Tealmermaid Designs

web design, coding, and SEO tips and tricks

What is SEO?

what is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is about optimizing your website's pages for search engines such as Google and Bing. Visitors use the internet and search engines to find information, solve a problem or find an answer to a certain query search for keywords or phrases. A phrase such as "cheap diners in Nashville" may produce hundreds of thousands of results, but the majority of people looking for this info will only check the websites that are shown on the first page of search engine. If your website is offering "cheap diners in Nashville" and your site does not appear on the first page of Google or any other search engine, users are never going to find it. This is where SEO comes into play.

Modern search engines are designed to emulate the user experience. They are set to match users with that user's desired search results. This means your web site must be designed to match the results sought by searching users.

Keyword research

Keyword research is one of the keys to getting the traffic for that keyword. Once you have a topic about which to write, find the best keywords for that topic. Use those keywords organically in your content -- the title, the introduction, sprinkle a few in the body of the content. Make every keyword count, but don't overdo it.

How to find long-tail keywords

long tail keywords A long-tail keyword is a longer phrase that might be used by searchers to find information. By finding these keywords, your content can more closely target a particular group of searchers, thus increasing the chances that the URL of your content will appear in their search results.

Why do you want your content to appear higher in the search results? It is really quite simple: if your URL doesn't appear, you won't have any visitors! Without visitors, you receive no ad revenue, so it is to your advantage to have your URL placed as highly as possible in the search results for your chosen keyword.

Ideally, you want to find long-tail keywords that will allow your URL to appear on the first page of the search for that keyword. The further back in the results you are, the more likely it is that a searcher will find the information for which they are looking before they see your URL.

For example, there are millions of search results for a basic search of "recipe". The more specific you can be about your recipe, your search competition can be reduced to only those recipes which are for a specific set of keywords.

You don't want to select a keyword that has low competition because no one is searching for it, nor do you want to select a keyword with a high number of searches and competition to match. With a little practice, you can become proficient at selecting keywords which have a good ratio competition to searches. The goal after all is to have your URL on the first page of the search results, but if no one is searching for it, no one will see your content even if you are on the first page of the results!

It is always a good idea to check the keyword options provided by your favourite search engine even if you are absolutely, positively sure you want to target a particular phrase. When you check, you will frequently see a better phrase than you had originally intended to use when writing your content. A slight change of wording can make a big difference in the number of visitors your content will receive!

Choose a site format

When you start building with an eye toward SEO, it is important to consider your goal for the site. Are you selling products, or do you want to earn money for running advertising on your site? This may dictate what type of site or sites you will need to build.

Mega-site vs micro-niche site

mega-site vs micro-niche You can and should decide early on if you want one big site for all subjects ("everything about bread") or several smaller, more focused sites with each article focusing on a very particular set of keywords ("walnut banana bread", "sourdough bread", "orange zest cranberry bread"). Focused sites are in general better for focused ads -- ads targeting specific keywords. Sites about a particular collectible can buy or sell advertising related to that collectible. Sites about wine or golf can buy or sell advertising related to those subjects. If you have all your content on one site, the focus will be lost as it can be difficult to determine if your keyword is "golf" or "wine" or "purple dinosaurs" when all your content is jumbled together. Loss of focus is bad SEO.

Keyword focus is also helpful with organization and time-management since you can keep a to-do list of content ideas for each site. Once you have researched keywords, make a list of topics to cover for each site. If you want to write about golf one day, pull out the keyword list for that site and start writing. The next day, work on content for another site.

About backlinks

One other consideration is backlinks. If you have separate sites for each niche topic, you can create backlinks both from a central site and across individual sites. Organic links are good for SEO since you can include your keywords in links.

backlinks Tip: If you have several related sites, make a "project page" on your primary site. This makes it easy to group related sites together by subject. This also makes it easy to give the link to others or to display in a forum sig instead of linking a lot of separate sites.

Alternately, create a collective site which not only creates a curated list of links to all your sites on a particular niche (i.e. cooking, health, or widgets) but can also provide a backlink to those sites. For branding purposes, this collective should be created on a subdomain of your primary site (in the form http://collective.mydomain.com).

Advertising options

One option is to join an affiliate marketing network to advertise your products or run ads for affiliate marketers who are participating that particular network. There are quite a few networks around. I would recommend looking at sites with content similar to yours to see what advertising network they use.

Site design

Armed with your content ideas and keywords, it is time to build your site.

Building a web site

build for visitors One important part of web sites is aesthetics. Does the site design look good? Is it organized? Bullet points help with site organization. Do the colours look good together? Is there enough colour contrast? Watch text colours on various background colours, for example. Is there enough white space around the text and images? Don't forgot to add images including an interesting intro image to catch the attention of visitors.

This includes good images, which are important not only in the introduction but also within the body of the content. Start big and resize if necessary. Buy a stock photo if you must, but the best images are something you create yourself. Take a photo or draw something unique and eye-catching. Also, don't forget about the alt tags for images -- not only for accessibility, but also to display your chosen SEO keywords.

Intuitive navigation is a big plus with site designs. Arrange menus logically. Write a few longer articles which link and connect shorter articles. Have a larger menu in the footer if need be to keep as much content as possible 'above the fold'.

Have a good title and introduction

This is the first thing seen by a reader. If you don't get their attention, they will leave in search of a better source of information. "How to" is good for articles about doing or making something. "Why you need [item]" or "why I love my [item]" is a good choice on product reviews.

Proofread

proofread Once you start writing, remember to proofread your work. This is a simple thing that needs to be done for each site. Check grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Spell-check is great, but is this the word you wanted to use? Does the writing flow? Is it easy to read? Does it sound like "you"? Find your voice and use it effectively. Also check your site design in several web browsers to be certain it looks the way you want it to look.

Even if it is a bit of editing, try to write something every day however small. It helps with productivity, and it adds up if you do it every day.


Check all links

As you complete each article, make sure your code works the way you expect. Links opening into a new window should do so. Internal site links should go to the expected page.

Write good unique content

Write what you know. Users visit websites to read something that solves a problem, to locate some kind of information, or as an entertainment resource. Moreover, search engine crawlers use algorithms to determine if your site is a good match for a search. If you have enough content for users, they will visit again and again. However, when you post the same article to multiple sites, it confuses search engines. This is called "duplicate content" -- how do they know which content is yours, or which article to link?

What is duplicate content?

"Duplicate content" is any content within a particular article that is substantially similar to the content contained within another article. This can include sentence structure, words, and phrasing. It can also extend to duplicated images. While there are cases in which duplicate content is acceptable (printer-only pages, for example), what concerns most content writers is the deliberate duplication of articles on several sites. This can be done either by allowed syndication via feeds or by simply having one's article lifted in its entirety by a content thief.

Why is duplicate content bad?

There is no real value in having the same article posted in multiple places across the internet. If there are multiple copies of any article available, how can search engines such as Google decide which is the "best" copy? Current best practice in 2019 involves the use of a canonical URL in the meta tags of each page. This makes it easy to post one copy online with many valid backlinks to that one copy. In this way you can choose which copy of the article to show Bing, Google, or other search engine of your choice.

How to check for duplicate content

plagiarism It is easy to locate duplicate content if it exists for your article. Copy a snippet of your article, in quotes, to check if matching phrases can be found in Google search, on Bing, or via your favourite search engine.

Feed aggregator sites will typically copy the first few sentences only, which means this is less of an issue than having another site steal your entire article. Be sure to do a line-by-line check the entire article in the plagiarism checker of your choice to be verify that you are in the clear before you move your content. If there are no matching search results, you are probably safe.


How to remove duplicate content

Once you have located the URL of the duplicate content, file a DMCA take-down notice against that URL to claim the article as being under your copyright. This will require:

  1. Locating the host of URL in question via a WHOIS search.
  2. Sending your take-down notice, which can be done by email if it includes a digital signature. Also include any appropriate screencaps needed to prove that the article is both yours and that it existed prior to the creation of the URL in question.

Find a plagiarist?

dmca In my experience, you should not bother contacting the plagiarist directly. They will ignore the email in most cases and carry on with their business as usual. I have gotten an occasional response, but that is not the norm.

Instead, I recommend contacting their web host directly with a takedown notification. A reverse lookup should identify the host of any domain. The web host is legally required to “expeditiously remove or disable access to” the infringing content upon receipt of this notice. Non-compliance may result in a loss of immunity for liability under the DMCA, so most web hosts will take the notice seriously.

Sample letter for the plagiarist's host:

Subject: DMCA Copyright Takedown Notification

[Your name]
[Full address including country]
[Phone number including all exchange codes]

[Email address]

URL of infringing content:
[URL]

Infringing content:
"[Copy and paste infringing content here]"

A screencap is attached of the infringing content.

My content for comparison via Archive.Org to verify existence of the content prior to being reproduced on this site:
[URL]

How this is infringing content:
I am the owner of [domain] and my content has been posted to my web site with a copyright notice since [date]. This article is original to my site. No permission has been granted to reproduce the article.

I am the copyright holder of this content. I have not authorized reproduction of this article.

I hereby confirm that the information in this DMCA notification is accurate.

Under penalty of perjury I am the owner of this content.

[Your electronic signature]

Before moving your content

If you are moving your content from one site to another, the most important thing to do is to remove it from the cache of a search engine. So long as it is cached, there is the potential for it to be flagged as duplicate content. Take a few minutes to remove it before re-posting the content elsewhere.

Once submitted, it will generally show as "pending" in the Removal requests list until it is removed. This generally takes about 24 hours. Once the status is updated to "removed", you are free to post your content elsewhere -- another content farm or your own website.

It is however advisable to double-check that your content has in fact been removed from all caches before moving it. This can be done by re-visiting your favourite duplicate content checker to search for your phrases. If it comes up clear, you should be safe.

Develop a brand

Become known for one thing that you do well. Brand your business, and customers will remember you.

What is a brand?

A brand is the "face" of your business. It is more than just a slogan or cute logo that appears on your web site. It is more than a really long domain name (i.e. "jjssuperdelicioustacos.com"). A brand becomes the sum total of the experience that customers have with your business: good, bad, or indifferent. A brand is what you want customers to remember when they think of your business.

Why develop a brand?

why brand your business Branding can promote recognition for a business. Not only does this create repeat customers who feel they can trust your company's offerings, but it allows happy customers to recommend your business to others. How can a customer tell others about your fantastic service or product if they can't remember the name of your company?

Branding is what your business unique in today's competitive marketplace. Your brand needs to stand above the crowd to be memorable. Your brand needs to be an ibex, not a sheep. One of the worst thing that can happen with a business is that someone else's brand is mistaken for yours. When that happens, you just lost that customer to a business with stronger brand recognition, and you may not be able to get that customer back.

A brand can also add value to a business. If your company goes viral, that has added value in today's marketplace: the name of your business can become a household word like Apple or Pepsi. Why do we recognise those brands so easily? Brand names become household words precisely because they are easily recognized. Coca-Cola's red and white logo is easy to spot on the supermarket shelf, and their products are purchased precisely for that reason. People drive through at McDonald's or Wendy's instead of Granny's Kitchen because they want familiarity to go with that quick meal. Branding creates a known quantity for which customers will return again and again.

How to develop a brand

Creating a strong brand doesn't happen overnight. Start small with a web site and its logo, and build from there. Promote your business in person (with business cards and flyers), at events such as conventions, and on social media. Become the company that your customers know and trust, and they will become repeat customers.

Tip: The important thing about branding is to get your business name out there. The more your targeted customers hear it, the more familiar it will become to them.

Promote your content on social media

promote on social media Choose which social media sites are a good fit for your content and brand, and go interact with other people. Promote your own content as it is created and available for public viewing, of course, but in addition you should promote the content created by those individuals whose work you read and enjoy.

In my experience, creating a community of mutual support spreads traffic around to everyone. This is also the fastest way to get the attention of a search engine -- better than a manual URL submission to that search engine.

The Mermaid's Grotto
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