Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Link Building And A Natural Backlink Profile: Can These Two Go Together

Much has been said about the importance of a natural backlink profile since Google released the Penguin algorithm update. Is it possible to actively build links and still have a natural backlink profile?

Real link building is more important than ever
The importance of link building hasn't decreased with Google's Penguin update. Actually, link building has become more important than before. The difference is that link spamming doesn't work anymore.
Blasting your link to thousands of sites and fully automated backlink networks have lost their power. Given the fact that these links never were useful to real Internet users, it's remarkable that Google took so long to devaluate that type of backlinks.
Link building is not about manipulating search rankings (surprise)
Higher search engine rankings are a natural by-product if you build links correctly. The main purpose of link building (and SEO in general) is to get targeted visitors to your website.
Backlinks can help you with the following:
  1. backlinks can increase the search engine rankings of your site
  2. backlinks can help you to get targeted visitors
  3. backlinks can help your company reputation
If you focus your link building activities on 2 and 3 then 1 will come naturally.
Link building can lead to a natural backlink profile
The reason why some people think that link building leads to an unnatural backlink profile is that they confuse link building with link spamming. SEO is not spamming and the whole SEO industry has suffered a lot from people using the term 'SEO' to sell their spamming products.
The key to a natural backlink profile is a simple question: "Could the link exist without asking for it?" Many people just don't link to your site because they don't know it or because they don't have the time to research links about a topic.
Help these people who would naturally link to your site by informing them about linkworthy content on your site that is related to their site. Asking the right people for the right reason often leads to much better results than the scattershot approach that is used by many companies.
For the foreseeable future, good backlinks will remain the most important factor in Google's ranking algorithms.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Negative SEO: does it really exist

After Google's recent Penguin update, much has been written about negative SEO. Does it really exist and can it be used to hurt your website? What can you do to avoid problems?

What is negative SEO?
Negative SEO refers to tactics that companies use to manipulate the organic Google rankings of their competitors. Google's Penguin update penalized websites that used spammy links to get higher rankings.
If low quality links really hurt the Google rankings of a website, then one of your competitors could submit your site to paid link networks and your Google rankings would drop. That's what negative SEO is about.
Other things that your competitors could do:
  • duplicate your website content on spammy sites
  • use known spam link generators to link to your site
  • fake business reviews so they don’t appear natural
  • etc.
Does negative SEO work?
This is a very controversial topic among SEO experts. Some think that negative SEO is not possible, others are sure that it is possible to harm the Google rankings of a competitor.
Instead of penalizing websites that have backlinks from spammy sites, Google could simply ignore the spammy links. People who try to promote their sites with these links would waste their time and other website owners wouldn't be hurt.
Google could also introduce a robots.txt command that tells Google that certain links should be ignored. It's hard to believe that Google's engineers would make it possible to harm other websites if there was an easier solution that would prevent this.
What can you do to prevent problems?
If you want to make sure that your website doesn't get penalized by Google, do the following:
  • Do not use spam methods to promote your websites. If Google ignores these methods, you're wasting your time. If Google penalizes these methods, you will damage your website rankings.
  • If you find fake reviews of your website, ask the website that publishes the reviews to remove the fake reviews.
  • Use white-hat SEO methods to promote your website. If you show Google that your website is a high quality website, then your web pages will get high rankings.
  • Make sure that your website is not too dependent on Google. You should also get visitors through other sources (online ads, offline ads, links on other websites, etc.).
Negative SEO is highly unethical and one can only hope that Google doesn't allow other people to damage your rankings. To improve your rankings, focus on the factors that you can influence and optimize your web pages so that they get high rankings on Google.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Organize your web page titles in 6 easy steps

With all the hype about Google's latest algorithm updates, it is easy to forget about the basics that are needed to get high rankings. Before you work on the links to your site, your web page basics must be right.

For example, the title tag has a very big influence on the search engine positions of a web page. In addition, the title tag is very important because it is the first thing that people see in the search results. There are several things that you can do to optimize your web page titles.

Step 1: check the HTML code of your web pages
It's astonishing how many pages have more than one title tag in the code. If your pages have more than one title tag, they will confuse search engine robots. The tags might not be read at all or, even worse, search engines might interpret this as a spamming attempt.
Step 2: use your keywords in your web page titles
Use the most relevant keywords at the beginning of your web page titles. Many people only scan the beginning of the titles so make sure that the beginning of the title tag contains the right words.
Step 3: make the titles clear, predictable and irresistible
The readers of your web page titles should know what your web page is about and the title should lead to a page that meets the expectations of the searcher.
The web page title is the first thing that people see in the search results. Make sure that the wording of your web page titles is appealing, emotional and irresistible.
Step 4: keep the titles short
Although there is no official limit, you should keep the length of your web page titles below 70 characters. The reason for that is that most search engines truncate the titles after 65-70 characters on the search result pages.
Step 5: remove unnecessary words
Words such as "homepage", "Index" and your company name usually don't help your search engine rankings. Remove these words from the title tags of your web pages. Your title tags will become more relevant to the actual keywords then.
Step 6: use unique title tags
Don't use the same title tags on more than one page. Each page should have a unique title tag that reflects the content of the web page. In general, optimize different pages of your website for different keywords. The more pages of your website you optimize the better.
The title tags of your web pages are only one factor that influences the position of your web pages in Google's search results.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Google releases two new ranking algorithm updates

It seems that Google releases a new ranking algorithm update every week. Last week, Google’s Matt Cutts announced that there is another algorithm update that targets web spam. What does this mean for your rankings and how must you react?

Google doesn't like web spam

“In the next few days, we’re launching an important algorithm change targeted at webspam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content.While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.”

Things that Google considers spam

Google’s announcement shows two examples. The first example is a page that is stuffed with hundreds of keywords in a comma separated list.

Google doesn’t want that type of pages in the search results. The second example is a page that has normal text. However, the text contains keyword optimized links that are totally unrelated to the surrounding text.

Other things that Google considers spam are linking schemes, misleading redirects or purposeful duplicate content.

Google says that the right kind of SEO is fine

Many people confuse search engine optimization with spamming. Spamming and SEO are two totally different things. Google’s latest announcement also contains a statement about “white hat” SEO:

"Effective search engine optimization can make a site more crawlable and make individual pages more accessible and easier to find. [...]

 'White hat' search engine optimizer often improve the usability of a site, help create great content, or make sites faster, which is good for both users and search engines."

How to react to Google's latest ranking algorithm

Google released two algorithm updates: a Panda update on April, 19th and the update explained above on April, 24th. If your web page rankings dropped on April, 19th, then you have to improve the quality of your web pages.

If your page rankings dropped on April, 24th, then you have to remove all spam elements from your web pages. If you think that your website was flagged by mistake, you can inform Google through this form.

Only use white-hat SEO methods if you want to be on the safe side

Use shady SEO methods and Google might penalize your website. If you want to be on the safe side, only use white-hat SEO methods.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Duplicate Content vs Content Syndication

Just a few days ago, I receive an email from a reader about the concern of duplicate content issue when using press release. I think this is one of the myth in SEO or in general marketing context.

What Is Duplicate Content?

First of all, we need to understand the definition of duplicate content and why it happens. When Google refers to duplicate content issue, they mean the same content that can be accessed via different URL in the same domain. For example, you have a page with unique that is about dog training, i.e., this page can also be accessed via multiple URLs because of session id or you have created multiple page with different design for split testing purpose, such as via,, then this could post a duplicate content issue.

If you submitted your very same post to the article directories, this is NOT a duplicate content issue but content syndication.  There are a lot of misunderstanding about content syndication versus duplicate content. Of of the most common way that you might see is that your blog posts were scrapped and posted on some other blogs via RSS. There are a lot of content scrapping software that are able to scrap content easily and get posted automatically to the blog to generate content. Most of them will provide a link back to the original source to acknowledge the author. 

Content Syndication 

This is the situation where you have the same piece of content showing up in multiple websites with different URLs and this is not considered as duplicate content. Similarly, you can also submit the same article to multiple article directories or using software like Article Marketing Robot for mass distribution of your article. This content syndication will result in multiple backlinks to your website and direct traffic to your site because you have increased the exposure of your website.

Another good example is press release. Most of the reputable press release sites will get a lot of syndication from other news agency and blogs, therefore resulting in massive exposure of the single press release. That’s one of the reason why press release can be extremely powerful to generate buzz for product launch and any kind of event. 

Unlimited Traffic And Backlinks? 

Now, hopefully you understand clearly the difference of duplicate content and content syndication. You might be wondering do you need just 1 piece of content to get unlimited traffic and backlinks since you can “syndicate to a tons of sites”? The answer is NO.Although technically you can submit your article to as many sites as possible, the chances for all those sites to get indexed by Google is slim. Please note that there is no penalty from Google and that’s just how Google will treat the excessive syndicated content as supplemental index database, as shown below:
Having said that, you still be able to gain the benefit of having direct traffic from the sites you submitted to. If you would like to gain the backlinks that are indexed by Google, you need to provide unique content.

I hope this post clears out the myth of duplicate content vs content syndication. As usual, leave me your comment below to share your thoughts on duplicate content, content syndication or any questions you have.

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