What Guest Posting Patterns Can Google Really Pick up on?
Mar13

What Guest Posting Patterns Can Google Really Pick up on?

21SHARESFacebookTwitter Guest posting is a way to increase recognition while driving traffic back to your blog. It’s a method that has proven effective for link-building and for increasing popularity. Based on these facts, bloggers – especially new bloggers – are often eager to find guest posting opportunities. They reach out, write posts and are published without a second thought. This could be detrimental based on the advances in search engine technology and the patterns new algorithms can pick up on. Before starting a guest posting campaign, consider the facts below to ensure your attempt at driving traffic doesn’t backfire. Repetition Can Work Against You With the onset of new search engine technology, like Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, repetition can be penalized. If a byline is the same across multiple sites, search engines are likely to pick up on the trend; understand the SEO tactic at work and penalize it. Bylines that are the same, or too similar, create a footprint, which makes it easier to track information across the Internet. It can also create duplication issues for the sites you’re guest posting on – for example, if you use the same byline for five sites, Google may see those sites as linked, and penalize them as well as you. To create guest post bylines, think about the information that matters for the blog you’re writing for and incorporate it. Use two or fewer links and consider taking advantage of Google+’s rel=author tool. Remember, variety is just as critical in bylines as in content. Commercial Byline Links Are a Trend of the Past In the past, using a commercial link, especially an exact-match keyword link, was typical of guest posts and generally accepted. In some cases, it was advantageous for link-building but now the opposite is true. While some blogs still allow the trend, search engines tend to ignore such links. To maintain credibility, or possible search ranking penalties in the future, it’s best to do away with the practice now. The Quality of the Site You’re Posting to Matters Some blogs depend on guest posts entirely, while others have a core team and offer occasional guest posting opportunities. This matters. When a blog is comprised solely of guest posts, its purpose is probably to increase search rankings. When you take the time to write for a site like this, it could increase your visibility, however, it could also hurt your online reputation, especially where search engine crawlers are concerned. Of course, there are always a few exceptions – the Moz blog and Search Engine People are two examples that come to mind in the SEO niche. When posting to a...

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The Benefits of Ugly SEO
Mar12

The Benefits of Ugly SEO

10SHARESFacebookTwitter SEO is, essentially, an exercise in efficiency. Much of what we do hinges on the ease of access of both the user and the multitude of crawlers that establish how “good” or “quick” a site is to use. This, one would think, couldn’t gel with an ugly site experience, what with tonnes of widgets, pictures and links plastered all over a site’s front page, usually there to stall load times and try a user’s patience, while giving the designer a chance to bask in their own glory. However, there’s many ways in which ugly SEO can greatly benefit a site, and it’s right now my job here to show you some methods I’ve seen that benefit SEO that could be thought of at the cost of the user. Implemented well can give SEO’ers and users something to think about. Scrap the flash Install the Web Developer Tool. Then, disable images, javascript and linearize the page. Now what you see is ultimately what Google does too, more or less. So, what do you see? An abundance of text? Or lack of it due to overt use of image, flash and so on. I took a look at Jonny’s ‘website’ (“vlexo.net”), below: Dull, I’m sure you’ll agree. (Sorry Jon, you might want to work on that font) but something that can be easily analysed by all varieties of crawlers. This is not so for a majority of older sites, and especially when designers are on board, then things can get a little tricky. Now, Flash is especially relevant today: the proliferation of mobile devices that can’t utilise flash have likely set back older websites who feature much of it. I wouldn’t be very surprised if I’d heard of sites losing rank over overt flash use, so try to minimise the amount of flash or java on your website. Unfortunately (for some) our friends at Google deem use of images vital to relevancy, although of course they can’t quite distinguish between what we see and what they’re told we’re seeing. Regardless, stripping your site down to composite (?) linear elements can give a great boost to both usability and crawlability (a word I’ve just coined.) A great example of this is gov.uk, who use the simplest fonts, colours and designs, while providing useful and concise information. It may seem dull, but there’s little better. Big Footers  I’m a big fan of this concept that I had recently discovered over here on SEW, which is essentially to create the biggest footer known to man, an internal-linking-site-map-all-within-a-footer, if you will. I’ve borrowed the image, but I hope it’s a tactic that will be...

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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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