Top 6 Reasons Not to Trust a Top 10 Ranking List

6 Reasons not to trust top 10 list

I have been online longer than Google, Yahoo and Bing so to say I have seen it all and then some is accurate.  In college I would sit in front of the lab terminal and access my email account using a command line program called Pine and search for information on another one called Gopher.  At the time, the “internet” was basically for scholars and user friendly wasn’t even part of the dialect.  Stuff like page ranking and SEO didn’t even exist.

But for a small-town New Hampshire kid having the world at his fingertips was mind-blowing.  I was instantly hooked and have spent the last two decades looking for the next next.  Keeping up with the newest trends (good and bad) is just part of who I am and lately I have seen some that really make me wonder where the internet is going….

If you search anything these days the top results will always have some form of Top 10 list.  It might be 5 or 15, maybe even say the “Best” or “Greatest” but the idea is always the same. 

These ranking pages have exploded over the last few years due to search engines affinity to deem such a page useful to the user mostly because when they first started showing up they appeared to be genuine and provided the consumer value.  But like anything good on the internet it has become overridden with folks exploiting the system trying to make a buck.

It is sad to say that pretty much any ranking page you find out there these days are junk. These sites have two goals;  First, get a high ranking in search engine results on a certain keywords and phrases; Second, get you to visit their page and click a link that will generate revenue. 

Informing you about the product or service is nowhere in their agenda.  As a matter of fact many of these pages just a copy and paste right from the site they are promoting.  There is no commentary or analysis or a breakdown of the good and bad.  There is just the basic marketing polish found on the original site.

Here is what to watch out for when looking at ranking si

1.) Affiliate Marketing

So you find a top 10 site that has a clear list of products and services and the top one lists all the great reasons why it is number one.  Then right next to it in a big pretty button with “get more info” or “Click for Price” in bold letters.  These buttons are called CALL-TO-ACTIONS  or CTAs.

More often than not it is an Affiliate Marketer (AM).  Which is a “professional” marketing someone else’s goods and services for a commission.  An AM’s only loyalty is around the commission they get if you click the link they provide and it converts into a sale.

SO what do you think this does to the quality of their ranking list?  Well just ask yourself this; If an AM gets $5 per sale for one product and $8 for another which one do you think they will rank higher?

The catch with these commissions is the sale doesn’t have to be that day and many times it doesn’t even have to be that product.  As an example, you click an Amazon.com affiliate link and then leave that page only to find yourself on Amazon the next day to by something completely unrelated the AM gets a commission on that sale.

So all the motivation behind their rankings is most likely monetary and you can forget about  finding rich thoughtful feedback or some deep product research that requires hard work and insight. 

So, you basically find a horrible site that provides you no value.  It persuades to leave their site through an affiliate link and you reward them with a sale the following day having no idea it kicked them back a commission.  No wonder AM is a billion-dollar industry and more importantly why the internet is flooded with these Top [put your number here] pages.

The good news here is reputable companies require affiliates to identify themselves as such.  So check out the page, most likely on the very bottom in small font you will find a disclaimer. If you do understand you are not reading unbiased content and be cautious its only purpose is to persuade you into clicking an AM link.

2.) Clickbait

Sites make money by displaying advertising on their sites. They can be AM links or just straight up Click Ads.

When you come to a page full of Ads its hard not to argue the author’s only motivation all around the revenue they get paid per click or what is called PPC.

Their pages are not designed for the user to easily and quickly read the article maximizing the value to the reader but to maximize the ad space, the click thru’s and value to their bank account.

The classic overdone PPC sites are those that are almost impossible to read because so much stuff is loading and everything on the page keeps moving and stuff flies at you from all directions.  This of course is by design, they want you to accidently click an Ad as you navigate the page.  This not only tricks the user but it is also screwing over the advertiser because they are paying for bad clicks and traffic from users that never wanted to be there.

These sites are nothing less than annoying.  You can’t trust anything they write seeing half the time they are trying to bore you to death so you leave their page through one of their ads.  The entire page is just one piece of click bait and should not be encouraged.  So unless you stop clicking they are not going away anytime soon.

3.) Slide Shows and Galleries

This is arguably the most arduous page of the web.  Its right there with Fake News so it is not uncommon to see both together.  These sites are the worst of the worst and often take the Top [your number here] list to the extreme.

The top 50 places to [whatever] will be no less than 50 pages loaded full of advertising to get through.  They will even have “Next” buttons as Affiliate or Click-Throughs. Which drive me nuts.  You think you are going to the next slide but then you find yourself in the middle of pop-up-palooza!  They will throw flyout ads at you, imbed ads in between slides and the info on what that slide is even on the list is non-existent.  They are nothing but a time-thief and provide little to no value for the reader. 

If you find yourself on one of these sites and you don’t know the source just leave because all you are doing is setting a cookie that tells advertisers you’re a sucker for click bait.  Just stay away from slideshows.

4.) Pseudo Sites

Some ranking sites are written by the company selling one of the items on the list. But they do it on a site that appears to be someone other than themselves.  It is common practice for a product manager to deploy many sites with content about their product and work like hell to get them all ranked high and basically push the competition to the second page of search results. 

As the user you think you have found a bunch of different sources and after reading them you are impressed with the overall consensus across all these top sites and feel well informed to make a buying decision.  However, you have been duped! The product assessments on these pages are aligned because they were all created by the same marketing department!

Its sad, you think you are reading separate perspectives from unconnected sources however you just spent the majority of your morning in one big sales funnel.  If you don’t know who owns the site you really should question the validity of the information they present.  Always always know you source.

5.) Lead Generation Sites

Have you ever looked online for car insurance and found a “Top X List” that was covered in “get free quote” buttons, you read their rankings and are impressed about the offer promising to save you money so you decide to click one? 

Well I hope you read the fine print because there is a good chance your information was sent to EVERYONE on the list resulting in robo calls and junk mail.  On top of that your information gets sold over and over as someone “interested in car insurance” resulting in more calls and spam.  A site that seemed useful has now made the sound of your phone cringe-worthy and your inbox full of distractions and refuse.

6.) Fake Buying Guides

These are just another form of “Top 10” sites that are just as bad for all the same reasons.  They just use another important part of the search engines weighting calculation…  Age.  By putting the Year in the title it tells Google, Yahoo and Bing this list is relevant to NOW (or last year) so you should show it first.  Sites use this to exploit the system and give their pages an instant boost.  Most of the time these pages are recycled from the previous year.  I strongly suggest you stick to buying guides by reputable places like Consumer Reports and ConsumerSearch.com

To sum things up, AM and other types of passive income are all the rage so the internet is getting saturated with these pages. I get those that want to create an online stream of cash with the flexibility to work from anywhere whenever they want.  Unfortunately, there are many just looking for a quick buck and will stop at nothing to keep the clicks coming. 

So be an informed surfer.  Understand the motivation behind the info you are reading and be skeptical of all those pretty buttons and links that trigger that impulse to click. Only user behavior will change how these sites go about things. So if you’re sick of seeing these pages littering the front pages of your search pages don’t feed the frenzy by rewarding them with a visit.

Stop a Catastrophe Don’t let your email get hacked!

Keep this guy from hacking your email

Let’s start with why it is really really really bad!

Say someone with a criminal mind had access to your inbox right now.  What if they did searches for “direct deposit”, “order number”,  “receipt” , “password, “account”, “autopay”, “invoice” or “payment”?

How easy would it be to know where you work, bank, shop, and play by looking in your inbox, sent and trash folders?  What could they figure out about your kids, their school, your parents, friends, coworkers etc.  What addresses would they have? Phone numbers? Schedules? Website links?

They might also have access to things like tax returns, account statements, medical records, resumes that have gone through your email account.  All of which have information that can be combined with other sources to piece together your life.

Once the hacker collects all this info they will try to access your web accounts with the password they just hacked. But if that doesn’t work they can leverage the “forgot my password” until they find one that sends the password instead of resetting it.  Then that password will get used on everything to see what other sites use it.  Hackers are tenacious and will chip away day after day undetected until they have everything they want.

When all else fails they can reset your passwords and login as you and hijack your entire online existence.  They can shut down balance alerts, start moving money around, send emails in your name asking your contacts to click on links that are back doors into their lives. They will create new accounts with your email and delete all the confirmations from your inbox so you have no idea these accounts exists and use them for as long as they need.  With your email and passwords, they can do pretty much do what they want.

Bottom-line, a criminal having access to your inbox is not good and opens you up for all kinds of headaches and embarrassment that can take years to recover.

So who is really at risk?

Anyone on gmail for business or office 365 are in a much better place than a small company that has their own email server because these services know they are a huge target and keep on the cutting edge to stay in front of the evil and do a great job.  A hacker getting access to your password with a brute force attack on your cloud account is probably low.

But, if you have your own email server and are not a Fortune 500 company with a multimillion dollar IT budget you are crazy to think you’re safe and you are not dealing with “if you get hacked” it’s “when you get hacked” which is why I don’t even deal with self-hosted email servers anymore (unless you are paying me to migrate them to the cloud).

Do I really need to worry about my email getting hacked? No one will guess my password.

So here is the deal, hackers don’t try and “guess” your password. (Ro)Bot Software does all the guessing using lists of every dictionary in the world with all the misspellings and possible combinations.  When they run this software against your system it is called a “Brute Force Attack” and can process millions of guesses per second which is why many website have password rules like must be 8-12 characters and contain numbers making it harder for these programs to cipher your password.

There are two main things that affect the strength of your password.  First one is LENGTH, second is COMPLEXITY.

So if you have a short simple password that can be found in a dictionary or a baby’s name book these bots can “guess” them almost INSTANTLY!

Why longer passwords are better.

A password with 8 characters has 218,340,105,584,896 or 628 combinations when using a mixture of numbers (10) and letters (52).  A password with 9 characters (629) has 13,537,086,546,263,552 combinations which is almost double with  13,318,746,440,678,656 more combinations just by just adding one character to your password. So it might seem like only one small addition but it makes an exponential difference.

However, don’t let these enormous numbers fool you.  If your password lacks complexity it still can easily get hacked!

Don’t use PASSWORDS use a PASSPHRASE!

When I first started using passwords I used my childhood dog’s name, “georgia“.  As the years past and password requirements grew it became “Georgia1” then “Georgia0ne” then up to the day I published this article it was the PHRASE “GeorgiaOnemy1stPooch“.

GeorgiaOnemy1stPooch is long, complex with lower case, upper case and a number.  I could have added a special character but a mixed case 20-character passphrase is pretty solid according to www.howsecureismypassword.net

Georgia will get hacked instantly
Georgia1 will take 2 days to crack
Georgia0ne will take 8 months to crack
GeorgiaOnemy1stPooch 558 QUADRILLION YEARS

A password that takes 558 quadrillion years to hack is virtually un-hackable (with today’s technology).

In Summary

Don’t use the same passwords for everything.  Make your passwords passphrases that are long and complex.  Change them often and protect your email passwords.  Your life might depend on it.

Page title optimization is the most overlooked aspect of SEO

SEO Expert - Google Analytics - Dashboard

Pay Attention to Page Title Length

Google will display 50-60 characters of a page title in the search results before cutting it off, so you should aim for page titles that are around 55 characters or less in length, including spaces.

The length of your page title can affect how it is presented in the SERP. If it’s too long, it’ll be truncated. If it’s too short, Google might decide not to show your page in the search results at all, or simply overwrite your title.

To be safe, make sure the most important or descriptive words in the keyword are towards the beginning so they’re less likely to get cut off. A good page title should be structured like this: Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name.

Note that longer titles may work better for social sharing in some cases, and some titles are just naturally long. While it’s good to be mindful of how your titles appear in search results, there are no penalties for using a long title. Use your judgment, and think like a search engine user.

Write unique titles for every page

Every page on your website is unique and it should be treated as such. It’s important to have specific, descriptive titles for each page on your site. The Page title should reflect the individuality of each page. Unique titles help search engines understand that your content is unique and valuable, and also drive higher click-through rates.

Customize the page title on each page of your website so that they accurately describe what’s on that specific page. With 57% of B2B marketers stating that SEO generates more leads than any other marketing initiative, won’t it be smart to ensure your business pages are seen and understood?

On the scale of hundreds or thousands of pages, it may seem impossible to craft a unique title for every page, but modern CMS and code-based templates should allow you to at least create data-driven, unique titles for almost every important page of your site.

Use your target keyword

Every page on your website should answer a question or provide valuable information someone is searching for. Your website will be more useful to searchers if it ranks in search for the right term – just when they’re looking for the information you provide. This is extremely important. A well-crafted title should include your target keyword. So for each page, you should have a target keyword (or a few) in mind.

Since Google’s algorithm uses the page title as one of the main ways to determine what a page is about, A good title helps both search engines and users understand what the page is about, and having your keywords in the title is a step towards that direction. That makes it clear to Google that this page is relevant for anyone searching for that specific term.

It’s sometimes helpful to have a few descriptive terms in the title, but it is overkill to have the same words or phrases appear multiple times. While there is no penalty built into Google’s algorithm for long titles, you might face challenges if you start stuffing your title full of keywords in a way that creates a bad user experience, such as: Buy shoes, Best shoes, Cheap shoes, shoes for Sale.

This kind of keyword stuffing can make your results look like spam to Google and to users.

Create titles for users and not search engines

This is also very crucial. Your titles should be interesting enough to catch and hold the attention of searchers. While page titles are very important to SEO, remember that your first goal is to attract clicks from well-targeted visitors who are likely to find your content valuable.

It’s important to think about the entire user experience when you’re creating your titles, in addition to optimization and keyword usage. The page title is a new visitor’s first interaction with your brand when they find it in a search result.  They should convey the most positive, important and accurate message possible.

Avoid vague descriptors like “Home” for your home page, or “Profile” for a specific person’s profile. Also avoid unnecessarily long or verbose titles, which are likely to get truncated when they show up in the search result listings.

Outsource your SEO auditing

Consistent SEO plays a vital role in helping you achieve your goals. But you can’t just spend a week dedicated to SEO and be done with it for the next three months and expect success. You need to actively track your progress adjust as required. An SEO company will offer you guidance in a constantly evolving industry with optimal strategies changing. Their sole purpose is to help you improve your visibility online.

An SEO company will help place keywords in your page titles to help Google rank your page, add well written, keyword rich copy to underperforming landing pages. These SEO professionals also provide a range of services, including auditing your site, developing a tailored SEO strategy, and implementing the tactics that will help your business rank for keywords and gain organic traffic through search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Outsourcing to an SEO company will give your website the best possible chance of placing highly in search engine rankings and driving a higher volume of relevant traffic to your website. Within months of having your website SEO outsourced to the right people, you should find that your website’s traffic skyrockets.

Whether your aim is to optimize your page title or drive traffic to your website in order to increase your profits or your website’s popularity, ensuring your page titles are optimized put your site on the right lane!

This article was published here.

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