Link Building for SEO in 2014: The Basics

July 30th, 2014 by

Link building as a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy continues to evolve along with changes in search engines.  A prime example of this is covered in my April article about how Google now penalizes guest bloggers for creating spammy links.

link building graphic

There’s a world of value for your internet marketing when you use proven strategies in link building for SEO.

This month I will address the basics of how you can update your current strategy or how to get started with link building for SEO so that you can be on the right track with building links from referring sites.

What Is Link Building for SEO?

Search engines have given links a value as “votes” as part of their algorithmic formula for importance and popularity since the late 1990s.  This formula has become more sophisticated over time, incorporating metrics like authority, spam, and trust on both sides of the link.

Link building is a strategy that increases the SEO value of published content by gaining inbound links.

Link Building for SEO ≠ As Many Links as Possible

Back in the late 90s through early 2000s, the strategy for link building was typically to get a link everywhere you could.  The old “as many links in as many places as you can get” strategy of the 90s and early 2000s is well behind us and it’s time to focus on building links that will actually help the SEO value of your website.

Link Value

There are many “link signals” search engines use that comprise the overall value of a link.  Google and other search engines don’t publicly share their relative weight, but logical assumptions can be made by experimentation and looking at trends in patents that were applied for by the search engines.

Web Popularity

The more traffic and user interaction a website, the more links from that site matter. Earn authority and trust from the search engines by targeting popular sites.

Topic Popularity

A link from sites that is relevant to your business have more weight than general or off-topic websites.  For a B&B inn, dude ranch or other distinct lodging provider that means earning links from popular websites for those topics, such as bedandbreakfast.com or duderanch.org, will have more weight thank links from general travel or tacitly-related sites.

Link Anchor Text

One of the strongest signals the engines use in rankings is anchor text (i.e. the words in the link). For a B&B inn in Chicago, the anchor text “Chicago bed and breakfast” will be worth far more to the search engines than “click here” or other non-keyword text.

TrustRank

Internet reviewers estimate that close to two-thirds of web pages are spam.  Search engines have systems to measure their trust rankings by weeding out this irrelevant spam.  Most search engine researchers agree trust systems are based on the number of “hops” (links) away a website is from the source of the link.  The higher the trust ranking of the website, the higher its value.  High trust domains include government websites, universities, etc.

Your Place in the Link Neighborhood

A lot of the spammy links on the internet are reciprocal (i.e. spam links to spam and that spam links back) and search engines will review any reciprocal links you have, so be sure to only do reciprocal links with sites that have high trust rank.

Link Freshness

Research into links has shown that the value of a link decreases over time, making it important to seek new links from your sources and to seek new sources as well.

Social Sharing Signals

Search engines recognize the influence of social media share from Facebook, Twitter and others as an indicator of popularity.  Just how much is up for debate, but prompting visitors to share what they like is essential to both SEO and Social Media Marketing (SMM).

The Basics of Link Building

Because search engines protect their algorithms for link signals, link building remains an art, rather than a science, and is made up of three major acquisition components.

1. Editorial Links

Also called “natural links,” editorial links that are earned with no action by the author/marketer and are typically the result of publishing great content that others want to reference with a link.  For most, the best way to earn editorial links is via desirable content posted on your website’s blog.

2. Manual Links

Also called “outreach links,” manual links are typically created by submitting sites to directories, paying for listings on a website or contacting content publishers such as bloggers to request a link.   emailing bloggers for links, submitting sites to directories, or paying for listings of any kind. The SEO often creates a value proposition by explaining to the link target why creating the link is in their best interest. Examples include filling out forms for submissions to a website award program or convincing a professor that your resource is worthy of inclusion on the public syllabus.

3. Self-Created Links

Also called “non-editorial links,” the opportunity for self-created links exists on a huge number of websites via blog comments, user profiles, forum signatures and posts, and much more.  While these are typically low-value links, they do offer potential positive impact when considered in aggregate.  Search engines are quick to penalize site that use spammy tactics so be prudent in using this method.

More Link Building Advice to Come

This article gives you the basics.  Future posts will focus on the various strategies to link building for SEO.  Contact us if you want help in getting your link building strategy off the ground.  We offer consultations and ongoing services for link building and other SEO-related services.

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New Responsive Website Design for a Longtime Client

July 29th, 2014 by

Responsive website design, whether as a new design, a redesign or an upgrade to an existing website, is the hot topic of 2014 at InsideOut Solutions.  We’ve been busy this month with a responsive website design for the bed and breakfast association of America’s Dairyland – wonderful Wisconsin.WBBA responsive website design

Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Association Responsive Website Design

The Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Association (WBBA) loved the functionality of their site, but were seeking a new look on a budget.  The solution was found via upgrading the look and feel of the “public face” of the website, leaving the robust back-end administration, code and functionality the same.  The upgrade in this redesign also includes new, larger photos and sticky navigation.

Do You Need a Responsive Website Design?

The responsive website design upgrades and redesigns for WBBA and many others have enabled these clients to prolong the lives of their current website for several additional years.  Is it time for you to take your website to this next level?  Read last month’s post: Responsive Web Design – Is It Time to Redesign or Upgrade Your Website? and contact us with any questions or to request a quote.

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Introducing Google My Business – Move from Places or Google+ for Business

June 29th, 2014 by

If you have been using the Google Places or Google+ Pages dashboard to manage information about your business, then you have or soon will see that your account has been automatically changed to the new dashboard for Google My Business.Google My Business

What Is Google My Business?

Google My Business was developed to make it easier to manage information about your local business information and that your business will easily found across the Google platform, including Google Maps, Google Search, and Google+.  This change by Google does offer some new and enhanced features which is accessed from the Google My Business dashboard.

Keep reading →

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Summer Blooms with Responsive Website Upgrades from InsideOut Solutions

June 27th, 2014 by

Several InsideOut clients received responsive website upgrades this month.  Last month’s article on Responsive Web Design details what Responsive Web Design is, and if it’s right for you, whether you should redesign or simply get a responsive website upgrade of your existing website.

The following clients contacted us to discuss responsive web design options and made the decision to retain their current design and enhance it with a responsive website upgrade.

Recently Launched Responsive Website Upgrades

responsive website - The B&B Team

The B&B Team®

As Inn Consultants and Brokers since 1993, The B&B Team® has watched internet trends closely, developing keen eyes as to when they follow new trends.

When Google began recommending Responsive Web Design as their preferred method of rendering web pages, they knew it was time to upgrade their WordPress website.

responsive website - Club Continental

The Club Continental

The Club Continental wanted to extend the life of their site.  It was 3 years old, but they loved the design and their visitors did too.

After hearing of the benefits of Responsive Web Design, they decided to upgrade, and in the process extended the life of their current WordPress design.

responsive website - NMBBAresponsive website - Michigan Lake to Lake Bed and Breakfast Association

New Mexico Bed and Breakfast Association
and
Michigan Lake to Lake Bed and Breakfast Association

Both of these B&B associations were looking for an elegant way to present their websites on mobile devices without having to reinvent the wheel.

The answer for both was to upgrade their current websites to responsive designs, complete with “sticky” navigation and cutting edge HTML5 and CSS3 code.

responsive website - Old Parkdale Inn

Old Parkdale Inn

Longtime InsideOut clients, the innkeepers at Old Parkdale Inn have always kept stride with the ever changing standards of website design.  They were concerned that their website load speed was lagging behind and had heard how HTML5 and CSS3 can speed things up.  They chose to have an responsive website upgrade, got their speedy site and much more.

Do You Need a Responsive Website Redesign or Can You Upgrade Your Current Website?

Check out last month’s blog post: Responsive Web Design – Is It Time to Redesign or Upgrade Your Website? and contact us to discuss the best plan for you to keep your website current with this important development and other evolving web standards.

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Responsive Web Design – Is It Time to Redesign or Upgrade Your Website?

June 1st, 2014 by

Responsive web design remains a growing trend of discussion for internet marketing firms and their clients in 2014.  In this article we will will look at the what, why and when of Responsive Web Design so that you can make an informed decision about your website marketing efforts.captainsmanor

What Is Responsive Web Design?

Put simply, Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a website design technique that allows a website’s design to be optimized for all internet-enabled devices, from mobile phones to tablets, laptop an desktop computers.

Why Do I Need a Responsive Web Design?

It may just look like fancy design work, but there are important reasons to make a Responsive Web Design a part of your internet marketing strategy.

Google Recommends Responsive Web Design

Google DevelopersWe all know by now that Google recommendations require serious consideration by anyone wanting to maintain or improve visibility in its search query results.  The Google Developers section on Webmasters Building Smartphone-Optimized Websites specifically recommends Responsive Web Design as Google’s preferred method of rendering web pages.

Based on that fact alone, it’s not a matter of if, but when you should have a responsive web design on your website.

Responsive Websites Are Both Visitor and Search Engine Friendly

Responsive web design code is built HTML5 and CSS3, which also speeds up load times and is a factor in search engine rank.

Website visitors benefit from easier navigation and the best possible view for content no matter how they access it.

Keep reading →

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A New Bed & Breakfast Website Design for Brewster House

May 29th, 2014 by

Scott & Mary Gile, the new owners of Brewster House, were looking for a Bed & Breakfast website design that would reflect the coastal heritage of their area, be simple to navigate for potential new guests, and of course showcase the beauty and amenities of the B&B. In collaborating with our designer, Beth Edwards, that vision came to fruition in the form of a fast-loadingsite built with WordPress using the lastest responsive web design standards that displays it best face on all devices.

About Brewster House and Our Bed & Breakfast Website Design

Brewster House Bed & Breakfast (Freeport, Maine Coast) Website

The Brewster House Bed & Breakfast website design from InsideOut Solutions is attractive, fast-loading and responsive web solution for the new owners.

Brewster House Bed & Breakfast is located in Freeport, Maine and is the perfect starting point to enjoy a seaside vacation. Close to shopping, prime restaurants, and beautiful lighthouses, the Maine coast has plenty of activities for everyone and Brewster House allows you to relax in style after a day of making memories.  Charm and comfort abound in this 19th century home which boasts large private bathrooms, pressed linens, bay windows, fireplaces, and a generous 3-course breakfast.

WordPress allows for the simple updating of all content plus adding specials, new recipes, and blog posts. It is also easy to make the ever-important SEO tweaks over time, so Scott & Mary can have the peace of mind knowing that their website tools are scalable. The responsive website design uses the latest HTML5 and CSS3 coding standards.

Are you interested in having a site tailor-made to fit your inn and personality? Let InsideOut help! We’ll help you achieve your vision of an attractive website, that is also built with the security of the WordPress platform, comes with our custom-made plugins, is responsive for the growing presence of mobile phones, and so much more. Click here for your free quote!

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New Directory Website Design for the Maryland Bed & Breakfast Association

May 26th, 2014 by

The Maryland Bed & Breakfast Association has received a new directory website design utilizing the latest and best web technologies and trends. The new website is built in HTML5 and CSS3 with a focus on fast page loads and a responsive design.

New Directory Website Design for Maryland Bed & Breakfast Association

Built using our own directory website system inside of the WordPress platform, Maryland Bed & Breakfast Association members are given a full range of features to control the content of their own listings.

Large, colorful photos from all across the state have been incorporated to bring the undeniable beauty of Maryland into the site. An important foundation of the new Maryland Bed & Breakfast Association directory website design, these rich and bold background photos resolve at full width to your browser, imbuing the site with warmth and color. We also included a fixed, sticky navigation that stays in view no matter how far down you scroll, leading to a friendlier and easier user experience.

The responsive aspect of the directory website design ensures that the site looks good no matter what size screen or device you are using. Like all of InsideOut Solution’s recent and current custom website designs, the Maryland Bed & Breakfast Association site is fully responsive, adapting across virtually all potential aspect ratios.

If you would like to learn more about what we can do for your association, destination, or directory website design, contact us.

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Guest Blogging for SEO Gets a Google Penalty for Spammy Link-Building

April 27th, 2014 by

The guest blogging party is over when it comes to your link-building strategy for SEO – at least if you care what Google thinks.

What Is Guest Blogging for SEO?

If you’re asking this question, then it probably doesn’t concern you, but just in case:

If you are publishing posts on blogs other than your own, or are allowing other bloggers to post on your blog, you are engaging in guest blogging.  You may have been told that guest blogging, outgoing or incoming, is good for SEO because it increases traffic to your blog via links.  That actually has been the case until recently.  If you’re currently blogging for SEO purposes you will want to put a pause on your efforts.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, warned that guest blogging for SEO link-building should cease back in January via his own blog post titled “The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO.”

Here’s a bit of what he had to say:

“…if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company…”

As the top guy in weeding out spam in Google, it’s important to listen to what Mr. Cutts has to say and heed his advice.  Sure enough, on March 18, Cutts tweeted the following:

“Today we took action on a large guest blog network. A reminder about the spam risks of guest blogging…”

— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) March 18, 2014

Shortly after that announcement, Ann Smarty, owner of the MyBlogGuest.com blogging network confirmed via Twitter that Google had applied its its spam penalty to her guest blogging network.

One of the first questions to follow was “Will Google also penalize the publishers of content appearing on blog networks?”  It appears that penalties will be given to partcipating publishers, as Matt Cutts also tweeted:

@n2tech when we take action on a spammy link network, it can include blogs hosting guest posts, sites benefiting from the links, etc.— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) March 20, 2014

On April 18, Google again applied its penalty to guest blog network PostJoint.  I expect the axe will continue to fall on guest blogging networks and publishers who meet Google’s webspam criteria.  This follows similar trends at Google to weed out other webspam such as link networks.  Owners of these networks and their participants should be tracking and responding appropriately to “unnatural links” notifications in their Google Webmaster Tools.

What Should You Do?

Well, the first thing to do is pause submitting posts to guest blogging sites and stop allowing guest bloggers free reign on your own blog for building links to their own content.  If you have a third party blog writer blogging for you, it’s OK for them to continue publishing posts so long as they are building content for your blog and are linking to non-blogging-network sources of information about the topic.

Keep up to date with this topic by subscribing to this blog.

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A Tradeshow Banner Design for Jardin du Soleil Lavender Farm

April 25th, 2014 by

Jardin du Soleil owners, Jordan and Paul Schiefen, had a great concept for a tradeshow banner design. They just needed some help making their idea a reality. They contacted InsideOut graphic designer, Jennifer Lozada, who created the design to reflect their concept and to suit the technical requirements of the banner company.

Choosing a Tradeshow Banner Designjardin-3-tradeshow-banners

There are a lot of different products and producers for tradeshow graphics. The Schiefens wanted something versatile, economical and easy-to-use. After some research, they decided that a retractable banner would be their best bet. They decided to take one great photo and divide it across three separate banners. There are a number of advantages to this idea:

1) Striking visual presence: The 2.75′ x 6.5′ banner is pretty big. You can see it from a good distance. If you triple it by having one image across three banners, the impact is even greater!

It’s easy to get carried away and cram a lot of text and images on a tradeshow banner. Up close, it feels like the banner is large, so why not fill it up? The reason you don’t do that—from a distance, the imagery just become a whole lot of visual clutter. As a result, the entire banner fades into the background and people walk right past without noticing.

Jordan and Paul’s banners are the opposite of cluttered. One great image + their logo = a standout tradeshow banner design.

2) Versatility: The three banners side-by-side look great, but what if your tradeshow space is on the small side? One of the great things about this three-banner concept is that they don’t have to use all three. As space allows, they can opt for just one or two. And they don’t have to use them next to one another either. If needed, they can use the three banners separately to define different zones within a space. Because they’re the same size and overall image, they will have a nice visual consistency and won’t make the space look cluttered.

3) Simplicity: Retractable banners are great. They’re light, easy to move, and you don’t have to fuss with setting up a stand. The only things we’ve noticed about using them…To keep them in good working order, don’t get too aggressive about pulling the graphic up out of the stand. And handle the base with care—you don’t want to rattle and possibly break its components. These banners are for indoor use. Use them out in the wind and elements at your peril!

A Tradeshow Banner Success!

2014NW-WomensShow-JardinBestBooth

Jardin du Soleil’s retractable tradeshow banner design at work at the Northwest Women’s Show

The Schiefens were very happy with how the banners came out. They sent us this photo of their award-winning booth. Yes, they recently won “Best Booth in Show” at the 2014 Northwest Women’s Show. They did a great job of staging and we’re glad the banners were part of their great-looking booth. Congratulations to Jardin du Soleil!

Contact us if you need help with a tradeshow banner design or choosing the right tradeshow graphic for your business.

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New Website Design for Bed and Breakfast Inns of Utah, Inc.

April 19th, 2014 by

InsideOut Solutions recently launched a major upgrade for the Bed and Breakfast Inns of Utah, Inc. (BBIU) at bbiu.org.  The new design incorporates all of the state of the art features that InsideOut incorporates in all of our new designs.  Key features are a sticky navigation that follows you as you scroll down, a fully responsive design, and big, beautiful page top photos.

New Design Is Much More than a “Facelift”

The new design incorporates HTML5 and CSS3 as well as methods to speed up the site load time.  The responsive website design gives visitors the best view on most devices, including mobile.  The design also adds a “lightbox” feature to view their state map and select a region to explore instead of needing to open up a new page.  This new design is a beautiful refresh of an already solid bed and breakfast association website platform.  We look forward to seeing what positive impacts it will have on their website visit stats and how it helps their membership gain more visibility.

Bed and Breakfast Inns of Utah, Inc. - new website design

Bed and Breakfast Inns of Utah, Inc. has a new, responsive website design from InsideOut Solutions.

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