Why has Search Interest in Free Web Hosting Declined Over Time?
Jun15

Why has Search Interest in Free Web Hosting Declined Over Time?

19SHARESFacebookTwitter I used to be quite big in the free web hosting industry. After all, I did run my own free web hosting company from 2007 to 2009. Today, I thought I’d check up on a few forums that I used to post on and essentially where I used to get my leads. Back then, for me at least, it wasn’t about making money. It was about providing a reliable web hosting service and supporting it in any way that I could. It became my first ever project and passion. You’d think, as being an SEO, that I got most of my leads from Google, but it wasn’t. I used to get my leads by signing up on relevant forums and contributing to discussions to make a name for myself. Whilst I was in my senior years in secondary school, I tried to run this free web hosting service. It was amazing at first, because I had a forum community that backed me at the time. They were voluntary staff who I’d give free web hosting to in return for their help. The business model was to make money from Google AdSense by basically forcing community members to add my Google AdSense ads to their website. For the majority of the time, I was working at a garden centre every weekend, trying to pay for the upkeep of 2 dedicated servers running on cPanel/WHM. I was paying up to $500 per month at one point. With the GBP being worth double that of USD, it was affordable and doable as I rented those servers in the US. Free Web Hosting Downward Trend So, that was then. The industry was on a downward trend according to the following Google Trends graph, but at the time, my web hosting service was averaging 30,000 unique visitors per month. It was significant enough for me. If you look at the chart below, I looked at the top 3 ‘free web hosting’ related terms, and as you can see in May 2015, interest has almost dropped to insignificant levels when in comparison to 2004 – 2009 periods. Why has search interest died for ‘free web hosting‘? Free web hosting used to be quite popular, as well as free forum creation services, which started to sprout up from 2005 on-wards. I used to be a real big fan of Invision Free in 2005, and that was a massive forum creation service that allowed anyone to create discussion boards on any particular subject. I remember at the time, Invision Free had around 100 active users on their support forum concurrently. If we look now, there are only...

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Adding sub-directories to Google Webmaster Tools
Feb15

Adding sub-directories to Google Webmaster Tools

10SHARESFacebookTwitter Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) is a powerful tool that’s completely free. It gives you keyword data, page data, the ability to mark-up pages via the data highlighter, who’s linking to you etc along with a whole host of features aimed at providing more insight into organic search and your website. There are limitations, however, that become much more apparent with the larger types of websites that have various directories that drive high amounts of traffic from organic search. Unfortunately, Google clumps all this data together in the [search queries] report so you’ll have to do the guessing on what part of a site ranks for a specific term. The [top pages] report in GWT isn’t much help either as you can only view each page one by one and will not be able to download keyword data for each page if you want a holistic view. However, in order to fragment this information you can actually setup profiles in Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) for specific sub-directories. So, in the example I’m about to show for my travel blog, I’ve actually setup a profile in GWT for a specific blog post and for a specific sub-directory. Now for a small site this is completely unnecessary as the information is easy to sort for smaller sites. But for sites that are obtaining traffic from keywords ranging in the tens of thousands then this might give you more data about specific sub-directories on your website. Let’s take a look at the results… If you look at the below you can see that I’ve got my main GWT account under ‘jargoned.com’. That houses all of my data. For ‘jargoned.com/featured’ that houses only data specifically for that sub-directory. So, any articles that share the same URL path will also have data listed under that profile. Finally, in the ‘jargoned.com/featured/things-to-do-in-taichung1’ you’ll find only data specifically about that post or even anything after that URL path (if there is anything). What does that look like? Sub-directory data Single blog post data There’s much more than this… Links to your site [sub-directory] Most linked to content within a sub-directory. Internal links. Crawl errors. Device usability by directory or page. Manual actions on a sub-directory level. And more. For the larger sites this data can be invaluable as you’ll likely have different sections of the site being run by ‘journey managers’ who may find this data to be very useful. Larger sites usually segment data via Google Analytics, so why not do the same in Google Webmaster Tools? Hopefully this was useful!...

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How Aunt Bessie’s Redesign has Ruined Their Search Visibility
Nov04

How Aunt Bessie’s Redesign has Ruined Their Search Visibility

25SHARESFacebookTwitter Aunt Bessie’s is a well-known UK brand that produces processed frozen foods. Notably their Yorkshire Pudding range of frozen processed foods is what they are known for. In October, Aunt Bessie’s website was updated and from the looks of it, it was updated with interactivity and design in mind only. This of course has led to Aunt Bessie’s fall in search visibility, as there has been no thought in regards to SEO. One glance in Search Metrics of their SEO Visibility reveals quite a shocking drop: This drop in visibility occurred throughout September – October. You might be thinking that this was either a Panda 4.1 or Penguin 3.0 update that caused this. However, I ruled this out once I had identified what they had done when they had re-designed their website. The technical elements (redirects) have also played a large part in the demise of their visibility. It also hasn’t helped that they’ve deleted pages and not really replaced them with like-for-like pages. What Keywords Dropped? KeywordURLPos.TrendSearch Volume yorkshire puddingwww.auntbessies.co.uk/products/yorkshire-puddings/home-bake-yorkshires/16-666,850 roast potatoeswww.auntbessies.co.uk/products/potatoes-1/homestyle-roast-potatoes/13-130,191 yorkshire puddingswww.auntbessies.co.uk/products/yorkshire-puddings/home-bake-yorkshires/17-57,130 yorkshire pudding mixwww.auntbessies.co.uk/products/store-cupboard/yorkshire-pudding-mix-1/9-14,308 mashed potatoeswww.auntbessies.co.uk/products/potatoes-1/homestyle-mashed-potato-1/22-86,154 rice puddingwww.auntbessies.co.uk/products/store-cupboard/classic-rice-pudding/31-1017,916 spotted dickwww.auntbessies.co.uk/products/great-british-puddings-1/spotted-dick/17-27,570 dumplingswww.auntbessies.co.uk/products/savoury-additions/light-fluffy-dumplings/28-211,133 onion gravywww.auntbessies.co.uk/products/store-cupboard/onion-gravy-granules/30-512,441 If we look at the table above, Aunt Bessie’s has dropped for these highly searched-for keywords. Their website re-design has been the culprit for this. If you look at the above keywords and the respective URLs, you’ll find out if you go to any of those URLs they all redirect to one location: Original URL301 redirect to www.auntbessies.co.uk/products/yorkshire-puddings/home-bake-yorkshires/http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Product www.auntbessies.co.uk/products/potatoes-1/homestyle-roast-potatoes/http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Product www.auntbessies.co.uk/products/yorkshire-puddings/home-bake-yorkshires/http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Product www.auntbessies.co.uk/products/store-cupboard/yorkshire-pudding-mix-1/http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Product www.auntbessies.co.uk/products/potatoes-1/homestyle-mashed-potato-1/http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Product www.auntbessies.co.uk/products/store-cupboard/classic-rice-pudding/http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Product www.auntbessies.co.uk/products/great-british-puddings-1/spotted-dick/http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Product www.auntbessies.co.uk/products/savoury-additions/light-fluffy-dumplings/http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Product www.auntbessies.co.uk/products/store-cupboard/onion-gravy-granules/http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Product It’s because they’ve mass redirected everything to a single page that they’ve lost search visibility. They’ve not created pages to replace the old; instead they’ve created one HTML5 interactive website that tries to cater for multiple landing pages. However, there is no relevancy considering there is near to no textual copy on the page and when it comes to meta data they aren’t clearly defining pages. In effect, they aren’t helping Google at all with regards to defining their own pages, which in turn is impacting how Aunt Bessie’s website ranks. All Title Tags are the Same If we take a closer look at their page title tags, one of the most important SEO elements, they’ve effectively duplicated their title tag throughout their entire website: AddressPage Title http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Product/great-british-puddings/morello-cherry-pieAunt Bessies | Home Page http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Recipe/70Aunt Bessies | Home Page http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Recipe/73Aunt Bessies | Home Page http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Product/store-cupboardAunt Bessies | Home Page http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Recipe/72Aunt Bessies | Home Page http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Recipe/71Aunt Bessies | Home Page http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Product/potatoesAunt Bessies | Home Page http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Recipe/74Aunt Bessies | Home Page http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/PromisesAunt Bessies | Home Page http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/promises/board-packagingAunt Bessies | Home Page http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/Aunt Bessies | Home Page http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/promises/eggsAunt Bessies | Home Page http://www.auntbessies.co.uk/promises/meatAunt Bessies |...

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BrightEdge Data Cube Time Machine
Oct18

BrightEdge Data Cube Time Machine

9SHARESFacebookTwitter I’ve been a user of BrightEdge for around 18 months now and at the beginning of this year I started to distance my ‘liking’ for the platform over other tools such as Search Metrics that provide a more holistic view of a website’s performance. When you’re tracking a defined list of keywords, you can very easily not pick up on successes of other keywords that may have started ranking as a result of your hard work. I always thought that it would be too expensive to track every keyword that a website ranks for until I learned that another SEO company in London had built its own keyword tracking tool that was literally tracking millions of keywords. This is exactly why I’m impressed with the launch of Data Cube – a new feature in BrightEdge that opens up their large database of “1 billion keywords and 150 billion URLs” of which they have converted into information that is actionable. In March 2014, BrightEdge launched a platform called ‘Data Cube‘, which makes use of the massive amounts of data that BrightEdge collects from search engines. BrightEdge says that it digs through over 100 terabytes worth of data, which equates to 1 billion keywords and a 150 billion URLs (as pointed out above). This data is stored on a month to month basis, so you can go back and compare results vs historic records. BrightEdge has named this new feature (historic comparisons) ‘Data Cube Time Machine’. How does it work? What does it actually do? Data Cube – Performance for my ‘Best SEO Tools’ article If I want to see how well my ‘Best SEO Tools’ article is doing and what keywords it is ranking for then you simply paste the URL into the search field and it will look at where that page ranks in the SERPs: Not doing too badly. I do however rank in 6th position for ‘best seo tools’ in the US search results, which has a search volume of 720. It would be pretty neat if you could add another column for rankings and search volume for US and other market keyword positions and search volume. Data Cube Time Machine – Performance for my ‘Best SEO Tools’ article With ‘Data Cube Time Machine’ you can see the performance of an entire website or even a specific page. In the example above, I went from 2 keywords ranked on page 1 in April (for the ‘Best SEO Tools’ article only) to around 6 keywords ranked on page 1 in August. That’s progress! What is Data Cube Score? Data Cube Score is a really simple metric and is based...

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Free SEO tool: Branded Unlinked Mentions Finder
Aug24

Free SEO tool: Branded Unlinked Mentions Finder

16SHARESFacebookTwitter Turning brand mentions into links is a link building method that still works today and is in my opinion one of the safest methods of link building around for brands that are frequently mentioned on the internet. So that’s why when I came across a tool called the “Branded Unlinked Mentions Finder” — I got all excited about the potential uses that this would give to the team that I work with. This tool is so good that I’m even thinking of placing it in my list of  ‘best SEO tools‘. For example, before I’d be seeking out these brand mentions and contacting the sites that it would make sense for them to link back (i.e. if they’ve mentioned my brand’s survey, or infographic etc). I’d just be scouring the web for opportunities, and that works to an extent but is also very tedious and time consuming. It’s also very easy to miss opportunities if all you’re doing is going through the search results pages. What this tool does is that it checks the search results for brand mentions and utilises Google Docs to parse this information. The developer of the tool mentioned on reddit how he had devised the tool, saying that he had made use of several Google Doc functions such as the importxml function that makes use of XPath to grab data on the page that it checks. It’s something that I’ve been looking for and would likely have been something that I would like to have developed. Hopefully I’ll be able to show off its usefulness below. Example of its usefulness If we take NatWest’s Student Living Index, a recently released survey on student expenditure by city/town, you’ll see that past indexes have been frequently mentioned by university sites, news websites, student websites and generally the sort of websites that you would want your site to be associated with. But those sites aren’t linking to the source of the information that they’ve referenced: Only University College London is linking to the survey page, but look at all those other sites that aren’t! It would be perfectly natural to contact these sites and ask them to actually link to the source of the information they are referencing — to provide readers with access to claims that they are stating through the survey (a valid way of stating why they should be linking to the source). You can also do this for purely branded terms (it doesn’t have to be a survey or infographic) and you can simply enter the brand term to identify those that are mentioning your brand and to see if they are linking to you, but obviously if...

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6 Big Brands Penalised by Google
Jul20

6 Big Brands Penalised by Google

11SHARESFacebookTwitter I thought that I’d put together an example of big brand websites that have been penalised by Google. This is partly inspired by the recent Rap Genius penalisation debacle. Plus, it’s good for SEOs out there who work on large brands to avoid the sorts of tactics that got the following websites banished from the search results by the all-powerful Google. 1. Interflora.co.uk 22 Feb 2013: If you’ve not heard about the Interflora penalisation case then you haven’t been paying too much attention to SEO this year. The popular flower service saw 95% of its top pages for high traffic keywords such as “flower” and “roses” removed from the search engine result pages. 11 days after it was penalised it was allowed back and ranked for many of the high driving keywords that it ranked for prior to its penalisation. In 2011, JCPenny was penalised for engaging in paid link schemes, which saw them out of Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for around 90 days. Quite the contrast in comparison to Interflora’s 11 days, but this could be due to the amount of paid-for links that JCPenny accrued over the years. What did they do to recover from this? According to Search Engine Land, they contacted many of the bloggers that they may have incentivised  (possibly with free flowers) to remove any links that may have looked unnatural. What’s also curious about this case is that their website may have been penalised with excessive use of advertorials on major newspaper websites, which I’ll come onto in the next bit. There was likely quite a bit of disavowing going on in the background, which only Interflora and Google would know about, but this may have expedited the status that Google placed on their website from penalised to “normal” — or whatever Google calls a website that is no longer in the penalised stage. 2. 600+ Regional Newspapers Punished Due to Advertorials  22 Feb 2013: Although this wouldn’t be considered a manual penalty by Google, this is still in part related to the penalisation of Interflora, so is very relevant and would be something to take note of for many SEOs out there. First spotted by Anthony Shapley, he noticed that a lot of regional newspaper websites had their toolbar PageRank decrease from the highest case, PageRank 7 to PageRank 0. It can almost be blamed in part for advertorials that they were selling (without including the rel=”nofollow” attribute) and as a result they suffered a blow to their toolbar PageRank. Advertorials offer SEOs an opportunity to increase rankings if they insert keyword phrases along with relevant copy. However, this didn’t...

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