Tips on How to Improve Your Search Engine Ranking

Google's Panda
Don’t Let Google’s Panda Bite You

SEO and content are intertwined. But, swirling around Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is tons of myths. In this post I share with you some tips that talk about what I think are the five most important things not to do so that Google and other search engines do not eat you alive.

What has created these five things you should never do, is the constant changing of Google’s vast menagerie of algorithms named after animals. This includes;

  • Panda;
  • Penguin;
  • Pigeon; and
  • Several more that have other animal names or no names.

Google is striving to make the user experience more meaningful and the combination of their efforts of the updates tries to do this. What at one time was considered good SEO, is now verboten, and using them is considered “black hat” SEO which will get you eaten by the Panda with leftover crumbs enjoyed by Pigeon and Penguin.

Keyword Stuffing

If you are responsible for your company’s Internet marketing efforts, keyword stuffing is still the most often asked for feature that I, as a freelancer, encounter. Keyword stuffing is deadly, do it and your Search Engine Ranking (SER) locally and worldwide will be buried deep towards the last page of results for that keyword you so badly want a writer to use to excess.

Duplicate ContentIf you think that using duplicate content on websites you control on different domains helps you, you are mistaken. The bots and teams of Google employees that explore questionable sites will catch you – and hurt you.

Putting Page rank Above Everything Else

While page rank is important for SER, it is not the only metric that Internet marketers should concern themselves about. According to Google, there are more than 200 indicators that bots use when crawling and ranking a site. Look at your site’s analytics and do everything possible to improve other areas beside page rank.
Not Enough Content
Often, web sites use too many graphics on their pages and write little content. I am a huge supporter of using images, video and infographics for attracting readers that stay and may convert, but too many is distracting. So, even if your SER are good, your page ranking will suffer as visitors leave your site, to continue looking for quality information.
Not Using the ALT Tag

Primarily this tip is for other search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo!. Do not forget the ALT tag when you post an image of any kind. Doing so, simply wastes an opportunity to place a searchable keyword in your image tag. As of now, no bots can determine the value of an image – all, including Google bots, rely on the ALT tag for information about the relevance of your images. Google says it does not pay much attention to the text associated with an image, but it sure cannot hurt you.

If you would like me to look at your content and improve it for SEO, drop me a line at or use my contact page. Please, share your experience and knowledge about other potentially dangerous SEO mistakes in the comments below.

Till next time,

Photo credit: Buzzfeed

Images Count As Much As Words, Maybe More

Watch Your Marketing Soar by Adding Images or Video

Okay, if you hire writers, they know that websites with images or video have 60 percent more clickthroughs than websites without them. Images bridge the gap between writer and marketer. Writers know the value of media in a post or article.

But, they are not going to offer to add them unless you add some money to their pay. While sticking an image or even a video on your prose assignment seems easy, it requires more work on our part.

  • We have to find a suitable image or video
  • We have to make sure that the license is free use so you do not have a copyright violation
  • We have to secure permission if it is a “not for public use” image or video
  • We have to make sure that it is properly credited

This takes up more of what writers have to sell, their time. In fact, it takes up nearly the same amount of time as it does to create excellent content. So, if there is an addition fee is it worth it?

Is it Worth It?

Absolutely. The value  of video for Internet marketers began when Google started including it in searches back in 2007. Before then, finding a video or image was a complicated task. But, even though, the blended results have been available for almost a decade, most Internet marketers have not been using them One reason for this is the Internet marketing folks do not realize how valuable images and video are in SEO. And, I also believe that writers do know, but do not volunteer it because the additional work, is not worth it to them and asking for what it is worth to them will send clients scurrying. Think about the best articles in your favorite magazine. Those articles are not just text. They include rich images that help excite the reader. That is what you want from  your content too. Online content can use images and video… in fact, online content should use quality photos and outstanding video.

Four Ways to Measure

Here is what four metrics, SEO experts say are proof that images and videos are worthwhile;

  1. Better Search Engine Page Results (SERP)
  2. Higher Click Through Rates (CTR)
  3. Lower Bounce rates
  4. Higher quality back-links

Kwikturn Media, has an infographic that makes it clear that visual content is of super importance to marketers.

  • 90 percent of the information that the brain receives is visual.
  • Your brain can process visual information 60,000 times quicker than the written word. With only 3 to 5 seconds to hook a reader this is important!
  • 40 percent of Internet users respond better to visual information than just ordinary text.
  • 46 percent of those surveyed report that the design of a website is the single most important criterion for determining the credibility of a company.
  • A blog post with an accompanying infographic gets 12 percent more traffic than those without.
  • Posts with video have three times more inbound links than posts only having text.
  • 700 videos are shared on YouTube every minute.
  • In 2012, Pinterest accounted for more referral traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined. Pinterest had a 3.6 percent of all referral traffic at that time. Now, Shareaholic reports that as of March, 2914 the number grew to 7.10 percent.
  • Facebook reports that pages with photos bring more interaction that text, videos, and links.
  • Viewers spend 100 percent more time on pages with videos on them.
  • A consumer is 85 percent more likely to buy a product that has a product video than products without them.

Even More Reason to Use Images

And Jeff Bulsa  an Internet marketing expert adds even more reasons. He says that with images and video, marketers get;

  1. 94 percent more page views;
  2. Press releases get 45 percent more viewers;
  3. In local search results, 60 percent more buyers contact businesses;
  4. Regarding e-commerce sites, 67 percent of potential customers say the image quality is very important to their decision-making, and poor quality images send them to other sites.
  5. 67 percent of online store customers say that the quality of an image is more important than product information and 57 percent prefer an image compared to a long description; while;
  6. On Facebook, there is a 37 percent higher engagement rate for photos than text.

Internet marketers need to understand that the numbers for using video, images, and infographics are rising quickly and that if they want to continue at being successful in Internet Marketing they must add these features. And writers, we need to collaborate with designers or learn the proper way to use images and video. But the biggest change is that clients need to understand the role that media plays in the quality of their content.

Resources for Writers:

Amy Lynn Andrews, a freelancer herself wrote this post that contains excellent advice on the legality of using images

Wikimedia Commons: Wikimedia commons is a great source of free media. As are the following;

Photographer: Beth Fortner. License: Creative CommonsAttribution 3.0 Unported, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

SEO is Not Dead!



SEO Is Alive and Well

Black hat marketing is pretty much finished thanks to the many upgrades to the Google animal farm (Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Pigeon and more). Many say that with the downfall of black hat marketing practices, SEO is dead. Uh – no, it is evolving. Others say content marketing is the new SEO. They too are mistaken. If content marketing was an atom, SEO would be a particle.  You see, SEO is much more than blackhat tactics, there are white hat practices used by content writers who want their work to be seen ethically, by as many people as possible.Black Hat tactics are SEO practices that violate the search engine’s terms of service (TOS) so that a website has a better ranking in search engine results (SER).

Black Hat tactics are SEO practices that violate the search engine’s terms of service (TOS) so that a website has a better ranking in search engine results (SER). Black hat is a term that came into being from the mid-20th century westerns where the bad guys wore black hats and the good guys wore white ones.

Some of the things that the Google algorithm changes  penalized and punished sites for by lowering their SER rankings include;

  • Keyword stuffing;
  • Link manipulation;
  • Automated search requests to Google;
  • Creating new pages, or domains, and subdomains with duplicate content;
  • Pages that phish, place viruses and malware on visitor’s computers;
  • Scraping – automated copying of other sites.

Sites and pages that practice these and other black hat practices are downgraded by Bing and Google. You know how you sometimes see  something like “about 653,000 results?” Using black hat techniques and being found out will earn a spot in the bottom 1,000 results. You know no one is going to click through that many pages. Why bother with a site at all?

Of course, great content is a great beginning to a high-ranking search result. And some believe that based on just great content alone, a site’s SER will improve. It could, but a writer who knows what they are doing can help great content be recognized by search engines and their bots. Writer’s activities include researching keywords, and creating good-looking, unique and relevant HTML tags and mark-up.

On a blog, Barry Feldman of The Content Marketing Institute said;

“most online marketing professionals will recognize that both content marketing and SEO are star players in an enterprise-focused marketing strategy. If your team has a void in one area or the other (or both), you need to fill it — end of story. SEO experts need not fear the extinction of their craft. Their roles will remain vital to brand marketing because they know better than anyone that effective and ethical SEO can’t happen without content to be optimized.”

Social media is the third leg of the stool we call improving traffic, the other two are Content and SEO.

Site owners should analyze metrics and share the results with contract for hire writers. When you and your writer see the page views, social media sharing, and time on site or even better on a page, they find out what works well and what should be forgotten for the future.

So, although SEO has changed, it is far from dead. And it is not a zombie form of its old self. It is an evolution that by design of the search engines, is improving Internet user’s experience.

What are your thoughts about the rumor that SEO is dead? Use the comment form below to share your thoughts.

If you have a question about this article or need some help in getting your website and blog to have better SER. Please contact me, I can help.

What Exactly Makes Your Content Quality Content?

aliciaGuest Post by Alicia Rades


 As an Internet marketer, you hear this concept everywhere: You need quality content.

Okay, that’s great.

qualityBut, uh, what exactly constitutes “quality content?”

I mean, you could spend heaps of time writing articles, filming videos, and recording podcasts. But when you have nothing to show for it in traffic or returns, having someone tell you, “Well, be sure it’s quality content,” doesn’t do you any good.

If you’re not sure where to get that “quality” aspect everyone is talking about, keep reading.

What is Quality Content?

Quality content is a mix of a whole bunch of different things. Think of it as a recipe; you could have one small thing missing, and it will still be okay. But if you leave out one of the bigger ingredients, you’ll completely miss the mark.

Here are just a few things that can go into the “quality content” formula:

  • Proper semantics
  • Reputable statistics and resources
  • Easy-to-understand examples
  • Visually appealing formatting
  • An eye-catching headline
  • An entertaining and relatable voice

But those don’t even scratch the surface if you’re missing the most important ingredient.

Here’s the Main Ingredient

If you want to create quality content, then you have one goal you’re striving for:

Make your readers care.

So let’s say you write a piece that’s packed with information and completely grammar-free. On the surface, that could be a high-quality article.

But that doesn’t matter a bit.

What really matters is how your audience reacts to that article. Quality isn’t all about whether your content is well-written and presented in a pleasing way. While that certainly helps, the main ingredient to quality content is the value your readers put on your content.

Even Google says that a principle of quality content is to “Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.”

How Do You Reach that Goal?

If you want your content to matter to your audience, then you have to listen to their problems.

For instance, you could write a great article about debt management and place it on a financial website. But what if the readers are more interested in building up their investment portfolio? They won’t put very much value on that article.

The way you make readers care is to develop a valuable idea that will resonate with them. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What do they want to know?
  • What problem are they looking to solve?
  • How can I solve that problem for them?
  • What types of worldviews do they hold that can influence their reaction?

Once you have an idea about a topic that they’ll love, then put into place a great voice, proper grammar, valuable resources, etc. and you have a quality piece of content.

But what if you don’t have the time or the talent to do that yourself? It’s worth it to consider hiring a freelance writer who can develop that quality content for you. The good news is that freelancers are likely to cost you less than hiring an in-house writer.

While the standards for quality content may change from one day to the next, focusing on your audience is a tactic that will never die. Have you been going about creating quality content all wrong? Tell us what you think the main ingredient to “quality content” is in the comment section.


aliciaAlicia Rades (@aliciarades) is a freelance blogger for hire who specializes in blogging, career, and lifestyle topics among other subjects. When she’s not writing for clients, you can find her managing the blog at Get to know more about her and her services at, where you can download her free Which Freelance Blogger Should I Hire? worksheet.



Why Headlines Are Like Cute Kitten Images



  • Picture

       Even Though This Kitten Has Nothing to do With Headlines, You Will Read the Content

    Every visitor to the Internet knows that cute kitty videos and images get plenty of attention. So do great headlines! In fact, a great headline is one of the most crucial parts of a blog or great headlines! In fact, a great headline is one of the most crucial parts of a blog or article.Many Internet veterans are familiar with the 4U’s of great Internet Headline Writing. For those of you new to Internet marketing they are:

    1. Urgent
    2. Unique
    3. Useful
    4. Ultra-specific

    Urgent: When readers judge a headline is urgent, they tend to open and read the blog, article, or email. For example, last chance sale!

    Unique: Why being unique is vital is that a unique headline catches the reader and if he or she has not seen this type of information, holds them on your page

    Useful: If a headline that promises the content below it is useful and then doesn’t deliver, readers will leave the page.

    Ultra-specific: What makes specificity in headline writing important for readers is that it helps them information useful to them and reading the content beneath it is more compelling. For example- One Day Sale Tomorrow Only – All Linens 50% Off! It tells the reader what is on sale, when, and how large the discount is – this is very specific.

    Best Words to Use in a Headline

    Words in a headline that draw people to it and the content include:

    • New: 10 New Ways to Save on Grocery Bills!
    • Secret: The Secrets of Financial Success
    • Now: How to Change Careers Now
    • How To: How to Grow Old and Be Healthy
    • Shocking: The Shocking Reason Your Auto Insurance is Too High!
    • Numbers: 10 Amazing Easy Ways to Write Headlines

    So, now that you have the idea, other great words to include in a headline are,

    • This
    • What, When, or Which
    • Amazing
    • Breakthrough
    • Exclusive
    • Bargain
    • You & Your
    • Why
    • People
    • Video

    The Importance of Headlines

    In an article about how important headlines are, Copy Blogger shared some astonishing data, such as,

    1. Out of 10 people, 8 will read the headline, but only 2 read the copy
    2. Copywriter Gene Schwartz many times spent a full week writing a headline and the first 50 words of a sales piece.
    3. The following headline by famed adman David Ogilvy was rewritten 104 times. The epic headline was “ At 60 miles an hour, the only thing you hear in a new Rolls Royce is the ticking of the dashboard clock…”

    Some online marketers know they can do the copy of a particular piece, but still want a freelance writer to come up with a headline.

    Do you find writing headlines hard? I prefer to write a headline first and let it light my way to the end of the blog post or the article.

    How can I help you develop content that is appealing to readers? Do you need help developing titles that pull readers into your blogs or articles? Do you need help developing content for blog and article? If so, contact me using the form on my contact page, or call me at 916-342-0564.

    Next Week

    aliciaNext week, make sure you read Alicia Rades’ Guest Post titled
    What Exactly Makes Your Content Quality Content? I have long admired Alicia’s work as a freelance writer.Alicia’s passion is helping new writers learn freelancer success secrets and helping content buyers choose the best freelancer that they can hire.Get to know more about her and her services at, where you can download her free Which Freelance Blogger Should I Hire? worksheet.

Some Things to Know Before Starting an Online Marketing Campaign



Madame_Couvreur_-_TasmaTwo of the most used acronyms for Internet marketing are

  • SER (search engine rankings) and
  • LSR (local search results).

They may sound similar, but they are quite different. Imagine you own a local dry cleaning shop. If SER is your primary concern you want to be the number one search result on all the search engines. Why? it is expensive and hard work to reach that level, and how many customers in San Diego is your shop expecting to bring their suits to Groton, Connecticut?  When maximizing SER on a total basis, many of your readers are too far from your business to use you. On the other hand, LSR has a laser-like targeting focus on the audience you want to reach.

Local Search: Driving Customers to You

Your concern should be achieving the number one spot in your local search results – Dry Cleaners in Groton, CT. This is a much easier goal, and with a bit of planning for your Internet marketing strategy and a little help with your copywriting from a freelancer you can make it there in record time.

Warning!! To stay on top. you must work consistently on your social media, your blog, and your website. For example, you need a website, a blog, and social media such as Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. This takes time and takes you away from running your business.

Where Does Good Content Come From?

As the business owner, you should be the source for content ideas – after all you know your customers better than anyone and you know your products best too. But, having a great idea for content is much different than making that idea into a blog post or article for your website. This is where a professional freelance writer comes into the marketing picture – to take your idea and make it an engaging, SEO rich prose that gets your customers and potential customers to stay on your site and read the content and see the ads for your business on the page. You know your business, and professional freelance content writers know theirs.

Anything Else?

Yes, tons of things really. But, when just starting it is important to know what works and what doesn’t. Some companies have the resources to run A/B campaigns where they use different content in one market to see which gets the best response. I think a more accurate measurement is using metrics such as Google Analytics (GA). GA tells you where visitors come from, how long they stayed, what if any activities they did and much more. GA is free but does have a premium version that give you more data and ways to analyze it. I think that for many businesses, the free version is just fine to start with.

If you need help, contact me.

For Blog Comments:


What You Get From a Freelancer


The key to a successful social media and Internet marketing campaign is fresh content, relevant to your product, ant the information is fresh and in a given way. The most successful type of Internet marketing is also the least expensive to set up.

As a freelance writer, I began this site free. Free gets me a four-page website. If I want to expand my site, I can upgrade on Weebly for a small amount. Some other sites that offer you a free website are Wix and Webs. These and a number of other similar sites have easy to you tools to design and publish a website. Most folks I work with decide to buy domain name ( and have it hosted. To just test the waters, you can publish your new site on the site you used for designing and try it – the difference is, the end of the domain name is something like – com.wix. To get rid of the “wix” you pay for hosting.

Now you may be asking – what has this got to do with freelance writing. Everything! You now have at least four pages to fill with writing. Usually, these pages are a Welcome (landing) page, contact page, services page and a blog.

You do not need a freelancer to write the contact page. Most web building sites have a fine contact form that easily links to you. That is what I have done. See my contact page to see exactly what I mean.

Your landing page needs to catch the reader and entice them to stay on the page. Writing this page, is an initial expense. Small and medium-sized businesses need to have their site catch and keep the reader. Experienced freelance writers know the latest techniques to get you a high-ranking for local search results. You may take an excerpt from your landing page for Google+, Yelp, and other free business directories. This helps improve your Google ranking. When a freelance web writer is asked to help with your landing page it is optimized for local search and compliant in the long list of animals used by Google to robotically monitor content. This includes robotically monitor content. This includes Panda – the most comprehensive overhaul of the Google algorithm.

The services page describes your products and services and may go by many other names – the more original the better. Using a freelancer to write this for you helps fill the page with engaging content rich in content, SEO, and local search optimization.

Your Blog Page is the most challenging. I don’t know about you, but when I see consumer oriented blogs with no entry under six months year old, I move on quickly. Blog posts must engage the reader by the title and the first sentence. If you don’t connect in that first 5 to 7 seconds, you have lost the reader. Blogs need to be updated on a schedule. Based on my experience, I find one to two blogs a week is a good amount. You might run unscheduled blogs when your business is having an event like a free in-house seminar, a sale for web followers only or a special neighborhood event your clients or customers will enjoy.

A relationship with a freelance writer leaves you time to do what you do best in your business, and cuts your stress about keeping your website up to date. Many businesses also use freelance writers for posting on Facebook and Twitter. Usually, these are short and affordable call to actions to your newest blog entries.

Monday I will get on schedule and first post my blog on my site on Mondays and reblog it on WordPress on my blog on my site on Mondays and reblog it on WordPress on Friday.

Next Post:
Google’s Zoo of Content Requirements

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