April 29th, 2012 @ // No Comments
SMX Toronto was full of a lot of great information. I found that most sessions had at least one presentation that rivaled SMX Advanced conferences I’ve attended in the past, both in speaker quality and in content. In all sessions, every speaker hit it out of the park.
My favorite session was the day after the Penguin update hit, and amazingly there wasn’t a single mention of the webspam update, yet all the content was directly relevant. The session was the “Google Kitchen Sink Panel”, featuring speakers Duran Inci, Ken Dobell, Aaron Bradley, and Ryan Jones.
As a follow up to Greg’s post yesterday about the webspam update, I wanted to throw a quick bullet-point list of my takaways that can be implemented immediately by anyone.
Here is a summary, in short form, of the best takeaways that can help future-proof your site against updates like this Penguin update, or if you’ve already been “pecked” by the Penguin, this is your battle plan, with hand-picked points I took away with me from Toronto:
[Note: Up-to-date SEO professionals won't find anything new here, but I'm a big believer in checklists to hold ourselves to a broad set of best practices, which is why I hope this is universally useful to anyone. My favorite points are at the top and bolded.]
Which of these methods have you already used in practice, and for how long? Is anything here new to you? Did you attend SMX Toronto and want to add anything to the list?
Let’s talk in the comments!
April 27th, 2012 @ // No Comments
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Could Facebook’s cash machine be slowing down? That’s one possible conclusion observers can draw from the paperwork the company recently filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. While it’s not likely to slow down investors, it’s not the best news to get so close to the social media giant’s IPO.
According to a quick item from David Angotti for Search Engine Land, Facebook reported that its net income fell 12 percent in the first quarter of 2012. Looking at the previous quarter’s total revenues, the latest quarter saw total revenues fall six percent, to $1.06 billion. That may not be cause for serious concern, however – especially when you consider that the previous quarter included the holiday shopping season, and Facebook makes its money from ads. Indeed, the company itself noted that the downturn was due to “seasonal trends.” Compare Facebook’s revenues to the year-ago quarter, and you see growth of 45 percent.
While those numbers should hearten investors, digging a little deeper reveals some cause for concern. As Angotti noted, “acquisition and operating expenses are rapidly rising.” Some of that can be attributed to the explosive growth in Facebook’s membership. The L.A. Times reported that Facebook is up to 901 million monthly active users as of the end of March. That represents more than 50 million new users in just three months.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but that many new users means Facebook needs to keep building on its infrastructure to make it scale properly: new machines, new software, and more skilled employees, in both technical and non-technical areas, to keep everything running smoothly. In fact, operating expenses have risen enough to make accountants put out whatever may be left of their hair after this tax season. Looking at the year-over-year figures, operating costs went from $343 million for the first quarter of 2011 to $677 million last quarter. That’s nearly double the expenses in just one short year!
But these aren’t the only new expenses facing the social media site. Last year, Facebook’s total acquisition costs came in at $68 million. Just this quarter, the company agreed to purchase Instagram, a relatively new but wildly popular photo sharing app, for $1 billion ($300 million in cash plus 23 million shares of stock). Facebook also spent $550 million acquiring rights to a patent portfolio from Microsoft. Observers expect the company to use these patents to help defend itself from a Yahoo lawsuit.
The messy legal situation could complicate matters. As the Wall Street Journal explains, Yahoo accused Facebook last month of violating 10 Yahoo patents covering online advertising and communications. The patents Facebook bought from Microsoft, according to WSJ’s unnamed source, “relate to fundamental Internet technologies, including email, instant messaging, Web browsing, Web search, online advertising, mobile technology and e-commerce.” In addition to the patents purchased from Microsoft (which the software giant originally got from AOL), Facebook has also recently bought 750 patents from IBM, and gone on the attack by countersuing Yahoo.
April 27th, 2012 @ // No Comments
I got a couple emails last week I wanted to share in anonymized format. Here’s the first one:
It’s me again redacted, just wondering I have been learning allot more about how to link build without software like senuke x and other automatic software and becoming a better manual link builder with google alerts etc.
And here’s the second:
I look after around 6 clients at the moment, but my daily jobs just seem to be very repetitive e.g. finding related blogs, commenting on them, submiting sites to decent directories and guest posting, an now and again creating infographics and sharing them with blog owners and across sites such as reddit/quora etc…mostly I’m just blog commenting though.
I get A TON of emails like this. When folks are relatively new to the field of online marketing, or are moving from classic marketing into SEO, they often reach out seeking advice and help. Unfortunately, the volume’s become a bit overwhelming of late, and I’m only able to respond to 50%, sometimes less (side note: I tried an experiment w/ email scalability a couple months back that failed). Thus, I wanted to write a post to express some empathy.
Yes. Marketing is really, really damned hard.
I understand the temptations to phone it in, to spam instead of creating authentic value, to outsource responsibility, to proclaim for all to hear that you HATE marketing, to give up. You’re not alone. In fact, I’ve been just inches from all of those perspectives time and again over the last decade.
But that’s also what makes great marketing so powerful. When:
That, in my opinion, is when remarkable things are in your grasp.
The marketing channels we invest in – SEO, social media, content marketing, community building, virality – fit these parameters well. It’s easy to do the basics, tough to get the intermediate items right and mind-blowingly challenging to get that last few percent that takes us from mediocrity to extraordinary.
So many times, marketing professionals are called in to execute on Step 3 after being handed half-assed 1s and 2s. My friend Philip Vaughn told me at a lunch some months ago that “startups aren’t really an engineering, product or organizational problem. They’re mostly a marketing problem.” But if we’re handed crap to market, we can’t help but do crap marketing.
At the risk of pissing a lot of people off – A large portion of SEO is just compensating for not being awesome.
— Rob Woods (@robdwoods) April 23, 2012
So many of the questions I see around inbound marketing boil down to the same fundamental challenge:
The way I see it, we only have two options:
A) Give in to giving up.
B) Take/earn responsibility for Step 1 and 2
Embracing option B and taking responsibility for your product – marketing lifecycle is something very few people are qualified for, or capable of doing, many people believe to be impossible and only a handful ever execute exceptionally well. And it means remarkable results are in your grasp.
April 27th, 2012 @ // No Comments
Outsourcing your link building efforts can work, but as a Textbroker author I can tell you right now, most people aren’t doing it right. The majority of clients who submit articles are still living in a world before the Panda update, and a striking number of them still use tactics that haven’t even worked since Google’s inception.
I’m going to tell you now, what you’re about to hear isn’t pretty. We’re going to take a visit to the underbelly of the outsourced link building world. I’m going to get a little rough here, but odds are you’ll learn something.
About 1.2 cents per word? If you’re really looking for quality, you’re paying 2.2 cents per word. I’m a four star author, so the articles I write cost 2.2 cents a word. But I only see 1.4 cents for each word I write. Let’s do the math, shall we?
To make $10, I need to write 714 words. I am a native English speaker who lives in the first world. I’m not willing to work for less than minimum wage. What does that mean? It means I’m not going to spend much more than an hour on a 714 word article.
I’ve chosen this source of income because I’m a college student with a bizarre schedule and the hours are convenient. $10 is not a lot of money to me.
If you ask me for an article about [your keyword here], and your description reads as follows:
“Please write an article about [your keyword here]”
then you should know something. I won’t write you a decent article. Odds are, I’ll reword something that I come across on EzineArticles. You know, that site that got slammed by the Panda update, and knocked down all of the sites that got their links there?
There is only one subject that I write decent articles about: SEO. That’s because I actually know what I’m talking about, and I can recite most of the stuff from memory. I’m even up to date on the subject, because I regularly educate myself about it. Of course, those still pale in comparison to the articles on my own site, which take hours or days of research and a willingness to actually communicate with science experts.
The thing is, I could write good articles about other subjects. It’s just that Textbroker’s clients would need to learn how to streamline their outsourcing processes. And nobody seems to be doing that.
Allow me to offer you some advice.
Some of you might be shocked by this, but I am routinely being asked to stuff my articles with keywords. It takes up more work than it ever should for me to sift through the article requests and find one that isn’t asking me to jam the same keyword 12 times into a 400 word article.
Then there’s the client who only asks for the keywords to be repeated 2 or 3 times, but wants five or ten tangential keywords to be included in the text. “But that’s only an 8 percent keyword density!” No, it’s not, because each one of your keywords is three to five words long, and pretty soon a quarter of your article consists of meaningless keyword phrases. I can’t tell you how often I’ve written an article where I had to include at least one keyword in every sentence.
In case you think I’m joking…
(That’s a 20 percent keyword density. MINIMUM. I repeat. That’s at least one in every five words.)
Forget Panda. You think that’s going to pass a manual review?
It gets worse. There’s the client who wants me to write about “dog leashes seattle.” Please tell me how to use that phrase in a sentence. Textbroker now allows you to give writers the option of using connecting words, so I could write something legible like “Dog leashes in Seattle.” Inexplicably, very few clients use this option.
Presumably, the clients actually believe that including an exact keyword in their text is preferable to legible writing. Inevitably, I am occasionally forced to write things like “When it comes to dog leashes Seattle is the place to buy them” even though it makes no sense to write this, ever, and it completely ignores proper comma use.
More often than not, I have no choice but to say something like “Looking to buy dog leashes Seattle?”
Please. Clients. Each article should be about one keyword. If it’s in the title and it’s in the article, and it’s what the article’s about, congratulations, you’ve met Google’s keyword density requirements.
It might sound like I’m whining, but you need to think logistically here. As I said before, if it takes me much more than an hour to make $10, you’re paying me less than minimum wage. That means one of two things. Either you’re not going to get any research, or you’re going to get research from somebody who does not speak native English.
There may be exceptions, but they’ll burn out fast.
At 1.4 cents per word, you’re not paying me to do research. You’re paying me to type. I’ve had enough experience that I can offer you a bonus: actual writing infused with emotion and good article structure. But research? It’s not gonna happen.
“But I ask that only people who are experienced with the subject should write about it.” Good for you. That’s why my SEO articles are actually good. But if you really think anybody on Textbroker is actually much of an expert on anything else, you’re deluding yourself. The experts are writing elsewhere, or doing something else that makes a lot more money.
Am I saying that you should accept crap articles? Of course not. I’m saying that if you want your articles to be well researched, you’re going to need to handle the research.
What would I do if I had the budget to outsource link building articles?
In case you’re curious, this is a virtually unlimited source of link building articles about your subject. When choosing from a list of 100 bullet points, there are literally more than ten trillion ways to pick ten of them, no matter what order you present them in. No need to write the same article about the same ten things over and over again.
Of course, I’d probably play it safe, and “only” buy 100 articles on the subject, then move on to learn another 100 bullet points, write another stellar article, and buy another 100 link building articles.
Allow me to take a leap in the dark and assume that most of your link building articles are intended to become guest posts on blogs. Spend some time reading a blog. Blogs address their readers directly. Blogs aim to be entertaining, not “neutral.” Mentioning other company names is a widespread practice on reputable blogs.
Oh. You’re submitting the posts to EzineArticles and low quality directories that have no idea what an engaged audience is. You’re doing this in the hopes that Google will reverse it’s strategy and that social media is just a phase. You’re doing this because you think that non-promotional means never having any fun.
Let me break it to you. It doesn’t matter if you’re just out to game Google with some manufactured links. Your article’s not going to make it onto a high quality site if it isn’t written in a way that gets an audience excited. There’s never been any question that a link from a high quality site is better than a link from a low quality article directory, and it’s clear that Google will only get better at telling the difference.
If you were trying to get your articles published in an academic journal, then it would be a different story. And you’d be going to the wrong place for your articles.
Don’t ask your authors to be neutral. Give them something interesting to talk about, and let them respond to the topic like a human being. Maybe then it will be easier to convince the search engines that it was, in fact, written by a human being.
Don’t keyword stuff, do the research, and ask for articles that look like they were written by human beings. It’s really all pretty basic stuff, and I know anybody with a budget is capable of doing it. But you wouldn’t know it from taking a look at the article requests I sift through every day. Good luck, and godspeed.
Scratch that. Luck has nothing to do with it.
April 27th, 2012 @ // No Comments
Remember a time when “community” meant the neighborhood or town you lived in? Or when a business only had to be concerned with making customers happy when they were inside their store? It’s sometimes hard to remember what life was like before online communities became such commonplace. But the fact of the matter is that online communities are where we spend most of our time these days (especially if you’re in search marketing… #amiright?).
We talk a lot about Inbound Marketing and how it encompasses areas such as SEO, Social Media, content, blogging, email, Public Relations and QA/forums (among others). Now, let me ask you this: What’s the one thing that all of those have in common? (You probably know where I’m going here) That’s right, Community.
Ok, I admit it, I’m surely a bit biased here. However, I really want you to think about this. At the base of everything we do as marketers, our community (whoever that may be for your particular organization) is right there, standing tall.
What does “community” mean to you? Or perhaps a better question should actually be: What should “community” mean to you? I want you to think about the people who visit your site, participate in your forums, and buy your products or comment on your Facebook wall. They are the people who you want to find you in the SERPs, who you send emails to giving them discounts and they’re the ones you hope will retweet and share your content. You write for them, you create products for them and you (may) want money from them. Yep, they’re pretty damn important.
Your community is important in so many ways. They are your:
Determining the actual value of your community isn’t so cut and dry. Sure, we all want to put a dollar value to everything, but you can start with these steps:
Who are your community members, what do they care about, why does it matter, where do they hang out, and how are you going to interact with them? Are they the people who participate in the forum on your site? Are they the ones who read your blog? Are they the people who buy your products? Are they all of the above?
You can get this information in a number of ways:
Do they care about sharing your content? Will they spend endless hours in your forums? Perhaps they just want a daily email update from you (never to hear from you otherwise). But how do you figure out what they care about?
Ask. It never hurts to ask. Add a poll to your site, send them an email, or ask them on your social channels. We do this all the time here at Moz and getting feedback from the community helps us grow!
Think about where you’re putting your resources. Do you spend your time creating blog posts? How much time do you want to devote to social media? Is someone managing social media full time? What about SEO and content? Do you pay outside contractors to help in the forums or write content for you?
You want to know this, so you can then determine if you’re spending resources in the right areas (see next step .
Boom. You’ve figured out who the community is, what they care about and how you’re currently spending your time. Now you can determine if you’re utilizing your resources well.
You want to know if you are wasting time creating blog posts (that no one is reading), because they care more about writing their own content. Do you scour the internet looking for content to share on Twitter, only to realize your community doesn’t really get into Twitter. Should you focus your energy on beefing up your emails because your members like to get info that way?
This isn’t a one-time process. You need to constantly be thinking about how you can leverage your community in the right ways. Don’t stop simply because you found something that works for now. The biggest takeaway here is also that you need to determine what works for YOU. You can read all about how others manage communities, but it’s up to you to set your own course.
Here at SEOmoz, our community is always on top of mind as we develop software, create resources and share content. We believe strongly in keeping our community alive, strong and continually growing. We want to challenge you, please you, help you and whenever possible, make you laugh. So what is the value of the SEOmoz community? This is the best part, it’s invaluable. Because without our amazing community, we’re just another software company. But as you well know, we’re more than that, and that’s because of you. (Can we say “job security”)?
Before I let you go work on determining the value of your community, I wanted to give you some great resources on building, managing and keeping a strong community:
Ok. Now it’s up to you! I’d love to hear how you value the community and the steps you’ve taken to figure that out. Do you think I’ve missed anything or should add any steps? Why is community important to you?
By the way, I’ll actually be talking about Community Management as a part of Inbound Marketing at Mozcon this year. I hope to see you there!
April 27th, 2012 @ // No Comments
Howdy, SEOmoz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re talking about a very concerning and controversial topic – negative SEO. Now, negative SEO has a number of meanings. I want to walk through them and get to some points. If you’ve been paying attention to the Twitter-sphere or the SEO blogosphere over the past week, two weeks, there’s been a lot of discussion around negative SEO, particularly backlink pointing to bring down sites. I will get to that, but first I want to start with some of the classic ways that negative SEO could potentially hurt you.
The idea behind negative SEO is that rather than doing good, positive things that will promote signals in the search engines that bump up your rankings, there are ways to do bad, terrible, negative things. Now, obviously you could do these on your own sites, but hopefully you’re smart enough not to do that. There may be things that other site owners, webmasters, marketers, or black hat SEO’s, mostly we’re talking about black hat SEO’s, spammers, and even people doing very illegal things to bring down your website in the rankings or to even take your website offline.
There are classic types of things, like malware, hacks, and injections. So this is the first one I’m going to talk about. Basically, what we’re saying here is that you’ve got your site, it has some pages on here, and hackers may find security vulnerabilities in your site, in your FTP logins. It may be a WordPress install. Earlier this year I had a hacker essentially come in and inject spam and malware onto my personal blog at RandFishkin.com/blog. The idea is that they all inject spam, links to spam sometimes, sometimes very subtly. They will make changes to your site. One of the classic examples of this is someone going and editing your robots.txt file to block Google bot or to restrict all IPs from a certain range, or those kinds of things. Obviously, that’s going to take your site out of the search engines. Or inject viruses or malware that will install itself on computers that visit you.
Unfortunately, I was actually visiting MozCation.com, which Gianluca Fiorell, one of our Pro members from Spain – he’s Italian but from Spain – had set up last year to promote MozCation in Barcelona, in Spain. Unfortunately, it looked like some spammers had injected some malware on that site, and it had been on there a little while. I think he’s taken care of it now, but these are the types of problems. What you’ll see is a download will go into your cache, and sometimes Microsoft Security Essentials will alert you that that’s happened, hopefully if you’ve got it installed. So this is something to watch out for. You want to close those security holes.
The other kinds of things to watch out for is spam reporting. Sometimes a lot of people, unfortunately, in the SEO-sphere still do manipulative kinds of link building. Obviously, most of the people who watch Whiteboard Friday are not in that group, but some of you probably are. Maybe you buy a few directory listings. You go on Fiverr and you buy some cheap links. You find some spam through some forums that potentially works. You’re doing sorts of things that are on the grey hat/black hat borderline, in terms of link acquisition, and sometimes you will see that your competitors might spam report you. So this guy’s going to go over to Google and maybe he’ll leave a threat at the webmaster forums, or he’ll send it through a spam report in his Google Webmaster Tools. A lot of this spam reporting, I think they said they get tens of thousands of spam reports each month, I believe it was. Actually, fewer than I’d expect, but a lot of people do report spam to Google. These might be your competitors. These might be other webmasters. They could just be random people on the Internet who are like, “Why isn’t this site ranking here?. This looks terrible. I don’t like this.”
When this happens, Google might take a closer look at your backlinks, and obviously this might bring you down. There are arguments about the ethics inside the search engine industry. Personally, I think that removing low quality crap from the Internet is all of our jobs, and I like to be part of that. I think that it’s a good thing to make the Internet a better place, and if you’re not making the Internet a better place, I hope that you’re not doing web marketing because it makes the rest of our industry look bad.
However, certainly reasonable minds can disagree. Aaron Wall, from SEO Book, who I highly respect, who I grew up with in this industry and think the world of, takes a complete opposite view. He thinks that because I support disclosing spam and manipulation to Google and to search engines that this makes me a bad person. That’s too bad. That’s frustrating, but I think reasonable people can disagree. Certainly whatever angle you are on, on this, you should at least be aware that this stuff happens and know that it’s a potential risk, particularly if you’re doing highly manipulative things.
The last one I want to talk about is actually the biggest one and probably the most important and the most salient and relevant to what we’ve been talking about today. That is pointing nasty links to your website. Now this has been something that a lot of webmasters have been discussing actively over the last couple of weeks in this sphere, essentially kicked off by a forum thread on Traffic Power Forum. I haven’t previously spent a lot of time there, but it’s a very active forum populated by a wide mix of white hat folks, grey hat folks, some pretty dark black hat folks, which I’ll show you in a minute.
Two members there, Jammie and Pixelgrinder, hit two different websites. One is called SEOFastStart.com, that’s owned by Dan Thies. Dan, of course, early keyword research guru in the SEO space, big industry mover and shaker. Spoke at a lot of the early search engine strategies conferences. I’ve met him a number of times, really good guy, solid guy. He complimented Matt Cutts, the Google Webspam Chief, on the search quality team. He complimented him over Twitter on knocking out some spam. Some people on the forum felt that it was, I don’t know, in poor taste. Right? Essentially they felt that because he was being complimentary to Google for kicking out webspam, that he should then be the target of this negative SEO. The other site was NegativeSEO.me, which was essentially a website offering services to get someone banned from the search indices, and this a little concerning in and of itself.
Now the thing that’s interesting about these sites, and Dan admitted this about SEOFastStart. Not a very big site. Right? Not a lot of great brand or link signals. Potentially some small amounts of not wholly white hat types of activities already happening around these sites. So we’re not talking about (a) big brand sites, or (b) sites that have no idea about the SEO world and aren’t doing anything manipulative and are clean as the driven snow. These are a little off that track. These were both hit by these guys, at least presumably, according to the forum thread, and lost a lot of their rankings.
When I say hit, what I mean is this type of thing happens. So here’s your site.com up here. Right? Essentially, what’s going on is you’ve got some nice white hat, editorially given, earned links, high quality stuff, and that’s great. Then there’s some kind of this dark cloud of black hattery, spammy, manipulative posts. They talked about a number of things, XRumer blasts, buying links on Fiverr, buying links from some link networks, pointing some links that they had seen get hit on other sites at this site, and essentially trigger this loss of rankings. Now, they didn’t get banned from the index, but they fell from, I think Dan Thies’ site in particular fell from ranking #1, for his personal name, to number30, 35, somewhere around there, and hits like that similar across both these sites.
The second example was another forum thread started by a user with the user name, Negative SEO, and that was for the domain JustGoodCars.com. Now again, Just Good Cars unfortunately looks like they were doing a little bit of things that might be construed as manipulative, even prior to this attack on them by the Negative SEO guy. Some links that were of questionable sources or how they were acquired, and then a big network of websites that were all pointing back and forth to each other from many different pages on these many different sites. This guy took it upon himself to say, well they were . . . I guess this website had been complaining in the Google webmaster forums about some other sites outranking them, so this person took it upon themselves to do some pretty nasty, evil stuff.
Now I can’t support this in any way. I’m frustrated that unfortunately this is a part of our world. But you should be aware of it, because what they did was creative, almost to the point of ingenuity, but definitely dark and evil, maybe even bordering on illegal depending on the legalities. I’m not really sure. Here’s what they said they did. Of course, I can’t prove that they actually did these things, but here’s what they said they did. So they did go do a lot of manipulative, nasty backlinking to the site from a lot of those sources we talked about. They mentioned a few XRumer blasts. They posted a lot of duplicate content. They set up fake WordPress splogs, essentially a spam blog, and then they re-posted the content that existed on JustGoodCars.com on tens of thousands of pages across the Web so that Google might say, “Oh, well why is this duplicate content?” I don’t know that that’s actually highly concerning in and of itself. A lot of people copy content from all over the Web for both good and bad reasons.
Then they did something that’s really nasty. They went to Fiverr and they asked for people to post fake reviews to Google Reviews to make it look like Just Good Cars was manipulating Google Reviews, and actually got them thrown out of that program. According to the forum post, anyway, that’s what happened. They got their stars and their Google Reviews and their ratings removed, and all that kind of stuff, which that’s whew, that’s really low. That sucks if that’s what really happened.
It’s even more terrifying, but they sent fake emails. They set up email addresses that looked like they came from Just Good Cars, and sent fake emails to websites that had posted good editorial, positive links, saying, “Hey, you should stop linking to this site. There are these problems with it. We’re requesting a DMCA take down action against it. Our attorneys will be in touch if you don’t remove your links.” Those kinds of things. So really just, oh man, that’s really evil. But stuff that we definitely need to be aware of in terms of the world of negative SEO and what this kind of stuff can happen.
Now, it’s very tough to verify anonymous users on an anonymous forum posting and whether all of this stuff actually happened, but certainly the ideas behind it are very concerning. What I want to express today is that there are some things you can do on your site that will make you higher risk and lower risk to these kinds of things.
Higher risk is going to be, like some of these other sites, you’ve already done a little bit of manipulative linking. Right? You’ve already done some spammy stuff. You have manipulative on-site stuff. Meaning for example, like Just Good Cars there’s kind of that footer with all these links pointing to all these other places. This was mentioned in the forum thread. So I’m not giving away new information here, but there’s stuff on this site that looks like it might be not wholly kosher, not wholly white hat.
Your site has few high quality brand signals. High quality brand signals, things like lots of people searching for your domain name and brand name. Lots of mentions of you in the news and press, in outlets that are high quality. Lots of offline sorts of signals. Lots of user and usage metrics types of signals. Lots of verification kinds of things. Using high quality providers of everything from the IP address, where your website’s hosted, to the domain registration link, to the services you might have installed on your site, Akamai or any of the CDN networks suggest you’re very popular. Any type of signal like this that looks like a highly brand intense signal.
Lower risk is going to be the opposite. Right? So things like a totally clean backlink profile. Never done any kind of manipulative linking, at least not intentional outbound backlink building. Don’t forget, everyone’s going to have some spam links. Even if you’ve never done any manipulative backlinking or any backlinking or marketing of any kind, you will have some bad backlinks, because the Web, just there are all sorts of weird crawlers and bots that host links all over the place. It’s fine. Don’t sweat those. It’s the normal volume. Things like having a beautiful, elegant, high quality UX. A great UX is a fantastic defense against a lot of spam and manipulation. It’s even a great tactic for folks who are trying to do SEO. It’s just a great signal in general. Right? Having a great UX is going to get you more conversions and more people using your site. Anyone who is browsing your website, say, from the Google Search Quality team or the webspam team, or the Google reviewers, which Google hires, or from Bing, any of those folks who are looking at your site are going to say, “Oh this is clearly a great site. We want to have this in our index.”
If you review some of these other sites, you can take them or leave them. One that does not feel very SEO. I think you all know what I mean. There’s sort of that sixth sense of, boy, they’re doing a lot of things on the page and off the site that don’t feel like they’re natural, don’t feel like they’re for users. Whenever you have that sixth sense around a site, that’s going to put you in a higher danger category. Not doing that, having that very natural sort of site, you can target keywords, do a good job with your titles, do a good job with your content, do a good job with your internal linking, but make it feel very natural. I’ll give you good examples. Amazon, very well SEO’ed, but doesn’t feel SEO’ed. Zappos, doesn’t feel SEO’ed. Even SEOmoz, it doesn’t feel very SEO’ed, but it’s doing a good job. TechCrunch, doesn’t feel SEO’ed, but ranks phenomenally well.
Finally, having those strong brand signals, the branded searches, lots of people searching for your brand name specifically. Good links, good mentions, good press, good user and usage metrics, all these types of things are going to protect you from a lot of these types of spam attacks.
That being said, there’s nasty stuff that other people can do. So you want to (a) keep your eyes wide open. Make sure you’re registered with Google Webmaster Tools so you can get any of these warnings ahead of time. If you happen to see an influx of really nasty looking links, you might want to send a preemptive reconsideration request to Google saying, “Hey, we don’t know where these came from and we have nothing to do with this. We just want you guys to know that this is not our activity. Please feel free to disregard or not count these links.” 99% of the time Google is not going to say, “Oh these bad links that are pointing to you, we’re going to count those as reducing your SEO and bringing you down in the rankings.” They’re instead going to say, “Oh well, we’re going to ignore these. We’re going to remove the value that these pass.” They’re not going to pass PageRank or anchor text value or link trust, or whatever it is. We’re just going to count the good stuff.
I remember being in a session, this was years ago, probably five or six years ago, with Matt Cutts, the head of webspam for Google. He was looking at a site on his computer, and the person asked about their website from the audience, and he said, I see, I don’t remember what it was, 14,000 odd links pointing to this site, but Google’s actually only counting about 30 of them. That’s why you’re not ranking very well. Most of those links we’ve removed all the value that they pass. So it’s not that they were having those bad links hurt the site. It’s just that they’re saying, “Oh these are not going to pass any more link value.”
Now, what I would suggest here is, if you see stuff that looks like manipulative and negative SEO, you just be careful. We are trying to do some things here at SEOmoz to help with this. One of the things our data scientist, Dr. Matt Peters, is working with some folks here at Moz to build a large list of spam so we can do some classification, and eventually inside the Mozcape index, which will appear in Open Site Explorer, show up in your Pro-web app, show up in the Mozbar, we’ll try and classify sites to say, “Hey we’re pretty sure this is spam. This looks like the kind of thing where we’ve pattern matched and seen Google penalize or ban a lot of these sites.” We’re also trying to build some metrics to show what are really good, high quality, and editorially given sites. So domain authority and page authority already exist to try and do that.
Then, we’re also running some experiments where I’ve offered up my personal blog, which is a relatively small site, probably has as few links as any of these, probably fewer than Just Good Cars, RandFishkin.com, to see if some of these nasty folks, who are hitting and taking down sites with negative SEO, would like to concentrate their focus on my sites. For two reasons, number one, we’d be very curious to see it happen, and number two, we can certainly afford the hit. We offered up SEOmoz as well. Most people seem to think that SEOmoz is not a good target. It won’t actually be taken down.
We’re going to run some experiments internally as well on this front and hopefully be able to disprove that negative SEO is a common thing that works very well. I’d hate to see an industry spring up like this. I think that this type of activity, particularly some of these really nasty things, are just an awful part of being around the black hat spam-sphere. I hope that it’s something that we can defend against. I hope you’ll join me in contributing. I look forward to your comments. If you’ve seen stuff like this before, please do feel free to talk about it either anonymously or openly in the comments. I will see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday.
April 27th, 2012 @ // No Comments
In the last 12 months, nearly 70% of marketers redesigned their websites to modernize its appearance and bring it in line with their branding efforts or to optimize for better lead generation. Modern design elements and an intuitive navigation structure can have a large impact on how customers view your company, so it is extremely important that your website meet customer expectations and contribute to your SEO efforts.
Embed this image on your site:
When you begin a website redesign, always keep the search engines in mind. 62% of search users click a link on the first page of the search results. If they don’t immediately see what they need on that page, 41% of these users won’t bother going to page two. They will simply refine their keywords or switch search engines. 77% of search users still chose organic results over paid ads, so make sure that your website redesign can help propel you to the top of the rankings and appeals to your new customers.
Article source: http://www.seo.com/blog/reasons-redesign-website-infographic/
April 27th, 2012 @ // No Comments
Last month at SXSW our good friend Matt Cutts announced that the web spam team was working on an over optimization algorithm update that would target and penalize sites that are “over-optimized” or “overly SEO’ed.”
Yesterday afternoon, Matt announced on the Webmaster Central Blog that they are officially rolling the update out “in the next few days” (we saw shake up in the SERPs starting around 8pm last night) and that the update will be focusing on cleaning up webspam and taking action against sites that violate their quality guidelines.
If you are in the online marketing space, you’ve been hearing about this all day today. Although it’s normal for Google to make tweaks to the algorithm after a major update improve upon the initial results, this is one of the worst updates since the Florida update in regards to ridding the search engine of webspam.
Early this morning, one of our guys sent me a link to the search query “make money online”. Here you can clearly see an example of what Google believes to be a better result for users.
As you can see from the screenshot above, Google is clearly favoring Blogspot (a Google property) for a very competitive term. Okay, maybe they earned that position, but wait a minute it gets worse… See the next screen shot.
Where’s the content? Clearly Google can’t think this is an authoritative site that provides value to the end user. If this is what you call webspam cleanup, we are all in for it! Thanks Google! (as of 4:52 Google has pulled this from their results after mass circulation on forums and social networks)
If you think this is an isolated example, let’s turn to Search Engine Land’s winners and losers that was published this afternoon.
So here’s our take on this. Clearly the update sucks and has negatively affected quite a few legitimate business out there. We realize that we are about 24 hours into this thing and Google can do one of three things, first, roll back the update, two, quickly make tweaks to help improve current results, or three, leave it as is and risk billions of dollars in paid advertising. Obviously the third is probably not an option for them.
In the meantime, it would be very smart for everyone to check their on page optimizations as referenced by Rand Fishkin on Friday of last week, and also check their off page link building efforts as referenced by our own Kevin Phelps on Monday. There are countless posts about how to properly publish content, attract quality backlinks, and convert your visitors into paying customers… so get busy!
Article source: http://www.seo.com/blog/google-pushes-webspam-algorithm-update/
April 25th, 2012 @ // No Comments
Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and current Google CEO (and co-founder) Larry Page are investing part of their considerable fortunes into a search operation of a very different sort. Named Planetary Resources, the new company hopes to find something worth mining on our solar system’s asteroids.
The press release from Planetary Resources includes an impressive list of investors and advisors. In addition to Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, film maker James Cameron (of Avatar fame) is involved; so is Ross Perot, Jr., son of the former presidential candidate and chairman of The Perot Group. Peter H. Diamandis, one of the leading lights behind the Ansari X-Prize competition encouraging non-governmental space flight, is also part of this venture. So is Eric Anderson, an aerospace engineer and philanthropist long involved in a variety of efforts encouraging commercial spaceflight, including the X-Prize.
You’ll also find veterans of the US space program involved, such as former NASA Mars mission manager Chris Lewicki and planetary scientist Tom Jones, who is also a veteran NASA astronaut. Microsoft’s former Chief Software Architect, Charles Simonyi, is involved as well – which should come as no surprise, since he’s been to space twice already.
The company will hold a news conference on Tuesday, April 24, at 10:30 AM PDT in the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery of the Museum of Flight in Seattle. Planetary Resources says that it “will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP. This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of ‘natural resources.’” Judging from statements made by some of Planetary Resources’ advisors and board members in different contexts, this new industry could be nothing short of asteroid mining.
Is this more than just pie in the sky? That’s hard to say. The Wall Street Journal cited a study completed in March by NASA scientists that examined the feasibility of asteroid mining. It concluded that, “for a cost of $2.6 billion, humans could use robotic spacecraft to capture a 500-ton asteroid seven meters in diameter and bring it into orbit around the moon so that it could be explored and mined.” That’s a longer-term goal than most companies envision, however: the flight itself would take six to 10 years, and NASA believed that we’d be able to do this by about 2025. Oh, and that $2.6 billion price tag? It doesn’t include the cost of actually extracting anything from the asteroid.
The WSJ noted that Louis Friedman, a former NASA aerospace engineer who was involved in the study, notes that Planetary Resources faces certain obstacles if they plan to use this approach. First of all, getting started alone would take “hundreds of millions of dollars” and the company would “need to find a lower cost way to access space.” But the bigger problem, once you get the asteroid where you want it, is getting mining supplies up to it, and mined resources down from it. It may not be a big deal to do this from the moon, but if you plan to use the resources on Earth, you need to deal with going into and leaving Earth’s gravity well – and that’s expensive.
Friedman concluded that the materials obtained from asteroid mining in this fashion would only be useful in space. On the other hand, there’s much to be learned scientifically just from making the attempt, and members of Planetary Resources’ board are not strangers to organizations dedicated to science. Simonyi, for example, contributed $100 million to the Institute for Advanced Study, an organization dedicated to “fostering fundamental research that advances our understanding of the world.” And on a lighter note, one of Google’s more famous April Fool’s jokes had them setting up an office on the moon, and accepting applications for engineers and other workers at the soon-to-be-built campus. Maybe Planetary Resources really does intend to use the resources they gain from asteroid mining in space – to help create our first space colonies.
April 25th, 2012 @ // No Comments
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If you’ve never heard of the triangle of trust before, keep reading. It’s an easy way for you to get tons of traffic, top search positions, and more sales.
The phrase “triangle of trust” was first coined by the famous (and to some, infamous) Frank Kern. For those that don’t know, Frank got in fairly early to the whole Internet thing, but thanks to the boneheaded actions of someone he had zero control over, got noticed by the FTC.
When I say “got noticed,” what I really mean is that they showed up at his door and basically demanded that he give them literally every single penny and valuable possession he had, or else they were going to arrest him for running a pyramid scheme.
Now most people would have given up. Instead, ol’ Frank went on to create websites in a bunch of niche markets. He didn’t spend much on them, and did nearly zero advertising, but ended up making even more than he was “pre-FTC nightmare.”
He currently makes about half of his total online income from teaching others how to do what he did, and seriously, some of his stuff is deep. He gets into buyer psychology in ways that no one else does. He’s also an all-around great guy, and I recommend that you check him out.
Anyway, all of that was a long way of saying that Frank Kern is wrong about the “triangle of trust.”
Now you may be wondering why I would pump the guy up in one breath just to call him wrong in the next. Well, there’s a reason. Let me explain.
Frank calls it the “triangle of trust” when you create a video (spot one on the triangle), post it to your blog (spot two), and then send an email to your list saying little more than “check out this video I just posted to the blog” (which is spot three).
The reason he calls that the “triangle of trust” is that, even to this day, most people who run real blogs don’t put sales messages of any kind on their blogs. Further, people generally prefer video over written content. I don’t fall into that second category, but the overwhelming majority of the English-speaking population does. So, when you send a short email like that, telling people to watch a video on a blog, they do.
He uses that as a way of building up trust, readership in his email list, and getting people used to clicking on the links in email he sends out. It’s pretty darn smart, and it works like crazy.
He’s still wrong though.