SEO

Boost Your SEO With Fresh Blog Content

Having a blog on your website with a consistent stream of fresh content boosts SEO, giving your business’s site higher rankings on Google searches. But as a business owner, how much time do you really have to dedicate to blogging? Fortunately, Electric Bricks has a team of web copywriting experts to help keep new blog content flowing, increasing traffic to your website while growing your customer base.

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Should I Blog? The Benefits of Business Blogging

What comes to mind when you think about the term “blog”? For many, a blog connotes a website primarily consisting of articles written on topics that appeal to a targeted audience; for example, a blog for car enthusiasts that publishes a weekly blog post pertaining to, you guessed it, cars. And while this is one definition of a blog, there are other forms of blogging that serve purposes aside from capturing the attention of a specific fanbase.

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Search Engine Optimization 101 – Keyword Research

Search engine optimization (SEO) plays an integral role in almost any successful digital marketing strategy. Great SEO can achieve tangible results while further enhancing other aspects of your digital marketing efforts. In this article, we are going to discuss some SEO fundamentals and provide you with an in-depth look into the foundation of a successful SEO strategy, keyword research.

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Want to Rank Higher on Google? Here’s How…

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article guarantees your website will rank higher on Google, Bing, or any other search engine. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex process that requires a consistent, multi-faceted approach and a great many factors can affect the success of any SEO campaign. The advice given below is only intended to be a part of a good SEO strategy that any site owner should employ. For more information, please contact Electric Bricks.


Keywords, Keyword, Keywords

A large part of content marketing includes having keywords in the copy so that when potential clients are searching for a specific product or service, you will appear in those searches.

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FREE Seminar: Understanding SEO & Why It Matters

Electric Bricks owner, Keith Paul, will be giving a free seminar next Wednesday, September 27th at 9:00am aimed at helping small business owners understand the complexities and benefits of Search Engine Optimization. This 1-hour seminar is part of the Miller Business Center’s Business Bites series. All Business Bites programs are completely free and include 30 minutes of networking and refreshments beforehand.

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Get a Free, Do-it-Yourself Website Evaluation

Find Out What’s Holding Back Your Small Business Website

Are you sure your website is really working for you the way it should? Are search engines able to crawl it and index it easily? If they can’t then your site won’t be coming up in the search results for people who are looking for your services or products. And that means you’re missing out on opportunities to grow your small business. Google and other search engines have a long list of things they expect every website to have. The more things you do right, the better your site will perform in searches. But how do you know if your site is truly performing up to Google’s expectation?

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New Search Services Launching Soon at Electric Bricks

The new year is almost upon us and Electric Bricks is busier than ever putting together new service offerings for our clients. Starting in 2017, Electric Bricks will be focusing heavily on three major areas that will help our clients get found in search engines and bring their small business website to the next level.

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LIVE from the Professional Development & Social Media Symposium

The (purposely short) article you are about to read was published as a demonstration during the Professional Development & Social Media Symposium.

At this very moment (or on Wednesday, January 13th, 2016, for those of you who aren’t reading this at the exact moment it was published) I am speaking at the Professional Development & Social Media Symposium held at the Nassau Country Club on Long Island. This event is being hosted by Meaghan Janedis, owner of Legacy Sport and partner at Glam Slam Gear.

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Am I Allowed to Use This?

I Am NOT A Copyright Expert!

I repeat, I am NOT a copyright expert! Nor do I understand intellectual property law or trademark law. But I can tell you this – if you are ever in doubt about whether you should reuse, repurpose, rewrite, transcribe, copy, or “borrow” something that someone else created then don’t. There are plenty of attorneys that make their living practicing (and defending) copyright law so if you have a burning question about what is legal I’d advise you to find one. What I’m sharing below is my layman’s understanding of what I think you should be aware of. But it is by no means intended to be a definitive guide to copyright law. In other words, don’t rely on this article to tell you everything you need to know. Do your own research and check out the links mentioned in this article for more information. And of course – use common sense!

copyrightNow That That’s Out of the Way…

In the age of the internet it’s easier than ever to find inspiration for your writing. You may have come across a great story, poem, song, picture, or article that would be very helpful to your readers, but the question always comes up – “Can I use this on my website if someone else wrote it?” It’s a fair question and one that can be hard to answer. Copyright law can be very difficult to understand. Some things, like the works of William Shakespeare, are in the “public domain” so anyone can use them freely. Most are not. And one fact that everyone who has a website should understand is that pretty much everything that is not in the public domain is copyright protected by default – even if it doesn’t actually say so or have one of those © symbols near it. The wikiHow article  puts it best: “Don’t assume that something is without copyright just because it is on the internet. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

What Can Happen to Me if I “Borrow” Someone’s Stuff?

I don’t know. Probably lots of bad things. Depending on whose stuff your accused of plagiarizing, it could be anything from a polite request to take it down, a cease-and-desist, or a lawsuit seeking monetary damages. Most of my clients are small businesses which means most of their sites are for commercial ventures. In my experience, businesses don’t like it when other businesses steal their stuff. Ask Apple and Samsung. Just understand that it can happen – someone could find out that you reposted their photos or article and they could take legal action against you.

In addition to that, Google is also getting very good at finding instances of plagiarism. Why does that matter? Simple. They’ll bury you or drop you entirely from the search results if they think your stealing someone else’s content. More and more content is being attributed to specific authors via things like Google+ profiles and Google indexes new content so fast these days it knows who posted an article first. Bottom line – assume the scientists at Google are smarter than you and don’t try to fool them. You’ll probably regret it if you do.

Yeah, But What About “Fair Use”?

In a nutshell, fair use means that you may be allowed to use a portion of someone’s copyrighted work for things such as criticism, commenting, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. I use the term “portion” carefully here because there are no clear guidelines on exactly how much you’re allowed to use. According to the U.S. Copyright Office’s fair use guidelines found on http://www.copyright.gov, “There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.” So, even the people who wrote the laws are telling you that copyright infringement can be open to interpretation and is not very clearly defined.

kids-making-artHow About Images and Art?

Content is content. It could be an article or a picture on a blog, a video, an MP3, or even sheet music. If someone else made it, they own it. And like I said, by default it is copyrighted. It might be a little tougher for someone to figure out you stole an image of theirs but you can be sure that the people who make their living selling stock photography will do whatever it takes to protect their rights.

Be on the safe side and use a legitimate stock photo site to buy your images from, or better yet, take your own photos. Sites like Fotolia and iStockPhoto are relatively inexpensive and have pretty clear guidelines on where and how you’re allowed to use artwork purchased from them. Just be careful with free stock photo sites as artwork on them could have been lifted off someone else’s site.

That being said, Google does try to help a little here by offering a search tool to help you find images that are free to reuse on your site. If you do an image search and click the Search tools button under the search field and select Labeled for reuse in the Usage rights menu you’ll get images that Google claims are okay for you to use. I found the picture of the kids drawing like this.

google-image-search-tools

Jeez, So What Am I Allowed to Use?

Lots of stuff. The most obvious is anything you write or create yourself. This is where you should always start. Google loves original content. So do your readers. Make the effort and give them what they want. Sure it takes time and sure it can be hard to come up with ideas for new stuff all the time but in the end you’ll be better off for it. You’ll show your readers you know and understand the subject matter and are someone they can put their trust in.

That’s not to say that you can’t use other sites for research. I did all kinds of research for this article but almost all of the words are mine. And the ones that aren’t I used sparingly and gave credit to the writer, complete with a link back to the original. It’s also a good idea to use a bibliography. See my references below for an example. I used the site EasyBib to help format mine. There are tons of guidelines there to help you properly cite your sources even when they don’t come from the internet.

Just because something is protected by copyright doesn’t mean it can never be reproduced. If you contact the author and ask for permission they may allow you to use their content. Of course, you’ll still need to give credit. But remember, even having permission may not prevent Google from penalizing you for posting duplicate content. You may be better off quoting the original work and providing a link rather than reproducing it in it’s entirety. In this video by Matt Cutts, head of the web spam department at Google, he tries to explain their stance on the topic.

Also, be on the lookout for things that are licensed under Creative Commons. Authors can choose to allow others to use their content without contacting them directly and can set the usage rights using Creative Commons to spell out the details. The licenses are pretty clearly written and offer a “human-readable” summary that leaves out the legal mumbo-jumbo. As an example, I’ve chosen to allow others to use, rework, or reproduced this article so long as they give me credit and also extend the license to their own derivations of this work. The icon below shows that I’m offering a Creative Commons license and provides a link to the actual license.

Creative Commons License
Am I Allowed to Use This? by Keith Paul is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Stay Out of Trouble, Kid

Copyright law is pretty murky stuff so it can be easy to find yourself in questionable territory. My first rule is always err on the side caution. Cite your references and use (short) quotes. If you must reuse someone else’s stuff, get permission! A little common sense goes a long way here. Occasionally authors, photographers, and other content creators will allow reuse of their work in exchange for a link back to the original or other credit, but you need to ask. Be respectful and realize the amount of work they put into it. After all, would you want someone to take credit for your work?


References:

How to Avoid Copyright Infringement.” wikiHow to do Anything. wikiHow. Web. 3 March 2014.

Fair Use.” Copyright. U.S. Copyright Office. Web. 3 March 2014.

How to Cite a Website in MLA.” EasyBib. ImagineEasy Solutions, LLC. Web. 3 March 2014.

About The Licenses.” Creative Commons. Creative Commons. Web. 3 March 2014.

 

 

Webmaster Guidelines & Google’s 1-Page SEO Guide

My clients are always asking me what are the best ways to improve their rankings in the search engines. How to get on page 1 of Google. Sadly, there is no silver bullet. No trick or easy answer that will get you to the top. But there are some things you can do to help your chances.

Don’t Break the Rules

The first thing I always say is “don’t do anything to break the rules.” The rules I’m referring to are the Webmaster Guidelines that Google has established as best practices for any website owner. These are things like don’t steal someone else’s content (you know – plagiarism), don’t repeat a single word or phrase 200 times on a page (keyword stuffing), and don’t pay for links to your site from dozens of other not-so-legitimate sites that have nothing to do with you (link spam). Google wants you to create useful and unique content that adds to the value of the Internet and is helpful and informative for your visitors. Be sure to review the Webmaster Guidelines and keep those rules in mind as you continue to develop your site.

google-1-page-seoUnderstanding SEO

The next step is known as SEO, or search engine optimization. SEO, put simply, refers to things you can do on your web pages to help search engines better understand what your page is about and then index it more accurately. The more accurately a search engine can index a page the more likely it will come up in a search for a relevant keyword.

Google has put together a simple one-page quick-start guide to optimizing your pages. It offers some basic tips for helping the search engines do a good job not only indexing your pages but displaying them better in the search results.

If you’d like to learn more about how Google works and the things you can do to improve your chances of being found, be sure to visit Google’s Webmaster Education pages. You’ll find informative videos and articles to help you create better content and make your site a more valuable resource.

What is a Keyword?

Let me clear something up. Sometimes there can be some confusion as to what exactly a keyword is. A “keyword” is not necessarily a single word. The term keyword refers to anything someone might type into a search engine to find something. Sure, “Chevy”, “applesauce”, and “sunsets” are all keywords. But so are “fixing a chevy transmission”, “recipes for homemade applesauce”, and “pictures of the worlds most beautiful sunsets”. In fact, most searches performed by people are more than one word. Think of how you use a search engine. If you wanted to know how to paint your house what would you search for? Not “paint” or “house”. You’d probably look for something a little more specific.

Keep this in mind as you optimize your pages. Don’t build them around a single word hoping to come up for it in the search engines. Follow the tips above and use natural language and common phrases relating to your products or services and you’ll do much better in the long run.