Sunday, November 17, 2013

Do Not Get Sucked into The Blackhole of Blackhat SEO

Do get sucked into the black hole of black hat SEO.

Do not get sucked into the blackhole of blackhat SEO. It may not really be bottomless, but it is hard to return.  You will have all your SEO juice squeezed out of you as you pass on to the other side of Penguin. Then you'll be requesting removal from unsavory sites and disavowing, disavowing, disavowing until you want to puke or else abandoning your domain and starting over.  Whois and Google Webmaster Tools will seem like good friends.

Do not use article sites unless they are very reputable and you have wonderful, articulate things to say and nofollow your links.  Do not use automatic anything.  Do not hire a cheap company from India or anywhere else that will give you a million and one links....that's a lot of disavowing coming your way.

In my last post I showed you an article on how to improve your SEO by blog posting. Another way is to familiarize yourself with everything that Matt Cutts says.  I'll talk about that more in my next post.

Never Worry about Penguin Again?

While using Scoop It to find more information about web design, I came across and scooped this article: about never worrying about a Google algorithm update again. This sounds great to me, since I spend a lot of time worrying and one major worry is Google updates.  The trick, according to the article, is to write four or five posts in your blog every week.  This is huge, huge, huge if it works and in the also huge in the amount of workload but definitely doable and if it effective, I will be ecstatic.

I know that having a blog works for SEO but I didn't know it worked that well.

I am experimenting to see if it really does improve my SEO and writing about it on my Ducktoes Blog.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tell Google if your Site is not Doing Well in Search

Is your small business site down in search?  Google wants to know. You can report it here. Thank you, Matt Cutts, I appreciate this.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Google is Scaring Small Businesses

I read a great blog post by Chris Crum about people being afraid to link. After reading the post, I started to make a comment and surprised myself with how much I had to say.  I went on and on.   I had so much to say I decided to write my own post here.

Yes, Chris Crum, I think people are afraid to link, and for good reason.  It is links and linking that gets businesses in trouble in the first place, and in some cases websites with no links (and no content) are ranking highest on Google. The risk and stakes for linking are high. Businesses in droves are asking for link removal even from natural quality links. So not linking might actually be a better strategy. This makes no sense to me and Google will have to go down a different route eventually, because links are the currency of the web (and Google's own currency) and if people stop using the currency, the web, instead of being a interlinked "web" of sites, will become a bunch of islands that are accessible only by Adwords, if Adwords even exists in such a scenario. Each site will stand alone. The web and Google will lose all its value and quality content.  Surfing the web will become a thing of the past, because there won't be links to go anywhere. Each site will be a dead end.

I was also surprised with all the comments other people made on Chris Crum's post and how there was so much agreement among them about the algorithms hurting the quality of Google search.  I do applaud Google's attempt to get rid of spam but the improvement in search results is uneven at best.  I see older sites with tons of traffic, social signals, and content, that have been around a long time, long enough in fact to gather a few "bad" links, being supplanted in ranking by some new sites with no links, content, social signals, or anything.  This must be a glitch in the algorithm, which I do believe is meant to clean up spam and improve search, not, as some people believe, terrorize small business and improve Adword sales.

Small businesses are being terrorized however. Family businesses with a generally low risk links are being pushed to the second page for no good reason that I can see, as newer sites with no quality, content, or backlinks rise above them.  Some of them have tried really hard to make their sites as good as possible, which is usually a sign of a reputable and conscientious business and owner, and generated much of their business from ranking high for their keywords in the past. Sometimes the small business owners who come for me to help are so angry about their loss of traffic and business they forbid me to buy Adwords which might actually help them recover their traffic. Some even switch to Bing for their own searches.  I hope this doesn't spread too much because I want Google to stay the great search engine it has always been. I can't figure out what in the filter is causing the drop in rank or what in their link profile would warrant it. We try to remove duplicate copy if we can find any. We file copyright reports for those sites copying my client's content. We remove and disavow the few bad links from the past, if any.  We add quality content.  None of this seems to help much, at least so far. Some have gone up a bit and may still go up further, we're keeping our fingers crossed, hoping Matt Cutts is right about the disavowel tool and adding quality content.  For a couple we are rebuilding their whole site with a new domain to help them recover.

A good site with a lot of content and activity should be higher than a nothing site with no content or links or value, even if the first site has a couple of bad links from being on the internet longer. If only because it has more quality content for search which is what makes searching valuable to users.  Google should fine tune the algorithm so good content sites aren't penalized for a few bad links.

Sometimes big sites like the Yellow Pages or Better Business Bureau or are ranked higher than they should be too. I can't decide if this is bad or good for search.  It's good for businesses who can't get high on organic search any other way and for users who may want or need as many alternatives as possible. It's bad for the good websites with quality content that used to be first and that users that would be happy to find if they could. I would think these mega-lists would be competition for Adwords too.

Google does help with Matt Cutt's videos and blog, and Google Webmaster Tools Forums from which I learn a lot. Some of the advice is excellent, but some is questionable.  Some volunteers will say that all you need to do is make great content and links and ranking will come.  This is not true much of the time and would hurt those who try to follow it. See this blog post. They spread the fear of linking or being linked to.

The Google rules seem vague and confusing and beg unanswered questions. For instance, are press releases services like PRWeb okay if they have a really high Google page rank? (Matt Cutts said at first that they were okay and then I think he changed his mind. No one seems to really know.) And if they're not okay, how you do go about releasing news to the press without their services?  I have a client who usually does press releases but  is afraid to now. What about high-ranking paid directories? Should you get rid of them even if they cost hundreds of dollars and are pr7 or 8?  What about pr 5 and 6? Isn't a high pr supposed to signify quality and popularity? And if it doesn't, does page rank even mean anything anymore? Google doesn't seem to be updating it anymore, is that a hint or not? What about one's own portfolio of web design or other clients?  Should you link to the sites you have created?  Will that hurt your ranking?  What about the other way? Is it okay to link from your clients to yourself?  If you link from your client's site which you have designed and authored to your own, to give yourself credit and publicity from your own good work, will that site being new and low-ranking make your own ranking go down?  If you create a ton of good content and nobody comes or links to you will you go up in search results for the content alone eventually?  Or if they do link will the links hurt your ranking if they're from sites that are low quality? I was told to no-follow all the links from my clients by Google Web Master Tools Forum volunteers and am curious to see if that will raise or lower my ranking for my main keywords. I no-followed the ones I could so far.

Whether I'm on top or in fourth position in natural search, however, I have to buy ad words or else I just don't have enough traffic and my business will suffer.  I like to do both, buy ad words and be high on organic search, because then people will find me on more than one place on the page.

I do think Google is undermining it's own currency (links) however and will have to change its algorithm to keep the quality of its search engine and not alienate and scare small businesses everywhere.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Negative SEO

Someone loves me.  He loves me so much he is giving me (or rather my Ducktoes site) a bunch of paid links from Pakistan, from bogus computer repair sites.  They have page rank zero.  I'll show you one.

Update: After writing this, the bad link website was taken down.  Yay!!!

He has given me several links like this. So far my site is going up and not down but I have written to the site owners and asked them to remove the links anyway because they are paid links and low ranking ones at that which is always a bad idea.

 These bad links worry me a bit, but not too much, mostly because of Matt Cutts, whom I follow and respect.  He says links from negative seo are mostly just an annoyance.  You can hear what he says here:


I am a local mom and pop store, as Matt Cutt's talks about or at least a local mom store.  I have a bunch of techs working for me. I work hard for not much of a profit margin, at least so far, but the company is growing.. I have no idea why someone is trying to bring me down in the rankings because that won't help his or her site come up. After hearing what Matt says, I'm less worried now.  Plus my ranking just went up.

 This is my plan of action for counter-acting the negative seo:
  1. Do nothing for awhile except beef up my own site with content which I do anyway since we are an such an active business we are constantly publishing events, new services and products, and tutorials  as integral part of our normal work and communication with clients. This is the best SEO you can do, have a dynamic site developed directly out of your own business and clients' nceds. 
  2. Check my rankings and links with backlink tools. I use Majestic SEO and Ahrefs Site Explorer. I pay for them every month. That way I can keep an eye on all the links, good and bad, that my site is getting.  If I am getting too many bad links then I can act to remove them.
  3. Monitor my traffic with Google Analytics and Google Web Master Tools.
  4. Participate in relevant blogs and forums that I am interested in and link back to my site.  This not only gives me quality backlinks, it also keeps me current in what is going on in computer repair, web design, seo, and all the information and trends pertinent to my business.  And it is fun to learn new things, like I did in the above video from Matt Cutts and make new friends in the field.
  5. If my site starts to be adversely affected by the negative seo I can use the Disavow Tool and disavow those suckers, I mean those nice gifts from my nice but misguided competitor.
  6. In case disaster strikes, and my site gets penalized or filtered by Google, don't put all my eggs in one basket. I mean use other marketing tools besides organic search results, for instance, Adwords and email newsletters, because, there is always, always ppc if you get penalized.  And newsletters are another good way of staying in touch with your clients and promoting your business.
If you are tempted to use negative seo you would be much better off working on your own seo and site and working with your own clients.  Really.  Give the gift of good seo practices to yourself.  Build up your own business instead of tearing down someone else's.

Update: since I've first written this blog my site did go down a two places in rank so I contacted the owner of the negative seo sites and asked him to remove the links.  He did remove a few but not all.  I have since contacted him again and disavowed the remaining links until he removes all of them.  

Sunday, May 5, 2013

How I Started Doing SEO

I started doing SEO by getting my Ducktoes Computer Services site to number one on page one for the search terms "Calgary computer repair" and "Calgary virus removal."  I did it largely by trial and error.  I made changes on my site and if the site went up in page rank, I'd do more of the same.  If it went down, I'd do less or, more likely, none of the same.  I found that posting to my blog made my site go up, as did placing keywords in the text and description.  I started using Open Site Explorer to keep an eye on my backlinks.  It is still is the easiest tool to use and understand for backlinks, even if it doesn't see a lot of links and doesn't update as often as some of the others.

Starting out, I found two resources helpful and I still agree with them:  Chris Azzari got me to use press releases with his post about five ways to improve page authority PRweb and some high-ranking directories.   And Rob Dogg's post about high-ranking do-follow blogs helped me learn about page rank and getting good links.

Now things have changed and I'm more careful about directories and do follow links.  I've found that a few links go a long way if they're decent and if the site has great content.