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By Krista LaRiviere

When I talk with prospects and clients our conversations usually include standard SEO topics such as keyword phrases, content writing, competitor analysis, social media, analytics and the one topic that ‘links’ all these together – backlinking.

That is, incorporating keywords into backlinks, writing press release content with backlinks, out-backlinking the competition, using social media as a backlinking source and of course measuring backlinks with analytics. Why is backlinking so important to your organic search strategy?

Google’s algorithm places a heavy weighting on the number of web sites that are referencing (or linking back to) your web site.  These are backlinks or inbound links. Google’s logic is pretty simple: if other sites are referencing your site, then it must be a relevant and trusted site with relevant content.

But it isn’t so simple. The backlinks to your site must be:

–  high quality, relevant links freely given based on editorial judgment; as opposed to;

– low quality, spammy, irrelevant links, links from untrustworthy sources or traded links.


Backlink 101: Structure and Definitions

Here are some basics that will be helpful:

1) What is a backlink?
On this web page – http://business.financialpost.com/2010/12/08/canadas-most-innovative-companies – there’s a backlink to http:www.gshiftlabs.com.

2) What is anchor text?
The anchor text for the backlink is “gShift Labs”. (The text that you actually click on.)

3) What is domain value?

Google places a value on a backlink source. So the source “financialpost.com” would have a higher value than say “thebarrieexaminer.com”.

Now that we know this, we can talk about the do’s and don’ts. Here are some things to think about:

The Do’s

1.     Be consistent. Google wants to know that you are committed to your backlink strategy and Google’s algorithm can detect if you’re not committed. For example, if you have 59 backlinks today and overnight you have 15,000 (because you bought backlinks from a backlink farm) you will likely be penalized, which will negatively impact your ranking.

Google wants to see that you are adding a consistent number of backlinks to your web presence over the course of a normal time period. For example, 5 to 10 backlinks per week, every week or 50 backlinks per week every week.

2.     Optimize your anchor tags. An anchor tag with the text “Click Here” or “Read More” is pretty useless to your SEO efforts. Instead try to optimize your anchor text with keyword-rich content that matters to you. For example, if one of your top keyword phrases is “orange party dresses” then you’ll want to create anchor text based on this phrase and have it link through to a web page that is also optimized for that phrase.

Note: It might not always be possible to control the anchor text for your backlink.

3.     Unique domains. Google wants to see that you have a strong variety of domains in your backlink inventory. If all your backlinks are coming from one source it is a signal that your web site probably isn’t all that relevant.

4.     But, how do I add backlinks? If you feel dumb asking the question you’re not alone. How should you go about building backlinks? It is really about producing content. You can produce content by:

a.      Issuing regular press releases through a syndication service such as PRWeb.com or MarketWire.com.

b.     Blogging on trusted third-party web sites with links back to your web site (when appropriate).

c.      Getting your website added to relevant industry portals and directories.

The Don’ts

1.     Don’t buy links unless you really really understand the company that is selling the links to you, the quality of the links and the risks associated with the potential outcome of buying those links. Talk to an expert or get a second opinion before committing to such tactics.

2.     Don’t trust any SEO Professional or Agency that promises a #1 organic ranking. A #1 organic ranking is completely impossible to guarantee because there are so many external variables beyond the control of the SEO Professional. Variables such as Google’s always-changing algorithm and competitors’ websites just to name a couple.

3.     Don’t be afraid to ask your SEO Professional what their backlinking strategy is for your web presence. Or better yet, tell them you want a backlinking strategy outlined, before it is implemented.

Now I’d like to share one really sad SEO backlinking story with you.

The Sad SEO Backlinking Story

J.C. Penney hired a SEO firm to optimize its website for organic search. To make a really long sad story short, Google ultimately penalized J.C. Penney’s rankings after it was determined that the SEO firm hired, implemented backlinking tactics that Google considers “black hat” or unethical. The initial outcome of these unethical backlinking tactics was a #1 rank for a variety of keyword phrases that matter to J.C. Penney.

How did the SEO firm accomplish this? They paid to have thousands of backlinks placed on hundreds of sites scattered around the Web, all of which lead directly to JCPenny.com. (New York Times, Dirty Little Secrets of Search, February 12, 2011.). In a nutshell, “paid-for backlinks”. The worst part is that the client, J.C. Penney, was unaware of the unethical practices the SEO firm was employing to achieve the high organic rankings. Bad SEO firm.

Once it was brought to Google’s attention that the J.C. Penney web site was attempting to game Google’s search algorithm, Google began manual actions against JCPenney.com, essentially decreasing their organic rank.

“At 7 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, J. C. Penney was still the No. 1 result for “Samsonite carry on luggage.” Two hours later, it was at No. 71. At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Penney was No. 1 in searches for “living room furniture.” By 9 p.m., it had sunk to No. 68.” (New York Times, Dirty Little Secrets of Search, February 12, 2011).

Moral of the Sad SEO Backlinking Story: Keep your SEO ‘white hat’ or you will be penalized by Google and this will negatively affect your business. A strong, effective backlinking strategy is a marathon, not a sprint.

Reposted from gShift Labs

Krista LaRiviere is the CoFounder & CEO of gShift Labs. This is Krista’s third software start-up having successfully exited from the previous two. Having been in the Internet marketing space for over ten years, Krista is able to identify trends and gaps in the daily lives of Internet marketers. gShift has web presence optimization software that is  demystifying, simplifying and standardizing organic search. Her vision is to change the way people think of and perform organic search optimization.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers pro vide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Krista  LaRiviere

I regularly get asked the question, “What really is the impact on my business of not ranking in the Top 10 in Google?” The truth is I have absolutely no idea. The reality is I guarantee the impact is significant enough for you to care.

In this post I’ve applied math to some well-known, published data about search engine usage and paid search. I then related it to a Page 1 versus a Page 2 organic search ranking.

The outcome demonstrates the foregone revenue for a particular business of being ranked on Page 2 rather than Page 1 in Google.

There are 4 billion Google searches performed every single day (ComScore.com, December 2009) which accounts for approximately 75% of all Internet searches.  Of those searchers, 30% will click on the paid side of search (Google Adwords/PPC) while the other 70% will click on the organic side of search.

Let’s stop and do some math:

4,000,000,000 * 70% = 2,800,000,000 or 2.8 billion searchers click on organic search results every day.
Now get this. According to a study from iCrossing.com from February 2010 over 95% of searchers do not go beyond the first page of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Conclusion, you need to be on the first page of Google, Yahoo! and Bing for the terms you want your prospects to find you for or you’re not in the game.
More math:

2,800,000,000 searchers * 95% = 2.66 billion people clicking on one of the Top 10 organic search results every day.

Now what really does this mean for your business? Let’s apply paid search data (AdWords) from an actual business, to the organic side of search. This example will illustrate the magnitude of the foregone revenue to this business as a result of being ranked on Page 2 instead of Page 1.

Note: Although this data has been simplified, this particular business was indeed ranked on Page 2 in Google and they were subsidizing their lack of a Page 1 ranking with Google Adwords. I also acknowledge that there are other factors involved in conversions and the purchasing process and not all businesses are the same. In other words, this is a very simple model, but I think it gets the point across.

The Data:
1. Product sells for $100
2. 1,000 clicks generated through Adwords
3. Conversion rate of 15% (where conversion = purchased product)

Paid Search Results = 150 converted visitors * $100 = $15,000

Remember though, with Adwords you’re only capturing 30% of the eyeballs. Therefore, for every 1,000 clicks on paid search there are 3333 (1000/.3) available clicks on organic search. But of them, 95% don’t go beyond Page 1. This translates to 475 (3333 *.95 *.15) converted visitors from a Page 1 organic search result and just 25 from Page 2.

Being listed on Page 1 in Google would provide this business with 475 converted visitors = $47,500 Instead, they are capturing only 25 converted visitors from their Page 2 rank or $2,500.

This business can assume the foregone revenue of their Page 2 organic ranking is $45,000 ($47,500 – $2,500). By improving their ranking to a top 10 spot in Google search, they could potentially increase their organic search engine generated revenue by 1800% and their organic search generated revenue will be more than three times their paid search generated revenue.

That’s enough to care.

Reposted from gShift Labs

Krista LaRiviere is the CoFounder & CEO of gShift Labs. This is Krista’s third software start-up having successfully exited from the previous two. Having been in the Internet marketing space for over ten years, Krista is able to identify trends and gaps in the daily lives of Internet marketers. gShift has web presence optimization software that is  demystifying, simplifying and standardizing organic search. Her vision is to change the way people think of and perform organic search optimization.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers pro vide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Krista  LaRiviere

Over the past two weeks I’ve read numerous blog posts and articles written by SEO professionals who claim to be able to predict the future of organic search. Blogs titles such as, “My SEO predictions for 2011” or “What’s important for Organic Search in 2011” or “The Future of SEO”.

Although these insights can be useful, I’d like to take the opportunity to revisit some cold hard facts about organic search and its importance to your overall digital marketing mix. I’ve picked 4 of my favorite facts that have been proven by industry analysts and experts who have collected data and drawn conclusions about what is really going on out there. They are:

  1. Marketers and marketing agencies continue to invest more into organic search strategies as they understand its impact on lead generation and conversion (Forrester).
  2. SEO is the most effective way to generate conversion according to senior-level marketers (Forbes).
  3. Ninety-five percent of searchers do not go beyond the first page of search results (iCrossing.com).
  4. Exposure to organic search results almost doubles the likelihood that a prospect will visit a web site when combined with a paid search strategy (iProspect & comScore).

Here’s each in more depth:

1. Marketers and marketing agencies continue to invest more into organic search strategies as they understand its impact on lead generation and conversion (Forrester).

Forrester Research surveyed just 867 US marketers and marketing agencies and was able to determine that the amount of investment in organic search strategies over the next 3 years will continue to increase. From $1.8 billion in 2009 to an estimated $5 billion in 2014.

Forrester goes on to say that marketers continue to look for clicks at a much lower cost and once they are able to prove conversion with organic search they shift former paid search monies to SEO.

(More about this study.)

Something to think about: How does your organic search budget compare to your paid search budget? If you’re aware of a particular keyword phrase that works well in paid search why not optimize for that same keyword phrase in organic search?

2. SEO is the most effective way to generate conversion according to senior-level marketers (Forbes).

Forbes produced its Ad Effectiveness Study by interviewing senior-level marketers in the US. They were able to determine that SEO is the most effective way to generate conversions outranking email marketing and paid search tactics.

Something to think about: Are you able to determine your conversion rates on your email and paid search campaigns? Imagine an even higher conversion rate on an organic search campaign.

(More about this study.)

3. Ninety-five percent of searchers do not go beyond the first page of search results (iCrossing.com).

iCrossing.com, a leading interactive marketing agency in the US collected search data from 1.8 million queries over a nine-month period and was ultimately able to determine that just over 95% of all searchers do not go beyond the first page of the search engine results page (SERP).

(More about this study in PDF.)

Something to think about: Are you ranked on Page One for your top non-branded keyword phrase? If not, where are you ranked? How much effort do you think it would take to get to Page One? What do you think the impact would be on your business?

4. Exposure to organic search results almost doubles the likelihood that a prospect will visit a web site when combined with a paid search strategy (iProspect & comScore).

iProspect conducted a study in conjunction with comScore’s online behavioural panel where they examined the impact of the combination of certain digital media marketing tactics – primarily organic search, paid search and online ads. Here’s a brief taste of their findings about organic search (by industry):

  • Software: Exposure to organic search impressions boosts likelihood to visit a website 37%, and likelihood to purchase a software product 30%, while organic search in combination with paid search generates a 58% lift.
  • Banking and financial services: Exposure to organic search and online display impressions produces a 44% lift in brand trust.
  • Hotels: Exposure to organic search results plus display impressions produces a 144% lift in likelihood to purchase.
  • Insurance: Exposure to organic search impressions produces a 150% lift in the likelihood to purchase.

(More about this study.)

Something to think about: If your marketing budget is weighted heavily with one particular tactic, what do you think the outcome would be of shifting some of the spend into organic search?

These cold hard facts about organic search will hopefully convince you to examine your 2011 marketing budget to ensure all tactics are adequately represented.

Reposted from gShift Labs

Krista LaRiviere is the CoFounder & CEO of gShift Labs. This is Krista’s third software start-up having successfully exited from the previous two. Having been in the Internet marketing space for over ten years, Krista is able to identify trends and gaps in the daily lives of Internet marketers. gShift has web presence optimization software that is  demystifying, simplifying and standardizing organic search. Her vision is to change the way people think of and perform organic search optimization.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers pro vide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Krista LaRiviere

Most business leaders I talk to sell their products and services into other countries and all list organic search as an important part of their online marketing efforts and web presence. More frequently I hear this scenario, “My UK Sales Rep says we don’t show up at all in Google, but I see we’re ranked #1. What is he talking about? ”

This is a prime example of an international organic search issue. Once you’ve identified you have one then you need to figure out what to do about it and how to manage it.

Find out how to take control of and improve your organic search results in countries where you’re trying to do business.

So what is happening here and what do you need to know?

Google has multiple properties (.com, .ca, .uk, .fr, be,de, etc.)  where the properties represent countries (US, Canada, UK, France, Belgium, Germany, etc.).

When you search on a keyword phrase Google wants to return to you relevant search results. ‘Relevance’ changes based on a couple of factors:

1. Which search engine property are you starting your search from (i.e., Google.com versus Google.ca versus Google.uk)?

2. How you are connected to the Internet? This isn’t a post about how the Internet works, but basically you’re connected to the Internet with an IP Address. That IP Address is assigned to an ISP (Internet Service Provider like Verizon or Rogers). The ISP then assigned an IP to you to surf the web. Those IPs are known to belong to a particular country. Google can then conclude you are connected to the Internet in Canada, the US, the UK, France, etc.

3. Are you logged into Google in any way (Gmail, Adwords, etc.)? If you are logged into Google, then they are collecting data about your behaviour on-line and are going to return search results that are more relevant to you. Yes, this is scary!

So, when you are physically located and logged onto the Internet in the US searching for your product in www.google.fr you will obtain a different set of results then if you are located in France looking for your product in www.google.fr. The implications of this are that you might think you are ranking #1 for something, but to your prospects, located and searching in France, are not being exposed to your company’s organic ranking at all. The further implication is that you are likely losing out on leads and sales.

What should you do? Firstly, don’t give up. Secondly, I have to tell you that international organic search is humanly impossible to manage and gain insight into on a daily basis. The reality is, you really do need an automated way to deal with this. Software exists that gives you the ‘raw’, non-skewed ranking results independent of country and IP address so that you can obtain timely insight into your web presence and position in countries where you’re doing business.

Reposted from gShift Labs

Krista LaRiviere is the CoFounder & CEO of gShift Labs. This is Krista’s third software start-up having successfully exited from the previous two. Having been in the Internet marketing space for over ten years, Krista is able to identify trends and gaps in the daily lives of Internet marketers. gShift has web presence optimization software that is  demystifying, simplifying and standardizing organic search. Her vision is to change the way people think of and perform organic search optimization.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers pro vide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »