social media challenges for small businesses

10 Reasons Businesses Fail at Social Media…and How to Not Be One of Them!

social media challenges for small businesses

How Small Business Succeed on Social Media…and How They Fail!

Small businesses consistently fail at social media. True or False?

If you answered “true”, you are correct. Small businesses setup social media accounts and are then victims of their own great expectations.

The bottom line is this:

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Richard Cummings10 Reasons Businesses Fail at Social Media…and How to Not Be One of Them!
virtual offices search engine results

Warning: Virtual Offices in Google My Business to Succeed in Google Local Places

virtual offices search engine resultsIf you intend to create a virtual office to include in your Google My Business profile to maximize your Google Places SEO positioning, you may want to reconsider.

A client of The SEO System in St. Louis recently asked me if he could succeed in Google local places in other cities by establishing virtual offices in those cities.

The question surfaced because he had noticed his competition having some success by establishing a virtual office in that location and then, rather quickly, getting a Google local listing for that location.

But, what may seem like a good idea at first, is not.

While establishing a virtual office and including that in your Google My Business profile to game the search engines may provide some short term gain, it will produce dire consequences for your business in the long run.

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Richard CummingsWarning: Virtual Offices in Google My Business to Succeed in Google Local Places
small business brand building

Small Business SEO: How to Build Website “Authority” & Brand Awareness

small business brand building

Small Business: How To Build Your Online Brand

Let’s not mince words:  Small business SEO got a lot harder in the last few years.  Google updated their algorithms to favor authoritative brands and you have very little immediate chance of competing in any competitive niche.

Want a prime example of this?  Simply do a Google search for “Small business SEO”.   Ideally, who should compete for this term?  A small business, right?

Nope. The first result, 5 Ways Small Businesses Can Compete With Giants in SEO, comes from Entrepreneur media.  Check out their LinkedIn profile, which currently lists 1,832 employees.  And this does not even factor in the hundreds of guest authors that write for them, one of whom is Jayson DeMers, who wrote the article.Read More

Richard CummingsSmall Business SEO: How to Build Website “Authority” & Brand Awareness
lifestyle marketing ideas

Lifestyle Marketing: I’m awesome so check out my web content!

lifestyle marketing ideas

Lifestyle Marketing: Is it for you?

Lifestyle marketing has become one of the hot new terms.

And, when you think about it, this makes sense. After all, who has the most Twitter followers? Is it some online marketing whiz? Some tech genius who knows how to master and perhaps manipulate social media and the search engines? Absolutely not!

It’s Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Barack Obama, Taylor Swift and these other 96 people.

So, perhaps, instead of researching valuable Twitter Business Tips, you should just go out and get yourself the latest fashionable sunglasses and then show pictures of how hot and successful you are!Read More

Richard CummingsLifestyle Marketing: I’m awesome so check out my web content!
sulia shuts down

Sulia: Another Social Media Content Curator Bites The Dust!

sulia shuts down

Another Social Media Network Shuts Its Doors!

Sulia, a business that had raised $10 million dollars in funding and sought to be another type of social media content curation service, officially shut down in October of 2014.

It wasn’t but two years ago that Mashable called Sulia “The Hottest Social Network You’ve Never Heard Of” and Forbes hailed Sulia as the fast-growing subject-based social network. With all this hype, later that summer in 2013, Sulia received an additional $5 million in funding.Read More

Richard CummingsSulia: Another Social Media Content Curator Bites The Dust!
social media analytics

Predictive Analysis & Your Business: A “Targeted” Lesson

When marketing and big data analytics merge, the ability to predict behaviors can be downright eerie.

social media analytics

Predicting Customer Behavior

In this article, we will take at how retailing giant Target used predictive analytics to determine if a customer was pregnant and how your company can follow the same principles to identify, predict, and influence customer behavior.

An irate father enters a Target story demanding that they stop sending his daughter promotional information about pregnancy products.

“She’s just a teenager,” he exclaims. “What kind of business are you running? Please stop this nonsense of sending adult material to my young girl!”Read More

Richard CummingsPredictive Analysis & Your Business: A “Targeted” Lesson
How do you feel about the end of Google Authorship?

Does the End of Google Authorship Leave You…Frustrated?

How do you feel about the end of Google Authorship?

How do you feel about the end of Google Authorship?

Google Authorship promised to be a means for authors to establish credibility, authenticity, and build greater audiences for their online content. Given this promise, legitimate authors (and some presumably illegitimate ones) flocked to establish their Google+ identities and apply Google Authorship markup to all of their web content. And then, Google pulled the rug out from the under the whole thing and declared Google Authorship dead.Read More

Richard CummingsDoes the End of Google Authorship Leave You…Frustrated?
press-release-seo

Press Releases and SEO: Still Brothers in Arms?

press-release-seoBefore the many Google algorithmic changes, press releases were a great tool in your SEO arsenal to publicize your web content.  Now, with duplicate content and unearned inbound links incurring high penalties, it’s time to reevaluate this once-proven strategy and ask:  Are press releases and SEO still brothers in arms?Read More

Richard CummingsPress Releases and SEO: Still Brothers in Arms?
secure-https-website-facts-myths-seo

A Secure (HTTPS) Website in 2018: 10 Facts & Myths (and lots of great resources)

In this article, I have placed all the HTTPS/SSL tidbits into a pot and distilled them into these “10 Facts & Myths” about creating secure websites.

What inspired me to do this?

Recent conversations with both peers and client have taught me two things about creating secure (HTTPS) websites:

  1. Many companies still haven’t moved their websites to HTTPS (Learn how to do an HTTPS/SSL WordPress upgrade quickly).
  2. There are a great many misconceptions about the benefits and drawbacks of moving to a secure website.

Also, for more information about these HTTPS fact and myths, be sure to see the resources section below where I present the best articles that I have found on the process and ramifications of creating a secure website.

#1 – Fact: Google sees a secure website as a different website.

A client called me last month and said: “I got our SSL certificate from Hostgator and decided to switch our site over to HTTPS tomorrow.”

“Wait,” I said. “Have you made plans to redirect your pages, images, and all else so that Google knows about this?”

“Oh,” responded the client, “I didn’t know that I needed to do anything like that.”

Many people are unaware of the ramifications of switching their environment to HTTPS — Google see it as an entirely different site. This is ok…if you do it right. See Myth # 6 below.

#2 – Fact: Makes your website appear more professional and trustworthy.

When you visit a secure website, you will see an icon in your browser bar indicating that a website is secure (often with the company name) and when it is not secure, as you see in the photo below. Many visitors feel that this increases the professional look of a site and they certainly feel that their information is more secure. If you’re considering the move to a secure website, both of these facts may be a consideration.

secure unsecure https website messages

#3 – Fact: A Secure HTTPS website encrypts all traffic.

Most people do not know this but with some basic networking tools you can “sniff” out the information being passed between a non-HTTPS website and a client. Here’s a simple video that explains how to do it:

As you see suggested in the video, HTTPS encrypts all traffic to prevent this sniffing.

#4 – Fact: An HTTPS enabled website allows you to see Bing keyword data.

Bing has officially enabled HTTPS for all logged in users. Thus, if you have an HTTPS website, you will be able to see the Bing keyword data of these logged in users. The problem is…not too many people use Bing as a logged in user so this reason alone does not really make a compelling case for switching to a secure environment.

#5 – Myth: A secure website allows you to see Google keyword data.

google provides not keyword data with HTTPSUnlike with Bing, the ability to see Google keyword data would make a valuable case for switching to HTTPS. When Google switched all searches to HTTPS, many in the SEO community were over the moon thinking that they could now see keyword data from the big “G” if they switched their sites to HTTPS. Sadly, this is not the case. Google does not allow you to see keyword data even if you have an HTTPS site. Why not? Well, Google does a re-direct which eliminates keyword data before they take you to the destination site.

#6 – Myth: Setting up a secure website is a snap.

As explained in fact #1 above, many people mistakenly feel that moving their website to HTTPS is a snap. This is not the case. Moving your website to HTTPS takes time and planning. In the article listed below entitled “Moving your website to https / SSL: tips & tricks”, Joost de Valk lists many things you need to be aware of including: “All of your internal links should start to use https, not just to pages, but for images, JavaScript, CSS, etc. This means going through your theme with a fine comb and cleaning all of those up.”

#7 – Myth: It will destroy all of the SEO work that you have done.

While it is true that your HTTPS website will be seen as a different website by Google, your long-term rankings will be maintained if you do everything right.

Interestingly, articles on making the switch to HTTPS that are dated (say before 2012) list many potential problems and heavily advise against switching to HTTPS. However, articles that have been written more recently do not come with as much caution suggesting that Google is now dealing with these HTTPS conversions more efficiently.

#8 – Fact: You may lose rankings for a short time during the conversion.

Because converting to HTTPS is like moving to a whole new website name in the eyes of Google, you may see a temporary drop in your search rankings while the “Google Dance” is being performed. However, provided that you did your conversion to HTTPS correctly with canonical URLs and/or redirects, your rankings should rebound quickly.

#9 – Myth: Converting to HTTPS will slow down your website.

secure-website-https-slowThis is one of the primary concerns of most web administrators. It is known that HTTPS requires slightly more overhead than HTTP because it has to encrypt all of the information before sending it along. So then, why isn’t this a fact rather than a myth? Because, when setup correctly, some people have actually realized faster speeds with HTTPS. In his article “Moving your website to https / SSL: tips & tricks” (see below), Joost de Valk, after implementing a Google protocol called SPDY, writes: ” It makes your website faster and funnily enough that means that your fully SSLed site could actually be faster for those people who visit your site with modern browsers than your plain http site.”

#10 – Fact: In the future, HTTPS will allow you to rank better.

https SEO futureThis may be a contentious fact but I’m keeping it in the fact column nonetheless. Sometimes, you have to go with intuition…and what Matt Cutts says. In reading an abundance of articles on this topic, one thing is clear: The user experience is better with HTTPS. Users feel more secure and, in fact, are more secure in the way that their data is being transmitted. We all know that Google favors a better user experience. Then, on top of that, we learn that “Matt Cutts said at SMX West that he would personally love to make it (an HTTPS website) part of the ranking algorithm.” We all know that when Matt Cutts says something, we see it factored into the future algorithm. When will it happen? That is anybody’s guess but I would say that within one to two years that an HTTPS website will give you a boost in the SERPs.

Creating a Secure Website: Summary

Well, that’s it for the “10 Facts & Myths” about securing your website. Be sure to view the great articles that I have listed below on this topic. And, as always, you are invited to add your two cents in the comments section below.

Secure (HTTPS) Websites: Great Articles and Resources From Around the Web

Should we move to an all HTTPS web? Great article by Joost de Valk about HTTPS, keyword data, and the future of HTTPS. You will also enjoy Moving your website to https / SSL: tips & tricks which is essentially a post-mortem on the Yoast conversion to HTTPs and offers many valuable tricks that you may not have otherwise considered.

We Analyzed the HTTPS Settings of 10,000 Domains and How It Affects Their SEO – Here’s What We Learned: Christoph Engelhardt writes an informative data-driven post about the current state of HTTPS implementation and found that over 90% of domains had a sub-optimal HTTPS implementation.

SSL Web Sites Don’t Get Ranking Boost In Google : Barry Schwartz at SEO Roundtable shares his thoughts on switching to HTTPS and provides key considerations before converting to a secure site. He offers further commentary in an article entitled Google: Want To Switch To HTTPS? Go Ahead!

SEO Aspects of Moving from http to https: In this article circa 2012, you will notice that the author points out the negatives of converting to a secure website and suggests you may want to consider long and hard before doing so.

Changing complete website from http to https: This is a Google forum which provides a case study in which a user saw his SERP rankings disappear (but then reappear a day later) after converting to HTTPS.

Impact of migrating whole site from HTTP to HTTPS: In this case study, an “SEO expert” informs a client that he must start from scratch after the HTTPS migration. Thankfully, someone informs the poster of the correct steps to take so that their transition can go smoothly.

Understanding Always On SSL and SEO: Jimmy Edge at Symantec talks about the many benefits to visitors by having a full SSL-enabled website.

Stackoverflow.com: the road to SSL: Nick Craver of Stack Overflow often gets asked by users why they do not yet have an SSL connection. He points out that it is simply not a matter of flipping a switch. Moving to a fully secure website takes time, planning, and effort.

If you have any other great resources that you would like us to reference below, send them along.

Richard CummingsA Secure (HTTPS) Website in 2018: 10 Facts & Myths (and lots of great resources)
Social Media First Impressions

Social Media “Impressions”: What Impression is Your Business Creating?

Social Media First ImpressionsHave you ever considered doing business with a company only to look at their social media profiles and deciding to go with another company?

I certainly have and perhaps you too.

Many executives don’t understand the value of social media marketing.  They want hard data to determine the exact ROI that social media can provide their company.  But, in this scenario, where is the hard data?  A person considered doing business with your company until they socially investigated you.  And guess what?  Your company left the wrong impression.Read More

Richard CummingsSocial Media “Impressions”: What Impression is Your Business Creating?
on-page-seo-analysis

On-Page SEO Analysis In 2018: How to Get the #1 Spot in Google with Great On-Page SEO!

On Page SEO Analysis in 2018With some quick on-page SEO analysis, you can get to the top of Google using these 7 techniques.

Don’t believe me?

Well, take a look at the picture on the top right of this post. That’s where my page about online buying behavior in 2018 ranks for its key term “Who Buys Online”.

Following the on-page SEO checklist below, you too can achieve similar rankings for terms that are not too competitive.

Why? The answer is simple. The majority of web pages still do not have well-crafted or even basic on-page SEO to rank well within the search engines.

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Richard CummingsOn-Page SEO Analysis In 2018: How to Get the #1 Spot in Google with Great On-Page SEO!
Google Plus Promoted Ad Posts

Google+ Promoted Posts: Do They Exist Yet?

Question: Does Google+ offer a way to promote posts? I have had success in this arena with Facebook and LinkedIn and I would like to do the same for Google+. Possible? -Cecelia, Portland, OrRead More

Richard CummingsGoogle+ Promoted Posts: Do They Exist Yet?
social-media-auotmation-sucks

Social Media Automation: Join Our #Social Media Automation Sucks Campaign!

If you believe that social media is for human interaction and that social media automation should be banned, join our Twitter campaign below.

Social media communication should be real — no “bots” about it!

The SEO SystemSocial Media Automation: Join Our #Social Media Automation Sucks Campaign!
remove bad backlinks

How to Spot Bad Links and Weed Them Out of Your Website

remove bad backlinks

Remove Bad Links From Your Site

Now that Hummingbird is on the scene, search on Google has officially changed. And because of its emphasis on high quality links, it’s imperative that you find and remove shady, spam-like links from your site.

Not all links are dangerous, of course, but bad ones could be detrimental to how well you rank in a search. Google Webmaster Tools differentiates between links that are natural (inbound ones that have developed organically) and links that aren’t natural. In most cases, these are the links that came from older link development campaigns. 

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Guest AuthorHow to Spot Bad Links and Weed Them Out of Your Website