One melodrama I see played out time and again is caused by the disconnect between an individual’s desires for data privacy, and the need for good, proactive online reputation management. Many well-educated people think that by not having much about themselves on the internet, they’re protecting themselves and their families. They’re both wrong and right.
It’s absolutely true that you don’t want to have your data spread across the public internet, willy-nilly. You don’t want people to readily find your home address, your phone number, your birth date, and many other details, such as where you will (or won’t) be at certain times and dates. You don’t want to make it easy to be victimized — limiting data sharing can keep your identity from being stolen, your bank account logins compromised, and your home from being burglarized while you are away.
Unfortunately, people equate good data security practices with not having Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles, or personal websites and other social media accounts. Even the desire to avoid having digital copies of your photograph on the internet may fit into this category of misguided concerns.
This extreme avoidance of having any presence at all on the internet creates a big fat hole in one’s online reputations. Nature abhors a void and seeks to fill it, and the internet is no exception. Read the rest of this entry »
I discovered last year that a few online reputation agencies are partners-with or owners-of the very reputation-damaging sites that their clients seek their help in addressing. Perhaps the worst of these types of sites are “revenge-porn” sites that encourage individuals with no ethics to supply nude photos of ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends for the purpose of embarrassing them and damaging their reputations.
There are other sites that similarly focus on promoting materials that damage individuals’ reputations in addition to revenge porn — mugshots sites, arrest records sites, and tawdrier business review sites — and, these types of sites frequently are reliant upon thinly-veiled extortion demands. Essentially, the focus on obtaining defaming content and rendering it highly-visible through search engine results, and then they require people to pay them to take it down or modify it to be less-damaging..
A number of us who work in online reputation management (“ORM”) have sought to apply pressure to remove these sites’ ability to make money. These efforts have made a little impact, here and there. Some credit card companies have taken the step of refusing to allow merchant services for these companies, because they recognize that they’re highly distasteful. I suspect that there may have also been higher percentages of charge-backs on transactions as well. But, due to the rising barriers to the reputation attack sites, some have come up with schemes to dupe consumers into thinking they’re paying others to get the negative materials cleaned-up. Read the rest of this entry »
Argent Media founder, Chris Silver Smith, will be speaking next week at the SMX Advanced Conference in Seattle on the panel, “Keywords on ‘Roids: Advanced Workarounds For Vanishing Keyword Data“, along with industry veterans Christine Churchill (KeyRelevance) and Rae Hoffman (PushFire).
As all search engine marketers are aware, Google has steadily reduced the keyword referral data available to webmasters. This sea-change, purportedly for the sake of improving end users’ privacy, has been a challenge to search engine optimization experts. SEO historically relied heavily upon this data to help in ascertaining whether optimization efforts had been fruitful, as well as in the process for discovering potential new keyword phrases that consumers are using to find content featured on the website. Google has altered the dynamic for Pay-Per-Click keyword analysis as well in 2014 by encrypting the keywords in URLs, rendering web analytic systems that are competitors to Google Analytics and Google AdWords unable to track the search query referral data (albeit the impact for paid search data is less, since you may still obtain referral information from your AdWords account, and from analytic systems that may obtain the data through the AdWords account API). Analytics systems may not display the keyword referral data as “Not Provided” or “Not Set”. Read the rest of this entry »
Chris will likely be discussing the use of videos and video sharing services such as YouTube for the purposes of optimizing businesses for local search rankings. There may also be some discussion around methods for optimizations in video search and other related topics.
The show will be accessible via streamed online, and afterwards as a podcast through Blog Talk Radio.
Listeners may call in live to speak with the host during the show at (818) 369-1423.
If you have read up on anything involving Local Search Engine Optimization or Maps SEO, you will have heard marketers talk about “Local Citations”. So, just what are they, and why are they so important in helping you to rank higher in local searches related to your business?
Google’s earliest method or algorithm for ranking of webpages was called “PageRank“, developed in 1996, and it was based upon a system they built to automatically calculate numerical scores for webpages based upon the numbers of links each page had pointing to it, and the scores of those pages linking in. The concept was initially inspired by analysis of academic research papers — those papers that had a greater number of other research papers mentioning them in reference citations could be considered to be more important or more popular. Looking for a similar indicator in the worldwide web, the founders of Google decided that links might be quite similar for evaluating relative popularity of webpages.
Fast forward to the present, and Google’s ranking algorithms are much more sophisticated, even though PageRank link analysis is still a part of it. Google now uses over 200 ranking factors, many of which may have 50+ dimensions, and they also use different types of ranking algorithms for the different specialized “vertical” search engines they operate — such as Image Search, Video Search, News Search, Local/Map Search, and more.
For performing Local Search for businesses, Google’s engineers developed another type of citation that they could incorporate as a ranking signal — a “local citation” — and patented this as part of a local ranking method. Local search optimization experts such as David Mihm were inspired to declare citations to be the “new link” where local business rankings are concerned. (Some refer to these as “local references”, too.) Read the rest of this entry »
Chris Silver Smith, President of Argent Media, will be speaking and moderating at the upcoming SMX Milan conference in Milan, Italy, at the Milano Congressi from November 7-8, 2013 in the following sessions:
In the “How To Build Links & Win Authority Through Public Relations” session, Chris will present a number of strategic methods for leveraging images to obtain links and develop social influence. Images are perhaps considered Google’s second-most important asset, since Google puts links to their image search vertical in second place in their top navigation, directly after their main keyword web search. As such, effective use of images can be cultivated to help push a site’s performance up to the next level.
In The “Maps, Metros & Mobile: Surviving And Thriving In Local Search” session, Chris will provide a number of sound tactics that can help companies obtain top rankings in local search queries and in map searches.
We will hope to see many of our Italian and European colleagues at the first ever SMX Milan!
Most people focus upon the impression that’s made about them when their name is searched-for through search engines. The impression that’s made has a much bigger impact than a mere emotional abstraction — it can directly impact a business or individual’s income. It’s often hard to quantify these effects, but if a change happens to your online reputation — positive or negative — you can sometimes see exactly what the impact is.
We don’t often publicize this, but Argent Media provides Online Reputation Management (“ORM”) services — particularly online reputation repair or clean-up — for a number of individuals and companies. We’re often asked how fast we can “cleanse” the search results of negative content.
The truth is, this depends upon each situation. If someone posted something nasty about you recently, and if there’s relatively few people searching for your name or brandname, and if there’s not a lot of links or clicks to the bad page, it could be fairly easy and quick to push it down and out-of-site and out-of-mind.
But, if there’s a substantial amount of bad content that is relevant for your name, and if it’s pretty well-established, with significant numbers of links pointing to it… it can require more time, more content, and more effort to improve the situation.
One of our reputation repair clients recently shared some of their internal metrics with us, demonstrating precisely how effective this type of work can be. Here’s some of the actual metrics. Read the rest of this entry »
In the “Photo” session, Chris will present a number of strategic methods for using photographic images to increase companies’ channel distribution potential and to achieve higher website rankings. Images are perhaps considered Google’s second-most important asset, since Google places links to their image search vertical in second slot, directly after their main keyword web search. As such, effective use of images can be cultivated to help push a site’s performance up into the next level.
In both the “Local Search” and “Structured Data” sessions, Chris will speak on methods for using semantic markup to improve performance in search engines.
Chris helped to pioneer the use of semantic markup for the purpose of search marketing and was likely the first to specifically recommend it for SEO and Local SEO as an optimization tactic, based upon his knowledge in the development of local search technology from his work at Superpages.com. Those recommendations actually predated adoption of microformats by both Yahoo! and Google’s map search engines Read the rest of this entry »
Chris Silver Smith is speaking on semantic markup for local search optimization tonight at the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association meeting in Richardson. He’ll be speaking along with Greg Gifford, the Director of Search and Social for AutoRevo.
Chris recently wrote a few articles on semantic markup, such as 13 Semantic Markup Tips for 2013: A Local SEO Checklist, Local SEO 101: Local Breadcrumbs, and SEO: Breadcrumbs Are Bread-and-Butter touches upon the semantic markup for breadcrumbs as well.
Chris also long been a proponent of semantic markups, prior to their adoption as special signals by the major search engines. (See just a few examples: Tips for Local Search Engine Optimization for Your Site, the hCard Microformat & Local Search Optimization, and Optimize Local Events with hCalendar Microformat.) The current primary semantic markup standard accepted by Google and Bing is the Schema.org protocol, based on micro data.
Semantic markup is a valuable SEO tactic to use in a site’s natural search strategy, because it enables search engines to more effectively interpret and understand a website’s content, and it helps increase the chances that this content might be featured more prominently in search results by way of Rich Snippets. Read the rest of this entry »
Argent Media’s President, Chris Silver Smith, will be speaking in Charlotte, NC, on the topic of Local SEO at the annual SearchExchange Internet Marketing Conference, on July 24 2012.
Smith will cover some of Google’s “Prominence” ranking factors, and some techniques for how local businesses may optimize for advantage through them. “Prominence” is something of a catch-all term which Google engineers have used to collectively refer to ranking signals which help them to determine the relative popularity of one business versus others in the same area and business type category. Prominence factors in local search engine optimization can be subtle and complex, making it increasingly difficult for marketers to understand what they can do to influence their rankings in Google Place Search and in Google Maps. Smith’s presentation will clearly explain some of the criteria used by the search engines, and will provide some concrete methods for enhancing the ranking power of local business listings in search results.
This week, Smith also published an article which illustrates how Foursquare and check-in services could be a Local Seo ranking factor.
To keep up with future events featuring Chris Silver Smith, watch the Argent Media Appearances page.
The 2012 edition of David Mihm’s annual Local Search Ranking Factors survey has been released this week, and the general summary concludes that most of the influential ranking signals continue to be beneficial. From a glance at the report, relatively few signals shifted significantly from last year’s report.
As the summary states, the main changes to Google’s local search results seem to be in terms of the user-interface. The numbers of local listings occurring, the search phrases which invoke the local listings under Universal Search, and the presentation of those listings within the layout have been shifting.
Argent Media President, Chris Silver Smith, participated in the survey, along with numerous other established voices specialized in local search engine marketing.
Smith provides a few observations and comments upon this year’s survey results: Read the rest of this entry »
Chris Silver Smith, president of Argent Media, was recently interviewed by a Seattle Times reporter, and she’d asked him to conjecture on some of the things Costco might choose to do in order to improve their site for search. (See the article at “Costco makes plans for boosting its online sales“)
He pointed out a number of very elemental search ranking elements which Costco.com had neglected — such as failure to include appropriate keyword phrases in page Titles, URLs and image ALT parameters. While he didn’t perform a deep analysis, and there were some things which were likely performing adequately for search rankings for some of the site’s pages, even at this quick, cursory audit it was apparent that a number of basic changes and improvements would likely improve Costco.com’s performance significantly.
As yet another example of a basic SEO gaffe, if you go to the short URL for Costco’s site: Read the rest of this entry »