I’m really excited about officially joining the Majestic SEO Ambassador program, and to have been accepted by the folks at Majestic SEO. I’ve been a proud user of Majestic SEO for many years now. [Read more…]
I spend a few hours each day helping site owners and business owners recover from the dreaded Google Penguin algorithm update. I thought that I had received crazy emails from site owners who don’t know how to update their website. But it’s also amazingly hilarious to me when I run into a site owner who doesn’t even know that certain pages exist on their website.
Let’s take, for example, a site owner named “Lee”. I sent him an email recently about getting a link on his “resources.html” page removed from his site, which is an obviously spammy type of link scheme page. It has at least 50 outgoing links on the page, and it’s all to off-topic sites:
> Hi Lee, > > Recently when we reviewed all of the links to XXXXXXXXX.com, we noticed that your website is linking to XXXXXXXXX.com on this page here: > > http://www.XXXXXXXXX.com/resources.html > > I'm wondering if you would remove this link on your website to XXXXXXXXX.com? > > Thank you, Bill (on behalf of XXXXXXXXX.com) >
After my email, Lee responded a few days later, with this:
Subject: Re: Question about XXXXXXXXX.com From: "Lee XXXXXXXXX"
Date: Wed, March 12, 2014 3:34 pm To: "XXXXXXXXX" Priority: Normal Options: View Full Header | View Printable Version | Download this as a file On 3/11/2014 6:27 PM, XXXXXXXXX wrote: I am not sure where that came from. We did not authorize any links, and i would not even know how to do such a thing. I do not know how to undo what you say happened. In fact I do not know where to begin. Lee
I responded to Lee, asking him if he had access to his website and whether. I also asked him if he was going to be able to remove that page on his site or if he still could remove the link. I have not heard back from him yet.
I suspect that a lot of business owners, especially those who are not as technical, don’t know about certain pages on their websites that their webmasters have built or added to their website. Pretty much now a “resources.html” page on a website isn’t recommended, especially if you are going to link out to sites that are off-topic.
Oh, the irony. Google is hosting the very articles that contain links that Google is telling us that they want removed. Wait. What?!? That’s right, in what can only be a unique twist of irony, Google is playing web host to thousands of low quality spammy articles, the exact same type of articles that Google wants us to remove. And the links that they’re penalizing websites for having.
Let’s first take a look at this ‘article directory’ website:
If you look at the screen shot, you’ll see that it’s an “article directory” that’s similar to the what Matt Cutts talked recently talked bout. In fact, he said not to build links using article directory websites. Let’s take a look at the video that Mr. Cutts posted about article directories: [Read more…]
There’s a search engine optimization company out there that is requiring that you pay for removal if you want your link removed from their directory. This same SEO company built these web directories several years ago, touting the fact that they would help your search engine rankings if you were to get listed. Now they want payment for removal of your link.
If you have a link on one of these directories, then expect to pay $25 for each link to be removed: [Read more…]
Dear Shady SEO Firm:
Would you please stop, immediately, from spreading false and untrue rumors about the Google Disavow Tool? By spreading false rumors, you’re hurting the SEO industry as a whole and making it even more difficult for us honest, Google-Webmaster-Acceptable-Guideline-Abiding SEOs to get our jobs done properly. And don’t even think about threatening website owners about removing links to your client websites. That’s just flat out wrong. [Read more…]
Google has launched an improved URL removal tool that will make it easier to request updates based on changes on other people’s websites. But there is actually another use for this tool: it can be used to aid in a website’s Google Penguin Recovery if your site has been hit by Google Penguin.
Recovering from Google Penguin is not an easy task by any means. In fact, it takes a very highly skilled technical SEO with a lot of search engine optimization experience in order to recover from Google Penguin properly without doing long-term damage to a website’s search engine rankings. The Google Penguin recovery process requires that you remove the “low quality” and unnatural links to your website. However, that is actually a lot easier said then done. Some sites have over 100,000 links pointing to their site. How are you going to gather all of those links (not one single tool out there will tell you about all the links, so you have to use multiple tools)? How are you going to sort through all of them and decide which links must go, which links must stay, and do that efficiently? [Read more…]
If you have ever received a manual penalty from Google, then you most likely have received this message in Google Webmaster Tools that could be an unnatural link warning, similar to this one that my client received:
The message reads something like this:
Dear site owner or webmaster of http://www.XXXXXXXXXX.com/,
We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team
If you receive a warning like this, then you need to take it very seriously. Specifically, you need to look at ALL of the links pointing to your website, over the entire history of your site. I recommend MajesticSEO‘s historical links in order to see all the links that your site has, and combine that with the list of links from Google Webmaster Tools. Put that data into a spreadsheet.
Then, you need to go through the painstakingly time-consuming task of going through each and every link. Make a record of everything that you’re doing, so you can give this information to Google. Again, record it in a spreadsheet.
Depending on the number of links that your site has, it could take days, weeks, or months to go through this process.
Whatever you do, though, you need to be very open and honest with Google. You need to tell them everything that you’ve done to get the unnatural links to your site removed. If there are links that you simply cannot get removed, then you’ll need to disavow those links. Make notes in the disavow file, as well.
Upload a copy of the spreadsheet that contains all of your notes to Google Drive (formerly Google Docs). Notate the URL of the spreadsheet and include that in your Google reconsideration request. I won’t go into the exact details of what you should include in a reconsideration request–because it needs to be customized for every website. But you need to tell Google what you did, the links that you think are unnatural, what you did to remove those specific links, when you contacted the site owners, and that you’ve changed your policies: you won’t engage in unnatural linking again.
Right now, depending on the amount of links you have and some other circumstances, once you file a reconsideration request with Google it is taking anywhere from 5 days to 15 days or so before you hear back from Google. My experience has been that it will take 5 days if you still have unnatural links pointing to your website: Google can spot those pretty quickly and tell you that you’re still in violation of their Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Once you’re manual penalty is listed or “revoked” by Google, you’ll receive a message in Google Webmaster Tools notifying you of their action. It will look something like this:
Reconsideration request for http://www.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.com/: Manual spam action revoked
September 23, 2013
We received a reconsideration request from a site owner for http://www.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.com/.
Previously the webspam team had taken action on your site because we believed it violated our quality guidelines. After reviewing your reconsideration request, we have revoked this action.
You can use the Manual Actions page in Webmaster Tools to view actions currently applied to your site. It may take some time before recent updates to your site’s status are reflected on this page and in our search results.
Of course, there may be other issues with your site that could affect its ranking. Google determines the order of search results using a series of computer programs known as algorithms. We make hundreds of changes to our search algorithms each year, and we employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages. As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking will happen from time to time as we make updates to present the best results to our users.
If your site continues to have trouble in our search results, please see our Help Center for help with diagnosing the issue.
Thank you for helping us to maintain the quality of search results for our users.
You see, if you do everything right, and you truly identify all of the links pointing to your website and you get those links removed and disavowed, your manual penalty from Google will get revoked. But it takes time, a lot of hard work, and someone who knows that they’re doing. And remember, having a manual penalty from Google (one where you got a message like the one above) is completely different than having a Google Panda or Penguin Penalty. There are different ways to deal with a manual penalty (which can be much worse) than how you would deal with Google Panda or Google Penguin issues.
Does your site have a manual penalty from Google? Contact me and let’s discuss getting that manual penalty removed.
There are so many companies out there, some calling themselves a Link Building Firm, that claim to offer natural link building services, which is an interesting type of service. Think about it for a minute. If your company offered something called “natural” link building services, then the links that you get to your website uh, well, would NOT be natural?
Is the company you’re going to deal with really a Link Building Firm? My definition of a natural link is one that you did not obtain by asking someone for a link–and you did not obtain that link because you hired an SEO firm to build those links for you.
This is exactly why I continue to be a strong believer in the Link Earning type of linking or link building service rather than “link building”. It’s a strong focus on the actual content: and using social media to get your content noticed. It’s then when you will truly obtain “natural” links. The Link Building Firm of the past should be called a Link Earning Firm instead.
I just had to laugh when I got an unsolicited email from someone named “Shane” who calls himself a “business development executive”. I have so many problem with this email below it’s amazing. Not to mention the fact that it was sent unsolicited, and I would first consider it to be spam. But first, take a look at it:
———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 7:18 AM
Subject: Natural Link Building Services !!
To: Info@ XXXXXXXXXXX.com
I am Shane Business Development Executive.
I was on your website and observed that you are an online service provider. I was just wondering if you would be interested in outsourcing your campaigns to us. We would be happy to execute the same for you on a white level basis.
Why choose us?
The answer is simple! We provide very UNIQUE link building service. It’s not the same as what most SEO companies do:
Top 20 Benefits of Our Service:
1. Securing “unidirectional” (One-way) or only-Incoming (non-reciprocal) links
2. Links with relevant “Keywords” in the Anchor Text
3. Links from industry-relevant pages.
4. Links from industry specific article pages
5. Links for your Website should not be through a “redirect” script
7. No links from “framed” pages
8. No “flash” embedded links
9. No paid or time-bound links
10. No email spam used to solicit links.
11. No links from “Link Farms”
12. No links from FFA (Free-For-All) link networks
13. No links from Pornographic, Casino, Viagra and other sites containing offensive content
14. Full data sheet of links created at the end of each month
15. Only relevant established links are counted in the final report
16. No links text nude
17. No “no-follow” links
18. No more than 75 outgoing links
19. No links from blog, directory, forum posting.
20. All the links will be Google cached and indexed pages.
However, all these benefits leads to one goal: “Increase in Sales”.
Let me know your views and I would be happy to provide further details.
Business Development Executive
First off, I would NEVER do business with someone who sent a spam email to an “info@” type of email address on my website. I just wouldn’t. But that’s just me.
I wouldn’t call myself a “Business Development Executive”. We all know that he’s a sales guy. Well, now a sales guy that’s a spammer. But I digress.
“I was on your website and observed that you are an online service provider”… Really? The site it was sent to is a local geo-type blog. Think “cityname + blog” type of keywords for this site. He never visited the site. That’s a lie. I don’t hire liars, either.
“It’s not the same as what most SEO companies do”… really? The problem is that all the SEO firms out there claim and do exactly what this guy is claiming. All of those statements, I would hope, are followed by just about any other SEO firm claiming to do link building nowadays. So, what exactly is unique about what Shane’s SEO firm does that no other SEO firm does? Well, uh, he never says!
Who builds links from FFA (Free For All) sites now anyway? That’s Sooooooo, 1998 link building I’m amazed that it’s even a tactic listed here.
One more thing. What the heck is “No links text nude”. I mean really, I didn’t know that links could be nude.
In a post Google Penguin world, it is still okay (an natural) to link out to other websites. Here in June of 2013, I am horrified that I actually have to have this conversation with other website owners and bloggers. I mean, really. Why would it possibly hurt your search engine rankings if you linked out to a company’s website when you mention them in your blog post?
Well, apparently there is a rumor going around. The rumor is that if you write an article or blog post and put it on your website, you should NOT (ever) link out to another company’s website–even if you mention them in the article. Supposedly Google will somehow mistaken your outgoing link for a paid link and penalize your website in the process. So, apparently the answer to all of this is to stop linking out to other websites.
What?!? When I heard this from a fellow blogger, the first thing I thought of was the fact that that is one of the most ridiculous rumors I have ever heard (and I’ve certainly heard a lot of them). But I can honestly say that with all of the information (and misinformation) out there about the Panda and Penguin Google Updates, I can see where people could get confused.
Let’s first start with this. At the Pubcon conference (yes I just linked out to another site), in April 2013, I gave the following presentation about Google Panda and Google Penguin. It’s important to understand the basics–what Panda and Penguin are about.
If you look at the following article (there again I linked out yet again and it won’t hurt my rankings), Guillaume Bouchard writes for Search Engine Watch and mentions the following about what constitutes a fishy link:
Outbound links using exact match anchor text from low quality sites (or penalized by Google), or from the same IP address
Well, that certainly could be confusing. He’s talking about LINKS THAT ARE POINTING TO YOUR SITE, not links that you have on your site pointing to other websites. What you don’t want is exact match anchor text links on low quality sites pointing to you. Get rid of those. Get them removed. Or disavow those links.
Remember, linking out to other web sites is natural and part of one of the core principles of the internet: other websites links to you and you link out to them. Want more proof? Here is what Web Page Mistakes has to say:
Providing Relevant Outbound Links is Good
Why is linking out good? Because as you write your article and make statements you should provide links to related and respected sources to backup your statements. This can be done by quoting a source and providing the link to the original article you quoted from (besides being good manners on the net).
Another way to provide relevant outgoing links is to provide a further reading or resources section at the end of your article.
Wait, what?!? Look at the sentence just before this quote. I linked out to another website, another web page that has all sorts of information to back up what I’m talking about. And, technically speaking, you probably came across this article because it ranks well in the Google search results. So, don’t be afraid to link out to other websites, especially when it is appropriate to do so.
You are not participating in a link scheme that Google will penalize you for if you link out to a company’s website when you mention that company in an article on your blog. That’s just insane to think that way.
In a post-Google Penguin world, yes, it is still okay to link out to other websites. In fact, if you don’t link out, it’s unnatural. That’s what might actually hurt your rankings.
If your website is banned in the Google search engine or if your website is penalized, then I don’t recommend writing and distributing a press release about it. IGXE the Internet Gaming Exchange, a company that specializes in selling MMORPG currencies, items, power leveling, and CD-keys, such as World of Warcraft gold, apparently got penalized in the Google search engine for buying links. As a result, instead of admitting that they did something wrong, they issued a press release telling others that they should not hire network marketing companies.
Here is some of the text from the press release that IGXE issued today. Essentially, they blamed someone else (network marketing companies) rather than themselves for getting penalized. They bought links, which is against Google’s acceptable Webmaster Guidelines. Google caught them, and penalized their website as a result.
WILMINGTON, Del., May 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — In January 2013, IGXE (www.igxe.com), one of the top in-game branding service websites specializing in MMORPG currencies, items, power leveling, and CD-keys, was punished by Google after IGXE took advantage of network marketing companies to improve its website ranking. When IGXE disappeared from the Google search engine, customers were left wondering why. Some even assumed that IGXE was closed. Others felt panic over their unused bonuses and vouchers. For this, the manager of IGXE marketing department, Vinson Hall, sought to assuage all concerns in an interview.
This punishment brought big losses to IGXE.com, as we lost lots of customers including our old customers. We learned a lesson. Vinson said that IGXE has already terminated its cooperation with network marketing companies. What’s more, bonuses or vouchers can still be used on IGXE. At any given time, IGXE will always protect its customers.
The whole premise for this press release (the reason behind it) is to blame some “network marketers” which I think honestly is a mistake. The problem mean “online marketers” or “internet marketers” rather than “network marketers”. The person who wrote the press release doesn’t appear to have a good command of the English language.
Rather than blaming some other company for your mistakes (buying links), then IGXE should only blame themselves. The company is ultimately responsible for all of their online marketing activities. If you choose to outsource your marketing efforts, then you must police those efforts and monitor everything that is being done.
There is absolutely no excuse for not knowing that you’re paying for links (which is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines). There are plenty of tools available for you to check the links to your website, and even some like Majestic SEO will give you all the data about your own website for free (as long as you prove you’re the owner of you site).
So, what happened?
According to IGXE, in January 2013, IGXE received a notice from Google (most likely via a message from Google Webmaster Tools) stating that there were unnatural links pointing to their website. Google also at the time apparently either banned IGXE from the search results or they severely penalized the site. for what it’s worth, IGXE is back in the search results now for brand-related keyword phrases.
What is amazing to me is that IGXE’s CEO is blaming Google for all of this. The company’s CEO is doing everything they can to blame someone else for this loss of revenue and “reputation”, and they’re not blaming themselves for doing something that is so very clearly against the search engine’s guidelines. Here is what IGXE’s CEO had to say:
It influenced our reputation significantly. Even now, some customers think that IGXE is closed. Besides, Google’s punishment affected IGXE negatively. As far as we know, we have already lost 30 percent of our old customers. Although we tried many other ways to reduce the loss, we still lost the trust of customers. This cannot be calculated.
Apparently IGXE has lost a lot of money and a lot of traffic. It even “influenced their reputation”. And they’ve already lost 30 percent of their customer base. IGXE apparently took a big hit in rankings and traffic when they were “caught” by Google buying links to their website. They are apparently now cleaning up the links. But, based on my experience, the site may not fully recover.
What’s my advice, here? Don’t buy links. But if you’re going to buy links (or participate in link schemes that are against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines), don’t blame someone else for something that you did. Don’t blame the network marketers. Don’t blame the SEOs. Don’t blame the online marketers.
And whatever you do, don’t blame Zac, the “famous” SEO specialist:
Zac, the famous SEO specialist, said that there many ways to cheat SEO including hidden links, link spam, paid links, keyword stuffing, and more.
Who the heck is Zac?
Can you tell that I’m disturbed by this? Well, I am.
Let’s take a very specific example and take a look. It isn’t normal that someone in the SEO community comes out and gives concrete examples, so take a look while it lasts. Take a look at the page, take a look at the backlinks to the page, and take a look at the search results (currently showing up on the 2nd page of results) for a Google keyword search for “wholesale sunglasses”. A highly sought-after commercial keyword phrase.
Furthermore, let’s take a look at one of the sites, why it’s actually ranking, as we can learn a lot from this.
First, it appears that the person doing this hacked a legitimate web site and put a page of content on the site without the site owner’s permission. Or, they may have bought the site and put up the old content. I’m not sure in this case, because I have not actually called the business to see if they are still in business or not.
Secondly, the actual content (shown below) is pretty low-quality. As low-quality as it gets. It is on-topic, though:
What’s driving the actual rankings to that mykiddspending.com web page? It’s the links.
Links from Unique Domains: 1455
Links total: 11,801
There are a lot of links from a lot of unique domain names. That’s exactly what Google is looking for now–a lot of diversity. But take a look at the anchor text. This is the most colorful link anchor text that I’ve seen in a long while. And I see a lot of web sites’ backlinks.
So, we can definitely learn from this. Although the web sites (there are more than one ranking) are spamming and redirecting users to another site, and it appears that they’ve hacked other web sites in order to get the pages listed, the sites rank well. They rank well because of the diversity of links (lots of links from lots of unique domain names) as well as the diversity of anchor text links pointing to the site.
A UK-based online marketing agency named datadial recently received a threatening letter (a Cease and Desist letter) from Fox Williams LLP demanding that a link on their website be removed. The link in question was pointing to Shopzilla’s website.
According to the letter from Fox Williams LLP on behalf of Shopzilla, there were legal grounds for removing the link:
— Trade Mark infringement
The Infringing Website contains a link to our client’s website, http://www.shopzilla.co.uk, creating an unauthorised association with our client and their Trade Mark. Your use of the link on the Infringing Website is:
— Causing detriment to the distinctive character of the Trade Mark;
— Causing detriment to the reputation of the Trade Mark by creating an undesirable association with the Infringing Website; and
— Taking unfair advantage of the goodwill attached to the Trade Mark.
Our client is entitled, at its own election, to damages or an account of profits for use of the Trade Mark.
The letter (which was sent via email) also included the following reason why the link to Shopzilla should be removed from the online marketing agency’s website:
Passing off [Fox William’s LLP’s] client’s goodwill
Our client has invested significant time and money in developing the Shopzilla® brand making it instantly recognisable amongst the public as a trustworthy and reputable online comparison shopping engine. It is highly likely that the average consumer will be confused, believing that our client is in some manner connected with the Infringing Website, either through ownership and operation or through a commercial relationship or endorsement with the operator of the Infringing Website. Such connection is causing our client damage. As such, your use of Shopzilla® in this way constitutes passing off.
And, apparently, copyright infringement was also mentioned. I’m surprised that simply linking to or mentioning another company or another website constituted copyright infringement. but, nonetheless:
The use of the Infringing Website of text and graphics taken from our client’s websites is an infringement of our client’s copyright. You have copies and communicated the copyrighted work to the public through the Infringing Website.
The use of the copyrighted work has occurred without the consent of our client, the copyright owner. We put you on notice that any continued use of our client’s text and/or graphics (in whole or in part) on the Infringing Website will constitute and infringement of our client’s copyright. This is without prejudice to our client’s position that you already have the requisite knowledge to establish such liability.
datadial posted on their blog about being sued by Shopzilla. Honestly, this is a classic case of “link bait” if I have ever saw one. Sure, they got an email from Shopzilla’s attorney. but really–they’re technically not getting sued (yet), as I bet that Shopzilla’s attorneys have not filed any paperwork with the court. The email that the online marketing agency received was just that–an email requesting a link removal.
It turns out that David Bixler from Shopzilla replied in the comments of the blog post:
I’m terribly sorry you received the letter from our attorney’s office. We appreciate that your site is not a spam site and is not mis-using our trademark. We flag up thousands of backlinks that are potentially spam and unfortunately your site slipped through our filter. Please disregard the notice and let me know if the wine was red or white…I’m sure I can find some twix as well.
VP, Operations – Shopzilla Europe
Shopzilla is using threatening emails to identify spam (or bad) links to their website in order to try to get them removed.
Did the email really request a link removal properly? Absolutely not. In order to clean up links to your website properly, you have to do the following things:
— Identify the bad links. There are a lot of links pointing to Shopzilla. You have to go through every single link and determine if it’s a bad link or a good link. To me, it sounds as in this case someone did not know what they were doing when they sent out all these emails to site owners trying to get the links removed. 99 percent of the work during link cleanups are identifying the bad links from the good links!
— Contact the site owner. You absolutely have to find the right owner of the site, and this is a manual process. You cannot just send out an email to anyone who you think is involved with the site–using some tool to identify site owners.
— Send the right message. The message sent here from Shopzilla was the WRONG THING TO DO. You have to be kind to people, be courteous to website owners and ask them to remove the link or make it a “nofollow” link. I don’t recommend being nasty with people or threatening. At least not in the first email or contact you make with them. It can come back to bite you–what if the site owner got mad and started doing even more negative SEO to your website? I’ve seen it before. It can happen.
— After your link removal requests you need to then decide whether or not you need to actually do a link disavow with Google and Bing. In many cases, when I’ve gotten links removed (the right links removed), a link disavow is NOT needed.
Link removals take time and they’re mostly a manual process. There are some great tools out there link Link Research Tools that will help you identify suspicious and toxic links to your website. But just using a tool is only half the battle. You have to go through each and every link in order to figure out which are bad and which are good, healthy links. And which links aren’t worth chasing.
The first-ever online marketplace for buying and selling links in articles and blog posts based on Google Authorship and Klout score has been launched. Buying and selling links based on Google’s PageRank has long been a controversial topic, as well as a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. AuthorLinks is a marketplace for buying and selling links based on a web site owner’s Google Authorship and overall Klout score.
The goal of AuthorLinks is to change how links in blog posts and in articles are sold. Rather than basing the price of a link on an outdated metric like Google PageRank and maybe even overall link data such as SEOMoz’s MozRank or Majestic SEO’s ACRank, with AuthorLinks, the emphasis is based on how popular an author or web site owner is socially. Social signals such as having verified Google Authorship, having followers on Google Plus, and having a good Klout score are going to be much more important in the future–and indicate that the site who will be linking to your web site is more trusted than others.
AuthorLinks is 2017 Link Building
While many are still caught up with acquiring links from web sites that have good Google PageRank and a history of quality backlinks to their web site, in the future, around 2017, I’m predicting that social signals and getting a “link” from a web site that has a lot of real human readers (thus clicks to your web site) is going to be more important then some link in a sidebar, footer, or blogroll link. AuthorLinks, which only concentrates on links from web sites whose owners are active socially, is 2017 linking at its finest.
Author Links is a marketplace for the buying and selling of contextual links that appear in content. These links appear in content on blogs and as articles on web sites. Pricing is based on the author’s current Authorship status, their current Klout influence, and the topic they write about. The more popular the author is, the higher the cost to get that author to write about your product or service. Authors get paid by Author Links to create and publicize great content.
Built Based on Demand
As someone who has been practicing search engine optimization since 1996, I have seen many different SEO fads, schemes, and scams come up over the years. There’s been everything from getting listed in useless directories, buying and selling of sidebar text links, guest blog posting, and even massive blog commenting and spamming that’s gotten way out of control. The bottom line is that we need to forget about search engien optimization and chasing the latest SEO fad or scheme to rank higher in the search results.
What we really need is a blogger or web site who is popular in your industry to write about your products or services and send real humans to your web site. Forget about Google PageRank or how many links a web site has–you need real eyeballs to hit your web site. People who follow that blogger and trust what he or she has to say. That’s where AuthorLinks comes in. AuthorLinks matches your need as a web site owner with bloggers or web site owners who are willing to write about your product or service for a fee. You can trust the fact that if you pay your products or services will get noticed. AuthorLinks works with bloggers and web site owners who are totally transparent (they have verified their Google Authorship) and they are active on social media (they have a certain Klout score).
I personally built AuthorLinks based on demand–the need for a marketplace where great content can be placed with a blogger or web site owner who is both transparent and who has a good following on the social media web sites. Sure, you can create great content. But if you do not have an appropriate place to put that content and you cannot get that content in front of real eyeballs who will interact with it and who will share it with others, then you’re out of luck.
Not Without Controversy
In the past few months, I’ve quietly launched AuthorLinks. Well, apparently not so quietly, after all. Turns out that AuthorLinks has already made the rounds on Twitter, on Google Plus, hit the homepage of Inbound.org, as well as being mentioned in a recent presentation at the SMX Conference. There has been a lot of confusion over exactly what AuthorLinks is and what it’s doing. One thing for sure is that AuthorLinks is NOT selling Google AuthorRank. It’s certainly NOT selling Google PageRank (we don’t even calculate or check Google PageRank for a site selling AuthorLinks), which is a violation Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. AuthorLinks strongly encourages authors to comply with all FTC guidelines for disclosure as well as any search engine guidelines for paid posts.
AuthorLinks is selling access to transparent authors who are active on social media web sites. If you’re interested in that, then take a look. If you’re a transparent author who is active socially then you may be interested in monetizing your web site further by being an approved AuthorLinks author.
Update: AuthorLinks has rebranded itself as AuthPost, and can now be found on http://www.authpost.com.
Update: Links have been removed from this post. November 15, 2014.
Authpost.com has been taken down when Google Authorship was removed.
Way to go, Google. This just goes to show that the employees who work on your Google Webmaster Tools don’t talk to your Google Docs employees. Nothing can be more frustrating than using two Google products that don’t work with each other very well. Such is the case with Google Webmaster Tools and Google Docs.
If you’re a webmaster or web site owner and go into Google Webmaster Tools, you can download sample links to your web site. Google offers a download, either in CSV (comma separated format), usually which I open up in Microsoft Excel. Or, you can download the sample links to your site into Google docs format. Herein lies the problem.
If you have over 100,000 links to your web site (as my client does, they have over 1+ million links to their web site), Google will allow you to download 100,000 “sample links” to your web site. In this case, it’s less than 10 percent of the links to the web site (but I digress).
When you go to upload the links from CSV (Microsoft Excel format) into Google Docs, Google will not let you do that. You cannot upload a spreadsheet that has more than 400,000 cells in it. But that’s data that Google themselves give you.
I’m increasingly running into this cell limit error, especially dealing with data that Google Webmaster Tools themselves provides.
If Google gives you the data, then you should be able to upload it into Google Docs and work with it.
Google has a lot of webmasters scared. Seriously, they really do. Webmasters are so scared now that they are randomly and blindly emailing all the sites that they know about that link to them–and asking for links to be removed to their website. Google has been sending “unnatural link warnings” to website owners, telling them that they have unnatural links pointing to their website. Unfortunately, many webmasters freak out, think it’s the end of the world or something, and don’t do their proper link research. They’re then emailing webmasters of good links to their site and getting both the good and the bad links removed.
I have been helping webmasters and website owners who have received unnatural link warnings from Google clean up their links. And, if necessary, use the Google Disavow Links tool, to disavow the bad links.
Here’s a typical email that I received recently from a website owner, named Will:
Subject: Got Odd Link-Takedown Request Yesterday; -WTH?
Read your article found through a Google search.
-So Yesterday, I got this takedown request and I am not exactly sure what to make of it.
Do you know what the hell this is?
It seemed a little odd and counterintuitive, as:
1)My site, XXXXXXXXXXXX.net is a legit, high-quality XXXXX blog and has nothing to do with spam.
2)I did the posts because I thought XXXXX’s infographics were great, not because of something nefarious.
3)I was following proper Source Attribution ethics, such as Maria Popova’s “The Curator’s Code”
4)All Link-Text/Names were checked vs. their URLs, and there are no discrepancies.
-So: is this just XXXX carpetbombing because Google penalized them for shady SEO in the past, or is it something different?
Any thoughts & ideas would be most welcome.
Here’s The Email I Received, Quote:”
My name is Jonathan and I’m getting in touch on behalf of XXXX company. I noticed that you’ve linked to my website on your page XXXXXXXX.net/page.html with the text “XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX” and am requesting that you remove the link.
I’m asking this because it’s come to our attention that some of the links to our website have been acquired against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, so it’s important for us to remove links that are harming traffic to our website. Furthermore, by linking to our site, it could be detrimental to your site’s overall traffic, so it will be important for you to remove the link.
Please let me know if you have any questions. If you could email me once you have removed the link that would be great.
Compliance and Standards Team”
I have removed the names of websites and the anchor text and URLs in this to protect the innocent webmasters involved. This is typical. Many of these webmasters are mistakenly emailing lots of good websites–and asking them to take links down or remove the links. This is just wrong. There are cases where links need to be removed–especially if someone hacked into a website and added a page to the site (with your link back to the site). I spent HOURS today identifying all these bad links and am going to take care of them for my client. Here’s just one of hundreds of pages that have been added to literally thousands of websites by hacking into their site:
In the case above, it’s very clear that this is a bad backlink. The page is on someone’s site that has nothing to do with the University of Texas at Arlington (it’s obviously been hacked) and the page should only be on an .EDU site, NOT on some miscellaneous website. Those are the types of links that must be removed.
By notifying the site owners of these types of pages, many have gotten right back to me–explaining that they didn’t know their site was hacked like that. And they’re taking care of the link. So, if you get the link removed, do you really need to use Google or Bing’s disavow link tool to disavow the link? Well, no.
So, if you have a good website and you know that your outgoing links are not bad outgoing links, and you receive one of these takedown notices or link removal notices, then don’t take it personally. In many cases, the webmaster is wrong–and the link should NOT be removed. Perhaps they might like to change the anchor text of how you’re linking to them–but in many cases, if you know your website does not have a problem (like it’s not been hacked and it’s not been de-indexed by Google), then you have nothing to worry about.
So, what about Will? Well, I immediately emailed him:
Bill Hartzer wrote:
I would not worry too much about it. Some websites got link warnings from google and are mistakenly sending out notices like this. They are really only hurting their own site. I would not take it personally.
Here’s what Will wrote back to me:
Thanks VERY MUCH for your Extremely fast reply!
I was a little worried there for awhile.
Another fellow website owner helped–for some reason I feel really good about this one. The site was actually really good–and the anchor text of the link was about 5 words in length. Not something that I would have tried to get removed. Oh well.
I think the title of this blog post says it all. Really. Here we are in the beginning of 2013 and many respected experts in the Search Engine Optimization industry offering their predictions for the year. I purposely have decided to not offer any predictions for the year. Rather, just go ahead and change my whole entire attitude and way of thinking when it comes to SEO, web site marketing, internet marketing, online marketing, whatever you want to call it these days. What is the change I’m making?
I am no longer calling myself a link builder. I no longer do link building. It’s now all about link earning, so I am officially going to call myself a content publicist. I am no longer a link builder, but am now an online content publicist.
Why the change? In 2012, we have seen a lot of changes in how the search engines deal with links, which types of links they are “counting”, which links that they are telling us that are unnatural or bad, toxic links. And even the link moses, Eric Ward, who has been doing link earning all along, has offered his predictions for 2013.
Link Networks – gone and devalued.
Infographics – people are starting to ignore them. I’m not a big fan.
Directories – there are really possibly less than a half a dozen still worth getting “listed on”. And even then, the SEO value of those are potentially questioned.
Sponsorships – potentially devalued in 2013, but since they’re paid anyway do we really think the search engines would value these anymore? Paid posts and paying for links has been out for several years now. Devalued. Why should a search engine give value to a paid sponsorship of an event?
Blog post comments – pretty much still worthless, unless it’s a comment on an A list blog with a lot of traffic and a lot of trust. Still then, comment because you want to comment. Now because you are looking for a link.
Forum Posts/Signatures in Posts – Might bring you a few clicks if it’s a popular forum. But other than that, no longer any SEO value there.
Links from Social Sites – The search engines crawl the social sites, and the best way to get a page crawled is to mention the URL in a Tweet or on Google+. But the value here is more when it is done for content awareness, and not because of the actual link or SEO value of the link.
For me, it all really started with Danny Sullivan’s rant about link earning in June 2012. It really comes down to one statement by Danny that sums it all up quite nicely:
What you want is to be linked from places where there’s an actual audience that might see your link and click on it directly to visit. Do that, and you’re building the type of links the search engines want to reward.
If you want to hear and read the audio from Danny Sullivan’s (now) famous rant? Jeremy recorded it and posted a transcript.
I’ve officially stopped focusing saying that I do link building. I’m no longer a link builder. I’m a content publicist. Why? If you stop thinking about building links, you start thinking about publicizing content, then you start to focus on what matters most: getting really good content in front of people. Real people have the ability to “like”, “plus one”, and share content with their friends and others. If it’s good content then it will get noticed if you do the “publicity part” right. And it’s a lot easier to get links to great content–so the link building (or link earning) part will come naturally.
It’s now my belief that a link will have more value or be valued more by the search engines if that link has traffic and visitors associated with it. The search engines have a lot of data now. They know when people are clicking, tweeting, liking, sharing, and visiting certain URLs. Trust me, they know.
If you are a link builder or do any link building for your web site or a client’s web site, you need to stop calling yourself a link builder. Start changing your whole attitude, start thinking of yourself as a content publicist. You’ll thank me when 2014 comes around.