Category Archives: SEO
Google has made several changes and/or added new features to their already existing features. For example, you can now Spice up your inbox with colors and themes. This change I embraced as I am always on the lookout for a new, colorful, appealing, and/or easier-to-navigate theme for the products I use.
Then Google changed the Google Reader interface. This change annoyed me quite a bit at first as they actually made some things harder to find, such as how to “show all” or “show updated” items. It took me a week to figure out that I needed to click the tiny little down arrow to the right of “Subscriptions” to get to those menu options. When they announced the change all they said about that particular change was:
- The “Show all – updated” controls are now in the Subscriptions options menu.
I kept looking for the word “Options” and didn’t realize it was a tiny down facing arrow. Once I figured that out and got used to all the changes I like it well enough. But I think the prior interface was actually easier to navigate. Maybe it’s just me?
Yesterday Google announced “A new Google Sitemap Generator for your website“. I haven’t played much with this yet and I liked the old one well enough for my personal web site. Have you had a chance to mess with it and see if the changes are for the better?
Google even changed their favicon. While the new one is more colorful, it’s going to have to grow on me a bit for me to like this change.
Google is changing all over the place. None of them too dramatic in the grand scheme of things, and most are improvements in my opinion. What has been your experience?
As I continue my series on changes in Google that smashed some sites or techniques based on this blog article by Brett Borders, today I’m dealing with the 5th technique in regard to Sponsored blog post networks.
Sponsored blog post may have been around for longer than I realize but I think they became used to a large degree in 2007. 2007 was when I first became of them. It appears that Google has taken action against them in 2007.
As I understand “Sponsored Blot Post” , basically you are paying someone to write a review of your site, or perhaps a particular product you sell on their blog.
If I understand “sponsored blog post” correctly from Google’s point of view they are just another paid link.
I do not agree with Google on their present position in regard to paid links. I think I agree with them in regard to paying someone to write a review of your site or product. I know very few people that would give an honest opinion when being paid to write a review. Unfortunately most of the people I know who would participate as a writer for this type of review would say nothing but good.
Those who would provide an honest opinion will not get hired. From the webmasters point of view the only reason I can see to pay some one for a review would be hoping for SE benefit.
Why are people paying for this type of review. It is for a link. Even if the review is an honest review it will not likely result in much traffic.
IMO the concept of the “Sponsored Blog Post” is nothing more than another scheme to build links that probably will not benefit your site anyway. This is one instance of Google’s stance on paid links that I agree with.
If your interested in my previous articles in regard to the changes that Google made in 2007 that did smash some sites here they are:
I haven’t provided a lot of reference links in this article. You will find them in previous articles. If there is any discussion, I will not only provide them, but I might provide some additional references.
The title attribute is something you can add to any link. When used correctly the title attribute will on mouseover provide a little more information to the user about the link destination. The text displayed on mouse over is referred to as a “tool tip”.
If your using IE you will see something similar for images. What IE is doing is displaying the “alt attribute”. IE is not all that compliant with W3C standards, and the “alt attribute” should not, and is not displayed on mouseover of images with standard compliant browsers like FireFox.
The “alt attribute” should only be displayed if for some reason the image is not displayed.
On the other hand the “title attribute” should be displayed for any link that is using the “title attribute”. On mouseover you should see a too tip for any site I have linked to from this article.
Personally I have not seen any evidence that using the “title attribute” helps with SE ranking. At this time I do not know of any credible SEO that thinks the “title attribute” is used.
I do think the “title attribute” should be used. Why? Because it will help your visitors. I am slowly adding the attribute to my sites. I try to use it in blog post. In regard to blog articles I could probably provide a better description of the link destination. Even with my quickly written “title attributes” I think they give you a better idea where the link will lead you to.
Regardless of how SEs treat the “title attribute” at this time, they may sart considering it in the future.
If you design web pages to benefit your visitors, it will always help you one way or another. If you only think about SEs what you do may or may not help. Unfortunately some things you do only for SEs could end up hurting your site in the long run.
Use the “title attribute”. Use the attribute as intended. Think of your visitors and not the SEs.
A few weeks ago I started a series of articles based on this Blog Article written by Brett Borders. The title of the article was 7 SEO Techniques That Google Smashed in 2007.
This is my 4th article based on what Brett originally wrote about.
I agree with Brett that Google really started targeting paid links in 2007. However they started giving indiactios about paid links as far back as 2005. At leas according to Matt Cutts. f you don’t know who Matt Cutts is, he is in charge of the Google “Spam Team”, or to say that another way he is in charge of the “Quality Control Team”. In other words the department that Matt Cutts heads is concerned about the quality of the search results that Google returns.
Though I agree with Brett there is evidence that Google is trying to target paid links, I would disagree that they are targeting the brokers that profit by selling paid links. At this time I do not think they are very successful in their attempt to target paid links.
IMHO if Google was really serious about paid link brokers they would stop Adwords advertising for this industry. Look at this search for “paid link brokers“. The 3 coveted positions at the top of the page for Adwords are all text link brokers.
Google knows who the text link brokers are. Simply stop taking advertising money from them, and take their sites out of the index.
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out who is selling links for the search engines and who if offering links for sale for advertising purposes IMHO.
It appears to me on the paid link issue that Google is trying to snip of bad branches rather than dealing with the root of the problem.
If your interested in seeing my previous comments on this issue:
Brett pointed out in his original article 7 SEO Techniques That Google Smashed in 2007 that Google had smashed Directories that charged a pay for review fee.
In regard to Directory links Google did smash a lot of low quality Directories. I’ sure there were some paid for review Dirctories that got hit. I think that was done to Directories that were obviously built to help webmasters game Google. In reality Directories of that type only had two purposes.
They generally promoted links, pagerank, and obtaining links to get better rankings in Google. I think the other thing that stood out about these directories was the fact it was obvious the Adsense adds were more important than the directory listings.
IMHO Google did not smash paid for review directories. In fact I think Google has made it clear that they do not consider a pay for review directory as a paid link as long as the directory does not include every site that pays for a review.
For further reading:
If you want to read my other post in this series:
I guess the first thing is to explain what supplemental results were. In laymen terms supplemental results are pages that Google keeps in a separate index. They were identified in the SERPS as supplemental when those pages came up in a search. I’m sure Yahoo, MSN, and Ask have something similar. The difference is they are not as open with webmasters as Google is trying to be.
To me it was no big deal to have pages show as supplemental. In fact I have seen pages that were listed as supplemental out rank my pages which were were not supplemental. To those involved in the Search Engine Optimization Industry it was a big deal. Those people did not like having pages in the supplemental results. SEO’s saw the supplemental results as a road map telling them which pages on their site needed more work.
I’m not sure when Google started showing supplemental results. I think it was sometime in 2006. However, as Brett pointed out in his article 7 SEO Techniques That Google Smashed in 2007 Google has quit showing supplemental results in 2007. Man that caused an uproar.
At some point someone discovered a operator which they believed would show only supplemental pages. Brett mentions that in his article. The operator was “site: *** -sljktf” command (to show the supplemental index results).
Some people thought you could still discover supplemental pages with the operator, even after Google stopped showing supplemental results . Personally I don’t think the operator was broke. I don’t think it was ever accurate.
2007 saw a lot of changes in the way Google does things. Some of the changes are directly related to the way Google ranks websites. Some are related to the way they are displaying the SERPs, and a few were made in regard to the information provided to webmasters who use webmaster tools.
Though I have been aware of these changes I never really thought about writing an article about them or even a series of articles until I came across this blog article today by Brett Borders in a article titled 7 SEO Techniques That Google Smashed in 2007. I have no idea who Bret is. As far as I can remember this is the first time I have heard of him. His article is not exhaustive, but it deals with a few major changes that are important to webmasters. In this article I will only deal with Reciprocal links (link exchanges) and paid links. Based on the 7 changes Brett mentioned, I will do a series over the next few days, including some changes that he did not mention.
If you want a preview of what is to come I suggest you read his article.
1: Reciprocal links. in this case Brett uses the Real Estate Industry as an example.
Though Reciprocal and paid links existed before Google, there is a reason they have become concerned about Reciprocal links (link exchanges), and paid links.
In the early days a lot of Google’s algorithm was based on links. A link was regarded as a vote. It became easy for webmasters to game Google and get top listings in the SERPS based solely on links. Coincidentally my last article on this blog was about about link exchanges. The same is true for paid links.
There is nothing wrong link exchanges or paid links when the link exchange is done with your visitor in mind, or the paid link is simply a means of advertising.
Unfortunately webmasters used links as a means to increase their ranking and that is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. As a result Google is reacting.
Read this statement from Google’s Guidelines under Quality guidelines – basic principles. In fact they list a few things that webmaster should and should not do under Quality guidelines.
- Make pages for users, not for search engines
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings
- Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.
- Don’t use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc
I hope you notice in particular that Google not only advises that you avoid anything they might consider a link scheme, Google may also hold you responsible for who you link to. What does Google mean by a link scheme? I think they mean any link you acquire for the intended purpose if increasing your PR, or ranking.
Google has become very open with webmasters in trying to communicate what they expect if you want free traffic from them. Yahoo, MSN, and Ask are not so open, but I suspect they are looking for the same thing that Google is looking for.
Search Engines want to display relevant results to their searchers. They do not want those results manipulated.
It really seems like a another lifetime, but there was a day when websites traded links, to be helpful to their visitors, and hoping in that exchange to gain a few visitors that might be interested in what their site had to offer.
I think back in those days a listing in a good directory could also result in targeted traffic to your website.
With the emrgance of Google, and their PR based algorithm things changed. Links became a means to manipulate SE rankings. It really made no difference if the links were of value to a sites visitors. The name of the game became get links, by link exchanges, purchase or whatever. Just get links. Links became the means for outranking your competitors. People in the SEO industry made the aqusisiton of links their primary focus.
Site optimization no longer focused on the visitor. You know the person with the credit card who might spend some money on your site, fill out a form, or whatever you hope the visitor does. Search Engine Optimization became focused on numbers, traffic and rankings.
Google created PR (or Link) mania. Though they have been trying to combat that for a couple of years people still hang on to getting links.
Every day in forums I see people asking questions about increasing their PR. In some cases they only want links from sites with only a certain TB PR. Personally if someone wants to link to one of my sites I don’t care what the TB PR is of that site. If you want to place any value on that green bar, a page that is 0 today could be a 10 in a year.
Recently Google has tried to clarify their position in this article titled Building link-based popularity. A lot of the article deals with paid links. the last paragraph states:
To sum up, even though improved algorithms have promoted a transition away from paid or exchanged links towards earned organic links, there still seems to be some confusion within the market about what the most effective link strategy is. So when taking advice from your SEO consultant, keep in mind that nowadays search engines reward sweat-of-the-brow work on content that bait natural links given by choice.
From Google’s Webmaster help page Center on Link Schemes.
However, some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. This is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results. Examples of link schemes can include:
- Links intended to manipulate PageRank
- Links to web spammers or bad neighborhoods on the web
- Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging (“Link to me and I’ll link to you.”)
- Buying or selling links that pass PageRank
I don’t think there is anything wrong with exchanging links if done for the right reason. That reason would be you are doing it to benefit your visitors. If your doing it in hopes of maniplating Google you may find it did not help, and in the worse case it could actually hurt your site.
I think this article is worth reading. Top 10 Reasons Link Exchanges aren’t Important.
In all the years I have been online I have never done a link exchange based on a spam email request for a link exchange.
I link out to other sites freely, and the majority will never link back to me. I think those links provide value to my visitors. I don’t care if the other sites links back or not.
The few sites I have exchanged links with were done like this. I started noticing traffic in my logs from a site. If that traffic persisted over several months I looked at the site. If I thought a link back would benefit my visitors, I linked to them. If I did not think a link to the site would benefit my visitors i don’t link back.
Yahoo announced today on their official blog new directives that they would be supporting in the robots.txt file. Read the full article
Today we’re announcing support for tags that give webmasters even more flexibility over which pages and documents are crawled and indexed by Yahoo! Search. Specifically, we’re extending our support of page level exclusion tags—NOINDEX, NOARCHIVE, NOSNIPPET, NOFOLLOW—to provide additional control for archiving and summarization of ANY file type.
In the last year or so the SEs have introduced new tags or directives that apply to only to the specific Search Engine that introduced the tag or directive.
In some cases such as the rel=”nofollow” attribute (originally promoted by Google) other SEs such as Yahoo and MSN got on board and announced their support.
Since none of these new directives, protocols, or whatever you would call them are official they only apply to the SE who has announced them.
I will not be surprised to see an announcement from Google, and MSN in the near future announcing their support as well.
In a nutshell Webmaster Central Team have made a few things a little clearer than they were previously. No Major changes that I can see.
Anyone who is interested in the free traffic that Google provides also known as traffic through organic search, needs to keep up to date with their guidelines.