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Pandas, Penguins and Predictions

Given the guarantee that Google will continually tweak their algorithms, the best way to handle potential impacts is to prepare. Being proactive and anticipating Google’s next move helps protect rankings and your online presence.

Here are some things we believe will become the central focus of future algorithm updates, how they will affect the industry, and suggestions for keeping up with it all.

  1. Over-Optimization: Google intentionally targets websites that try to ruin natural search engine results pages. If you’re trying to manipulate Google for better rankings, think twice. After the most recent Penguin update, plenty of sites paid the price in lowered rankings. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume more algorithms in the future will continue to punish overly-optimized websites that try to cheat the system. Play your cards right, or pay the ultimate price.
    Sure, saying you should avoid over-optimization is easy, but there’s no exact formula that defines what constitutes too much SEO. However, we do have an idea on how to try to stay on the safer side. A good approach is to continually focus on best practices. This recommendation is not an earth-shattering idea, but we recommend spending time crafting quality content. Also, focus on visitor interactions and essential SEO elements. Don’t go overboard on tools and techniques that attempt to attract unnatural, quick rankings.
  2. Quality: A lot of websites that were hit by the most recent Penguin update were involved in a number of these issues:
    • Comment spam
    • Article marketing sites
    • Guest posting on questionable sites
    • Paid text links

    The common theme is punishing low quality content. Google has preached that worthwhile content will naturally attract more links, and future algorithms will continue to encourage others to adopt this philosophy. For us, credibility and quality go hand-in-hand. We recommend building a credible business and website by balancing appropriate content development and promotion as well as link-building. Websites who balance optimization practices with a more user-oriented experience will likely be rewarded in the future.

  3. Engagement: User-experience and engagement are important. Because Google rewards sites that it believes users will find relevant and of value, it is a good guess to think the future of SEO could include high engagement as a factor for rankings. At present, there are no exact measurements to gauge engagement, but we all know nothing with SEO is certain.
    As we mentioned above, creating a natural user experience, developing a relationship, and encouraging action could be even more crucial in the future. We suggest continuing to dive into the social aspect of SEO. Be sure to stay actively involved in social networks, comments, and reviews to encourage natural participation from others. By being active on social media platforms, you can expect more visitor engagement on your site.

As much as people fear Google updates, if you aren’t trying to take advantage of the system you shouldn’t stress too much. In the end, the same type of websites will be punished by Panda, Penguin, or any other animal in the future—those who try to take shortcuts.

Client Spotlight: Prepaid Cards Find Promise in Online Positioning

During a recession, companies like Plastyc Inc. give a lot of hope to those suffering financially. Plastyc Inc. created UPside, a reloadable Visa prepaid debit card that mimics the benefits of traditional banking for people with low credit, bad credit and anyone who cannot qualify for a checking account. The thing about the UPside card is it isn’t just the average prepaid plastic.

“We diversify ourselves by what we have to offer, it’s not just a prepaid card,” said Plastyc’s Director of Online Marketing, Riccy Jimenez. “With UPside you can make free deposits, pay bills, write checks and even earn cash back through a rewards program.”

UPsideUPside has been available for nearly six years and there are countless current cardholders who are taking advantage of this convenient alternative to checking accounts.

“It’s like a functional checking account. Customers can go online and see what they are spending and even print statements to monitor their monthly spending,” Jimenez said. “It’s a nice alternative for those who are struggling with unemployment or suffering through tough times economically. These cards help people function.”

While competitors include other reloadable prepaid cards, debit cards, and gift cards, UPside stands out because cardholders can do everything necessary for their account online at UPsidecard.com and the company is constantly innovating new services for users.

When it comes to reaching their demographic, Jimenez admitted if the company is not visible online the entire website is useless. The company set out to incorporate search marketing for better brand awareness efforts in order to improve their online presence. Ultimately, the company decided to partner with SEO.com because of its reputation.

One of the company’s main goals for Internet marketing was to improve their natural search rankings, and with SEO.com they have seen success. UPsidecard.com has surged in rankings for all the different search engines and the brand is continually growing more popular.

SEO.com has secured better placement for a number of keywords for Upsidecard.com. In fact, seven keywords for the company now have prime positions on page one of Google’s search results. Even more, an additional six keywords are featured on page two of Google’s search results.

“We’ve only been with SEO.com for nine months and we’ve seen really good results,” said Jimenez.

By earning these positions on the search engines for UPsidecard.com, the company has experienced an increase in website visitors. According to SEO.com, targeted keyword traffic for this site increased by 21 percent and organic site traffic is up 32 percent.

Prior to utilizing search marketing, UPsidecard.com’s online presence was described as poor. Now, UPsidecard.com benefits from more exposure, giving them a competitive edge.

SEO Tip: Optimize Press Releases

Press releases are a gold mine for attracting high quality links and building site credibility for an SEO campaign. If you already utilize press releases, you might as well get the most out of them to help build your online presence.

By optimizing a press release, you are gaining trusted back links, offering timely content, and providing a way for potential social sharing—everything a search engine uses to determine relevance to rank well in the results.

Where to Start

Optimizing a press release can be simple, and it starts with creating a SEO friendly title. Do this by including a keyword in your title. To maximize the potential of a press release, craft a title that is interesting and “clickable.” Distribution services for press releases also allow you to customize the URL for the release, so implement a keyword here as well.

Polishing the Press Release

After you have the title right, use keyword rich anchor text throughout the press release. Don’t use more than two keywords links in a single press release. It is also a good idea to use the most important link at the beginning of the press release.

When it comes to choosing the right keywords to implement, keep in mind that press releases are one of the best places to utilize branded keywords as opposed to blogs. Make sure the keywords and links flow naturally throughout the press release. At the end of your press release, it is recommended you include a keyword in your boiler plate.

Optimizing Afterward

Once your press release has been submitted, make sure to follow up with other SEO and social media strategies. Take the time to publish your press release on other outlets and social media platforms to maximize outreach. Your goal should be to get your press release picked up by as many reputable sources as possible so your linked keywords have more credibility to boost your page rankings.

After about two weeks, do an analysis for your press release to measure your efforts. If you follow these simple steps, you should start to get more out of your press releases.

Industry Events

eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit: Chicago; June 24-27, 2012

Conversion Conference: Chicago; June 25-26, 2012

SEO.com Events

Webinar: The Science of Local Search Made Simple — June 28 at 11 a.m. Mountain