Web Marketing Lesson 5: Adding and setting up important Plugins

Web Marketing Lesson 5: Adding and setting up important Plugins

This article is an easy to use, step-by-step method to enhance your WordPress website with some extremely powerful plugins in the easiest, best and fastest way possible.

wordpress plugin setup comic title

Got your WordPress website installed and want to make it rock … but you don’t know how?

Never fear. This page will show you what to do to make sure your site is safe, solid and super. And you can do this for practically any WordPress website you install.

All right, so let’s quickly recap what you should have done by now.

Step 1: Register your domain.

Step 2: Setup Your Web Hosting Account

Step 3: Install WordPress

In case you skipped straight to this page, and still don’t have a domain or website host, here are some quick shortcuts for you to catch up.

Recommended Registrars:

GoDaddy
JustHost

OK, so we’re all on the same page now. Great. Now we can begin the procedure for setting up your site with important settings and poweful plugins that will make your site so powerful, it just might be able to help you single-handedly crush even the mightiest evil forces in the world.

Here’s the quick list of plugins and things you may learn to install and configure on this page:

Section 1:

CRITICAL – for security

Bad Behavior Plugin

Acunetix WP Security Plugin

WP Login Security Plugin

WordPress Firewall 2 Plugin

WordPress 2 DropBox Backup Plugin

Akismet anti-spam Plugin

Section 2:

POWERFUL – for site functionality & search engine friendliness

Setting Your Permalinks

Customizing Your Website Title, Subtitle, and other key WP Settings

Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin

Contact Form 7 Plugin

GD Star Rating Plugin

W3 Total Cache Plugin

Google XML Sitemaps v3 for qTranslate Plugin

Section 3:

AWESOME – for website content development, flexibility, reach and social proof

Jetpack multi-purpose Plugin

Digg Digg Social Sharing Plugin

Pretty Link Lite Plugin

WordPress Short Codes Plugin

Section 4:

SWEET – for maintaining your website without having to waste your time

Keeping your WordPress core site code and WP plugins up-to-date

All right. Now let’s go over how to install Plugins. The following set of instructions is fairly standardized for most, if not all, WordPress plugins.

Here’s what to do in your WordPress Admin area:

The procedure is standard on any WordPress site.

Step 1: In the Admin area, go to the Plugins page from the Admin toolbar. That’s the vertical menu bar seen on the Left on WP installations in English and other Latin languages.

Step 2: Keep in mind that most plugins are not installed by default. However, some may be, especially if you installed it via a version customized by your web hosting provider. If any plugin on this list is pre-installed, then you just need to check the Read the Instructions, make sure you setup the Settings with your specific details for each one (when required), and make sure any pre-installed plugin is activated by clicking the word Activate in the Plugin’s summary on the Plugins page.

Step 3: For all other plugins, which are not pre-installed for you, click on the “Add New” button which is at the top of the Plugins Page.

Step 4: In the Search field, enter the name of a plugin you wish to install and hit the “Search” button.

Step 5: Look for the plugin on the search results page. You can verify it with the plugin’s name, Version (if you know it), Rating, and Description. The plugin should be at or near the top of the list of related plugins that come up in the results of your search.

Step 6: Beneath the Plugin’s name, you can see a link to read the plugin’s Details, and another link to Install the plugin.

Step 7: Click on Details to make sure the plugin is compatible with your version of WordPress (Some fall out of date from time to time, until they update their software).

Step 8: If the plugin is out of date, do not install it. Instead, search for a similar plugin with a high rating and many downloads, and that is compatible with your version.

Step 9: Once you have verified that the plugin you wish to install is compatibile with your version of WordPress, click on Install either from the Plugins page, or from the Details page of the specific plugin.

Step 10: WordPress will then ask you to verify the installation instruction, by asking you “Are you sure you want to install this plugin?” in a popover window. If you do not wish to install the plugin, click “Cancel”. If you wish to install the plugin, Click “OK” to proceed.

Step 11: Once you have clicked OK, you will see the progress of the installation in a page that reads something similar to this:

Installing Plugin: CaptionPix 1.4.1

Downloading install package from https://downloads.wordpress.org/plugin/captionpix.1.4.1.zip…

Unpacking the package…

Installing the plugin…

Successfully installed the plugin CaptionPix 1.4.1.

Activate Plugin | Return to Plugin Installer

The last line contains two links, which allow you to immediately activate the plugin, or to return to the Plugins page.

Step 12: If you installed the correct plugin, click on Activate Plugin. The plugin should then be activated.

Step 13: Go to the plugin’s Settings page (most plugins have one, but not all do), and set the details specific to your site and use of the plugin. Some plugins have just one page of settings, others have multiple pages. Be sure you go through all of the settings for each plugin, to optimize its use for your needs and your site’s performance. Examples of plugins with multiple Settings pages include: WordPress SEO by Yoast, GD Star Rating, Pretty Link, WordPress Backup 2 DropBox.

Step 14: Click on the Save button or link, usually found at the bottom of the Settings page.

Step 15: In most cases, you’re done installing the plugin at this point, and you may proceed to installing the next plugin, or go on to other matters.

Step 16: If you made an error and installed the wrong Plugin somehow, you can go the Plugin Installer page, and click on the “Delete” link which is beneath the short description of the Plugin in question.

Step 17: If you click on Delete, you will see a page with text similar to the following, except of course for the Plugin’s name and its Author’s name, which will depend on the plugin.

Delete Plugin

You are about to remove the following plugin:

Caption Pix by Russell Jamieson

Are you sure you wish to delete these files?

Click to view entire list of files which will be deleted

Step 18: Click Cancel to cancel the deletion, or click OK / Delete the Plugin.

Step 19: If you clicked on Cancel, you should be returned to the Plugin page.

Step 20: If you clicked on Delete WordPress should delete the plugin and its related files, and return you to the Plugins page.

Step 21: Proceed installing, setting up and activating further plugins that you need.

Congratulations! Once you have installed all of the plugins on this page’s list, you have installed the critical plugins for your WordPress website. Your site is now strong, flexible, and has massive potential for creating, distributing and monetizing unique, high quality content to enormous audiences around the world … and beyond! And why not? Astronauts like Chris Hadfield use the Internet in space, too.

Step 22: Now be sure to keep your plugins up-to-date. This you do by looking at the Admin Dashboard of column of administrative tools in the Admin area of the site. If there are any plugins to update, you will see a highlighted number (representing the number of plugin updates available) located next to the Plugins word of your Admin area’s vertical toolbar.

Step 23: On the Plugins or WordPress Updates page, you may update your plugins one at a time, or more than simultaneously, or even all of them at once.

Step 24: If any of your plugins fail to install properly, you will see a WordPress note about the error in most cases. Usually this is not a big deal, as you can often leave the plugin as-is until a better update becomes available. Or, you may deactivate the plugin, or even delete it, just as you would do in the steps written above. In some cases, a plugin update may actually temporarily cause your website not to function properly. In this case, the easiest thing to do is to delete the plugin. The next easiest thing to do is to Restore your website from your backup. Fortunately, if you installed the plugins on this page, then you have also installed a great, easy-to-use backup plugin, which allows you to quickly restore the site to its latest backup. Simply follow the instructions to restore your backup, and Presto! Your site is restored, and you may proceed.

Step 25: Keeping your overall WordPress core up-to-date is also vital. Fortunately, WordPress recently implemented an auto-updating technology. What this means is that since WordPress released version 3.8.1, standard installations (and even some customized ones) now have the ability to automatically update the WP Core, so that your website will always remain up-to-date with the main code that powers your wordpress website.

If you prefer watching a video tutorial about installing your site and various key plugins included on this page, checkout this highly useful clip by a fellow online content marketer, Matthew Woodward, who created and maintains his own great website about creating real value and earnings through web publishing.

In the next lesson, we will cover how to add high quality content, leading to the use of the best practices of SEO and Social Media.

As usual, if you like this article and care to help us in our efforts to put Google’s quality content claims to the test, then I beseech you, please share this page with your peers and colleagues on your social networks or any place where web publishers may find it beneficial.

Follow us: @yashaharari on Twitter

Previous Lesson: Web Marketing Lesson 4: Building A Site After Domain Name Registration

Next Lesson: Web Marketing Lesson 6: Secret Sauce. Adding the power of High quality content, SEO, Email Newsletter updates and Social Media to your site.

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Web Marketing Lesson 4: Building A Site After Domain Name Registration

Web Marketing Lesson 4: Building A Site After Domain Name Registration.

This page contains an easy to use, step-by-step guide to help you build your website in the best, easiest, fastest way possible.

how to setup your website graphic by yasha harari

So, you want to set up your own website? And you don’t know exactly what to do, step-by-step?

Well, put aside your fears. This page explains what you can do to setup your site in 30 minutes or less. And you can use practically any decent web host to get it done.

OK, so let’s review really quickly what you should have done by now.

Step 1) Get your domain.

As explained in this web marketing tutorial’s first lesson, you should have registered a domain, using any of the registrars you prefer, that can register your chosen domain name(s).

Remember that while most registrars can register .com, .net, and .org domains, practically all other Top Level Domains, or TLDs, like .ca, .co.uk, .com.au, .tv, .mobi, or .info all have a much smaller list of registrars to choose from. So make sure you look around and choose your registrar carefully, and remember that cheaper prices do not always mean a better deal.

Keep in mind that while a domain is a virtual piece of property, it’s still a form of electronic real estate. And just as with real estate in the real world, sometimes it’s worth paying a few extra bucks for a bunch of additional features and services, a big one of which is location location location — just like in the real world.

Domain Name Registration Recap:

Step 1 & 2: How To Get a Domain Name and Setup Your Web Hosting Account

Before you can start your your blog or other website, you first need to set up a domain name and find a website hosting service.

I prefer GoDaddy and JustHost because each of them is a well-known company with reliable uptime.

GoDaddy offers extremely affordable web hosting, email, and other services you may want.

JustHost offers a domain at no extra cost when you buy one of their web hosting packages.

In both cases, registration and web hosting account setup is easy and inexpensive.

Recommended Registrars:

GoDaddy
JustHost

Here’s what to do on JustHost:

Go to the JustHost.com home page and click the red button that says sign up now. It will ask you to enter a domain name. You may do so and then click ‘Next’.

Their system will then ask you for a bit more information. You should fill out the details properly. Then you will get to pick a internet hosting plan for your account. At first, a one year plan is okay.

Of course, if you have the beans to put into it, and if you see your new site as a long-term, multi-year effort, then bear in mind that the longer your register your domain for, ie: 3, 5, or 10 years, the stronger its initial presence will be in Google, Yahoo, Yandex, Bing, etc. The reason for this is that the search engines look at how long you have registered your domain for, as a sign of how serious you are about making it a real, long-lasting business.

Okay, so now you’ve chosen your domain name and your hosting package. So make sure you pick a good, strong password and keep it safe.

Here’s what to do on GoDaddy:

The procedure is very similar at GoDaddy. You just go to their site, search for the domain name you want, and after you’ve selected the one(s) you want, you add the internet hosting packages that you want to buy, to your shopping cart, and you can pay online using your credit card or paypal account.

It is worth noting that these days, you can do this procedure of domain name registration and web hosting setup at just about any of the best registrars and web hosts. So look around to find the registrar and host that best matches your needs. This should not take you a long time. You can do it in as little as 3 minutes. At the extreme end, you should not spend more than 60 minutes on this task. If it takes longer than that, it probably has to do with the TLD you have chosen. If not, and if it’s just a lame registrar and web host, then go get served somewhere else, by someone who actually wants your business and respects your time.

Finally, please note that if you want your website to be a WordPress site, then make sure that the web host your choose offers WordPress hosting. The best large commercial webhosts all offer WordPress, and they let you install it yourself, or you can also choose to install it automatically using their own backend account control panel. So you can choose to use the host’s customized installation version, or install a clean, default version yourself. Either way, this page lets you know what to do.

All right, now you’ve got your domain name and web hosting package selected.

Guess what? Now it’s time to setup your website or blog!

In the next step, we will review exactly how to setup a WordPress site. Even though there are an enormous variety of ways to build your website, we choose to use WordPress as our example. This is because it is easy to use, flexible, and incredibly powerful. Also, nearly one-fifth of all websites today are built with WordPress, and that number keeps growing, so it makes a lot of sense to familiarize yourself with one of the most popular ways to build a website. WordPress is a great solution for someone who does not know how to write code by hand, and for people who just want to be able to install a site simply and quickly, and have it ready to do whatever they need, very well.

WordPress is a marketer’s dream, increasing scalability and reducing cost and time to market, with just a few clicks. And there are so many ways to customize WordPress sites, that your creative juices won’t be very limited. This means that in most cases, you don’t have to worry about whether or not your desired outcome is possible, and you can remain focused on delivering your amazing content, products and services to your best business asset: The people who are your audience and your customers.

Step 3: Installing WordPress

Once your web hosting account is setup, you just log in to your account and go to your account’s Control Panel.

From inside of your control panel, you will typically see a graphical user interface, or GUI, where you can choose various Applications or Apps to install. One of those apps is WordPress. Most web hosts have a very easy installation wizard to install WordPress onto your hosting space. In the case of GoDaddy, it’s literally a few clicks, a few details it asks you to fill in, which you should write down in a safe file, and then your site is installed and ready to customize and fill up with your content.

If you’re on GoDaddy, for example, they add a little plugin that helps set up key details about the site. It’s helpful the first time you setup a site, but after that, you can pretty much remove it, unless you think it has some greater value. I like keeping my sites lighter, so I remove it. Besides, it does not do anything that you can not do without it. It just takes you on a kind of tour of important elements of your WordPress site’s Admin area, and familiarizes you with what is vital to customize, and what you can leave as-is for the time being.

If you’re on JustHost, you first need to login to your JustHost account (This you do with the domain and password you just created). After you access the administrator tools, click on websites.

Now do these next steps to complete installing WordPress:

  1) Click on the Install WordPress option.
  2) At the next step, leave Installation Preferences with the default settings, and also leave Advanced Options with the default settings.
  3) Unselect the recommended plugins and themes box — We’ll cover those things afterward, when you actually should do them.
  4) Click ‘Complete’ which you will see at the bottom of the page.

Congratulations! You have now installed your basic WordPress website.

And remember to be sure to write down and safely store your password and login.

All right. Nicely done. If you followed the instructions on this page step by step, you should have spend not more than 30 minutes registering your domain name, setting up your web hosting account, and installing WordPress.

Now it’s time to start contemplating the fun stuff, like customizing your website to make it as serious, sexy or silly as you like, and filling it with the best, hottest and richest content that you can put out there.

While you’re letting your imagination run wild, here are some fun, titilating banned GoDaddy TV commercials for you to enjoy.

In the next lesson, we will cover how to add critical Plugins, and how to make sure your new website is optimized for search platforms and different devices, right from the start.

And as always, if you read something you like here and want to help in our effort to test Google’s quality content claims, then I urge you to please share the link to this page on your social networks or any place where others might benefit from it.

Follow us: @yashaharari on Twitter

Previous Lesson: Web Marketing Lesson 3: SEO Dos and Don’ts.
Next Lesson: Web Marketing Lesson 5: Adding and setting up important Plugins. The super easy walkthrough to secure, enhance and optimize your customers’ user experience on your website, served best for any device, from the get-go.

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Web Marketing Lesson 3: SEO Dos and Don’ts

SEO Lesson for Internet Marketers

Web. Social. Mobile. How do you dominate those fields with SEO in an age of smart search engines?

SEO Dos and Don'ts article graphic

First of all, know your SEO history, or be doomed to repeat its failures. Second, make sure you do good SEO and avoid bad SEO. Here’s how.

Good SEO

If you’re doing SEO, do:
1) White Hat SEO only.
2) Be intelligent, if you want to rank at the top of SERPs.
3) Produce the highest quality wherever and whenever possible.
4) Distribute organically on traditional websites, blogs, forums, and social networks, where you have verified or verifiable accounts and profiles.
5) Let the audience come to you.
6) Make sure you know and apply the 5 fundamentals of good on-site SEO (Title, Navigation, Sitemap, Content Hierarchy, and canonical, ahreflang / rel tags / geolocation-based data serving)
7) Use the rel=nofollow tag on most commercial links.
8) Use images, infographics and video more, with proper tags and microdataformat information.
9) Use microdataformats to include good information about non-text media objects like images, audio, video and PDF files, that Google and other engines can easily read and index accordingly.
10) Optimize your site for speed and different platforms (Desktop, laptop, mobile, etc).
11) Use Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and know them inside out as far as SEO is concerned.
12) Remove the worst bad old links you have, and Disavow those you can not otherwise take down.
13) Test, test, test … Apply best possible incremental changes. Rinse and repeat.

Remember that just as in any other form of good marketing, you should focus on giving, selling, renting, leasing or otherwise making attainable to the people what they actually want. The higher your quality of work, the stronger your relationship will be with the user. If you make great content, as I hope I do, then your first goal with a user should be that your work is so great that the user will do everything just to sign-up to the freebie email newsletter on your site.

Keep in mind that unless you’re publishing secrets for being successful in a particular field (as this site does often), you can almost count on your users to spread the word for you. And that kind of prosteletizing is the best kind of word of mouth marketing, or WOMM, you can hope for. This is because WOMM is real. It’s not paid for, and people, being social creatures, are more likely to click on a link from a trusted friend, then from a random marketer who somehow slipped into their stream of data.

Some people who have warnings or even penalties in their GWT, have reported that completely ignoring these warnings and just continuing to produce better content has resulted in the penalties going away. However, for most webmasters, this is simply not the case. Just by opening the message, they are in a way acknowledging that they know that Google thinks they have done something that is a no-no in Google’s SEO rulebook. So definitely open your messages from GWT and fix whatever problem Google has been kind enough to share with you. It may take a while to do, and it may be a month or more until Google decides to lessen or remove your penalty. Whatever it takes, it’s worth it in the long run.

Of course there are also commercial services like MajesticSEO, ScreamingFrog, SEMRush, LinkResearchTool, SEOMoz, SEOBook, QuickSprout, and tons of other SEO tools which can be of great help in finding and removing bad links. LRT is especially proud of their service in this area, marketing their “bad link juice” or toxic link removal feature as a selling-point for their paid service.

Recommended SEO Tools:

Checkout
Know Who Is Your Competition.
Find out with

To date, reports from webmasters are that while LRT is comprehensive, it may also be a little too sensitive about what is and what is not a toxic link. My own experience with LRT is that roughly 20% – 40% of the links which it recommended to remove, were in fact perfectly fine, and that no removal was necessary. At the same time, about 60% – 80% of the links it recommended that I remove for one particular client, which had more than 435,000 backlinks from around the web, did need to be fixed, removed, and in a few cases, disavowed.

Bad SEO

If you’re doing SEO, don’t:
1) Do Grey Hat or Black Hat SEO.
2) Produce a ton of web spam. In fact, don’t publish any webspam at all.
3) Create a ton of thin profiles and accounts to blast cheap-o links and barely legible comments on news sites, .edu sites, .gov sites, online fora, social media and other web sites.
4) Buy links.
5) Buy followers, friends, likes, shares or re-pins.
6) Try to outproduce the largest brands in your field.
7) Googlebomb irrelevant garbage with poor quality links and anchor text.
8) Make most of your links “follow” links.
9) Over-optimize.
10) Use non-readable technologies like Flash and iframes for displaying content on pages that you want to rank high.
11) Think you know everything and that you have nothing left to learn about improving your SEO.
12) Feign ignorance about the latest SEO tweaks, hoping Google will let you slide.
13) Ignore Yahoo!, Bing, Yandex, DuckDuckGo and other big search engines.

For better or for worse, Google actually believes that its bot is now smart enough to make most decisions about what is high quality content and what is webspam. Even if you know you’re doing everything by the book, you should probably incorporate a few things that de-optimize your SEO strategy a little. Otherwise, it will reek of manipulation, and that’s a no-no in today’s SEO reality.

Keep in mind that the days of owning the search results by tricks and shady ruses are long behind us. Yes, you can still get short term gains from those methods, but they will eventually come back to bite you in the backside. And if you make a bad mistake, you could even harm or kill a real, valuable brand.

Just look at what happened to JC Penney. Someone there doing shady SEO tricks tried to fool Google with paid backlinks in 2012 and got spanked hard by Google. It took them a long time (relatively) and a lot of headaches (and probably lots of money) to get back into google’s good graces.

Remember that those brands and marketers who have legitimate massive appeal will organically crush most of their small-time competition without even trying. Unless you’re selling cold-fusion in a cup for under a buck, or something as cool, useful and catchy as WhatsApp or SnapChat, there is just no way you’re going to have millions of users and genuine backlinks overnight, or even within years. That kind of popularity is usually grown slowly … repeat … s–l—o—-w——–l–y.

Staying on top of the lesser search engines is also key to SEO success, because, even though individually they may not add up to much, overall, they account for at least 25% of all searches, and even more if you also include social media search engines. This means that you should be sure to do some non-google optimization, lest you ignore those audiences, and lest you make googlebot think you are only targeting google for exploitative purposes.

And always remember that very often, the best SEO looks very much like organized chaos. Organized on the back end, and often chaotic-looking on the front end, with no single routine or format to encapsulate all of the work that goes into it. All the same, you should be more concerned with being organized. The organic nature and the benefits of what appear to be chaos will ensue, just by the very work that is done by you, and the audience with whom you have cultivated a relationship. Done right, they will eagerly look for ways to link to your site from at least one of their own sites or social profiles, if not more.

    Useful SEO Resources:

    The SEO Guide you must read:
Google’s official SEO Rules as a PDF document:
    An SEO you can learn from:
Connect with an SEO Ninja
    SEO tools
Checkout SEO Resource
    Another great SEO tutorial
Read this Advanced SEO Guide

My independent social agreement with you: If you like what you saw on this page and want to help me in my quest to challenge Google’s public pronouncements on publishing great content, then please share the link to this page on your social network profiles and anywhere that you think it might help other people.

Previous Lesson: Web Marketing Lesson 2.6: SEO Overview : A brief history of search engine optimization.
Next Lesson: Web Marketing Lesson 4: Building A Site After Domain Name Registration. The best, easiest, fastest way to build your website, pre-optimized for search platforms and different devices, right from the start.

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SEO Overview : A brief history of search engine optimization

seo history title graphic

The truth about SEO

SEO means Search Engine Optimization. It’s all about getting your pages and sites to the top of Google and other major engines, in order to gain a greater share of users, and ultimately it is used to drive people through your acquisition and conversion funnel, for commercial purposes.

To internet publishing insiders, the very concept of SEO reeks of Google hacking and tricksterism. But what is SEO? How did SEO come to be what it is today? Where is SEO going? Why do marketers love it and use it? Why is it so often reviled, and so rarely loved by the search engine operators of the world? And how can you make sure you’re doing good SEO that the search engines and real people at the other end of the search, will actually love and promote for you?

In a word, accountability.

Recommended SEO Tools:

Checkout
Know Who Is Your Competition:
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You see, back in the early days of search engine development, people would search freely for all kinds of things, just as they do now, only to find a lot of searches have very thin search results come up. And then the keyword marketers came along. They (we) figured out very early on in the game, how to determine what people were searching for, how competitive those search terms were, and how to rank well for them.

Ranking well was easy, because a) there were not so many SEOs gaming the system, and b) it was all about the number of links pointing from servers around the web, to a target website being pushed up the rankings in an unnatural way.

It was easy, because there was no accountability. Anyone could be anyone, and the more accounts an SEO set up, the merrier. You could buy thousands or even millions of of links, follows, friends, likes, shares, and just about any other kind of semi-trackable and wholly valuable “link juice” from an army of websites willing to sell automatic links, real-human links, and more, for less than a pack of cigarettes.

Also, tons of content management systems, or CMSes, were maturing tyo the point were nearly anyone online could set up a site, or even a network of sites, easily and quickly. Quality be damned; the volume game was still on. Blogger and WordPress became the leading causes and sources of low and medium quality webspam.

People who built a single site with high quality information were screwed, left to dwell at the bottom of page 549 of a search result, unless they lucky enough to have tons of real followers who, through organic word of mouth and social media marketing, were happy to share their content.

This meant that the people calling themselves SEOs were growing rapidly, in large numbers, with high salaries for doing easy, low quality work. For those of us focused on quality, it was at times annoying and frustrating; at others, downright infuriating, and often a business-killer.

That meant of course that many great sites simply died on the vine, and not for lack of trying. They were just too ethical for their own short-term needs. However, in the long-run, those who stuck to playing by the rules, would get a better chance at success again, as long as they survived until the inevitable search engine evolutions that would change SEO forever.

And there was little to nothing that Google or other engines could do about it. Their algorithms were still just stupidly counting link volume and link velocity as the main ingredients for determining what made a site rank higher. This lack of accountability was terrible.

By allowing the system to be gamed for so long, many regular users started to understand that most of the links they actually wanted, were probably not on page 1 of their search results. In face, it was not surprising to see all commercial links on page 1, above even the wikipedia links for important or popular subject searches.

So the big search engines decided to get smarter. Doing so would not be impossible do to, as long as they could eliminate the gamers, or at least reduce their impact. One team, the Google web spam and web quality team, was led by a guy who seems to really communicate very well what google looks for. His name is Matt Cutts, and he is famous in the SEO industry.

Matt is the lead googler when it comes to figuring out who is trying to game the network, and who is an honest and accountable person or organization, trying to legitimately post interesting information for their target audiences. Matt frequently posts blog articles and videos, as do many of his colleagues, about what is good content, and what is shady, or outright spammy content.

Recommended SEO Video:

See Matt Cutts about producing high quality content:
Find out with

Matt’s team was integral in helping Google improve its search algorithms, by removing the spammy links and lowering the rankings, or even removing tons of websites form the search engine’s index of search engine results pages, aka: SERPs. But they did not roll out this quality assurance protocol all at once. Instead, they let it trickle across the network, almost one category at a time, so that by the time it was noticed by most marketers, it had already done its job and would become harder and harder to outgame in the future.

Meanwhile, SEOs were busy trying to figure out how to game search by using social media. Given their popularity and contant connection to people’s smartphones, this seemed like a great goldrush again, and now easily dominating the relatively virgin mobile search entered the market as a tasty proposition for smart marketers. Thanks to iPhone, and then Android devices, hundreds of millions of smartphones appeared in people’s hands, and people were searching from the handsets as much or more than they were from their desktop computers and laptops.

So the SEOs were partly distracted by social and mobile while changes were happening behind the scenes in California.

And then the little engines that could, got smarter.

As I have suggested, from 1994 – 2009, SEOs had a very easy time, ranking just about any website for just about any keyword. All we had to do was pump up the link count and the diversity of those links across as many servers, subnets, IP numbers and C-Classes as possible. It was a period of netting fish in a barrel.

There was even great, cheap software that did this semi-automatically, if not fully automated. For less than the cost of dinner, you could own a range of keywords for any number of sites you wanted to push, and you could do it quickly, without too much competition. People on sites like WarriorForum and DigitalPoint Forum could semi-anonymously exchange information and trade links, or buy/sell links in massive numbers, and for very little money.

It seemed as if the heydey would last and create a second Internet marketing bubble. But those who held that view, and were clogging the Interwebz with garbage, were very narrow-minded, and were causing their brands more long-term damage than they imagined.

Around 2010, search engines started getting smart. Very smart. The algorithms were hitting hundreds, even thousands of calculations for every search a user made. They pulled results that included not just the number of links, or backlinks pointing to a target site, they also started being quite refined at pulling contextual search results, relating the actual search terms being looked up, against the anchor text of a link. They also started searching smarter for the words near the anchor text, or link.

Come 2011, and Google was not just the leading search engine on Earth, it was also quietly building itself up as one of the leading networks of verified users. Other massive networks, like Facebook, were also growing at a tremendous pace, with hundreds of millions of users signed up and at least partially verified. Yes, you could still create fake accounts (and people still do), but various steps were required to make multiple accounts on any single device.

Simultaneously, the searches on social sites were being logged, and fed into their own search engines. Twitter and facebook were then also mostly taken out of google’s search results, and as a result, you had a tumultuous period of finding and losing pages very quickly within a google search, and people started to rely more on searches directly on their favorite social networks.

Then, Google launched Google+, and it seemed like a godsend for SEOs who were looking to beat the system once again. They created tons of accounts as fast as they could, but they had to use names that seemed real to Google, and they have to give information that was a little more verifiable than ever before. Soon it seemed as if the only people really using Google+ very much were:
1) Google employees, and others who have a vested interest in seeing Google+ succeed.
2) Tech snobs or the so-called technorati, aka: elites, who just wanted to show the world that they were cooler than facebook, and they, as early adopters, would use google’s all-powerful social network to remain on the leading edge.
3) SEOs and SEMs who market brands for various products and services, using the power of the internet.

Meanwhile, the big change people were noticing was that on Google+, was that it was ripe for hacks. It was possible to rank on page 1 on the same day that an article was published, if Google+ was tricked into believing that it had received a number of +1s quickly, and given the still partly unverified Google accounts, it was easy to have bots or cheap labor in India and across Asia and Latin America, and even Eastern Europe, provide “real” people-generated profiles, that could then be used to pump up the link-juice of any target site. So even though Google’s web quality team was fighting the good fight, trying to deliver the best research for searches, they were also allowing themselves to be one of the leading causes of webspam. Give that a big +1 for irony.

And then came the Panda

Near the end of 2011, Google quietly started rolling out their first famous Panda update. It took effect by the end of January 2012, and hit hundreds of thousands, if not tens of millions of websites.

Panda basically counted not just the traditional algorithm, but also the freshness of content. Panda also was smart at making connections and bringing out into the daylight many link networks and shady link juice practices, which helped them cull millions of bad SEO pages from their index. Of course, this also hit many legit pages, which were maybe the unintended victimes of bad SEO from the old-school days of simple link-building techniques.

As SEOs took measures to defend themselves against the damage caused, or about to be caused by Panda, Google had more surprises in store. Just when everyone in the industry thought that they had applied the necessary changes to reduce the minimum possible amount of webspam published in their brand names, the GOOG went off and set up a rolling update strategy. This means that changes would take effect on an ongoing basis, and that they would not all be announced.

Now, SEOs were faced with updating their sites and pages every 90 days (maximum) or have those sites and pages fall out of google entirely.

Soon, Panda 2 and others in its wake would take hold and affect even more sites. So many changes came, in fact, that even leading search engine publications and analysts stopped trying to keep track or name every single change.

Then followed the Penguin

Penguin quickly followed Panda as the biggest change in the google algorithm in years. It counted not only freshness, but it also counted social signals much more.

Penguin caused more alarms to go off than any previous update, even though in theory, Google had long-since discounted and social search results. This major change meant that although links on social networks should not have accounted for much link juice, actual links, likes, shares, re-pins, and follows by real people were powerful indicator’s of a site’s real value, at least as far as the googlebot was concerned.

Now SEOs had to figure out how to publish all kinds of great content, in quick, regular succession, and get it shared socially, or ignore social media at their own peril.

The Penguin update, in line with the previous Google dictates about rolling updates, quickly had Penguin 2.0 and other udpates streaming out so fast, that people in the know stopped tracking every minute change.

The search engines were back on top … for a while. And it seemed they were gaining ground, wiping out zillions of pages of garbage. Yet plenty of junk remained, and much of it was still gaming the system. This was especially true in sectors which Google ignores, mostly because they don’t like them. And the acronym of these sectors is, ironically, PPC. And as we all know, PPC, or Pay-Per-Click advertising is the bread and butter of Google and other big engines.

Of course, the PPC I’m talking about here stands for something else entirely, although it is also the leading source of money spent in PPC ads. The PPC I’m talking about is Pills, Porn and Casino. Those three sectors are topics that Googlers would prefer just did not exist. And yet, they are by far three of the most popular search categories since the dawn of civilization, let alone the search engines.

So too came the Hummingbird

Come mid-2013, Google announced that its latest major overhaul was called Hummingbird. And by overhaul, we mean a complete reboot for the google machine.

You see, Hummingbird effectively replaced the entire google search engine. It left in place the different calculations that google makes for every search query it receives. And it made real-time, social and location-based search results stand out much more, especially for the majority of regular users, who are plugged in to their google accounts in one way or another, at just about any time that they’re googling.

So now Hummingbird delivered more search results that seemed to be relevant uniquely to the searcher, and it did so faster than ever before.

At this point, SEOs had to look at their strategies and techniques much closer than ever before. The notion that you could build a strong brand with grey hat and black hat SEO was dying quickly. White Hat SEO, the bane of lazy SEOs everywhere, was once again seen as the best of breed method of getting the best possible SEO results.

Of course, White Hat SEO is harder, more time consuming work, than the tricks and hacks of the lesser forms of SEO. Still, the merits of long-term value building with white hat SEO made the case clearer than ever. Just as you would not succeed long-term by tricking people to eat at your restaurant when you serve them garbage, you will no longer be able to succeed at building top ranked sites and pages by tricking users into visiting your site, or even putting up poor quality links to it from as many sites as possible.

Nowadays, in 2014, it is quite literally more beneficial to your SEO work and your page’s rank and targeted traffic, to have 1 link from a great website, than 1000 links from 1000 low quality sites. And while it will take you much more time to get that great link, the fact is, it’s worth it.

Don’t just believe that I write. Test against my theories, always.

If you’re not yet convinced, go ahead and try it on just one page, or one new site. Track that new content’s performance against the pages and sites you maintain with old techniques. If you do it right, you will see your better content with higher quality links shoot up quicker and for longer periods of time, than all of the lower quality pages you make in the next 30 – 90 days.

While you’re chewing your mind candy over what you’ve just learned here, watch this great video which goes in-depth about many instances of historical facts and sidenotes of the SEO industry, from 1994 until early 2014.

Post Lesson Note

My unofficial social contract with you: If you like what you learned in this article and care to help me in my challenge to test Google’s claims about publishing high quality content, then please share this page on your social network profiles and anywhere that you think it might help other people.

Previous Lesson: Web Marketing Lesson 2: Branding 101: Build a Brand to Remember

Next Lesson: Web Marketing Lesson 3: SEO Do’s and Don’ts The current best practices top SEO guide in 1 page.

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Branding 101

Build A Brand To Remember

Brands come in all shapes and sizes. Successful brands come in a much more limited set, restricted by guidelines, business values, and investor concerns, among other things.

I have spent more than 20 years working on branding issues. It has been part of my work in creating and developing brands and their strategies for businesses around the world. One primary lesson I learned about branding is, it’s important to always be open to learning from experts who have plenty of experience in branding, even if you have a pure, raw, natural talent for it.

And while that is obviously true for just about any subject, it is even more so in branding, because branding involves making a connection between people, … not just yourself … and the ideas and messages communicated by the brand. And here’s why this lesson is so incredibly important: If you don’t make the emotional or mental connection with whoever sees the brand, then you probably won’t form any further relationship with that person, so you’ve already lost them before you ever had a chance to get to know them.

Branding pre-requisites

Understanding what makes brands succeed or fail is a preliminary requirement before you go about trying to grapple the process on your own. Normally, it involves more than one person to get the job done right.

Without being too metaphorical, a brand is a lot like a tattoo. It’s kind of permanent, if it’s done well, but even the best made brand will experience subtle changes over time. If not maintained properly, it will eventuall fade and become less appealing. If maintained well, it will become more beautiful over time, and can even be refreshed from time to time by great creative visionaries and artists.

Given this idea, it is important to spend some time considering the Pros and Cons of various color palettes and combinations. Test with your instincts, your feelings, your thoughts, and yes, with blind test groups where possible. If you’re a one-person show, then test with a professional graphic artist or brand designer. If you can’t afford to do that, then test with a trusted friend, or better yet, multiple friends, if you can’t afford to do a proper multi-panel test. You’ll be surprised how others perceive the greatness you have conceived.

Don’t just sit there. Decide.

Eventually, you will need to pick a set of colors that you think will work best.  Go ahead. Do it. Don’t be afraid. These colors can be changed .. even if only slowly .. later on.

As an example, here are the main colors I decided to go with for this site, when I got to this point in creating this lesson. They’re nice and richly saturated. They go together, complimenting each other with a strong enough contrast without blinding the eyes.

theme colors for yasha.harari.org from 2014 march 7

And here is the custom cartoon image I created and decided to use as my branded avatar for this website, once I arrived to this point in creating this lesson.

yamaha harari custom cartoon avatar

Then, I put down on paper my thoughts about what I communicate through the SEO and Marketing tutorials on this website. And I boiled it down, pretty quickly, to just three words. Marketing. Savvy. Shared.

Mixing those ideas with the colors and cartoon image of myself and my name, I came up with this branded header.

yasha harari website cartoony brand headingTotal time: 20 minutes, including 15 minutes for the graphics and 5 minutes to write about it here.

Note: If you can’t design well or make cool graphics quickly, hire a pro. It’s worth it. Go to odesk or fiverr or freelancer sites anywhere online and you can get graphics done … affordably.

    Useful Brand Builder Resource:

    Need a cool graphic done on time and under budget?
    Get what you need right now, at

That site has been around many years, and has a network of over 10 Million users. I have used their services often, and I definitely recommend them.

By the way, here’s a great video about branding from a TEDx event, by a guy named Sasha, not to be confused with me, Yasha.

And here’s another clip, which you actually have to read, that explains pretty well (in 2011 terms) a big picture summary of the history of branding and how it has changed over the centuries.

And of course, if you enjoyed what you read in this article and want to help me in my effort to put Google to the test, then please share the link to this page on your social media profile or wherever else it could benefit others.

OK, that’s it for now. Good luck making your own kickass brand that’s memorable, and totally awesome, and stay tuned for the next lesson in building a top website.

Previous Lesson: 2014 Challenge 1 : Build a Top Website

Next Lesson: Web Marketing Lesson 2.6 : SEO Overview : A brief history of search engine optimization

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