google

Google it - The Crippling Truth Engine

Google It

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A truth engine ? Well that’s what some people think. Google may be many things, but it doesn’t deserve that distinction.. no search engine does.

After reading an article a few days ago it got me thinking about the “truth” perception that people have about this massive search engine.

How often do you find yourself in a situation saying, well I’ll just Google it ?

Just Google It

As a matter of fact, I was in church last weekend and one of our pastors was talking about a ministry camp that he was a leader at. In a room full of middle schoolers who he was in charge of everyone got a little rowdy in response to something they saw on tv pertaining to a sporting event.

He immediately thought, hey I should know this (being a man amongst a bunch of other boys ya know and he didn’t want to be the “one guy” that didn’t know what they were getting all rowdy about) and you know what his first thought was ?

He thought to himself, I should Google this. Of course he was also thinking this to obviously help himself save face in a room of other guys as well.

Nevertheless, we have been conditioned basically to see that (e.g. Google) as our first response in many many similar situations. You know those situations where you discretely pull out your phone and find Google and type in that question that you are desperately hoping that Google can answer for you “quickly”.

How often have you and someone else been out somewhere and the term came up.. just Google it. Googling has become synonymous with finding out information that people ultimately deem to be accurate.

Truth Engine And Trust

But here’s the truth.. no pun intended. Google isn’t necessarily the source of truth and we have to be careful to unconsciously equate this engine with where we find truth.

If there’s one thing that we know about search engines.. we know that just as much as there certainly is accurate information, there’s a ton of misinformation out there too.

What this really highlights is our dependencies online and how normative this has become in our lives.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of instances where Google is entirely truthful and accurate and checks all the right boxes for us to develop a high degree of trust.

This is evident because we use it for reference in some of our most intimate, dire and important scenarios in our lives. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about finding pertinent information about what to do in regards to our children, medical needs, finances, spirituality, business and recreation.

However with such great usage in various areas of our lives, it creates a level of trust that can lead us down pathways that give us a false sense of truth or more plainly just blatant lies too.

Danny Sullivan, the founder of Search Engine Land and Search Engine Watch explains it well when he plainly says that Google is basically an algorithm. That algorithm works in the same way that any other search engine does.

 

You give it a question or a query and it goes out on the web to find the answer for you and guess what..

Sometimes you get good answers and sometimes you get bad answers.

The engine doesn’t know whether it’s delivering the truth to you or not. This is true for any and all search engines that exist today.

At best, I think you can land in the arena of Google being a guide that leads us to an undetermined degree or percentage of accuracy with respect to information that we are seeking but even quantifying that changes depending on the query.

The Difference And The Search Engine Job

The difference between you and me and the search engine.. and yes even between the mighty Google is that while we can do the same research that Google does, we sort and sift through that information to find the accuracy and Google does not.

Now granted, Google does research on a much larger scale than you or I can or would or even have the time for but all the search engine is going to do is spit out the results for you, good, bad or indifferent. It’s done it’s job.

What job is it ?

The job of giving you results. It’s job is not to tell you whether it’s the truth, yet the common thing that we do is take those results and accept them as truth because those are the results the search engine gave us.

We don’t filter those results through the lens that Google is operating off a set of rules contained in the algorithm that determine the results that we are going to see.

We see this in action best by comparing search engines to each other. Even if we take for example queries that we put into Bing vs the same queries put into Google, we can at times get vastly different results.

Why ?

That’s an easy answer.. it’s because of the rules set forth and defined in their respective algorithms.

Going Beyond The Links And The Truth

Now years ago, Google had been working on trying to look beyond the “links”. To date, that interest has evolved into what’s called the Knowledge Graph. Even the purpose there was to make search results more relevant and place a greater focus on the content and not just the links.

Have they succeeded ? Well let’s just say that it’s an ongoing process. Relevancy doesn’t equate to truth and short of Google becoming a living, breathing person, it will always be a goal for the search engine to provide more truth but likely never getting there entirely.

It’s an engine and Google is a machine.

In seeking out truth through outlets like Google, it can be surmised that truth in this arena as it is currently constructed is highly unlikely to come from something that is engineered. In this case we're talking about a search engine called Google.

Thanks for reading this post !

#candidwriter #truth #google

Google Penalty - No Catchy Headlines Here

Google Penalty Google Panda Google Penguin Google Hummingbird Google Pets

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Google Penalty Animal Kingdom

If Google introduces another animal into SEO it's gonna start to look like... well something, I haven't quite got that figured out yet. Animals and Google penalties.. hmmm... I'm not sure I understand why Google chose to connect the two yet, but there's one thing that is certain. Google has managed to gradually condition all of us in marketing and SEO to fear it's pets. Next thing you know it'll be the Giraffe update and we'll fear that one too.. It's just sad.

I Love My Website

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Either way, what we have learned is that if you have a website you care about, if you have a website that you own and love, you better treat it like the tiniest drop of water could mess it all up for you and lead to it's ultimate demise and destruction. So if it's something you wouldn't do in the light, you probably better not do it behind Google's back or it will eventually catch up to you. Now that's not to say that if you get a penalty that there aren't exceptions, because honestly who can truly control ALL of the links that are associated with their websites. There's definitely room to be fair and rightfully so, because receiving a Google penalty doesn't always mean that YOU did something wrong.

Google Penalty Core

At the core of the Google penalty, it truly is about making the user experience more relevant and useful when an individual is in search of information online. Another valuable lesson we've learned is either play by Google's rules or GTHO (get the "heck" out). Figured I would clarify that little acronym for ya.

What you don't want to do is engage in bad link building practices. You may be wondering, well what do you mean by that ???

Google Penalty Just Don't Do It

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Well let me shed some light on that for you..

  • spun content.. such a bad idea
  • link farms.. another really bad idea
  • posting the same article (over-posting) - EVERYWHERE.. need I say more ?
  • duplicating content (this is pretty similar to what I just mentioned in the last point)
  • using the same anchor text for all the links your post or leave on other websites and even on your own
  • volume auto link building (too much, too fast means lots of bad things are coming your way)
  • guest posting.. it's not what it used to be folks and Google isn't crazy about it either.. it's been spammed to death so just move on to something else because it doesn't have the punch it used to anymore and the bottom line is you'll have to work VERY HARD to get Google to put trust in a guest post now anyway
  • footer links on Wordpress themes (lets face facts.. people crank these out and spam them all over the place just to get links).. it's another bad idea.. Google doesn't like footer links anyway.. If a link really matters that much, who is going to place it in the footer ??

Google Penalty & Bad Practices

Bad linking practices are what lead to Google penalties and of course that lends itself to the discussion of how to get yourself out of trouble once you get that ugly manual action notice, but we'll get into that one in another post.

Nevertheless, if you're not familiar with spun content here's the skinny on that. Taking a piece of content that someone else has written and changing it to some degree to pass it off as your own work. If there's one thing that can be said about writing is this.. Writing takes time and doing it well takes even more time and if there's one thing that we all wish we had more of.. is time itself. Needless to say there's plenty of software out there that will spin content for you and even if it's not that readable it's still content that you can add to a webpage. However, Google is cracking down on these posers and rightfully so because it degrades the quality of information that exists online. So the bottom line on this topic and like the rest is just don't do it.

Google Update Google Penalty

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Link farms is exactly what it sounds like.. take a group of websites and exchange links to build up link profiles for the sake of increasing the number of links each website has respectively. Everyone gets more links and this is a tactic that used to work for quite some time and now that the algorithms have greatly improved, this kind of tactic is easily detected, doesn't last long and provides no ranking benefit to those that try to employ this method anyway.

Posting the same article everywhere just leads to red flags. You may think that it works from the perspective that you want to share it as many places as you can, but that kind of thinking will backfire and truly work against you. You may even think syndication and while that may not lead to bad things, the only real effective way to get the "same" content shared everywhere is when it's done organically. I say organically only to refer to when others share your content without any incentive or influence.. people sharing content because they want to. This is perceived much differently from Google's standpoint than you as the creator of the content sharing it all over the place and the benefits of others sharing your content are far greater than you doing it yourself. Where the trouble begins is behavior that lends itself to spamming by over posting the "exact same content" to several locations across the web.

Duplicating content is just a bad practice in general. If you aren't trying to generate fresh content then you can expect that there aren't going to be rewards for your efforts. Duplication of content has long been recognized as a terrible practice to engage in and most SEO's worth their salt steer clear of this as well and these days with penalties running rampant, duplicate content raises red flags that can lead to de-indexing a website from the search results entirely depending on the severity and extent of this tactic.

Using the same anchor text is just your way of saying hey Google, look at me.. this is what I'm trying to rank for. Using one anchor text across multiple pages just looks bad. There was a time when this was completely acceptable and it worked. It worked really well because this was a well known method to help boost rankings and was primarily used by SEO's. However, you're much better off using anchor text sparingly these days and allowing others that link to you to choose the anchor text. Overuse of anchor text again leads to penalties that can severely diminish, your ability to earn revenue and truly hurt your website overall.

Without going into the last few bullet points I've made, the reality is that in order to avoid Google penalties, stick to the mindset that creating content for your visitors may not lead to instantaneous boosts, but it will lead to better results down the road with consistent effort. Tactics of the past do not work any longer and the algorithms are constantly evolving and they are going to win no matter what you do so play by their rules. You may as well just cave in to that reality and quite honestly keeping your website focused on improving the user experience and providing information that will benefit the user is a long term winning strategy and who could argue with that.

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Safe Link Building And Natural Links Part II

Link Building Is...

Build It Safe Link Building In SEO

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Link building is puzzling, confusing, interesting, frustrating, awesome, unpredictable and a host of many other things too and maybe that's why we do it even though there are no guarantees. In spite of this reality, in spite of the fact that Google changes the rules all the time, in spite of knowing that doing it wrong carries painful penalties, yet on the flipside doing it right has the potential to be one of the most gratifying experiences you'll ever have in SEO. So in this continuation on the discussion of link building and link profiles, lets talk about how achievable safe link building and building a natural link profile really is.

Matt Cutts On Quality Links

Matt Cutts in this video talks about the kind of links that Google would give weight to verses the kind of links that the algorithm wouldn't give weight to. Keep in mind that everytime I'm referencing links, I'm talking about what is going to impact your link profile. That link profile is any link that is associated with a particular webpage or domain that the link is pointing to. This video speaks directly to links that are achieved through article marketing, widgets and themes.

With respect to article marketing, this method has been used heavily in the past and has been deemed a pretty easy way to get links in SEO land. In full disclosure, I've certainly made my share of mistakes on my journey in SEO over the last decade. Even I've been guilty of "thin" article marketing in the past for the sake of getting links, but good practice is that when you make mistakes.. you learn from them which has certainly made me more effective as someone that builds links, participates in social media and in content marketing too.

Link Building Tactics And Anchor Text

Bad Idea SEO Strategies And SEO Tactics In Link Building

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Matt goes on to say that developing widgets and themes for the sole purpose of distributing these items with "specific anchor text", while they may have been given more weight in the past are not given much weight these days and quite frankly is a very bad idea. The primary reason for this is that if we're focused on what is natural link building and what is safe link building.. not having any control from the person placing the link as to what the anchor text would be doesn't exactly make it an organic link now does it ? This is all in accordance with my understanding from Matt Cutts.

When the anchor text has been predetermined this lowers the quality of the link in the eyes of Google. This is something to keep in mind as you build your links in the future. It is my own personal belief that anchor text will carry less and less weight with respect to the future of link building. I think that the algorithms will continue to get better in determining placement and context around the links and what weight is given to anchor text specific links in the future of SEO and link building.

In short, creating widgets, articles and Wordpress themes for the sole purpose of link building is a tactic that has had it's moment and that moment is over. Yes, you may still get credit for the links but you're not going to be able to rank what is targeted in your anchor the way you used to using that strategy. Natural link building is the future of SEO and tactics such as what Matt has explained in the video is a thing of the past and isn't worth anyone's time anymore.

Matt Cutts On Un-Natural Link Building

In this next video with Matt Cutts, there's a discussion about how being "un-natural" affects your website in terms of how the algorithm would evaluate your domain and it's pages. From my standpoint, I'm going to say upfront that being "un-naturual" will adversely affect your link profile too so taking an intentional look at what kind of links you're building will help you to a large extent steer clear of building a link profile that is not natural.

The MOST obvious point is to avoid spamming. So here's my plug or rant on SPAM within the context of this post.

Spamming degrades the integrity of the internet and the whole purpose of utilizing search engines is to acquire information that is relevant to what the user is searching for. However spamming, most notably on blogs in blog comments has been done for the sole purpose of link building typically occurring most egregiously on websites that are not moderated or on comment auto approve pages. This is a practice that certainly needs to stop. The penalties for comment spam are growing and in remaining on topic does nothing to improve or benefit anyone's link profile.

Don't Spam Blog Comment Spam And Poor Link Building Strategies

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Nevertheless, in recent years, there have been all sorts of methods used to acquire links to beef up a websites link profile. As Matt Cutts summarizes, un-moderated blogs that allowed blog comments (abused, which turned into blog comment spam), links in forum profiles, un-moderated guest books with poor or very thin comments left just to get a backlink, excessive reciprocal link building or software that has anchor texts that have been embedded into the software without the end users knowledge.

So with this information, here's the conclusion that I've arrived at for the sake of summarizing what is conveyed in the video... If you want a link, don't go out looking for them.

Direction For Link Building In SEO

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The direction that safe link building is going is that for much of the link building associated with your website.. it should happen with very little intervention from you. Now granted if you're adding pages to your own website, obviously each time you do that you are creating new links for your own website. However, in the case of links that are coming from outside sources that are highlighting or giving you credit for content that you have put together those links should not be incentive based or influenced by you in any way.

Link Building And SEO Footprints

Methods that have been discussed in this post do leave noticeable "footprints". Have you ever heard of an SEO footprint ? If you've been looking into SEO for any amount of time, chances are good that you have heard this term. An SEO footprint is simply put.. a very clear sign that you have manipulated the search engines for the purpose of getting backlinks. Footprints can be traced back to you and be used to demolish your business online, your website traffic and completely deindex you from the search engine depending on the severity of your manipulation.

SEO Footprints What Are SEO Footprints

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If we're thinking about natural link building, there is nothing natural about using an SEO footprint. For example if you're trying to build links that target the keyword "seo tools", it's not uncommon to look to leave a comment on a blog that allows you to leave your website link. You may type in something like the following: site:blogwebsite.com "leave a comment". In that example you're looking for a website that has the phrase "leave a comment" on it's page. It's a very simple example, but it's also a way to find websites that allow you to leave a comment. Once you're on that site, you would leave your comment and your website targeting the anchor that you want to rank for and then proceed onto the next website to do the very same thing. It's a rinse and repeat process, but as you get credit for these links, going through your link profile will show that you have the "same" anchor text for many different links that you own and that is a sign of search engine manipulation that can result in a manual webspam action from Google. Further more it does not look natural and is not natural in your link profile.

Good Advice On Safe Link Building In SEO

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As I close this post, good practice and good advice to bear in mind is that "looking" natural should never be the goal as you build your link profile in your safe link building journey. Write your content and leave the process of link placement to others as you focus on generating material that others will find useful, interesting and worthy of placement on their respective websites. 

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Let's Talk About What Is Safe Link Building And Natural Links

SEO Tips On What Is Safe Link Building And Natural Links

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What Is Safe Link Building ?

When it comes to providing SEO tips, here's a big question for ya.. Is there such a thing as safe link building ? Wow.. talk about opening a can of hmmm... something right ? It's common knowledge that Google changes the rules anytime it wants and some may even believe they do it just for the fun of it just to keep link builders on their toes, but whatever the reason, it's like walking on uneven payment for anyone in the link building game and lets face it folks, that's not a fun place to be.

Matt Cutts On Natural Link Building And Safe Link Building

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What is truly safe link building ? Maybe that's the place to start right ? The word that I would run with if I were looking for something that symbolized what safe meant in the SEO world is "natural". If you've been link building for any amount of time, you've seen this word around the forums. You've heard the conversations around natural link building. You've heard Matt Cutts talk about how links that you build need to come naturally. You may be scratching your head thinking... "What in the world does that mean" ? Well here's my take on it:

  • If you went out in search of the link, it wasn't natural
  • If you paid or bribed someone for the link it wasn't natural
  • I debate whether reciprocal linking is natural based on how good ole' Matt defines it
  • Guest posting for the link (again debatable), but it's kind of subjective here.. if you're writing for the link then it's not natural, but if you're writing to add value and you just so happen to get a link from it then I would argue that it is natural
  • Infographics.. losing the punch that it once had now isn't "always" a safe link building tactic.. I wonder when Google is going to penalize this tactic that has been used.. rightfully so by whitehatters, but has also been abused to some degree by the spammers and by blackhatters too

What Is Safe Link Building

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Safe Link Building And SEO

So we're back to the question... what is SAFE ? If you're new to SEO, while it's never been an easy place to play, it's truly no joke now with all the penalties coming left and right for tactics that aren't considered natural or play by the rules tactics in Google land.

There are plenty of forums that you can explore that will have services galore to consider. Remember my post about avoiding the temptations ? Google BFF Bad Link Neighborhoods. Yeah that one.. Talk about red flags.. You may as well just wave to Google and say hey, I'm over here.. come and get me. Yeesh.. there was a time when you could add thousands of links to your backlink profile and never see a penalty, but try that nonsense now on a website project or business that you care about. Well let me restate that.. DON'T try that on a website or business site that you care about... it's a terrible idea.

So what do you do about this ???

Safe Link Building Tips

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Well the first thing that I would do is determine who your audience is and simply just write for them. If you have a business, the reality is that you have to connect with them and writing is a no cost, thought provoking way to show the people that are interested in your brand and business that you care about them. Everyone knows that writing takes time and when there's value embedded in the content that you're putting together, believe it or not that resonates with people. Focusing on the people that are interested in what you have to say will lead to building a very natural link profile. Yes, it is a slower process, but it's as natural as natural gets. When people read something that is worth sharing, they will share it all over the place and other people will share it too. Nothing ever built that was worthwhile was ever done very quickly. It took time and so will building a link profile that is natural to Google, but that's the point and that's what Google is looking for. Those are the websites that get rewarded when other businesses that have inflated their metrics get penalized and knocked out of the coveted first page positions they hold. The benefits of doing it right lead to dividends that are certainly worth waiting for.

Link Building And Patience

I get it that "waiting" is not the "in thing" to do. Given how quickly information is acquired and disseminated these days, waiting seems so 1999 ! But guess what.. it might not be for everyone, but man it works ! It gives true credence to the adage that "patience is a virtue". Additionally, if you're able to write for your readers and not focus on the popular notion... "what's in it for me", you might be on your way to doing something valuable, inspiring and meaningful.. things that people from all walks of life would be willing to connect themselves to, consume and respond to willingly. The sales pitch, something that people in general have developed a negative aversion to is also something that your readers will sense thousands of miles away or sense before you even make the attempt to try to sell them something they really don't need all for the sake of making a quick dollar.

Building A Natural Link Profile

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The goal is to add value, build trust and solve the problems that your readers have and are looking to solve as well. Many of these problems can be found in other's blog posts, forums, blog comments, news and in video's related to the topic that you write about. The questions are everywhere and being a source of information and solutions will build your brand and readership which will also ultimately lead to others talking about you, sharing your content and thus in turn building a safe link profile that will help you move up the rankings in Google land.. and there's nothing wrong with getting as much Google love as you can.

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Alt Text Underutilized Image SEO To Optimize Images Discussion

Alt Text Image SEO

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Tactics

If there's one thing that we can all agree on is the reality that there is a ton of competition online. We're all vying for the top spots, desperately looking for more eyes on the things we write about, the things we believe are important and want to share with others. It's a tough battlefield amongst all the spammers, the black hatters, the blue hatters, grey hatters, search engine manipulation and SEO tactics galore. I could find a more delicate way to say this, but I find this phrase far more fitting.. it sucks.

The bright side is that even if you're behind the eight ball so to speak all is not lost. I don't want to give the impression that "all" tactics in SEO are a bad thing. Clearly, there are strategies that are used in order to make some headway in getting ranked. As there should be, it all depends on how you use them. There are those that are good, there are those that are bad and there are those that are questionable. It's that simple..

Optimization

As you may already be aware, on page optimization, while tedious is still a very necessary component of SEO for your page titles, your page descriptions, your page url, your keywords, links and meta tags (for the time being, I still ignore those that say that meta's don't matter anymore).

SEO On Page Optimization Infographic

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It's All About The Image

Notice the alt tag reference in the infographic ? The alt tag is just another way of saying alt text but it still means the same thing. In short, it's tagging your photos with keywords that others may be searching for that help you create another way to access your website through search. The same principles that you use in on page optimization for your pages are also applicable to your images too. Granted, not every aspect of on page seo can be used on an image, but where they can be are the areas where you need to give special attention to.

For the purpose of this post, the most important aspect of the image in SEO is the file name. Every image has a file name and this is an area that is commonly overlooked in image seo. For example, if you have an image of a computer, you wouldn't give it a name like image1.jpg would you ? Often times, I see this being done. I see arbitrary names given to photos and there's absolutely no relevance or relationship. You're missing a golden opportunity here. This is very simple to change. Taking any image and right clicking on that image will bring up a dialogue box that will give you the option to "rename" it. Simply change the name to a more relevant keyword. This needs to be done before you upload the photo as part of your content.

Now while I have labeled this the "file name". This file name is the same name that you should use as your alt text. Depending on the html editor, css editor or software that you use to create your website pages, you may get an additional box that is labeled specifically for your alt text. If you can't find it, then I would advise performing a search for how to use alt text with your software.

Relevance is important to the image that you're naming, but keep in mind that this is still a keyword or keyword phrase that you're applying to this photo. With that said, you want to make sure that you're applying a keyword that people are actually searching for, otherwise what's the point of applying alt text to the photo in the first place. You will find that I have done this for many of my images and specific alt text has been applied after I've done my own share of keyword research to determine whether it's a keyword that I want to use as my alt text for that particular image.

The Research

As I conduct keyword research for the alt text for my images, I can tell you that a keyword like "seo", generates 90k searches per month and a keyword like "seo degree" generates only 40 searches per month. Needless to say, the research is important. My tool of choice that helps me determine what keywords I want to use in my image seo is: Long Tail Pro which I have referenced in another post on keyword research. This information is quite necessary for meaningful image seo as you determine the alt text for the photos in your posts and your webpage content. Additionally, determining the alt tag for your photos is not about just throwing a label on your photos so employ your keyword research diligently and meaningfully to get the most mileage out of your photos and it will pay dividends in time in more traffic coming to your site not only from the content that you write about, but from your photos too.

If you're a person that enjoys using captions, make sure that you utilize that as another opportunity to embed your keywords as well. However, do not just simply stick your keywords into the caption. Do well to add context to your caption and include your keywords into your captions message.

Before I conclude this little chat on alt text, please ensure that you're also placing images next to content that is relevant to that image. Your content should make connections to your images and vice versa. Just as people make connections to content and the media that is used in the content that you're writing about and promoting, the same can be said about the media and what it is connected to on your page. Image seo is arguably one of the most underutilized methods to get more traffic to your website. It's certainly not instantaneous, but it is worthwhile especially if you're looking at the longevity of your website. If you haven't employed much image seo, I would encourage you to go back through your content and start to add your alt text or revise what you already have in place. It's an easy fix that can lead to more traffic to your website in the weeks, months and years ahead.

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