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What is BLACK HAT SEO?

By Living Proof Creative, SEO

Digital marketing is not unlike the wild west. It can be a lawless place where bandits roam free, taking advantage of well meaning internet users. That’s why search engines put algorithms in place to penalize anyone who engages in subversive techniques.

In the current digital landscape the terms “black hat” and “white hat” have come to describe two approaches to SEO. Black Hat SEO refers to sneaky or unscrupulous methods used to trick search engines for better rankings. While White Hat SEO is on the side of truth, morals and justice, following the letter of the law when it comes to gaining organic traffic.

BAD BLACK HAT SEO TRICKS THAT WILL BURY YOUR WEBSITE

Here are a few Black Hat SEO tricks only rotten scoundrels use and all good marketers should avoid…

1) Keywords From Nowhere Land

This tactic is dying out for obvious reasons, but still a frequently seen spam strategy, with the main objective to get users to click on a link.

The easiest way to describe this is to share a simple example of a spam title, like:

“Kim Kardashian could really use our weight loss app”

Whether or not she actually needs to use the app, or lose weight at all, is a matter of one’s opinion, but in the digital word – this would be called a clickbait.

Adding irrelevant keywords in vague titles is a total taboo when it comes to user experience and SEO.

The exact same thing applies to social media. Websites and blogs gain traction from their titles, using them to promote certain content, products or services. If the linked title leads the user to irrelevant content, they lose interest almost immediately.

But, with black hat SEO, relevant content doesn’t matter. Click baiting is meant to gain traction for a website and push it higher in search engine results through dishonest means. Black Hat SEO builds shallow domain authority using popular keywords with no substance.

2) Empty & Hollow Link Farms

Have you ever encountered a page that’s just a pile of random links, sometimes with no context at all?

Upon encountering such a page, any normal human would wonder, “What kind of an insane person would build something like this?”. But, if you’re even remotely familiar with Search Engine Optimization, you know this is a tactic as old as SEO itself.

Google really likes backlinks.

When Google crawlers scrape a web page and finds links, they assume the links are relevant to the source material. Google then categorize these pages and websites through their shared connection. The more connections Google finds to a certain website, the better it will show it in results pages.

Of course, in a perfect world, this would work for the benefit of quality search results. But, in the real world, many Black Hat villains have discovered how to build link farms, in order to dominate the most expensive search terms.

Soon enough, Google found out about this practice, and now their algorithm is updated to recognize this type of behavior. Though some sneak through and we are still seeing this practice in place.

3) No Good, False Talkin’ Scoundrels

We all love seeing a new comment on our freshly published blog post. It’s always great to see someone interacting and giving feedback on the topics you actually care about.

So, when you click on that notification to check a new comment by your new favorite or most hated person in the world for the next five minutes, you may encounter something like this:

This is very valuable information, please check this link *URL*

The comment is always left by someone with a random name that sounds fake, with an obvious stock photo of a person bluntly staring with a banal a smile, almost as if saying, “I didn’t actually read this. lol.”

Google does not track links in comments. It used to, but due to item #2 in this list, Google had to sanction this practice. Still, many Black Hats are utilizing this tactic, simply because they are relying on you, and anyone else reading the blog, to click on that link.

So, how can you tell the difference?

It’s not unwarranted for your readers to promote their websites in the comments, but if they want to engage in any valid conversation, the links in the comments need to be relevant to the topic.

If they post a link to their blog on the same topic, they probably aren’t trying to lure people under false pretenses. But, for example: if they post a link to an article about Kim Kardashian’s weight on a post about knitting, you can assume it’s spam and definitely a Black Hat tactic.

Feel free to delete that comment and forget that fake persona. Let the good old sherif Google take care of them.

What is user experience?

By Design, Living Proof Creative, Web Development

USER EXPERIENCE IS A FEELING

To put UX (User Experience) into words is tricky. It has to do with an emotional reaction- a gut instinct. In a broad sense UX is an investigation of humanity’s nuanced and swiftly expanding relationship with computers. UX analyzes how a user feels when interfacing with a website, a web application or desktop software. Though feelings are not quantifiable, UX attempts to understand what drives us, evokes and inspires us.

UX dictates design, like a blueprint, and happens during a project’s discovery phase. Designers gather data using competitive analysis and analytic software. This info is then applied to wireframes, user flow charts, and prototypes. But at it’s core, UX is about a user’s reaction to interactions and can be experienced in two different ways:

Active Interactions:

These are knowable interactions a user has with a website such as clicking a button or scrolling the page; like the hover effect used on the CTA. It’s a voluntary action like opening a car door or ordering from a restaurant.  If a website’s interface is user-friendly and efficient the active interactions will be positive. But, how do you create positive active interactions?

Creating engaging content is the best way to keep users enthralled. There’s no trick. Quality content is guaranteed to make meaningful interactions.

Simple Navigation encourages the average user to interact with a website. Most visitors are impatient and won’t stick around if things are too complicated.

Calls to action (CTA) grab the user’s attention. A creative, strategically placed CTA increases user interaction and achieves business goals like: acquiring emails, promotions, and more. It’s a win-win.

Passive interactions :

These are instinctual responses a user has with a website. It’s like watching a sunset. Most people don’t analyze why they are moved by a beautiful vista, they simply enjoy it. Human factors like science, psychology, information architecture and user-centered design principles play major roles in creating a positive user experience.

But, because humans are a jumble of past experiences and opinions, their perception of things vary. It’ s important to keep in mind that perception is truth to the perceiver. If a person thinks sunsets are dumb, it’s pointless to try and change their mind. So, UX designers rely on best practices (pre-set development and design standards) when building a site, adhering to what is generally accepted. Most people enjoy sunsets, but you can’t please ’em all. So, here are a few good UX Best Practices to design by:

Design through understanding. The better you know your users, the more informed design decisions you can make.

Simplify your content. Don’t bog down users with info when they first visit your site. Keep content on the homepage simple, like an overview, then provide more detailed info on other pages or posts.

Don’t give users too many options. Users need to be able to understand and complete an action. If the process is too confusing, or there are too many choices, they will quickly become overwhelmed and leave.

Use narrative to design an emotional experience.When you choose images to tell your story, it can pay off to focus on what sets your brand apart from your competition. This will make your story more personal, and help your users identify and connect with your site over others.

The Immortal David Bowie: God of the Superfluous

By Living Proof Creative

His weirdness was magic, not an alienating kind of oddity, but a deep and profound originality that encompassed and welcomed all. He was a paradox of strangeness and familiarity- an anomaly that took culture by the balls, rejecting it and redefining it. Confident as a war-lord, he invaded pop and all we could do was bow.

He once told Charlie Rose that art was lunacy; that to create was superfluous to man’s survival.  Yet everything he was, and forever will be, worships the needless, the profuse, asserting value to the things most deem worthless or abnormal.

And in those things is where he lives- the things that make us more than just human. The intangible essence of Bowie will never die, because it’s part of us. Nothing can touch that. No cancer can consume it. The starman was here for a brief moment and he blew our fucking minds, and we will miss him greatly.

Yummy Spoonfuls launches Target Exclusive Brand

By Design, Living Proof Creative, Web Development

Yummy Spoonfuls is a premium organic baby and toddler food that will now be available at an affordable price point at Targets across the country. People magazine reported today that the collaboration between Camila Alves and Agatha Achindu is the result of a labor of love to provide their children with the most nutritious and delicious food right from the start.

The exclusive line of products for Target offers not only a new kind of eating experience for tots, Yummy Spoonfuls has created flavors and meals that will appeal to all ages, from babies to those of us who are just young at heart.

Visit a Target store near you on June 12th to pick some up for yourself and your brood- or visit the Living Proof Creative designed and developed website at www.yummyspoonfuls.com to learn more*!

*Full Site to be released on June 8th, 2016

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