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Sunday, November 02, 2014

Agenda, MIGS 14, Malta iGaming Seminar

It's a shame this isn't more targeted towards SEO, PPC, Social Media and Brand Protection like the SIGMS conference. It has the legal aspects as well as the above topics. And who wants to hang out foe another week when it's just getting colder and rainy. Not Attending.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Do-It-Yourself SEO for Brand Protection & Reputation Management

This article originally appeared on VanguardOnlineMedia.com
 
Reputation Management, Brand Protection, Social Media Management and SEO have merged into one highly developed and intricate strategy now being used in super-competitive markets, such as online gambling. These are proven strategies used by many of the top agencies in the world.

In today’s dog-eat-dog world of online gambling, Brand Protection and Reputation Management has become one of the top “paid-for” services. Search Engine Optimisation (a.k.a. SEO), Paid Search, Email and Retention used to be the model of a successful internet marketing plan. In 2014 the spend on Reputation Management and Brand Protection has nearly equalled SEO and PPC spend for the companies that invest heavily online and offline to promote their brand. Add to this Social Media and you have a very full plate to be concerned about.

Brand Protection and Reputation Management are like driving a car; Better to be on the defensive, not the offensive side. Being proactive reactive can mean thousands or millions, depending on your approach.
 

Brand Protection

 
Brand Protection is sometimes needed because someone is ‘cybersquatting’ on your domain name with a different extension (e.g. .net, .it or .com.mt). They are either holding you hostage over the domain or, as an Affiliate or competitor, attempting to draw traffic by using your brand. It could even be a disgruntled but SEO-skilled individual as I have seen many times. But that’s more about Reputation Management and I’ll cover that later.

Proactive Strategy – The truth be told, anyone can buy a domain with your brand in the domain or not, have advanced knowledge of SEO and rank for your brand name. Then they either build traffic and attempt to sell you the site, or they sign up as an Affiliate through you or a third-party and steal your traffic. PPC, although not as effective as in the past, used to be a goldmine for this type of strategy: They bid on your brand.

The obvious solution is to copyright your name, regulate your Affiliate agreements and enforce the DMCA when necessary. The not-so-obvious solution is to use a domain monitor tool like DomainTools.com. This tool takes your brand (or keyword) and monitors any domain purchases that include it and notifies you. While this may not be a solution to the problem it gives you the information you need to know to help deter the buyer from DMCA actions. TIP – Google has a tool that will allow the site owner to manually remove a page/website. This may be a useful if you have fallen in to the next category.

Reactive Strategy – In most cases the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) can protect you against a direct violation such as using your copyrighted brand in their URL (website address), using your logo or selling your goods or services using their brand. Usually this can be accomplished without the “Lawyer Letter” needed in the past. In fact many blackhat SEO’s regularly send fake DMCA violation reports to big names like GoDaddy and 1&1 to get sites taken down for a short period. Unfortunately this ‘short period’ for some can amount to millions.
 

Reputation Management

 
Reputation Management is necessary in many situations. Some of the projects we have worked on have deserved the negative posts, whether from an individual, an organization or a watchdog site. Others are simply victims of a competitors questionable practices meant to slander their rivals in an attempt to scrape clients away from them. In either case we approach them the same.

I have seen these types of seemingly rare cases escalate into full-blown war, fuel a blow-back that cost a company millions, and yes, even put some out of business all together.

The internet and the inception of Social Media has changed the playing field from a one-on-one phone call or email, to a completely public forum where everything is exposed to the public and can sometimes go very wrong for a company if not handled appropriately. We have seen teams of people posting bogus negative reviews on websites like ScamVictimsUnited and SiteJabber and these same teams visit the other members posts and “agree’, ‘vote’ or ‘like’ them to the point that it takes on a viral head of steam that gets completely out of control. These services are for sale right now.

Unfortunately in some cases the company does not deserve this type of slanderous feedback, but a disgruntled punter on a gaming site, a guy that didn’t meet his soulmate on a dating site, or a traveller that got a bad waiter one night and they decided to vent it publicly. Even worse is that in this day and time a company receives good feedback from 1 out of 10 clients. They receive bad feedback from nearly 8 out of 10. Then you have the facetious, the “I’m having a bad day” guy, and of course the individual that no one could ever please under any circumstances.

Proactive Strategy – Of course a proactive strategy is difficult to incorporate if you don’t know when or where this negative feedback will show it’s ugly head, but there are ways to proactively spend time putting things in place that could help minimize any negative aspects due to actions taken, or not taken on your part.

The first thing that we do before undertaking a new project is to evaluate the damage that is done. Not necessarily the story or the credibility behind it. (That is left for when everything else has been done and you just need to pay them off if possible, or make them happy…but we have never reached that point…knock on wood).

Then we look at the top 100 search results and categorise them into the good, the bad and the ugly. Here’s the difference;

The Good – Very few social media sites showing in top 10-20 positions. Neutral or positive comments/feedback or reviews
The Bad – A derogatory comment or single review ranking top 10
The Ugly – Multiple negative listings in the top 1-20 results, multiple user-generated negative comments, bad reviews on review sites, negatives like WOT ratings and Google ratings/votes, brand-smashing websites created by competitors, etc.

The Proactive strategy here is to dominate the top 5, then the top 10, then the top 20 for your brand search. The way we do this is by dominating search results with a mixture of social media, press releases, optimized images, pdf renderings, doc files, sub-domains, subdirectories, multi-brand domains, multiple domain name extensions and aggressive posting on various other sites like Wikipedia that rank high due to natural trust and authority earned through Google algorithms.

The strategy here is to create and/or push your YouTube, Facebook, Twitter accounts, website images, press releases, reviews etc. up in to the top results because they represent your brand, and they will prevent a dual-listing from say a disgruntled client or an evil competitor from showing up in any search results. These Social Media sites usually adapt a ‘DMCA-style’ approach. So if you have a copyrighted brand it is possible to get a rogue Social Media account (your brand) back, or even get these sites/accounts taken down or banned.

Another proactive measure would be to monitor your brand on multiple levels. When your brand is mentioned you need to know about it…good or bad.

Google Alerts – Create a Google Alert to monitor your brand or website and email you immediately when it finds any results. This will be in real-time. When I have a new client the first thing I do is add multiple specialised and global monitoring tools;

Technorati – Blogs
YackTrack – Social Media
TweetBeep – Twitter mentions
Filtrbox – only delivers most relevant and credible mentions
SocialMention – searches user-generated content such as blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, news, videos, and microblogging services

All of these services can email or send you an SMS immediately. This is the best time to handle the problem. But if you are notified of negative content you have unfortunately dropped into the Reactive Strategy category.

Reactive Strategy – At the end of the day there will always be the one that you couldn’t manage to budge a bit. We have had situations where somehow someone upset a person to the point of no return, and even the offer of a cash settlement wasn’t an options. We have also had client that had ruthless competitors that would stop at nothing to become more successful or hurt the clients rankings or reputation. Posting bad reviews, pointing bad links, hiring voter-teams to steer a negative results or creating a website specifically naming & shaming you, all of these are real threats.

Unfortunately in these cases, when you have done everything else you can to protect your interests, you need to fight fire with fire.

The mission here is to get the top 10 results showing for a brand search and purge the unwanted.

This is where SEO comes in to play.

You have a few options; black hat, grey hat, white hat, and the natural order of things. We are going to concentrate on the white-grey versions.

Pointing bad links using SENuke, posting banned keyword links on 1000’s of blogs with Scrapebox, buying nasty links through services on Fiverr or creating your very own relevant website network, get it penalised, then starting your own little blackhat network is not what I want to tell you about…that’s Blackhat after all.

Google’s Universal Search and their endless updates (the last being the 3.0 Penguin) mean that fresh, quality content from trusted sources are websites that carry an unnatural bit of Google Goodness and are considered to be more trustworthy and authoritative in Google’s eyes. Done tactfully you can create or push more of your desired results in to the top 10.

Some examples of these sites are Facebook (Pages and Corporate), Twitter, LinkedIn, PRWeb, ABNewswire, Local Directories, YouTube, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, VK (Russia), Flickr, Vine, Google Images, Google News, Wikipedia and PPC.

All of these referrer sites have the potential for a top 10 listing for your brand, but keep in mind that many websites dominate the rankings with their brand and brand strength. 888 Casino for instance dominates the results with alternate properties as well as subdomains. A search will result in these sites as the top 5 on Google;

1. 888Casino.com
2. 888.com
3. us.888.com
4. 888games.com
5. 888casino.sg

There are very effective ways to duplicate this strategy and even take it to the next level and dominate the top 10 with nothing but brand and positive non-brand results.
 

Conclusion

 
Losing a top 3 position to negative feedback can be a huge blow. The top 3 non-paid results are funnelled-out to third-party sites like iWon, Netscape and AOL. Additionally they take that traffic from your website. This could amount to thousands of visitors. Losing one spot in the top 10 results can also result in an equal loss, especially if the culprit knows what they are doing and create a damning headline like “YourCasino.com is a Scam!”, so it is important that your strategy towards online marketing includes not only a budget for SEO and PPC, but also content, social media and brand protection and reputation management.

Many companies have watched their hard-earned foundations crumble or revenue earnings undermined due to poor Reputation Management and negative content and/or poor Brand Protection due to a lack of attention. Cybersquatting, a few indiscriminate Affiliate sites, and competitor efforts prey on these types of companies and look for the weak spots. Many could have been prevented. (i.e. UltimateBet).

Get your overall website health in check, monitor 100% of what is online in real-time, take control of the assets you have accessibility to, and have an emergency fund set aside for this sort of thing in case it comes to a worst-case-scenario situation.

At the very least I recommend you have a full-time internal or external Brand/Reputation Management Specialist in your operating budget. This person/Department/Agency handles everything I have mentioned here, but most importantly he/she/they have experience in negotiation and are very detailed. But most importantly they are not afraid to use hardcore methods required sometimes to win.

Put a plan in place now rather than later. Consider what a few months of losing 40% of your revenue is worth…This is your annual BPRM budget. It is significantly easier and faster to act proactively rather than spending a lot more on fixing the problem already in place. As an Agency 100% of our clients have always been fixing problems.

Like they say, “It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it”. Unfortunately most of our clients in this category are the latter.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Penguin 3.0 Google Update - October 2014

It's the best update I have seen since...heck I can't even remember when!

Penguin Update October 2014 Google


Over the past few weeks I have been getting feedback from dozens of people I/we have helped out over the last year that were experiencing Google penalties. We spent months cleaning links, contacting Webmasters, pushing Social Media hard to purge bad results and everything else we could think of to help.

Well the last two weeks proved Penguin 3.0 is a great update and Google followed finally followed through with their promises.

Gary Beal
Vanguard Online Media

Friday, November 01, 2013

I didn't really like the sitcom Michael J Fox Show until I saw this sign in the little boy's bedroom;

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I've read a lot of posts on Penguin 2.1 and if it did or didn't hurt you, but haven't found much on what to do it you are one of the 6 out of 10 people reporting negative results, so I'll tell you my two cents and what my team is doing and you can take it for what it's worth. I'll return in a few weeks with results as usual.

1.The first thing you need to do is get the free trial of Link Research Tools. (LinkResearchTools.com) You will be using their DeTox tool. Depending on the number of back links you have (use majestic SEO to determine a close number - Free) and subscribe tot he most appropriate plan. (If you are an Affiliate drop me a line and I'll run one for you provided you don't have over 5000 links)

2.Manually go through each link. LRT will consider a link toxic if it isn't indexed. THIS DOESN'T MEAN IT'S BAD. Check the PR and the site and be sure it's not a directory or other negative site, or a link farm or even in a bad neighbourhood (LRT has a tool for this in their arsenal as well). If none of these are the case, YOU need to get it indexed. Use XIndexer, Pingomatic or even a manual submission through WMC

3.LRT has another tool that will strip the contact details from the sites linking to you but I haven't had much success with it yet. There are several tools out there for this, or you can go to Netsol and get the webmasters contact details. Have a cookie-cutter email ready requesting that the link be removed or the anchor text changed. (You are doing this to get rid of bad links but since you are already doing, or paying someone to do this technique, you may as well add the good links that you would like to change anchor text on and request that from the other good sites and do them as well)

[QUOTE]
If you believe your site's ranking is being harmed by low-quality links you do not control, you can ask Google not to take them into account when assessing your site. You should still make every effort to clean up unnatural links pointing to your site. Simply disavowing them isn't enough.
[/QUOTE]

4.Create a Disavow file in LRT. Manually go through the disavow file that this creates. I usually strip out the header information in the text file that it creates.



Thursday, October 17, 2013

Subdomains are still working despite Google's claims they are trying to weed them out. I pulled this this morning;


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Anastasia is the top international dating service, providing over four million members with a state of the art platform where people can connect with each other and possibly find romance.
After twenty successful years of service,AnastasiaDate.com is known for the high quality dating service it provides to international members all over the globe. The site receives high praise and top rated reviews on a regular basis. Members from all over the world go out of their way to share good news stories and tales of successful romance on social media networks too.
Romance is not easy to find, especially today when we are all leading such busy lives. It can be difficult to meet someone different too.Anastasia is the perfect platform for successful American men who want to connect with beautiful international ladies who offer something more exotic and dazzlingly different to the ladies they might normally meet in their home towns.
The AnastasiaDate.com team is dedicated to providing the highest quality dating service possible. To do this the latest technological innovations are used to create beautifully developed online spaces where members can connect, meet, and get to know each other, with privacy and security.
Mr. Cervantes, the Chief Communications Officer of AnastasiaDate.com said, “AnastasiaDate.com is growing in popularity because of the high quality dating it gives to millions of people all over the world. Customer care and high quality service are the foundations of this business. The company is determined to continue to provide this for every single member.”
He went on to say, “AnastasiaDate.com is the top choice amongst successful business men who have a desire to meet beautiful women from international shores. The site gives members the opportunity to connect with gorgeous ladies they would not normally have the chance to meet.”
AnastasiaDate.com is helping people chat with each other, wherever they live around the world. The company is helping wonderful people from all over the planet meet, get to know each other, and in many cases, find romance.
There are many wonderful success stories which have been shared with AnastasiaDate. Wonderful stories are being shared about couples from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean who met and fell in love, as a result of their membership on the site.
Love is certainly in the air for millions of AnastasiaDate members, and this trend is set to continue. The company reports steady growth in member registrations, as more and more people flock to sign up.
The international flavor, the state of the art member services, and the beautiful women are clearly a combination which keeps AnastasiaDate popular and one of the world’s leading international dating services. Members are now joining from countries all over the world. There seems no doubt that the popularity of this amazing company is going to continue growing in the future.
About Anastasia Date
AnastasiaDate is the leading international dating service that facilitates exciting and romantic companionship with beautiful and interesting women from all over the world. Founded in 1993 by a Russian-American couple, AnastasiaDate now has over 4 million international users and attracts more than 10 million online visits monthly. Additionally, over 1.5 million conversations are exchanged onsite daily. AnastasiaDate is committed to member safety, customer satisfaction and the on-going pursuit of innovation. Headquartered in Moscow and New York with additional representation in every country it touches, AnastasiaDate provides a high level of customer service to a worldwide clientele. AnastasiaDate users are able to communicate across a variety of top-notch multimedia platforms, including video chat and a mobile app for Android devices available in the Google Play store.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Penguin 2.0 Domain Clustering



Granted it's a search on com.mt on a US IP, but the point is the directory is the primary and .com is secondary.

Searching "Casino City" on google.com on a US IP brings back multiple listings in the top ten for the same domain.


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