Search Engine Optimization

The Simple Link Building Technique Most SEOs Get Wrong

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backlinks-street-signWe found this article to be an eye-opener and therefore decided to re-post with credit. -RJH Solutions Staff
Ken Mcaffin discusses the simple link building techniques most SEOs get wrong and outlines the method using Scout that will give you some great ideas.

The more ways you can generate quality inbound links to your site, the better. Google has raised the bar and we all need to get the most from the link building work we do. ‘Broken Link Building’ is a white-hat technique that can really be done at scale. Yet it is a technique that is misunderstood and therefore many SEOs are not getting the results they could.

In this article I want to explain where many people go wrong in broken link building and outline a method that is likely to greatly improve results.
Broken Link Building as it is understood by many SEOs is a simple process. There are three steps:

  • Step 1: Find quality resource or links pages
  • Step 2: Check each page for broken links
  • Step 3: When you find a broken link, tell the webmaster and suggest a resource of your own to replace it.

Let’s work through this process step by step, and then look at how it can be radically improved.

Step 1: Find links or resources pages in your industry – these are sites that list a long list of resources. Suppose we were promoting a website on organic foods and had designed a content marketing campaign around a guide on the nutritional benefits of organic food.

In our campaign, we’d want to get links from resources lists – lots of them – like this one published by nutrition consultant, Nicole Meadow.

 

You can easily find such resources by doing a clever search on Google – like [nutrition inurl:links].

 

This search has returned over 500,000 results – of which you can see up to 1000 in Google results.

You can do the same type of search for your own sites. Start the search phrase with your keyword followed by inurl:links.
keyword inurl:links

This tells Google to return pages that are relevant to your keyword, and have the word ‘links’ in the URL.

So if you sold mountain bikes, you’d do this search:
mountain bikes inurl:links

Which would give you these results (with one of the resources pages inserted):

 

The links and resources pages such searches uncover can be extremely popular and attract a lot of links.

But sometimes, the links on the page can be broken – a reader clicks on one of the resources and gets a 404 page not found message. That’s bad news for the reader because they can’t find the resource that they’re interested in.

And it’s also bad news for the publisher because their readers are disappointed and therefore think less of the site.

So we’d be doing the webmaster a favor if we found such broken links and told them about it – and because we’ve done them a favor, they’ll be keener to give us a link in return.

Step 2: Next, we’ve got to find which links on the page are broken. Go to any of the resource pages and look for broken links by using a free link checker like this one Link Checker. We ran the check on the NutritionWise page and sure enough, we found a broken link pointing to a site called www.mypyramid.gov – the Link Checker highlights it on the page:

 

Step 3: Now that we’ve found a broken link, we can write to the publisher, tell them about the broken link on the page and hope that they’ll be grateful enough to list our site instead.

That’s it – a very simple process.

 

The bad news about this simple process

You’ll find many articles on the web telling you this is the way to do broken link building – and it does work – sometimes the webmaster will pay attention to your email, fix the link and give you a link as well.

But the bad news is that it takes so much time – and you’ve got to suggest a pretty good piece of content to get the site to correct the mistake and link to you as a reward for your good work.

So after trying to do it this way, many SEOs realise how much time it takes and that the relatively meagre rewards do not justify the effort. They decide that broken link building is not for them.

But this is not the way to do broken link building at scale.

The method sounds reasonable but a fantastic opportunity was missed at Step 3 and this is where most SEOs get it wrong.

How broken link building can be done at scale

So where was the missed opportunity?

What this process fails to recognize is the full potential of finding a resource like MyPyramid.gov.

Nicole Meadow linked to MyPyramid.gov because she thought it was a quality resource. She thought that visitors to her own site would find it useful and she’d get some kudos for pointing it out. That is why people create links and resources pages – to share great stuff.

So if Nicole thought MyPyramid.gov was a quality resource, then lots of other people would think so too – and link to it to share with their readers. And every link from those sites to MyPyramid.gov will also be broken. So if we collect all the domains pointing to MyPyramid.gov, we have multiple broken link building opportunities.

So how many domains link to MyPyramid.gov? Here’s an analysis of MyPyramid.gov using MajesticSEO.com – it shows that there are over 56,000 domains that link to the site – and each of these links will be broken! What a treasure trove of broken link building opportunities.

 

This means that when you find a broken link on a resource page, your first step should not be to rush off and send an email to the webmaster. Your first step should be to find other domains that link to the same broken resource.

So when working at scale the broken link building process becomes:

Step 1: Find multiple resource pages in your industry. Each of these will list multiple quality resources – a percentage of which will be broken (on average 10%). The more resource pages you find, the more broken link opportunities you will uncover.

Step 2: Scrape all the links from these resource pages and check their status to find broken links. The majority of these broken links will point to valuable resources that have moved or no longer exist.

Step 3: For each resource that has moved or no longer exists, do a link analysis to find other pages that link to the same broken resource. Concentrate your efforts on those that have around 100 linking domains or more.

Step 4: Create a customizable email pitch template for each broken resource and send a pitch to each linking domain.

This process dramatically increases the volume of broken links that you find for just a little extra effort. Follow these steps and you’re in a position to do broke link building at scale.

 

The importance of keywords in broken link building research

Fundamental to broken link building at scale is the need to find as many prospects as possible. To do that you’ve got to conduct multiple searches.

For example, we could do searches such as:

  • [nutrition inurl:resources] or
  • [nutrition inurl:links] or
  • [nutrition inurl:websites] or
  • [nutrition inurl:”recommended resources” and so on.

And the same, say on food health:

  • [“food health” inurl:resources] or
  • [“food health” inurl:links] or
  • [“food health” inurl:websites] or
  • [“food health” inurl:”recommended resources” and so on.

And organic food:

  • [“organic food” inurl:resources] or
  • [“organic food” inurl:links] or
  • [“organic food” inurl:websites] or
  • [“organic food” inurl:”recommended resources” and so on.

All of these searches will produce relevant resources pages.

The choice of keywords in these searches is important.

One common mistake is to use the keywords you are trying to optimize for to find resource pages. Say we were optimizing for the phrase “nutritional benefits of organic food” and used that in the search for resources. We’d not get many results:

 

We’d only find two resource pages.

Sites that are interested in nutrition per se, are likely to have some interest in the nutritional benefits of organic food.

And when we just use the word ‘nutrition in our search string, we find many more results:

 

 

Improving your creativity with Wordtracker’s Free Scout

When you’re buried deep in SEO, your optimization targets are sure to dominate your thinking. So you need some help in stretching your creativity.

One exercise I’ve been using for years is to take a few articles from top sites like the NYTimes.com or the BBC and then analyse them for phrases that I might not immediately spring to mind.

Now, there a new free Wordtracker tool to help you. It’s called Scout and it picks out the phrases on a page. Apply it to a quality articles and you’re sure to get some great ideas:

 

Repeat this process several times and the number of relevant concepts you gather will definitely expand.

 

Final words

Broken link building is one of the few white-hat link building techniques that can be done at scale. But the simple process most people use will not give you sufficient volume. However, concentrate on finding popular resources that are no longer live – and have many domains pointing to them – and you will find a wealth of opportunity.

 

Need to Get More Quality, White-hat Links?

Broken Link Building can be a fantastic source of quality, white-hat links. It’s a strategy that fits easily into any campaign. Ken McGaffin and Garrett French will teach you step-by-step in a new 12-part online video course. Just click BROKEN LINK BUILDING VIDEO COURSE to find out more..

Originally from: http://www.wordtracker.com/academy/the-simple-link-building-technique-most-seos-get-wrong

Valuable Matt Cutts Google Webmaster Tools Videos

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These are links to some of the best YouTube videos Google’s Matt Cutts has come out with. The information contained within is very valuable from an SEO and overall website optimization perspective.

  • Matt Cutts Facepalm – why there’s a need for Penguin – https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dnyOduyZQl0
  • Why Article Marketing is Bad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5xP-pTmlpY
  • Fun video on Webmaster Toolshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COcl6ax38IY
  • What to do with porn sites backlinking to your site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znOqJu3le2g
  • Google Disavow tool: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main?pli=1
  • Ideal keyword density: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rk4qgQdp2UA
  • Underscores vs. dashes in URLs – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQcSFsQyct8
    • Bottom-line, underscores are bad because Google’s computer programmers used to mistake those with coding variables!

Some more:

  • How Google treats hidden content (shouldn’t matter): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsW8E4dOtRY
  • How important WordPress is to SEO – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3P-m2cBCJSk
  • The consequences of using/linking multiple domain names for the same purpose: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzaimchdNpM
  • What are the top 3-5 SEO areas where webmasters make the most mistakes? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=421aTJI2Nxc
  • Does linking my two sites together violate the quality guidelines? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0-jw_PfwtY
  • If my site goes down for a day, does that affect my rankings? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eYJuT0yGrI
  • What does Google think of single-page websites? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mibrj2bOFCU
  • How can I get examples of bad links to my site? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtYBHgAl5EU
  • When are penalties lifted? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ES01L4xjSXE
  • What are some misconceptions in the SEO industry? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2mv1KSktLo
  • What’s the latest SEO misconception that you would like to put to rest? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDpTGRUtXwo
  • Matt Cutts from Google on WordPress & SEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3P-m2cBCJSk

Many more here: https://www.youtube.com/user/GoogleWebmasterHelp/videos

Has Google Finally Grown Too Large and Evil? Could Google’s Greed Be the Beginning of the End for Their Mighty Empire?

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(Credit: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

(Credit: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

Note: This is possibly my most controversial, yet gutsy, post as of yet:

Google. The very name evokes the word search, and has been used as a substitute in sentences, such as “I Googled this” and “I Googled that.” Nothing can take that away from them – they earned their success for the most part. However, when conducting mergers and acquisitions of larger companies, it’s very easy to get so large that it’s no longer one unit, rather it’s a jumble of companies and partners mixed together. Also, when the number of partners increase, so do the number of opinions, which in turn mean longer time for decision-making. Also, “don’t be evil” ceases to exist when a company becomes more money-centric rather than simply a service that happens to also make money. That said, please don’t try to philosophize with me that “to be” is different than “to do;” I can tire the best of them with my philosophical rantings.

In any case, this I believe has happened with Google. I’ve been a huge fan of Google when it came to search, was one of their first GMail users way back when in 2005 (when you needed an invite and one could only email up to 6 people – total), widely embraced Google Docs/Wave integration/Drive, loved Google Maps and it’s API to connect to, and was seriously debating on whether or not to obtain a Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone, which is widely accepted as Google Android’s flagship device.

That debating ended when a) I noticed flaws on the phone, and b) Google’s policy changes in the name of money. Look, I understand that a company needs to make money to survive, but there needs to be a line. I believe that Google has had it’s biggest success when it offered tons of free products in the name of the expansion of knowledge and innovation. It “just so happened to make money” by:

1. Adwords Ads,

2. Adwords certification exams ($50 a test, each of which changes every 2 weeks),

3. Google Apps for Business for anything over 10 users (minimum $5/user/month), and

4. Royalties based on the Android operating system which strongly promotes Google’s brand.

“Just so happening to make money” while running a service to improve the internet world was what caused me to be enthralled by what Google stood for, and to use their products over any other.

 Google Changes that Honestly Pissed Me Off

However, I noticed a few changes over the last little while that, in all honesty, has pissed off even a dedicated Google user like me. These are:

1. Google Apps for Business (and Business Emails) No Longer Being Free

Google possibly noticed that their Apps for Business model was possibly exploited by up-and-coming small businesses, especially some SEO companies registering hundreds of domain names along with free Google Apps Business accounts since one formerly could get up to 10 email accounts, and at one time up to 50. Google made a controversial decision to close down the free accounts and only leave the paid services up. This is a problem because this translates into a minimum of $5/user/month! While I maintain that Google has perhaps the best email servers in the world, this is a big problem for small businesses wanting to start out with the Google experience and simply cannot afford it. Also, this was made off-the-cuff by Google with only 2 days notice. On Thursday, December 8, 2012 the notice went up only on Google’s private blog, and the change was made on Saturday, December 10, 2012. For many, this took us completely by surprise. This annoyed me greatly as I had promised a couple of clients to move them over to Google Apps for Business that weekend. On a side note, Google’s new greedy angle had eased my decision into choosing purchasing the Apple iPhone 5 over a Google Android phone (which basically copied Apple’s patented iPhone idea).

2. Google Killed Search with Panda and Other Link-Killing Algorithms

Google in many ways killed search, in my honest opinion, for many companies with its Panda algorithm update last April, 2012. Their objective was simply to de-rank websites with spammy backlinks. While this makes sense for sites that illegitimately are getting onto Page 1, it doesn’t for many innocent businesses hiring white-hat SEO companies, that in some cases now need to restructure their entire on-line business model thanks to Panda. Google’s answer to businesses that have been wronged was for webmasters to submit spreadsheets of removed links through Google Webmaster Tools, and also to provide feedback using a form they created in Google Docs. In effect they multiplied their workload exponentially by now needing to fire-fight hundreds of millions of websites!

While I understand their objective, they should have tested it further and considered the repercussions. I don’t feel that they did that, and it makes Google look amateurish. So much so that it  makes one wonder if right now Google even knows what it’s doing, let alone the rest of us!

To add insult to injury, Google’s now furthered their link-killing campaign by penalizing advertorials. At the same time Google will give credit to itself, lending to the idea that there may be a double standard invoked by Google.

These are big strikes against Google when:

1. Facebook is boasting that their search engine is better than Google’s because while Google relies on artificial intelligence, Facebook can leverage real human intelligence to give users what they want, and

2. Yahoo is being successfully run (so far) by Marissa Mayer, one of Google’s original employees and the brains behind many of Google’s most innovative features, including GMail.

This is also a big problem for SEO companies when almost every linking strategy that’s thought of is being put down by Google. How are SEO companies to know what works/doesn’t work for Google/Panda when it seems like Google even doesn’t?

3. Google Places or Plus Business Pages – Which is It?

From the beginning I said that Google Places (formerly Local Business Listings) was operated with a Wild West mentality. Fast-forward 3 years later, I still maintain that stance. While Google has made a valiant effort to integrate all of their products into one unit, they have failed to do the same with Google Places, which is a shame as it ties in with Google Maps.

For example, some glaring problems with Google Places are:

1. Lack of multiple accounts.

One is unable to share a Google Places listing with multiple accounts. If an account is made with one email address, it cannot be moved. You need to re-create the listing, but that also means that reviews will need to be re-created from scratch.

2. Post-card Verification Only

The only type of verification today is through a post-card mailed in within 2-3 weeks of registering a “place.” This is surprising considering how everything around us is going paperless and all one needs is for a negligent mailman to drop the card somewhere in the street.

3. No way to claim an already-claimed listing

If one wants a listing showing ones own business changed or taken off but the listing is owned by a different email address, good luck in changing that.

4. No Phone Support

Google does not provide phone support for Places. This is a problem as Places is tied into everything including Adwords. However, Google will provide support for Adwords but not Places or any other service. Again, it’s all about money as Adwords is the primary money-maker for Google.

Meanwhile, Google Plus, a completely different script, has Business pages that also integrates with Google Maps. Google Plus pages is much more robust and allows for multi-account administration, no verification and more, so it’s easy to see that this is the direction that Google seems to be taking. However, the transition between these two still-very-different interfaces is a pain.

 

So what’s next for Google? Are they phasing out more products, or looking to restructure? All I can say is, if Google continues to annoy more people with their policies, people will gradually opt out of Google until there’s not much left.

People say that accusing people or places of being evil is the direct result of ignorance. With Google, I will admit that I like many other SEO’s are ignorant/unaware of what thinking is going on in Google’s GooglePlex. Somehow I believe that even Google doesn’t know what it’s thinking! It’s grown so large and confusing that finding it’s own brain would involve a treasure hunt.

Why YouTube Doesn’t Have SEO Friendly URLs, Lighttpd (Lighty) and What Google Has Done

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Google is the well-known Search Engine giant out there. The company provides relevant search engine results to those seeking info. An SEO knows that to be placed on Google’s search results pages they need to optimize their web-pages for Google. One of the most crucial elements is in having an SEO-friendly URL. Enter YouTube.

YouTube: Google’s New Video Toy

Google bought YouTube for $1.5 billion in 2005 since it was the most wide-spread video streaming sites back then, arguably moreso than Google Video. Widely criticized, Google showed everyone up by creating one of the most widely-marketed video streaming sites on the planet. They had an interest in getting YouTube videos to the top of search results. However, YouTube pages, while they have strong support for header and meta description tags, as well as a content area, surprisingly lack the capacity for SEO-friendly URLs!

 

Reason for this: Lighttpd (Lighty)

Believe it or not, the answer is a very simple one: the website Youtube, when it initially was built, was built on a Linux server with a different web server than Apache. They built it using lighttpd, also known or “Lighty.” This was done because Lighty is a fast server that streams videos at a noticeably quicker speed than Apache can. However, it comes at a cost: SEO friendly URLs cannot be generated using an .htaccess file since Lighty doesn’t support .htaccess files! Only Apache does.

 

What Google Has Done: Blended Search Results

However, Google invested $1.5 Billion into YouTube to not see it flounder. While Google “owns” their search engine, they cannot simply take a URL to the first page from regular results. With their complex search algorithm, it’s not that simple.

Enter Blended Search Results (I’m thinking right now about the show “will it blend?”). Google came out with blended search results which included videos. From there YouTube videos became more preferential as apparently the URL name does not get counted in the video search results. Soon enough, Google Maps, news feeds, and yes, twitter showed up in the blended page 1 of Google’s precious search results page.

Extra: YouTube Cookies are tied into a Google URL

One more free  secret about YouTube. Have you ever noticed that when signed into Google, you need to sign in “special” for YouTube? Also, why is it that with the new multiple user accounts you can only get one YouTube session? The answer is that when you sign into Google, a cookie for “www.google.com” as everything points to “www.google.com/accounts.” Therefore, to get YouTube access (also some other services like analytics.google.com since it’s not “www”) you need to click “sign in” and it does it automatically. For this reason alone, applying multiple accounts to YouTube would be too complicated as it’s already not the same URL!

Unless the internet changes, the above will always stay the same.

New York – 5 Ways To Control Your Privacy On Google

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(Credit: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

New York – Like it or not, your relationship with Google is becoming a lot more intimate.
The company recently expanded its ability to combine data from its various services to create a highly detailed profile on you.
Google says it’s doing that to simplify its privacy policy and improve your experience on sites such as Gmail, Picasa, Google Plus and YouTube. But there’s a reason business reason, too. Google gets a chance to use the data it collects to tailor ads that align more precisely with your interests, and those personalized ads are among the most lucrative for the company.
Many privacy groups complain that Google is forcing you to accept these changes. The European Union is investigating whether the new approach violates its data-protection rules.
Before getting too worked up, it’s important to understand what’s happening.
Google has long monitored its users in order to target advertisements. If you’ve been reading a lot of news articles on golf, don’t be surprised to see golf products pitched in graphical, display ads as you move across the Web. Google identifies you not by name, but by a string of characters attached to your Web browser. Google also promises not to target ads based on sensitive attributes such as sexual orientation, religion and serious health conditions.
Advertisement:

Google also keeps logs of your searches and other activities, partly as feedback to improve services, the company says. Those logs don’t have your name, but rather a numeric Internet address associated with your computer and the same browser-based characters used for ads. That Internet address also gives Google your approximate location, so a search may return local plumbers and not those 500 miles away.
Things change when you sign into a Google account — the kind you have for Gmail. When you do that, Google will have personal attributes such as your name, address and a list of friends. The new policy gives Google more ability to combine such data from e-mail, YouTube, search and other services, beyond the limited rights it had in the past.
Keep in mind that as much as Google makes promises to guard data about you, it’s legally bound to respond to subpoenas and other government requests. That’s no different from policies at Facebook, Yahoo and other websites. This was the case with Google’s old policy as well.
I find no reason to be paranoid online, but it’s best to know what’s happening so you can take appropriate precautions if you feel the need. I really don’t care if Google’s ad system mistakenly thinks I’m a teenage girl because I search for the latest on ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars.” But I’d care if ads popped up on my work computer based on a job search I might have done at home the night before.
Here are five things you can do to guard your privacy:
Manage your sign-ins
Remember, the new policy affects what happens when you sign in. You can avoid a deeper level of tracking and personalization simply by not signing in.
Of course, some services such as e-mail and photo sharing on Picasa do require signing in. You can get around that by using different browsers to keep your identities separate. You could, for instance, use Google’s Chrome to sign in for e-mail and Firefox to sign in under a different account for YouTube. You could then use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to search the Web without signing in. That way, Google will see you as three different people and not link your activities.
If you want to stick with one browser, one approach is to use other providers such as Microsoft’s Bing for search and Yahoo’s Flickr for photos.
Keep in mind that Google still collects data about your use when you’re not signed in, but it won’t have as much information on you.
Review what Google knows
Google makes it easier than many other services to see what it knows about you.
Start with the Dashboard at http://google.com/dashboard. You’ll have to sign in to use it. Go through each service to make sure it’s up to date. On the right columns are links for managing your settings and profiles.
If you’ve enabled a feature called Web History, check the lists of past searches and delete any you don’t want Google to remember. You can suspend recording by visiting http://google.com/history.
Part of what’s changing is that Google will now be allowed to use your Web history to suggest videos you might like to see on YouTube. So if I’ve visited a lot of sites on “Pretty Little Liars,” YouTube might recommend video clips featuring some of its stars.
Next, check out Google’s Ads Preferences manager at http://google.com/ads/preferences. That page reflects what Google thinks it knows about you when you’re not signed in. You can remove or edit categories of interests.
If you don’t like targeted ads, you can throw Google off by adding a bunch of fake interests. Or simply turn it off by hitting the “Opt out” link and button. You’ll still get ads, just not targeted ones. The page might give you a few chuckles, as Google’s guess of your age and gender is often wrong.
The Dashboard is tied to your Google account, while the ad manager is specific to your browser, so you’ll have to do this with each browser on each computer or mobile device you use.
Take advantage of your browser’s privacy modes
Major browsers offer a stealth mode. Typically, that means things you do aren’t recorded in your browser’s history files, and any data files added by a website for tracking get deleted after you’re done.
On Chrome, look for “new incognito window” under the picture of the wrench. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer calls it “InPrivate Browsing” under “Safety.” The feature is called “Private Browsing” in Firefox and Apple’s Safari.
While you’re at it, you can delete data already recorded by the browser. Look for a menu item that says “delete,” “clear” or “reset.”
Keep in mind that some services won’t function properly in stealth mode. Netflix’s streaming service won’t operate, and Gmail won’t store password information to automatically sign in next time.
Also, Google will still have your numeric Internet address. Stealth mode will curtail tracking but won’t make you completely anonymous.
Use anonymizers
Several services are available to help you mask your Internet address. Requests to retrieve e-mail or get search results will get bounced through multiple servers to get to a website such as Google. That means Google would have the address of the last computer on that chain, but not yours.
A popular free option is Tor, though it requires a software download and can slow down Web surfing.
Stay offline
Even if you take all of the above steps, it won’t guarantee anonymity or track-free browsing. For starters, your Internet service provider has information on you regardless of what Google has and does with it. With a subpoena, it can link your name to nameless IDs in Google’s logs.
The products and techniques I’ve outlined here can help, but the only way to completely protect your privacy is to disconnect.
You may actually like the policy changes. Combining data allows Google to do such things as suggest spelling corrections in Google’s online word processing program for contacts you have in Gmail or chat.
Many people complained when Facebook introduced feeds of friends’ status updates to save you from having to sift through dozens of profile pages to see what your friends are up to. These days, few people can imagine Facebook without that.

Article source: VIN News.

Yahoo Site Explorer, Wherefore Hast Thou Gone? Backlinks Anyone?

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Last month, as part of Yahoo’s transition to merging with Microsoft and Bing’s search engine, Yahoo Site Explorer was shut down. In Yahoo’s search blog, they said that for SEO one must now use Bing webmaster tools! Bummer!

I say “bummer” for one reason: no more free backlinking analysis. In the past, it was easy for a non-site owner to go to Yahoo Site Explorer and examine the many backlinks of a given website. Backlinks from other authoritative websites are essential as from Google’s and Bing’s perspective, when another site talks about your site in a positive light, that’s much more valuable than you talking about yourself. Now, that tool is no longer available.

There are now paid tools like Link Assistant that claim to successfully analyze website backlinks “through other sources.” What those sources are are beyond my understanding, but I’d be wary of someone advertising a “secret recipe” before the final product is proven. If that secret recipe, for example, is having scraped Yahoo’s backlinks for each site before it shut down, then that data will go stale very quickly as Yahoo obviously is no longer giving away backlinks.

Any thoughts, anyone?

Google Changes – Week of 7-22-2011

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According to the SEO RoundTable, last week was big in terms of the list of recent changes with Google (thanks Barry Schwartz). Among which:

Google had a huge bug that allowed anyone with a Webmaster Tools account to remove any site from Google’s index, Google has fixed it by the way.

Google is issuing warnings to Google searches if they discover viruses or malware on their computers.

Webmasters and searchers may be losing trust in Google PageRank. This may or may not have triggered an unusual PageRank update, putting Google back at a PR 10.

Google enabled more controls for URL parameter handling in Webmaster Tools.

Google says you should not use the meta refresh meta tag.

Use surveys and Geocities to build links.

Google is marketing for a Google AdWords reseller, Yellowbook – for real?

Google Call Extensions cost a $1 per call, but they are available to US and Canadian advertisers.

Google Maps redesigned and pulled non Google reviews.

Google Directory is gone – can you believe it?

Google Labs is going away also.

Google Toolbar will not work on the latest Firefox version.

An SEO firm allegedly deindexed their client’s site after being notified they are fired. Scary stuff. Change all your passwords before firing an SEO firm.

SEO Friendly Content Management System – What Does WordPress Do So Well?

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One of the Content Management Systems I highly recommend from both an ease-of-use and SEO-friendliness perspective is WordPress. Google somehow manages to love it and post articles within hours of posting. Question is, what is so special about WordPress? Why does Google love it more than most other websites and CMS systems?

Depending on how you set it up, it can do wonders. I will explain what I do with a normal WordPress installation and what WordPress then does for me.

With any installation, this is what I do:

  1. Make the blog visible – This is the first option when installing WordPress, making the blog visible to Search Engines to sites like Google and Technorati.
  2. Set SEO-friendly Permalinks – Under Settings/Permalinks, I set my blog to “day and name,” then “custom structure,” where I stylistically add “.html” at the end of each blog post.
  3. Install the following plugins: “All in One SEO Pack,” “Google XML Sitemaps,” and “Google Analyticator.” The first two do the work, Google Analyticator allows me to set up Google Analytics with a few other options.
  4. Update the All-In-One SEO Pack to do auto Meta Descriptions.
  5. Post, post, post.

Now that I do this, this is what WordPress does:

  1. Automatic XML Sitemap update – As soon as I set up a post, WordPress automatically updates my Sitemap.
  2. Pinging – Once the sitemap is updated, WordPress will automatically “ping” to Google, Technorati and other sites that my sitemap was updated. This can manually be done with a quick-and-dirty PHP script.
  3. Automatic Indexing – Once Google has been notified of my post, Google Caffeine takes over and quickly re-indexes their search engine ranking system. It then looks at the SEO-friendly URL, Title, auto meta description, and number of pages written on a frequent basis. The system and takes care of the rest from there!

This can be done manually, but why work so hard when WordPress does all this for you?

Google Page Rank Myth Debunked – What Does Google Page Rank REALLY mean?

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There’s a lot of confusion as to what Google’s Page Rank means, and why on earth people are obsessed about it. Since the word “page” is in “Page Rank,” the assumption is that if the web page is SEO-friendly, then the page rank will go up. People think that their rankings on Google will go up as a direct result of it. Almost, but not quite.

Okay, here’s the lowdown on what on earth Page Rank is. Page Rank, contrary to what people think, has nothing to do with pages! It’s merely named that after Google’s co-founder, Larry Page! Larry Page came up with a linking algorithm early on to determine the importance of pages through link referrals. The logic was simple: just like the referral of another human being is more important than your own self-referral, the referral of another website is more important than your own self-referral! Naturally, the more important the referral, or the higher the page rank, the better is is on you. This is a simplistic yet effective description on what Page Rank is.

Therefore, getting a few back-links from other websites that are highly Page Ranked, and that do NOT have the “rel=’nofollow'” tag will invariably help your website becoming better Page Ranked. I know this from personal experience.

However, this was deemed as the cure-all a number of years ago. However now there are over 200 more important variables to focus on. Google’s webmaster FAQ mentions that one needn’t worry about having a quality site with a Page Rank 0.

In a previous post, I pointed out a dirty secret from an SEO backlinking company making a killing off cheap backlinks. What this company does focus on, though, is to have the SEO-friendly term in the display text. This drives most of the traffic for them.

This in short explains the mystical Page Rank that people die to get highly positioned on.

Link Building Analysis – 90% of SEO terms?

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Recently, someone came to me and claimed something preposterous. He guaranteed that if you gave him a list of your search terms to be ranked, he would get you on 90% of the terms, and only then would you pay per month to stay ranked organically. If you didn’t pay, he did something to get you de-ranked quickly. The claim was that he worked on a piece of software for two years to do this. Everyone was astounded.

Without content writing, my initial thought was that a ton of link building was done. In fact, this person would guarantee a thousand backlinks for the SEO effort. Question was, how did he do it?

Now, in order to not reveal his trade secret, this person didn’t reveal any of his clients. However, in an effort to show off how smart he was, he emailed a sample report in PDF format without revealing the clients’ name. That was his critical mistake.

What I did with that PDF to forensically see what he did might blow your mind away.

Opening the PDF

Rankings_Report_Sample_car_rental_2011

I opened that PDF with Adobe Acrobat (not the reader, but the paid version) to see that the PDF was generated from a web page. In ranking, there were a number of hyperlinks in that page. From there I followed one which led me to the client in question, ZoomRentals.com.

Going to Yahoo and Checking the number of Backlinks

Once seeing that zoomrentals was a real website, I then went to Yahoo Search, which is notoriously more generous with links than Google, and did “link:zoomrentals.ca.” This gave me 1,000+ backlinks from sources like Asian Web Media, etc.

SEO Friendly Links

I then clicked on each link and saw that for the most part, the sites in question were blogs with backlinks and poorly edited rich content for each client the person had. The links however had SEO-friendly display text containing the phrases that each client wanted! My next question was, who would write all that content for free?

The following screenshot is from “IPB Directory,” one of the sites linked.

CopyScape, Plagiarism Checker

Enter CopyScape. CopyScape is a tool that lets one see the amount of plagiarism that has been done on an article. While the free version is limited to only the first 10 results, that’s usually more than enough to get an insight on how original an article is.

Seeing the results told me everything. The person had hundreds of blogs, and copied text and paragraphs verbatim while spinning some words here and there! And, this person is doing well. Next question: how does he manage all those blogs easily?

WordPress Multisite

Answer: WordPress Multisite! Easily create blogs on a whim, purchase domain names for $5-10 dollars, and voila!

Does Google check each site and see if the DNS is the same? Does Google check for plagiarism? Etc etc.

Bottom line is that, even today tricks like those are used to make shady people rich. And, there’s no link farming as on ZoomInfo no apparent links go back to those blogs.

What happens if Google catches him? Who cares? By then he will make his thousands!

In this world, you can be successful no matter what. Choosing the method of success is another thing.