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Find Your Toxic InBound Links

Link building is an essential part of your SEO strategy, but many times what you need to focus on is getting rid of all the bad links pointing back to your website, and not on building more.

How do you do that?

One of the easiest ways is to go to a system like SEM Rush and run a backlink audit on your website.

https://www.semrush.com/features/backlinks/

We ran this one on the dburnsdesign.com website, and this is what we found.

I found all of these 100% toxic links (they range from 0 to 100) – which I have no idea where they came from. SEM Rush makes it very easy for you to tag and delete/disavow these links.

Once they are deleted, Google will reindex your website. You will have less inbound links, but your average link quality will go up tremendously, and this, will result in a bump in SERP!

Hope this helps and let me know if you have any questions!

Daniel Burns

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Hashtagging 101 – The basics you need to know!

Many of the people I speak to at conferences don’t understand what a hashtag is, where it comes from, and what it’s used for.  In today’s digital landscape a basic understanding of the concept is needed so we can make educated decision on how to best use it.  So I wrote the following post as a quick intro.

A Little History

It was in July 2009 that Twitter took over the hashtag technology when it was realized that this was a clever trick invented by its users. What did Twitter do? They turned the hashtags to anchored text or hyperlinks. When the hyperlink is clicked, it goes directly to a series of tweets containing the same hashtag. You can also go to Twitter and search for specific hashtags, which is an easy way to find any topic on Twitter.

Twitter improved the hashtag technology in 2010 by adding Trending Topics for users to see what people were talking about across the globe. By doing this, popular hashtags would go directly to the top of the list of trending topics. Something went terribly wrong soon after. People began to make the trending topic useless by using weird hashtags such as “#ThingsUSed2UrGirlLastNight.” There was nothing newsworthy about this. It was time to re-invent the wheel.

Twitter is now diligently sifting through and deleting useless hashtags from its trending topics. It has also better localized each topic. So now it has become quite more useful to users.

Using Hashtags

Hashtag is a preferred tool used in conferences, marketers and by organizers of major events. However, it is valuable to Twitter users who want to organize themselves. The hashtag #followfriday, for example, spreads details around Twitter while organizing those details. If users decide to affix a specific hashtag to a tweet about a certain topic, then the topic becomes relevant and can be found easily in the search topic. More than likely, you will be able to see the topic listed in the trending topics.

More about Hashtags

So how do you make sense of all this? You need to know how to track, classify, use and efficiently organize hashtags to get the most out of this technology. If you are using a hashtag for a joke, this can be fun, but remember that a hashtag is searchable and ideal to brand a topic or sift through conversations.

Certain Twitter apps are able to mute out hashtags in order to prevent chatter that you don’t particularly want to see. For example, if you don’t like to see tweets of live sports games, you could use the hashtag mute#sports. However, in order to make that work, everyone else would have to use the hashtag #sports in their sports tweets. If you tweet about a certain topic quite frequently, use a generally good hashtag. Followers are able to mute it if they really don’t care about the topic.

Figuring it all out

When a hashtag gets trendy, it becomes even more difficult to analyze the information stream. Here are some ways to know what is trending and which hashtags deserve your attention.

What the Trend at http://www.whatthetrend.com– this valuable service helps you to discover more about trending hashtags. Once something begins to trend, this service provides a short blurb about it.

Tweeting Trends at http://twitter.com/tweetingtrends takes you directly to the current trends on Twitter.com.

Twitter’s official search page for trending topics can be found at http://search.twitter.com.

Twubs at http://www.twubs.com broadcasts information about a hashtag. It combines tweets to highlight discussed topics.

Http://hashtags.org helps to show you the use of a hashtag over a period of time and recent tweets. It provides enough details to figure out the hashtag’s meaning.

Tagalus at http://tagal.us is a thesaurus of hashtags, which have been defined by users.

If you want to track a tweet in real time from a hashtag, resources like Twitterfall can assist you.

Conclusion

Even though not awfully complex, hashtags have some unwritten guidelines such as not overusing them. People will think that you are spamming. Put your hashtags into context, which means that you should provide an explanation in your tweet so people will know what your hashtag means. Make sure your hashtag is worthwhile to you and to your followers.

If you need help figuring our how Twitter and Hashtags fit into your digital strategy, contact Daniel Burns today for a free consultation.

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3 Great Reasons NOT to have a Facebook Business Page

It’s so easy to get carried away by the hype.

Urgent voices will scream that you must drop everything right now, and invest your entire marketing budget to develop a strong Facebook page. Pay for a professional design, and spend money on Facebook ads.

The voices will tell you with complete confidence that you must do these things immediately. Yesterday if possible. Why? If you have been paying attention, the reasons are obvious (sarcasm alert).

  • Facebook has 618 million people use Facebook every day.
  • Facebook is taking over Google.
  • In 6 months the entire internet will be replaced by Facebook!

But the voices will be full of portent and bloated with certainty.

You must not listen to them.

What you must listen to is good sense. Stick a very sharp pin in the balloon of hype.

Just to be clear, it is quite possible that your business would benefit from an active presence on Facebook and most do when it is part of a bigger strategy.  Facebook is a very powerful platform for promoting certain kinds of businesses.

But before you go tossing all kinds of time and money on what may be a bottomless rat hole, it’s absolutely necessary – that you answer a few simple questions.

Are Your customers using Facebook?

It’s true that more and more people have Facebook accounts. Even so, a significant part of the population just doesn’t tune in to Facebook. Don’t waste your time if your customers aren’t on Facebook.  Another important factor to look at is if your target customers actually use Facebook to help them make a purchasing decision, or is it just a place for fun and selfies.

Perform some guerilla market research. Go to a good sample of your customers and ask how they use Facebook. If you get long pauses and blank looks in return, you may want to ditch your Facebook plan.

Is your website not optimized for conversion?

It’s a basic principle of achievement – first things first.

If your website just isn’t up to snuff, you have no business fooling around with a Facebook Page. Your website is the core of any online marketing strategy. Facebook acts as a powerful net and funnel to drive leads to your website.

Without a quality website, Facebook efforts are wasted. Fix your website. Then worry about Facebook.

Do you have the time or money to take on the responsibility?

Setting up a Facebook page for your business is a lot like taking a pet into your home. Once the excitement of the first few days is past, you are faced with the fact that you have to feed and walk the dog every day.

Setting up your page is just the beginning. You need to post engaging content regularly. You need to watch your insights (FBs version of analytics), respond to comments, and generally manage your page.

If you aren’t willing or able to invest that time (or pay someone to do it for you), then you should carefully consider whether Facebook is a good place for you. A Facebook page is a commitment to cultivate a relationship with your customers.  A stagnant and out of date Facebook page will actually work against you!

Bottom line: while it is important to be open to new ideas and new opportunities, don’t just rush into anything that comes along. Do some research and consider carefully if it really is right for you and your business. There are lots of good reasons to create that cool Facebook page – but there are also lots of good reasons just to take a pass for now.

Contact us if you need help figuring out your digital strategy, and if Facebook should be a part of it!

Are You Arranging Product Pages to Maximize Sales?

A lot of business owners think that organizing their e-commerce site’s product pages is as simple as throwing in a nice photo, adding some slick sales copy, and making sure the “buy” button is prominently displayed. Those are all good ideas, but they aren’t enough to maximize conversions.

The biggest reason why has to do with the way customers tend to scan web pages. Believe it or not, there is quite a bit of research into this area, and here are just a few of the things it has shown:

People tend to read headlines first. Whatever you have written at the top of your product pages is probably more important than everything else that comes below. The name of the product should certainly be displayed, but so should a key benefit to the customer, if it’s at all possible.

Next, they scan photos and bullet points in an “F” Shaped pattern. You would think that people would read web pages in the same way they would a book, but the reality is that they tend to scan instead. And not only that, but they do it in a very predictable way – which is usually referred to as an “F” shaped pattern, meaning that they move their eyes across the top of the screen, and then down and right successive scans. This means that the most important information, and benefits, should be on the top third of your product page.

Their eyes are drawn to bright images. Yes, this could sound a little bit obvious, but it’s still important to note because having bright images on your pages can lead visitors to stay on them for longer. The more you can make your photos “pop” off the page – within reason – the higher chance you stand of converting visitors to your e-commerce site into customers.

Two Details That Will Make or Break Your SEO Campaign

What is it really that makes a search engine optimization campaign successful? A lot of business owners would probably think of things like the number of pages and articles added to their website, or possibly the ability of their web design team to integrate keywords and phrases into their product pages.

Those are all important details, of course, and will ultimately contribute to the ranking you get on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and the other search engines. But there are two other details that are even more important… and they are ones that far too many online marketers overlook: research and testing.

Why will these two details make or break your search engine optimization campaign? Look at it this way:

Without the proper keyword research, you’ll likely end up optimizing the wrong keywords and phrases. Ever jump on the highway and drive 50 miles in the wrong direction? Well, the frustration felt from that will be minor compared to the aggravation of working hard to achieve a top three search engine position and a keyword that can’t actually help your business.

Testing allows you to make the most of the traffic your business website receives. It’s important to know which products, offers, and marketing messages your visitors are responding to most, and you’ll never know that until you are properly testing your pages. Whether it’s split testing, advanced analytics, or simply keeping an eye on web traffic and page view times, you have to have the right information if your search engine optimization plan is going to be as effective and profitable as it could be.

There’s a lot that goes into a good search engine optimization campaign, but research and testing are two details that you can’t afford to overlook. Use them both, and you can ensure that your campaign not only gets off to the right kind of start, but keeps moving in the right direction.

The Three Ways to Earn Backlinks for Search Engine Optimization

One of the hardest parts of the search engine optimization process, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, is generating backlinks to your website. Gathering backlinks can go quite a long way toward helping your search engine position, but it tends to be a long and tedious process.

With that in mind, business owners and search engine experts tend to take three different approaches, arranged here in their order of effectiveness:

By using link farms. If you aren’t familiar with the term, these are basically sites that are built just to link to one another. The major search engines caught on to this trick long ago, and so it isn’t very likely to help you, or your site. If someone you’re working with proposes this, just stay away.

By asking for links one at a time. This isn’t a terrible strategy, especially if you’re working on a coordinated campaign to gather links from others in your area or industry. Sometimes, a kind, personal note here and there can slowly raise the number of links to your site.

By posting great content that others want to link to. What’s so great about this approach is that, once you have generated a thought-provoking article, or maybe an informative video, the rest of the process generally takes care of itself. Why? Because others are going to link to you not because you asked, or as a favor, but because it’s good for their site, and their readers. Not only will this bring you a greater number of links, but also a lot higher quality.

When it comes to generating backlinks into your site for search engine optimization purposes, coming up with some unique and interesting content is always the best way to go. After all, what’s better than getting hundreds or thousands of links to your site without having to actually ask for them?

Is it OK to Copy a Competitor’s Website?

In a word, no. You should never copy a competitor’s website, in whole or in part, for any reason. You might think that lifting an image, or just a couple paragraphs of text, couldn’t really get you into any trouble.

And you would be wrong.

While the different laws that govern the Internet are constantly changing, the rules against theft and plagiarism are incredibly clear and consistent. Failing to abide by them could open you up to all sorts of problems with copyright, intellectual property, and even “duplicate content” issues that get you banned by the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

With that being said, however, there is another side to the story… although you can never, ever copy material from a competitor’s website, you can draw inspiration.

What’s the big difference between copying and inspiration? One relates to the listing of material and content, whereas the other is simply taking ideas that you see and applying them to your own business. Like the way a certain company has instituted their online newsletter, or arrange their product pages? Talk to your business web design team about doing something similar. See the video or logo that you think could help you win more customers? Work with an online marketing specialist who can help you put the concept to use.

The best thing about this sort of inspiration, besides the fact that it’s actually legal, is that it can take you in unexpected directions. By looking for ideas, rather than content, you’re no longer limited to checking out other businesses within your own industry. In fact, some of the best web marketing ideas have come from savvy business owners and web designers seeing something work elsewhere.

And besides, who is to say that you couldn’t make an idea work even better than someone else has in the past? This industry, as with most, builds upon continual successes, so don’t be afraid to find inspiration elsewhere and make it work for your business online.

IE6 Users Can No Longer Use WordPress

Joining a long list of sites that no longer offer support to Internet Explorer 6, WordPress can no longer be used on the dated web browser. The blog publishing platform is very popular with the general public as a primary tool for blog sites. WordPress announced this change as it rolled out its latest version, which features a simplified admin interface and a bevy of new user-friendly features.

If a user attempts to load up WordPress on IE6, they won’t be able to and will instead get a message prompting them to upgrade their browser. Other sites, like YouTube and Gmail, have abandoned their support of IE6 recently as well. Like these other sites, WordPress found it was taking too much backend work to get the tool to work with IE6, a browser that was initiated over a decade ago. Few professional website design companies want to keep supporting IE6, simply because it’s a clunky browser that doesn’t offer the user the best experience.

Even Microsoft, the founder and distributor of IE6, is eager for users to move on and use its newer versions. The technology conglomerate, however, is likely motivated by its desire for users to upgrade to Windows 7, its latest software offering, rather than an outright disdain for its older browser.

Here at DBurns Design, we encourage our clients to utilize newer browsers, like IE 9, Firefox or Chrome. These browsers give users a much more robust experience than IE6. They operate more in line with current web standards, easily showcasing all aspects of professional website design, and they are much more secure than IE6.

That being said, if you engage our professional website design services, we’ll make it so your site functions across all web browsers – even IE6, if you so desire.

Get LinkedIn to Really Work for Your Business by Utilizing Its New Features

LinkedIn has proved to be a valuable networking site for professionals across the spectrum of industries. Like a Facebook for professionals, LinkedIn can help you connect with others in your field – people you know and people you can get to know – through the site’s various features. Apart from individual benefits for the professional, LinkedIn’s newest features can really help you maximize the platform of your small business.

Create a Page for Your Company
With LinkedIn’s new Company Pages feature, you can create a dedicated page for your business. Just like an individual social networking page, you can use this page to update others on your company’s latest offerings and news. It’s an easy way to keep the public updated on the happenings of your business, ensuring you stay at the forefront of their minds.

Stay Apprised of Marketplace Buzz on Your Reputation and Your Competitors
With LinkedIn’s beta LinkedIn Signal product, you can search public status updates for specific keywords. It allows a simple method for keeping an eye on your competitors – just search for status updates that feature competitors’ names to see what others are saying about them. It’s also a good way to keep your finger on the pulse of what others are saying about your company.

Learn About Industry Trends
LinkedIn Skills is another way you can be made aware of trends and news in your industry. The tool is straightforward – it simply tracks and measures the rate at which certain skillsets are entered into the site. For example, if you see a rise in professionals in your field entering a particular skill, you’ll know that the industry is starting to trend that way.

Stay on Top of Your Accounts
As LinkedIn is constantly updating their site with new and exciting tools, it can be a valuable resource for your business. You just have to be diligent and stay on top of your accounts. It doesn’t look good to prospective clients and colleagues if your company’s page isn’t updated for weeks on end. It only takes a few minutes a day so make it a priority to put your company’s best face forward on LinkedIn.

Are Mobile Point-of-Sale Solutions the Future of Payment Processing?

With the advent of new mobile point-of-sale (POS) applications – that can be used on any smartphone – merchants can process sales transactions from anywhere. Most of these apps feature a separate card swiper that can be connected to most smartphones, though some of the apps simply require the merchant to enter the customer’s credit card information into the smartphone, using the phone’s keypad.

There are undoubtedly various benefits to these apps as they offer a whole new level of freedom in payment processing. The current mobile POS solutions are not truly mobile in that they operate wirelessly over dedicated connections. So while you can walk to a customer to process their payment, you have to stay within the realm of the wireless connection’s reach. The new, mobile POS solutions allow merchants to process payment virtually anywhere. This level of freedom could potentially revolutionize the POS industry – allowing anyone with a smartphone to sell their goods or services and process payment easily, without the added expense of a standalone POS solution.

While the increase in mobility is impressive, some experts are concerned about the security of these new POS apps. Since these apps download just like any other application on a smartphone, you’ll be processing payments without firewall protection. Since the apps are fairly new in the marketplace, it’s wise to proceed with caution until they’ve been thoroughly vetted.

In the interim, only choose apps from established and well-respected POS companies. If you opt to use a POS app, consider getting a separate set of smartphones for your employees – this way they won’t be processing customer payments on their personal devices. While it won’t provide complete security, it will add an extra layer of protection.

And whether you start using a POS app now or decide to wait until they’ve been tried and tested a while longer, keep your ears open for news from the PCI Security Standards Council. When they’ve determined that certain apps are trustworthy, they’ll release information on them.