Bill Hartzer Tue, 24 May 2016 14:52:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Google’s Request for Rehearing Denied in Case Vs. Mississippi Thu, 19 May 2016 20:33:09 +0000 In a long dispute between Google and the State of Mississippi’s Attorney General Jim Hood, Google’s most recent request for a rehearing has been denied. The Times Standard reported back in April that the appeals court had overturned a ruling against the Stage of Mississippi. Google has appealed that ruling, which has now been denied.

Google vs. JAMES M. HOOD, III, Attorney General of the State of Mississippi

The dispute between Google and the Attorney General Jim Hood, the AG of the State of Mississippi involves “his investigation of whether Google bears responsibility for websites featuring illicit drugs, stolen credit cards and fake identification, as well as material on YouTube that infringes copyrights.” according to the Time Standard. Attorney General Jim Hood claims that Google frequently allows websites that sell illicit drugs, stolen credit cards and fake IDs to be indexed in their search engine, and won’t remove those websites from their search results quickly enough.

The complaint says that “Mississippi’s Attorney General, James M. Hood III, believes that internet giant Google may be liable under state law for facilitating dangerous and unlawful activity through its online platforms.” It goes on to say that “This dispute concerns the adequacy of Google’s efforts to police the technology services it provides to tens of millions of people every day.”

In late 2012 and early 2013, Hood and other state attorneys general began expressing concern that search engines were not doing enough to combat copyright infringement, the sale of prescription drugs and counterfeit products, and other “illegal and harmful” activity on the internet.

Hood complained that, among other things, children were “able to purchase drugs without a prescription through Google,” and that “sites peddling counterfeit and pirated goods are still appearing at the top of” search results. Hood expressed a desire to meet with Google to develop solutions, but warned that “if voluntary actions will not suffice, we will take legal action.” The AG demanded a “24-hour link” through which requests by attorneys general to remove webpages from Google’s searchable index would be “granted or addressed within hours.”

In this appeal, Google concluded that the district court erred in their previous ruling. But their has appeal has not been denied.

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Yelp Was Down Mon, 16 May 2016 17:01:23 +0000 yelp logo

Yelp logo. (PRNewsFoto)

May 16, 2016: 12:01pm Yelp is now back up and running, it appears that the site was down for several hours today, May 16, 2016. While it was down, they were displaying this message:

yelp down

Previous blog post below, as I initially reported it:

It appears that the Yelp website is down. This is the first time in many years that I have seen this website go down, and it’s certainly newsworthy. So many people rely on reviews from Yelp, good or bad, and many businesses rely on having good reviews on Yelp.

I checked the website “down for everyone or just me” and it shows that the Yelp website is, in fact, down:

yelp is down

On Twitter, it appears that it’s being reported for at least an hour or so:

yelp is down

I am sure that it won’t be down for too long, as I get more information I’ll update this post. Check back.

May 16, 2016: 11:01pm: Slashgear is reporting that “Frustrated users began to complain at around midnight last night, but the real down-time appears to have started in at around an hour and a half before this article was published”.

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Google Search Console Search Analytics: Last Updated May 3, 2016 Sun, 08 May 2016 13:25:37 +0000 google search analytics

Google Search Console’s Search Analytics feature, the feature that allows you to see the keywords, impressions, clicks, and average position of your website’s pages, has not been updated since May 3, 2016. Usually, Google allows verified website owners to see their search query data up to the past two days (the data is delayed two days). However, this week, the Google Search Console Search Analytics data has not been updated since May 3, 2016.

The fact that, as of the writing of this post, the Search Analytics data has not been updated in 5 days is rather concerning. As SEOs, we are always trying to improve the quality of search traffic to our (and our client’s) websites. One of the major things that I focus on during the optimization process is user intent. By being able to see the search queries that have brought users to one particular page on a website, I am able to make sure that the user intent matches the content on the page. If the content on the page delivers exactly what the user is searching for, it’s a win-win for Google and the website owner (if that’s my website or my client’s website).

One way we can gauge user intent is by looking at the keywords that the page is being found for in Google, and which search queries the search is using to find the website. Let’s look at a very specific example.

In a post on my site, about stopping retargeting, I talk about how to stop retargeting. I think I am pretty clear about what the page is about, especially with the title tag and the page’s content.

how to stop retargeting

But look at the #5 keyword listed in Google Search Analytics. It’s “retargeting for cleaning companies”. Well, that’s is quite the opposite of what my page is about. There are, apparently searches for that keyword phrase, so I might write another post about retargeting, and maybe use cleaning companies as an example. But why this particular page is ranking for that keyword phrase, completely the opposite user intent of what I want coming to my article about stopping retargeting, I am not quite sure. I don’t even mention the word “clean” or “cleaning” in that post. Unless, of course, “clear” is related? I do mention the word “clear” when talking about clearing your cookies.

If I can properly measure (and see) the user intent through keywords of people coming to my site, I can actually update my page so that it targets the right users. I can’t do much about retargeting for cleaning companies with that particular post, but I may use that keyword phrase for a content idea and a new post.

So, as you can see, the ability for us to see the keywords that are bring visitors, clicks, and especially the impressions that result in no clicks, I can ultimately provide a better search experience for Google’s users. Being unable to see keyword data, especially when it’s delayed a lot longer than usual, is concerning, and I just can’t do my job as well as I could when I don’t have updated keyword data.

Incidentally, the last time there was a reported issue with Search Analytics not updating was back in November 2015, and it was at least 6 days’ delayed.

After my tweet about the fact that it hasn’t been updated since May 3rd, John Mueller from Google responded, saying that he’ll look into it. He said that, “Sometimes these are just small quirks that take a few extra days to process.”

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Google Showing Multiple Domains in SERPS for Site: Command Fri, 15 Apr 2016 20:33:18 +0000

Google is showing multiple domain names in its search results when the site: command is used if domains pointing to the main domain include the canonical tag. Let me explain by giving you an example.

site search multiple domains
The screen capture above shows more than one domain for a search.

For example, if one site has a blog post on it and another site uses that blog post on its site and includes the canonical tag back to the original, then it’s possible that Google will show both domain names in the search results for a site: command.

Let’s look at a real example. In the case of my site, there’s an old blog post here:

Why Boosting Audience Retention With Video Will Do Wonders For Your Business

I wrote that blog post back in 2013. In 2013, Small Business Update pulled my blog post (I believe by its RSS feed) and essentially use the blog post (with my permission) on its site here:

Why Boosting Audience Retention With Video Will Do Wonders For Your Business

If you look at the source code of the Small Business Update page, you’ll see that there is a canonical tag being used, pointing back to my original blog post on my site, This is the correct implementation and the correct use of the canonical tag. Although, I must say, that there appears to be more than one canonical tag on that page. Looks like Google follows the last one.

Anyhow, since there is a canonical tag being used, a search query at Google for this:

will show pages from AND pages from I believe this is a fairly recent change for Google, as I have not heard about anyone else reporting this. But, in this case, you’d think that I only want to see pages from MY domain. But that’s not the case. I do like the fact though that Google is pointing out where my posts appear on other domains/sites, when the canonical tag is being used.

Here’s a video of the actual search results page showing multiple domain names for a search query.

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Using Cloudflare or Other CDNs Won’t Help You Hide Your Link Network Wed, 13 Apr 2016 19:49:21 +0000 Robert Fisher recently asked a question over at Moz regarding the use of CDNs to potentially hide a link network. In the past, there has been (and currently is still) an issue regarding linking websites together that are hosted on the same Class C Blocks of IPs. Essentially, if you own several websites, they’re hosted on the same server, then they will be on the same Class C Block of IP addresses. So, the search engines can easily see that you most likely own all those sites linked together by looking at the sites’ IP addresses.

The question was posed over at Moz about the fact that if you used a CDN (Content Delivery Network) such as CloudFlare (which I use currently for this site), then you wouldn’t have to worry about the Class C block of IPs. In theory, the search engine would ignore the IPs being on the same Class C Block because it’s possible that several sites are using Cloudflare.

Unfortunately, though, that theory, while a good concept, just doesn’t fly.

hide server behind cloudflare

There are tools out there that allow you to see the “real” IP address of a website using a CDN. For Cloudflare, for example, you can use this one:

CDN Planet has a CDN finder tool, but that one from Crimeflare will show you the IP address of the server if it’s using Cloudflare.

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How Much It Costs to Publish on Top Media Websites like Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Mon, 11 Apr 2016 21:06:00 +0000 One of the more difficult tasks for some SEOs who aren’t great content marketers is to generate great content and actually get that content published on top media websites. We’ve always known that you can, in fact buy your way onto these sites, but what does it cost? Well, I found out what one particular blogger charges to get your content published on top media websites.

paid content placement

Website Price $1,750 $1,250 $1,000 $800 $800 $500 $650 $500 $400 $350 $350 $350 (no_follow) $250 (No_Follow) $500 (no_follow) $250 $500 $450 $450 (No_Follow) $450 $650 $450 $500 $650

Some of these are listed as (no_follow) since the links that you get in this content placed there are, in fact, links that have the no follow link attribute added to them. No follow links would, actually be okay, especially if you are trying to diversify your links. In order for your link profile to look more natural, it’s best to have a mix of links with the nofollow attribute on them as well as links without the nofollow link attribute on them.

Keep in mind that this blogger (NOT ME) sells articles on these sites–they have obviously created an account or gotten their unique profile to a point where they can publish posts on these sites and they’re generally well accepted. They’ve done a bunch of work already to establish their accounts on these sites. They’re expensive like this to publish on these sites because the sites may not allow just anyone to publish.

We all should know the benefit of this, but for those who are reading this and don’t quite understand it: if you get your content published on these websites it will potentially send your website traffic–and you’ll most undoubtedly get a link or several links. That, in turn, will supposedly help your site rank better in the search results.

Please note that these aren’t my prices and they’re certainly not my accounts that are used here. I received the info from a writer/blogger who offers these services. And no, I don’t ever plan on (or have to) use these services. Ha!

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Google Continuing to Allow Alternative Characters in Title Tags Tue, 05 Apr 2016 22:11:42 +0000 google search results characters - example

In the Google search results, I’m still seeing some alternative characters show up at the beginning of the title tags in some results. Looks like the cases I have come across are all search engine spam results, but the fact that these characters are even being allowed is a mystery to me. Let’s look at an example:

That search result shows an example of what I’m seeing in some search results. If that is not showing the results currently, here is a screen shot:

google search results characters - example

So, in my opinion I don’t think any alternative characters, as in any characters that are not pronounceable shouldn’t be there. I know that’s pretty harsh, but other than a hyphen or a pipe symbol, I can’t see any reason for starting a search result with an alternative, unpronounceable character other than to try to get users to click on your search result.

As you can see, this particular search result actually is interesting since it showcases several search engine spam techniques:

– cloaking the page (show different results to Google’s bots than real humans)
– turning off the Google cache
– usage of https and a long URL to hide the URL in the SERPs
– usage of an alternative character at the beginning of the title tag
– usage of new gTLD domain names for search engine spam

That last one is interesting–why so much interest in using a new gTLD domain for search engine spam if Google wasn’t giving new gTLD domains any weight in the algorithm?

As you can see, there is one that’s also interesting, which is getting Google to index your page(s) very quickly. In fact, if you look you can see that Google even crawled and indexed a page 36 seconds ago!

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New Search Engine Launched: Only Searches New gTLD Domain Names Thu, 31 Mar 2016 00:48:55 +0000 newgle new tld search engine

There’s a new search engine out there that apparently has ditched the legacy .COM, .NET and .ORG TLDs (Top Level Domains) and only show New gTLDs in its search results. Using Google’s Custom Search Engine, Newgle has done what no other search engine has ever done before: only show search results from websites on New gTLD domain names. Newgle is a new search engine using Google Custom Search that takes the legacy TLDs out of the search results.

There has been quite the controversy regarding the New gTLDs, these new domain name extensions amongst the Search Marketing community lately, as many traditional SEOs don’t understand the power of having the keyword in the ending of the domain name. I have personally done lots of PPC research, and even some SEO-related research regarding websites and rankings. Frankly, I do believe that the data is there to support the fact that a website that uses a new domain extension, especially a keyword rich domain with a keyword-appropriate ending, works.

In case you missed it, I wrote an SEOs guide to the New gTLD domain names.

newgle insurance search query results

Newgle is the first search engine that I’ve seen only use the New gTLDs in its results. It is interesting to searches there for popular keywords such as “insurance” or “real estate” and see the search results. Granted these are Google search results, but without the .COM, .NET, and .ORG websites in the results. What I find interesting is that I’m having trouble finding an actual search result that has nothing in it–no results. To me, it looks like there are more plenty of good, decent sites showing up when I search.

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Google Wants Us to Share Links to Their Search Results Pages Wed, 30 Mar 2016 15:20:25 +0000 Google has added a share button to knowledge graph entries to encourage us to search more at Google. Whenever you search using a desktop (not mobile) device, and you see a knowledge graph entry on the right side of the search results, Google is displaying a share button, like this:

Google share button

When you click on this share button, you see this:

share button popup

You can share this link, which is to the very same Google search results page that you are viewing, on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, you can email it to someone, or you can simply copy the link (which is shortened). What I don’t get is that the order that they’ve put these links in, which is Facebook first.

Here’s an example of the link that they want me to share for my search results:

This shortened link makes a 301 Permanent Redirect to the search results for my name.

Is this Google’s effort to take away some of Facebook’s traffic and have Facebook users search at Google?

What this is good for, though, is encouraging people to search Google for entities and brands more. For example, the link on my Knowledge Graph entry is to a search result of my name. So, if I share the link then there will be more brand searches for my personal brand. As far as I can tell, there is no share button for pages that don’t contain Knowledge Graph entries.

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All Ranking Factors of Google Search Algorithm Not Applied to All Search Queries Thu, 24 Mar 2016 20:19:47 +0000 google search algo puzzle

Google’s organic search engine algorithm is made up of a lot of different search engine ranking factors. When it comes to certain search queries, not all of those search engine ranking factors are applied. In other words, Google may apply certain parts of their algorithm to certain keyword queries and might disregard other parts for other keywords. In a recent post at the SEM Post, one Google employee indirectly verified that this is the case.

Andrey Lipattsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, said this recently in a discussion related to Google’s RankBrain:

“The way I interpret his meaning, if you look at a slew of search results, and sort of open up the debugger to see what has come into play for such-and-such a query, for such-and-such a page, some things pop up more or less often, so certain elements of the algorithm come into play for fewer or more pages in fewer or more cases.”

Google has internal debugger tool that shows which Google algorithms (or part of their algorithm) are coming into play for specific search queries. When it comes to RankBrain, Google’s new machine learning technology, it may only be used when certain search queries are used by users and Google hasn’t seen that search query recently or have ever seen it. However, for other search queries, Google may not use RankBrain at all because (my speculation is) they don’t need it to display good search results.

Sometimes we get so caught up with Google’s changing algorithms and we try to figure out what they’re using right now and how we can optimize our sites…we forget simple things like this.

We should think of Google’s search engine algorithm and how it’s made up of all sorts of puzzle pieces. For certain search queries, Google uses certain pieces of that puzzle. For other search queries, they use a whole other set of puzzle pieces.