Category Archives for Search Engine Optimization

Determining Google indexation of your Site

SEO: Search Engine Optimization

What is Google indexation?

What we mean by indexation is the pages that Google has crawled of your site and put into its index. When you type in a search term into Google, it then uses the index as a repository to retrieve pages to show in the search engine results pages. Just because a search engine has crawled a page on your site doesn’t mean that it puts it into the index. For one thing you might have told it not to index it. Or Google might have decided it’s not worthy of being indexed.

What has Google indexed from your site?

To see whether Google has indexed your site at all, type the following query into Google, replacing your domain name for “” below.

If you get a list of URLs you are in business, if you don’t then the simplest way to get your site indexed is to add a link back to your site from a social media network such as Twitter or LinkedIn. Assuming your site is indexed, the next step is click through the pages (at the bottom of the search result page) to see what Google has indexed. You might be surprised.

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Does the meta description tag help SEO?

SEO: Search Engine OptimizationIt doesn’t help. At least not directly. Does that surprise you? Why then, you might be asking, does each SEO article you read about meta tags strongly recommend that you have meta description tags on each page of your website? Because SEO shouldn’t be your only focus when improving your website. And it is true that meta description tags may help your site perform better in the search engine results, albeit indirectly.

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Google Addresses Copyright Issues

Google has ramped up the fight against online piracy by putting more teeth into how it addresses copyright issues and violations. Content stealing and scraping (including images and video) is all too common on the web, up to now the main tool Google offered was the ability to file a DMCA takedown request. A DMCA takedown request, if deemed valid had the potential of removing the offending web page from Google’s index, but did not impact the rest of the site. That has now changed.

Hollywood has long criticized (and sued) Google for not doing enough to protect original content from being stolen and copied. Hollywood in particular hates YouTube. Of course, in this author’s humble opinion, Hollywood doesn’t help its case by clinging to the old dated notion that one needs to have cable to get the latest shows. Perhaps if it made more content legitimately available on the web; via Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, the piracy problem would get better. This cartoon from the Oatmeal sums it up perfectly. I too would love to watch the Game of Thrones series and I’m willing to pay a one time cost for it, but I am definitely not willing to resubscribe to premium cable just for the privilege. I was also rather appalled at the amount of ads (on every page refresh!) NBC made you sit through after paying to stream the Olympics online.

That being said, copyright violations is a real problem for bloggers as I have blogged about previously. I’ve also written an article on how to use images in your blog without violating copyright.

Now DMCA takedowns will have more impact, on August 10, 2012 Google announced on its blog that “valid copyright removal notices” will become a new signal for its rankings. What does this mean? As is typical for Google, the announcement is vague on the details, but if your website receives “enough” (the number is undetermined) DMCA notices from Google, the entire site will start rank lower in Google’s search results pages. So no longer is just one page affected, your entire site can be impacted by the notices. The idea, of course, is that the worst offenders will no longer rank as well as the original content.

Article Marketing’s Dirty Little Secret

Has the Grim Reaper come for Article Marketing?

Has the Grim Reaper come for Article Marketing?

With the Google Panda release last year, many pundits declared “Article Marketing is Dead” with a vocal (and invested) minority countering that Article Marketing was alive and well; it was just that writers needed to make some adjustments in this post Panda world.

So does Article Marketing still work or not?

As usual the answer is not black and white. It certainly doesn’t work as well as an SEO tactic as it used to. Panda devalued most if not all article marketing directories, so consequently they don’t rank as well and for fewer keywords. Most SEO firms will tell you that guest posting is the new article marketing and to not bother with article marketing at all. But is Article Marketing completely dead? No, depending on your competition and your keyword it’s still an easy way to get some exact match anchor text links to your site, and for some narrow niches that can be enough. It’s certainly better than buying links.

The seamy underside of Article Marketing

But before you rush out and create a bunch of articles and upload them to every article directory you can find, you might want to read through a case study I recently did exposing article marketing’s dirty little secret. When I was recently studying a client’s backlink profile who had lost traffic due to Google’s Penguin I started noticing what people had done with articles from these directories. So I took it one step further and did a small case study on what happens to the articles once they are published.

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Backlink Profile Management a Must Do

SEO Backlink Profile can take different formsWith Google’s increased focus on linkspam with the Penguin release, a periodic review and pruning of your site’s backlinks is now a must do.

Your backlink profile may hold unpleasant surprises. All too often, web site owners have no clue what kind of links a past SEO company may have built for them. I’ve found gaming sites and even porn lurking in the backlink profile of a website whose owner would be horrified to be associated with. Even if you never have outsourced to a link building service or used link building software – that link building that you did 5 years ago, that seemed fine at the time, might be a problem waiting to happen – even if you haven’t had a problem with Penguin yet.

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Your old posts may need some SEO help

WP PageNavi menu

Pagination with WP-PageNavi

One plugin routinely recommended is the WP-PageNavi plugin. What this plugin does is change the pagination on your WordPress blog from from the “Older Entries” and “Newer Entries” links to a set of clickable numbers each representing a page of posts. It’s clear this might be helpful to users, but what is the benefit for SEO?

To understand one reason why it would be useful, let’s examine how page rank is typically assigned to a website. Keep in mind this is an oversimplification of how Google actually works, but it’s useful as a model. Let’s say your site has been assigned a page rank of 5, that means it has 5 points to distribute to all its pages. So if there are 5 links on the home page each link would get 1 point. Now let’s say that page also has 5 links, each of those links would get 1/5 of a 1 point. So what’s the takeaway from this? That the more clicks it takes to get to a given page, the less value Google and the other search engines assign to it.

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Has your site been hit by Google Penguin?

SEO: Search Engine OptimizationGoogle changes have been coming fast and furious. Over the last few months:

  • Matt Cutts announced in March that a “over optimization” penalty was coming.
  • Soon after that, many sites received a “unnatural links have been detected ..” message in GWMT (Google Webmaster Tools).
  • A Google Panda update was released on April 19, 2012.
  • Google Penguin was released on April 24, 2012.

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Throw out your keywords and go creative with your blog titles

For choosing your blog titles, here’s the advice I’m sure you’ve heard:

  • Build a keyword list of your blog’s main topic.
  • Choose some criteria to pick the most promising keywords (search volume, evidence of long tail, competition or CPC)
  • Write a post that has the keyword term in the page title, post title and at least a couple of times in the post body.
Spike in Traffic shown by Google Analytics

Google Analytics doesn't lie - Sex Sells

While I’m not saying the above doesn’t work, some of my most popular posts did not use the above methodology at all. Case in point: Recently I noticed people “frictionless sharing” an article from the Washington Post titled “4 Things You Do To Kill Her Sex Drive” on Facebook which I’m sure many were unaware that the Facebook social reader app was posting on their behalf. So I wrote an article on Facebook Social Reader Apps and recommended people review their app list in Facebook and take action to not broadcast to Facebook their browsing habits.

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Is Anchor Text in Backlinks No Longer Relevant?

SEO: Search Engine OptimizationIf you research SEO, you will find that one recommendation is to build backlinks with relevant keyword rich anchor text. This touches on the topic of linkbuilding which is the activity of getting other websites to link to yours. Anchor text in the links with keywords gives Google another signal that your page is relevant to those keywords and should rank for search queries containing those keywords. Or so the story goes.

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Even with help, Bing struggles with duplicate content

seo: search engine optimizationFair warning, this one is for the SEO geeks out there.
Checking indexation and for duplicate content issues on Bing is sometimes overlooked with all the focus on Google. But it’s always good to check once in a while to see how your site’s SEO is doing on Bing. Check out my basic overview of Bing Webmaster Tools if it is new for you.

In this case, I had a client that had a number of very similar pages that did not fully have the rel canonical tag fully applied as a solution. Based on Eric Enge’s interview with Duane Forrester, where Duane stated “If we are finding your pages, but not keeping them in the index, there is a reason for that.” I decided to see what Bing Webmaster’s Index Explorer had indexed as “quality content” as a data point.

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