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Google Says Upgrade To Windows 10 After Critical Flaws Found In Chrome And Windows 7

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Earlier this week Google released an update for the Chrome web browser that it urged users to ensure was implemented immediately. That was because the Threat Analysis Group at Google had uncovered a critical zero-day vulnerability that was already being exploited in the wild. Now a Google security engineer, Clement Lecigne, has warned that another zero-day vulnerability that is also being exploited, impacting Windows 7 users, was being used together with the Chrome exploit to take over Windows systems. Google is now urging all Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 10, as well as make sure their Chrome browser is up to date, to escape the attention of the combined threat.

The Windows zero-day is a local privilege escalation in the win32k.sys kernel driver that allows it to escape the security sandbox. The vulnerability can be used to elevate system privileges by an attacker who might then be able to execute remote malicious code. “The vulnerability is a NULL pointer dereference in win32k!MNGetpItemFromIndex when NtUserMNDragOver() system call is called under specific circumstances” Clement Lecigne said, adding “we strongly believe this vulnerability may only be exploitable on Windows 7 due to recent exploit mitigations added in newer versions of Windows. To date, we have only observed active exploitation against Windows 7 32-bit systems.”

The Google Threat Analysis Group disclosed the zero-day to Microsoft who have said they are working on a fix but, as of yet, there is no indication of how long this might take. Currently, the status of this vulnerability has to remain as a critical and unpatched one. For this reason, Google is advising users of Windows 7 should upgrade to Windows 10 and apply patches from Microsoft as soon as they become available. “Not all vulnerabilities are created equal, and many, if considered on their own, are not cause for undue concern,” says Jim O’Gorman, president of Offensive Security, who continues “if they were flagged by the organization’s security solution, they likely would not have been prioritized in patching. It’s when a group of seemingly minor flaws are chained together that they can be used to devastating effect.”

You can follow Davey on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn and find more of his stories at happygeek.com

Update Google Chrome Now

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Google Confirms Serious Chrome Security Problem – Here’s How To Fix It

The problem explained

Although information regarding CVE-2019-5786 remains scarce currently, Satnam Narang, a senior research engineer at Tenable, says it is a “Use-After-Free (UAF) vulnerability in FileReader, an application programming interface (API) included in browsers to allow web applications to read the contents of files stored on a user’s computer.” Some further digging by Catalin Cimpanu over at ZDNet suggests that there are malicious PDF files in the wild that are being used to exploit this vulnerability. “The PDF documents would contact a remote domain with information on the users’ device –such as IP address, OS version, Chrome version, and the path of the PDF file on the user’s computer,” Cimpanu says. These could just be used for tracking purposes, but there is also the potential for more malicious behavior. The ‘use-after-free’ vulnerability is a memory corruption flaw that carries the risk of escalated privileges on a machine where a threat actor has modified data in memory through exploiting it. That’s why Google has issued the urgent update warning, as the potential is there for exploits to be crafted that could enable an attacker to remotely run arbitrary code (a remote code execution attack) whilst escaping the browser’s built-in sandbox protection.

What to do next

Luckily this is an easy problem to fix, just make sure you do it as soon as you’ve finished reading this! First, head over to the drop-down menu in Chrome (you’ll find it at the far right of the toolbar – click on the three stacked dots) and select Help|About Google Chrome. You could also type chrome://settings/help in the address bar if you prefer, which takes you to the same dialog box. This will tell you if you have the current version running or if there is an update available. To be safe from this zero-day exploit, make sure that it says you are running version 72.0.3626.121 (Official Build). If not, then Chrome should go and fetch the latest version and update your browser for you automatically.

Travis Biehn, technical strategist and research lead at Synopsys, said “Google Chrome is some of the most robustly engineered C and C++ code on the planet, the security teams working on Chrome are world-class. Despite Google’s security program, and despite their active collaboration with leading security researchers through generous bug bounty programs, it still suffers from memory corruption attacks related to the use of C and C++. Luckily for the public, Chrome ships with an effective mechanism for update and patching – one that can get a critical fix out to end users in real time.”

You can follow me on Twitter, connect with me on LinkedIn and find more of my stories at happygeek.com

These are Google’ instructions:

Get a Chrome update when available

Normally updates happen in the background when you close and reopen your computer’s browser. But if you haven’t closed your browser in a while, you might see a pending update:

  1. On your computer, open Chrome.
  2. At the top right, look at More More.
  3. If an update is pending, the icon will be colored:
    • Green: An update’s been available for 2 days.
    • Orange: An update’s been available for 4 days.
    • Red: An update’s been available for 7 days.

To update Google Chrome:

  1. On your computer, open Chrome.
  2. At the top right, click More More.
  3. Click Update Google Chrome. If you don’t see this button, you’re on the latest version.
  4. Click Relaunch.

The browser saves your opened tabs and windows and reopens them automatically when it restarts. If you’d prefer not to restart right away, click Not now. The next time you restart your browser, the update will be applied.

Your website is a sitting duck.

Web Accessibility Online Internet Website Computer For People With Disabilities

Woman sues 175 business owners over websites (We can help you avoid this.)

Critics call it “legal extortion,” now targeting small business owners who feel they are “sitting ducks” for ADA lawsuits regarding their websites that are not accessible to some with disabilities. 

Last year, there were 2,285 ADA website lawsuits filed in federal courts across the nation, an increase of a 181 percent from 2017, according to website accessibility company UsableNet. The majority of lawsuits originate in Florida and New York.

“The attorneys are telling us, ‘You can’t fight this. There’s nothing you can do, just write them a check,'” said Ben Tundis, owner of Island Comfort Footwear in the Westfield Countryside Mall in Clearwater.

Tundis is one of 175 business owners sued by Emily Fuller, of Broward County, a visually-impaired woman holding businesses accountable if they have websites that are not ADA compliant. Fuller, in her lawsuit filed Jan. 4, claims that she was not able to use the recently launched website of Tundis’ shoe store.

Fuller uses a screen reader to use the Internet and claims the shoe store’s website lacked coding that would communicate with her software. This excluded her from shopping on the website, which is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the lawsuit.

Lawsuits like this one are being filed by the stackful, typically by one plaintiff working with a handful of lawyers who are gaining notoriety for these types of cases.

South Florida attorneys Pelayo Duran and Roderick Hannah represent Fuller. Duran tells 8 On Your Side’s Better Call Behnken that clients like Fuller are providing a needed service for society to ensure that websites are ADA compliant and accessible to all.

“It’s a very good thing for society that plaintiffs like Ms. Fuller are providing,” Duran said. “I want to make sure you understand that it’s not about attacking small businesses.”

Fuller has gone after big names, such as Sephora, Helzberg Diamonds, The Home Depot and Chick-fil-A, claiming their websites are not ADA compliant. Some of her recent cases are against the Clearwater shoe store, an activewear boutique in Orlando called Sassy Pants and Tampa Sportservice Inc, the company that runs a store that sells Tampa Bay Lightning apparel inside Amalie Arena.

In most cases, private businesses can’t be sued for damages, under the ADA, says Anastasia Protopapadakis, an ADA defense attorney with the Miami firm Gray-Robinson. Businesses are sued for attorney fees and compliance. Businesses who agree to settlements or lose their cases must pay attorney fees and agree to become ADA compliant within a set amount of time, she said.Some legal experts, and even some advocates for the disabled say plaintiff lawyers are taking advantage of businesses that don’t realize they are doing anything wrong. Instead of reaching out to the businesses and asking for compliance, they sue.

Protopapadakis calls these lawsuits, “corporate extortion” and urges business owners to take a serious look at their websites and make sure that a person with visual or hearing disabilities can use their site.

She said most businesses faced with this type of lawsuit settle the case for attorney fees and compliance. That’s because that is cheaper than litigation.

Experts say these lawsuits are typically settled for between a couple of thousand dollars and $20,000 but could cost much more if defendants chose to fight in court.  Spearhead Multimedia can help you avoid this for usually under $1000.

“Any case appealed to the 11th Circuit has not gone the defendants’ way,” Protopapadakis said.

Protopapadakis said while plaintiffs don’t receive money for damages, some do receive money in exchange for keeping settlement details confidential.

Further frustrating businesses, there are no federal regulations to give businesses a checklist of what they must do to make their websites ADA accessible. The ADA was established in 1990, before websites like we have today. One thing is clear, though, courts have ruled that most websites must be accessible under the ADA.

While there are no clear regulations pertaining to websites in the ADA, courts have recognized web accessibility standards called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG), created by an international consortium of volunteers.

Some of the requirements:

  • Content must be coded for audio translation by screen-reader software.
  • There must be on-screen captions in videos for screen-reader software to read to the blind and descriptions for the deaf.
  • Sites must include accessible drop-down menus for those who use a keyboard as an alternative to a mouse.

These are requirements that every website should have under the ADA, said Chris Danielsen, of the National Federation of the Blind.

Danielsen, who is blind, said he uses screen-reader software every day to access the Internet and runs into problems on a regular basis because websites lack the appropriate coding.

However, he said mass lawsuits, especially those filed by one plaintiff with an attorney, concern him. He said negotiation and education should come first. He also feels that settlements should not be confidential, so the public knows the terms and knows the plan for accessibility for each site.

“Rather than spraying businesses with a firehose of litigation, a much more thoughtful and transparent approach would be a better form of advocacy,” Danielsen said.

Danielsen recommends business owners make sure their website developers know how to make your website compatible. There are several companies that specialize in website compatibility. The National Federation of the Blind has resources on its website to help businesses. Locally, the Lighthouse for the Blind can review websites and offer guidance.

So, who must be accessible? That depends on where the business is located. In the 11th Judicial Circuit, which includes Florida, websites that are connected to a physical store must be accessible to those who are visually and hearing impaired.

Accessibility can get costly, depending on what type of website you have, and whether you do it when you first develop the website or later, said Teresa Huber, president of Get ADA Accessible, which focuses on website accessibility. We can make your site accessible to those with disabilities for less than you think. Visit our Website Accessibility Facebook page for more details.

She said a simple, 10-page website would cost about $1,600 for a firm like hers to audit and identify accessibility issues. The cost of fixing the website would depend on deficiencies, she said. Spearhead Multimedia uses a different approach for less than $100, usually around $500. Get your estimate today.

One small business recently sued by Emily Fuller is Sassy Pants Active Wear Boutique in Orlando. Owner Donna Anthony says she hasn’t been served the lawsuit yet, but she is concerned.

“I never in my wildest dreams thought a website would have to have accommodations,” Anthony said. “My builder knew about ADA compliance for my physical location. My web developer did not.” At Spearhead Multimedia, we’re on the forefront of WCAG 2.1 AA and will help you make your website accessible to those with disabilities. Contact us today, it’s less expensive than you think.

 

 

Give Google’s Chrome browser a major speed boost with one click

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With more than 64% of the global market as of last month, Google’s Chrome browser is by far the most popular desktop web browser by a massive margin. The next closest is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, and its global market share totalled less than 11% in December 2018. Chrome is the browser of choice for so many reasons, not the least of which are things like simplicity and speed. When it comes to speed though, things aren’t always straightforward. Chrome is typically lightning fast when loading webpages, but your browser speed can really take a hit when there are tons of tabs open. I know I pretty much always have tons of tabs open.

Here’s the explanation and download link:

How it works
Whenever you find yourself with too many tabs, click the OneTab icon to convert all of your tabs into a list. When you need to access the tabs again, you can either restore them individually or all at once.

When your tabs are in the OneTab list, you will save up to 95% of memory because you will have reduced the number of tabs open in Google Chrome.

Privacy assurance
We take your privacy seriously. Your tab URLs are never transmitted or disclosed to either the OneTab developers or any other party, and icons for tab URL domains are generated by Google. The only exception to this is if you intentionally click on our ‘share as a web page’ feature that allows you to upload your list of tabs into a web page in order to share them with others. Tabs are never shared unless you specifically use the ‘share as a web page’ button.

How do you make money?
OneTab is free of charge and is not designed to make money. It was created because we badly *needed* it for our own use, and we wanted to share it with the world.

Additional Benefits
Depending on how many scripts are running inside your tabs, moving them to OneTab can also speed up your computer by reducing the CPU load. We have also had reports that this also contributes to your computer resuming from sleep more quickly.

More Features
OneTab lets you easily export and import your tabs as a list of URLs. You can also create a web page from your list of tabs, so that you can easily share your tabs with other people, other computers, or with your smartphone or tablet.

You can drag and drop tabs in your OneTab list to reorder them. You can also hold down the Ctrl or Cmd key while restoring tabs and they will remain in your OneTab list (meaning you can use OneTab as a way of quickly launching a set of commonly used tabs). OneTab supports retina displays. Note that OneTab is designed to leave in place any ‘pinned’ tabs you have.

You will not lose your list of tabs if you accidentally close the OneTab window, if your browser crashes, or if restart your computer.

2018 Update: We’ve been working like crazy to make OneTab much much better – including implementing lots of your feature suggestions. We’re full time on it now and have great momentum. Thank you for all of your thoughtful feedback, please keep it coming.

Download One Tab for free

How will you engage with your customers in 2019?

Spearhead-Multimedia-Email-Marketing-Services

At Spearhead Multimedia, we’ve been doing email marketing for over 20 years and it continues to hold the top spot for marketing to your best salespeople, your very own customers.

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools for small businesses. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing on average sees a 4300 percent return on investment (ROI) for businesses in the United States.

This is because email marketing is easy to manage, gives you full control, and allows you to establish direct contact with your customers.

Not convinced on email marketing? See these 6 reasons why building an email list is so important in 2019.

It’s important to understand that a lot of your success with email marketing depends entirely on the email marketing software you choose because they are responsible for making sure that your emails actually get delivered.

If you aren’t careful, then you will end up paying a lot more money for fewer features and terrible deliverability (which causes you to lose even more money).

A good email marketing service enables you to create highly engaging emails. It also allows you to manage your contacts, segment users into groups, and track the performance of your email campaigns.

Most importantly, a good email marketing service ensures that your emails do not end up in the spam folder.

We at Spearhead Multimedia recommend Constant Contact.  We’ve been creating successful email campaigns for clients and ourselves since 1999.
We have watched them respond to changing trends and customer’s needs.  They are a top tier email marketing company and have one of the highest email success rates in the industry.constant-contact-logo

Constant Contact is one of the largest and fastest growing email marketing services in the world. It is also the easiest to use and beginner friendly email marketing service.

You can easily manage your email lists, contacts, email templates, marketing calendar, and more.  At Spearhead Multimedia, most of our clients have us help collect and sort their contacts, create branded emails and provide the reporting, all done through Constant Contact.

Your account provides access to easy tracking and reporting, built-in social media sharing tools, free image library, list segmentation, Facebook ads integration, and a powerful eCommerce integration for Shopify stores. We will set up automated opt-in forms on your website to help build your customer list.

Their Email Plus accounts also come with powerful features like email automation, surveys & polls, coupons, online donations, and subject line A/B testing to maximize your open rate.

Constant Contact offers unmatched support with live chat, phone calls, email, community support, and a vast library of helpful resources.

Aside from online training, they also offer in-person live seminars across the United States. This allows small businesses to quickly learn the basics of email marketing and start using it to grow their business like a pro.

For all the reasons above, we rate and exclusively use Constant Contact the best email marketing service for small businesses.

Constant Contact has a 60-day free trial (no credit card required). After that their pricing starts as low as $20/month.

Prepay six or 12 months and save up to 15%. Nonprofit organizations can prepay and save up to 30%.

We’re confident you’ll like Constant Contact Email Marketing. But if you don’t, and you decide to close your account within 30 days of signing up, they’ll refund 100% of your payment. View Terms & Conditions

 

 

From an article by Syed Balkhi.

6 Reasons Why Building an Email List is so Important in 2019

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Are you considering building an email list, but have some doubts about why it is needed? Many business owners and bloggers don’t realize the importance of building an email list when they’re first starting out. Most people usually change their mind when they see the impact email lists can have on someone else’s traffic and revenue. In this article, we will share the top reasons why building an email list is important (with real case studies). We will also show you how to start building your email list – step by step.

Why building an email list is so important

In this beginner’s guide, we will cover the following topics:

  • What is an email list?
  • Why building an email list is important
  • Social media vs email marketing
  • What marketing experts are saying about email marketing
  • What do you need to start building an email list
  • How to choose the best email marketing service
  • How to grow your email list and get more subscribers
  • Finding new list building strategies and resources

By the end of this article, you should have answers to all your questions about building an email list.

What is an Email List?

An email list is a special list of names and email addresses of people who gave you permission to send them updates and promotions from your business.

You can build your email list inside a marketing software and send bulk email notifications to everyone regarding your blog updates, online store, or other business services.

Why Building an Email List is Important?

According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing on average sees a 4300 percent return on investment (ROI) for businesses in the USA.

Because email subscribers joined your email list from your website and verified their identity by clicking on a link (double-optin), they are extremely interested in what you have to offer. This is why they are more likely to convert into paying customers.

In our business, email list gets 10 times higher conversions than social media campaigns.

We are partnered with GoZone Wifi to automatically optin your WiFi users and build your list.

This makes sense if you think about the reasons that make email an incredibly powerful communication channel:

1. Email is Personal

Email allows you to land into a user’s inbox. There is no ranking system limiting your reach. It is very direct and personal.

2. Email is Purposeful

To get updates from you, a user fills out a form to signup for your email list and confirm their email address. Someone doing this much work is obviously interested in hearing from you, and they are much more receptive to your message.

3. Email is Targeted

As we mentioned earlier, the user has already shown interest in your product or content. Since you already know what they like, you can deliver them highly relevant offers to get better results. This is called segmentation, and we will cover that later in the article.

4. You Own Your Email List

You do not own Facebook, Twitter, or Google. Your social media campaigns and SEO efforts can go to waste when these platforms change their policies. On the other hand, you own your email list, and it is not influenced by decisions of other businesses.

5. Email is One-on-One

People read email in the privacy of their inbox. The message is not on a public timeline or newsfeed. They can ask you questions directly in private with confidence. This helps build trust and connection.

6. More People Use Email Several Times a Day

You may have heard that Facebook has 1.4 billion and Twitter has 100 million daily active users. What you have may not have heard, is the number of people using Email every day.

Every internet user has at least one email account. Recent research conducted by Radicati found out that there 3.8 billion active email accounts. That’s half the population of Earth.

This is precisely why every smart business in the world has an email list.

Big name brands learned this lesson a long time ago, and that’s why they spend thousands of dollars on social media campaigns to get people to sign up for their email lists.

They understand that email marketing is the best long-term investment with a much higher return because people will continue to get their message at a very low cost for a longer period of time.

Social Media vs Email Marketing

Now you’re probably thinking, wait a minute. What about social media?

In fact, we have been asked several times isn’t email marketing kind of dead with social media taking over everything?

The best way to answer this question is to look at the information Twitter and Facebook ask you before you create an account:

Enter email address to create an account

Yup, it’s an email address.

These companies know that emails are the most direct and reliable way of getting in touch with their customers.

Even if you sign up using your phone number, they will keep asking for your email address to help you find friends, for password recovery options, and most importantly to send you targeted email messages.

Here is a view of the social tab in a typical Gmail user’s inbox.

Social emails

All these emails are from big social media platforms, so they can engage you with the content on their platform and get you to visit their app or website again.

All social media platforms are building an email list because they are smart business owners. This helps their valuation when selling their business.

While social media is a great way to reach your audience, it’s important to keep in perspective the timely nature of social media platforms.

They come and go.

Not too long ago we had MySpace, FriendFeed, Google Buzz, Plurk and countless others. Most of them are either dead now or irrelevant.

Today we have Facebook and Twitter that are prominent, but not everyone enjoys these platform. Some people prefer Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc.

Basically, your users are all over the place on different platforms. But studies show that at least 91% of consumers check their email on a daily basis.

We are not saying that social media is not important. It is, and you should explore every opportunity to reach your audience.

However, you should spend more time and effort into something that guarantees higher results.

What Experts are Saying About Building an Email List?

Don’t take just our word for it, listen to what all top marketing experts are saying about email marketing:

Out of all the channels I tested as a marketer, email continually outperforms most of them.

– Neil Patel – Crazy Egg and QuickSprout

Getting an email address is the first critical step to figuring out who my reader is, and hopefully in the future, my customer of some sort.

– Joe Pulizzi – Founder Content Marketing Institute

If you’re not building an email list, you’re making a HUGE mistake.

– Derek Halpern – Founder Social Triggers

Email is the most predictable driver of growth and sales in our business. I prefer email marketing over all other traffic channels.
– Syed Balkhi – Founder WPBeginner

Many expert marketers say their biggest mistake was not building an email list when they first started out.

With all the reasons above, we hope that you’re convinced that building an email list is important for all businesses.

Now you might be wondering, how do I build an email list?

This brings us to the next section.

What You Need to Start Building an Email List:

By now, you know why building an email list is so important, and why ignoring it can be a HUGE mistake.

So let’s take a look at what you need to start building your email list.

3 Things You Need to Build an Email List:

  1. A website or blog.
  2. An email marketing service.
  3. High-converting opt-in forms

We can provide all three of these for you.

For the sake of this article, we will only be focusing on the last two items on the list. We’re going to assume you have a website.  If you don’t, let’s talk.

Choosing the Best Email Marketing Service

There are tons of email marketing services out there. We recommend Constant Contact, hands down. Often times, beginners use a free company to save money, which is understandable. However, some of these free platforms are not the best. Why?

Some platforms mislabel themselves as “email marketing service” when in reality all they offer is free blog subscription via email. This allows your users to receive an email update every time you publish a new blog post.

But that’s not true email marketing. Here are some of the downsides of using a free blog notification service:

  • You can’t send out private email newsletters. To send an email, you will have to publish a new blog post, which means that the information you want to share will have to be publicly available first.
  • You can’t personalize the email message. It will be delivered in the same format often with no branding or personalization.
  • You can’t categorize subscribers by interests, demographics, or content type.
  • There is no reporting. You don’t know how many people got the email, what percentage of users opened it, and how many of them clicked on your links.
  • If you later tried to move to a paid service, your users will have to re-confirm their subscription. Many of them will not do it, and you will end up losing subscribers.

This is why we ALWAYS recommend using a professional email marketing service, like Constant Contact, right from the beginning.

Yes, they cost a little bit of money, but they are an investment in your business which pays huge returns.

The benefit of professional email marketing services are:

  • You can send private mass emails to your subscribers.
  • You can see subscriber activity and group your subscribers based on actions they take.
  • You can run A/B split tests to see which email subject line, content, and offers work best with your subscribers.
  • With reporting tools, you can see which country you have the most subscribers from. You can adjust your time zone preferences, and send emails at the right time.
  • Last, but definitely the most important, you can see the email addresses of all your subscribers.

There are hundreds of professional email marketing services available.

For small businesses, we recommend using Constant Contact because they are one of the largest email marketing services in the world.

They offer a 30-day free trial. This gives you plenty of time to set up and start seeing the results. At the end of 30 days, your email list would likely be paying for itself (cost $20 / month).
Start your free trial.

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Once you have signed up with Constant Contact, the next step is to add opt-in forms to your website to allow your users to subscribe.

Growing Your Email List and Getting More Subscribers

Did you know that more than 70% of visitors abandoning your website will never return? It’s true, just look in your Google Analytics and look at the percentage of new vs returning visitors.

That’s why you need to convert every website visitor into an email subscriber before they leave, so you can send them relevant messages to bring them back.

An average internet user spends just a few seconds looking at a website. This gives you very little time to engage them. If your email sign up forms are not noticeable, then users will leave without ever subscribing to your website.

The biggest mistake that we see beginners make is not strategically placing high-converting opt-in forms.

Constant Contact provides you with codes to embed in your theme, we handle that for you.

This is why we recommend our users to use OptinMonster. It is the most powerful conversion optimization software that helps you convert abandoning website visitors into subscribers and customers.

Instead of adding boring sign up forms to your sidebar, you can easily create high-converting opt-in forms like lightbox popups, floating header and footer bars, slide-in scroll boxes, fullscreen welcome mat, inline forms, and more.

OptinMonster optin forms

But what makes OptinMonster really powerful is the behavior automation and personalization features. OptinMonster allows you to automatically show different opt-in forms based on where the user is coming from, which page they are visiting, and what they are doing on your website.

For example, the Exit-Intent® feature track your users’ mouse behavior and show them a targeted opt-in form at the precise moment they are about to leave. This helps you convert abandoning visitors into subscribers.

That’s why influencers like Michael Hyatt, Neil Patel, and Social Media Examiner use exit-intent on their websites. It helped Social Media Examiner add over 95,000 new subscribers in 7 months.

Nicolas Gagne, a small business owner, combined Constant Contact with a single exit-intent optin to grow his email list by 500%. This helped him triple his revenue from his online store (see the full case study).

There are tons more case studies and OptinMonster reviews that you can read as well.

Get started with OptinMonster today — Use the coupon WPB10 to get 10% off.

Note: OptinMonster was started by WPBeginner’s founder, Syed Balkhi, because he wanted to get more email subscribers, faster. It helped us increase our email signups by 600%. Due to popular request, we released this tool for the public, and currently, it’s the most recommended lead generation software in the market.

List Building Strategies and Resources

Having the right tools is crucial, but knowing how to use them properly is what makes the most difference.

In your email marketing strategy, the most important thing you should plan out is segmentation.

What is email list segmentation?

Email list segmentation is the process of grouping your subscribers, so you can better personalize your emails based on interest.

It helps you get higher open rates and click-through rates. This definitive guide to email marketing has all the information you need to segment your email list like a pro.

If you want to start growing your email list quickly, we have a system that incorporates your wifi network to optin users coming into your brick and mortar business.

We can create your optin forms and place them on your website, blog and social network accounts.

Content Upgrades are the highest converting opt-in forms. It’s a technique where you offer bonus content at the end of your popular blog posts. These usually convert 5 times higher than a regular opt-in. Here are some content upgrade ideas that you should check out. We will work with you to help choose what’s best and set them up for you.

There are a lot of different ways to capture email leads, we can create lead captures using Optin Monster and Constant Contact.

Conclusion

It does not matter what kind of business you run, what kind of website you have, or what industry you are in.

If you have a website, and you want to turn your visitors into returning customers, then you need to get them in your email list.

We hope this article helped you understand why building an email list is important and helped you get started on the right foot.

From an article by Syed Balkhi.

How to Increase Your Blog Traffic – The Easy Way (27 Proven Tips)

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Last updated on  by 

Starting a blog these days has become easy with platforms like WordPress. However once it is up and running, the next big challenge you have is to bring more traffic to your blog or website.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a marketing guru to promote your blog. You can easily increase your blog traffic to get more visitors by using some proven best practices.

In this article, we will share some of the easiest and tested tips to increase your blog traffic like an expert marketer.

 

Unlike other articles on growing blog traffic, we are only going to share tips that we have personally used to increase our website traffic to millions of pageviews every month.

We also have done our best to make this the most comprehensive website traffic guide, so you can have a holistic blog traffic strategy for your business.

Ready? Let’s get started.

1. Create Audience Profiles to Understand Your Users

Audience profiles

Before you start creating content for your blog, it’s important to spend a little time understanding your target audience and what they are looking for.

You can quickly build an audience framework by answering the following questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What problems are they facing that you can help solve?
  • What kind of content are they looking for?
  • How would they ideally try to find the answers to their questions?

Answering these questions will help you get a clearer picture of your target audience.

You can also expand on this by adding further personalized questions such as:

  • How old are they?
  • What are their occupations?
  • What is their education level?
  • What is their expertise level in the subject matter of your blog?

These audience profiles are also known as buyer personas in the eCommerce industry. If you run an online store, then we highly recommend that you check out this detailed guide on how to create a buyer persona with examples and templates.

2. Do Keyword Research to Plan Your Content Strategy

Keyword research

Keyword research is a technique used by content creators and SEO experts. It helps you discover specific words and sentences that users type in Google and other search engines to find the content they are looking for.

Normally, beginners just rely on their best guesses when creating content. As you can imagine, this strategy is a hit or miss.

If you use the “best-guess” strategy, then a lot of your articles will likely not do well in search engines. Simply because no one’s looking for the keywords you have used, or there is just too much competition for those keywords.

By doing proper keyword research, you will unlock the following benefits:

  • Discover actual search terms people are looking for
  • Find unique content ideas for popular search terms
  • Learn from your competitors and beat them with better content
  • Create a series of pillar-articles to drive steady traffic to your blog

Now the question is how do you actually do keyword research? Luckily, it is not as difficult as you would think.

There are a lot of free and paid tools that can help you do proper keyword research.

All you would have to do is enter a keyword, a competitors blog/website URL, or your own URL to find out more keyword ideas.

We have created a detailed guide on how to do keyword research for your WordPress blog with step by step instructions.

3. Make an Editorial Calendar

Editorial calendar

Once you have done the keyword research, you’ll likely come up with tons of blog post ideas.

Sometimes, the large list of keywords can overwhelm beginners to a point where they simply give up.

To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, we recommend creating an editorial calendar (a game plan). Remember, no large blog was built in a day.

It takes time and consistent effort to create a successful blog.

Creating an editorial calendar will help you create and stick to the plan.

There are plenty of useful tools that you can use like Asana and Trello to name a few.

These tools come with a powerful set of features that will help you stay on top of your game.

The goal is to organize, create a bird’s eye view of your strategy, and be more productive.

Here are some more tips on managing your editorial workflow more efficiently.

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Start with two articles a week and gradually increase your pace when you can.
  • Be consistent with your publishing schedule. Make sure you follow your calendar and publish regular content as planned.
  • Add notes, keyword ideas, and outlines to your calendar. This will help you produce better quality content when you sit down to write.
  • Use colors, tags, categories, and other features in your calendar app to make it more visual and organized.

Here are some more tips on managing an editorial calendar for your blog.

4. Create Comprehensive and Useful Content

Create comprehensive content

The most important thing that users and search engines look for is good quality content.

For a blog, a quality piece of content is usually a comprehensive article on a specific topic that covers all the details. This makes it extremely helpful for users.

These comprehensive articles are known as “pillar articles”. Other experts may refer to them as flagship content or cornerstone articles.

Basically, these are your most important articles. You need choose the most promising keyword and then provide as much information as you could in one long-form article.

You should create as many pillar articles as possible to cover all the important keywords in your industry.

Following are some tips that you should keep in mind when creating pillar content:

  • Pillar content could be any type of article. For example, a how-to guide, tutorial, comparison article, opinion piece, a listicle, and so on.
  • The difference between pillar content and other articles is that your pillar articles are more comprehensive and provide in-depth information on the topic.
  • Your pillar articles are not time-dependent. They are evergreen and always useful. Although we recommend keeping them updated with new information to stay on top of search results.

We will cover more tips later in this article that will help you create high-quality pillar articles to get more traffic from search engines.

5. Make Your Content Readable

Make your content more readable

As we mentioned earlier, search engines and users love longer and comprehensive articles that provide all the information they need.

Now the problem is that humans have a short attention span.

A slight difficulty in reading or understanding will put off your users, and they will leave without looking at all the useful information that you offered.

To solve this problem before it happens, you need to make all your content easy to read.

A good place to start would be to present your article in bite-size sentences using a friendly tone and lots of visuals.

Following are just some basic tips to make your content more readable and user-friendly.

  • Use smaller sentences and paragraphs. This leaves a lot of white space around text making it easier to look and read.
  • Try to improve typography by using more readable fonts, large font-size, and plenty of line spacing.
  • Check the readability score of your content. Yoast SEO comes with a built-in tool for that, you can also find tons of other online readability checkers
  • Use a grammar checker. We recommend using Grammarly, it not only checks grammar but actually helps you write better.
  • Use images, screenshots, videos, infographics, and other visual elements. These media elements make your article highly-engaging and easier to read.

6. Learn and apply the SEO basics to your Website

Learn basic SEO

SEO is a set of best practices that help you make your website more search engine friendly. You don’t need to be an ‘SEO Guru’ to improve your website.

Contrary to popular belief, anyone can do SEO for their own websites without hiring an expert. There are plenty of SEO tools and plugins, free advice, and step by step tutorials available that you can use.

We recommend using Yoast SEO plugin for all WordPress websites. It is the most comprehensive SEO and website optimization tool. The free version includes all the SEO features that you will need on your website.

You can learn all you need to know about SEO, in our complete WordPress SEO guide for beginners. It includes step by step instructions, and it is the exact same SEO setup that we use on our own websites.

7. Learn to Write Great Headlines

Learn to write effective headlines

When users find your content in search results or RSS feeds, the first thing they see is your article headline.

A catchy blog post title stands out and gets more clicks. Whereas a plain and boring headline gets ignored, and users are likely to scroll by it.

This makes headlines very important.

You need to learn how to write better titles for your blog posts that capture user attention and get more clicks.

Luckily, blogging experts have been doing research on headlines for a very long time, and you can benefit from their findings.

These are the basic building blocks of an effective headline:

  • A good headline triggers an emotional response (joy, surprise, shock, curiosity, fear, excitement, greed, and so on).
  • It offers users a reward and value
  • It promotes the content by including target keywords

Copywriters use power words to trigger emotional responses. They tell users why the article is valuable or what they will get from clicking on the headline.

Lastly, a good headline includes a call to action for users which is often subtle and sometimes implied.

To learn more, we recommend you to check out these headlines that went viral and what you can learn from them.

You can also use the following free headline analyzer tools to help create better headlines:

Our team regularly uses these three tools to create better blog post titles and headlines.

8. Make Internal Linking a Routine Task

Make internal linking a habit

Now that you have started creating good content, it is important to link to your articles from your existing blog posts. This is called internal linking, and it plays a huge role in SEO.

Here is why internal linking is so important:

  • Internal links help Google understand the context and relationship between different articles on your website. It then uses this information as ranking signals.
  • Internal links, when placed strategically and in context, can help you increase page views and reduce bounce rate.
  • It is harder to ask third-party websites to link to your articles. It is way easier to create links on your own site.

We recommend making it a habit to link to your older articles from your new articles.

Because internal links play such an important role in SEO, we have even made it part of our pre-publish checklist for our writers.

9. Start Generating More Backlinks

Backlinks

A backlink is an incoming links to your content from an external website. Backlinks are one of the most influential signals in Google’s rankings.

Getting backlinks from reputable websites and blogs is very difficult. Not just for beginners, even experienced bloggers struggle with it.

Here are some tips to get quality backlinks to your website:

  • Reach out to influencers and reputable blogs in your industry, and then tell them about specific content on your website that they might want to link.
  • Write guest posts on other blogs and websites.
  • Interview influencers and bloggers on your blog. They will likely want to let their users know to come checkout their interview, and you’ll get a backlink.
  • The easiest way to get a backlink is to add a link to your website on all your social media profiles.

10. Add Images, Charts, Infographs to Create Visually Attractive Content

Use images

In step 5, we mentioned that adding images and charts to your articles make it more readable.

Since visual elements are so important, we believe they deserved their own spot on this list.

As human beings, our brain prefers visual elements. We love colors and objects because aesthetics trigger emotional responses in our brains. This makes us more engaged and immersed in our surroundings.

People love looking at infographics because they make information engaging and easy to consume.

Images in your blog posts grab user’s attention and help them focus on not just the visual element but also the text around it.

If you’re just starting out, then it’s important to know that you cannot just use any image you see on the internet. Images are protected by copyright and stealing copyrighted material can have serious consequences.

Ideally, you want to use your own images, graphics, and photographs, but not all bloggers are graphic designers or photographers.

Luckily, there are so many great resources to find royalty free images, and there are even tools that you can use to easily create your own graphics. Here are some helpful resources:

11. Add Videos to Your Articles

Add videos to your blog posts

Videos are the most successful form of content on the internet. Users spend more time on blog posts containing videos than just text and images.

Adding videos to your articles in WordPress is super easy. However, you should never upload videos to WordPress because it is not optimized to stream videos.

A video hosted on your WordPress hosting server will take up too many resources, and the user experience would be terrible.

The best way to add videos to your WordPress site is by uploading them to YouTube and then embedding them in your blog posts.

This gives you even more exposure as YouTube itself is the world’s second largest search engine, and a popular social media platform.

There are many ways to easily create video content for your website. Here are few that you can start with:

  • You can create slideshows of how to tutorials with voice over instructions
  • You can create screencasts
  • Record interviews with other bloggers and influencers in your industry
  • Become a vlogger by adding your own videos shot in selfie mode

For video editing, if you are using Mac, then iMovie is perfectly capable of performing basic video edits. Windows users can use free video editing software like Lightworks or Shotcut for basic editing.

12. Utilize User-Generated Content

Add user-generated content in WordPress

User-generated content is basically any content generated on your website as a result of user activity. This includes comments, testimonials, guest posts, user reviews, and more.

User-generated content helps you bring more traffic to your website because it gives users multiple opportunities to participate and get involved.

Users are more likely to return, share, and even purchase from your website when they spend more time on it.

There are many different kinds of user-generated content that you can add. You need to choose what works best for your blog and start from there.

For more ideas, see our guide on how to use user-generated content in WordPress to grow your website.

13. Keep Your Website Design Clean and Clutter Free

Clean design

There are a lot of great WordPress themes available on the market. The problem is that many beginners want to use a theme with all the bells and whistles. These themes are not always the perfect design for your website.

Bad website design stops your users from spending more time on your blog which decreases your pageviews.

Whereas a good design helps them discover more content, explore different sections, and spend more time.

We are often asked by users how to choose the best theme? Our answer is to always to strive for simplicity.

A simple, clean, and functional theme makes a good first impression and offers the best user experience.

If you are looking for some theme recommendations, then check out our expert-pick showcases:

14. Optimize Website Speed to Load Your Pages Faster

Improve your website speed

In this era of instant gratification, no one wants to wait for a website to load. If your website is slow, then users will simply leave your website before it even loads.

Search engines like Google also consider website speed and page load time as one of the important ranking factors.

To make sure that your website loads fast, you need to optimize your WordPress performance. This means you need to use caching, avoid unnecessary bloat, and optimize your images.

We have prepared a step by step WordPress performance optimization guidethat will help you speed up your website without hiring a developer.

15. Start Your Email List Right Away

Start building your email list

Most beginners spend too much of their time bringing new users to their website. However, more than 70% of users leaving your website will never return.

The trick to growing your blog traffic is NOT to just get new visitors, but you also need to keep existing visitors coming back.

How do you make sure that users return to your website?

You do that by asking them to subscribe to your blog.

Users can subscribe to your website’s social media profiles. However, most social networks limit your reach, and your users can only see some of your content.

This is why you need to start building your email list.

The best about your email list is that you own it. No one can limit your reach, and you get direct access to your user’s inboxes.

Email marketing is the most cost-efficient and highly effective marketing tool at your disposal.

You are losing potential subscribers each day without an email list.

For more on this topic, please read our article on why building an email list is so important.

Once you have an email list, you can send regular email newsletters to bring more visitors to your blog.

16. Automatically Share Your Blog Posts

Share your content

When we stress that you should build an email list, we don’t mean that you should stop building a social media following.

Quite the opposite, in fact, we want you to continue building a social media following on all the important social platforms, and even find new niche platforms that you can explore.

The problem with social media websites is that you have to regularly post content to keep your profiles active and drive traffic to your blog.

If you do that manually, then you’ll soon be spending quite a lot of time on sharing content.

This is where IFTTT comes in. It is a free online service that allows you to automatically share your WordPress blog posts on social media websites.

17. Regularly Share Your Old Articles on Social Media

Share old posts

If you’re like most blogs, you probably only publish one article a day, this means for the rest of the day, there is no update from you on social media.

On platforms like Twitter, your Tweet will soon disappear, and your users will probably not even see it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could automatically share your old content at regular intervals throughout the day?

This will help you get more traffic from social media by increasing your visibility and keeping your profiles more active.

Luckily, you can automate it with tools like Buffer and Revive Old Posts.

With Buffer, you will have to bulk-upload your updates manually. On the other hand, Revive Old Posts will allow you to automatically share your own old articles.

18. Explore Other Social Networks

Explore more social networks

There are so many social media websites out there, but most of us spend all of our time on few top platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Obviously, you want to focus on them to drive more traffic to your blog.

However, depending on your blog’s topics you may have more success on other social platforms that are less crowded.

For example, if your blog is about building businesses, then you may find more engaged users on LinkedIn.

If you run a lifestyle or fashion blog, then Instagram may be the platform you should focus on.

You can always spend time on Quora to answer user questions which build backlinks and help increase blog traffic.

We recommend that you try spending more time on social networks other than the big two. You may find a more passionate audience and a bigger following there.

19. Participate in Online Communities

Participate in online communities

Online communities are a great source of traffic mainly because they already have engaged users who are interested in the topics that you are discussing on your blogs.

You can find smaller communities on Reddit, LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, YouTube communities, and more.

Pro Tip: Don’t just start posting links to your articles. This is called spamming and moderators will instantly block you.

You should spend some time building reputation, answering questions, joining discussions, and then only share your website if it is appropriate.

20. Make Your Own Online Groups

Make your own online groups

Another way to build a passionate following around your blog is by starting your own online group. You can use free platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn and invite your users to join in.

As your community grows, so will your influence. The active participants in your group will proactively help you promote your blog on their own social media profiles.

After some time, this little community can become a major source of traffic for your blog.

21. Participate in Q & A Websites

Participate on question and answers websites

You may have noticed that sometimes years old answers from websites like Stack Exchange, Quora, or TripAdvisor would still outrank more established blogs in search results.

Question and Answer websites are one of the biggest online communities on the internet.

The advantage of answering questions on these platforms is that your answer will remain live for a very long time which means that it can become a regular source of traffic to your blog.

Once again, we will not recommend you to just go there for posting your links. Instead, you should write actual detailed answers with links to your blog posts only if they fit in the context.

22. Find and Engage with Influencers on Social Media

Influencer marketing

Influencers can help you promote your blog and can significantly boost your website traffic.

However, the problem is that most influencers get tons of messages already. Since you are a new blogger, they assume you probably don’t have anything to offer them in return.

So how do you get the attention of an influencer? More importantly, how do you get them to promote your blog?

First, you need to start a conversation with them on social media.

Next, share their content with your own commentary, reply to their threads, leave comments on their blog posts.

Make sure each of your interaction adds value to their discussion.

Influencers love it when users appreciate their efforts. They will notice and remember you. Once you have established a relationship, you can approach them to give you advice.

It sounds like a lot of work, but it helps you build life-long friendships that are mutually profitable.

23. Use Social Proof to Get More Traffic

Using social proof

Human beings are social animals. We like to know about other people’s experiences as social proof and use it to make our own decisions.

You need to use this social proof on your website, on your social media profiles, in your tweets, and in emails to promote your blog.

Now you may be wondering, what if I am just starting out? How do I leverage social proof on my blog?

There are tons of ways to leverage social proof, even on a new blog.

  • Add a feedback form and ask users to leave you feedback that you can share on your blog.
  • Directly approach users and collect testimonials
  • Ask users to rate your articles
  • Ask users to write reviews
  • Numbers are brain candy. Share your social media counts, email list subscriber counts, and other numbers as social proof.

Don’t worry if your numbers aren’t as big as other successful blogs, they are still powerful social proof.

24. Monitor Social Media

Monitor social media

People are asking questions all the time on social media websites like Twitter. Set up alerts to monitor keywords on social media and then jump into conversations to answer their questions with a link back to a relevant article on your website.

You can also monitor social media websites for your brand name, links, conversations, and more.

There are plenty of tools that you can use for this. Here are some of the best social media monitoring tools that can make it all easy for you.

25. Track Your Website’s Keyword Rankings

Track your keyword rankings

After you have started creating content and promoting it, you need to track how well each content is performing. Furthermore, which keywords is it ranking for.

You can do this with a tool called, Google Search Console. It is a free tool provided by Google that helps you see how your website is doing in Google Search. We have a complete Google Search Console guide that will teach you how to use this immensely powerful tool, like a Pro.

Next, you would want to monitor your competitor websites. Google Search Console will not tell you who is ranking higher than you and why.

For that, you’ll need tools SEMRush and Ahrefs. Using either of these tools, you can get detailed insights into your competitors, their top keywords, and what you need to do to outrank them.

26. Track Your Website Traffic and User Engagement

Track user analytics

Now that you have started getting some traffic, you need to know where your users are coming from, and what they do when they are on your website. Without this data, you cannot evaluate your strategy or plan your next moves.

This is where Google Analytics comes in.

It tracks your website visitors and helps you see traffic reports, engagement, and other user activity on your website. For instructions, see our step by step tutorial on how to install Google Analytics in WordPress.

The biggest advantage of using Google Analytics is that you can see what your users are doing when they visit your website. See our article on how to use Google Analytics to track user engagement on your website.

Knowing this data helps you double down on what’s working, and stop doing what’s not.

27. Continue Learning Online Marketing and SEO

These tips will help you increase your blog traffic and continue getting more subscribers.

However as your blog grows, you need to learn more ways to grow your business.

WPBeginner is the largest WordPress resource site. We regularly publish tutorials on online marketing and SEO. We have a YouTube Channel as well, where you can learn more about WordPress, growing your blog, and SEO.

OptinMonster Blog is another great resource that you would want to follow. OptinMonster is the best conversion optimization software on the market. Their blog is where they regularly publish articles on how to get more traffic, subscribers, and sales.

We hope these tips helped you increase your blog traffic. You may also want to see our list of most useful tools to help you further grow your blog.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

We here at Spearhead Multimedia have been following Syed Balkhi for many years.  His tips and traing articles are a great resource for our clients.

Google Introduces WordPress Plugin With Integrated Analytics, Search Console, More

Matt Southern

Matt Southern

 

Google has introduced a new WordPress plugin which brings insights from Google tools to users’ dashboards.

Site Kit by Google allows users to access information in Search Console, Analytics, AdSense, and PageSpeed Insights from the WordPress admin panel.

“With Site Kit installed, WordPress users can access unified insights and Google product capabilities directly from the WordPress admin panel. Where it is helpful, Site Kit will also provide deep links into Google products for advanced reports and product configuration capabilities.”

Google will release Site Kit to beta testers in early 2019. Those who are interested in the plugin can sign up for the beta version here.

Site Kit doesn’t add any new insights that are not already available in Google’s tools, but it does make them easier to access.

For example, users can navigate to a page on their website and click on the Site Kit button in the admin panel to see stats for that specific page.

Google Introduces WordPress Plugin With Integrated Analytics, Search Console, More

The plugin will also notify users when they’ve hit publishing milestones and show combined stats for the most recently published posts.

Google Introduces WordPress Plugin With Integrated Analytics, Search Console, More

Google plans to expand Site Kit’s capabilities and integrations in the future based on feedback from beta testers.

12 Completely Outdated SEO Practices You Should Avoid

Sam Hollingsworth

 

by Sam Hollingsworth

12 Completely Outdated SEO Practices You Should Avoid

SEO has gone through extensive evolutionary changes over the years, and continues to do so every day.

While most traditional marketing tactics (for the most part) still hold true in digital marketing today, SEO changes have quite drastically changed the landscape.

Most, if not all, of these changes have helped improve the web – and search, in particular.

Yet, some people still cling to the “old ways” and try to use outdated SEO practices to improve their brand’s organic search visibility and performance.

Some of the tactics worked a few years ago, but now just aren’t as effective as they used to be.

Yet many novice marketers and/or small business owners are still using these “zombie” SEO techniques (tactics that should be dead, but aren’t for some godforsaken reason).

Not only are they ineffective, but many of the 12 outdated SEO practices below are potentially dangerous to the well-being of your brand, websites, and other digital properties.

1. Keyword Abuse

There are so many ways webmasters and “marketers” continue to misunderstand keywords’ role in general SEO initiatives, and how they should be used in the day-to-day strategy.

Let’s take a more granular look at specific types of keyword abuse and mismanagement, including irrelevant usage, writing for a specific keyword density, and keyword stuffing.

Irrelevant Keyword Targeting/Confusion

All too often, novice SEO practitioners try and fit their content and messaging within the confines of their keyword research (and not much else).

These “marketers” will shape the content and its metadata to represent keywords it’s not properly aligned with, nor the proper intent of the users conducting the searches for the high-volume keywords being targeted.

This causes brands to likely lose the attention of readers before ever having the chance to communicate a real message with them.

If the keywords marketed for don’t align with the content on the page, the disconnect will hinder the success of content even if it’s otherwise of good quality.

Don’t try to mislead users and direct them to content that is misrepresented by high-volume keywords in order for increased visibility.

Google knows what this looks like, and it can truly be defined as an obsolete SEO practice (as well as a “black hat” technique, in many instances).

Keyword Density

Writing for a specific “keyword density,” like many keyword-focused marketing tactics, is just missing the mark.

Google no longer depends on keyword density (or the ratio of specific keyword usage to the overall page copy) to determine whether a webpage is an effective source for answering a search query.

It is so much more advanced than simply crawling for keywords; search engines like Google use a multitude of signals to determine search results.

While keywords remain important to the topics and ideas they represent, they are not the lifeline for ranking for high-value search queries.

The quality of content and how the messaging is delivered are the lifeline for that.

Keyword Stuffing

This is probably the oldest trick in the book.

SEO is about keywords, right?

So, loading up our webpages with keywords — especially the same high-value keyword we are aggressively targeting throughout the website — is going to help us show up higher in search, thus outranking out competition?

Absolutely not.

Search engines have, for a long time, known what keyword stuffing is and what kind of text combinations are unnatural. They notice these as attempts to manipulate search results and demote the content as such.

Yes, there may still be valuable content that uses simple keyword stuffing, either intentionally or unintentionally, that is not demoted because of its actual value to users.

Back in the day, webmasters trying to game the system would go as far as putting every keyword variation of a high-value keyword in the website footer or, even more sketchily, make those keywords the same color as the site’s background, effectively hiding them from humans but not the search engine crawlers.

Webmasters have also tried this with links. (Don’t do anything like this.)

Remember, you’re writing for humans, not search engines.

2. Writing for Robots

It’s important to understand that writing unnatural is, well, not natural.

And search engines know it.

The belief is: writing for the web means we should repeat a subject by its proper name every time it is mentioned, working in variations and plural/non-plural versions of the word so that “all bases are covered.”

When crawled, the crawlers see the keyword repeated, and in several different versions, thus leading the page to rank well for the keyword variations used (over and over … and over again).

This isn’t going to work anymore.

Search engines are advanced enough to understand repeated keywords, their variations, and the unfavorable experience of generally bad content.

Write for humans, not search engine crawlers or any other robot.

3. Article Marketing & Article Directories

Any attempt to game the system doesn’t usually work out in the world of SEO.

But that doesn’t stop people from trying.

Especially when these tactics offer noticeable improvements to a brand, its website, and/or its associated digital properties.

Sure, article directories worked. And they worked pretty darn good for a long time, too.

Commonly considered one of earliest forms of digital marketing, article syndication was low-hanging fruit to those in the know. And it made sense since the idea was similar to other channels like TV and print that already use syndicated content regularly.

But Google eventually caught on, unleashing its game-changing Panda update in 2011.

Panda chewed up the search landscape, targeting content farms and directories, as well as other websites offering crap content (whether it was simply bad/false, horribly written, makes no sense, or stolen from someone else).

The idea behind article marketing doesn’t make sense in today’s world, where your high-quality content needs to be original and demonstrate expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.

4. Article Spinning

Typically done with software, article spinning is the black-hat tactic of trying to recreate quality content using different words, phrases, and organization.

Essentially the end result was a garbled mess of an article that made the same points as the source material.

It’s no surprise this isn’t effective anymore.

While AI is getting better all the time at creating content, anything generated by a machine is still of a lower quality than what a human can produce – something original, helpful, and of substance.

5. Buying Links

This one is still biting webmasters many years later.

Like most SEO tactics, if it seems shady, you probably shouldn’t do it.

Buying links is no different.

Once upon a time, it was routine practice to quickly pay to get a high volume of links pointing at your site.

Now we now that backlink profiles need to be maintained and optimized just like the websites we oversee, and low-quality domains with far too many backlinks pointing to a website may be dangerous to a website’s health.

Google can easily identify low-quality sites, and it will also identify when those sites are sending an abundance of links out that they shouldn’t be.

Today if you want to legitimately help boost the authority and visibility of your website, you need to earn links, not pay someone to build them manually.

6. Anchor Text

Internal linking is a characteristic of any good site structure and user experience.

This is typically done with anchor text, an HTML element that allows us to tell users what type of content they can expect if they click on a link.

There are various types of anchor text (branded, naked, exact-match, website/brand name, page title and/or headline, etc.), but some have most certainly become more favorable than others, depending on the usage and situation.

In the past, using exact-match and keyword-rich anchor text were standard SEO best practices.

Since Penguin, Google has been better at identifying over-optimized content.

This goes back to the Golden Rule about producing well-constructed content that is user-friendly and natural.

If you’re optimizing for search engines and not humans, you’re likely going to fail.

7. Obsolete Keyword Research Tactics

Keywords have certainly gone through some drastic changes over the last five to 10 years.

Marketers used to have a plethora of keyword-level data at their fingertips, allowing us to see what works well for our brand and what doesn’t, but also to get a better understanding of idea targeting and user intent.

Much of this went to the wayside with keyword “(not provided)”.

In the years following, tools popped up that tried to replicate keyword data. But to fully recreate it correctly is simply impossible.

And yet, even with that now-stripped keyword data, marketers are required to do keyword research of their own to get an understanding of the industry, the competition, the geographic region, etc.

To do this, many marketers turn to Google’s free Keyword Planner. While the data in there has been subject to some scrutiny over the years, it’s a free Google-owned product that gives us data we previously couldn’t really come by, so many of us continue to use it (myself included).

But it’s important to remember what the data actually represents for keywords.

“Competition” in the Keyword Planner pertains solely to paid competition and traffic, thus it is practically useless to build an organic search strategy around this data.

Some alternatives to this are the Moz Keyword Explorer tool and SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool, both of which are paid tools.

Google Trends is helpful for this type of competitive analysis, too, and it’s free.

8.  Pages for All Keyword Variations

This was once a useful tactic to rank well for all the variations of high-value keywords targeted by your brand and its messaging.

Fortunately, algorithm updates like HummingbirdRankBrain, and others have helped Google understand that variations of the same word are, in fact, all related to the same topic.

The best, most-useful content around these entities should be most visible due to the value it offers users on the topic, not just one variation of the word.

Aside from the fact that this will lead to brutal site self-cannibalization, it makes a website considerably harder to use and navigate since content will be so incredibly similar.

The negative user experience alone is reason enough not to do this. But the added fact that Google knows better than to overlook this practice makes it a no-brainer.

This tactic evolved and eventually helped lead to the inception of many content farms that were targeting traffic solely for their keyword value and visibility.

This was attributed to the “old way” of optimizing a website — for keywords and search engines, rather than users and their intent.

9. Targeting Exact-Match Search Queries

The tactic of targeting exact-match search queries in hopes to rank for those queries solely for the traffic numbers — and not because the search query or its answer actually pertained to the business optimizing for it — became a somewhat popular practice before the full deployment of the Google Knowledge Graph.

Marketers would strive to rank in the top spot for exact-match search queries to trigger a breakout box and an increased click-through rate for their sites.

10. Exact-Match Domains

Having high-value keywords in your URL makes sense. To some extent.

But when it becomes confusing or misleading (i.e., it results in a bad user experience), you have to draw the line.

A main best practice for domains is to keep it consistent with your brand.

Brand names should be short, concise, and somewhat meaningful.

Why wouldn’t you want the same from your domain?

Google would value exact-match domains a long time ago because it made sense to use it as a signal.

The behavioral data now has helped Google make changes like this (and many others) that are common sense, clean-up moves.

Run a good company and offer great products and/or services under the brand name, and Google will do work of making your brand visible when it’s relevant to the people searching for it.

11. XML Sitemap Frequency

We should never try to manipulate search engine crawlers so that our website is crawled more than others because it believed new content was published or substantial site changes were made.

But, since webmasters did that in the past, the sitemap is used quite differently than what was once intended.

Previously, webmasters could give a priority number to each page of a website listed in the sitemap ranging from 0.0 to 1.0.

Since that was never quite used correctly, crawlers don’t even honor the frequency rating.

Instead, search engines just crawl the content it deems it needs to crawl

Make sure you adhere to XML Sitemap best practices. Sitemaps are an incredibly important element for every website.

12. Bad Content

Face it. There was a time in our world when crappy content could still rank well.

Oh, how times have changed.

Stolen content, thin content, keyword-stuffed content, non-credible content — there was a time when all of this could get by search engine crawlers and regurgitated back to users as worthy results.

But no more.

We know what it takes to make quality content that is rewarded by search engines because they tell us what’s right and what’s wrong.

If you want to succeed at SEO today, you must do what’s right.