Bill Hartzer Fri, 24 Feb 2017 21:30:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Not All Google Featured Snippets are Informational Fri, 24 Feb 2017 21:30:35 +0000 Ever since Google started introducing Featured Snippets into their search results, I always thought of Google Featured Snippets as being informational and helpful. And, non-commercial. Well, today my opinion of featured snippets quickly changed when I saw the Google showing a featured snippet for this search query: banking equipment.

For that search query, Google displays this featured snippet:

google featured snippets banking equipment

That “featured snippet” certainly reads more like an ad for SEICO’s banking equipment products than something I would expect: a history of banking equipment, a list of various banking equipment machines (coin sorters, paper currency sorters, ATMs, etc.). But no, somehow Google thinks that it’s more appropriate to show ad-like text than anything informational.

Take a look at what I’m seeing in the search results for “banking equipment”:

google featured snippets

I see:
– Google AdWords Ad
– Google AdWords Ad
– Google AdWords Ad
– Google AdWords Ad
– Google Featured Snippet (ad)
– Google Organic Search Result (URL same as featured snippet)
– Wikipedia page

I don’t know if an SEO is behind this particular featured snippet (yes, it’s possible to get Google to show your page as a featured snippet) by optimizing the content on the page. But seriously, Google? The Google Featured Snippets is far from informational and a good example of Google Featured Snippets gone bad.

Maybe my mistake here is that I assume that Google Featured Snippets should be informational and non-commercial?

Google says this about featured snippets: “What’s different with a featured snippet is that it is enhanced to draw user attention on the results page. When we recognize that a query asks a question, we programmatically detect pages that answer the user’s question, and display a top result as a featured snippet in the search results.”

In this case, the search query does not ask a question. My question is, though, should we assume that Google featured snippets are non-commercial in nature and answer a question in a certain way, without promoting a certain company and their products or services?

In this particular case, Google has no question answered for the search query (the search query is not a question), and Google promotes one particular company in the featured snippet.

Google: There is No Duplicate Content Penalty Mon, 13 Feb 2017 16:09:19 +0000 google duplicate content penalty

According to Gary Illyes, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, the Google search engine has no duplicate content penalty. In a Tweet on February 13, 2017, Gary said the following:

“DYK Google doesn’t have a duplicate content penalty, but having many URLs serving the same content burns crawl budget and may dilute signals.” – Gary Illyes, Google

He also confirmed, during replies to his Tweet, that his statement only refers to internal pages on a website. So, for internal pages on your website, there is no duplicate content penalty. However, if you do have lots of duplicate content on your website, you’re “shooting yourself in the foot” if you don’t deal with that content properly.

Every website, according to Google, has a crawl budget. Google will only crawl a certain number of pages on your website, essentially. As a result, if you have too much duplicate content on your website, Google’s crawler, Googlebot, may not be able to crawl all of the pages. And, if you burn through all your crawl budget, they may not see the important pages. That’s just how I’m interpret this, but it seems logical to me as that’s how they’re dealing with duplicate content.

In other words, Google is not penalizing your site for this. You’re penalizing yourself. So, Google’s “passing the buck”, so to speaking, saying that it’s your fault, not theirs.

So how should you deal with duplicate on your website? How do you make sure that you’re not using up all of your crawl budget? Here is what I recommend:

– First, check for duplicate content. Use to check your site.
– Decide if that dupe content on your site is needed for visitors or if it can be deleted.
– If you can simply remove the dupe content, then go for it. That’s the best option. If the content is not there, then it’s not duplicate.
– See if you can remove some internal links to the duplicate content. The content might still be there, but if it’s not crawlable or accessible via links then that can help. For example, remove the tag pages on a blog. Keep the categories, but ditch the tag pages. Or the archives by date. Those are notorious for creating these issues on your site.
– Use the robots.txt file to stop the search engines from crawling certain pages that are creating duplicate content.
– Use the canonical tag, if necessary, to help with duplicate content. This can be helpful for ecommerce sites, especially if you have products with more than one color, size, or features.

While duplicate content isn’t officially something that Google penalizes, it’s one of the top 5 issues I see whenever I am doing a technical SEO audit of a website. It could quite possibly be in the top 3 issues, and sometimes the most important issue to take care of in some cases.

And while Google says that it’s not a penalty per se–I can tell you that the results of having duplicate content issues on your site act, look, and feel as if it’s a penalty. So, if it looks like it, acts like it, and feels like it, it might as well be a penalty.

Matt Cutts Resigns From Google, Will Lead USDS Thu, 19 Jan 2017 17:03:16 +0000 Matt Cutts, former head of the web spam team at Google, has officially resigned from Google. His last official day at Google was December 31, 2016, he announced on his blog.

Matt had originally taken an extended leave of absence from Google, prompting many to wonder, for a long time, what Matt would be doing. You might recall that in March/April 2015, I successfully pranked the SEO industry with an April Fool’s joke about Matt Cutts joining Globe Runner. This “worked”, and many “believed” the blog post because so many wanted to know where Matt Cutts had gone. Matt is so well liked, and he did a wonderful job connecting with webmasters and website owners.

Matt Cutts’ response to my April Fool’s joke in 2015 was great:

In June 2016, Matt joined the US Digital Service, with a plan to stay for 3 months. Now, he’s going to be the acting administrator of the service going forward.

Thanks so much for your service, Matt. I know we’re all better off and you’re helping a lot of people here in the USA.

For more comments, see the H/N thread here.

Google: Link Search Operator No Longer Works in Search Wed, 11 Jan 2017 16:04:02 +0000 Google apparently can’t publicly make up their mind as to whether or not the link search operator works or not. About a year ago I noticed that the link search operator (e.g., wasn’t working reliably for any website. At that time, Google’s Gary Illyes said that that “short answer is no”, implying that they didn’t remove it. But now, about a year later, Google’s John Mueller said not to use it.

Google’s Gary Illyes, in a response to a tweet about my February 2016 post, said this:

google gary illyes link not removed

In response to that, I *DID* email about it… and a year later I’m still waiting for a response from Google about the link search operator. I’ve reached out to them again about this, and if I hear back from them this time I’ll update this post.

We Know It Doesn’t Work

As an SEO Consultant who has been helping sites with Google rankings for a long time, I can tell you that several years ago SEOs stopped using Google’s link search operator. It doesn’t give you an accurate (or even a close to accurate) list of the links to a website. It’s actually SO BAD that a search for shows pages from, and I know for a fact that my site,, does NOT link to my other site,

SEOs know that it doesn’t work. So the pros don’t use it. We use tools like and other link tools or Link Research Tools. However, the problem I have here is that it does show results. There are misinformed webmasters and website owners (business owners) who actually DO still use the link search operator to look at their links. By Google showing results for that search query, it’s misguiding them. It’s making them think that the list of pages that Google returns is, in fact, a list of links to their website.

Google should just remove the link search operator once and for all and stop misguiding people on this. Google doesn’t give you a list of link to a website when you use the link search operator. You do, however, have access to a list of links in Google Search Console once you’ve verified your web site.

Update: Confirmation

In response to my post, John Mueller has responded, on Twitter, about the link search operator:

John said that “things change over time… and as far as he knows the link search operator is no longer live in search. So, that’s good news. Don’t use it, as it’s not going to show you any useful data about the links to your site. I’ve updated this post’s title to reflect the fact that the link search operator is no longer live in search.

John Mueller on link search operator

8 Reasons You Should Perform a Regular Full SEO Audit of Your Website Fri, 06 Jan 2017 02:11:10 +0000 Performing a full SEO Audit of your website on a regular basis, perhaps at least once every six months, is key to maintaining your web presence and maintaining your organic search engine rankings. It has been a while since I personally performed a highly technical SEO Audit of my own web site, which I just completed. There were several things that I checked, and each of these are detailed here.

SEO Audit

There are several reasons why you really need to perform a full SEO audit of your website. Here are a few:

— The search engines are constantly updating their algorithms.

— Google updated their Google Webmaster Guidelines. Make sure your are compliant.

— SEO last year is different than it is this year. The rules have changed. What was acceptable last year is not acceptable this year.

— You may have content on your site that it outdated. Find that content that people aren’t visiting anymore.

— The search engines, as well as your own site visitors, like fresh content. Make sure your content is fresh.

— View the errors on your website during an SEO audit. Fix those errors and recover lost traffic to your site.

— Find who is linking to you and find the good, bad, and toxic links to your site.

— View the links to your site and clean up your link profile, which will help search engine rankings.

Those are only a few reasons why you need to perform a highly technical SEO audit of your website on a regular basis.

What To Review in an SEO Audit

Certainly if you don’t have the means or knowledge to perform an SEO audit and know exactly what to look for, then you need to hire someone such as myself to perform that SEO audit for you (yes, I know, that’s a shameless plug for my SEO consulting services). Anyhow, here is a list of what I usually look at when I perform an SEO audit of your website.

— Crawl the website. I usually use 3 separate crawlers by 3 different companies in order to find all the errors and grab all the data I need for later analysis.

— Review all the meta data, such as title tags, meta description tags, heading tags.

— Review all the URLs for consistency and other duplicate issues

— Review internal links and internal link structure

— Look for 301, 302 redirects and 404 errors as well as server errors

— Look to see how many pages there are on the site (are there too many, generated automatically by a calender, etc.?)

— Compare internal link anchor text to each page’s topic.

— Run checks on page speed

— Run checks on W3C compliance

— Review Google Webmaster Tools for errors, html suggestions

— Review all internal anchor text

— Review all page content on each page

— Gather all the backlinks and historic backlinks to the website. This is actually more difficult than you would think. There are multiple link sources because each link source doesn’t get all the links.

— Compile all the links and review them.

— Look at anchor text pointing to the site. Are there issues?

— Are there bad or toxic links pointing to the website?

— How often does the website get new links? Did the site used to get a lot of links but now notsomuch?

— Are there over optimization issues? Too much exact match anchor text pointing to the website?

This is not my entire list of things that I check and analyze when I perform a technical SEO audit of websites. But, you can get an idea of what is involved. There are so many issues that can arise when you have a website that if you are not doing an SEO Audit of the site on a regular basis (at least every 6 months) then you’re going to have issues with the website that prevents you from ranking as well as you can in the search engine results. If, for example, you find 404 errors on the site and you fix those issues, you’re going to get more traffic to the site.

When was the last time you received a full search engine optimization audit of your website? I recommend a full SEO audit on a regular basis (every few months or at least once a year). Talk to someone who has over 15 years of search engine optimization experience who can steer you in the right direction, not just someone who is going to try to “sell you” search engine optimization or search engine optimization services.

I will be happy to provide you with no obligation price quote for a full SEO Audit of your website.


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Is This the Worst Google My Business Listing Ever? Thu, 05 Jan 2017 16:19:50 +0000 Terry's Place

If you are in the North Bay, Ontario Canada area, and are looking for a great place to eat breakfast, you might search Google to find a local restaurant. One of the search results is Terry’s Place, a local eatery. But, if you look at their Google My Business listing, as shown above, you’ll see that the top photo isn’t very pleasing. In fact, it’s quite possibly the worst photo that a restaurant could possibly have–EVER–in a Google My Business Listing.

In the first photo in the Google My Business listings it appears that firefighters have successfully extinguished a fire at Terry’s Place in North Bay. If you click the photo on the listing, Google takes you to an article about the fire at Terry’s Place, which occurred in 2014.

A search for that address in Google shows, in Google Street View, a more updated Terry’s Place, in September 2015:

Terry's Place September 2015

The September 2015 Street View shows that Terry’s Place has been remodeled and is, yet again, open for business. This is still over a year ago, but was about a year after the fire. So, apparently they did remodel and recover from the fire in 2014. But, apparently the business has not updated or claimed their Google My Business listing, as it’s possible to replace the photo with a more updated one, one that shows that the place wasn’t on fire.

All the business has to do is claim their Google My Business listing, which they haven’t done–and then they can upload a new photo or several new photos.

H/T goes out to Jennifer Slegg who alerted me to this listing.

Did Chinese Hackers Steal Google’s Organic Search Algorithm? Tue, 03 Jan 2017 16:11:42 +0000 War and Peace in the Information Age

Have Chinese hackers stolen Google’s search engine secrets? Have they infiltrated the super-secret Google algorithm, allowing them to manipulate Google’s search results? According to a new book by Bill Gertz titled War and Peace in the Information Age, “Chinese cyber-intelligence services had developed technology and network penetration skills allowing them to control the results of Internet searches conducted on Google’s world-famous search engine.

In this recently published book, Mr. Gertz explains that Chinese operatives have figured out a way to control and manipulate what millions of internet users in China see when they search Google. For example, a recent article by Bill Gertz, explains this incredible, surreptitious feat by Chinese hackers:

Thus a search for the name Tiananmen—the main square in Beijing, where Chinese troops murdered unarmed prodemocracy protesters in June 1989—can be spoofed by Chinese information warriors into returning results in which the first several pages make no reference to the massacre.

Wait. What?!?

Yes, apparently the Chinese have figured out a way to manipulate Google’s search engine results so that the results for a certain keyword query reveals more positive results. As an SEO consultant who is typically hired for, amongst other things, online reputation management, it looks to me like that’s what the Chinese hackers have done: they’ve performed ORM for their own benefit, on Google. I find this rather peculiar, since they already have taken care of that mainly by blocking websites accessible from China. But anyway, I dug a little deeper into Bill Gertz’s claims about Chinese hackers’ stealing of Google’s organic search algorithm.

In this article, Bill Gertz mentions the following, suggesting that it’s more than search engine optimization that the Chinese hackers or operatives have accomplished:

The intelligence suggests that Chinese cyberwarfare researchers had made a quantum leap in capability by actually gaining access to Google secrets and machines and adjusting the algorithms to make sure searches are produced according to Chinese information warfare goals.

While Mr. Gertz mentions the fact that “what China did was a major breakthrough in search engine optimization—the art and science of making sites appear higher or lower in search listings.”. He goes on to say that “The feat requires a high degree of technical skill to pull off and would require learning the secret algorithms—self-contained, step- by-step computer search operations—used by Google.”

I have news for you, Mr. Gertz. Yes, online reputation management (what the Chinese “hackers” appeared to do), and SEO, is highly technical and is an art and science. And it does require learning what Google likes and doesn’t like–we call those search engine ranking factors. Those aren’t exactly secret algorithms that are part of the step-by-step computer search operations of Google. Many who are involved in the search engine optimization industry (SEOs) even share many of these search engine ranking factors. In fact, you can get a list of them here and here, and search engine optimization best practices are even published directly by Google.

While Google does protect their search engine ranking algorithm, I don’t see any evidence anywhere that you provide that even remotely suggests that Chinese hackers have stolen Google’s organic search engine algorithm. In fact, the manipulation and analysis of search engine results actually takes place every day by qualified and dedicated SEOs.

Oh, and those search results for “Tiananmen“: the Chinese hackers haven’t actually done a very good job at hiding those results about the Tiananmen Square Massacre:

Tiananmen google search results

So, have Chinese hackers stolen and infiltrated the super-secret Google organic search algorithm, allowing them to manipulate Google’s search results? In my opinion, no.

Should You Hire an SEO Consultant or an SEO Agency? Wed, 28 Dec 2016 05:05:18 +0000 SEO consultant or SEO agency

SEO, Search Engine Optimization, isn’t dead. In fact, SEO, optimizing your website for the search engines and search in general, continues to be alive and well–and has gotten a lot harder over the past few years. So maybe that’s why we’ve heard so many people declare that SEO is dead. Technical SEO, with all of the technical changes, requirements, updates, and issues like mobile friendliness, responsive design, AMP pages, and page load speed, has become a complex web that is increasingly difficult to navigate.

As someone who has been practicing organic and natural SEO since the mid 1990s, and actually doing the SEO grunt work–then holding various management-type positions in SEO and running an SEO agency for a period of time, I can tell you that you need a really good technical SEO expert to tell you where to spend you efforts and which of these issues matter to your unique business. Which issues you should care about and which you can, essentially, overlook or put off to later. That certainly can come from an SEO Agency or an SEO Consultant. So you ultimately need to decide:

Do I hire an SEO Consultant to navigate these technical SEO waters or an SEO Agency?

Do you need an SEO consultant to help you navigate these technical waters? Or should you hire an SEO agency? Both have their benefits and their drawbacks. I’ll explain the positives and negatives of each, and why you might actually need to hire both.

SEO Consultant Versus SEO Agency
What really is the difference between an SEO consultant and an SEO agency? Typically, the difference between the two is the number of people you work with. When you hire an SEO consultant, you know who you’re dealing with–they’re going to be the one who does the actual work and the consulting. When you hire an SEO agency, you typically deal with a sales person, who is never going to be person who is actually doing the work and the consulting.

SEO Consultant – They’re the one actually doing the work on your account. You first deal with them (perhaps in a sales-type manner) and then you’ll talk directly with them on a regular basis for updates. SEO Consultants tend to have a smaller list of accounts that they deal with, due to time constraints. They may be more expensive, though, especially if you retain them to work on your account on a monthly basis.

SEO Agency – You deal with a salesperson, not the one doing the work on your account. Then, typically you are assigned an account manager (not the person doing the actual work). You’ll typically talk to that person on a weekly or monthly basis, and they’ll interpret, in the best way they can, what’s really happening with your account. In many larger agencies (and in some smaller agencies as well), the person who is actually doing the work rarely talks to you, they’re too busy working on lots of different accounts, fixing and optimizing lots of websites on a daily basis. SEO Agencies tend to have lots of accounts, and they may be cheaper for you in the long run, though.

Let’s look specifically at the positives and negatives of working with an SEO Consultant and working with an SEO Agency.

SEO Consultant Positives
There are certainly positive reasons for hiring an SEO Consultant. Here is a list of the positives that I can think of:

If you are a smaller business, or have a website with a limited number of pages (think less than a few hundred pages), hiring an SEO Consultant might be the way to go. If you have questions or need something changed directly on your website, you know exactly who to call and who is going to do the work.

SEO Consultants rarely outsource the work to others.

You can hire an them to diagnose larger or more complex issues that agencies typically can’t diagnose. SEO Consultants typically have a greater knowledge, and can be more skilled, especially those who are technical SEOs. They’re very hands-on and do the work the work themselves, so they can have more experience to diagnose the real problems or issues when they arise.

SEO Consultants can provide a service for a one-time fee. You don’t have to hire an SEO Consultant on an ongoing basis. Even if you have an internal SEO team, you may want to bring in a consultant to review the current SEO strategy, perform an technical SEO audit of your website, or help with a site redesign.

You can hire a consultant to review your current SEO agency’s work. Are you completely happy with the results that your current SEO agency is providing? Do you think you should be getting more traffic and sales? Hire an expert to review your results, review your SEO agency’s optimization efforts, and even their link strategy.

When SEO Consultants identify an issue, and they’re the ones doing the work, they’ll tell you right away, typically. Then, they’ll give you an option to get the work done right away (because they’ll typically want to do the work for you so they can get paid). Working with one person, the whole process is much more efficient.

SEO Consultants typically won’t make you sign a long-term contract, and an SEO agency will. Consultants want to be efficient and be honest with you, and get the work done. It’s in their best interest to make sure that you know what needs to be done so you can hire them to do the work. They know that if you don’t see results with them, you’ll go hire an agency or another consultant. There’s no excuses. Either they did the work or they didn’t.

SEO Consultant Negatives
Working directly an SEO Consultant has it’s negatives, and there are reasons why you might not want to hire an SEO Consultant. Here are some of the negatives that I can think of:

SEO Consultants typically specialize in a few different areas or parts of search engine marketing and website marketing. For example, they may specialize in SEO audits or Paid Search issues (with more knowledge of paid search issues rather than web server and content issues). If an issue arises, they problem may be with a different part of website marketing that is not their expertise. They may be too quick to want to diagnose your issue and not have the knowledge to refer you to someone else.

One-time fees to hire a real SEO expert can be much more than what you’re going to pay an agency.

SEO Agency Positives
There are certainly positive reasons for hiring an SEO Agency. Here is a list of the positives that I can think of:

It’s cheaper to hire an SEO agency to do monthly ongoing work. You can spread the cost out over several months or the life of an SEO contract.

SEO isn’t the only thing that can affect your website’s traffic and sales. There are a lot of moving parts to be successful, which includes SEO, web design, paid search, social media, content (writers) and web development. If you have a larger website (over 50 pages), are in a competitive industry, or you will need a team of people working together to be successful.

With a larger website or one that is updated on a regular basis, it can be easier for an SEO Agency to handle the work. Content updates, social media updates, paid search management, and even web design and development can typically be handled all in one place, with one agency.

You can have one point of contact at an agency. If there is an issue, you can call your account manager. Some will even give you their cell phone number, and if your website is down or if it gets hacked, the agency can typically handle the issue right away.

Hiring an agency can be better for ongoing maintenance of your website, for regular promotion and optimization. Also, dealing with larger projects like a website migration to a new CMS or updating the web design on the site can be good for an agency to handle. You still might want to get in independent SEO expert consultant involved, or make sure that the agency has someone on staff who can handle it.

Hiring an agency can be a long term relationship. While some employees will come and go (which can be a negative), if you find the right agency to work with, then it can be a good thing. Many agencies have good long term employees, and they’re the ones working on your account. They know your needs, and they know that as long as they’re growing your traffic and sales, they have a job. So, make sure that they know that.

SEO Agency Negatives
Working with an SEO Agency has it’s negatives, and there are reasons why some swear that they will never hire another SEO Agency again. Here are some of the negatives that I can think of:

SEO Agencies, quite often, outsource the work to others.

The people who initially talk to you (like salespeople) are not the ones doing the work.

It can take a lot longer to get results. Agencies typically only do a certain number of hours of work per month. Once they hit that number of hours they’re allotted, the work is put off for another month until the time is available again. Let’s say that there’s an issue that needs to be dealt with right away, as your site is losing traffic every day. You’re losing sales. But something needs to be fixed or optimized on a lot of pages on your site. It might take 10 hour of work to complete. You’re paying the agency for 10 hours of work a month. The employees of the agency will work those 10 hours at the beginning of the month, then put off the rest of the work for a few weeks until the next month. If the fix or optimization takes 30 hours, then it will take 3 months to complete if you have an agency do the work. This is standard operating procedures for agencies. The better agencies will, in fact, identify the issue and let you know how long it will take, giving you an option to get the work done right away or spread it out over a few months. But that’s not always what happens.

SEO Agency employees and agencies in general don’t have an incentive to get your work done right away. If you’re paying them a monthly fee, they can literally stretch out the work over a matter of months and still get the same amount of money. Not so with a consultant.

Agencies hire account managers and salespeople. Account managers, especially lately, typically have one or two years’ experience in the industry. They’re hired right out of college, with a marketing degree. That doesn’t make them an SEO expert. Questions you may have are relayed to someone else, who is the expert. Then there’s a delay. It’s just the way agencies are set up–which just isn’t efficient.

SEO isn’t the only thing that can affect your website’s traffic and sales. There are a lot of moving parts to be successful, which includes SEO, web design, paid search, social media, content (writers) and web development. With agencies, everyone representing all of these moving parts of the equation need to be up to date on what’s going on with your account. If the agency isn’t involving all of these people in their meetings and discussing your needs, then something could be overlooked, which means that you’re not going to get the results you could get.

Agencies hire people right out of college. In many cases these are hourly employees, and it’s their first job right out of college. There are some that do very well–and they quickly move up in the organization. Then there’s those who will get offered more money once they have some experience (a year or two, maybe less) and they will leave the agency for $10,000 more a year in salary. This happens too often, and I know of several agencies that have high turnover rates when it comes to account managers. It’s not their fault that they have a high turnover rate, but is it?

Agencies typically will make you sign a contract for at least 6 months or a year. Why? The honest truth is that they need a few months to perform for you. The first month, the account manager is just getting to know you, and the agency’s SEO experts are analyzing the website, making recommendations that they need to get implemented. Then, the next few months are spent actually making those changes. They can easily drag out that whole process 3 or 4 months. I’ve seen it, and I can say that I’ve done it, and I’ve even instructed my employees to do it. You see, due to the contracts, or the amount that you’re paying the agency per month, we’re only allowed to work on your account for 10 hours per month. Or 20 hours per month, for example. The amount of work needed far exceeds those monthly hours. So, when you’re working for an agency you have no choice but to drag it out. We could alert you, the client, but I can tell you that the last thing you want to hear is that we need more hours and you need to pay us more. In the cases that I’ve done that, it’s never been positive, so agencies won’t tell you, the client. It’s a waste of time.

As you can see, there are several reasons, both positive and negative, why you should hire an SEO Consultant, and why you should hire an SEO agency. As I mentioned, I’ve personally been in both situations, and can see the positives and negatives of each. I’ve been an in-house SEO, an SEO manager, an SEO expert, and even run a digital marketing agency. Whatever you decide, there are a few things that you’ll want to make sure is done:

— Make sure there’s an SEO expert who takes the time to analyze your site and your particular situation. Every website is different, and I almost always recommend that SEO expert (at an agency or as a consultant) does a thorough SEO Audit of your website, typically once a year.

— The SEO audit should include a list of recommendations and issues that need to be fixed, optimized, or addressed. How you deal with those recommendations or list will depend on your engagement with the person doing the SEO audit. Some consultants will help, some won’t. You may need to arrange for someone else to work on what’s found in the SEO audit. An SEO agency should have someone who will work on the issues or multiple people who will implement the recommendations, over the length of your SEO contract.

— There’s room for hiring an SEO Consultant, even if you’ve already hired an SEO agency. They’re typically (hopefully) an expert at what they do, and can work with the SEO agency or your in-house team to make sure that everything is implemented correctly (or they may do the actual SEO audit).

— If you have any questions about your current SEO agency, then hire an SEO Consultant to review everything that they’re doing. Consultants get paid for their time, and typically charge per project or an hourly consulting fee. It’s in their best interest to find issues that the SEO agency isn’t taking care of properly, and any honest SEO agency should be happy to see what the consultant comes up with–they shouldn’t be threatened by an audit of their work. If they are, then maybe they’re not doing the job that they should be doing?

I’ve seen my share of SEO agencies’ work over the years, and in many cases I’ve always been the one who has had to come in and clean up the work (or lack of work) that an agency has been hired to do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to clean up “bad links” or web spam that an SEO agency has done that was a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. I’d rather see a consultant hired to perform an SEO audit and a link audit of a website before it all gets out of hand–and the company’s search engine reputation has been completely ruined by sub-par or cheap SEO agencies.

Remember, you get what you pay for. Especially when it comes to hiring an SEO Agency.

Google Answer Boxes Can Appear in Results for Site Search Queries Mon, 19 Dec 2016 16:13:59 +0000 Apparently, Google Answer boxes can appear in the search results when performing a type of search in Google. I find this kind of odd, as typically someone isn’t looking for an answer per se when they use the site: search operator at Google.

What is a Google Answer Box?
A Google Answer box is Google’s attempt to give you information in their search results about search query (keyword) so you don’t have to click through to a website to get the answer. Google predicts the answer to your question, scrapes the data from a website, and makes it show up at the top of the search results. This is often referred to ranking 0 (zero) position, before the first result. In most cases, Google will show Google AdWords ads before the answer box.

Here is an example:

site search operator includes answer box

If you search my site for the word “domain” using this search:

You will see that an answer box appears at the top of the search result. I cannot believe that showing a Google answer box for ANY search query that uses the site: search operator would be helpful. But, maybe if I stretch it and say that it’s helpful because clearly Google likes that page? Maybe I should be expand the content on that page because they like it so much they’re giving it an answer box?

Typically, though, when someone searches for all pages in a site and then adds a keyword, they’re looking for some content on the site related to that keyword. For example, I wanted to search my own site for where I talked about “domain names” and I searched for “domain”. So, in that case, I did come up with the most relevant page. But, it included an answer box.

World’s Largest Facebook Like Button Thu, 15 Dec 2016 23:52:33 +0000 Have you ever wondered about why or how the Facebook Like button appears on a website or web page? Well, typically the website’s owner or web designer places that Facebook Like button on the page, using code that Facebook provides them. Essentially, if you have a website, all you need is the code from Facebook (you get it here) and all you have to do is copy/paste that code. And, well, it appears like this:

Well, that button is the large version of the Facebook Like button. But, personally, I like to go huge with my buttons and make sure that people see them so they click them. Here’s what I believe is the world’s largest Facebook Like button ever to appear on a website. You’ll need to click the image to see the larger version of it. (Keep in mind that you have to have a really REALLY HUGE monitor in order to see the whole button).

worlds largest facebook like button