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Outbound links: Good or Bad for SEO?

2016 February 3
by Kathy Alice
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Myth or Reality: Outbound links bad for SEO

Myth or Fact? Outbound Links are Bad for SEO

Recently an email from a top media site was shared with me:

“…we would really rather not edit the links in our author bios to “follows” from “nofollow.” With the number of contributed articles (and articles, period) that we publish every day, we are leaking SEO authority with every “follow” link we allow.”

Given this is 2016, I had thought that the notion that outbound linking “leaks” link juice from a site had died a deserved death many years ago.  In fact, many SEOs believe that linking out to relevant and high authority helps your site by establishing trust.

Do outbound links hurt your site’s SEO?

Yes it is possible to have outbound links that will hurt your site. However as long as you are linking in a way that enhances your reader’s experience (for example you link to relevant sites and articles that support your viewpoint – as I am about to do), it won’t harm your site and may even help it.

Several of the Moz Search Ranking Factors Studies have found a positive correlation between the # of external links and higher rankings.

And this 2008 blog post from the Google Webmaster Central blog suggests that “thoughtful outbound links can help your credibility”.

Think of it this way, if you think the blog or site owner is someone you would enjoy having a cup coffee with, then their site is probably fine to link to.

And if you hang out with the right people that Google trusts, that helps Google trust you too.

A Brief History of the nofollow Tag

When can outbound links on your site harm your site’s SEO performance? When you are linking to spammy sites.

When you hand create external links, you are likely to pick your targets wisely. But what if the links are created by visitors to your site (also called user generated links) and the targets are not what you would have picked?

A classic case of this are blog comments. Unfortunately most blog comments are spam and placed there for the sole intention of getting a link to a dubious site.

This is why most blogs “nofollow” links in comments. What this means is that a tag (not visible to the reader unless certain plugins are installed into the browser) is added to the link code telling Google that you do not “vouch” for the target site.

Other reasons to use nofollow is if the link is a paid link. I should also mention that turning your pages into link farms where the number of links is so excessive that it gets in the way of the content is not a good practice either.

Guest posts and the nofollow tag

When guest posting became popular as a SEO tactic, we started seeing low quality sites adopt the practice. In fact some sites that accepted guest posts were really just article directories in disguise.

This led to the famous “stick a fork in it, guest blogging is done” Matt Cutts 2014 post.

This post, which seemed to trash one of the few legitimate link building tactics left to SEOs, sent shock waves through the industry. However instead of putting in place more stringent vetting for guest posts and diversifying inbound marketing efforts, many sites just decided to add the nofollow tag to contributor bio links.

Our friend, the media site, may say that that their concern is the leakage of link juice (which hopefully we have established is a fallacy) – but I believe what is really going on here is a fear of having too many guest posts (and the accompanying bio links) on their site.

Whether this fear is founded or not, I’ll leave for others to comment. It is true that any sort of detectable large scale pattern is not ideal for SEO (although there are sites that take many guest posts that do just fine). However if too many guest posts is really a concern, it would seem to me that just raising the bar would be the way to go.

Here’s what I suggest: accept only very high quality posts from site owners that you truly feel a relationship would be of benefit to you and that you could collaborate on other types of digital marketing.

Alternatively, some sites only feature columns (essentially a regularly occurring guest post from the same contributor) and that is another great way to go as those can build followings.

Sometimes the real concern is hidden and uses a myth as camouflage.

Moving WordPress to a New Domain in 7 Steps

2015 July 21
tags:
by Kathy Alice
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Moving boxes .. and WordPress sites

Moving boxes .. and WordPress sites

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. For one thing I’ve moved my residence. There’s no way around it, moving sucks, especially when you lived in one place for seven years. So I guess it was only appropriate to have the challenge of moving a WordPress blog to a new domain for a client soon after my move.

The scenario

These moves can be really dependent on the scenario you are dealing with, for example: who has the domain registered etc., so I’m just going to detail what I did and hopefully it will help others.

Continue Reading: Moving WordPress to a New Domain

Is WiX SEO Friendly?

2015 April 9
tags: ,
by Kathy Alice
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Wix LogoAlthough WordPress is my preferred platform, I’ll provide SEO and digital marketing consulting on any site built in any technology. I’ve looked at sites built in Adobe CQ, Magento, Joomla, as well as many sites built using an in house custom CMS (content management system).

Recently I’ve come across several sites built with WiX. Wix.com is one of several site builders that aims to make it really easy for the non geek to build a website. Others are SquareSpace and Weebly.

You can see the attraction; point and click, drag and drop, and preso you have a website! But what about SEO?

Continue Reading: Is WiX SEO Friendly?

Do You Need to Worry about SEO with WishList Member?

2015 March 12
by Kathy Alice
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At first glance SEO and membership sites seem to be two entirely unrelated things. When Googlebot encounters a login page, that page is a brick wall that stops it cold, since search engine bots don’t have a way to log into your site. So any content behind an authentication wall is essentially invisible to Google and the other search engines. So when you are setting up a membership site do you need to worry about SEO at all?

WishList Member Login Page

Example of WishList Member Login Page

Up to this point I had just assumed no. But I was wrong; when I started looking at a WordPress site using the WordPress plugin WishList Member, I ran into a number of issues. Some issues are specific to WishList Member – and I cover those below. But there is also some general SEO friendly practices around managing your content that applies to any membership site that I want to cover as well. Let’s start there.

Read through my guide to making WishList Member SEO Friendly

Checklist for Choosing a SEO Friendly Content Management System

2015 January 20
tags:
by Kathy Alice
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site map

Dynamically generated XML sitemaps are one CMS feature you will want.

Although I often recommend WordPress as a CMS (Content Management System), I’ve worked with a variety of other CMS – including some in house developed ones.

If you are considering selecting a Content Management System for your website, make sure you select one that provides a rich set of SEO friendly features.

Here’s my checklist to make sure you get a CMS that won’t set you up for failure.

Continue reading to get the checklist

Can your site get a Bing Penalty?

2014 December 30
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by Kathy Alice
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Bing Logo

Do Bing Penalties Really Exist?

By stripping away most of your organic traffic, a Google penalty can make or break your website. A Bing penalty is not as dire – but it could still have an impact on your bottom line. I recently was successful in restoring Bing and Yahoo #1 rankings to a site that had dropped off the first page for their head term. Here’s what I did and what you might try if you are in the same situation.

Is there such a thing as a Bing Penalty?

Does User Experience Matter for SEO?

2014 November 18
by Kathy Alice
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bad user experience with a donut

Don’t do this to your users !!

I have lost count of how many times a business owner has said to me: I’m good with my SEO, I got my keywords added to my site and I am done.

Well it’s a little more involved in that.

For example, did you know that the user experience of your site may be harming its SEO performance? When you step back and look at the bigger picture, it makes sense. Google has repeatedly said that its top goal is to deliver a great search experience to you, the searcher. If you are clicking through the search engine results pages and getting crappy sites and consequently leaving right away – don’t you think Google notices if enough people are behaving this way?

User Experience and how it matters for SEO was the topic of a recent interview I did for Ann Hession’s radio show: Turning Problems into Profits

Listen to the Interview and Get My Free Evaluation Tool

Is Affiliate Disclosure Required in an Email?

2014 November 11
by Kathy Alice
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Confused on Affiliate Disclosure in Email?

Confused about Affiliate Disclosure in Email Marketing? So am I.


After the beta launch of my SEO for Business Owners course, I’ve been planning to do a more expanded version next year (with a better title). One component of that planning is looking for partners that can help promote the course to reach a broader audience.

If you are not familiar with this business model, here’s how it works.

  1. You find someone that has a business complementary to yours and has (preferably) a big list
  2. They email their list promoting a freebie that you offer such as a free report or free webinar
  3. You then sell your product to your newly acquired prospects
  4. You pay your partner a commission for each person that he/she sent you that bought your product

Of course this is just a high level overview, but that should be enough information for you to get the gist of it. So the question is, do you have to disclosure the fact that you are a partner (or a affiliate) in the email you send to your list?

Continue Reading

Local SEO 101

2014 October 7
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by Kathy Alice
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When I created citations for a business six months ago, I wrote this 101 style blog post while it was still fresh in my mind. Since I now offer a local SEO video module as part of my SEO for Business Owners Course, I’ve returned to it and added even more details. You’ll learn how the local seo ecosystem works and all the basics you’ll need in getting started in local SEO.

local SEO

Get Started with local SEO for Web Visibility

More: Local SEO is just like regular SEO but with a Twist

Social Blogging at it’s Finest

2014 August 4
by Kathy Alice
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It’s that time of year again, the #blogsofaugust Google+ challenge!

If you ever wanted to break out of your current blogging rut, try your hand at social blogging on Google+. For a month, make Google+ your primary blogging platform and see what happens. Here’s why I’m taking up the challenge:

  • WebEnso is a blog dedicated to WordPress, SEO and other online marketing topics, I write long form articles that try to fully explore the topic, I often write more than a thousand words per post. With Google+ I can write about anything I want and explore short form blogging. Since I recently digitized my photos, I’m planning to post several this month.
  • You get to meet cool new people.
  • Google+ is better for engagement than any other form of publishing. So if you ever wanted to try your hand at writing and get feedback on whether it resonates, Google+ is a great place to try. I get more engagement on Google+ than I do on Facebook, Twitter and on my blogs.

I’m still planning a few things for WebEnso, a tools resource page and some design adjustments (check out the Google+ badge to the right!). But for this month, most of my writing will be on Google+

If you are interested in joining the fun but aren’t sure where to start read this eweek article from Mike Elgan. On page 2 he says: “Blog about three things: What you experience, what you think and what you make.” That is precisely what I intend to do.

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