Daily Habits That Will Improve Your Life

Establishing daily healthy habits is one good way to boost your physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health. They can get you through life’s problems, inconveniences and stress. Despite the benefits they offer, these habits aren’t easy to develop, especially if you’ve been quite used to your way of life. To help you make the necessary changes, […]

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Establishing daily healthy habits is one good way to boost your physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health. They can get you through life’s problems, inconveniences and stress. Despite the benefits they offer, these habits aren’t easy to develop, especially if you’ve been quite used to your way of life.

To help you make the necessary changes, here’s an in-depth guide on how to get healthier habits.

Wake up early

Sleep, one of human’s five basic needs for survival, is incredibly important to your health and happiness. Getting the proper amount of sleep will keep you energized and alert throughout the day.

By waking up early at the same time every day, you’ll be able to establish a good sleep routine. This will allow your body to sleep and wake naturally and give you a more restorative sleep.

Life’s fast pace can be exhausting as we are constantly receiving input and stimulation. It is important to find time during the day to ground yourself, detox your mind and refocus your energy.

The early morning is a perfect time to put this attention on ourselves. It’s also the best time for planning and strategic thinking.

When you wake up early, you’ll have time to prioritize and review your goals so that you can be productive. This will save you from wasting time and making bad decisions throughout the day.

Mornings are very important as they set the tone for the rest of day. Avoid the stress of rushing and the fear of being late by waking up early and going about your morning in a calm, collected manner. Starting the day with this small victory will help your mood and outlook going forward.

If you have to travel to work or school, you can avoid traffic by waking up early and travelling during non-peak hours. This will cut down on your overall time spent commuting, a time when we are generally nonproductive.

Time is our most valuable resource and we should value it enough to stay away from rush hour.

Get clean

Bathe often. You don’t necessarily need to shower every day, but you should clean your body and shampoo your hair on a schedule that works best for you. Showering too often can strip your body of necessary oils so do so fittingly. Make sure you spend time on the frequently neglected areas of your body, such as the ears and feet.

Take care of your skin. Your skin is incredibly important. It covers your body and protects everything inside. Condition your skin with products that coordinate with your skin type. This will keep you feeling healthy and looking well.

Brush your teeth thoroughly and floss daily. Brushing keeps bacteria from accumulating in your mouth and flossing helps maintain strong, healthy gums. Scrape your tongue and rinse with mouthwash to keep your breath fresh. Always have lip balm handy to avoid dry or chapped lips.

brush teeth

Stay clean cut. Maintaining a well-groomed, presentable appearance will certainly make people think more highly of you. It will make you feel better about yourself, too. Always keep your hairstyle fresh and be in control of your facial hair. It can make all the difference.

Address your allergies. Sneezing, sniffling and coughing are all signs of an infection and they can be incredibly repulsive when done in public. Pick up some allergy pills and nasal spray over the counter to keep those problems at bay.

Always wash your hands before eating and after using the toilet. Keeping your hands clean is vital in preventing the spread of germs and bacteria. Keep sanitizing gel close by for when soap and water aren’t available.

Maintain healthy nails on both your hands and feet. We do everything with our hands and feet and problems such as hangnails and infected nail beds can be an absolute nuisance. Make sure your nails and the skin around them are clean. Always keep them trimmed to build strength and drop the bad habit of biting them.

Always smell good. We are perceptual beings and our sense of smell has the power to impact feelings and evoke emotions. Keep the mood light by using deodorant to control your body odor and choosing a fragrance that compliments you.

Keep your clothing clean. Your clothes will surely affect the way you smell, so make sure you keep up with your laundry. And don’t forget your bedding, too. Some recommend washing your bedding once a week.

Dress well

The way you dress reflects your personality and can cite a number of reactions from people. When you dress well, you demand respect and people are quicker to trust you. After all, it’s hard to assume you can get things done right when you can’t even get your clothes right.

Dress slightly above the occasion, make sure your clothes fit well and wear appropriate, good-looking shoes. Shoes are the key to every outfit. In addition to that, keeping your feet comfortable can ensure their health, too.

Well-chosen accessories can compliment your look. Try to invest in a nice pair of sunglasses and a quality wristwatch.

Eat better

Proper nutrition is crucial to your health, but eating healthy can seem like a massive undertaking. To make it simpler, choose an area of your diet where you need to make changes and stay there until the work is done. Move at your own pace, stay encouraged and you will be eating better in no time.

Exercise

The benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are impossible to ignore. From physical and mental health benefits to social opportunities, exercising is arguably the most rewarding thing you can do with your time.

Exercise four to five days a week if your schedule allows and get the most out of off-days by recovering actively.

See Also: 19 Ways to Get Motivated to Exercise

Serve

We all want to live a meaningful life. We want to make a difference and have a positive impact on the world around us. To be valued and appreciated is a feeling that we all need, but we don’t have to conquer the world to get it.

By simply serving the people around you, you could make a difference in someone’s life. By serving your community, you can help strengthen your surroundings.

Sometimes it’s as simple as reaching out to a neighbor in need, performing a random act of kindness or picking up that piece of trash along the sidewalk. As Mark Twain said, “Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” So, spread love and don’t dismiss even the smallest acts of kindness.

Read

reading habit

Reading is one of the best things to do in your spare time as it benefits your mental health. Reading stimulates your mind, improves your memory and enhances your focus and concentration.

An active mind is a healthy mind since it can slow down or even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Reading also helps improve your imagination and allows you to find yourself as a person.

With the infinite number of different perspectives and experiences in books, you’ll have the opportunity to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Reading makes you smarter, too. As Socrates said, “Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.”

See Also: 7 Reasons To Start Reading Books? Here’s why!

Meditate

Meditation, or the quieting of the mind in an attempt to achieve a heightened awareness, can help you gain a higher level of consciousness and live a more fulfilling life. When you meditate, you become consciously aware of what you think, why you think it, and how you feel about what you think.

Our thoughts, both conscious and unconscious, make us who we are. This reflects what René Descartes, regarded as the father of modern philosophy, said, “Cogito ergo sum. (I think, therefore I am.)”.

Clarity of mind is important in controlling your energy and understanding the connections of everything in your life. With steady meditation, you’ll be able to evaluate yourself and ensure that you are spending your energy in ways that benefit your psyche.

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They agreed to listen to a complaint about a paper. Then the harassment began.

We receive our fair share of tips, and most are well-intentioned attempts to clean up the scientific literature. However, sometimes would-be critics can veer into personal attacks. As chair of the Committee on Publication Ethics, Virginia Barbour has seen a lot. But nothing quite prepared her for being cyberbullied by someone the organisation had agreed to […]

The post They agreed to listen to a complaint about a paper. Then the harassment began. appeared first on Retraction Watch.

We receive our fair share of tips, and most are well-intentioned attempts to clean up the scientific literature. However, sometimes would-be critics can veer into personal attacks. As chair of the Committee on Publication Ethics, Virginia Barbour has seen a lot. But nothing quite prepared her for being cyberbullied by someone the organisation had agreed to […]

The post They agreed to listen to a complaint about a paper. Then the harassment began. appeared first on Retraction Watch.

What to Eat During Pregnancy

Are you stressed about maintaining a proper diet now that your baby is on the way? With so much conflicting information floating around, it can be very difficult to make up your mind. You are likely to receive tons of advice from a wide range of sources, like your friends and family, on what is […]

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Are you stressed about maintaining a proper diet now that your baby is on the way?

With so much conflicting information floating around, it can be very difficult to make up your mind. You are likely to receive tons of advice from a wide range of sources, like your friends and family, on what is considered healthy during pregnancy.

To lessen your stress, attached below is a list of what to eat during pregnancy. These foods are simple, yet they can help you get the well-balanced diet you and your baby needs.

Why is it important?

Eating the right foods during your pregnancy is extremely important for the simple reason that you are now eating for two. An improper diet can adversely affect the development of the fetus, physically and mentally.

While weight loss during pregnancy is generally not advised, it’s also not a good idea to gain so much weight. It can lead to gestational diabetes and other complications.

What To Eat During Pregnancy

As a pregnant woman, you need to ensure that your diet plan contains sufficient minerals, vitamins and other nutrients to supplement the growth of your baby as well as the changes your body has to go through.

Here are some examples:

Eggs

Eggs are just great. For something that is not very high in calories, they sure pack a punch. They contain vitamins A and D, calcium, iron, potassium and even proteins.

A single egg has around 6 grams of protein, which play a critical role inside the human body. Since every cell is made up of protein, its sufficient intake is crucial for the growth of the baby and your own body.

Eggs are also rich in choline, which promotes your baby’s brain development. They can also reduce the risk of neural tube defects.

However, there are two things you need to be careful of when consuming eggs during pregnancy.

Eggs yolks are high in cholesterol, so you need to monitor your total cholesterol intake and adjust eggs in your diet accordingly. Also, always remember to cook your eggs thoroughly to avoid salmonella infection.

Salmon

We all know that salmon is a great source of high-quality protein which plays an important role in the baby’s development. Salmon is also an oily fish that is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Most diets, including those of pregnant women, lack omega-3 fatty acids and have an abundance of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. This imbalance can predispose them to cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and autoimmune disorders.

This makes the intake of omega-3 acids essential during pregnancy. Apart from that, the acids help promote the development of the brain and eyes of the fetus, too.

Due to the presence of mercury in fish, it is recommended to limit their intake to 340 grams per week during pregnancy. Salmon has the minimum concentration of mercury and is generally considered to be a safe option.

Yogurt

Yogurt is made up of dairy and has all of the nutritional benefits of milk. It is also rich in calcium, which is essential in growing strong bones and teeth. Calcium is critical for a healthy heart, muscles, and the blood clotting process, too.

Women need around 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily during pregnancy and after the baby is born. It reduces the risk of pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia. Yogurt also contains probiotics, which are good bacteria that benefit the digestive system.

During pregnancy, your digestive tract slows down to increase the amount of nutrition absorbed from foods. This can lead to constipation and increased risk of hemorrhoids. So, make sure to add yogurt into your pregnancy diet.

However, be wary of packaged yogurt products that contain high amounts of sugar as they can cause excess weight gain during pregnancy.

Lean meat

Lean meats, such as chicken, are excellent sources of protein, iron, choline and vitamins.

During pregnancy, your body requires twice as much iron to facilitate the increase in blood volume. Iron is used to make hemoglobin and helps move oxygen around the body and to the baby.

Iron is an essential mineral and is necessary for fetal and placental growth during pregnancy. When there’s not enough iron, a woman becomes at risk of premature delivery as well as giving birth to a child with autism.

A diet that includes lean meats will help increase the amount of iron in a pregnant woman’s body. However, it can be difficult to get the recommended daily dose (27 milligrams) from lean meats alone, especially for those women who develop an aversion to meat during pregnancy.

Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, C, dietary fiber, potassium and vitamin B-6. Pregnant women require 700 milligrams of vitamin A daily and sweet potatoes have 1922 milligrams of vitamin A per cup. One serving is more than enough to satisfy the daily requirement.

Apart from vitamin A, it also contains vitamin C, which is essential for the absorption of iron and the growth of the baby.

As mentioned before, the digestive system slows down during pregnancy which can cause certain problems. The fiber present in sweet potatoes can help improve digestion and reduce the risk of constipation. Also, vitamin B-6 can limit morning sickness.

Sweet potatoes, however, should be consumed in moderation as excessive levels of vitamin A are associated with birth defects.

On making substitutes

Pregnancy can make food choices extremely difficult, especially with all those cravings and aversions. To make sure that you receive proper nutrition while satisfying your cravings for certain foods, you need to pick healthier substitutes.

If you feel like having a hot beverage on a cold winter night, go for a raspberry leaf tea instead of coffee. Feeling down and need some ice cream? Have a cup of frozen yogurt with berries on top. Want something sweet? Have a piece of dark chocolate rather than regular chocolate.

If you have an aversion for meat, try lentils or spinach to load up on your iron reserves. Also remember to take your pre-natal vitamins to ensure maximum nutritional support during pregnancy.

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Are You Sleep Deprived? 8 Health Risks Of Poor Sleep

No energy drink can invigorate you more than a good night’s sleep. Sadly, our society has become too proud to acknowledge that sleep is as important as proper nutrition and regular exercise. This is evident in our overworked culture and amplified by technology that keeps us connected 24/7. When are we going to improve our […]

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No energy drink can invigorate you more than a good night’s sleep. Sadly, our society has become too proud to acknowledge that sleep is as important as proper nutrition and regular exercise. This is evident in our overworked culture and amplified by technology that keeps us connected 24/7.

When are we going to improve our sleep habits? Let these 8 sleep deprivation side effects convince you that sufficient zzz’s matter.

Lack of sleep is similar to getting drunk

sleep deprived

A study published in the Harvard Business Review suggests that sleep deprivation can affect one’s performance as alcohol intoxication. “Next time you’re planning on staying up an extra few hours to finish your paper, consider that you will have the perception and judgment of a someone who is legally too drunk to drive,” wrote Brad Strelcher, editor-at-large at the University of Southern California.

Pulling an all-nighter is similar to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%. This can increase your risk of being involved in road accidents. The Institute of Medicine warns that drowsy driving causes 20% of all motor vehicle crashes in the US.

Poor sleep habits and reduced mental performance

poor sleep habits

One mistake college students commit is pulling all-nighters before a major exam. Cramming is a trend that doesn’t do anybody a favor. “Sleep deprivation negatively impacts our mood, our ability to focus, and our ability to access higher-level cognitive functions,” according to Harvard Medical School.

Scientists were able to identify changes in brain activity after nights of insufficient sleep. The brain activity, measured by an electroencephalogram or EEG, showed “lower level of alertness and a general propensity to sleep.”

If you need to prepare for an exam or a presentation, make sure your brain is well-rested.

See Also: 7 Little Known Ways In Which Poor Sleep Is Killing You And Your Career 

Long-term sleep deprivation increases disease risk

sleep deprivation effects

A sleep-deprived body is at risk of developing diseases. Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine presents three types of studies about the health risks of sleep deprivation.

The first type involved the short-term impact of poor sleep that could trigger diseases, while the second type analyzed the link between habitual sleep duration and the existence of certain diseases. The third, and regarded as “the most convincing type of evidence” is the long-term assessment of sleep habits and diseases of initially healthy individuals.

The results from longitudinal epidemiological studies suggest that “adjusting one’s sleep can reduce the risk of eventually developing a disease or lessen the severity of an ongoing disease.”

Less sleep, more weight

lack of sleep gain weight

Losing sleep upsets the body’s hormonal balance that helps control the appetite, metabolism, and glucose processing. Studies show that people who sleep less than six hours each night, versus the recommended seven to nine hour sleep, are much more likely to have a higher body mass index.

You may have noticed that you crave carbohydrates and sugary foods when staying up late. This is because of the higher secretion of biochemical ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. Moreover, being sleep deprived can leave you too tired to burn off extra calories with exercise.

Sleep loss and heart problems

effects of sleep deprivation

Overworked employees who reportedly pulled all-nighters recently made global headlines following their premature deaths. Most suffered from a cardiac arrest after losing sleep for three consecutive nights. Harvard Medical School noted that “sleeping too little (less than six hours) or too much (more than nine hours) increased the risk of coronary heart disease in women.”

Sleep apnea, a chronic condition characterized by one or more pauses in breathing during sleep, is also linked to heart diseases. Apnea sufferers’ airway close up when they fall asleep and they experience surges in blood pressure when they wake up.

Insufficient sleep causes mood disorders

effects of lack of sleep

Mornings can be challenging for the sleep deprived. According to experts, a single sleepless night can cause irritability and distress the following day. Regularly missing the recommended seven-to-nine-hour nightly sleep can also lead to long-term mood disorders, and depression and anxiety.

In a study published in Current Biology, the researchers found a causal relationship between impaired sleep and some psychiatric symptomatology and disorders. The amygdala, or the brain region for emotions, emotional behavior and motivation, seemed to be “rewired” in the sleep-deprived brain. People who lack sleep experience a “pendulum of emotions, going from upset and annoyed to giddy in moments,” according to Dr. Matthew Walker of the University of California, Berkeley.

Sleep deprived people drink more alcohol

effects of not sleeping

You may know family and friends who turn to whiskey or vodka to help them fall asleep at night. While alcohol can act as a mild sedative that induce sleep, its impact is only temporary. After a few hours, the alcohol begins to stimulate the brain, causing disruptions throughout the night. Alcohol dependency is linked to a number of diseases including liver inflammation and coronary heart disease.

Losing sleep can cut down life expectancy

losing sleep

Neglecting sufficient sleep, which is one of the pillars of health, can lead to various physical and mental problems. It is no surprise that sleep deprivation can lead to premature death. Studies show that sleeping for five hours or less each night can increase one’s mortality risk by about 15 percent. It is imperative to seek medical assistance and undergo therapy if your sleep habits are downgrading the quality of your life.

See Also: 5 Natural Ways to Stop Your Sleepless Nights 

The staggering amount of evidence on the effects of sleep loss should be enough to encourage us to rethink our lifestyle. Sleep deprivation can put your safety at risk as well as negatively affect your performance. It can lead to mood disorders, obesity, heart problems, even premature death.

One student realized the need to adjust his lifestyle to improve his sleep habits. “I enrolled in slightly less demanding classes, took on a less time-consuming job and allotted for more free time in my schedule. I’ve been more active, more happy and all around more successful,” shared US student Brad Strelcher.

When will you make the right changes in your life?

 

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Why Do We Procrastinate?

Procrastination: Putting off from day to day, directly from Latin “procrastinationem” (pro “forward” + crastinus “belonging to tomorrow”). Procrastination is a problem about 95% of people suffer from, and even though there’s a lot of material regarding how to stop procrastinating, there isn’t a lot said about why we procrastinate in the first place. As […]

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Procrastination: Putting off from day to day, directly from Latin “procrastinationem” (pro “forward” + crastinus “belonging to tomorrow”).

Procrastination is a problem about 95% of people suffer from, and even though there’s a lot of material regarding how to stop procrastinating, there isn’t a lot said about why we procrastinate in the first place. As a staunch believer of the idea that the first step to fixing any problem is knowing why it happens in the first place, I bring you a list of 5 reasons why people procrastinate:

I don’t like the task I’m supposed to be doing, or the deadline for it is still a while away

The first factor that decides how likely we are to procrastinate is the task itself, or two specific things about the task: the first is how far in the future we’ll have to deal with the reward or punishment from the task, the second is how much we dislike what we’re supposed to be doing. People would rather focus on the here and now than worry about something in the future, always thinking that a nearer task is more pressing and more deserving of time and attention than one that’s far away. The relationship between how much we dislike a task, or task aversion, is even more obvious. We’re a lot more likely to not want to sit down to do something we hate, or something that we find overwhelming.

See Also: 6 Playful Strategies to Beat Procrastination and Boost Your Productivity

I am neurotic

neurotic

Neuroticism is a personality trait that means a person is more likely to be anxious or more prone to bad moods than other people (think Hermoine Granger). The more neurotic a person is, the more they’ll freak out or be anxious about the tasks they have to do, and the more anxious they are over tasks, the less they’ll want to sit down and do them.

I am more rebellious than agreeable

Agreeableness as a trait is related to cooperation and a desire to consent or submit to the wishes of others, and rebelliousness is about the exact opposite. A person who leans more towards rebelliousness than agreeableness is more likely to procrastinate in an attempt at control and at doing things their own way, rather than follow a schedule set by someone else.

I am impulsive

Being impulsive means that a person prefers to act on a whim, rather than sit down and plan everything. An impulsive person is more likely to procrastinate than someone who isn’t impulsive, because they’re more likely to get caught up in the moment or get distracted by a new idea that they just had.

See Also: 7 Tips On How To Overcome Procrastination Everyday 

I am not very self-disciplined

not self disciplined

 

A self-disciplined person is a lot more accepting of having to sit down and do something unpleasant than someone who isn’t. Self-discipline means not letting yourself get distracted (by checking Twitter every 3 sentences you read, for example), and not allowing yourself to watch a movie instead of work on that report you have to submit in a couple of days. People who have more control of themselves are less likely to procrastinate.

Now you know a little (well, a lot) more about why we procrastinate. So you found yourself relating to the things on this list, what now? Don’t worry, there are a lot of things you can do to stop or lessen procrastination, like cutting big tasks into smaller, less intimidating tasks, removing distractions from your work environment, and practicing more self-discipline in your everyday life.

 

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Why did Beall’s List of potential predatory publishers go dark?

Jeffrey Beall, the University of Colorado, Denver, librarian who has since 2008 chronicled “potential, possible, or probable” predatory publishers, has — at least for now — pulled the plug on his influential, and at times controversial, site. The decision to take down the site — and Beall’s faculty page at the Auraria Library, where he […]

The post Why did Beall’s List of potential predatory publishers go dark? appeared first on Retraction Watch.

Jeffrey Beall, the University of Colorado, Denver, librarian who has since 2008 chronicled “potential, possible, or probable” predatory publishers, has — at least for now — pulled the plug on his influential, and at times controversial, site. The decision to take down the site — and Beall’s faculty page at the Auraria Library, where he […]

The post Why did Beall’s List of potential predatory publishers go dark? appeared first on Retraction Watch.

Predictions 2016: How’d I Do?

The post Predictions 2016: How’d I Do? appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

At the beginning of each year I make predictions, and at year’s end, I hold myself to account. It’s kind of fun to look back and see how wrong (or right) my musings end up being. I’ll be writing my Predictions 2017 post this weekend (I think), and publishing it shortly thereafter. But for now, let’s […]

The post Predictions 2016: How’d I Do? appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

The post Predictions 2016: How’d I Do? appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

Nostradamus

At the beginning of each year I make predictions, and at year’s end, I hold myself to account. It’s kind of fun to look back and see how wrong (or right) my musings end up being.

I’ll be writing my Predictions 2017 post this weekend (I think), and publishing it shortly thereafter. But for now, let’s take a stroll down memory lane, and see how I did. Here’s a short report card for each of my twelve 2016 predictions.

#1 – 2016 will be the year that “business on a mission” goes mainstream. Well, this was pretty self serving, given it’s at the core of the work I did all year long at NewCo and NewCo Shift. But I did predict that massive companies would put their missions at the core of their marketing, and that certainly happened with corporations like Unilever, Ikea, H&M, and many others. I also said the press would start covering the story as a regular beat, more than just annual “doing good by doing well” lists. While coverage (and the number of those annual lists) has increased, I can’t argue the story has broken out as big as I expected. And while organizations like Just Capital have launched to track company data beyond price and profit, I think this story needs another year or two to mature. Overall, this prediction trended in the right direction, but didn’t fully come true this year, so I’m going to give myself a (noble, well intentioned) whiff on this one.

#2 – Mobile will finally mean more than apps. It may seem counterintuitive, but I think this is the year my mobile prediction actually came true. Here’s the detail from my post: “by year’s end, we’ll find ourselves interacting with our technology in new and far more “web like” ways – bouncing from link to link, service to service, much as we did on the original web, but with the power, context, and sensor-laden enablement of mobile apps and devices.” In fact, that’s exactly how using my phone now feels – deep linking has gone mainstream, and more often than not a link from a search opens an app on my phone, or a call to action in an email or inside an app opens another app – or a mobile web view – inside a third party site. Plus, every new release of Android (I don’t use iOS) seems to increase the utility of notifications, voice, and search. That’s how the next generation internet should work, and it’s here, now. Which is a really good thing (and augurs some very cool new opportunities, which I’ll probably explore in my predictions post). I’m going to grade myself a “mostly nailed it.” Why mostly? Because at the end of my prediction, I said Google’s app streaming was going to help make it all happen. While the company continues to refine and roll out the service (and related services like Instant Apps, or Apple’s On Demand Resources), I deserve a ding for that call. I’d rate it a 75% win.

#3 – Twitter makes a comeback. I don’t really need to go into much detail here. This did not happen. It’s all about the product. And while the election certainly helped Twitter, Twitter did not help itself much this past year. My wishful thinking earned me a fail on this one. Damnit Twitter, please be all we know you can be in 2017!

#4 – Adtech and the Internet of Things begins to merge. Weeks after I wrote this prediction, the industry bellwether Dmexco, arguably the most important marketing conference in the world, declared that IoT was the future of adtech. Core adtech companies – Google, Facebook, Amazon (yes, Amazon is a serious player in adtech) – all released key products or platforms that vector IoT directly into their adtech strengths (Google Home? Check. Facebook Messenger bots? Check. Amazon’s Alexa/Echo? Check.) This merger will be messy and fraught, but bots and voice are the future for all the major internet players, and advertising business models and tech platforms will drive them all, in new and perhaps unexpected ways. Add to that the unprecedented amount of work done this past year in autonomous vehicles (which is a major IoT category and of course, a huge advertising platform in and of itself), and I think it’s fair to say this prediction came true. However, there’s a lot more to this trend than just merging advertising and IoT. That’s the easy (and obvious) part of the equation. The less obvious work remains to be done – as I wrote in the prediction: “I’m suggesting that the underlying technology powering adtech is perfectly suited to execute the highly complicated and highly performant rules-based decisioning required for the Internet of Things to touch our lives on a regular basis.” I honestly don’t know of any development over the past year that proves this part of my prediction, but I can’t imagine it’s not being worked on by the Amazons, Googles, and Facebooks of the world. We did have a major IoT event that proved the power of my predicted merger: Hackers harnessed millions of poorly secured IoT devices to mount massive DDOS attacks across the web.

Oh, and at the end of this prediction, I ventured that in 2016, we’d see a blockchain based adtech player emerge. We did see the emergence of BitTeaser and its related HubDSP, though they are in very early stages as of now. Overall, I’d say this prediction played out – score it as another 75% – a passing grade, at the very least.

#5 – Tesla’s Model 3 will garner more than 100,000 pre-orders. Many of you thought I was crazy to predict massive orders for the Model 3, but….Tesla blew through my most optimistic numbers. Orders are now approaching half a million, and counting.

#6 –  Publishers and platforms come to terms. This is a hard one to prove. I wrote: “In 2016, Medium, LinkedIn, and Facebook will all make strides in helping all publishers succeed.” And I think this is largely true. Medium rolled out a publisher program, and limited, but improving advertising options for its publishers. LinkedIn hasn’t yet rolled out a publisher friendly platform, but it’s become a crucial traffic driver for a lot of publishers, and I’ve heard plenty of well-sourced rumors that a publishing platform is coming once the Microsoft integration is complete. And Facebook, well, Facebook had an uneven year when it comes to publisher relations, but there isn’t a serious publisher in the world who isn’t busy integrating with Instant Articles and the Newsfeed in one way or another. Add in publisher centric moves from Google (Amp, etc), and Apple (Apple News continue to grow, slowly), and I’d give this prediction a passing grade.

#7 – Search has a dominant year, thanks in large part to voice and AI. I think this also came to pass this year. We can debate if “traditional search” had a dominant year, but that was not my point. Search is in transition to new models based on voice and AI-assistants like Siri, Now, Alexa, and Cortana, and in 2016, these most certainly came into their own. I predicted that search volume, if once counted voice and AI, would be “way up” in 2016. Voice search volume did indeed explode in 2016, but we’ll have to wait for Mary Meeker’s mid year update to know by exactly how much. Regardless, I think I got this one right.

#8 – Apple endures a boring year. Yep, this pretty much happened. I wrote: “short of yet another iPhone folks feel obliged to purchase, there’ll be nothing spectacular. I don’t think folks will be calling for Tim Cook’s head, but many will wonder if Apple is meandering its way toward a boring, profit-milking middle age.” Check.

#9 – Microsoft and Google get serious about hardware.  Oh yes, they sure as hell did. Microsoft became a billion dollar a quarter player in tablets/computing with Surface, and Google rolled out Home, Pixel (its first true Google phone), and more Chrome gadgets. Both companies are very, very serious about hardware now.

#10 – Medium has a breakout year. I wasn’t sure this was going to happen, but just this month, Medium released its growth numbers – up 140% year on year, to 60 million users. Combined with the launch of its publishing platform and the release of far better iOS and Android apps, Medium was indeed on a tear in 2016.

#11 – China goes shopping. In 2015, we all expected Chinese companies like Alibaba to start snapping up startups left and right. It didn’t exactly happen. But I predicted that 2016 would see it come to fruition, and indeed Chinese firms were very busy this past year. China dealmaking rose 145% in 2016, according to Bloomberg, and Internet and Software was one of the hottest sectors, with adtech – much maligned for years – a major standout.

#12 – Sports unbundle. Well….no. I really, really wanted to drop my cable sub this past year, and the only thing keeping me from doing so was my beloved San Francisco Giants. Alas, nothing happened this year that will change that. There was a lot of hand wringing about the future of sports-driven brands like ESPN, and nearly everyone things sports will someday unbundle, just as HBO and many others have recently done. But not this year, so…my wishful prediction was a swing and a miss.

Summing up, how’d I do? Pretty darn well, it turns out. I whiffed on only three – Business on a mission, Twitter, and Sports – and pretty much nailed the rest of them. That’s one of my best showings yet – nine for twelve, or a .750 batting average. Good enough to convince me to try again for next year! Have a great New Year’s Eve, and I’ll be back soon with predictions for 2017.

Follow my work at NewCo with our newsletters! 

Related:

Predictions 2016 

Predictions 2015

2015: How I Did

Predictions 2014

2014: How I Did

Predictions 2013

2013: How I Did

Predictions 2012

2012: How I Did

 

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Just how to Compose a Graphic Analysis Report

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How to Get Into Oxford University

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Poor SEO Practices by High Ranking Denver SEO Firms

Earlier this year (May, 2016), I wrote an article to help businesses when choosing an SEO company. The article, How to Choose an SEO Company in Denver, provided a few tips on what to look for as well as what to avoid when selecting an SEO firm.

This article continues our discussion of Denver SEO agencies, particularly, it focuses on examples of poor SEO practices by top ranked sites in Google’s search results.  While these companies have practiced what are arguably black-hat SEO techniques (SEO tactics that are outside of Google’s SEO Guidelines for Webmasters), Google has not, yet, penalized these sites for activities like mirror websites, network of websites created to interlink and manipulate Google SERPS (search engine results pages).

First, we must understand, at least in part, what is outlined by Google in their Webmaster Guidelines document.

From Google:

“These quality guidelines cover the most common forms of deceptive or manipulative behavior, but Google may respond negatively to other misleading practices not listed here. It’s not safe to assume that just because a specific deceptive technique isn’t included on this page, Google approves of it. Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit.”

“Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”

Specific guidelines

Avoid the following techniques:

 

This Expose on Denver SEO Companies will focus primarily on one of the most abused areas of Google’s guidelines: backlinks and link schemes to manipulate rankings.  Quite frankly, for SEO professionals that practice white-hat SEO techniques (optimization tactics that are within Google’s Webmaster Guidelines), it is frustrating to see and report spam websites and see nothing happen to the rankings for these websites.

So, despite Google’s quality guidelines, many websites are not penalized by Google.  Which, I imagine, is why so many poor SEO companies and SEO practitioners continue to practice black-hat tactics.  These SEO firms apparently are working under the guise “it’s not a crime unless you get caught”.  They might be willing to take this risk with their own companies, however, I would not want to be one of their clients!

Why Do I Care About Poor SEO Companies?

So, why am I even wasting my time on exposing Denver SEO agencies practicing poor SEO tactics? Well, prior to becoming an SEO professional, my wife and I had a retail business with both online sales as well as brick and mortar retail locations.  In the early days of SEO, link spam and buying links was prevalent.

It was an easy way to take short-cuts to rank well in Google.  I fell victim to these short-cuts because I was a webmaster solely in charge of a website with over 15,000 products and 50,000 SKUs.  I had to find ways to save time and be effective.  Well, it’s true, one learns from their mistakes.  I will never practice this form of poor SEO ever again.

I experienced first-hand the warning messages received from Google and the subsequent impact of rankings falling.  We lost 70% of our online traffic, which crippled our business.  I was at a loss on how to bring our rankings back.  So, like a child punished while others doing the same thing were not punished, I’ve become sensitive to individuals and companies that get away with manipulating Google results via black-hat SEO.

Perhaps even more important, after burning out on SEO, I hired no less than 11 different SEO companies and spent over $250,000 during the course of 3 years with little improvement in rankings.  Even worse, because I was very knowledgeable about SEO, I knew where to look to confirm the SEO techniques being utilized by these companies. With the exception of one SEO firm, every other agency took my money while simultaneously further hurting my website with actions like 3,000+ comment spam backlinks (with the exact same comment, which was unrelated to the blog post).

When questioned about their poor SEO practices, the company outright lied to me saying they didn’t do it.  My ability to conduct SEO forensics revealed clearly that it was them.  So, please, please, please keep in mind, there are many sleazy SEO practitioners that either don’t know what they’re doing, or they do know what they’re doing and are okay accepting the risk of potentially crippling their client’s businesses.

 

The Reveal – Pulling the Curtain Back on Poor Denver SEO Companies

As explained, I take those getting away with poor SEO tactics personally.  I’ve been burned by these type of SEO “professionals”, experienced the pain of losing rankings and traffic and, quite frankly, all I care about at this stage of my life is helping other business owners.  I never want any business owner to experience the anxiety related to a failing business.  Rather, by helping my clients’ businesses succeed, I am helping their family and the families of all their employees.  By helping good businesses succeed, in a way, I am helping create better communities.  What could possibly be more fulfilling than that?

As a leading SEO professional in Denver, it is my responsibility to understand competitors and conduct SEO and rankings forensics.  In order to help my clients rank well and realize more online traffic, I must first understand their business, industry and competitors.  Two of the most basic starting points for competitive analysis is (1) the size of competitors’ websites (how many pages are indexed by Google) and (2) understanding their backlink profile (what is the quantity and quality of competitor’s backlinks).

These techniques are also used to better understand my competitors.  In order to improve my rankings and be found by potential clients, I must understand the state of Denver’s SEO industry, competitors and practitioners of search engine optimization.  It is in my best interest to identify those individuals and firms that are formidable competitors practicing above-board optimization tactics as well as those who cut-corners by practicing poor search engine optimization.

 

Top Denver SEO Companies Backlink Profile Analysis

When one searches for “Denver SEO”, Google returns top ranking SEO companies in Denver.  Much like other areas of life, these top ranking SEO companies did not necessarily get their by being boy scouts, that is, by being honest and fair. Rather, as is often the case for individuals and companies that rise to “power”, they cheated to get to the top.

How did these Denver SEO companies cheat their way to the top (and be in a position to potentially hurt their client’s businesses)?  Let’s take a look at the most common (and effective) form of poor SEO practice: backlinks.  By analyzing (SEO forensics) my competitors’ backlink profiles, I can begin to better understand the practices and even culture of other SEO companies in Denver.

Prior to continuing, my disclaimer is this, SEO agencies have employee turn-over like any other business.  Sometimes individuals are hired for search engine optimization because they interview well.  Yet, when it comes to practicing SEO, they may have little experience or the range of their “expertise” is limited to one or two tactics.

With this in mind, please understand that some of the SEO firms about to be discussed may have had, temporarily, a bad apple in the bunch.  To account for this, we’ll take a look at link acquisition for their own website’s over time.  For example, we may see a short period of time when spam links were acquired.  For other companies, we may see the same backlink spam techniques occurring since the business was established.

A Few Things We’ll be Looking for to Determine Questionable SEO Techniques

Perhaps it will be helpful to point out ahead of time some of the factors we will identify that indicate questionable SEO practices.

  • Is the website hiding the owner (registrant) of the domain? Why is this important?  If one is acting above board, they have nothing to hide.  If we see a trend of domains registered in “private’, the individual or company does not want to be identified.  This type of behavior is typically indicative of improper SEO tactics (such as registering many domains with the same keyword(s) and building websites that inter-link to manipulate Google results – this use to be common, now it is a big no-no.)  Avoid any SEO company practicing this technique.  What is the owner is trying to conceal from Google and other competitors.  A smart SEO professional, however, has ways of identifying these unscrupulous individuals.
  • Quality of backlinks is a clear identifier of good and bad SEO companies. A website’s backlinks are analogous to the type of folks they hang out with.  Natural link building will reveal a higher portion of related websites linking back.  For example, one would expect to find local Denver directories pointing to a Denver company’s website.  On the other hand, there is little reason to believe why websites in China, for example, would be linking to a small Denver company.
  • Anchor text of backlinks. Naturally acquired backlinks will typically have a number of different anchor text (the text that is clickable) variations, including obvious terms like the domain name, click here and the company name.  When we start seeing a lack of diversity and, in fact, a highly optimized backlink profile, one can safely ascertain that the backlinks are not natural.  Someone has manipulated the backlinks, which as we covered earlier, is against Google’s Webmaster Quality Guidelines.
  • Timing of backlinks. There is little reason why a local Denver SEO company would be naturally acquiring backlinks every day or even every week on a regular basis, unless someone is actively manipulating their backlink acquisition.  Similarly, if we see a spike in backlinks during a particular time frame, the company has likely paid someone to acquire links.  Google clearly watches the frequency and quantity of backlinks to one’s website.  Unfortunately, while Google’s guidelines are very clear about backlink manipulation, they cannot act on every occurrence or report of backlink spam.
  • Geographic location of websites linking back to one’s website. Common sense would indicate that a global business would likely have links from several different geographic locations, whereas a regional company would have links from their geographic region.  With a few exceptions, small regional businesses in Denver simply would not have an extensive number of backlinks outside of the United States.

 

Worst Backlink Profiles of Top Ranked Denver SEO Companies Revealed

One of the most mind-blowing backlink profiles I came across, I’ll avoid mentioning any of them by name, was an SEO company that is ranked on the first page of Google for “Denver SEO”.  My first step was to use ahrefs.com to pull this competitors backlinks.  This is a common, basic SEO first step.  We need to understand the quantity, quality and velocity of backlinks over time.

Not only has this company made misleading statements, they are not entirely accurate.  Here is a statement about the company, presumably approved by the company since it is in a press release about them.


Extracted from Press Release backlink: http://www.1888pressrelease.com/denver-seo-inc-brings-on-a-new-member-of-their-team-pr-316420.html

Dated July 7, 2011

Title: Denver Seo, Inc. Brings On A New Member Of Their Team

Founder and CEO Sean Hakes’ team at Denver SEO, Inc. prides themselves on the their ethical approach to Search Engine Optimization and Innovation, which has allowed the company to become one of the nation’s fastest growing internet marketing providers. Their central location in Denver, CO allows them to not only reach out to clients in the United States, but also to international client as well. Along with providing superior online marketing to their clients, Denver SEO, Inc. furnishes domain name hosting along with other webpage tools.


This particular press release backlink has clearly identified the company and individual. If one reads the press release, the quality of content and attention to detail, or the lack thereof, becomes obvious.  We find incomplete sentences and poor grammar, frequently seen when individuals from foreign companies are conducting SEO for American companies.

As one of their clients, would you want this type of poor quality search engine optimization?  Let’s continue on to other obvious problems with this company’s backlink profile.  We’ll also see how similar short-cuts and poor SEO tactics are used on another website owned by the same individual.

One might ask why I may be singling out one company or individual.  The answer is because the data and research reveals a consistently poor approach to SEO best practices. These SEO short-cuts may eventually lead to a client’s website receiving warnings and possibly penalties that can cripple their online business.  Please remember, this exact thing happened to me and I do not want anyone to experience the anxiety and depression when this happens.

Additionally, I came across a misleading article written by this individual that provides no data or objective comparison of SEO Companies.  Rather, it is an opinion piece written as if it is credible and properly researched review of local Denver SEO companies.  Rather, it is a piece written for the sole purpose of achieving a backlink and promoting their SEO services.

Here is the Misleading, Inaccurate, Subjective Review of Denver SEO Companies


Top 5 SEO Agencies in Denver


Let’s take a look at the domain registrants and owners of the above list SEO firms.  Before we do that, I wanted to see if there was a connection between the owners of the Top Denver SEO Companies listed by this individual.

I was a bit confused because the above article is from VelocityRadio.fm, wherein the author mentions that he owns the website, however, this foreign domain (fm suffix is for the Federated States of Micronesia) is registered by someone else on the list above.  So, there is some sort of relationship going on between the owners of the mentioned websites and the article author.

Velocity Radio fmBest SEO Companies in Denver

 

I wanted to see if there was any other information confirming a relationship between these two owners.  I found the following:

SEO Crash Course

 

Honest Review of Denver’s Top SEO Companies

Because the aforementioned article “Top 5 Denver SEO Companies” provides no data, no metrics and no meaningful information about the companies listed, I decided to conduct a thorough review of backlinks profiles for SEO agencies that are rankings very well in Google for “Denver SEO”.  Please note, just because a website ranks well, does not mean they use SEO best practices. Clearly they must be effective at SEO, however, that is so because of grey and black-hat SEO techniques.

As previously mentioned, would you want to be a client of an SEO firm that is practicing poor SEO techniques and taking short-cuts that may land your website into the Google abyss? I don’t like that kind of risk.  Particularly when my clients’ businesses are on the line.  Best SEO practices are the safe and appropriate way to achieve higher rankings, securely over the long-haul.  How would you feel investing thousands of dollars achieving improved rankings only to see your site begin losing traffic, as much as 70% or more, because of poor SEO practices by “SEO professionals”? It feels lousy.  I know.

Data to Truly Show Denver’s Top SEO Companies (as well as some that aren’t the best)

We’ll start with two of the companies mentioned in the previous “Top 5 Denver SEO Companies”.  Our analysis will show which companies are using best practices for SEO as well as a few that are clearly taking short-cuts.

1. Backlink Profile Analysis ColoradoSEO.com

We’ve discussed earlier in this article the reasons why domain owners may choose to pay for the additional service of Private Registration (it’s not free). ColoradoSEO.com is registered privately.  Why hide your identity?

Colorado SEO Private Registration Who Is Data

If one is above board and performing exceptional work for their clients, you would want to be recognized for your hard efforts.  On the other hand, if you are not, perhaps not disclosing your name is better.  Particularly when you are operating several websites that are cross promoting one another with similar layouts and content (Once again, a short-cut to truly performing good SEO with original content. Google does not like duplicate content and especially complete duplicate websites with over-lapping content).

With a little digging online, it didn’t take too long to identify the owner of the domain.

If we visit the website, we are able to identify the founder and CEO.

Colorado SEO Founders Greg and Darcie Walthour

We find through a little more research that they also own PikesPeakSEO.com (also privately registered). By visiting this website we find the following:

Darcie Wlathour Pikes Peak

Telluride SEO Expert Pikes Peak SEOOther domains owned by these individual are:

BoulderSEO.com (privately registered), TellurideSEO.com (public registration because there is no website online), TellurideSEOExpert.com (privately registered).  An interesting note, this website promotes PikesPeakSEO.com in the footer.

Additional domains they own: dallasseo.com (public registration because there is no website online), denverseo.marketing (public registration because there is no website online), orlandoseo.com (public with website, however, no page about the owner or team members), seolabtests.org (public registration, however, redirects to seosatori.com, again, no team page), socialseo.com (public registration with Team page referencing founder/ceo), topseoquotes.com (public registration because there is no website online).

Using a Google search on the founder’s name, we also discover the following websites: charlestonseo.com (privately registered with website, no Team page).

Charleston SEO Greg Walthour


The funny thing about the charlestonseo.com website is that it has a testimonial referencing PikesPeakSEO.com.  Ooops!


Charleston SEO Pikes Peak Testimonial

After a few hours, I had to stop.  There simply are too many websites, several with similar design (another short-cut).  How one person can own and successfully operate so many different websites, teams and businesses is beyond me?  Perhaps this is why its backlink profile for our initial subject site ColoradoSEO.com is poor.

The aforementioned lays a little background about ColoradoSEO.com.  Now, let’s take a look at their backlink profile analysis and see how it compares to the averages of other top Denver SEO firms.

One of the very first things that stands-out is the average number of backlinks per page of the website (total backlinks / # of website pages).  The average number of links per page across the SEO companies studied (excluding ColoradoSEO’s anomaly) is 18.  ColoradoSEO has 94.  Really, 18 vs 94, above the “normal” by 422%.  Clearly, this is not via natural link building.

Furthermore, it becomes clear with additional analysis that the anchor text of their backlinks is highly optimized with little diversity.  Best SEO practices dictate the use of different anchor text because Google has recognized when one is optimizing and manipulating their backlinks.  Naturally acquired backlinks will have a range of anchor text.

The average backlink diversity across the other companies is 1.7% (number different anchor texts / number of total backlinks). ColoradoSEO has a backlink diversity of 0.4%, which means there is little diversity and the anchor text has been manipulated extensively.

Another metric we’ll consider is the quality of backlinks.  The best SEO companies in Denver have an average backlink domain rating of 27.5. This means they have good quality, respected websites linking to them.  The average across all domains analyzed is 17.  For ColoradoSEO, the quality of their backlinks comes in at 10, which is 275% below the better SEO companies in Denver.

Finally, let’s take a look at the number of links coming from foreign domains.  Remember, we are analyzing local Denver SEO companies.  There is little reason one would expect a foreign site to link to a local Denver business. The average number of foreign backlinks across all sites in this study (excluding ColoradoSEO) is 16.8% of total backlink count. For the best SEO companies in Denver (the same two companies indicated in the preceding paragraph) the average is 0.1%.  For ColoradoSEO, their foreign/spam backlinks amount to almost 8,600, or 32.6%.  Twice that of the average and ridiculously beyond (32,500%) that of companies practicing sound, quality SEO.

Clearly we’ve shown that SEO best practices are not being used.  In fact, with this study the metrics indicate clear manipulation of backlinks.  This is the number 1 no-no for Google.  If someone were to point this out to Google, they may very well receive a warning or, worse, being black-listed from Google.  That is a heck of a risk to take and short sighted. I would not want to be one of their clients when one considers the type of SEO they implement.

Backlink Profile Analysis AltitudeSEO.com

One of the other sites the author claims is one of the Top 5 Best Denver SEO companies is AltitudeSEO.com, the author’s own website.  With the following analysis, you will see why we can state that the article is misleading.  I certainly would not choose someone who is not entirely accurate and, one might say misleading, to be in charge of my online business.

Similar to ColoradoSEO, the owner of AltitudeSEO owns many domains with similar names. At least this individual is not trying to hide what’s going on by paying for Private Registration.  Among the many sites owned by this individual are: annarborseo.com, casperseo.com, coloradosearchenginemarketing.com, coloradoseocompany.com, craftbreweryseo.com, denverseobestcompany.com, denverseobroker.com, denverseoinc.com, hartfordseo.com, laseo.com, newarkseo.com, orlandoseo.com, seocastlerock.com, velocityradionetwork.com and wordpressseo.com.

Despite Google indicating that having keywords in one’s domain doesn’t really matter, it does. Clearly the owner of all these domains understand that and is attempting to take advantage of that by owning dozens of domains.

One other company owned is Jemsu.com.  We’ve analyzed this website as well and it is, by far, the worst offender of poor SEO practices.  In fact, SEMrush indicates over 1,000 toxic (yes, that’s “toxic” as in very bad) backlinks to Jemsu.com.  The next closest count in our study had 1.  All the others, had absolutely no toxic backlinks.  Again, why would someone want a company with over 1,000 toxic backlinks conducting SEO for their website?  Particularly when it is simple to remove (disavow) these links.

(Jemsu, you are welcome.  I’ve provided you a Free backlink analysis and helped you by identifying the SEO short-comings for your website.)

Similar to ColoradoSEO, AltitudeSEO relies on a plethora of foreign backlinks.  In fact, they were the 3rd largest offender of foreign spam links (Jemsu was #1 with 12,885, ColoradoSEO #2 with 8,592). As a percentage of backlinks, AltitudeSEO was the top offender of unnatural foreign links at 43.3%, almost half of all their links are questionable.

The second half of the Top 5 Denver SEO Companies article states that the author looked at the “Client Link Portfolio (we look for really spammy violations of Google Webmaster Guidelines)”.

Really?  Wow, either the individual doesn’t know how to perform a backlink analysis or it was faulty and inaccurate. Or, no analysis was done at all as stated.  There was no data provided.  No analysis findings or observations were shared. More likely, it was a very brief article (another short-cut) simply written to promote his own company and those of a colleague.

Furthermore, the article states “Over the years, I’ve found a handful of SEO companies that I personally trust.”  Well, I don’t believe the article is accurate or that any real in-depth analysis was conducted. Perhaps he trusts these handful of companies because they include his own website and two sites from a colleague.  I wouldn’t trust this person with my SEO.  There are simply too many foreign spam backlinks and questionable statements.

Finally, the anchor text diversity of backlinks is poor and clearly manipulated.  As part of my analysis, I pulled all anchor text that includes either “SEO” or “search engine optimization” with the intent of identifying un-natural keyword focus.

The average percentage of keywords with SEO terms is 45.5% for all other SEO firms studied.  If we remove ColoradoSEO (with an SEO occurrence of 96%, yes, 96%!), the average falls to 37%.  AltitudeSEO has a backlink profile that averages 91% SEO focus.

Well, yes, I considered the fact that these companies both have “SEO” in their domain name.  That certainly would influence this metric, however, another company analyzed with SEO in their domain name, averaged only 28% SEO related anchor text.  The top performing SEO company, has an SEO anchor text focus average of only 7% (SEO is not in their domain name).  Clearly AltitudeSEO has manipulated its backlink profile with over optimized SEO terms averaging 91%.

I think the analysis has shown that while a company may rank well in Google, it is often through black-hat SEO or other questionable SEO tactics, it does not mean that they are a good SEO company.  One must conduct their own research, or contact me to do the research for you, in order to truly identify exceptional SEO agencies from questionable agencies.  A top rank in Google does not mean the company uses best practices for SEO.

 

Backlink Profile Analysis JEMSU.com

The Jemsu domain registration does not list the owner’s name, however, the company is listed as Denver SEO LLC.  With a little research, the owner of this domain was identified and is the same as AltitudeSEO.

Jemsu Founder Image

The backlink profile for Jemsu is the worst by far.  As mentioned earlier, the site has 1,084 toxic backlinks. Not good. In fact, awful. Backlinks from foreign sites totaled 12,885 (31%), the highest number of foreign links in our study by far.  Another very clear (and poor) SEO tactic that is used by JEMSU is comment spam. It is an easy (wrong) way of building backlinks.  It’s a short-cut to proper link building.

I’m sure most of you have come across comment spam.  You can recognize it because the comment has nothing to do with the post and may be so generic that it mentions nothing about the post and, therefore, can be used by black-hat automated link building programs.  Jemsu has over 5,000 spam comment backlinks.  The next highest company was the owner’s other company AltitudeSEO, with 450 spam links.  It makes sense because the owner found something that is quick and easy at manipulating the quantity of backlinks with little human intervention.  This is not white-hat SEO nor in the best interest of SEO clients.  I would not want to be a client of either of these SEO companies.  It is clear that they take short-cuts and practice poor search engine optimization.

 

Three of the Best Denver SEO Companies (Truly, with data and analysis to support findings)

While there are several SEO companies and SEO “Experts” in and around Denver, of the top Google ranked websites for “Denver SEO” that were included in our study, we identified for you the best SEO companies in Denver.  These search engine optimization companies consistently use SEO best practices.

#1 Top Denver SEO Company: Webolutions, https://www.webolutions.com/

I know first-hand that Webolutions performs SEO best practices that achieve exceptional results for their clients.  Slow, steady link building, fresh content and white-hat SEO techniques within Google’s Quality Guidelines.  Their SEO experts do not take short-cuts and do not utilize automated link building systems, which typically target blogs that allow comments without review.  If you need help with your Google Rankings, Webolutions’ SEO services will help improve your rankings, traffic and website conversions.

The metrics for Webolutions’ backlink profile reveal no toxic backlinks, less than 0.1% foreign backlinks (approximately 35 in total) and the greatest number of pages linked to (known as deep-linking).  Their MOZ spam score is zero and the average quality (domain rating) of backlinks is 53, well above the study average.

We noticed that their anchor text diversity was a bit lower than average, however, this is because they are a top Denver web design company.  The footer credit for the website design uses the same (appropriate) anchor text using the company’s name (Webolutions, Webolutions Inc and webolutions.com). When we remove these terms, their anchor text diversity is well above average.

The reason we’ve ranked Webolutions as the best SEO company in Denver is because they offer a critical element that other SEO agencies do not.  An SEO agency does not design and build websites, therefore, they cannot build SEO best practices into the website’s design.

Webolutions, on the other hand, is a full-service digital marketing agency that plans, strategizes and implements search engine optimization elements into the web design.  Including SEO in one’s website design saves the client money and provides better rankings improvement.  Webolutions has an average Google Review rating of 4.9.

For the best SEO web design services, we highly recommend Webolutions in Centennial, Colorado.  Phone: 303-300-2640

 

#2 Top Denver SEO Company: FireStarter.com, http://www.firestarterseo.com/

The backlink profile analysis for top ranked Denver SEO firms revealed a sound approach to SEO by Fire Starter SEO, located in Littleton, Colorado. They are also a top Denver SEO agency practicing optimization best practices including, very good anchor text diversity with a deep-linking to different pages on their website score of 68%, well above the average of 37%.  We did notice that their domain authority score is lower tha average, however, this is because they have a small website and a lower quantity of backlinks relative to others agencies in the study.  They have an average Google Review rating of 4.7.

Fire Starter SEO is another very good Denver SEO firm that is highly recommended. Phone: 303-909-6698

 

#3 Top Denver SEO Company: Volume Nine SEO, https://www.v9seo.com/

Our final recommendation for a Denver SEO Company is Volume Nine. Our backlink analysis revealed that this agency uses SEO best practices.  The quality of their backlinks is good with an average rating of 51.

Their anchor text diversity was better than most, however, we did notice a number of foreign backlinks (836), which is the fourth most in our study. As mentioned earlier, though they have “SEO” in their domain name, they have not over-optimized for SEO related terms (only 28%) like others we’ve identified in this study.

Volume Nine is another company we would recommend for website search engine optimization.  They have excellent customer reviews, averaging 5.0 with Google.  One other issue we’ve heard about with this company is the lack of in-depth metrics and reviews of performance.  If you’re looking for a good SEO agency in Denver, we recommend Volume Nine.  Phone: 303-955-5228

 

Summary:

There are many SEO companies in Denver, Colorado.  Our in-depth analysis of backlink profiles for several of the top Google ranked SEO firms reveals some of the best and worst SEO companies, as it relates to SEO best practices.  Just because a company ranks well in Google, does not mean they are utilizing best practices for site optimization. Three companies are recommended for top SEO services in Denver, including: #1 Webolutions, #2 Fire Starter SEO and #3 Volume Nine.

Denver SEO Companies – How to Choose an SEO Company in Denver

The Yellow Pages lists 236 Denver SEO companies in the Denver metro area. Manta shows 152 listings in Denver for SEO and another 110 for search engine optimization services. With so many Denver Metro website optimization companies, how does one choose a reputable SEO partner? Unfortunately, many individuals simply go online and conduct a Google search and choose one of the first companies listed.

Today, many of these Denver area SEO companies use questionable techniques to be at the top of the list. One cannot simply trust that a top-ranked firm uses SEO best practices. Word of mouth is also a common means for finding an SEO specialist. This method is a bit better, however, unless the person recommending search optimization services knows what they’re talking about, you have no idea whether the company being recommended is using proper white-hat SEO techniques.

Tips for Choosing a Search Optimization Company

When selecting a Denver SEO company for your website, there are a few tell-tale signs as well as other subtle signs indicating whether a search optimization firm is trustworthy and effective. As an experienced SEO professional, I know where to look. I’d like to teach you a few tricks when researching to find the best SEO companies in Denver. I can tell you from experience, that Webolutions Digital Marketing Agency is a leader and awarded web optimization company using best practices to improve client rankings and traffic.

Research Tips for Selecting an SEO Agency

  1. Online Reviews – One of the most obvious starting points is to spend some time reading customer reviews of the optimization firms you may be considering. PLEASE NOTE: who might be the best at writing and masking customer reviews than an experienced optimization company that understands how important reviews are to site optimization, ranking well and converting potential customers to clients?

When it comes to online reviews for any organization, take them with a grain of salt. As you should know, not all reviews are real. Many parties with a vested interest write fake reviews for various reasons, including business owners and paid agents who may write fake or exaggerated reviews in favor of the business, while competitors (and their agents) may write false negative reviews.

So, how does one gleen whether a review is true? It requires a bit of investigation into the profile of who wrote the review. Within our industry, for example, I’ve conducted competitive analysis on other SEO agencies throughout the Denver metro area. One agency in particular had several reviews (more than average, which was the first red flag), all for 5 stars (this was the second red flag).

Further research into their Google reviews showed that almost half of the reviews were received in the same two-month period about a year ago. I researched every review and found that most of the people’s profiles had no other activity, other than the one positive review for this agency. There was no completed profile (other than name), no “About” information, no associated YouTube channel and similar missing items that would indicate only one abnormal entry favoring the agency. Avoid any agency that appears to have fake reviews.

  1. WhoIs Research – Go to http://www.whois.com/whois/ and type in the domain of the agencies you may be considering for your website’s optimization services. If the registrant information shows as “Private,” this is a huge red flag. A legitimate agency owner will likely have the domain registered in their name or the company’s name. When you see a private registration, there is clearly something to hide.

What are they hiding? More often than not, they are attempting to hide that they have created several related websites and are inter-linking these websites, creating a network of interlinking domains to boost rankings through shady tactics. My research found several local Denver SEO agencies that were practicing domain interlinking. This is a no-no and goes against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Any optimization tactics that attempt to trick Google or fake a website’s popularity can land a website into trouble, including a Google penalty or complete removal from Google’s search engine. Avoid any SEO agency whose registration information is private.

  1. Backlink Profile – This research technique is a bit more complex, however, it reveals much about the company you may be considering to hire. Though it is a bit more difficult, if one is preparing to invest thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, backlink research should be performed.

Why is researching a firm’s backlinks important? Well, it provides two insights. First, it provides a clear indication of whether the company knows what it’s doing. Ideally, backlinks should be from topically related websites and should not be spammy. There are two very good tools to check backlinks, these are ahrefs.com and MOZ.com (open site explorer).

Ahrefs provides several link metrics to evaluate a website. Ideally, the anchor text (those words that are used to link to the website) should not be overly optimized for one or two terms that state the services offered, such as SEO or search engine optimization. There may be a few of these types of anchor text, however, most backlinks should use a variety of terms related to the brand name, website URL or other generic terms like “website” or “click here.” Google expects to see natural link building. If an agency you are considering has irregular link gains (or losses) as well as irregular anchor text, their link building efforts may be shady. Avoid this type of agency.

Moz provides a great metric called Spam Score, which essentially rates the quality of backlinks. If you see any sort of spam score, particularly above 3, the agency’s back link techniques should be questioned. Avoid any agency who has a Spam Score higher than 6.

One additional metric that may indicate a website is using questionable backlink tactics is to perform a simple calculation and compare to approximately five competitors (in order to establish a baseline or average). Simply divide the total number of backlinks (I like to use ahrefs backlink count as it is a bit more thorough) by the total number of website pages indexed by Google. Find the total number of indexed pages by going to Google and entering “site:domain.com” (replace domain.com with the domain name you are researching).

Here is an example of one competitive analysis. Can you tell which competitor’s links per page is way out of whack? Most every site has backlinks per page around 1 or under, however, one agency has an average of 241 back links per page. Hmm…. I’d avoid this agency.

SEO Competitor Analysis

  1. Get professional help. If your desire is to hire a local SEO company in Denver, then why not invest a little money to have a SEO agency outside of your local area conduct a competitive analysis on agencies you may be considering. A one-time fee prior to investing tens of thousands of dollars is money well spent. A search engine optimization outside of your local area has no vested interest and, if they know what they’re doing, should be able to help provide insight into who they believe are trustworthy.

Conclusion

There are many, many search optimization companies in Denver, Colorado and across the United States. Because SEO is a long-term investment, one needs to conduct research in order to avoid wasting money. This article has provided a few key tips for selecting an SEO agency, including online reviews, WhoIs research, back-link profile analysis as well as seeking professional help. Following these tips should help improve return on investment (ROI) and achieve higher rankings.