8 10, 2015

Should I Use Canonicals or 301 Redirects?

By | 2017-08-08T08:42:09+00:00 October 8th, 2015|Categories: SEO|Tags: , , |

Should you 301 redirect that page to another, or should you use a rel=canonical tag? There are tons of reason why you might have some redundancy on your site. If it’s an eCommerce site, you’re probably displaying product listing pages a few different ways (sort by price, color, rating, etc.), or you might have navigation pages that are similar to your SEO landing pages. Whatever the case may be, chances are pretty good you have some form of duplication on your site that needs addressing.  This topic has been debated for years, but the real answer lies in one simple question:

Should people be able to access both pages in question?

Should I use canonicals or 301 redirects?

If the answer to this questions is Yes, you want to use rel=canonical. Doing so will point search engines towards your preferred page, but won’t prevent people being able to access, read, and interact with both pages. Here are some times you might see the rel=canonical tag in action:

  • www & non-www versions of URLs
  • parameters that change how a product listing page is sorted
  • navigation pages that point to an equivalent SEO landing page (it doesn’t always make sense to put content on a nav page)

If the answer to your question is No, you should remove that page and 301 redirect it. Page removal is much more common among eCommerce sites where products are discontinued but you can’t just remove the page (what if someone is linking to it?!?). Occasionally, you’ll see cases where this needs to be done for SEO landing pages. In the case of large SEO projects, where there are hundreds or thousands of keywords, content can get duplicated easily. Keeping a perfect account of every single SEO landing page that’s been written is basically impossible, so you might end up with two different pages with URLs like this: /blue-widgets and /widgets-that-are-blue. Obviously, even if the content isn’t identical, you can’t keep both of those pages around. Figure out which one has the most authority, links, and traffic – keep that one, and redirect the other one to it.

Next time you come to this fork in the road, remember to ask yourself whether or not there is value in people being able to see both versions.

24 08, 2015

A Man Wrote Content To Get Clicks…What Google Did Next Will Blow Your Mind

By | 2017-08-08T08:33:00+00:00 August 24th, 2015|Categories: Social Media|Tags: , , , , , |


I’m sure by now most of you have seen, clicked, heard about and even hidden clickbait articles from your social feeds, emails and search results. The prevalence of articles that use emotion, sex, animals, quizzes and worst of all, tragedy, to get clicks has prompted search engines and social networks to crack down and even penalize these content providers.

Find Out Which Historical Figure You Are…

Copywriters have been using catchy headlines or intriguing headline copy to draw in audiences from as early as the 19th century. Not coined ‘click-bait’ in the 1800s, newspapers and editors utilized what was called ‘yellow journalism’ to bait readers into buying papers and increasing circulation. Early clickbait came in the form of cartoons featuring the ‘Yellow Kid’ by Joseph Pulitzer’s, New York World, which was winning the read-bait battle against rival owner, William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal.  What is shocking is that these tycoons are remembered today as pioneers and visionaries for taking part in what was back then, yellow journalism. More recent examples include Vinnie Musetto, a former editor at the New York Post who wrote the famous headline “Headless Body In Topless Bar.” He is affectionately called the godfather of click-bait as old New York Post front pages resembled very closely today’s Buzzfeed or UpWorthy, with catchy and cheeky headlines stacked one on top of another. 

What is scarier still, is that in half a century we may look back in the history books at the creators of UpWorthy or Buzzfeed with admiration and as pioneers in the field of online journalism. Imagine journalism students learning the basic s by using the ‘Distractify Principle’ or the ‘Viralnova Theory’ in future classrooms where the Internet has swelled to an-ever bloated capacity that the need to go viral outweighs the need for truth in journalism. All this to say that clickbait is nothing new, but more annoying and distracting as ever when more and more people use social media and news-aggregator sites to stay informed.

Why Does ClickBait Work? You Gotta See This!

The Oxford English Dictionary defines clickbait: “content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.” That definition doesn’t seem harmful or convey the emotion most people experience when they see these headlines. Most of us feel guilty within a fraction of a second of clicking one of these articles in our Facebook feed. We get this dirty feeling that we fell prey to some trap that a caveman should instinctively know to avoid. So why do we keep doing it? Why do we click an article to find out which Disney character defines us based on 10 meaningless questions? Why do we go down a YouTube rabbit hole to watch bloopers for every season of every television program on CBS? Why do I read wiki articles and forum articles on Lord of the Rings (nerd flag rising…) until 1:00 a.m. in the morning so I can better understand the difference between the Vanyar, Noldor and Teleri elves? As my wife would say, “Not to get a girlfriend.”

The reason we all fall prey to suggested YouTube clips, Facebook articles shared by your aunt or quizzes that your annoying co-worker sends you are because of something called the ‘curiosity gap.’ The curiosity gap is the principle that articles, headlines or thumbnails show just enough information to get you interested in taking action, but not enough information to help you fully understand what the piece is about. This is why YouTube creators use thumbnails of attractive women that don’t even make a cameo in the video you just clicked. This is the reason you click on an article to find out “Why You Should Never Shop At Grocery Stores Again” or “These 8 Celebrities Had WHAT Job Before They Got Famous?” instead of spending time with your child who is next to you reading “10 Time Justin Bieber Proved He’s The Real Prince Charming.” The curiosity gap helps to show us how we all are becoming compulsive clickers, clicking from one un-informative article to the next without considering the consequences. In a world of abundant and never-ending information at our fingertips, American’s attention spans have dropped from 12 to 8 seconds in just a decade. With the amount of emails and websites read every day, getting a message through to anyone is becoming an impossible task.

This Paragraph Will Change Your Mind About Click Bait In Just One Sentence


Clickbait is a great quick-win for traffic but a terrible lose-lose strategy for retaining readers/viewers and staying relevant in a saturated Internet. (This was the sentence I was referencing. Not to say the one immediately following this one isn’t bad, but…yeah) Here is the trouble with clickbait; Print and online media’s job is to express, educate, persuade and entertain. Most articles that fall under the definition of clickbait do not complete the job of any of the aforementioned purposes of the media. Sadly, the most interesting thing about the clickbait article is the headline itself. This is why we are beginning to see a revolt against clickbait. Late last year Facebook began cracking down on clickbait by penalizing content sources that don’t hold readers attention. If a reader clicks on an article and within seconds returns to Facebook, this suggest they didn’t find what they wanted and the article is not useful. Facebook realizes the power it has with brands and brand publishers who strive to have relationships with readers/consumers by posting engaging news, photos and articles that get users to click and stay on their website for a lengthy period of time. These brands spend money with Facebook, they advertise within the NewsFeed and these clickbait sites are clouding the message. This is the reason for the options to now hide “posts like these” or “posts from this page” from your own news feed.

This trend isn’t limited to just Facebook. Google has also joined the queue. Google launched a phantom update earlier this year that largely impacted sites that employ how-to content such as HubPages or Answers.com. Some of these sites saw an almost 25% drop in search traffic in one week. The algorithm isn’t only limited to how-to content. Similar sites with thin content targeted by an earlier Panda update also were targeted. This was true for sites with clickbait articles, an abundance supplementary information, pages of stacked videos, and content that was difficult to navigate. These types of updates from Google will keep coming as well. With more and more clickbait articles showing up in Google News, users are complaining by the thousands and Google is responding in ruthless fashion by penalizing whole sites for thin content on even a small percentage of a site’s pages. This begs the need for better written content Internet-wide and a chance to re-evaluate search engine optimization’s role in getting clicks without the bait.

Improve Your SEO Without Clickbait…In 60 Seconds Or Less

(Unless it takes you longer to read. And in that case this anecdote isn’t helping your case) 

Brands, marketers and small business can all write content that will be read, shared and help improve SEO. Even using catchy headlines that peak interest can be effective. The difference between a catchy headline in a well-written article and a clickbait article is the content itself. Some of the most successful blogs that Beacon writes are purely informational. They provide resources, analysis and engaging content that readers use, share and bookmark so they can come back later and consume more. Clickbait articles make you feel hollow inside and even though they get millions of views, don’t keep users on the site for longer than a minute. The likelihood of someone returning to your site again goes up dramatically when you keep them on your page for over 3 minutes. The other key difference is that when we feel cheated by a thinly-written clickbait article is that we don’t share it with others or start a conversation. Most news organization’s sites most-viewed articles concern hard-hitting content about war, race, politics, religion or social issues that can span 3-4 pages. They don’t make for catchy titles but they start a conversation, and in some cases a revolution.

Google and Bing pay attention to good content. Almost every algorithm in the past two years has been focused on content. The content cannot be thin, misleading or irrelevant enough from your title or you will be penalized. When it comes to writing content for your website, blog or social media, focus on creating content that expresses and idea, that educates the masses, persuades the reader to your side or to your products and entertains with quick-wit, wonderful photos and video content. On social outlets be clear with your hyperlinks where you are sending people, make your titles and descriptions enhance the content and see your engagement soar. Don’t write with the intent on stuffing keywords in every sentence, to copy every page and change content slightly to double your exposure or get into black-hat or grey-hat search engine optimization. Write with the passion a journalist does with engaging and informative headings, meaty paragraphs and visuals that do more to reinforce the text than get a click. The end result of well-written, deeply-researched and engaging content is the start of a relationship with a potential consumer. That consumer now has buy-in and will come back for more, will share content to their friends and followers and help increase traffic the right way…Instead of  making illiteracy seem like a preferred option.

6 03, 2012

Panda devalues anchor text

By | 2020-02-05T11:18:52+00:00 March 6th, 2012|Categories: SEO|Tags: , |


A little over a year ago, Panda made its debut. The debut was not soon after it was revealed that AOL was prepping to add massive waves of content. A content farm to end all content farms.  Panda put a stop to that.

Another scandal that erupted just prior to the Panda launch was the J.C. Penny paid link fiasco.  The NY Times wrote the headline – The Dirty Little Secrets of Search.

There was speculation as to how Panda may handle that.


As a prelude,  the first anchor text action was an end to anchor text boilerplate repetition.  And now the second wave has hit.  An end to exact keyword matching in anchor text.

There were predictions early on and later some indications that exact match anchor text was going to be a casualty.

With Panda 3.3, exact match anchor text no longer carries the weight it once used too.

There was always the knowledge that varying anchor text and using descriptive phrases in the anchor text was a good thing.

Google could detect indications when a growing link profile was unnatural.

In Google patent – Document Scoring Based on Link-Based Criteria :

“[0114] This indication may be strengthened if the growth corresponds to anchor text that is unusually coherent or discordant.  This information can be used to demote the impact of such links.

So ongoing, some techniques to follow with your link strategy:

  • Try to build a natural link profile and avoid using exact match at least initially.
  • Instead of exact match, utilize synonyms and phrases instead
  • Incorporate your brand name along with the anchor text






22 07, 2011

Beacon Technologies Through the Eyes of an Intern – Week 10

By | 2017-08-11T16:07:39+00:00 July 22nd, 2011|Categories: Beacon News|Tags: , , , , , , |

Well sadly, this is my last blog post at Beacon.  It’s been a great 10 weeks.  I really have enjoyed my time here.  Looking back, I can’t think of anything negative to say about my experience.  I want to take the chance to kind of do a recap of my time here.

When I came in the first day, I will admit that I was pretty nervous.  I hadn’t really had a lot of exposure to the kind of work that Beacon does so well.  I knew what most of the terms were from talking to a friend of mine who has been doing similar work.  However, the WMS team here helped me learn the skills I needed.  Everyone took time to show me how to do certain tasks and helped me with understanding the clients I worked on as well as what needed to be done for each client.  As the weeks have gone by, I have grown more confident in doing SEO work, managing social media campaigns, and working with PPC campaigns.  I know that I still have a lot to learn in these areas, but Beacon has given me a strong foundation on which to build.

I know that people traditionally think of internships as being filled with a lot of grunt work.  Getting coffee, running errands, doing tasks that no one else wants to do themselves.  That is far from the case here at Beacon.  As you can tell if you have been following my blog posts thus far, I have been an equal member of the WMS team.  I have shared the same responsibilities as everyone else.  I’ve done the same tasks for my clients as they did for their clients.  Often times, interns don’t get to offer advice and feedback during meetings as it is intended that they learn by watching.  Again, this is not the case at Beacon.  The WMS team meets weekly to brainstorm ideas for clients as well as share interesting articles or other helpful information and tools.  The leading of the meetings rotates each week and regardless of the fact that I am an intern, I led the meeting twice during my time here.  I also contributed equally with the team as much as possible.  I will admit that I often did sit back and listen during meetings.  I know that I do not have nearly the amount of knowledge or experience in this field, and as such I wanted to try to learn as much as possible when everyone was together sharing ideas.

Looking back, I have gained a lot of valuable experience.  There are several tasks and projects that I was able to work on and contribute to during the 10 weeks.  I can honestly say that anyone who is looking for an internship should consider Beacon.  The atmosphere, company culture, and employees all lend themselves to a great work environment.

Thank you to everyone here!  It’s been a great experience and I have learned a lot from you all.

24 06, 2011

Beacon Technologies Through the Eyes of an Intern – Week 6

By | 2017-08-15T16:15:00+00:00 June 24th, 2011|Categories: Beacon News|Tags: , , |

This week was a fun week.  I got the opportunity to learn some things that I was not familiar with and then got to put what I learned into practice.  I learned how to create SEO landing pages.  Basically these pages serve the purpose of helping a website rank for keywords that are important to the website.  This is turn helps the page to appear higher in search results.  Making and editing these pages is not the most fun task, but it is a good skill to have.  I think I spent probably around four hours learning how to do this and then actually working on them.  All-in-all, I would say it was a good experience.  I learned some information on effectively creating title tags, meta descriptions, and page content.  These are skills that will help me even outside of SEO work.  I had to think about getting my message across in a short message and efficiently say what I am trying to say in that short message.  This is a valuable skill to have.

Another thing I did this week was to learn a lot about Twitter and how to utilize it.  One of the clients I am working with is focusing a lot on social media and trying to increase its presence and better communicate with whom it is connected.  One of the things fun things with this client is that I am getting to learn more about Twitter and then share that information as well as help manage the Twitter account.  Some of the things I’ve been working on are optimizing whom the client follows as well as helping with communicating to the client’s followers.  I have been looking over some of the tweets that the client sees and retweeting them to the client’s followers as well as a few other related tasks.

Aside from that, there were the usual meetings/brainstorming sessions.  These are great because I get to learn more about SEO and different methods and tools.  Another thing I did this week was start to conceptualize a layout for a monthly newsletter for a client.  I really like to do things like that because it allows me to be more creative.  I don’t really have great drawing talent so it looks pretty rough on the piece of notebook paper that I hashed it out on, but it gets the job done.  I guess the next step is to practice using Photoshop to work on my graphic editing skills and also using Dreamweaver to compile the newsletter since it will be sent out in HTML.

24 05, 2011

The Benefits of Using jQuery

By | 2016-11-22T10:57:29+00:00 May 24th, 2011|Categories: Web Development, Creative Design|Tags: , , , |

Recently I have had the opportunity to make really exciting and interactive web pages using jQuery. Before working on these projects I had very little understanding of jQuery and what all it could be used for. So I decided to do some research on what the benefits are of using jQuery over other applications such as conventional JavaScript and wanted to see what all I can build using it. Basically you can do almost anything with jQuery to make effects and animation on your site and still be SEO friendly and cross browser compliant.  But those aren’t the only benefits….

What is jQuery?

“jQuery is a fast and concise JavaScript Library that simplifies HTML document traversing, event handling, animating, and Ajax interactions for rapid web development. jQuery is designed to change the way that you write JavaScript.” http://jquery.com/

Benefits of using jQuery:

  • Search Engine Optimized – While search engines are getting better at being able to read content within some Flash, everything within jQuery is setup as text. This means it is completely readable to all the search engines, exposing all your keyword rich content.
  • Save Time – Five lines of jQuery are equivalent to 25 lines of conventional JavaScript code. This means smaller files and faster loading web pages.
  • Plug-ins – There are an abundance of plug-ins on the web that make creating special effects simple and fast for web developers.
  • Help? – With an abundance of plug-ins comes with an abundance of help. There is a large helpful support community on the web to help you quickly remedy any bug issues.
  • That was easy! – jQuery has easy implementation for web developers in comparison to other applications.
  • Cross Browser Friendly – jQuery is currently the most popular JavaScript library and works in all browsers.
  • FREE! – free, open source software.
  • Mobile Devices – jQuery is supported by any mobile device whose web browser supports JavaScript. A lot of mobile devices like iPads and iPhones don’t run Flash at all.
  • Simplifies AJAX
  • Wow Factor – Web developers use jQuery to make web pages more exciting, interactive, cleaner, and more user friendly. Make your users go WOW!

jQuery in action! A few examples of jQuery Usage

11 04, 2011

The New +1 Google Button

By | 2016-11-18T12:10:26+00:00 April 11th, 2011|Categories: Social Media|Tags: , , |

Get ready everyone because having a +1 is no longer just for party RSVP’s.  Recently, Google launched their new +1 button on Google search to allow users who are fans of your business to click to recommend your paid ads for all of their friends and contacts to see.  This feature, which to me is their attempt to one-up Facebook’s like button, has already started popping up, and will continue to increase in visibility over the next few weeks.  In order to see the +1’s attached to the organic listings and paid ads, you must be signed-in to Google and not using IE7 or any earlier version of IE.

This popularity feature is the next step that Google is taking to help their searchers see more relevant results, while helping businesses continue to gain better qualified traffic.  And, it doesn’t end with paid ads because soon you will have the option to include these +1 buttons to your website’s pages to make it even easier for people to approve and validate your content.  This personal annotation of “+1’ing” something is the next step since Google opening admitted to using data from social services, such as Twitter and Flickr, as signals in organic search rankings.

So far, Google says that quality score and ad rankings will not be impacted by the +1’s.  Hopefully the buttons will contribute to better click-through rate for paid ads since the personal annotations will increase user confidence to click on the ads if their friends, family, and colleagues already approve.  You will also be able to track the number of +1’s your campaigns are getting within the Adwords interface.

To sign up for email updates with more information about this button go to http://www.google.com/webmasters/+1button.

30 12, 2010

NCTA Partnership

By | 2017-02-21T11:24:58+00:00 December 30th, 2010|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , , , |

Beacon Technologies inks partnership with the North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA) to provide full scale web marketing for the association, including search engine optimization (SEO), blog development, social media marketing management, email management consulting and deep Google Analytics setup & consulting.  The objective of this agreement is to support NCTA in becoming the primary destination website for technology-related information in North Carolina.  Beacon will also become an Annual Investor and Sponsor for all the 2010 NCTA Events and the Emerging Technology and Trends Series across North Carolina (RTP, Triad and Charlotte).  Beacon will also sponsor NCTA’s weekly email campaigns.  “This is the first time in Beacon’s 12 year history that we plan to market our services more across North Carolina, primarily focusing on the 3 major business areas of the state,” says Mark Dirks, Beacon’s CEO.  “We are very excited about the relationship with NCTA.  They work very hard to help the technology sector of our state and sometimes they go unnoticed.  Our job is to bring them visibility, more members and more communication through their website – and ultimately, bring the organization and its members closer together.”

27 12, 2010

Reasons to NOT do SEO

By | 2017-02-23T17:47:21+00:00 December 27th, 2010|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , , |

SEO is a term that is finally moving outside of tech circles.  Even most laypeople are starting to understand that it stands for Search Engine Optimization and the many advantages associated with having good SEO on a site.  Which begs the question, why are so many professional websites so bad at it?

Well, I thought long on this, and came up with the following possible explanations:

1)  You want to hide your site.  There are situations where I can understand this.  If you a Mexican drug cartel and want to start selling your wares online (this is the 21st century afterall), it would make all the sense in the world to nofollow all the links in your site and use misleading and unpopular title tags (i.e. “Cloris Leachman Nude”) to prevent search engines from putting you in their cross-hairs.  It would be best to limit your site to referral traffic only.  With bad SEO – that’s all you’ll get.

2) It’s too much time and effort.  The hours that you use every month to optimize your site and bring in hordes of potential clients take away from the days and weeks that are used to pick up leads through traditional methods.  Why waste time developing keyword rich content that will attract people who are interested in your product when you can cold call through the phone book and get less results in twice the time?

3) You’re an internet communist.  This is nothing to be ashamed of, you represent the pinnacle of netiquette.  Why does your site deserve to be at the top of high traffic search results?  Don’t your competitors deserve just as much exposure?  It is only fair that they be given every chance to sell their products to your customers as well.

4) You’ve sold numerous old ladies 50% of your sites future profits.  So long as the site loses money, you make money on the initial sales.  Otherwise, you’re a programming version of Bernie Madoff.

5) Customers suck.  Let’s face it, they are just a pain in the rear.  They have all these annoying questions about which of your products they should buy and how your products can improve their business/lives.  Most jobs would be great if it weren’t for all the customers.

Beyond this, I can come up with no good reason that a professional site shouldn’t engage in SEO.  If you currently do not make this a priority, rest assured that your competition does.

6 12, 2010

If these NBA players were SEOs…

By | 2017-02-21T11:18:10+00:00 December 6th, 2010|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , , , , , , , |

What type of an SEO would the following basketball players be?

Kobe Bryant – This SEO has seen more #1 search engine rankings than anybody else out there.  He rode a better marketer’s coattails early in his career to the point where he was a bit overrated.  In an effort to improve his legacy, he had his entire team fired and tried to win more rankings all by himself – with disastrous results.  He then demanded a trade to another company until management hired another top SEO to team with him.  This has led to him again finding top rankings and being mentioned as one of the best all-time.

Lebron James – This SEO was hired by a terrible company.  They gave him resources and were patient with his learning curve.  Eventually, he got great results and obtained rock star status.  He never got them #1 rankings, but the first page Google links he obtained were far better than they were used to.  However, when it came time to make a long term decision about his future, he jumped to another company where a couple of his friends worked and they promised to do much of the heavy lifting for him.  He took his [SEO] talents to South Beach.

Tim Duncan – This SEO does it all.  Not just Google rankings, but also PPC and Email Marketing.  He doesn’t toot his own horn at the company picnic, but upper management knows he’s been the reason for their success.  However, he’s a bit past his prime and hasn’t seen the same results with the advent of social media.

Allen Iverson – This SEO always showed great individual stats.  He can tout #1 Google rankings in a variety of categories.  However, this has never translated to great overall results with his clients.

Chris Paul – This SEO is speedy.  He doesn’t get #1 rankings, but he gets you on the first page FAST.

Manu Ginobili – This is your classic “glue” SEO.  He doesn’t do anything outstanding, but he understands all aspects of web marketing.  He knows how social media, search engines, and PPC interact with each other and how to keep the entire team involved in the process.  He’s not going to win you large contracts on his own, but you need to have him if you’re to be at the top of your field.

Stephon Marbury – This SEO has some talent, but he always been with poor companies and will be quick to blame others for his lack of overall success.  Eventually, this leads to him having a breakdown and posting a “What the Heck?” youtube clip.

Dirk Nowitzki – This SEO is tall and German.


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