White Hat SEO Techniques, There are None

white hate seo techniquesAnother SEO article in response to a question I got asked recently.  This question was about SEO and more specifically what White Hat SEO techniques I use.

Friend: “Adam, what are your White Hat SEO Techniques? What tools do you use?

Me: “There are None!”

You might think this is a strange response but that is the reality for SEO companies.  I do mean that, there are virtually zero White Hat SEO techniques marketing and search engine optimization companies use to rank sites and build links.

Yes, White Hat SEO techniques do exist and people do use them.   However, most of them are ridiculously time consuming.  This includes guest blogging, submitting to article directories, social bookmarking, web directory submissions, straight up link requests, social media, etc.  You could do all this yourself and do it all manually, meaning you don't have a computer program or bot do it.  That's just not the way a lot of companies operate though and most will automate a lot of these tasks.

Big SEO agencies and firms that have a plethora of SEO tools and staff will still use programs to speed these tasks up.  The reality is it's a pain-in-the-ass and they can spend money on SEO tools and software to do it quicker.  The real question is why wouldn't you do the same thing?  Even if you feel it's Gre yHat SEO or Black Hat SEO, it's what people do.  Nobody is playing fair and it's not like it is a secret.  I'll give you an example.

Lately I've been working on a local SEO campaign for a client.  When I did a link analysis on the competitor ranking in the number 1 spot in Google I saw the company had a bunch of paid links in directory sites with the anchor text for the keyword phrase.  Technically it is against Google's guidelines to accept money for a link or pay for links, but why would the SEO agency or the company ranking 1st care?  They ranked the site 1st and did their job and the company is gaining business because of the favorable search ranking.  Even it is a Greyhat SEO or even Blackhat SEO technique it's not like Google has caught them.  I honestly doubt they ever will.  It's been at the number 1 spot for quite awhile and lots of people buy links.  It's been going on since the beginning of SEO practically and even the people in the 2nd and 3rd spot paid for links.  So, what am I going to do?  Recommend to this client we buy links from these directories and other sites to rank quicker, but I will explain Google's guidelines to him.

Get this through your head, just because Google says they don't like something or certain Blackhat SEO technique will not work, that actually is not always the case. Google tells you how they wished everyone acted and they wish the Google search engine worked.  The way Google's algorithm actually works can vary a lot from what they say and can be quite frustrating for those new to the world of SEO.  Follow all of Google's BS advice and you will not get anywhere.  Most professional SEOs are going to tell you the same thing.

I will be honest a lot of the tools and techniques I use are not considered “Whitehat SEO.”  I can't pull data in any other way without using some Google trickery.  If you read my article on “6 Questions to ask a Search Engine Optimizer Before you Hire Them” you will understand why.

The big issue with Google is that they are out there in California holding hands telling themselves how awesome they are since they build self-driving cars and Google Glass.  The believe everyone is in this internet thing together in a hippie commune and people will help each other out with links when necessary.  That is never the case and if Google search engineers, especially Matt Cutts, wanted a reality check they should step out of their Google bubble and get out in the ‘real world' of trying to build and rank a website.  They should also go read articles and posts that rank in Google instead of looking at fucking numbers all day, since nobody gives a shit about your algorithm.  They only care when it doesn't work.

You might think this is jaded, but I am only trying to convey what reality is.  If you want to compete I'd recommend you go out there and see what SEO Tools and Software you could buy to speed-up your link building.  There are White Hate SEO techniques just… nobody sticks to them.

The Creative Process in 6 Steps

Some people are always talking about “The Creative Process” and how they work on their projects and ventures.  Most believe and are under the assumption that they have the creative process they have is quite unique and nobody else works the same way they do.  Well, despite what you might believe about your work habits or have heard most entrepreneurs, business owners, executives, etc really all have the same creative process.  Here is the The Creative Process in 6 Steps.

the creative process

1. This is Going to be Awesome

This is the first thought you have when brainstorming an awesome new website, app, or slick new invention.  You haven't fully fleshed it out but all you can say and think to yourself is, “This is going to be Awesome!”

At this point in time you are too scared to tell many people about your idea in fear that someone will steal it.  (People really only steal ideas when they are successful though.)  You tell friends and family and they validate the idea saying, “That's a great idea!” and encourage you to follow through.

2. This is hard

At this point you probably started searching for a perfect domain name for whatever you have in mind.  Most likely are you wen through all the easy names first and realized that you are not going to be able to find a suitable domain to registered for $10 bucks easily.

This makes you resort to trying different domain generators trying to figure what to call you great new idea.  While searching for a domain you start to realize that your idea that you believe nobody else has come up with before might actually not be so original.

Also as you start making plans and surveying the market you realize launching a product, writing a book, starting a forum is going to be a lot harder than you have anticipated.  This is usually when you get extremely frustrated and say to yourself, “This is hard.” and you start questioning why you followed through with your idea.

3. This is turning to Shit

As you get further along with your project you realize that that things are not going as well as you planned.  Maybe you should have spent money on a domain in the aftermarket as the name you have doesn't fit you company and vision.  The team or person you choose to build your product or software doesn't have the same entrepreneurial quest as you, and therefore isn't doing it right.  Whatever it is the your idea is turning to shit and you are getting really upset since it's going as well as you hoped or expected.

4. I am Shit

There comes a point when you are not angry at other people, but you are very uspet at yourself.  Maybe your original idea and concept was as good as your first thought?  The people that you contracted and hired are doing are doing a job you deem “acceptable” but for some reasons it just doesn't seem to be working and you are not sure why.  A lot of self hate and loathing will manifest itself at this point in the the entrepreneur's creative process.

5. This might turn out Ok

There will come a turning point and you starting believing and knowing that things will be “Ok!”  Maybe your website is picking up traffic or you've starting to sell some of your product after you attended a trade show or blog conference.  The sun is finally starting to shine and you start feeling good about all the hard work you've put into your idea and project.

6. This is Awesome

When the finishing touches have been added you say, “This is Awesome.”  All those long days, hard nights, and effort has finally paid off.  You have the feeling your idea and projects are going to be fine and you've done a great job.  Entrepreneurial fame and awesomeness is just around the corner.

The Creative Process

If you think The Creative Process you go through is a lot different than this, I seriously doubt it.  I'd love to to hear opinions and thoughts though.  What is your creative process for projects and as an entrepreneur?  Is what I wrote here pretty accurate?

Schema Markup removes Google Authorship in SERPS

Recently I've been playing around with adding Schema Markup to enhance certain posts on this blog.  Something I've just noticed and found out is that Schema Markup removes Google Authorship in Google's Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

In this picture you can see a NameCheap Review I posted awhile ago if you do a search for “NameCheap Review” in Google's SERPS.  I wanted to see if implementing Schema markup would improve my Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rankings and give me higher Click-Through-Rates (CTR) to my sites.

schema markup removes google authorship

Indeed the Schema markup I put on the page was being picked up and read by Google but it was no longer showing my Google Authorship picture profile next to the post.  This means Google is cherry picking what Rich Snippet markup they feel is most relevant to show in a search query.  This kind of makes sense but I thought Google wanted to show as much Rich Snippets to a user before they click on a website.  They don't want to show the Schema markup (star ratings) along with the Google Authorship picture?

The fact that Schema Markup removes Google Authorship in the SERPs is just plain annoying and stupid in my opinion.  They make a big friggin deal about implementing Schema but for reviews if it is going to override your Google+ picture, why would put Schema data in a review post?

Since I hadn't ever seen anyone else use Schema data and Google Authorship in the Google's SERPS when doing searches before I guess I shouldn't be surprised it didn't work.  The thing is if it is the choice between Schema markup in a review and having Google display my Google+ Authorship profile, you'd go with the picture everytime.  It creates more trust and I almost guarantee it will give you better CTRs to your websites.

Here is a post in Google's SERPS about Google celebrating 10 Years of Google Adsense.  You can see my Google Authorship markup .

google adsense 10 years

If Google wants to improve search quality and help people find “High quality content” (still trying to figure what the fuck that means  to Google!) they should allow show both Schema data and Google Authorship in review posts.  I am tired of finding this shit out the hard way!

Let's hear from readers of my blog since I know I have some from my analytics.  Since Schema Markup removes Google Authorship would this encourage or discourage you from using it in posts on your blog and sites?  Does Google make you angry sometimes since they are not always clear about these things?

UPDATE: Some people have asked me how to fix Schema data and markup from showing up in Google SERPS for you websites content and posts.  It's simple, just remove all the Schema markup on pages and posts you don't want it showing up on in SERPs.  It might take Google a few days to over a week to update and show your Google+ authorship picture.

I removed Schema markup from this websites as it doesn't make sense to have it here.  If this was a review or ratings site it probably would be a good idea to have Schema data implemented on pages.

Free Keyword Rank Checker (Google Webmaster Tools)

Did you know that Google Webmaster Tools provides a Free Keyword Rank Checker? Most people don't and here is how to access the data if you are not familiar.  I am assuming you already have Google Analytics installed on your website along with Google Webmaster Tools.  If not, you will not be able to view this keyword ranking data.

  1. Log into Google Webmaster Tools
  2. On the left click “Search Traffic”
  3. Under “Search Traffic” in the dropdown menu then click “Search Queries”
  4. Scroll down and you will see Impressions, Clicks, CTR (Click Through Rate), and Average position.

The important metric you want to think about are your CTRs and your Average position.  CTR means the amount of people clicking through to your website compared to how many times someone has seen it come up in a Google SERPS (search engine ranking pages).  Impressions means how many times your articles and posts get viewed in the Google's SERPS.  (It doesn't track other search engines, not that you should really care though.)

free keyword rank checker What's great about this data is that it is obviously very useful but it is also free.  The reason I am mentioning the SEO (search engine optimization) keyword tracking in Google Webmaster Tools is that a lot of people are spending $30 bucks a month or more on sites and software that do this.  If you are an SEO firm or company that is handling a lots of client's websites then it is definitely useful, but pricey.  Tracking keywords in the SERPS (search engine results page) is how these companies make money, so it only makes sense to want to track client's sites carefully.

Using an external keyword rank checker and tracking tool in my opinion is not necessary for smaller sites and bloggers in my opinion. The reality is if you are not ranking for certain terms, you can work on it, but it will be hard to go up against people with better SEO knowledge and experience.

For most using the free rank checker data within Google Webmaster Tools is going to work just fine for tracking keywords.  If you agree, disagree, or want to recommend a SEO rank checker that you use please let me know.

6 Questions to Ask a Search Engine Optimizer BEFORE your Hire Them

Hiring a Search Engine Optimizer is no easy task.  For one thing there are a lot of people out there that claim they know how to do Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and build quality links, when in fact they don't.  Also there are Search Engine Optimizers that will give a great price that undercuts what everyone else told you.  However, what they don't tell you is they will use all BlackHat (meaning Google doesn't like it) link building techniques to rank your site.  You could very well rank for 1st for some keywords for a couple days or weeks, but most likely your site might get deindexed from Google or face penalties.  You could still be listed in other search engines… but who really cares about those?

search engine optimizerAs someone who's seen and heard of waaay to many people getting ripped off by SEO scammers out there, here are 6 Questions to Ask a Search Engine Optimizer BEFORE you make the decision to hire them.

1. What SEO Software and Tools Do you Use?

Search Engine Optimizers need quite a few SEO tools and software to pull data about competitors websites and to try to figure out how to rank your site for certain keywords and terms.  Typically they will have a subscription to some sort of rank tracking software or monitoring service, link analysis software, and have one or several VPS (Virtual Private Servers) for running some of these programs.  In addition they might have to hire workers via oDesk or another freelancing service for doing small tasks and jobs they don't want to do.  This could be writing articles, contacting blogs or websites where they might be able to post an article with your URL above the fold (this means not as a comment or forum signature link), link analysis, filling out forms, etc.

Any legit Search Engine Optimizer should be honest with you about what SEO tools, software, and subscriptions they are paying for and what tasks they sub-contract other people to do.  Many feel sharing with clients is giving away trade secrets, but that just isn't true.  If you bought SEO tools, guess what, other people bought use those SEO tools too.

Even though I would let clients of mine know what SEO software I use, they obviously don't have the expertise or knowledge to use the effectively.  Of course if later they want to learn, that's fine with me.  The client is paying me for my knowledge and there is always plenty of SEO business out there. 🙂

2. What link building Techniques & Strategies Do you Use? Blackhat or Grayhat?

This is an important question you really need to be on your toes about.  If it's clear they completely use BlackHat techniques, then run away very fast!  (This is hard to know if you don't have any idea about search engine optimization.)

I assume most people that read my website are looking for long term benefits from SEO.  You need someone who understands that and isn't going to give you a bunch of crappy low quality links, even if they drive traffic.

Consider how your potential search optimizer answers question 1# and what tools they told you they use.  Guess what, you should Google it.  Is it SEO software that is mainly used for BlackHat link building?  Then ask how they use the tools and what strategies they use to build links?

To be fair and honest and what you do need to keep in mind… no Search Engine Optimizer, and I mean NOBODY, completely does whitehat SEO.  Everyone works in “Grayhat SEO” when it comes to link building.

Larger sites and companies will buy links, which is technically against Google's guidelines, for certain keywords they want to rank for.  Smaller sites and blogs don't care since they need the money.  (I know since I've been there.)  It's not like Google isn't aware of it but I've never seen Google do much about it since a lot of these companies have large advertising deals with Google.  Also there is no way the bots are smart enough to figure this out on ever single website out there.

A lot of SEO software is not necessarily considered “whitehat” by Google.  For instance I use a program called ScrapeBox, which everyone uses.  You can't use ScrapeBox with one IP address or Google would ban it.  ScrapeBox sends to many automated queries at one time, so if you are going to use it you need to buy proxies.  ScrapeBox is not a bad tool in my opinion, but Google doesn't like how it pulls data.

Bottom line, a Search Engine Optimizers should be honest about SEO strategies and link building tactics they will use for your website before you give them any money.  Like I said I'd keep in mind Google expects everyone to play fair, but nobody does.

3. What Keywords can you Rank me for within my Budget?

Before you talk with a Search Engine Optimizer you should figure out how much you can spend monthly or for a one-time upfront cost.  You need to understand that harder the keywords you want to rank for, the more time and therefore money it will require.

If you are told by a company they can rank you for some crazy competitive keywords such as “make money online” they might be able to… but it will cost you a lot of money.  That's why nobody posts pricing on directly on their websites.  It doesn't make sense since they are billions of searches for different categories and regions.  Cost and difficulty range with regards to what keywords and terms you want to rank in Google for.

There should be a discussion of what is doable within your SEO budget.  I'm not saying you should not expect something for your money, but understand some companies spend $500-$2,000 a month with SEO firms while other are spending upwards of $10,000+ for a whole range of SEO, social media, and website development services.

4. Can you Guarantee 1# Ranking?

This a bit of a trick question since the answer, should be “No!”  If you work with a huge SEO company that's been in the game for awhile and you are paying them tons of money each month, then it might be possible if they have the staff and resources.  Still there is no way any Search Engine Optimizers or company can “100% Guarantee” #1 sport ranking in Google for extraordinarily competitive keywords.

Even these large SEO companies can't always figure out how to get a 1# SERP (search engine results pages) ranking.  People who claim otherwise are blowing smoke.

Google rankings are NOT determined by the search optimizers you hire.  They are determined by Google and their massive computing power and stupid algorithms which sometimes nobody can figure out.  There are over 200 different ranking factors Google uses and they don't tell the public what all of these are.

5. Do you hate Matt Cutts?

The answer to this question, should be “Yes!”  (In case you don't know who Matt Cutts heads the Webspam team at Google and works on Google's search algorithm.  He wrote the family filter engine for Google as well.)

I personally don't trust a lot of things Matt Cutts tells people in the Google Webmaster Help videos on Youtube.  He tells you what Google doesn't like, not what doesn't work.  These are 2 very different things and SEO pros know the difference and will exploit them.

Watching the Google Webmaster Help videos is good for many reasons though.  For instance I wouldn't have been aware Google changed their stance on .IO domains for global use.  Also he gives straight-up advice like Don't Buy a Spam Domain and that you should always Link to Your Sources.

Often times it is quite difficult to figure out what he means in these Youtube videos though.  The issue is he is trying to appeal to beginners watching these videos that don't know much about SEO and people in the SEO industry, which doesn't work.  This was clear when Penguin 2.0 hit and his answers about regarding “Does site downtime hurt Search Engine rankings?” should have been more clearcut.  (That's why there was a website created call The Short Cutts.)  Additionally Matt Cutts SEO talk at WordCamp 2009 doesn't tell the whole story about Google and SEO.  There are a lot more factors that go into ranking than diverse keywords in articles.

6. Do you hate Google?

The answer should always be “Yes!”  🙂

Other Questions to Ask a Search Engine Optimizer

Obviously I can't account for what your specific situation or website needs are.  There are too many factors or specialty areas.  So you need to feel out how the SEO company or Search Engine Optimizer you are going to hire seems.  Do they seem like an “SEO Diva?” or are they pretty chill.  Try to think of other questions and definitely get on Skype or Google+ to talk with them “face to face” if you can.  If they don't want to take a little time to answer your questions I'd find someone else.

Personally if I get hired by a small business to do SEO work I am always open about what I am doing and I keep them updated.  They are paying me to do work for them and it's my job to make it clear what I am doing and how I am doing it, so they feel they are getting value for their money.  I even try to provide clients with tools and resources other people wouldn't.  Transparency is not something you find often in the SEO world, but you should expect it from whoever you hire in my opinion.  (If you want to Hire Me, I'd be happy to talk with you by the way.)

Ranking in search engines is something you should want to do in the long term, not short term.  Be careful who you hire and just make sure you feel comfortable working with them and what they are going to do with your website.

Think I missed something?  Have anything to add regarding SEO or search optimizers?  Let me know below!

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!

Google Keyword Tool now the Google Keyword Planner

google keyword tool

If you like to use Google's well known Google Keyword Tool, then it is probably no surprise  to you that Google has planned to shutdown the Google Adword Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator for awhile now to replace it with the new Google Keyword Planner.  I noticed that just in the last week the Keyword Tool URL now redirects to the new and, what Google claims, improved Google Keyword Planner.

In a post on Inside Adwords, the official Google Adwords blog, on May 20th 2013 this is why Google says it has switched from the Google Keyword Tool to the Google Keyword Planner.

We’re constantly working to simplify the process of building campaigns, and today we’re happy to announce the launch of a new tool, Keyword Planner, which combines the functionality of the Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator into a smooth, integrated workflow. You can use Keyword Planner to find new keyword and ad group ideasget performance estimates for them to find the bid and budget that are right for you, and then add them to your campaigns. You’ll also see some new features in the tool – some of which we’ll highlight below.

To put this into terms people can understand this basically means Google built the Keyword Planner to try to make it easier and simpler for advertisers to figure out which search phrases they want to bid on.  Google obviously wants to give as much data and tools as possible since the more advertising on Google Adwords, the more money they will make.  The Keyword Planner includes several new features compared to the Google Keyword Tool.  This includes;

  • Multiply keywords in 2 different lists to generate new keywords you mightnot have thought of.
  • You can geotarget not juts countries, but specific cities and regions.
  • A graph showing the search volumes for selected keywords or phrases by month by month.  This allows you to see when certain terms have a higher volume of searches.

The Google Keyword Tool and Google Traffic Estimator are not exactly retired as they were merged into the Google Keyword Planner.  You can do everything you used to do but supposedly even better with the Keyword Planner.

Since I try to make the most of my articles (of course you can't always do that) SEO friendly and keyword optimized I used to use the Google Keyword Tool all the time.  Even external SEO programs, like Long Tail Pro, pulled most of their data from the Google Keyword Tool too. While I appreciate it when companies update their tools and services when they are free, I am having a bit of trouble getting used to the Keyword Planner.  Since the Keyword Tool has been around for so long I know my way around it easily.  The Google Keyword Planner is taking some getting used too.  I like  the new features but find some of the new layout and tools confusing.

If you are a SEO (search engine optimizer), SEM (search engine marketer), advertiser, or do a lot of keyword research what do you think of Google changing over from the Keyword Tool to the Keyword Planner?  Do you like the new tool or wish Google kept the Keyword Tool and just added the new features?