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Black Hat SEO is a Lump of Coal in Your Website’s Stocking

Black Hat SEO is a Lump of Coal in Your Website’s Stocking

It’s the festive holiday season! You’ve trimmed the tree, hung the stockings with care, and decked the halls with boughs of holly. But did you remember to include your website on your shopping list?

The best gift you can give your website this time of year (or any time of year) is a thorough SEO treatment! You’ll see the benefits in return.

Unfortunately, some scrooges are so stingy they cut corners by using black hat tactics to try to promote their websites. These tricks will earn you the online equivalent of lumps of coal in your website’s stocking.

How, exactly? Read on to find out more about black hat SEO tactics you should avoid.

This is part two in a set of blog posts about black hat SEO. You can read part one here. Both of these posts belong to the more comprehensive, and growing, Holiday SEO Series. Be sure to check out the rest of the installments.

A Reminder about the Dangers of Black Hat SEO

In case you’d forgotten, let us at TCM remind you that black hat SEO is bad. You should avoid it at all costs. The potential short-term gains that you might see from embracing underhanded online trickery are sure to be negated by the penalties that Google will stick you with once you get caught. And you will get caught.

Google’s algorithm is sophisticated enough these days to detect when developers and bloggers have taken shortcuts to attempt to cheat their way to the top of the organic search engine results. We covered this in part one of this mini-series in a previous post, along with a handful of devious practices embraced by the unscrupulous among us. In that post, we detailed keyword stuffing, invisible text, and cloaking. What follows is a rundown of several other tricks you should stay away from, lest Google end up being the grinch that steals your website’s Christmas.

A Quick Note about Domain Authority

If you run a website, you want it to have a high domain authority (DA). Domain authority is a measurement devised by the SEO gurus at Moz. It describes where any given website is likely to rank in search engine results pages.

All scores are relative and should be compared to those of sites that are similar to yours. That said, the higher your site’s score is, the better. (In other words, if your site promotes SEO services in Canton, Ohio, compare its DA to those of other businesses in your area that provide the same service, rather than, say, YouTube.)

One of the ways that you can increase your DA score is by getting lots of backlinks from other sites on the web. This is the equivalent of other sites vouching for your site, its content, its security, and so on.

Don’t Make Merry with these Black Hat SEO Tactics

Some black hat SEO tactics attempt to game the link-building system to increase DA. Others try to cheat when it comes to content. None of them are your friends.

You should avoid going caroling with them, standing under the mistletoe near them, and getting in their sleighs.

Private Blog Networks

Some might argue that private blog networks (PBNs) could be considered gray hat techniques, as they aren’t as nefarious as the worst-of-the-worst black hat cheats.

Like many black hat SEO tricks, utilizing PBNs might give you an initial boost. This might tempt you to try them out, but TCM warns you to avoid them. After all, Google has taken steps in the past to penalize sites that participate in them. This should tell you all that you need to know about PBNs.

That said, it’s not a crime to learn about how PBNs are set up. Think of this as Law & Order: PBN.

Basically, PBNs create an unearned backlink structure meant to benefit your site. You can design one by buying up expired domain names that have decent DA scores. Then you compose some rudimentary content, place that on each of these purchased sites, and have them all link back to the site you really want browsers to find in order to increase that site’s DA.

So, yes, all of these other sites will link back to your chosen site. It sounds good, but in reality, it’s like putting the site you want to promote at the center of a circular firing squad.

If Google notices that all or most of the sites that link to your favorite have very basic content and that no one ever really updates them, that’s a red flag. And, trust us, Google will notice.

Building links can be a slow process, we know. But earning them organically by creating high-quality content that users will find informative and link to on their own is a lot less dangerous in the long run.

Buying Links

If a PBN scheme is too complicated for you, then you could just buy up a bunch of links to your site!

Yes, you could do this, but you absolutely should not.

As you might expect, link buying is basically what its name says that it is. You pay some service to create a bunch of links to your site as a way of trying to build DA quickly.

The problem is that online, as in life, you’re often judged largely by the company you keep. Guys who sell links for a living may not be producing any good content of their own. They may be sending you links from sites that don’t have any real DA themselves, and aren’t worth the money you’ve paid for them. Plus, if the sites that are linking to yours aren’t particularly relevant to your business, then the whole scheme looks unnatural. And that’s probably not going to help your SEO efforts very much.

Duplicate Content and Article Spinning

We hope you learned in elementary school that copying off of your neighbor’s paper in class is cheating. Cutting and pasting someone else’s content in your website and claiming it as your own is plagiarism. It’s bad. Don’t do it. You will get caught.

But duplicating your own content and placing it on multiple pages within your own site, is also something you should avoid. (We discussed how you might do this unintentionally in a previous post in the Holiday SEO Series.)

Creating high-quality content is time-consuming. But that’s a big part of why it’s so valuable!

Article spinning attempts to get around the hard work requirement associated with fine content by just retooling existing content.

This black hat tactic involves using software to chop up articles and then reassemble them, presenting the messy product as a brand-new piece of content.

The problem is that the result is often of very poor quality. In addition, it might not be retooled enough to even be considered “new” at all. Who’s going to want to consume this online equivalent of a fruitcake?

Machines are becoming more sophisticated all the time, but, for now, content produced by humans is still going to be better. Don’t get software to spin your content for you. And don’t try to spin your own content either. It’s better to invest the time you would spend doing that in creating new content. It’s worth it.

In Conclusion

Enjoy the holiday season! Give yourself the gift of white hat SEO. Don’t engage in shady black hat tactics that may give your site a brief boost, but come back to bite you in the end.

Black hat SEO might promise your website the world (wide web), but in the end, it’s all just a big humbug.

Why You Should Avoid Black Hat SEO Tactics at All Costs

Why You Should Avoid Black Hat SEO Tactics at All Costs

Here in the United States, Thanksgiving is right around the corner! As a result, when we at TCM say “black hat,” you might immediately think of Pilgrims. That’s understandable, as images of these old New Englanders are ubiquitous in American elementary schools in the fall. But you’re likely also aware that you can use the term “black hat” to describe certain SEO practices.

If you don’t know anything about black hat SEO, the first thing we need to tell you is to avoid it at all costs. What practices qualify as black hat SEO? There are a number of them, a few of which we’ll describe below as a part of our continuing Holiday SEO Series. (Check out a previous, Halloween-themed installment here.)

As you read through the list of black hat SEO tactics detailed below, remember: Stay away from these turkeys at all costs! If you adopt any of these shady practices, they’ll definitely gobble up any goodwill you might have ever earned with Google!

What is Black Hat SEO?

Black hat SEO describes a set of sneaky tactics certain unscrupulous website designers use to try to game search engines. Those who embrace black hat SEO try to take short cuts to trick Google into putting their website at the top of the rankings. Search engines actually do have guidelines, and people who violate them attempting to gain an advantage are engaging in black hat SEO.

Rather than putting in the time it takes to develop high quality content, build links to other reputable sites, and otherwise establish solid authority for a website, these underhanded tricksters conspire to get to the number one spot without earning it.

There are some well-defined black hat SEO tactics, a few of which we’ll detail below. But as with many other shady endeavors, the term “black hat” can indicate a broad range of ploys.

If, while working on your website, you feel that you’re doing something to “trick” Google to gain an unfair advantage, you probably are. The old axiom, “I know it when I see it” definitely applies here.

What Will Happen to My Site If I Put on the Black Hat?

You want your website to rank well. We get that. If it takes a bit of underhanded string-pulling to get to the top, isn’t it worth it?

No. Absolutely not.

Search engines like Google now use algorithms that are sophisticated enough to detect black hat SEO tactics. And they have no tolerance for them.

In fact, if Google determines that you have embraced shady black hat maneuvering, the search engine will likely penalize your site. What does that mean? Google can push your site down the rankings so far that no one will ever find you. It may even pull you out of the search results altogether. Ouch. Weren’t you concocting this whole scheme to get found in the first place?

A Handful of SEO Tricks You Should Avoid

We here at TCM trust you. But, for the sake of spelling it all out, here is a list of commonly-used black hat SEO tactics you should definitely stay far away from.

Keyword Stuffing

We’re close to the Thanksgiving holiday, but, trust us, you won’t gain any nourishment from this brand of stuffing.

Here at TCM, we have written pretty extensively about the need to fill your website with content, adding the caveat that this content must be of high quality. Naturally, your content should be relevant to your industry and/or your company’s focus. This means that any written content you create should contain keywords that you hope your potential customers will use when conducting a search, thereby finding you online.

But remember that you should never overuse keywords, especially to the point where it sounds unnatural to the human ear. If you provide SEO services, then of course the acronym “SEO” will appear frequently in your website’s content. Users will see it on your homepage, on your “services” page, and in your company’s blog posts.

And you should use that keyword often! It’s what your business does, it’s what you want to rank for, and it’s how you will expect users to find you online.

But here’s something that won’t help you. In fact, it will hurt you. Don’t just hammer out “SEO” 5,000 times and call that a blog post. Nor should you try to be just slightly cleverer and make “SEO” every other word or every third word in your blog posts or main content. That won’t work. You’ll still get caught.

Always create content for real human users and use the most natural, human language you can. Think about how people talk to their voice assistants—in real, complete sentences. You should respond in kind.

Invisible Text

Utilizing invisible text is a deceptive (and, perhaps even worse, lazy) method of trying to fool search engines and, by extension, users.

Human browsers might get turned off if they see all sorts of word repetition on a website. After all, a site that looks like that just screams “shady.” Invisible text tries to get over that hurdle by hiding this form of keyword stuffing. And it does so by making the text “invisible” to human viewers but still detectable to search engines.

How? By placing white text on a white background. Now it’s invisible! Seriously. You’re a real turkey if you think this gimmick will work in 2019. Don’t try it.


Seemingly the very definition of deception, cloaking is another black hat tactic that any upright content creator will avoid.

Cloaking attempts to lead both search engines and human users astray by presenting each of them with a different set of content. If you have content that you want a user to see but you don’t think you can get it to rank well, you can (but shouldn’t) cloak it in keywords that you think a search engine will find.

Using this method, you could, in theory, get Google to rank your page according to certain content that it sees while, at the same time, presenting different content to the user, such as images or even Flash content. Again, you could do this, but you shouldn’t.

In Conclusion

In the world of SEO, it turns out that your elders were right. Hard work does pay off.

Invest your time and energy in creating great content, building a link network, and establishing your company’s identity through regular social media posts and blog writing.

Don’t try to take the easy way out. Avoid shortcuts and deception. Don’t wear the black hat. You’ll be thankful for the good results.

Do you know what else you can be grateful for? TCM’s Holiday SEO Series! Keep an eye out for future installments, including another round of black hat tactics you should avoid like the black plague! Until then, stay honest!

The Spookiest SEO Issues that will Frighten Google Away from your Website

The Spookiest SEO Issues that will Frighten Google Away from your Website

Imagine that it’s Halloween and the trick-or-treaters are roaming the streets in their costumes. You’ve got a house full of candy, and you’re anxious to hand it out. By turning on your porchlight, you signal to these little ghosts and goblins that they should ring your doorbell.

Wait, what does this have to do with SEO?

Well, let’s say that your house is your website and the trick-or-treaters are human web browsers (and potential customers) or even the search engines themselves. In this analogy, your porchlight is good SEO. A dark house, in contrast, is bad SEO.

By failing to optimize your website, you could be keeping search engines away. You might even be frightening users off!

Obviously, you don’t want that. And here at TCM, we don’t want that either. That’s why we’re presenting this multi-part, holiday-themed series tackling SEO problems that might be plaguing your site.

Even though there are Halloween references in this post, know that a lack of SEO will haunt your website every day of the year if you don’t address it.

So, what are some of the scariest, spookiest SEO issues that might plague your website and keep everyone away?

Read on…if you dare!

Not Enough Content

Like a nearly-empty bag at the end of a long night of trick-or-treating, a website without much content is a huge disappointment.

Actually, it’s even worse than that. If your website lacks sufficient content, then there’s not much for Google or other search engines to crawl and index. If a search engine doesn’t find much on your site, it’s not going to recommend that any living human user go there.

Remember that customers conduct searches because they want to find answers to their questions and/or alleviate some pain. If you don’t have much for anyone to find, then you won’t be found. Scary, but true, like a blood-curdling scream in a dark wood that no one will ever hear…

And if you think that publishing tons and tons of content without regard for quality is going to help you, we’ve got bad news for you there as well. Having lots of unhelpful content that does nothing but take up space is just as bad as having very little content.

The Solution:

Create content for your website, but be sure that it’s worth reading. Quality always beats quantity. And content can take a variety of forms. If you’re stuck, feast your eyes on this list of ways to vanquish writer’s block!

Duplicate Content

Just as you might be unnerved to encounter your doppelgänger on the street, you should be concerned to find duplicate pages on your website.

The reason for this is that duplicate pages can hurt your ability to rank. When Google encounters two or more pages with identical content, it has to decide which one is the original and/or which one should be indexed. By making this indexing exercise harder for the search engine, you actually can end up competing against yourself when trying to rank.

Your site may have duplicate content for a number of reasons not due to intentional copying. For example, if you have an http and an https version of a particular page (an unsecured and a secured version, respectively), search engines may see this as duplicate content.

The solution:

You can set up a 301 redirect indicating to search engines that you have a preferred version among the pages with duplicate content. The search engine will then index that page with a bonus benefit: consolidating the positive ranking factors for all of the pages into the preferred one.

(Un)Dead Links

We all know the frustration of clicking on a link hoping to find a product we want or the answer to a burning question only to have the site tell us that the desired page does not exist.

If that happens to you more than once on a particular page, you’re probably going to leave that site and look elsewhere, aren’t you?

Broken links, also known as dead links (and undead links on Halloween) are bad news for your website. Your site may have dead links on it for a number of reasons. For example: the page linked to may no longer exist, the destination URL there may be malformed, or the host server may not be reachable, among others.

Google may not hand you a penalty for having broken links on your site, but that doesn’t mean that these go-nowhere links can’t do you any harm. You don’t want your site looking like a link graveyard!

If a human user finds your site unhelpful or undependable because of a multitude of broken links, then that user is likely going to turn elsewhere for the information or services that you’re trying to offer. User frustration will be reflected in the decreased amount of time people spend on your website. This, in turn, sends a signal to Google that your site doesn’t have much value, which translates into a loss in rankability for your site.

The solution:

Exorcize those dead links! You can prevent some dead links from happening in the first place by taking care to type in URLs properly when you are linking out to another page on your site. If you discover a broken internal link on your website, fix the URL or change the link to send users to another, comparable page on your site.

Due to the constantly shifting nature of the web, it’s inevitable that some of your external links will eventually turn up dead. It’s not as easy for you to address those, as you don’t control them. One solution is to change that link to send users to another site that will serve more or less the same purpose.

What’s the best solution? Conduct an SEO audit on your website! Did we mention that TCM performs SEO audits?

In Conclusion

Bad SEO is not a treat. If your page isn’t optimized, then search engines won’t recommend you, and human users won’t find you. Start with adding more content. But remember to make it high-quality, informative, and engaging content! Next, work on eliminating duplicate content and purging those (un)dead links from your site. You’ll be dancing the Monster Mash in no time!

Look for additional entries in TCM’s “Holiday SEO Series” in the coming weeks!

And, as always, if you need help with your site’s SEO, beyond what you see in this blog, contact Triple Canopy Media! Our porchlight is always on!

More of Your Clients are Embracing Voice Search. Will This Trend Continue?

More of Your Clients are Embracing Voice Search. Will This Trend Continue?

The world of SEO is constantly evolving. Naturally, your business and your business website will want (that is, need) to keep up with the ever-present changes in the online world in order to keep getting clicks, eyes, and the positive attention that come with them.

When it comes to SEO, many of the strategies that have worked in the past just won’t cut it in 2019. This statement isn’t limited only to tactics that might diplomatically be termed “underhanded.” No, it can also refer to the most basic elements of content creation.

That’s because people don’t search for answers to their problems in the same way that they did even just a few short years ago.

What’s changed? A lot of things, actually. One of the biggest ones? The advent of voice search.

A very short history of voice search usage stats

To many of us, finding answers using voice search has become almost second-nature. That means it’s surprising to some to find out that this method of looking for information online has only just recently become commonplace. But this searching method that started out small has grown tremendously in a relatively short period of time.

Google first added the voice search feature to Google Maps way back in the summer of 2008. It wasn’t until 2012 that the company launched a broader, more general version of voice search that went beyond the one used by the company’s web mapping service.

By May of 2016, around 20% of searches on Android devices were voice searches. In fact, by the summer of 2018, voice searches were being conducted 35 times more often compared to their levels in 2008. And it’s estimated that by 2020, roughly half of all searches will be voice searches.

That means voice search will keep growing

Although we might see ups and downs when measuring certain aspects of voice search trends from year to year, the overall arc is turning toward an increase. And you can see this in 2019 through the heavy competition various voice assistants are engaged in to try to win your business.

But regardless of whether you prefer to search using Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, or one of the multitude of others, the way that you conduct searches by voice is going to be very different from the way you conduct them when you have to type out your queries.

Why is the way people search using voice search so different?

We here at Triple Canopy Media have touched on voice search before, notably as a rising trend in 2018, and as a major factor in determining the importance of long tail keywords.

If you’ve been a fan of Triple Canopy Media’s blog posts (and thanks, by the way), then you may already have a clue about how to answer this question.

Brevity likely shaped the old way you conducted an online search for a product you wanted to buy or a service that you needed to help address a business pain point. That’s a fancy way of saying that when most people have to type something out on a keyboard, they probably use fewer words than when they get to talk to a voice assistant.

People are more likely to speak in complete sentences when they use voice search as opposed to the fragments that they might hammer out using the old-school method of typing.

To help illustrate this, let’s say that I need some repair work done to the brakes on my car. I may very well use the same language to conduct that search whether I’m conducting it by voice or typing out my request. But I’m more likely to speak to my device the way that I would converse with a person.

Below are a couple of screenshots illustrating how that could make a difference in the search engine results pages that I will get.

Both of these searches were conducted using Google on a desktop and are tied to the ZIP code 44240.

The first one was a typed query: “brake repair near me.” That seems like a logical set of words to use, right?

A screenshot showing the SERP based on a typed search

In contrast, the second one was done using voice. Since I was speaking, it seemed more natural to ask a question in the form of a full sentence. In this case, I went with, “where can I get my brakes fixed [?]”

A SERP screenshot based on a voice search

As you can see, these two queries produced a different set of results. If your auto repair shop specializes in brake repair, obviously you want to be as close to the top as you can get in both of these searches.

But as a business owner, one of your main takeaways should be that the importance of the number one spot in the voice search query is going to grow exponentially as people use this technology more and more to find solutions to their problems online.

Can my business get found by users performing voice search queries?

We’re glad you asked!

The answer is yes! But as always, getting found involves content. It’s a good thing that Triple Canopy Media knows a thing or two about content strategy!

Getting found when it comes to voice search starts with getting found to begin with.

When it comes to content, your company’s website should have lots of it. But it’s not just about content volume. You also need to make sure, of course, that the writing on your website consists of high-quality content.

Your blog posts should cover topics that are relevant to what your business does. The content on your company website should illuminate some aspect of your industry. Inform your audience, answer questions that readers are asking, and do it all in a readable, engaging, and conversational manner.

To sum up: The writing on your site ought to provide readers with value. That will help keep their eyes on the page once they find you, and that should get them to come back in the future.

In a follow-up post, we’ll discuss some of the step-by-step approaches you can take to make sure your content will get the attention you want from voice search browsers as the voice search revolution continues.

And, as always, feel free to contact us here at Triple Canopy Media for all of your SEO-related queries. We want you to get found, so find us!

How Learning About Long Tail Keywords Can Improve Your Website’s SEO

How Learning About Long Tail Keywords Can Improve Your Website’s SEO

If you know how to make optimal use of them, long tail keywords can be one of the secret weapons in your company’s SEO arsenal. Depending on your industry, figuring out the perfect long tail keyword or long tail keywords that will help you reach your ideal customer could be transformative for your business.

We’ve talked about long tail keywords before and how you need to pay more attention to them as online searches continue to evolve. For instance, with the increased use of voice search on mobile devices, as opposed to typed searches on desktops, long tail searches are likely to give potential customers a quicker shortcut to companies that demonstrate that they can meet customers’ needs for specific products and services.

What are Long Tail Keywords?

First of all, before defining long tail keywords, maybe we should talk about keywords in general. A head keyword (or simply keyword) is a term, used in online searches, that is highly relevant to what your business does. If your business provides search engine optimization services, then “SEO” is a keyword that describes your business. If you sell pecans, then “pecans” is a keyword that applies to your business.

Long tail keywords are usually longer versions of these keywords. Regardless of their length, they are more targeted and more specific than regular keywords.

(The reason that long tail keywords are called “long tail” is because they would occupy the long tail of a graph showing search results. There are fewer overall searches for long tail keywords than their more-general cousins, keywords. But this means that it is easier to rank for them because there is less competition. And that’s just one of the reasons why they can be very valuable to your business.)

Because long tail keywords are more detailed and more targeted than regular keywords, they can also reveal more about the needs and intentions of the customer who uses them to conduct any given search.

As a result, long tail keywords can help businesses and customers connect with each other more quickly. If you’re a business, and you want to reach a customer base with a particular set of pain points, then utilizing long tail keywords in your content will be one of your best strategies for doing this.

Your Customers’ Pain Points

Remember the term “pain points”? You’ve surely heard that phrase. It’s a major element of Marketing 101. The customer has a specific problem. If your business can solve that specific problem, then you’re more likely to get hired by that particular customer.

Of course, you have to get found by that customer in the first place. (And, naturally, you have to demonstrably excel at solving the customer’s problem, but let’s assume that you do, again, for the purpose of illustrating the point.)

To show how marketing and content creation that is both precise and targeted can help you better identify pain points and thereby find your ideal customer, consider the following list of terms, all of which could be Google searches:

  • cars
  • sportscars
  • vintage Corvette
  • vintage Corvette repair
  • vintage Corvette repair near me
  • vintage Corvette repair near me transmission

This list obviously starts out with a very general term and then proceeds to a highly specific one. A person who searches for “cars” could conceivably be looking for a place nearby that performs vintage auto repair work. But that searcher could just as likely be trying to learn about the cast of the Pixar movie with that name.

Even someone searching for the less-general term, “vintage Corvette,” could be a person who loves classic cars but does not own one and is not currently in a position to purchase one. It’s not that easy to tell just from these very broad search terms.

On the other hand, a person who searches for the last term in this list, “vintage Corvette repair near me transmission,” is using the search query to tell you exactly what they need. You can probably safely assume that this searcher is a person who owns a vintage Corvette, has a problem with its transmission, and is serious about getting it fixed somewhere close by. That’s a well-defined pain point. And that exact pain point comes out loud and clear in this long tail search.

What Can Your Business Do to Reach That Customer?

Now, let’s say that you own and run a business that repairs vintage sportscars. Maybe you specialize in American-made sportscars, and Corvettes most of all. Perhaps fixing transmissions is where you particularly excel. We probably don’t have to tell you that you really want to find a way to connect with the person who conducted the last search on the bulleted list in the previous section.

How will you reach this customer? Remember that this person is using a search engine, (most likely Google), and that search engine is scouring the web looking for relevant matches that fit the searcher’s query. And Google, like any business, wants to provide high-quality service that keeps users happy.

Your business should have a strong web presence. As a component of that strong web presence, you should have a website with a solid amount of high-quality content. And in that well-written content, you should discuss that your business specializes in “vintage Corvette transmission repair” or, if you’re based in North Canton, you could say that you’re “North Canton’s leader in vintage Corvette transmission repair.” Basically, the more that you can say about exactly what you do and match it to what your ideal customer is going to search for, the more likely it is that you’re going to connect with that customer. And if you can connect, then that means more business for you!

A Quick Note about Voice Search

Keep in mind that long tail keywords are going to become an even more vital component of SEO as voice assistants on mobile phones and other devices become the primary methods that people use to find the information they need. In the future, it will become more likely that people will search for the goods and services that they want using complete sentences than ever before.

Yesterday’s typed “SEO near me” becomes tomorrow’s “Hey, Google, show me companies that do SEO near me.” Again, more and more online searches will be conducted using long tail keywords as voice assistance devices get more deeply integrated into daily life. According to Forbes, by 2020, half of all searches online will be voice searches.

Trust us here at TCM: Your business will not want to be one of those that gets left behind in this rapidly-changing online landscape.

Think Like a Searcher; Write Like a Searcher

One pitfall that companies can fall into involving long tail keywords is making the assumption that customers will describe what they do using the exact same language that they use. Sometimes insider jargon is exactly that.

Your customer may have a specific need that you can meet. You may be the very best and most appropriate business to do so. But if the language that you use online is not the language that your potential customer is using, then you may not actually cross paths online. And that’s bad for your business.

To illustrate this, let’s say that you operate a business that repairs vacuum cleaners. You may be the very best at this service for miles and miles around. You could put every other business that repairs vacuum cleaners in the whole United States to shame with your vacuum cleaner-related skills and knowledge.

But because you live, breathe, and dream vacuum cleaners, you may sometimes forget that these devices are not always top-of-mind for those who are uninitiated in the finer elements of the art of vacuum cleaner repair.

Continuing this hypothetical, be careful that you aren’t inclined, when composing content for your vacuum cleaner repair business, to say that you provide “integrated sanitation device engineering solutions.”

We’ve got news for you: No layperson is going to search for that term! Someone who needs a vacuum cleaner repaired is likely going to search for “vacuum cleaner repair.”

Okay, okay, that’s an extreme example. We know that not all vacuum cleaner technicians are going to describe their businesses that way, (though some might!).

The point is that experts in the field of SEO and content creation will be able to get inside the head of a given company’s ideal customer in a way that the technicians who work for that company often cannot. And the masters of SEO will excel at devising the long tail keywords that an ideal customer is most likely to use.

Did we mention that we here at Triple Canopy Media are masters when it comes to SEO and content creation?

In Conclusion: Triple Canopy Media Will Connect You with Your Ideal Customer

Search engine optimization and content creation—that’s what we do best here at TCM! We’ll give your company’s website a full SEO audit, pinpoint its shortcomings, identify opportunities, and devise effective, game-changing solutions. Our approach is comprehensive. We’ll tighten up your website’s security, optimize your images, create stellar content, elevate your social media presence, and more!

Can your business afford to not be at its best online? Let TCM be your long-term long tail keyword authority!

Search Engine Optimization and Punctuation, Capitalization, and Special Characters

Search Engine Optimization and Punctuation, Capitalization, and Special Characters

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Triple Canopy Media wishes to inform you once again that high-quality content must be an essential part of your company’s website. Simply put, you need engaging, informative content to both demonstrate to Google that you’re an authority in your field and show that your website is well-maintained and polished.

What may not be as clear to content creators is how search engines might deal with some of the little differences that they find in your content. For instance:

  • Can the way in which a content creator uses punctuation affect SEO? Will overloading or omitting commas and other punctuation marks harm a webpage in the rankings?
  • Does capitalization, or a lack of capitalization, affect searches conducted by Google?
  • Will special characters such as the copyright symbol (©), the trademark symbol (™), or the registered trademark symbol (®) get picked up by search engines?

Let’s take a look!

(Incidentally, some younger readers might be asking, “What does it mean to sound like a broken record?” If you don’t understand this idiom, know that a broken record is usually one that is scratched. A scratch on a record may cause the needle on the record player, which facilitates playback, to get stuck and thereby repeat the same few seconds of music over and over again. Still unclear? Text your parents or call your grandparents for clarification.)

Capitalization and SEO

Does capitalization matter to Google? Are searches case-sensitive? The consensus on a Quora forum addressing this subject is that capitalization doesn’t affect keyword searches. What this means, then, is that someone searching for “North Canton Ohio SEO” will get the same results as someone searching for “north canton ohio seo” as the below set of screenshots shows:

Screenshot of search engine results with capitalization in mind


Screenshot of search results without capitalization

As you can see, the first search capitalized the location name, and all of the letters in the acronym “SEO.” The second search used nothing by lowercase letters, but still turned up the same top-five page results.

(Allow us to point out, in case you missed it, that Triple Canopy Media holds the top two spots in both searches. You’re welcome.)

But Wait! Does Capitalization Ever Matter?

Yes! It turns out that capitalization does matter when it comes to a website’s URL.

A website’s domain name is always going to be rendered in lowercase. It doesn’t matter if you type “” or “” or “TRIPLECANOPYMEDIA.COM” when you want to visit the TCM homepage. Your browser will send you there regardless.

In contrast, where capitalization does matter is in the portion of the URL that follows the domain name. This is called the “path,” and it indicates the exact location of a page, post, or file.

In the web address, “,” the path is the part of the URL that follows the first single backslash, in this case, “category/blog/.” It’s here, in the path, that capitalization matters.

This is essential to keep in mind when you’re creating pages for your website.

There IS a difference, as far as Google is concerned, between and In this example, the second page doesn’t exist. Even though the domain name is correct, the page name is not because the path is capitalized and the actual page has a lowercase path. If you were to input this exact address, with the path capitalized, Google would not redirect you to the correct (existing) page, though it would do so if you capitalized just the domain name.

What does this mean for you if you’re creating new webpages for your site? It shows that it’s a good idea to conform with web conventions and make sure that the whole path is in lowercase.

If you fail to be mindful of this, then you might end up with a situation where capitalization could negatively affect your SEO. Placing duplicate content on two different pages that each have a different path may ultimately cause Google to value the authority of each page less than it should. The solution? Both for the sake of SEO and internal consistency, make sure all of your pages have paths that uniformly use lowercase letters.

How About Punctuation and SEO?

To begin our discussion of punctuation, rather than thinking about how Google will look at your page, think about how a human reader will respond to it. If your website’s content is full of errors, not just typos, but also in punctuation, then readers probably won’t stick around for very long if they happen to land on it while browsing. And the lack of time that real humans spend looking at your site will have a negative effect on your search results.

This means that you should be mindful about using basic punctuation marks correctly. A misplaced comma here or there probably isn’t going to harm you very much, if at all. But failing to ever use commas in your content or not placing any periods at the end of your sentences likely will have a negative impact.

But Punctuation and URLs, on the Other Hand…

Again, there’s a difference between on-page content and your page’s URL. You should place hyphens or underscores in between the words in your URL’s path (as in This ultimately makes the page easier on a human reader’s eyes. But avoid using other punctuation marks in your web address that you might readily put in page content such as question marks or exclamation marks. After all, remember that the URL for Yahoo! is and not yahoo!.com.

SEO and Special Symbols Such as ©, ™, or ®

Finally, we come to this set of special characters. According to Search Engine Roundtable, in an article published in 2017, for SEO purposes, Google ignores all symbols such as those which indicate copyright. The search engine reportedly treats any word that is next to a copyright symbol just like it treats that word without the symbol.

So does it matter at all if the copyright symbol is there?

One user on this Moz Q&A forum agrees that it doesn’t from an SEO standpoint. However, this commenter goes on to state that including these symbols is not only wise from a legal standpoint, it might also improve CTR (click-through rate) by showing that your business is professional and honors trademarks. Including the trademark symbol is therefore a respectful practice that apparently won’t have any negative effect on your place in search results.

In Conclusion

In your website’s content, it’s generally best to adhere to proper writing conventions when dealing with capitalization and punctuation. After all, that’s likely to make a higher number of human readers happy. And Google rewards content that gives people what they want. But the same rules don’t apply to URLs, which are far more particular. When in doubt, follow the conventions. But, above all, as always, try to make your content as engaging, informative, and readable as you can.

How Long Should Your Blog Post Be? Is There an Ideal?

How Long Should Your Blog Post Be? Is There an Ideal?

If you’re a blogger and you’re serious about your craft, you no doubt spend at least some of your time pondering how to compose that perfect post. And assuming that you’ve developed a suitable answer to that most basic query—What should I write about? —then you’ve probably moved on to trying to answer some other key questions. These may include the following: How should my blog look on the page? Who’s the blog for? What’s the ideal length for a blog post?

It’s that last bit of soul-searching that we’d like to focus on right now. Model blog post length. You’ll never be alone in trying to seek an answer to the question of how long a blog post should be. In fact, everywhere online you’ll find the Knights of the SEO Round Table off on that never-ending quest for this Holy Grail. The search for this ideal piece of writing is not exactly like the pursuit of that famed chalice of yesteryear. But still, wouldn’t you love for the “ultimate” blog to give your business eternal life? And if you could just land on the formula for that perfect post, you think, you’d finally know infinite abundance in the form of unrivaled website traffic.

Perhaps it’s best to save the Arthurian Romances for another day. Let’s bring this discussion back to the 21st century. Does a perfect blog post length actually exist?


Laying a good foundation for your post

Before we can begin to tackle the question of blog post length, we have to address some blog post basics.


  1. What’s the point? Sorry if this seems too basic or sounds, perhaps, too existential. But before you can rightly know how long your blog post should be, you need to land on what it’s going to be about. Are you blogging about hot topics in your industry to raise your company’s profile? Would you like to use your blogging platform to transform a hobby into a business? Are you, personally, striving to become an online influencer? You could have several, overlapping reasons for taking to the blogosphere. The only wrong answer is no answer at all.


  1. Who’s it for? Next, you need to figure out your blog’s primary audience. To a certain extent, this will be linked to your subject matter, and you should always be writing primarily for readers, not search engines. Are you hoping to have a lot of direct engagement with your potential audience in the form of comments on your blog? Will you benefit the most from having people share your blog insights on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or some other social media platform? Or, do you want to win Google’s heart through SEO? Whether it’s comments, shares, or rankings you’re after, you may want to adjust the length of your blog post accordingly. (More on that below.)


  1. Quality is job 1: Regardless of subject matter and readership, you need to make sure that your writing is good. The rules that we all learned back in fifth grade haven’t gone out the window. Don’t confuse “your” and “you’re” or “to,” “too,” and “two.” Be mindful of run-on sentences that meander forever. And remember that passive voice is to be avoided. Were you paying attention just now? Let’s try that again: Don’t use the passive voice, especially when making a call to action.


  1. Keep it lively and engaging: It’s not enough to simply consider the mechanics of your writing. You also need to make your blog posts enjoyable to read. After all, who’s going to add a positive comment to writing that’s boring or incomprehensible? Write for people, even if SEO compels you to think that Google is actually your primary audience. Search engine algorithms are sophisticated enough these days to differentiate good writing from bad. Think of your blog post as a chance for you to have a direct conversation with your readership and you’ll stay ahead of the curve.


And now let’s move on to blog post length

So, now that some of the groundwork is out of the way, let’s get to why you’re really here: blog post length.

Sorry if this is slightly unsatisfying, but there is no simple, straightforward answer.

There are, however, guidelines, based on what you want the primary function of your blog post to be. In general, longer content is better than shorter content, but don’t sacrifice quality in order to achieve length. If you can say what you need to say in fewer words, do that if you believe that people will still want to read it.

Here’s a detailed numerical breakdown showing the word count range you should strive for based upon the result you’ll most want your blog to generate:


  1. Comments: An effective blog is a conversational blog. Write as though you’re speaking directly to an audience, make your argument easy to absorb and digest, and you’re much more likely to gain engaged readers. If your goal is to elicit very direct and visible responses from them, then a shorter blog post—meaning under 1,000 words—might be the best way to do this. After all, if it’s short, then it’s more likely that busy people will read it all the way through and want to say something back. Blog posts this short are not the best when it comes to SEO, but if that’s not your main purpose in writing, and your audience will like it, then it’s fine.


  1. Shares: If you’re writing a blog post hoping to get readers to share it on social media, you’ll probably have to make it longer. Medium-length pieces—at least 600 words, but preferably beyond 1,000 words—are the ones that are best equipped to give you that result. At that length, readers may do some skimming, and not linger over every word, but they will usually be able to come away from the post with enough confidence to know whether or not they want to tweet it on to their followers.


  1. Rankings: If SEO is your driving force as a blogger, then you’re going to want to make sure that your posts are even longer. Ideally, according to recent data, your posts should be around 2,500 words long if you really want them to rank high. Google views longer posts as being more authoritative. This is consistent with the idea that lots of content is going to cover lots of territory. And the more you write, the more you have a chance to get those keywords out there into the blogosphere. (We don’t think, in 2019, that we have to point out the difference between keyword stuffing and incorporating keywords into a well-written blog post, do we? Good.)


Above all else, your blog should serve its purpose

Most of all, remember that you should write your blog posts to be read by people. A blog post should inform, illuminate, or inspire. And it should be as long as it needs to be in order to do just that. Plus, any rule that experts might sell as “universal” today simply won’t be set in stone. After Google performs another major overhaul on its search algorithm, all of us will have to reassess what we know about SEO once again. Content will have to keep up.

If your post sets out to answer a particular question, and you can do that in 300 words, then that’s fine. This is especially true if there’s not going to be that much competition to answer a particular query, whether because the answer is fairly straightforward or because the field is quite specialized. The scope of responses to the question, “What’s the difference between a bowline knot and a running bowline knot?” is going to be quite different compared to what’s given in response to the query, “What are the biggest SEO trends of 2019?”


In conclusion

There’s more to think about when composing a blog post beyond just the word count. Keep not just the composition of your audience in mind as you write, but also what you hope they will do in response to your words. Above all, in blogging, as in life, you should always do your best work.