Start your Marketing Genius, engines!

Your about to journey in white hat SEO territory. In 5 minutes, you will learn everything you need to master the interwebs and beyond.  Are you ready?

  1. certified organic tea, coffee, whiskey… check.
  2. sustainable notebook and pen… check.
  3. thinking cap on… check.


All jokes aside, search engine marketing is no laughing matter. Billions of dollars are spent each year on pay per click, SEO and web marketing services and products.  Local SEO is one of the fastest ways for a small business to hop in on this huge market.

Although SEO strategies are usually guarded, I have a few tricks of the trade that are tried and true that will help increase your websites rankings within Google search.

  1. Slow and steady wins the race. Build your relevant, useful content added to your website and other strategically selected sites and your traffic will increase. Also this builds trust with your followers and future clientele.
  2. Don’t buy the cheap sales pitch. Seriously. Think about it. How many times have you heard of someones website being “deleted” by the search engines, almost over night? These poor souls did the ultimate NO NO in SEO. They were gullible and trusted the wrong guy, gal or company. Large SEO firms are guilty of selling super cheap SEO deals, promising the moon, forcing the small business to sign a contract, only to hope that the client forgets about the SEO work that is suppose to be done and keeps paying the small monthly fee. Just try to get out of that contract, and you will see a different side of your local sales rep. Usually a dial tone, no contact and/or some cheesy pressure sales call to make you feel like an idiot. Not fun at all.  If it sounds too good to be true, well, duh, it is! Fiverr and other cheap online sites that sell “SEO” services are not affordable as you thought. The damage they can do with fake likes, reviews and poor back linking strategies could cost you the farm!
  3. Network with other businesses in your industry and help each other out. Share content on each others websites with relevant back links pointing to your website.  Use the coop strategy to reach new clients quickly. Sharing email lists and / or swapping out related services and sharing with your followers. One week is your turn, next week is the other businesses turn and so on…
  4. PPC is your friend or frienemy. Choose wisely. Pay Per Click, if done correctly, will increase sales. whether you choose Facebook or Google PPC, you will see immediate results, often within a week or less.
  5. SEO optimize your website, completley. Keep up to date with the latest SEO requirements that Google publicly shares.

Top SEO Terms Every Marketing Guru Should Master



301 A permanent server redirect – a change of address for a web page found in the htaccess file on apache servers. Also useful for dealing with canonical issues.

adwords Google Pay Per Click contextual advertisement program, very common way of basic website advertisement.

adwords site (MFA) Made For Google Adsense Advertisements – websites that are designed from the ground up as a venue for GA advertisements. This is usually, but not always a bad thing. TV programming is usually Made For Advertisement.

affiliate An affiliate site markets products or services that are actually sold by another website or business in exchange for fees or commissions.

algorithm (algo) A program used by search engines to determine what pages to suggest for a given search query.

alt text A description of a graphic, which usually isn’t displayed to the end user, unless the graphic is undeliverable, or a browser is used that doesn’t display graphics. Alt text is important because search engines can’t tell one picture from another. Alt text is the one place where it is acceptable for the spider to get different content than the human user, but only because the alt text is accessible to the user, and when properly used is an accurate description of the associated picture. Special web browsers for visually challenged people rely on the alt text to make the content of graphics accessible to the users.

analytics A program which assists in gathering and analyzing data about website usage. Google analytics is a feature rich, popular, free analytics program.

anchor text The user visible text of a link. Search engines use anchor text to indicate the relevancy of the referring site and of the link to the content on the landing page. Ideally all three will share some keywords in common.

astroturfing (the opposite of full disclosure) attempting to advance a commercial or political agenda while pretending to be an impartial grassroots participant in a social group. Participating in a user forum with the secret purpose of branding, customer recruitment, or public relations.

authority (trust, link juice, Google juice) The amount of trust that a site is credited with for a particular search query. Authority/trust is derived from related incoming links from other trusted sites.

authority site A website which has many incoming links from other related expert/hub sites. Because of this simultaneous citation from trusted hubs an authority site usually has high trust, pagerank, and search results placement. Wikipedia, is an example of an authority site.

B2B Business to Business.

B2C Business to Consumer

back link (inlink, incoming link) Any link into a page or site from any other page or site.

black hat Search engine optimization tactics that are counter to best practices such as the Google Webmaster Guidelines.

blog A website which presents content in a more or less chronological series. Content may or may not be time sensitive. Most blogs us a Content Management System such as WordPress rather than individually crafted WebPages. Because of this, the Blogger can chose to concentrate on content creation instead of arcane code.

bot (robot, spider, crawler) A program which performs a task more or less autonomously. Search engines use bots to find and add web pages to their search indexes. Spammers often use bots to “scrape” content for the purpose of plagiarizing it for exploitation by the Spammer.

bounce rate The percentage of users who enter a site and then leave it without viewing any other pages.

bread crumbs Web site navigation in a horizontal bar above the main content which helps the user to understand where they are on the site and how to get back to the root areas.

canonical issues (duplicate content) canon = legitimate or official version – It is often nearly impossible to avoid duplicate content, especially with CMSs like WordPress, but also due to the fact that,, and are supposedly seen as dupes by the SEs – although it’s a bit hard to believe they aren’t more sophisticated than that. However these issues can be dealt with effectively in several ways including – using the noindex meta tag in the non-canonical copies, and 301 server redirects to the canon.

click fraud Improper clicks on a PPC advertisement usually by the publisher or his minions for the purpose of undeserved profit. Click fraud is a huge issue for add agencies like Google, because it lowers advertiser confidence that they will get fair value for their add spend.

cloak The practice of delivering different content to the search engine spider than that seen by the human users. This Black Hat tactic is frowned upon by the search engines and caries a virtual death penalty of the site/domain being banned from the search engine results.

CMS Content Management System – Programs such as WordPress, which separate most of the mundane Webmaster tasks from content creation so that a publisher can be effective without acquiring or even understanding sophisticated coding skills if they so chose.

code swapping (bait and switch) Changing the content after high rankings are achieved.

comment spam Posting blog comments for the purpose of generating an inlink to another site. The reason many blogs use link condoms.

content (text, copy) The part of a web page that is intended to have value for and be of interest to the user. Advertising, navigation, branding and boilerplate are not usually considered to be content.

contextual advertisement Advertising which is related to the content.

conversion (goal) Achievement of a quantifiable goal on a website. Add clicks, sign ups, and sales are examples of conversions.

conversion rate Percentage of users who convert – see conversion.

CPC Cost Per Click – the rate that is paid per click for a Pay Per Click Advertiser

CPM (Cost Per Thousand impressions) A statistical metric used to quantify the average value / cost of Pay Per Click advertisements. M – from the Roman numeral for one thousand.

crawler (bot, spider) A program which moves through the worldwide web or a website by way of the link structure to gather data.

directory A site devoted to directory pages. The Yahoo directory is an example.

directory page A page of links to related WebPages.

doorway (gateway) A web page that is designed specifically to attract traffic from a search engine. A doorway page which redirects users (but not spiders) to another site or page is implementing cloaking. – Previous Definition revised based upon advice from Michael Martinez

duplicate content Obviously content which is similar or identical to that found on another website or page. A site may not be penalized for serving duplicate content but it will receive little if any Trust from the search engines compared to the content that the SE considers being the original.

Read the full SEO Glossary here.

What NOT TO do in Social Media

Staff writer. Frequently covers franchise news and food trends.

This article originally ran March 14, 2016 and has since been updated.

It may only be July, but the Internet never sleeps, and neither do the social-media blunders.

From the Justice Department accidentally tweeting that CNN is the “biggest troll of them all” to Coca-Cola’s Russian map fail, these are some of the top “online oops” so far this year.

Retailer Vera Bradley launches a “girly” campaign.

Image credit: Vera Bradley | Instagram

Rewind to the 1950s and Vera Bradley’s latest campaign would have been right on target. But in today’s world, a campaign called “Why It’s Good to Be a Girl” has to hit all the right notes or face major criticism. It turned out to be the latter for Vera Bradley.

The fashion brand asked customers to share why they like being a girl. Responses were mixed. Some of the published statements, such as “That moment when a gentleman offers you his seat,” and “Being able to hang out with the boys but still be treated like a lady” did not resonate.

Vera Bradley’s efforts to connect with young girls is well-noted, but their execution flawed. Not all women want to accessorize. Not allwomen belt their favorite song lyrics. Perhaps using more caution when incorporating the hashtag #itsgoodtobeagirl in a 21st century marketing campaign would have been helpful — a strategy in which its approach seems almost … backwards.

Coca-Cola learns geography is hard.

It’s never a good thing to piss off the Russians. Leave it to Coca-Cola to do so right out of the gate this year after it sent out a tweet featuring a cartoon with a snow-covered map of the country. Seems innocent enough, right?

Taking a closer look, the map’s actually outdated, omitting Kaliningrad, which was annexed following World War II. Needless to say, Russian patriots were not happy with the company, as they posted pics pouring the soft drink into toilets with the hashtag #BanCocaCola.

DC Comics realizes some research is better than none.

Face-palm online after it posted a photo of the comic saying it was translated from Pakistan as if it were a language. Too bad the official language is Urdu.

Obviously, users were quick to point out DC’s ignorance. It’s a good reminder to do your research.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

A beauty brand’s finds out it’s not color blind — just tone deaf.

In some cases you just have to stop and wonder what the heck the company’s PR team was thinking.

Seoul Secret, a beauty brand, thought the campaign “White makes you win” promoting skin-lightening cosmetics was a good idea.

Read the full article from Entrepreneur Magazine here.

Learn How Big Retailers, Celebs and Tech Giants were Penalized for doing black hat SEO


10 Big Brands That Were Penalized By Google, From Rap Genius To The BBC

google-flyswatter-penalty-600It’s been a busy year already with big brands getting hit by Google penalties. First came Rap Genius, slammed so hard that you couldn’t find it for its own name. Then came Expedia’s suspected penalty that may have hurt its traffic. But these are also a familiar tune. Big brand violates Google’s rules, gets in trouble but ultimately returns to Google’s good graces with what may seem a virtual wrist-slap.

Below, in reverse chronological order, is a list of major brands that have been hit by Google penalties over the years for various reasons. Some violations weren’t even intentional.

10) Rap Genius & Links For Tweets

Rap GeniusRap Genius invited bloggers to add links to its lyrics content, in exchange for Rap Genius then tweeting the posts from those bloggers. After this exchange came to light on Christmas Eve 2013, the head of Google’s web spam team Matt Cutts said Google would investigate Rap Genius.

On Christmas Day, Rap Genius was penalized by Google and no longer ranking in the top page of results for its own name. Rap Genius also lost traffic for lyrics-related searches. After working to remove “unnatural links,” Rap Genius had its penalty lifted by Google after 10 days.

  • When: December 2013
  • Violation: Unnatural links
  • Penalty: Much of entire site degraded from ranking in the first page of results at Google; didn’t rank for its own name
  • Penalty Period: 10 days

9) Mozilla & UGC Spam

Mozilla LogoThat’s right, Mozilla — which makes the popular open source Firefox browser — has been penalized by Google. But unlike with Rap Genius, it was an extremely specific situation — one single page of user-generated content that was considered too spammy to include.

The situation emerged after Mozilla received a manual action notice — i.e., a message from Google that some human spam reviewer decided something deserved the site getting a penalty.

Concerned about a message saying “Google has applied a manual spam action to your site,” Mozilla sought help in Google’s webmaster forums. Google quickly clarified that only one single page at Mozilla had been impacted. A similar Google penalty over UGC content happened to Sprintone month later. And somewhat related, all of Digg was dropped from Google briefly, after a mistake Google made that was meant only to impact a single page.

  • When: April 2013
  • Violation: UGC spam
  • Penalty: Single page apparently degraded in rankings
  • Penalty Period: N/A, because the page was removed

8) BBC & Mysterious “Unnatural Links”

446main_logoGoogle penalized the respected British Broadcasting Corporation? It sure did. Similar to Mozilla, the penalty involved a single page, this time one deemed to have “unnatural links” pointing at it.

The situation came to light after the BBC received a manual action notice. Like Mozilla, the BBC sought help in Google’s webmaster forums, which lead to Google responding that the penalty impacted one article. It’s unclear how it was resolved, as the page impacted was never stated. Probably, the penalty was removed by Google in short order.

  • When: March 2013
  • Violation: Unnatural links
  • Penalty: Single page apparently degraded in rankings
  • Penalty Period: Unknown

7) Interflora & Advertorial Links?

interfloraSimilar to Rap Genius, Interflora found itself penalized in Google, no longer ranking for its own name, as well as for many generic flower-related searches. Why? Google itself never gave an official reason for penalizing Interflora, as is fairly normal in penalty cases, nor did Interflora itself say.

However, Google quickly pushed a warning against “advertorial” content that doesn’t make use of nofollow or other methods so that links in such content don’t pass along ranking credit. After apparently getting some links removed, Interflora’s penalty was lifted after 11 days. Interestingly, Google didn’t severely act against a number of online florists accused of buying links two years prior.

  • When: February 2013
  • Violation: Probably paid links in advertorials and perhaps elsewhere
  • Penalty: Much of entire site degraded from ranking in the first page of results at Google; didn’t rank for own name
  • Penalty Period: 11 days

6) Overstock: Discounts For Links

overstockOverstock hit trouble with Google after a competitor found that it was offering discounts to schools in exchange for links back to the Overstock website. The links lead to particular products, with very specific anchor text that helped Overstock rank well for terms like “vacuum cleaners” and “gift baskets.” The Wall Street Journal profiled Overstock being hit by the penalty, probably tipped by the same competitor that reported Overstock to Google.

Overstock was so happy to have its penalty lifted two months later that it issued a press release about the news. Overstock said the impact might hit revenues by 5% and filed a statement for investors with the SEC in the weeks after it hit. It also blamed the penalty for “adversely” impacting revenue for the first and second quarter of 2011, in its annual filing.

  • When: February 2011
  • Violation: Paid links, in the form of offering discounts for linking back to the site
  • Penalty: Much of entire site degraded from ranking in the first page of results at Google; probably kept ranking for own name
  • Penalty Period: 2 months

5) JC Penney & Paid Links

JCPA New York Times article detailed how retailer JC Penney was apparently buying links to rank better in Google. The article even contained a rare confirmation of the violation by Google. By the time the article appeared, JCP had already been penalized.

It’s not clear if JCP ever disappeared for its own name, but it did drop for many generic terms relating to products it sold. After cleaning up the paid links — and blaming the mess on its SEO firm— JCP regained many top rankings in Google after 90 days.

  • When: February 2011
  • Violation: Paid links
  • Penalty: Many pages degraded from ranking in the first page of Google’s results
  • Penalty Period: 90 days



Reno SEO, Marketing & Web Design
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Sandy Rowley is a SEO expert in Reno Nevada that specializes in search engine optimization, web design, and digital marketing.

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