8 White Hat Strategies for Combating Search Engine Bias

8 White Hat Strategies for Combating Search Engine Bias

While you may view search engines as a neutral tool for querying, in actuality, search engines are created by company-affiliated individuals and operate much like any product. They’re designed to satisfy the consumer and financially benefit the producer.

Although this realistic view of search engine intent shouldn’t necessarily raise any red flags, what might concern you is how search engines serve up results.

Google, in particular, intervenes algorithmically to remove spam results that the search engine believes are useless to the consumer. While it is arguable that less spam is a good and welcome thing, what happens if Google deems your site spam?

In addition to the removal of spam, Google is a habitual booster of massive corporations such as Amazon and Facebook. The rationale for boosting larger sites is not particularly nuanced.

Big names can outperform small companies when it comes to SEO, and they typically offer a wider selection of items that can satisfy the consumer. With that said, this Google bias can underserve your site by burying it under offerings from big names.

In the world of Google bias, you need to understand how the deck is stacked against small businesses and actively work to ensure your site performs to the best of its ability.

How Are Search Engines Biased?

When you encounter the word “bias,” you might associate it with nefarious connotations.

Although there have been claims that Google bias slants search results against particular political leanings, when it comes to search engines, Google bias overall tends to trend more toward erring too heavily on the perceived wants of their audience.

Google search algorithms are based on a slew of information, including the phrasing of your query, the reliability of sources, the relevance of pages, and countless other factors. Even your location and settings can help Google discover the most relevant information for your search.

It stands to reason that the aggregation of this information lends itself toward suggesting sources that try to match and satisfy past behavior, as well as other defining indicators.

In addition to these algorithms, Google bias can be impacted by domain authority (DA), a ranking metric that indicates both your site’s success in ranking on search engines, as well as your site’s perceived expertise surrounding a specific topic.

DA is measured by various factors, including inbound links, which are vitally important to score calculation. With an increased amount of inbound links from other relevant domains comes an increased DA score, in most cases.

The Effect of Search Engine Bias on Businesses

Unfortunately, bias (whether helpful or not) can significantly impact small businesses that have few inbound links and sparse content. For big organizations with equally big wallets, constant content creation can earn inbound links and score a high DA score, helping them land top positions on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Collectively, the above factors can severely limit your site’s search result visibility. Not only are you competing against big brand names, but you’re also losing SERP traction if you’re not actively recruiting inbound links and establishing expertise.

There is also a chance your DA will decrease when a massively popular site (think Twitter) gains a large number of inbound links, deflating your search rank and lowering your overall DA score.

For sites as large as Twitter or Amazon, there’s not much a small business can do to compete with the sheer number of inbound links and resulting high DA. However, you can aim to earn a higher score than your competitors by employing white hat strategies to combat Google bias.

Ethical Strategies for Combating Search Engine Biases

While the above may seem daunting for small-to-medium business owners looking to grab some top-SERP terrain, you can use several strategies to help you compete for those rankings.

By incorporating the following four approaches into your digital strategy, you can compete in the battle for search visibility.

Focus on a Single Subject

While it’s clear that Google bias means delivering results from big-name sites, the algorithm is also partial to sites that focus on a single subject in depth.

This strategy not only helps you earn points in Google’s algorithm, but it also helps you establish yourself as an industry expert in your field.

Instead of creating a range of content, focus on a single topic that satisfies every component of the buyer’s journey and build out a content map from there.

This task might seem overwhelming due to the sheer amount of potential content, so here are three places to start:

  • Content that educates on early-journey topics
  • Content that highlights your point of view on your topic
  • Content that explains industry perspectives on the topic

Build Site Relevance

When we talk about search engines, the word “relevance” references how much a site’s content correlates to the active search term.

Much like DA, relevance is vitally important in determining where your site lands on the SERPs for a specific query.

To improve your site relevance score, you should determine intent around user search and create a content strategy to match those queries.

Also, make sure you are relevant to user queries by having the most up-to-date business information on your site and local search profiles.

Earn Inbound Links

Inbound links (or backlinks) are links coming to your site from an external source. This type of link does a great amount of work to improve your site’s perceived expertise. If another site is linking to your content as a point of clarification or for additional information, you’re clearly an expert in the field.

While this all sounds wonderful, how do you earn those inbound links? With many strategies available for the savvy marketer, below are our top five white hat steps for success that can help you grow your number of inbound links and reduce Google bias.

Score Inbound Links

When you write good content, good things may happen.

Editorial inbound links are the holy grail of link building: they’re free and they’re lasting.

Next time you’re crafting content, consider the true value of the piece and assess how your audience will use it.

If it’s helpful to your industry and includes a how-to, chances are it can earn you at least one inbound editorial link. It’s just because you wrote great content.

Craft Useful Infographics

Infographics are great tools. They allow rapid dissemination of information without a lot of reading.

When you create infographics on topics relevant to your industry, it can exponentially increase the likelihood that another content marketer sees your graphic and links to it in their next blog post.

Give What You Get

Although we’re talking about inbound linking, we can’t discount the power of outbound linking. By linking out to other members in your industry, you grow your community.

Not only that, but you also increase the likelihood that the goodwill outbound linking will return the favor in the form of inbound linking.

Create Unique Content

Notice missing content about your specific industry? Chances are, you’re not the first to notice content holes.

When you encounter missing content, you should prioritize taking advantage of the hole and filling in the gaps in information.

This strategy not only benefits your site by further establishing you as an expert in the field, but it also creates opportunities for others in your industry to link to your content, earning you even more inbound links.

Aid a Journalist in Need

HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a service that connects journalists with potential sources. Three times a day, HARO sends emails that share topic areas and specific questions journalists are hoping to be answered, like the one in the image below:

When you share responses to these questions, journalists typically indicate your role as the source, linking back to your site and scoring you additional inbound links.

Create Long-Form Content

If you’re not writing long-form content, tomorrow is the day to start.

Long-form content can gain you more online visibility in the measure of likes and shares, an opportunity to engage more with your community, and serve as a clear indicator of industry expertise.

How does long-form content help you combat Google bias?

A serpIQ study found the best-performing content usually tallied over 2,000 words.

Research conducted by Brian Dean underlines the finding that long-form content is much more valuable to users than its shorter counterpart in many cases.

Now that we know long-form content performs better, how can it eliminate Google bias and help make your site more visible to future consumers?

Below are the top two reasons why long-form content can help your site emerge from the shadows of big brands.

Authority

We talked about the importance of establishing expertise in all content development, and this tenet is nowhere more true than in long-form content.

When you create extensive guides, blog posts, white papers, books, and other deep content dives, you not only establish yourself as an expert among your peers, but you also begin to establish yourself as an expert to search engines.

This can give your content and your site a much greater chance of being seen by an unindoctrinated searcher and overcoming existing Google bias.

SEO

When you create long-form content, you have nearly endless opportunities to use keywords to your advantage.

In shorter content, deploying multiple keywords may present a challenge, but with high word counts come more opportunities for you to make your keywords do as much work as possible.

When you start winning on some of your identified keywords, your site can begin to climb in SERP rankings, making you more visible to searchers, providing an edge over your competitors, and removing existing Google bias.

Conclusion

While it is inarguable that Google bias exists, it’s important to remember Google bias isn’t inherently bad, and it doesn’t mean small businesses are incapable of overcoming search barriers.

By incorporating these elements into your digital strategy, you can begin to surmount Google bias and start increasing your site’s rank on the SERPs.

As you implement these strategies, keep customer intent in mind and remember not to create content for content’s sake. Like most things, when it comes to content strategy, quality prevails over quantity.

Which white hat strategy have you found most effective to use against Google bias?

How To Make Money with the WP Engine Affiliate Program

How To Make Money with the WP Engine Affiliate Program

Web hosting is one of the most competitive markets online. Since every web site and blog has their own hosting, there is plenty of customers to go around. The type of hosting that you choose for your site will not only determine how much you pay, but it will also reflect on how fast and secure your site is. With that being said, not all web hosting services are the same. While most ‘shared’ hosting plans are fine for newbie bloggers and site owners, there are many advanced hosting services and dedicated server options to explore when you are pushing a lot of traffic through your site and simple can’t afford to have it go down — not even for a second.

One of these such option is WP Engine, a premier hosting service that specializes in WordPress hosted sites. In this article we aren’t going to focus on the WP Engine hosting service so much, but instead how users of WP Engine can earn money by recommending their own web hosting service to others through their affiliate program.

There are a many benefits to using WP Engine as your web host—they offer incredible security, scale, support, and more — which means it should be even easier for you to recommend them to your audience as well.

WP Engine Affiliate Program — What You Get

Likely nearly all affiliate programs, you are paid when someone signs up for a service or completes an action. The same holds true for the WP Engine affiliate program. WP Engine has made sure that if you put in the effort of being an affiliate for them that it will definitely be worth your time.

When you’re an affiliate for WP Engine, you get the following benefits:

  • $200 per sale commission for all accounts under $200 per month
  • 100% commission on the first month on self sign-up accounts over $200 per month
  • $249 per sale in commission for business accounts
  • Tracking cookies make sure you’re getting credit (and getting paid)
  • Commissions paid out monthly
  • Bonus Commissions are available if you make multiple monthly sales, with the tiers and bonuses increasing
  • Commissions are triggered and registered after 45 days
  • Get paid for bringing on new affiliates. For each customer referral your affiliate referral makes, you get $50

Keep in mind that all sales have to maintain service for 45 days in order for you to get your commission.

To see more reasons why you should sign up to be a WP Engine affiliate, you can click here.

How To Sign Up as a WP Engine Affiliate

To sign-up to be an affiliate for WP Engine, all you have to do is go to their site and sign up.

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Since their affiliate program is run through ShareASale, you can trust that all stats and campaign tracking are reported accordingly and that payments are always sent out on time. Once you are all setup, you can login to your Shareasale account, grab your links and start promoting WP Engine to your audience.

Tips For Success as a WP Engine Affiliate

With WP Engine already having a lot of experience and thousands of customers, it should be an easy sell for anyone with a web hosting or blogging related site — especially if you are already using WP Engine as your current web host. However, that doesn’t mean that you can bring in fat paychecks without doing any work. To be successful and make money as a WP Engine affiliate, you can follow a few easy tips.

Write an Honest Review About Your Web Host

The best way to make money with WP Engine, is to have them as your existing web host, then writing a review about why you are using them as your hosting company and giving a detailed review of why others should use them as well. The best way to convince your audience to act upon something, is to show them the value and that you are currently using that same product.

Need some advice on how to get the most out of your review articles? Read this guide on writing killer review posts.

Put Time in the Promote Your Content

Don’t just post your affiliate links all over the internet and expect users to just take your word for it (or even expect them to click it). When you’re promoting WP Engine, make sure you put in the time and effort to create engaging and quality content around your message and call to action.

In addition to building out your own content, you can also view the many different types of ad creative that WP Engine offers to their affiliates through Shareasale.

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No matter how you are going to create your content or promote WP Engine, the most common and best way to do this is to talk about why you honestly believe it’s a great investment. Which brings us to the next tip…

Utilize Features and Benefits

Talking about features and benefits of a service or product is an age-old sales technique, and it’s highly efficient in both print, online, and in person. It’s not enough to tell someone you think that they should buy something; you have to tell them why.

Explain that faster support (something WP Engine is great at) means that you’ll get issues on your site fixed before you risk losing customers because of it (benefit). People start listening (and purchasing) a lot faster when they start hearing what’s in it for them.

In short, tell your audience why WP Engine is the best solution for them.

Be Patient

Spamming your affiliate links all over the internet repeatedly and aggressively isn’t going to bring you any sales. If anything, it will turn people off and drive them away. You need to be patient as an affiliate—sales will come in over time.

This doesn’t mean to sit back and not do anything (unless you’re just counting on the affiliates you got to sign up to bring in sales), but you shouldn’t be impatient to see a lot of income come quickly.

Though WP Engine brings in large amounts of commission, sales often come in slowly and overtime. It’s an investment—it may take some time, but you’ll surely reap the benefits—and profit—over time.

Stay Up To Date

In the world of web hosting and technology, everything changes very fast. What was hot last month, might not be so hot today.

WP Engine is one of the top hosting sites, largely because they constantly stay on top of their game and are offering new tools, services, and patches to their users. Just as they stay up to date, you need to stay up to date, too.

Every time they offer a big upgrade that would inspire either customers or new affiliates to sign up (like the current bonus comimssions for multiple sales), you want to be the first to know about it. It’s a new selling tool that can bring in entirely new sales, as well as push a few over the edge who were thinking about purchasing but hadn’t yet.

Changes they make also gives you an extra chance to talk about WP Engine and why it’s so amazing, which is a great opportunity to re-open the conversation to interested potential customers.

Always Have a Call to Action

Your Call to Action is important any time you’re running an ad campaign or trying to sell something. It tells users exactly what you want them to do.

When you’re promoting WP Engine, whether it’s in a blog post or your Facebook or a newsletter or an ad campaign, you need to have a clear call to action like “see more” or “sign up today,” hyperlinked with your affiliate link that sends them right to the landing page or sales page.

No matter where you’re posting your affiliate link for WP Engine, it should always be accompanied with (or hyperlinked in) a very clear and concise call to action.

Recruit New Affiliates

Unlike other web hosting affiliate programs, WP Engine also offers the benefit of not only getting paid for every customer you refer to their service, but also any active affiliates you can send their way as well. This is a great way to make some really nice income—and it’s income that will come in automatically.The more affiliates you sign up, the better off you are, and the more money in your pocket, all with little to no extra work on your part after you get those affiliates to join. Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that?

Special Bonus Commissions!

For a limited time, WP Engine is offering special bonus commissions on your sales! You’ll earn a cash bonus as you reach each tier. For example if you send 10 sales, you’ll get a bonus commission of $100 (5 sale tier) + $250 (10 sale tier) in addition to your normal commissions!

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Are you an affiliate for WP Engine yet? Have you thought about signing up? If you’re interested, click here to get the process started and to become an affiliate for WP Engine.