Banner

Follow Along

RSS Feed Join Us on Twitter On Facebook

Get Engaged

Banner

Related Reading

Our Sponsors

Banner
Banner
Banner

Join Us

Banner
Newsfeeds from around the industry
SEO Book


  • Google's Effective 'White Hat' Marketing Case Study

    There's the safe way & the high risk approach. The shortcut takers & those who win through hard work & superior offering.

    One is white hat and the other is black hat.

    With the increasing search ecosystem instability over the past couple years, some see these labels constantly sliding, sometimes on an ex-post-facto basis, turning thousands of white hats into black hats arbitrarily overnight.

    Are you a white hat SEO? or a black hat SEO?

    Do you even know?

    Before you answer, please have a quick read of this Washington Post article highlighting how Google manipulated & undermined the US political system.

    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    Seriously, go read it now.

    It's fantastic journalism & an important read for anyone who considers themselves an SEO.

    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    ######

    Take the offline analog to Google's search "quality" guidelines & in spirit Google repeatedly violated every single one of them.

    Advertorials

    creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links can be considered a violation of our guidelines. Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank

    Advertorials are spam, except when they are not: "the staff and professors at GMU’s law center were in regular contact with Google executives, who supplied them with the company’s arguments against antitrust action and helped them get favorable op-ed pieces published"

    Deception

    Don't deceive your users.

    Ads should be clearly labeled, except when they are not: "GMU officials later told Dellarocas they were planning to have him participate from the audience," which is just like an infomercial that must be labeled as an advertisement!

    Preventing Money from Manipulating Editorial

    Make reasonable efforts to ensure that advertisements do not affect search engine rankings. For example, Google's AdSense ads and DoubleClick links are blocked from being crawled by a robots.txt file.

    Money influencing outcomes is wrong, except when it's not: "Google’s lobbying corps — now numbering more than 100 — is split equally, like its campaign donations, among Democrats and Republicans. ... Google became the second-largest corporate spender on lobbying in the United States in 2012."

    Content Quality

    The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.

    Payment should be disclosed, except when it shouldn't: "The school and Google staffers worked to organize a second academic conference focused on search. This time, however, Google’s involvement was not publicly disclosed."

    Cloaking

    Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to human users and search engines. Cloaking is considered a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines because it provides our users with different results than they expected.

    cloaking is evil, except when it's not: Even as Google executives peppered the GMU staff with suggestions of speakers and guests to invite to the event, the company asked the school not to broadcast its involvement. “We will certainly limit who we announce publicly from Google”

    ...and on and on and on...

    It's not safe to assume that just because a specific deceptive technique isn't included on this page, Google approves of it.

    And while they may not approve of something, that doesn't mean they avoid the strategy when mapping out their own approach.

    There's a lesson & it isn't a particularly subtle one.

    More and more, it looks like that invisible hand shaping the market actually belongs to Google. http://t.co/fFigz7lMSY— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) April 13, 2014

    Free markets aren't free. Who could have known?

    Categories: 


  • The Positive Negative SEO Strategy

    There’s a case study on Moz on how to get your site back following a link penalty. An SEO working on a clients site describes what happened when their client got hit with a link penalty. Even though the link penalty didn't appear to be their fault, it still took months to get their rankings back.

    Some sites aren't that lucky. Some sites don’t get their rankings back at all.

    The penalty was due to a false-positive. A dubious site links out to a number of credible sites in order to help disguise their true link target. The client site was one of the credible sites, mistaken by Google for a bad actor. Just goes to show how easily credible sites can get hit by negative SEO, and variations thereof.

    There’s a tactic in there, of course.

    Take Out Your Competitors

    Tired of trying to rank better? Need a quicker way? Have we got a deal for you!

    Simply build a dubious link site, point some rogue links at sites positioned above yours and wait for Google’s algorithm to do the rest. If you want to get a bit tricky, link out to other legitimate sites, too. Like Wikipedia. Google, even. This will likely confuse the algorithm for a sufficient length of time, giving your tactic time to work.

    Those competitors who get hit, and who are smart enough to work out what’s going on, may report your link site, but, hey, there are plenty more link sites where that came from. Roll another one out, and repeat. So long as your link site can’t be connected with you - different PC, different IP address, etc - then what have you got to lose? Nothing much. What have your competitors got to lose? Rank, a lot of time, effort, and the very real risk they won’t get back into Google’s good books. And that’s assuming they work out why they lost rankings.

    I’m not advocating this tactic, of course. But we all know it’s out there. It is being used. And the real-world example above shows how easy it is to do. One day, it might be used against you, or your clients.

    Grossly unfair, but what can you do about it?

    Defensive Traffic Strategy

    Pleading to Google is not much of a strategy. Apart from anything else, it’s an acknowledgement that the power is not in your hands, but in the hands of an unregulated arbiter who likely views you as a bit of an annoyance. It’s no wonder SEO has become so neurotic.

    It used to be the case that competitors could not take you out pointing unwanted links at you. No longer. So even more control has been taken away from the webmaster.

    The way to manage this risk is the same way risk is managed in finance. Risk can be reduced using diversification. You could invest all your money in one company, or you could split it between multiple companies, banks, bonds and other investment classes. If you’re invested in one company, and they go belly up, you lose everything. If you invest in multiple companies and investment classes, then you’re not as affected if one company gets taken out. In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

    It’s the same with web traffic.

    1. Multiple Traffic Streams

    If you only run one site, try to ensure your traffic is balanced. Some traffic from organic search, some from PPC, some from other sites, some from advertisements, some from offline advertising, some from email lists, some from social media, and so on. If you get taken out in organic search, it won’t kill you. Alternative traffic streams buy you time to get your rankings back.

    2. Multiple Pages And Sites

    A “web site” is a construct. Is it a construct applicable to a web that mostly orients around individual pages? If you think in terms of pages, as opposed to a site, then it opens up more opportunities for diversification.

    Pages can, of course, be located anywhere, not just on your site. These may take the form of well written, evergreen, articles published on other popular sites. Take a look at the top sites in closely related niches and see if there are any opportunities to publish your content on them. Not only does this make your link graph look good, so long as it’s not overt, you’ll also have achieve more diversity.

    Consider Barnacle SEO.

    Will creatively defines the concept of barnacle SEO as follows:
    Attaching oneself to a large fixed object and waiting for the customers to float by in the current.
    Directly applied to local search, this means optimizing your profiles or business pages on a well-trusted, high-ranking directory and working to promote those profiles instead of — or in tandem with — your own website.“

    You could also build multiple sites. Why have just one site when you can have five? Sure, there’s more overhead, and it won’t be appropriate in all cases, but again, the multiple site strategy is making a comeback due to Google escalating the risk of having only one site. This strategy also helps get your eggs into multiple baskets.

    3. Prepare For the Worst

    If you've got most of your traffic coming from organic search, then you’re taking a high risk approach. You should manage that risk down with diversification strategies first. Part of the strategy for dealing with negative SEO is not to make yourself so vulnerable to it in the first place.

    If you do get hit, have a plan ready to go to limit the time you’re out of the game. The cynical might suggest you have a name big enough to make Google look bad if they don’t show you.

    Lyrics site Rap Genius says that it is no longer penalized within Google after taking action to correct “unnatural links” that it helped create. The site was hit with a penalty for 10 days, which meant people seeking it by name couldn’t find it.

    For everyone else, here’s a pretty thorough guide about how to get back in.

    Have your “plead with Google” gambit ready to go at a moments notice. The lead time to get back into Google can be long, so the sooner you get onto it, the better. Of course, this is really the last course of action. It’s preferable not make yourself that vulnerable in the first place.

    By diversifying.

    Categories: 


  • Bing Lists 'Alternatives' In Search Results

    Bing recently stated testing listing 'alternatives' near their local search results.

    I wasn't able to replicate these in other search verticals like flight search, or on an iPhone search, but the format of these alternatives looks similar to the format proposed in Google's ongoing monopolistic abuse case in Europe:

    "In effect, competitors will have the 'choice' either to pay Google in order to remain relevant or lose visibility and become irrelevant," a European consumer watchdog, BEUC, said in a letter it sent to all 28 EU commissioners. The letter, seen by The Wall Street Journal, terms the deal "unacceptable."

    Categories: 


All the Latest

Getting Around the Site

Home - all the latest on SNC
SEO - our collection of SEO articles
Technical SEO - for the geeks
Latest News - latest news in search
Analytics - measure up and convert
RSS Rack - feeds from around the industry
Search - looking for something specific?
Authors - Author Login
SEO Training - Our sister site
Contact Us - get in touch with SNC

What's New?