3 Things You Need To Know About Penguin 3.0

Consultsweb Logo

Penguin is an algorithm from Google that judges the quality of links that you have pointing to your site. Inbound links, sometimes called “backlinks,” to your website are one of the factors that Google’s algorithms use to rank websites in its search results. Google uses the Penguin algorithm (or filter) to punish link profiles that it sees as low-quality (coming from untrustworthy sites) or unnatural.  This is a response to linking practices used in the early days of search marketing, and still employed by some vendors, to show clients’ quick success.

3 Things You Need to Know about Penguin 3.0

In the early days of the Web and SEO, the sheer volume of links (and linking domains) to a website helped its rankings in Google Search results.  Many early SEO companies prospered by buying and selling links, creating directories and setting up other sites for the sheer purpose of creating content and supplying links. This was an exploit used for years by almost every search marketing vendor to gain rankings for their clients.  Since April of 2012, Google has used Penguin to dissuade webmasters from this practice for fear of losing all rankings for their websites.

As Google crawls the Web and finds a link to your site, it places them in a particular database of known links.  If you are bored, you can read through the original paper by Sergei Brin and Larry Page.  Penguin is a separate algorithm that is run periodically to parse through this database of links pointing to your site to check against known spam sites and known manipulative techniques.

In an explanation of Penguin 3.0 for Forbes magazine, Jayson DeMyers says Penguin “rewards sites that have natural, valuable, authoritative, relevant links.” It penalizes sites that have built manipulative links solely for the purpose of increasing rankings, or links that do not appear natural.

Penguin was introduced in April 2012 and updated twice that year with versions 1.1 and 1.2. Penguin 2.0 came out in May 2013 and an October update (2.1) had a fairly wide affect, causing Google ranking changes in about 1 percent of sites.

Penguin 3.0 was released in mid-October in what Google said could be a slow rollout. For some websites, Google said, it could be a few weeks until Penguin 3.0 had an effect, which would be about the time of publishing this article.

Here are the top 3 takeaways from the first days of Penguin 3.0:

1.  Penguin 3.0 may have little impact on quality websites.

Upon its introduction of Penguin 3.0, Google said: “(W)e started rolling out a Penguin refresh affecting fewer than 1 percent of queries in U.S. English search results. This refresh helps sites that have already cleaned up the Web spam signals discovered in the previous Penguin iteration, and demotes sites with newly discovered spam.”

This indicates that Penguin 3.0 will adjust rankings for sites that were adversely affected by earlier versions of the Penguin algorithm, but have since cleaned up offensive links.

But, if your site is still plagued by low-quality links, Penguin 3.0 will have an effect on you, and the impact – “demotes sites with newly discovered spam” – should be in line with earlier iterations of Penguin.  The word to note here (bolded) is that Google’s Pierre Far, called this a refresh, intimating that no new signals were added to this release.

2. Penguin 3.0 means you need to evaluate your links.

To avoid a penalty via Penguin 3.0 or to recover from it if Google has already penalized your site, you need to make sure you are not adding bad links that will hurt your site. You also need to rid your site of bad links pointing to it.

To avoid Penguin penalties, you want to review the type of links pointing to your site.  This can easily be done in Web Master Tools by using their tool to download a list of Sample and Latest links to your site.  Some of the items to look for are:

  • Links from foreign domains (ie. walre.co.pl)
  • Links sites that contain many hyphens (ie. best-personal-injury-lawyers-us.com)
  • Sites that are obviously off-topic (ie. a site about fishing would not normally link to an attorney’s site)
  • Large quantities of links from a particular domain.
  • Large percentages of commercial anchor text in the links pointing to your site.  (If you see anchor text that you would love to rank for in Google, then it is commercial.  Commercial should not make up more than about 10% of your anchor text.)

Removing bad links can be tedious and tricky. First you have to identify them and then you have to figure out how to get them taken down. You can simply contact the site that hosts them (if you can find a contact) and ask for it to be removed. Google also provides a “disavow tool,” by which you can ask Google not to take into account certain links when assessing your site.

But Google’s disavow tool come with two warnings: 1) “You should still make every effort to clean up unnatural links pointing to your site. Simply disavowing them isn’t enough.” And deeper on Google’s Webmaster tools site, 2) “This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results.”

3. If you’ve invested in a search marketing campaign, you need to know how your provider is obtaining links to your site.

Building links to your site cannot just be something you expect your marketing provider to do. How it is done can ultimately affect your business, and could adversely impact your overall revenue if your website is penalized by the latest Penguin update or by future Penguin updates.

The biggest takeaway from all Penguin updates is that you need to know how your vendor, your provider, is getting links for you. If they are not working directly with you, then it is likely a scaled process, meaning that their tactics are low quality and potentially harmful.

Instead, your vendor should be working to obtain links from sites that represent highly regarded authorities in your field. In addition to direct outreach to request backlinks, which may have limited cost effectiveness, firms may build links by community outreach, such as sponsoring organizations or public events in the community, which would publicize the firm. Or establishing a scholarship for local students and promoting it to area schools and school systems, which would link to scholarship information on your site. If a member of a law firm teaches at a local college or sits on a corporate or non-profit organization’s board, those organization’s sites may link back to that individual’s profile on your site.

Obtaining high quality backlinks is not always the easiest road, but it is the road well worth traveling, especially in the post-Penguin era.

Are You Ready for the Coming Explosion of Cybersquatting?

Dickinson Wright Logo

 

The next wave of domain-name barbarians is gathering outside the gates. Here’s what you need to do now to keep your trademarks, and your e-commerce, safe.

Almost every business has had to deal with cybersquatters – pirates that launch web sites designed to divert customers by using domain names that mimic the business’s trademarks.

Until now, the war has focused primarily on domain names within the “.com” sphere. But the battlefront is about to expand – dramatically.

The international body that runs the Internet (called ICANN) has recently begun releasing new generic top-level domains (“gTLDs”). In addition to the familiar “.com,” this program makes it possible to set up a business name, a trademark, a geographic designation – virtually any word in any language – as a gTLD in its own right. Almost 2,000 applications for gTLDs were filed, and more than 1,000 will ultimately be granted. Because many of the new gTLDs will sell domain names to all comers without any attention to whether they are violative of someone else’s trademark rights, they will create a giant new arena in which domain name pirates can operate.

So what should you do now to protect your brands and your domain names?

1. Lock up the family jewels.

ICANN has mandated the creation of a Trade Mark Clearing House, in which owners can list their registered trademarks. It has also required that all newly-released gTLDs offer a 30-day “Sunrise” period in which owners of marks listed in the TMCH get first crack at registering them as domain names. In addition, during the Sunrise period and for sixty days thereafter, other parties that apply for those marks will be advised of the TMCH listing and, if they pursue their application, the owners of the TMCH-listed marks will be notified, giving them an opportunity to invoke various dispute-resolution procedures.

The Trademark Clearance House is now in operation, and it makes sense for brand owners to list at least their “core” trademarks there. These are the marks in which you have invested the most time, energy, and money; the ones most closely associated with your business; the ones you have already had to protect most often in the .com realm.

2. Plan now to make preemptive registrations in gTLDs of particular interest.

An important limitation of the Trade Mark Clearing House is that it protects only against domain names that are identical to your registered trademarks, not to common misspellings, typos, and so on. This leads to a second important step: being prepared to file preemptive domain name registrations for common variations of your brand.

Now is the time to identify specific gTLDs in which you will be especially interested in and to watch for their release dates. For instance, if you’re in the auto industry you will likely want to be active in such gTLDs as “.auto,” “.car,” and the like. As soon as the Sunrise period for one of your identified gTLDs opens, be ready to file immediately. This is an instance where the best defense is a vigorous offense.

Many brand owners were caught unawares years ago when the Internet burst upon the scene, and control of brand-related domain names became crucial. There’s no way to stop the next wave of cyberpiracy. But there’s also no reason not to be prepared for it.

Article by:

John C. Blattner

Of:

Dickinson Wright PLLC

How Lawyers Can Leverage LinkedIn to Build Their Practice, Part 1 of 2

The Rainmaker Institute mini logo (1)

I think we can all agree that building long-term, meaningful and influential relationships is foundational to a successful legal practice. People don’t hire law firms; they hire an attorney. The more people you connect with, the more opportunities you have to build meaningful relationships, and the more potential clients you can generate.

With over 225 million members in over 200 countries, LinkedIn has quickly become THE ‘go to’ business-to-business directory and the most popular social networking platform dedicated to professional business development.

Here are some of the top tips from attorneys who have used LinkedIn to their advantage and know they have gained new clients from its smart use:

1. Complete Your Profile! You must commit to do this. You can’t ever hope to get the benefits without this. Put in as much information about yourself as you can. Use the same keywords and phrases prospects would use to search for an attorney in your practice area on Google.

Sometimes just where you went to college or law school can drive business or referrals to your firm. I know plenty of attorneys who have generated referrals because they went to the same school as someone else on LinkedIn, or grew up in the same hometown. Creating a shared reality with a prospect can be a powerful step toward acquiring their business. Also, certain applications with LinkedIn require that your profile be at least 50 – 75% complete in order to benefit from them.

2. Upload A Photo. Don’t be shy here. Don’t think about whether it’s right or wrong, just do it. A profile with no picture is a bad thing. LinkedIn is a social network for business professionals so your photo should convey that. Stay away from the photo of you on the golf course or holding a glass of wine. If you don’t have a professional headshot, they are available from any photography business for a nominal fee.

3. Use The Headline Below Your Profile To Make People Want to Know More.

linkedin profile

When you set up your profile, LinkedIn uses your name, title or position as your headline, but you can edit this to make it more powerful. Try to think of your headline as your professional tagline. You have the opportunity to describe the type of attorney you are and the type of work you are currently doing. Do not make the mistake of listing more than two areas of law here, as you want to appear as a specialist. Specialists generate more referrals than generalists. Remember the phrase, “jack of all trades, master of none!”

4. Use The “Sharebox” Often. If you want to see the social power of LinkedIn, this is where you will find it. This area of LinkedIn allows you to add a brief update of what you are doing, any new professional certifications you have received, interesting cases or any other information you feel comfortable sharing. This is not a ‘chat’ site; it is for information that is professionally relevant.

In tomorrow’s post, I will share 5 more tips for leveraging LinkedIn to build your client and referral base.

Article by:

Stephen Fairley

Of:

The Rainmaker Institute

5 Ways to Boost Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Right Now

The Rainmaker Institute mini logo (1)

On October 21, I posted an interview that originally appeared on LawMarketing.com about the latest Google Penguin update andwhat it may or may not have done to affect legal websites.

John Jantsch over at the Duct Tape Marketing blog had a good post last week about the 5 ways you can boost your SEO right away, taking into consideration the latest Google search engine update:

1. Boost your social share. Google is giving a lot more juice to social share signals, so add the Google +1 and Facebook Like or Share buttons at the top of each page of your website or blog.

2. Use larger embedded images. This can help your blog posts you put on Facebook get shared more, and sharing is the name of the game right now. Facebook recently redesigned their posts to make images a lot more prominent; the new standard for images is 600 x 1200 pixels.

3. Zero in on long tail keywords. In a competitive category like law, going after the long tail keywords that people use to search for your services will help your SEO. Jantsch recommends using Long Tail Pro, a keyword research tool that is easy to use and inexpensive.

4. Use micro data with rich snippets. If you use WordPress for your blog or website, be sure to add the micro data plugin. Micro data is HTML code used by search engines to identify categories of text and Google uses it to understand website pages better. You can learn more about this on Google’s Webmaster blog.

5. Build relationships with authorities for your category. Just like it is important to build a good referral network offline, it has become increasingly important for you to do it online – it’s just known as building authority relationships. Find authors in your practice area that rank high in search and find ways to connect with them to foster a value-added relationship.

Article By:

of

Need Ideas for Your Legal Blog? Here's a Bunch

The Rainmaker Institute mini logo (1)

If there is one thing I hear over and over again from attorneys when it comes to blogging, it’s this:   “What do I blog about?”

The reason to have a blog is to establish your authority as an expert in your field of practice. You must keep your target market in mind at all times when writing a blog – it needs to be about topics your clients and prospects are interested in, providing good in-depth information on each topic (now more important than ever for SEO) that they can’t find anywhere else.

Still, the creative juices do run dry at times. Which is why it’s so great that the LexisNexis Law Marketing blog has started highlighting monthly events, anniversaries, holidays and observances that have a legal connection.

Here is their list for October/November, categorized by practice area:

Civil Rights Law:

  • October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month
  • October is Gay and Lesbian History Month
  • Oct. 14: Native American Day
  • Oct. 17: United Nations’ International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
  • Oct. 20-26: Freedom from Bullies Week
  • Oct. 21-27: Freedom of Speech Week
  • November is National American Indian Heritage Month

Corporate Law:

  • October is National Crime Prevention Month
  • October is National Cyber Security Month
  • October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month
  • Oct. 16: National Boss’s Day
  • Oct. 16: Support Your Local Chamber of Commerce Day
  • Nov. 3-9: International Fraud Awareness Week

Education Law:

  • October is National Bullying Prevention Month
  • Oct. 20-26: Freedom from Bullies Week
  • Oct. 21-25: National School Bus Safety Week

Elder Law:

  • October is Health Literacy Month
  • October is Long-Term Care Planning Month
  • October is National Organize Your Medical Information Month
  • Oct. 15: Medicare open enrollment begins
  • Oct. 20-26: National Save for Retirement Week
  • November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month
  • November is National Family Caregivers Month
  • November is National Home Care and Hospice Month
  • November is National Long-Term Care Awareness Month
  • Nov. 1-7: National Patient Accessibility Week

Environmental Law:

  • Oct. 18: Forty-first anniversary of the passing of the Water Pollution Control Act

Estate Planning:

  • October is Long-Term Care Planning Month
  • Oct. 20-26: National Save for Retirement Week
  • November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

Family Law:

  • October is Antidepressant Death Awareness Month
  • October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
  • October is Gay and Lesbian History Month
  • October is National Bullying Prevention Month
  • October is National Organize Your Medical Information Month
  • Oct. 17: Get Smart About Credit Day
  • November is Military Family Appreciation Month
  • November is National Adoption Month
  • November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month
  • November is National Family Caregivers Month
  • Nov. 1: National Family Literacy Day

Health Care Law:

  • October is Antidepressant Death Awareness Month
  • October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • October is Health Literacy Month
  • October is Long-Term Care Planning Month
  • October is National Organize Your Medical Information Month
  • Oct. 15: Medicare open enrollment begins
  • Oct. 17-24: Food and Drug Interaction Education and Awareness Week
  • Oct. 24-31: Prescription Errors Education and Awareness Week
  • November is National Home Care and Hospice Month
  • November is National Long-Term Care Awareness Month
  • Nov. 1-7: National Patient Accessibility Week

Insurance Law:

  • October is National Crime Prevention Month

Intellectual Property Law:

  • Oct. 29: 44th anniversary of the creation of the Internet

Labor Law:

  • October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month
  • Oct. 16: National Boss’s Day

Personal Injury Law:

  • October is Antidepressant Death Awareness Month
  • Oct. 21-25: National School Bus Safety Week
  • Oct. 24-31: Prescription Errors Education and Awareness Week

Real Estate Law:

  • October is National Crime Prevention Month

Who’s Afraid of Website Data Migration?

Great Jakes-logo

Does the phrase “data migration” send chills up your spine? Would the fear of moving content from your old website to a new one hold you back from pulling the trigger on a website project?

If you nodded “yes” to either of those questions, you’re not alone.

The topic of data migration can be scary for marketers. Simply put, trained communicators are not database jockeys, and the prospect of ones and zeros flying back and forth can cause discomfort. But comfort level aside, should the fear of data migration warrant the keeping of a crummy website?

What can go wrong?

Everything, right?! There’s a chance that data could get lost, or content could end up in the wrong places, causing countless hours of aggravation for the marketing department…

Or not.

Professionals who do this all the time are well practiced in the art of handling the various challenges associated with data migration. But how can marketers be assured that their migration won’t go awry

How to do data migration

Data migration is not rocket science – or magic. At its simplest, it can be summed up as matching database fields from the old website, with the new. The actual act of migrating data (also called “data mapping”) can vary in its level of difficulty, depending on the condition, structure and size of the firm’s current website database. But irrespective of how old your website is or how it was built, the basic steps involved are the same.

Here’s a simplified version of the process that we use at Great Jakes:

  1. Analysis: The first step involves requesting a “data dump” of all the text content of the website and of the headers for each data table. We analyze the data to determine how much of the migration can be automated.

    We also investigate whether it would be more practical and/or cost efficient to not automate the migration and instead configure a “data-entry” website to have the data manually moved from the old website into the new. It’s not as hard as it sounds, and it’s not unusual that we end up recommending a combination of automated data-migration and “data-entry” website methods. It all depends on how the old website’s data are formatted.

  2. Transfer setup: The next step involves planning the “field-mapping” – writing the appropriate scripts necessary to move the data into the proper fields of the new website.
  3. Migration: A month prior to delivering a finished website, we migrate the data from the old website to the new, using data from a second data dump that contains all of the most current content (text, photos, PDFs, videos, presentations, audio files, etc.).
  4. Testing: Finally, we rigorously review the data migration results to ensure that everything moved as planned.

Better the devil you know – right?

While the steps outlined are straightforward, data migration is a time-consuming but doable process. Consequently, larger websites with more data will require more time to analyze, set up, migrate and then test.

So, the best way to ensure that everything goes smoothly is to take a peek under the hood. Have a pro examine your existing website. They might find some issues, like embedded tables or miscellaneous image files tucked in strange places. You’ll probably need to make some decisions about how to migrate these items. But most likely, they’ll probably find that the hurdles to moving the content are a lot lower than you might think.

Don’t let those two little words “data migration” keep you from advancing your firm’s business goals! There’s too much to be gained from having a properly conceived website.

Article By:

 of

10 Free Keyword Research Tools + How to Use Them [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Rainmaker Institute mini logo (1)

An old friend – Google’s free Adwords Keyword tool – has gone off the grid for good, leaving in its place the new Keyword Planner. The Planner is a little more detailed, but still fairly easy to use and still free.

A recent post at the GroTraffic.com blog had a list of 10 free keyword research tools you will find useful, as well as a good infographic that provides step-by-step instructions on how to conduct keyword research:

Mergewords – especially useful for creating long tail keyword phrases which are critical to your SEO efforts.

Wordstream – will give you up to 30 free keyword results; after that, you have to subscribe.

SEMRush – the first 10 results are free; a subscription is required for more. Data analysis and keyword performance info is also offered on the site.

SEOBook – this site has a free keyword tool that requires free registration to access.

Keyword Eye – if you are more visually oriented, this site is for you.

KGen – if you use Firefox as your browser, this tool is available as an add-on and will rank keywords on any given website.

Bing Keyword Research Tool – part of the Bing Webmaster Tools.

Keyword Spy – lets you evaluate competitive websites for keywords they use.

Thesaurus.com – this website gives you synonyms for your keywords.

Ubersuggest – suggestion tool for more keyword ideas.

Article By:

 of