About Lee Stral

Lee is a marketing consultant who has specialized in Internet marketing and Web site development since the Internet first showed promise as a marketing channel. Prior to founding Essential Presence, he was partner in an integrated marketing communications agency working with technology, professional service and non-profit organizations.

Google to Increase Penalties on Doorway Pages

Doorway pages, once a favorite tool for search engine optimization, for some time now have been frowned upon by search engines. Now, Google has announced a “ranking adjustment” that will severely penalize doorways, and marketers who use doorways will feel the pain.

Doorways are standalone pages or sites designed to rank highly for specific keywords. They are intended to funnel visitors to other content that may or may not be related to the search queries they are optimized for. Successful doorways can garner multiple returns in search results that lead to essentially the same destination, reducing the usefulness of the search results. [Read more…]

Getting a “Like” over Having a Life

This really shouldn’t be a surprise, but it seems as if we’ve become obsessed with sharing every little bit or our lives with whatever known and unknown people we can reach via our social media accounts. [Read more…]

Google Giving You Until April 21 to be Mobile Friendly

Beginning April 21, Google will begin using mobile friendliness as a ranking signal. That means sites that aren’t mobile friendly will be pushed down the search results page, if not penalized more severely.

Google has a page where you can test your site to see if it’s mobile friendly. There’s also a Google guide to making your site mobile friendly.

Your Webmaster Tools account also will give you a full list of mobile usability issues.

Google Kills Authorship in Search Results

Yesterday, Google again did what Google does, and abruptly announced that they had stopped supporting Authorship in search results.

The Google announcement , made by John Mueller on his Google+ page, stated that they “observed that this information isn’t as useful to our users as we’d hoped, and can even distract from those results. With this in mind, we’ve made the difficult decision to stop showing authorship in search results.” [Read more…]

Google Warns Not to Use Press Releases for SEO

Take care when using online press releases as part of your SEO program. They’ve long been promoted as a way to build SEO-friendly inbound links, even though Google made it clear some time ago that, no, those links don’t count for SEO any longer.

Now Google has gone a step further and warned via a recent update to their Webmaster Guidelines that they may be interpreted as part of a link scheme and therefore hurt your SEO. [Read more…]

FTC Reminds Search Engines to Clearly Differentiate Ads from Organic Results

The visual cues that separate organic search results from paid ads have been blurring for some time now, and if you use search engines regularly, you may have noticed the changes. But even if you are a frequent user of search engines, the changes may have been too subtle over time to have been noticed.

The FTC has noticed, though, and sent letters to the search engine companies letting them know that recent changes in the FTC’s guidances on disclosures in digital advertising emphasize the need clear visual cues, labels or other techniques to distinguish ads from organic results. [Read more…]

Are You Ready for Ads that Talk Back?

Ready or not, here they come, via Nuance.

Dubbed “Voice Ads,” Nuance says their new mobile advertising format  not only is engaging and entertaining, but conversational, as well. [Read more…]

Bad Backlinks Might Not Hurt Your SEO

So, why do some sites with what appear to be low quality backlinks get past Penguin and do exceedingly well on Google search? According to Matt Cutts, one reason is that “the algorithms haven’t gotten good enough yet” to catch them.

Really? The algorithm is good enough to punish sites so severely that they lose virtually all their organic-driven business, but it’s not good enough to penalize competitors using Russian link networks or keyword-rich anchor links in the footers of low-quality blogs? (I thought it was an isolated case, until I saw a comment from someone with the same problem.) [Read more…]

So, Now You Don’t Trust Google?

As a heavy Google Reader user and longtime Google skeptic, I have mixed feelings about the coming demise of Reader. On the one hand, I will miss it greatly. It’s how I keep up with, well, almost everything. There isn’t a service or app I use more. But I don’t share in the outrage and feelings of betrayal that seem to have washed over the mass of Reader users

I find the idea that people won’t use Google Keep because they can no longer trust Google to be particularly amusing. This “Google can’t be trusted” reaction, combined with the shock that Google would kill Reader without so much as a “by your leave,” makes me wonder what company they’ve been dealing with over the years. It certainly isn’t the Google I know. [Read more…]

The 3 Fundamental Social Media Rules of Engagement

There are plenty of rules for social media engagement, and I have my own ever-growing list. But the more involved I get in social, the more I realize that there are three things that are absolutely critical:

1. Be Nice.

Even if you’re well-known among friends and associates for your cynical snark, the unkind are quickly ignored or worse in the social space. Don’t slam the competition. Don’t criticize your employer or colleagues. Don’t attack, even if attacked. No one comes away from social media fights looking good. If you disagree with someone or something, it may be not be easy to come up with a cogent argument for your position, but it’s much easier than doing damage control for your online reputation. [Read more…]