive picture of how your social media tools are impacting your web store’s interaction with your customers.

Shareable content is another important factor to consider when making a presence on social media. It is important to generate content that lends itself to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. in order to build interest, which will lead to more likes and shares. For example, interesting videos, compelling articles, and high-quality product images are all crucial for building an image on social media and creating brand awareness.

The various social media integration tools combined with full support for shareable content provided by Ignify eCommerce thus help your make the most of your SEO and SMO efforts, and ensure a good shopping experience for your customers. For more information, please email us at eCommerce@ignify.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, eCommerce, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify is winner/finalist of the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.