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What is White Hat SEO?

What is White Hat SEO?

The best website marketers avoid Black Hat marketing because Google penalizes the practice. But what is White Hat SEO? In a nutshell, it’s a good party.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has evolved in the same way as other media. Similar to the beginnings of both radio and television, the early days of the Internet allowed savvy marketers to push their messages in ways that were not always ethical, but very affective. Radio’s Payola Scandal in the 1950s, when radio DJs played songs in exchange for money, caused the U.S. Federal government to pass new laws targeting the pay for play practices that were so prevalent at the time.  Now, Google is playing the role of government by sidelining those websites they suspect are promoting hidden agendas. By removing URLs from search results, Google penalizes these website managers for bad practices. In essence, Google is the new Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

What is White Hat SEO?
White Hat means that a website manager is not overtly trying to trick users or search engines into believing their destination is valuable. A good website is like a good dinner party where the guests are getting something they can’t have elsewhere – and it’s all sourced locally and ethically.

A website should be farm-fresh.

The question might even be asked whether any form of SEO will be frowned upon by Google? In fact, the way to avoid getting penalized is by sticking to what the website’s purpose is and not trying to play games or trick users or search engines into treating your page as something it is not.

  • Quality Content – Google spends a lot of money manually evaluating content on websites to determine if the website manager is presenting something genuine and helpful. Longer articles are better than short blog posts, and topics should be covered with an attention to detail. Google also has algorithms to evaluate quality.
  • New Content – Posting content on a regular basis is important. There’s a reason this blog gets posted at the same time every Tuesday! Similar to users, Google likes established routines.
  • Good Images – Your posts should have relevant images of high value – and they should be original. Posting images with good descriptions, captions and free of copyright issues will go a long way in proving the website’s worth.
  • Good functionality – Content is helpful, but a useful function on a website, for instance a Quiz, can make a website relevant in the eyes of users and Google. Directories and other resources can also be a good way to establish traffic and demonstrate objectivity in helping users get good information.
  • Good Reviews – Having good reviews posted from users on Yelp, Google Maps, Travel Advisor or other peer-to-peer review websites shows that a website is a good destination providing good experiences. The more talk about it, the better – even if the ratings are not always 5 out of 5 stars.

What is Black Hat SEO?
Black Hat marketing strategies intentionally trick users and search engines into thinking a URL  is better than it is. Google is methodically removing these black hat-associated websites from their search engine results, mainly because the websites are doing one or more of the banned practices listed below:

  • Deceiving Users – Any time a website displays something to trick a visitor, Google will penalize the website. Examples of deceiving users can be misleading headlines or teasers, or generally teasing the visitors into doing something they don’t intend to do. Trolling users with fantastic headlines that ultimately have no news or comic value is also considered Black Hat.
  • Deceiving Robots – Gone are the days for hidden keywords within the body of a web page. Showing search engines something different than what a human visitor sees is tantamount to extortion in the eyes of Google. There are various terms associated with robot trickery, including cloaking and/or sneaky redirects.
  • Duplicating Content – Repeating keywords or articles and content multiple times on a website is considered SPAM.
  • Banner Ads – Linking to crappy websites, or websites that are not related in any way, is a good way to get on the bad side of Google.

What is Gray Hat SEO?
Black Hat SEOThere is a place in between that website managers might find themselves, either purposefully or by accident. For instance, a website might be sincere in its efforts to provide useful links to other websites, while Google could deem the practice suspicious.

  • Too many links – Outbound links to websites that are unrelated will raise the suspicions of Google crawlers.
  • Redundancy – How many different ways can your website present the fact there’s good customer service? Well, it’s worth saying once or twice, but maybe not using the same motto on each page.
  • Guest BloggingJohn Mueller warns that by giving strangers a stage to write and link to what they want, there’s a descent chance a website will be considered spammy.
  • Using Keywords – While Google accepts and encourages the use of keywords, anything beyond the basic will be penalized. Stick to one keyword or key phrase per page and three tags.

If, when running Google Analytics, a website manager determines users are sticking on the website for more than a few minutes, that means the website is relevant and useful for those users. Google can determine how long users are visiting websites – and whether they are leaving as quickly as they came. Similar to bad parties on a Saturday night, Google won’t talk about websites where everyone left quickly. Likewise, a comfortable website that people want to return to time and time again will be talked about by Google.

What does a website manager do?

What does a website manager do?

Website managers don’t manage websites anymore – they manage a company’s Internet brand. So, what do website managers do these days? They do it all.

Not long ago a webmaster could be depended on for creating a wire frame and executing a slick HTML or Flash design to capture customers. These antiquated website managers updated content and changed out pictures to keep the website fresh, but did little else outside that company’s URL.

With more than 644 million active websites on the Internet, the last thing a business manager needs is another website. What they need is for their business to get found and reinforced across all channels.

Callout for What does a website manager do?Because most companies already have websites, but are in need of someone to manage their overall Internet brand presence, the question What does a website manager do? should be prioritized by aligning the component jobs supporting their Internet brand:

  • Website URL Manager – Let’s get this out of the way first – yes, you need a website with a good domain name and user-friendly design that provides the functionality users expect. Most importantly, a website manager puts content first and develops a strategy for keeping the website fresh and relevant. Server scalability, accessibility and interface useability are obvious requirements for a website manager.
  • User Statistics Analyst – The better an analytic, then the better insight a business manager will have for understanding where their users are coming and going. A website manager first evaluates which pages on the company’s website are being used or ignored, using Google Analytics to quantify every user’s experience. But the company’s website is only the beginning. For instance a good website manager can determine which social media outlets are working for the brand and how many times people talk about that brand on those outlets. Facebook’s market value has topped AT&T not because everyone likes to see pictures of their friends instead of calling them, it’s because Facebook has done an excellent job quantifying their advertisers’ ability to access information pertaining to how often users are sharing, reading and liking the information they’re serving up on the network.
  • Social Media Manager- Few people care what a website has to say about its own business (stop bragging!), but the public does like to know what friends and respective communities on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Reddit are saying about the business. While a website might provide the functionality and utility your customers ultimately desire, what others are saying and thinking about the brand resides with social media outlets. It’s up to the website manager to aggregate these social media outlets into a coherent and unified messaging strategy that continuously streams and manages that information about the company’s brand.
  • Search Engine Optimizer – Website managers have learned that getting people to their brand means lobbying Google and the rest of the search engines (SEO). Businesses should not be surprised to know Google prioritizes search results where the content and brand changes most frequently, typically on social media sites like LinkedIn or Facebook but also on review pages associated with sites like Yelp. It’s because this is where users talk about companies the most. Review pages, in particular, rank higher than a company’s URL because that information can be much more useful than what the company is saying about itself. Google knows.
  • Email Newsletter Editor – Collecting emails and sending out periodic newsletters to users who opt in has increased in popularity as users feel overwhelmed by the inability to find relevant news. By repurposing old content and fostering reliable relationships with customers, a website manager can keep a company’s brand in the front of their customers’ minds, delivered as regular as clockwork. Users like to know they’re being updated regularly, and they also like to know they can opt out of these updates any time.
  • Mobile Phone Marketer – Website managers are versed in Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) best practices that foster mobile phone results for a company’s brand. Mobile advertising continues to grow faster than any other form of media, with 57% of the U.S. population owning a smartphone.
  • Online Advertiser - Although less of a big deal than they used to be, banners and paid blogs can grow a company’s brand dramatically. Website managers should manage online advertising programs conservatively, always cognizant of hard data supporting any money put toward them.

The website manager focuses on delivering traffic to the company brand via any means possible, not driving users to a single URL. Without a doubt, the biggest mistake companies can make is to oversimplify how clients will find their businesses. Because having a website is not enough, it takes a website manager who can deliver across multiple Internet outlets. These outlets are being invented every day, so being up-to-date on new ways to reach customers really means being into everything on the Internet.

That’s not to say new businesses starting don’t need the nuts and bolts involved with planning navigation and design for a single URL. But we should be honest with ourselves in when asking the question, What does a website manager do?  Savvy business managers know the many components that a web manager must manage, and he or she also knows that list is growing.

Should I register com and net?

Should I register com and net?

Both business managers and common consumers are confused by the mess ICANN has created, a mess website managers must confront when clients ask the same question over and over again when starting a new website – Should I register com and net?

Because there are so many options in registering domain names, the answer to Should I register com and net is nearly always an emphatic NO. Don’t waste your money or time. By sticking with a .com top-level domain name, you’ll be more likely to avoid the mess that has resulted from years of unregulated domain name registrations.

Architelos reports that 99% of the 276 million domain names in the world’s registries are used by cyber-squatters for malware, phishing or spam. “Total abusive domains listed increased 50% from December 2012 through May 2014,” according their most recent domain report.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) missed the boat early on by not properly regulating top-level domain (TLD) registrations. While they took the position in 1985 that the www should be more wild wild web than world wide web, 29 years later there are more than 200 top level domains that are mostly being abused.

Search engines prefer dot-coms
Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs)Libertarians may celebrate the hands-off approach for growing the biggest innovation since the invention of the telegraph, but many others are suspicious of the proliferation of TLDs which seem to have no relation to the websites they are visiting. ICANN manages a registry of generic top-level domains (gTLD) and country code top-level domains (ccTLD). Nonetheless, it’s up to the search engines to decide who will see them. Google and other search engines prove the inanity of so many TLDs by ignoring websites not using the commonly accepted dot-coms. While Google tells website managers that they accept any of the specifically listed gTLDs on their geotargetable domain list, many SEO experts believe otherwise. The fact of the matter is that using a dot-com is a safe bet while the others are considered second-class.

After all, any for-profit business can register a .org domain name. Additionally, many first-time website managers will choose a country level domain without realizing it will hold them back on search engines. For instance, .tv actually stands for the island atoll country of Tuvalu.

Missed opportunities
It could have been different, and it’s not too late to fix the problems with managing who registers which top-level domains (TLDs). But opportunities to fix the problem continue to go past. After vociferous opposition from both politicians and conservative groups in the United States, the .XXX proposal to designate porn-only was defeated in 2005 – finally something both the porn business and the Family Research Council (FRC) agreed on.

What’s more frustrating is the fact that ICANN is already allowing sponsored top-level domains (sTLD) for addresses such as .mil, .edu, and .gov., but seem to be mismanaging the enforcement of how these sTLDs are made available. Now they want to open up more names for business (i.e., .coke). While it’s nearly impossible to register a .gov, for instance, getting an .XXX is easy. Their confederacy will undoubtedly include jackasses who will mismanage names so that the abuse will persist. That’s because a sponsored TLD can distribute the name any way the sponsor sees fit, which means the sTLD is a monopolistic program without any regulations or rules about how how they distribute the names.

Why a .com works
So, the next time someone asks “Should I register com and net?” ask the client if he or she can think of a popular website using the .net top-level domain? Self-regulation is currently weeding out those TLDs that are not dot-coms because consumers and search engines are fed up with the lack of structure as the exploding business of arbitrary domain names goes wild. Who isn’t fed up with the likely hood of running into a malicious or cyber-squatting agenda inherent with non dot-com names?

In conclusion, most website managers would be wise to avoid the pitfalls associated with using anything other than dot-coms for their websites, precisely because it is the marketplace where they want to be. While it may be true the lack of register-able dot-com names makes it difficult to identify a new business uniquely, a creative domain name with an implied reference to that business is better than a top-level domain name that’s being ignored by Google.

Sending money overseas for free

Sending money overseas for free

Website managers who outsource their work overseas are becoming increasingly dependent on banks and services with the means to make payments to their foreign workers. Expenses can be high when sending money to places like East Asia or South America –  free is something sure to help your bottom line while improving your relationship with foreign workers.

Here’s a guide to follow for sending money overseas for free. Remember to shop the Foreign Exchange rates before sending money through any institution, since some banks rip clients off with exorbitant rates. Check the Interbank rate, then add a few pips to the exchange rate to compensate the bank’s trading desk. Remember, bank rates and fees are not all the same, so shop it hard. Also, knowing where your bank has international locations can save a bundle, especially where intra-bank transfers are available.

  • Inside Bank Money Transfer (FREE) – Many financial institutions are now allowing their customers to send money to each other without charges. This requires that both parties are using the same bank. Bank of America, HSBC and Wells Fargo all offer their customers free transfers from their own checking accounts to other accounts within the same bank.
  • Cash (FREE) – While the prospect of showing up with a suitcase full of cash won’t appeal to the security-minded, this method can be the cheapest and easiest way for sending money overseas. Most countries legally allow up to $10,000 in cash across customs – without having to pay taxes. So, if you know you’re heading to India for a meeting, why not make that $2000 payment in person?
  • Prepaid Credit Cards (FREE) – Perhaps the most creative way to send money to clients, both Visa and MasterCard offer options for loading gift cards for mailing overseas.
    Sending Money to India

    India is a daunting place for many things, including sending money…

  • Prepaid Store Cards (FREE) -It’s also worthwhile to look at retailers who sell and accept prepaid gift cards at all locations. Given the large number of international luxury brands (i.e., Armani, Apple, Victoria’s Secret, etc.), sending money overseas is now a luxury transaction!
  • Bank to Bank Money Wire – If your foreign worker doesn’t have an account at the same bank that you do, banks will charge a higher sir charge but also allow for sending a higher amount of money. For instance, Bank of America charges $45.00 for a wire to most banks. You’ll need to collect the information for the foreign bank, including the name and address of the account holder, as well as the SWIFT or IBAN of the recipient bank. It’s the most traditional means for sending money.
  • Bank Money Orders – Money orders are a great way to send smaller amounts of money and will save the sender money over wire transfers, although it may take a bit more time to process on the other side.
  • Wiring Websites – Western Union is the most popular and also the most universally accepted way to receive money. Chances are your foreign worker already knows where his or her closest Western Union is located, so it may be worth exploring this option if you don’t mind paying the ridiculously high fees – upwards of 20% for transfers in some cases! MoneyGram is a slightly cheaper route, but with fewer locations.
  • Personal Checks – Indeed, if you’re willing to sacrifice a little extra time (up to 90 days!), sending a personal check to your foreign worker can work. While this method is usually cheaper for the sender, the recipient may incur hefty fees when they go to cash it. It’s worth checking with the financial institutions to see what your foreign worker will be charged – and the exchange rates that will apply.
  • Internet Bank Transfers – PayPal innovated the online transfer of funds from one PayPal account to another. It’s free to send money through PayPal only if the recipient is within the same country. In fact, PayPal has increased their transaction fees in India to more than 4% recently, opening the way for new companies, including WePay, Skrill and ProPay, to undersell the behemoth.

The bottom line here is that website managers have to do a lot of homework when sending money overseas, both to save time and money. As these options change and competition stiffens, it’s worth revisiting old strategies for sending money to foreign workers. It can add up to a lot of money.

 

Sourcing website photos for free

Sourcing website photos for free

Website managers are using reverse imaging search engines similar to Tineye.com to search their URL and see if they have stolen images on their websites. Many website managers know to search Google’s images using the Labeled for Reuse Filter, but most bloggers have been recklessly negligent by not securing rights before re-using art on their posts.

And who can blame photographers and stock agencies for feeling threatened? Digital images are easily reused by bloggers and website managers who erroneously believe any photo or illustration on a Google search is in the public domain for free use.

As the Internet moves increasingly to an open source model, stock photography websites selling images for profit are desperate for ways to protect their traditional business.

Why the traditional copyrighting business is threatened?
Sourcing website photos for free really is as easy as right-clicking an image, then downloading that image to re-purpose later. With millions of bloggers borrowing in this fashion, stock photo companies are seeing their property misappropriated millions of times each day. The practice is made worse by the fact many images are erroneously labeled “Legal for Reuse” when, in fact, they are not. Google includes a very strong warning to searchers to address the problem:Find content to reuse

If you can’t beat them, join them
Sourcing website photos has become so easy for website managers that one of the largest stock photo companies, Getty Image, is taking desperate measures to protect and promote their antiquated copyrighting business. While Getty is known to send extortion letters demanding thousands of dollars from small not-for-profit website offenders, a new Getty hotlink program allows users to embed a Getty image legally on their blog or non-profit website for free. The borrowed image still has Getty branding and an attribution link on it, so it does call into question the actual benefactor. Nonetheless, the action demonstrates how worried they are about losing control over their copyrighting business.

Small photographers are pissed, too
What’s more, small-time artists are feeling the threat directly, too, something photographer Noam Galai has documented relentlessly on his website ScreamEverwhere.com and has promoted in his short documentary called “The Stolen Scream”.

When it’s just for the art it’s cool, it’s really cool and I like it – it’s fine with me. But when companies, big companies, sell this picture and make money out of that, this is when I don’t like it.
– Noam Galai

 

Many will also remember graffiti artist Shepard Fairey’s run-in with The Associated Press in 2009 after posters and merchandise bore the famous Hope image of Barack Obama. He was successfully prosecuted for trying to coverup the affair before he eventually admitted on his website that his error came when he started profiting from the image.

My wrong-headed actions, born out of a moment of fear and embarrassment, have not only been financially  and psychologically costly to myself and my family, but also helped to obscure what I was fighting for in the first place — the ability of artists everywhere to be inspired and freely create art without reprisal.
– Shepard Fairey

At the end of the day, website managers should remember these important lessons about sourcing website photos for free: If you’re trying to make money on the website where an image is being used without copyright, you’re setting yourself up for trouble. Fortunately, there are sufficient tools and outlets for free-use images that website managers can spend the extra time to ensure they are sourcing website photos for free.