elephant traps lead to seo mistakes

SEO and Elephant Traps

I have been interested in SEO for almost a decade now, and online marketing even longer.  In internet years that is a long time.  Way back when I was learning how to do  SEO  – and DSL was amazingly fast, I was always amused by the get rich quick charlatans of old (think 2002,2003,2004… era).  They always had the next new thing,  only to be replaced by the next new thing in a few weeks or months, depending on the niche and their target audience. Now that still happens today, but it was much more pervasive back then.

I studied them from a marketing perspective. Unethical as some were, they were still amazing at getting folks to part with their $17, $19, $49 etc. for the chance to get rich by pushing a button or following a proven ‘system’.  I delighted in learning the angle, finding the up-sell and down-sell paths and watching their back-end marketing funnels.  I confess I even bought a few trinkets just to see what they were peddling and to get on their buyers’ list.  It was downright fascinating.  Sadly for me, I never hit that elusive $50M / year while working 4 hours a week lifestyle…

When old-school SEO became all the rage, one of the party tricks these guys and gals did was to do ‘live’ SEO during a webinar or a live event.  They would pick some term, do a search and prove their target site did not rank for it, and then amazingly in a few short minutes to an hour they were ‘ranking #1 on Google’ for an amazing keyword like “purple elephant bait in downtown Philadelphia PA 19103″… Whhhhhooaa, cool, aaah…  The crowd was amazed!

They would be demonstrating how their software or secret SEO skills could achieve these amazing ranking results so quickly.   The hook was something like, see how easy it is?  Now imagine if you followed my system / used my software and you ranked a site for “gourmet coffee online”, or the top-selling product on eBay or Amazon and put an affiliate link on your site.  Now for only $29 I’ll give you my hard learned secret sauce system…

As funny as that seems to me today, these same folks still exist today, but they have changed up their act.  Now they call and offer unsuspecting businesses too good to be true SEO programs with some sort of guarantee to “get on the front page of Google” or your money back or some sort of similar click bait or phone scam.

Here is the interesting part of this scam. They absolutely can say this and not ever be called to task for a refund, because many of these type of churn and burn firms will indeed get their clients on the front page of Google, just not for any keyword terms that are of any value.  The other problem is these types of offers usually involve old techniques that can do more harm than good over the medium to long run.

So where am I going with this walk down memory lane?  Shortcuts and ranking terms just to rank terms rarely work out well for business owners.  Here is a completely made up example.  Full Disclosure: no elephants were hurt in the writing of this article.

Let’s pretend you we were hired by a company in East Asia that manufacturers humane elephant traps.  This company, for reasons not fully understood, wants to rank #1 on Google for “elephant traps” in the USA and Internationally.  Based on this information and assuming you know how to do SEO, there are two very different approaches you would take from this point in the project.

 

Project Approach #1:

We know our customer wants to rank for “Elephant Traps” in the USA and Internationally.  We take them at their word and sign them up for an SEO program.  Then we do some keyword metrics research, see who also ranks for “elephant traps” and realize that the first few positions are very competitive with strong sites.

We inform our client that the competition is very difficult and it may take a lot of time and effort to rank them on the front page of the SERPs for their chosen keyword target.  They are well funded and tell us they do not care about price, they just want to sell more elephant traps and ranking #1 is their goal.

We mutually agree to move forward with the uphill battle, and since our company is very good at SEO, we are certain that with the correct budget and timeline we can win this battle.

For those following along at home: what was the critical step missing above?

Flash forward 18 months: our SEO heroes ranked their client #3 and are closing in on #2, intent that #1 is possible and the only acceptable outcome.  Unfortunately, despite a great job at ranking their site, the companies sales have not increased measurably, and their bounce rates coming from the search term “elephant traps” is over 90%.  They have a nice looking site, good landing page etc.

What went wrong?  Read on to approach #2 to find out.

 

Approach #2

Elephant Trap Chess MoveSimilar to our first group of unlikely SEO heroes, we do a high-level review of the desired search term and determine as our first group did, that competition is very high. However, we know that many times the keyword(s) a client thinks they want to rank for are not always the ones they should rank for.

What you say?  Well, once we realized the competition was difficult, we then started to evaluate the competitors’ sites for SEO metrics etc.  As we were doing this, we noticed that a lot of our competitors’ sites were linking to and being linked to from chess related sites.  Chess, as in the game.  As we researched further we realized that in fact the first 20 SERP results (pages 1 and 2) were all taken by chess and sales related articles and sites.

It turns out that the term “elephant trap” is a specific reference to a chess move in which a pawn sacrifice is turned down.  We will not go further as chess is not the focus of this article, but it was interesting to read up on.

It also turns out that the term is used as a way of saying don’t miss the obvious dangers, risks etc. in whatever endeavor someone is talking about.

So it turns out that even if we succeed in ranking the client on the first page or even #1 in Googles SERPs, we failed them at being an ethical SEO and marketing company and making sure it made sense to rank for what they asked for.

If you are interested in having an SEO evaluation of your site and want to know if we can help you attract more qualified visitors to your site, please get in touch with us.

Mention this article and receive a free advanced site evaluationContact Us HERE

 

Chrome 68 insecure site warning

Google’s Chrome 68 Browser Update and Your Website

Website Security Alert: Your Site Might Display A Scary Looking Warning Starting July 2018

According to Google, starting sometime in July 2018, they will unleash Chrome 68 – their pending web browser update.  Updating Chrome is not that newsworthy, except this update ups the ante for websites that have not yet added an SSL certificate to all their web pages.  As you may know, Google has been pushing strong (and others) to have SSL on all websites.  At first, they only wanted SSL on pages that shared information that was sensitive.  Then they wanted all info shared on SSL pages, and now, they are upping the ante.

In everyday terms, if you see https://yoursite.com then you are fine.  If you do not see the ‘s’ in instead see http://yoursite.com, then starting in July Google will show a very in your face warning to users that this site may not be secure and your personal data may be at risk.  Any page that is not SSL compliant, will now show a scary warning like the one below.

 

Chrome 68 insecure site warningImage Source: Google Security Blog

 

In everyday terms, if you see https://yoursite.com then you are fine…

I am sure you can guess that this is not ideal for websites that are not secure, and even though the site pages will load, many users will most likely be scared off.  Some longtime users or customers may even be worried that such a site was hacked.

Compared to past release updates to Chrome, this version will shout out “Danger Will Robinson, Danger… Do Not Proceed To This Website…”  It does not take a space-traveling robot to recognize that this will most likely result in users leaving your site, and will put your company’s reputation into question.

 

“Danger Will Robinson, Danger… Do Not Proceed To This Website…”

 

Chrome 68 includes a more detailed security check to detect whether your entire website is encrypted. If it is not, Chrome will immediately display a security warning indicating that your site is not secure.

As an example, imagine after this update, a customer goes to your website to look up your phone number, and instead, the first thing they see if a rather obnoxious security alert.  They may think that your company was compromised by a hacker, and worry that their private client information was stolen as part of a security breach.

Similarly, if you sell products or are driving marketing efforts to landing pages and contact forms, visitors who are looking to fill out your contact form, or buy something online could very well be inclined to leave your site.

 

How Do I Test a Site for SSL Encryption?

You can tell whether your site (or any site) is encrypted quite easily. As mentioned prior, your web browser will either display http: or https: in front of a sites url (web address) to indicate a secured or unsecured website.

Chrome also provides a visual indicator:  if there is a green lock next to a website address, the site is encrypted.

ALternately, a visitor can click the information button next to a websites address.  This displays a message stating that a site is or is not secure. Currently, Chrome’s security warning is somewhat hidden (unless the page collects passwords or credit card information).

Starting in July, if any page on your site is not encrypted, your visitors will see a red triangle with the words “not secure” warning visitors about your site.  As mentioned earlier, this warning can cause your website traffic to decrease and cause customers and clients some concern.

 

How Do You Encrypt Your Website?

In everyday terms, you need to apply an SSL Security Certificate on your web server.  This is not as hard as it may seem but does need to be done correctly, and there are important SEO considerations such as mixed content and website versioning to be considered .  It will not affect your SEO if done correctly, and in fact, it may help.

If you have not already secured your website, the good news is that it is normally under 20 minutes of work for a web developer to do, sometimes much less.  Even better, for those with basic web hosting knowledge and are on a host that uses cPanel, you can probably do the basics on your own in under 30 minutes for free (depending on your host it may be as little as 5 to 10 minutes).  Just remember to fix mixed media errors as well as set your version to load only the https:// version if the site.  I did a quick study the other week and some surprisingly big companies got this wrong.

Click the link to the right to learn –> how to set up auto SSL in cPanel 

Do not ignore this, you still have plenty of time to avoid a bad situation.  If you are not comfortable doing this internally, contact your current web host or webmaster and ask them to do it for you.  If you prefer, you can also contact us and we can help as well.

 

Keeping All Your Company Data Safe

If a hacker discovers that your website is not secured, they may use that as an indication that your company has other vulnerabilities that they can exploit. Computers and servers that do not have the latest security patches or modern software can be penetrated using malicious code that can cripple your business.

One of our company strengths is helping our clients set up advanced defenses for cybersecurity threats,  both internally and externally.

We have an entire product line launched in Q1 2018 that helps companies monitor internal networks, behavioral based monitoring of system access, block penetration attempts, educate employees about things like phishing, correct password usage and much more.

Click the link to learn more about our Advanced Cybersecurity Options with our CloudXSecurity Product Suite.  Please get in touch with us if you want to have a more in-depth discussion.

We can run a complimentary security audit on your systems to see if there are issues that should be addressed.

 

A Complete Solution for Your IT Management

If you are not already a customer, Delval Technology Solutions can help your business manage all your day to day IT needs including enhanced network security, keeping your systems updated with the latest patches, increased productivity, on site and off site backups and more. Your can Contact Us HERE

What Does Coffee and Online Marketing Have in Common?

What Does Online Marketing and Coffee Have in Common?

For anyone who knows me even a little bit, you may be tempted to say the answer is Mike loves Coffee, SEO and Online Marketing.  That is certainly true.  Ironically, my passion for good coffee was the driving reason that I took my product management and development skills to the next level and learned eCommerce, SEO and web development.  But that is too long of a story to tell in this post.

You Want To Rank For What?

What does my website rank forWe often have clients and friends ask us how to get their website to rank on the first page of Google.  When I hear this question, I take a deep breath, smile, and ask a simple question…  Well, what to you want your website to rank for?  Sometimes I get a dumbfounded blank stare, other times I get a laundry list of things that are barely if at all related to the content of the actual site.

If a person knows what they want to rank for and are certain, the next question I ask is… why do you want to rank for that?

Ranking a website is often called SEO or Search Engine Optimization.  It is part science and part art and always changing.  Many terms come to mind like white hat, black hat, Matt Cutts, Article Writing etc.  The bottom link is to rank a website, the very first think a business owner or manager need to decide is what is the desired outcome of ranking my site?

In most cases, there are several desired outcomes, which require different tactics and different pages on the site.  For example, once goal may be to get new customers.  Another may be to make the CEO feel good that his website ranks #1 for his industry in his home town or even across the country or world. Another goal may be to grow a marketing email list….