Matt Cutts didn’t expect this response via Twitter (Scraper URL)
Feb28

Matt Cutts didn’t expect this response via Twitter (Scraper URL)

19SHARESFacebookTwitter Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, recently tweeted a link to a form that allows website owners to report websites that have scraped content from other sites and that rank higher than those of the original source. Cutts is referring to website owners that scrape content from other websites and post that content on their own websites. This sort of means that Google might not be able to tell, in some cases, what site is the original source. Probably not what Cutts expected .@mattcutts I think I have spotted one, Matt. Note the similarities in the content text: pic.twitter.com/uHux3rK57f — dan barker (@danbarker) February 27, 2014 To put it simply, someone has spotted that Google does exactly what a scraper does. It scrapes content from sites like Wikipedia, and uses it for its semantic search functions by providing the information in the SERPs, which means everyone should report Google for exactly what it is telling others to report. Whilst Google only extracts an excerpt of information from articles via Wikipedia, the irony is actually quite...

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If Guest Blogging is Dead, Which Link Building Methods Still Work
Feb16

If Guest Blogging is Dead, Which Link Building Methods Still Work

20SHARESFacebookTwitter All over the blogosphere this week comes the conclusion ‘Guest Blogging is Dead’, largely due to Matt Cutts’ recent post on the matter in which he warns if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Certainly, this does mean that one of the last obvious methods for gaining link traction in a way which wasn’t going to get you imminently penalised has come to an end. For most real online marketers however, the news has neither come as a surprise nor a reason for despair. It’s been quite obvious for a long time that writing an article in five minutes then sticking a thin bio link underneath with a keyword anchor text link in it wasn’t going to make the good people at Google especially happy. Most of these articles were the thinnest excuse for prose anyway and by no means adding value to the web. Nevertheless, for an industry already crouching down in the bunker, this news does appear like the final assault in a very long campaign of attack by Google. Does SEO have any kind of a future, some people ask? Are there any link building methods left which still work and which won’t risk a penalty? Guest Blogging has a little Life Left in It Yet The first thing to say here is that contributing valuable, relevant content to other websites in your niche remains a valuable way to get a link. Certainly if you’re promoting a marketing company and you write an article about gardening, linking in the bio, you’re going to get into trouble. But if you’re writing an article of genuine quality in a similar niche to your own you’re in the right ballpark and, if you watch Matt Cutts videos on the subject, he confirms this. Secondly, if you do choose to link in your bio don’t go for that most obvious tactic of spam: the anchor text link. That’s like waving a red flag under Cutts’ nose and is just a total waste of time. Better to link to your G+ authorship page and your brand by name or as a raw URL link. Even better would be to write an article in which your own website could appear as a contextual link. So if you’re writing about ‘Five Killer Landing Pages’ for example, you can link to one of your own and 4 competitors. This gives you a contextual link in the most natural setting possible, within an article which is a genuine resource. Even in the case of a manual review, this is always going to pass muster....

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Halifax Bank – Partial Penalty by Google (Graphs, Charts & Widgets)
Feb08

Halifax Bank – Partial Penalty by Google (Graphs, Charts & Widgets)

23SHARESFacebookTwitter Halifax UK Several sources have analysed the extent of what exactly Halifax has been up to in terms of SEO, with Link Research Tools having done by far the most impressive detective work so far: Case Study: Halifax Bank Google Penalty – A Deep Dive I recommend giving that a read. But I’ll be giving a summary essentially of why they’ve been penalised in this article. Last year, I noticed that Halifax were using these sort of widgets that were really like advertisement banners that promoted certain product categories on Halifax’s website. They contained keyword-rich anchor text that targeted specific areas of their website with “Cash ISA” and “Loans Calculator” being two examples. I wondered to myself and the team that I work on, how are they getting away with this? Are they just far too large to penalise? Are Google not aware of this? What gives? I mean large brands have been penalised before. It turns out that they aren’t too big and according to the data that I’ve got they first received the penalisation last month on the 30th of January. You’ll be able to see this here in the small sample of keywords that I’ve put together and that I am tracking with SE Ranking: Here’s an interesting graph that visually represents the fall of keyword rankings for Halifax.co.uk: As you can see, first page keywords have tanked. I mentioned on a forum I browse called SEO Chat that this has given me a small heart attack. I’m okay now, and can accept that a graph like this can exist and will likely continue to exist going forward for other brands that practice similar SEO methods. So, what exactly has caused this to happen? Widgets. The mass use of widgets filled with rich anchor text that has given them a sharp rise over their competitors in the SERPs – not anymore I suppose. Take a look at this fine example: They’d essentially be embedded onto sidebars of high authority blogs. This sort of handy work gave them the edge when it came to major finance related categories. The only category that I can see right now that they have not been penalised for is mortgages. They still reign supreme with high value keywords such as “mortgages” and “mortgage calculator”. Where can I find these widgets? You can find signs of the widgets by pasting the following (with quotations) into Google: “see if our personal loans could be the answer” “are you making the most of your ISA allowance. Halifax” Loan Widget ISA Widget There’s even a case study setup that shows that Halifax’s visibility increased for “Cash...

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Useful SEO Tools & January SEO Recap
Feb01

Useful SEO Tools & January SEO Recap

10SHARESFacebookTwitter I’ll be introducing a weekly update to this blog from now on. Essentially what I’ll be writing about is what I’ve done in the week that is noteworthy. Simply, anything noteworthy will be listed here and hopefully it will be useful to those reading. If anything, it might only be useful for myself — in that case, my apologies. Tools To start off with I was recently introduced to a new SEO tool called Netpeak. The tool practically runs on APIs and it’s another of those tools that I’ve listed in the “Best SEO Tools for 2014” article. The tool is quite versatile and allows you to check hundreds if not thousands of URLs’ metrics. The metrics that it includes are: Domain Authority; Page Authority; PageRank; Citation Flow; Trust Flow; Ahrefs backlinks; MozScape (OSE) backlinks; MajesticSEO backlinks; Domain Age; Google Index; Social metrics: StumbleUpon, Facebook Likes/Shares, Twitter, Google+ and more. This is very useful for a number of reasons. If you’re doing outreach and you want to get your content on a high quality site then there is no better way to identify a decent website (aside from reading said site’s content) by analysing it with Netpeak. I’ve not only used this for outreach, but for analysing clients’ websites; it’s just another way of identifying backlinks where you did not know you had them at all. I actually recommend using Screaming Frog to scrape your website and then run all your URLs within this tool. It really gives you a nice overview of how your site is doing, especially within the social media aspect of things. Netpeak essentially takes all the manual work out of it all and is a nice package. I really do recommend it. A big thanks to James Phillips, a new co-worker, who recommended it. Methods Two of my clients at the agency I work at recently moved to new CMSs (It’s sort of the reason why I wrote that article on checking the backlink profile of 5,000 URLs), and this of course meant that the URL structure changed. Setting up 301 redirects is obviously one of the most important things to do when a change like this occurs; otherwise, you lose any value that you had in the search results page to a 404 page if there is no redirect in place. What I did actually identified issues that my client were not aware of. We had redirects going to totally irrelevant pages, and simply pages that had been deleted without any redirect taking place. How do you find these? Our relationship with our client is moreover one where we do a lot...

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Google Taking Action Against Guest Posting Blogs
Feb01

Google Taking Action Against Guest Posting Blogs

12SHARESFacebookTwitter I’m not sure if these are isolated incidents or Google just being Google, but I’ve received messages from 5 different webmasters that have stated they have received a site-wide penalisation for “Unnatural outbound links”. These are predominantly from bloggers that have excessively used guest blogging as a way to gather a constant stream of articles on their blogs. It’s interesting actually because Google has ramped up its assault on guest blogging in general, with Matt Cutts’ recent blog post on the “decay of guest blogging” hitting the industry succinctly last month. This is the message they’ve received in Google Webmaster Tools: Example.com/ : Unnatural outbound links Google has detected a pattern of artificial or unnatural links on this site. Selling links or participating in link schemes in order to manipulate PageRank is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. As a result of unnatural links from your site, Google has applied a manual spam action to example.com. There may be other actions on your site or parts of your site. What have I advised them to do? The 5 websites that I mentioned at the beginning of this article have all lost their toolbar PageRank, as a result of this. I’ve advised them to actually nofollow or either remove outgoing links on their blogs and to not accept further guest posts until they have sorted out the mess they are now in. Most of them use WordPress, and I’ve recommended an amazing free WordPress plugin that will do the job fairly easily for them. It’s called Outbound Link Manager, a WordPress Plugin that identifies all the external links on your website and allows you to either remove or nofollow them. I recently used this tool on a blog that I purchased and found that the blog was plagued with external links that had no relevancy to the blog’s topic, so I simply nofollow’d  and removed quite a few of those links doing this with the help of the aforementioned WordPress plugin. What can you do to avoid getting in this sort of trouble? Stop accepting guest posts en-masse. I carefully vet any guest post article that goes on this blog. In fact, I’ve only allowed two guest posts on here, as a result of over 100 people contacting me to guest post on here. What people don’t seem to realise is that I actually read what they are writing about to see if what they are writing about actually has any real value or is just another rehashed version of what they’ve written before. (Thank you, Google exact match phrase search option) You just need to be more careful with who you allow to guest...

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How to Quickly Check the Backlink Profile of Over 5,000 URLs
Jan25

How to Quickly Check the Backlink Profile of Over 5,000 URLs

18SHARESFacebookTwitter Migrating to new Content Management Systems (CMS’s) can be difficult at times, especially if the site that is being migrated has thousands of duplicated URLs that have high quality backlinks associated with them. If it’s your job then you better come up with a solution and hopefully this article will provide a few. I was recently tasked to analyse or come up with a way to segment these 5,000 URLs to make it more manageable. I’ll admit I don’t have much experience when it comes to migrating very large websites, so it took me a couple hours to come up with an idea as to how we could go forward. Rather than sit like a lemon all day long and ignore all of these soft 404s that were popping up left, right and centre in Google Webmaster Tools I came up with a few ideas and utilised a few industry tools to help. The first idea that I came up with was using Regular Expressions in Excel to categorise each URL based on the keywords that are in the actual URL. I then realised that I was doing this the wrong way round. The idea behind this was to categorise these URLs and to write a rule to say that if a URL contains a certain keyword then it should redirect to the most appropriate page that likely contains the same keyword. The problem with this is that it isn’t accurate and you could possibly be redirecting URLs to a page that isn’t actually that relevant. So what should I do instead? Seeing as this client is quite large, it’s worth going through to see what the backlink profile is for each individual URL that we grabbed from Webmaster Tools (over 5,000). And that’s easier said than done if you don’t have the right tools. Luckily for me, the agency I work at has all the tools that you’d ever want for this to work. ScrapeBox or MajesticSEO At first I tried using ScrapeBox on a VPS that we have to scour the backlink profile for all of those 5,000 URLs using the Mozscape API. I left this running over night, but when I got home I looked for other solutions as I knew that Moz’s Index isn’t that large and I might not get all the backlink data as a result. I found out that MajesticSEO has a tool called the “Bulk Backlink Checker“. At this point I celebrated as I’ve found that MajesticSEO is arguably one of the best backlink checking tools in the SEO industry. I simply pasted all 5,000 URLs into a .txt file and...

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