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If You Have a Web Presence, You Must Understand SEO

If You Have a Web Presence, You Must Understand SEO

The internet is crowded; it can take a lot of effort to get noticed. One of the easiest ways to gain new traffic is to rank highly on search engine return pages (SERPs). To appear at a higher spot on the SERP, your site needs to meet certain criteria as set by the search engines.

While each search engine has a different proprietary processes, certain factors are known to be in play. Making use of those factors to improve your SERP ranking is known as search engine optimization (SEO). If you are new to the landscape, and have not spent time on SEO for your site, here are some tips to get your started.

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Content is King

You won’t be able to help your site rise through the ranks if your content isn’t up to par, at least not permanently. It is important that you develop your information in a way that is useful to your target audience, and that your site can be considered an authority in its own right. Keep your content factually correct, and pay attention to spelling and grammar. This is an area where quality truly matters, so efforts here are rarely ever considered a waste.

Keywords Count

When a search engine is determining what your site is all about, it is read by a computer program called a spider or crawler, and not a person. These programs are designed to analyze the text on your page and use the information to categorize your site. To help make sure your site is categorized properly, you need to make sure you use the right words and that they are used in the right quantity.

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It is also important to understand that a spider can’t understand the content in media files such as photos and videos. This means that you will have to convey the nature of the content through other means. This can include the description associated with the file, as well as designating a title and alternate title for the piece. Since this information is displayed in the site’s coding, even if it cannot be seen by visitors, the spider can better assess what the content is about.

White Hat / Black Hat

A variety of internet-based activities are considered white hat or black hat. All those designations mean is whether the chosen activity is regarded acceptable or unethical. White hat SEO techniques represent the known industry standards that are generally well received.

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Often, it requires that no damage be done to a competitor’s site directly, and all basic rules and laws governing the activity should be followed, including those set forth by the search engine. Additionally, creating content that is aimed at finding an actual human audience is at its core, and not simply creating a site to become well ranked.

In contrast, black hat SEO techniques may be questionable in nature, if not entirely illegal. It includes using keyword stuffing or invisible text to achieve a different SERP rank. It can also involve the use of “keywords” that have nothing to do with the sites content, or changing the nature of the content once a page has achieved a high enough ranking.

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When making a long-term investment into a particular site, white hat techniques are recommended. They allow the site to stand the test of time, with occasional small adjustments to maintain relevancy, instead of frequent changes to continue to trick the spiders into inaccurately ranking your site higher than it should be.

Finding More Information

There is a lot of solid information on SEO and various best practices. Some may choose to find a book on the subject, such as SEO for Growth, while others may prefer to hire a professional who specializes in web content and SEO to assist in aligning their site to the desired format.

Either way, taking the time to learn the fundamentals can help you create content better suited to SEO techniques, which can limit the amount of work that has to be done after the fact. Consider learning more about the subject and you can improve your SERP rankings faster than you realize.

Featured photo credit: Bench Accounting via hd.unsplash.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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