SEO Search Engine Optimization

Surviving the Google Penguin Update

Penguin Rescue_020

Penguin  (Photo credit: iliveisl)

Google’s April 24th update – codenamed Penguin – seems to have had some seriously adverse impact on many sites. Google has said time and time again, that SEO can be very constructive and positive. They have pointed out that effective SEO can make a website more accessible and crawlable. Basic SEO includes techniques such as easy keyword research conducted to help ensure that you are embedding the best and most attractive words for your industry, product or services.

Since good search engine optimization can equal good marketing, being creative and using a variety of ways to make your website’s content compelling is also key. This can also be beneficial on your social media networks, great content will be shared, and that is always a plus. Those who use suggested white hat, or organic, techniques as opposed to black hat, or more nefarious methods, do not usually experience some of the devastating problems that are common with big algorithm changes such as the one with Penguin and the previous Panda change.

Penguin Eats Webspam

Sites that pursue black hat techniques, or Webspam, may use shortcuts that can help to raise their page rankings quicker than the organic white hat methods. Anything from link farming to keyword stuffing can help to temporarily boost rankings, but then Google always seems to find a way to punish those who do. It is simply not worth it any longer to spend time looking for loopholes when organic methods continue to stand up to even the strongest test in Google’s content updates.

Penguin specifically focused on penalizing sites that utilized:

When Penguin was rolled out it was referred to as the ‘webspam algorithm update’ for this reason. It intentionally targeted those sites using black hat tricks to bump themselves above those using good wholesome white hat organic marketing methods.

Be sure to also check out the search engine spam penalties page for more information that could be helpful in helping you to remove issues from your site that Google’s new update is now frowning upon.

Google says that they want people to focus on white hat SEO methods such as creating compelling websites and creative content, or even no search engine optimization at all, before considering using any black hat methods. Although some of the webspam techniques they have been eliminating in recent algo changes are more than ten years old, Google has warned repeatedly about practicing bad SEO methods and admit that they are continually improving on ways to make sure their next releases find the other black hat needles in the haystack that is the internet and swiftly penalize them too.


@BasilPuglisi is the Executive Director and Publisher for Digital Brand Marketing Education ( Basil C. Puglisi is also the President of Puglisi Consulting Group, Inc. A Digital Brand Marketing Consultancy that manages professional and personal branding for Fortune 500 CEOs, Hedge Fund Managers and Small Business Owners.


Digital Marketing: Why Your Businesses Phone Number is Crucial to Success (Part 1)

“Name, Address and Phone Number, oh if you have a website or social media page you can add that two, but we don’t care” the Internet!

Phone Numbers are Crucial to Success!!! They are more important than domains!

It used to be you used a fancy 800 number to look impressive or to develop branding, take 1-800-FLOWERS for example. 1-800 Flowers was a great branding campaign that generated massive brand recognition for a referral service.

Google really brought the attention back to local when it launched Google places. Google used both the local phone number and the address to enhance its search results to bring business back to local merchants and while it sent SEO professionals scrambling, local business owners were thirsty to learn more.

The PhoneWhy Phone Numbers are Crucial!

Take any listing service or data set and you’ll find three consistent elements to how it organizes its data, first is the name, second the phone number and third is the address. Website domains and social media are nowhere to be found now, nor will they in the future. In fact, when Patch Media launched its local directory for Merchants and Business Owners the AOL local sensation had one problem, no address no listing… Google places needed that three digit identifier to decide if the address matched phone number, and Yelp listed businesses by name, phone numbers and address.

Branding Trend: It’s All Local!

In a time when people are being frugal with their money, they’re a lot quicker to call a local number then an 800 number. The fact is people actually avoid 800 numbers because they prefer to have someone local and hesitate at the thought that the number will be routed to India. Local is the big Brand in the United States right now, take a look in both Traditional and Digital Media and you’re bound to see the word Local at just about every other turn.

Phone Numbers: How Do I Get Them, Use them, Keep them?

There are a few tricks that can help local business owners stretch their influence and presence. Take MagicJack, a nifty little device that sells for $20 and provides phone service for $20 a year! After Google Places launched black hat SEO professionals started buying these as fast as they could. You see they take the MajicJack, register the phone number and then connect a local name to the local number and give it a local address through something like a UPS Store.

i.e. The Actual business is a plumber in Parkland, Florida with a 954 area code number. The blackhat SEO Pro would buy (5) five MagicJacks with local phone numbers, then open a UPS Box in towns around Parkland that the plumber served. Five Splash Pages later, that plumber looked local in English: Google Nexus S - Samsung Android Phonesix locations but really only existed in one.

If you’re a digital or virtual business, then the issue is the same. The phone number is crucial to looking local and you may be in NYC, but with the right number you now appear to be in LA, Moscow, Paris, Chicago, Miami etc. If your using a service like Regus and their Virtual Office, you can set the Magic Jack or Vanity number to forward to that location until you have an office or employee to forward it to later.

Port a number! Always Port a number, I inherited a phone number 4 years ago and I still get calls for children’s clothing from some company that had it before I did. If I sold children’s clothes I be rolling in free leads.

KEEP YOUR NUMBER!!!! The Android and Mr. Number Effect

Want to know what’s really pissing off telemarketers and collection agencies?

Android and Mr. Number! Android phones from version 1.5 have had a feature that allows people to save a contact and set the contact to forward directly to voicemail. Mr. Number is an application on all devices that blocks suspected spam (set by community feedback), unknown numbers and numbers you blacklist! So before you give up your number and get a new one, better think twice. If you do get a new number check it against the Mr. Number database, if its listed as a spam, credit collection or telemarketer get rid of it!

(Part 2 – Using Phone Numbers to Track Marketing Success)


Understand the Basics of SEO: Why Geo and Subject Domain Names Rock!

Search Engines are in the business of helping a user find the content they are looking for! If you keep this in mind you’ll start off with a great relationship with the Search Engines and the Visitors to your site.

Websites have three main areas you’ll want to really pay attention to:

  1. Structure
  2. Content
  3. References

As a website owner you’ll want this to be how you operate your lead generation through the search engines. Unless you’re an adult site, gambling or daily deal, people will not generally respond to a website about Plumbing when they were searching for Pizza.

Time and Money are important, you’ll get alot further if you concentrate your resources were they should be and where they will produce the highest rate of conversion. If you’re going to chase down multiple areas and categories do it in a way that provides unique, useful and provides a genuine experience for the user.

SEO Tip: Geo & Subject Domains > Brand Domains

An example of how this has been done is through domain masking and forwarding. Take the Domain, now that’s a great domain because people looking for “papa john’s” will find exactly what they are looking for, but will they still find it if they put in “MyTown Pizza” like “Brooklyn Pizza”, “Chicago Pizza”?

Here is an example of how we use forwarding on Digital Brand Marketing Education, the publically promoted domain is and that makes sense because it is short and simple. It makes for easy emails and sharing in social media without having to shorten the domain. However When you land on the site, you notice the actual domain changes to

Search Engines give a lot of value to domains, after all if you’re naming the site that, then those words must be relevant. In our case we want people looking for “Digital, Brand and/or Marketing”  to find our publication and those keywords fit perfectly with our content.

If you own Jerry’s, and your restaurant is in the town or geographic location of East Hampton, you might want to think about masking or forwarding the domain to or

This is just one tip to help with your sites SEO, obviously you want the title tags, content, etc to all also fit this search term.



Traditional Print Advertising versus Digital Online Marketing


Digital ©

Digital ©

This blog post is written partly in a question and answer interview format. This step-by-step process is meant to make it easier to understand the transition from traditional (print) advertising to online (also known as digital) marketing.  It also emphasizes the importance of this evolutionary change. Since I know my own experiences intimately (what I have gone through as both a consumer and a business owner), I am using myself as both the interviewer and interviewee in the Q and A section.

The world as we know it is going through a major transition from printing everything to digital (paperless) technologies. There are several reasons for this change from print to pixel.

• First is the green reason. It involves using less paper, having less waste and conserving resources. In fact, some businesses have a green or paperless policy. They frown on the use of paper and go to great lengths to minimize its use altogether.

Reduce & Reuse Logo © Marketing Bytes

Reduce & Reuse Logo © Marketing Bytes

• Second is technology. The computer and the Internet have begun to make this possibility into a reality. But this transition is not seamless. One area where this is a road filled with uncertainties is in the marketing & advertising industry.

• There is still a great deal of paper used in this industry. Although it is decreasing and there are options to use paper or go paperless in many of our daily activities, it is my opinion that the case to continue in the less-paper direction with all due diligence is a crucial one.

• Unfortunately, one of the major obstacles to going paperless is the generation of adults, considered baby boomers and older, who grew up and became educated without this technology. The height of sophistication was slide rules and pocket calculators. Now there are the Inbound Boomers to help with this transition.

The Boomer Family © Marketing Bytes

The Boomer Family © Marketing Bytes

• The process of thinking is very different for those of us born before desktops, laptops, iPhones, iPads, iPods and I don’t know what other ‘i’ things there will be. We think on paper. Our reality is based on doing and learning things by reading from and writing on paper not from a computer screen, keypad and mouse (or touch pad). It takes a focused and concerted effort to change one’s thought processing beyond  ‘recycling one’s garbage’.

• None the less and for the reasons listed above, I think it is very important to have a discourse (this is where the Q and A format begins) to highlight where we are in the transition from print to pixel and the value of continuing as quickly as possible.

Q: Do you have any phone books in your home?
A: I admit that I still have a few local ones but none of the large, cumbersome ones.

Q: If so, what do you use them for?
A: Primarily to gather dust but I hear they are good as pillows for high chairs, car seats if someone is short and can’t reach the petals or see above the dashboard and the latest designer furniture pictured here.

Phone Book fo'ever ©

Q: How many times have you opened a phone book in the last year to find a phone number or locate a local business?
A: Once, maybe twice.

Q: Do you read the advertising circulars and magazines that are delivered weekly to your home by the post office?
A: Never

Q: Or do you throw them away without reading them?
A: They are delivered by letter carrier between Wednesday and Friday and placed in our lobby. Within a day, they become  a messy pile. The building super throws them away on Sunday for Monday garbage pickup.

Newspaper ads © Marketing Bytes

Newspaper ads © Marketing Bytes

Q: Do you collect discount coupon books and cut out retail coupons?
A: I love coupon books. In fact, when they arrive, I take most if not all of them so they do not end up in the trash. I hand them out in my neighborhood. Everyone loves when I do that. I have no patience to clip coupons but I do hear about people that do.

Q: How many times have you left coupons home or misplaced them so you were not able to use them when you needed them?
A: I always misplace the book coupons or other discount papers I receive.

Q: Do you have the plastic ID key chain tags that retailers give out?
A: Someone could write my biography based on the number and variety of the ID tags I have. In fact, CVS Pharmacy gives one the option of printing out a coupon or placing their weekly discount information on their ID tag so one never has to worry about losing a coupon. Other retailers should adopt that system too. It is a great digital, paperless move.


Q: What techniques do you use to promote your business?
A: All online, ‘attraction’ and Inbound Marketing.

Q: What is the primary way your customers find you?
A: Networking, recommendations and referrals online and in-person.

Q: Do you advertise with traditional print media, print ads, coupons, etc?
A: No. But I know plenty of local businesses that do and I am startled by how much money they willingly spend to do so.

Q: Do you know where the circulars and magazines that you spend your advertising budget on go when they are delivered to postal residents in your community?
A: I know they go right into the garbage.

Garbage truck ©

Garbage truck ©

Q: Do you believe that if you keep using traditional methods of print media advertising, including direct mailings, that it will eventually pay off again when the economy improves?
A: I know that is NOT the case. Technology is changing the way consumers shop and businesses need to advertise. But many of my local business colleagues do not seem to understand this yet. Some times I consider sending out a postcard for the fun of it but the cost of printing and postage cool my enthusiasm.

Q: Do you know what the cost is per new customer based upon the system of advertising you are using?
A: I admit that I don’t use this tool religiously but I know it works and I recommend that clients use it. I also know that online marketing is much more affordable and has a much wider reach than traditional advertising unless you can afford an advertising spot on the SuperBowl.

SuperBowl Ad © USA Today

SuperBowl Ad © USA Today

Q: Do you have a trackable method for learning how your new customers find you?
A: Yes, the new online marketing technology programs have amazing features to assist business owners in following and recording the progress of their marketing activities.

Q: Do you think it is easiest and cheapest to use direct mail (letters and postcards) to contact existing customers and attract new ones?
A: I cringe every time I get another postcard or even letter in the mail from one of my community business colleagues. I know they think this is a reasonable and inexpensive way to advertise. It worked in the past. If only they would take that leap into the 21st Century, the new economy and online marketing to at least give it a try for a little while. They can always continue with traditional media too and compare the results.

Q: Are you afraid of the computer, the Internet and the new advertising & marketing technology?
A: Personally, I embrace it and I am fascinated by what is going on. But there are so many business owners who are terrified of using the new technology. Some barely know how to use a computer.

Online Marketing ©

Online Marketing ©

Q: Do you know what online marketing is and how it differs from traditional advertising in content, cost and coverage?
A: Because marketing and advertising are my business, I started to learn about the new technology about a year and a half ago. It was very challenging but essential for me. Therefore, I am now well versed in what online marketing is. It is the use of the computer, the Internet and a whole host of new programs to help businesses attract new customers. Just as customers have changed the way they shop, business owners have to change the way they advertise to meet their customers’ searching needs.

A: I also know that online marketing is very cost effective. In fact, it is the only way that many start up businesses can afford to advertise on a zero dollar budget. Print advertising is VERY expensive and it requires constant repetition for recognition. With online marketing, once you are on, you’re on. But you do want to update and tweak information there too.

A: Online marketing’s coverage is so much broader than print media. There is NO comparison.

Local SEO ©

Local SEO ©

Q: Are you familiar with Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
A: Search Engine Optimization is something that Google has been using for years to help consumers find what they are looking for. Google also designed SEO so that if a business uses the right formula, keywords, etc. it will rank well (first place or at least the first page) when a consumer searches for what they want.

A: Local SEO is the latest and most exciting addition to the host of services and tools Google offers. Instead of a ‘global’ search where a customer is looking to purchase something by mail (for example) and it can come from anywhere, local SEO is community specific. It is designed for consumers to locate what they want in a specific community. It is for making local, face-to-face purchases.

Q: Do you know what ‘Google Places’ are as well as their significance in promoting your business?
A: Google has identified over 49,000,000 local businesses in the US. Only about 11% of these businesses have ‘claimed’ their Google Place. Claiming one’s Google Place is the first step in participating in local online marketing and broadening one’s reach better than any other technique.

Google Places-Marketing Bytes near Rockville Centre, NY

Google Places-Marketing Bytes near Rockville Centre, NY

Q: Have you claimed your Google Place? Is your business on the ‘seven pack’?
A:  Yes, my company has claimed its Google Place. In the business categories I am listed under, I rank in the first seven listed and on the first page. This is both for my industry and geographic area. This is what is called the ‘seven pack’. (No it is not a free can of beer when you buy a six pack).

Q: Have you heard of Local Online Business Directories?
A: Local Online Business Directories are similar to print directories but they are dynamic, interactive, and can have visual and verbal information changed at any time. They also have links and can take you to other places. One of their primary features is reviews. They are the most attractive advertising aspect.

MerchantCircle Village ©

MerchantCircle Village ©

Q: Are you listed on Local Online Business Directories?
A: I am listed on over 70 directories because someone did it for me as a favor and did no know it is unnecessary and even appropriate to be listed on so many.

Q: Do you know how to get recommendations and use word of mouth on line?
A: Yes, there are programs designed to help businesses get recommendations from their website, e-mail, blog, etc. These type of recommendations ARE word of mouth online.

Q: Do you know how to convert your current customers into your sales force?
A: On line recommendations from loyal customers are the best selling tool a business can have.

Q: Did you know that national and regional corporations sometimes need to be advertised as local businesses?
A: Yes, when they have a local retail presence like a Subway, Dunkin Donut, CVS, etc. They are all part of your community’s retail landscape.

EcoJoes-Green Thinking for the Average Joe

MerchantCircle, one of my favorite Local Online Business Directories

Local SEO Online Business Directories

The Ultimate List: 50 Local Business Directories

Designing Traditional Print Advertising

Local Business Listings

Best SuperBowl ads

CVS Extra Care Card

Google Webmaster Tools Offers Custom Search Engine Creation

Google logo

Google logo ™

Webmaster tools. The focus of the update is to provide marketers with the option to run their own trials of custom search engines.

The custom search engines created by Google’s Webmaster Tools can be used on business domains and their subdomains making search queries for any content on the business’s site easier to locate. Users can search over one or more sites, tweak the look and feel of the business’s site, and even earn money with it using Adsense for Search.

Creating your Custom Search Engine

You do not have to be a coding expert to create your own custom search engine. To create your own search engine with Google’s Webmaster Tools simply click on the Custom Search link under the Google Labs section. Webmaster tools will then create a default custom search engine that will search only your chosen site. Set up your configuration options or grab the code snippet, as is, to add to your new CSE site.

Users can then continue on to a full custom search engine dashboard to apply settings that are more advanced. Once your CSE is up and running, you can click the Custom Search link inside of Google Labs to manage the settings without leaving Google Webmaster tools.

Benefits to Your Business

For those business that use content marketing, the utilization of Google-powered search engines on their home page can be as important as any other efforts that go into expanding their sites reach. Users who frequent your site will be able to easily find topics or archives articles and information that is relevant to current topics, or even if they just want to find and share older stories with their own networks.

Content marketing is a highly useful instrument in the toolbox of internet marketers. Brafton News reports that up to 82% of businesses are currently using content marketing as part of their internet marketing campaigns.


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