History of Home Competition Entry

One of the gadget blogs I read Mighty Gadget is running a competition for £500 worth of John Lewis gift vouchers.

My entry is my Fathers old GyroDec turntable, he passed away when he was just 55 and one of his passions was music. He was particularly fond of Classical and Opera music and he was very traditionalist hence he preferred vinyl over them new fangled CDs.

The GyroDec was a treat for himself and it is a highly regarded turntable built in Glasgow, it is also a beautiful piece of engineering encased in a acrylic clear colourless case.

Following both his and my Mothers death I have kept the GyroDec in our front room in remembrance of him even though I don’t personally listen to vinyl and I could sell it for quite a lot of money.

gyrodec2 300x225 History of Home Competition Entry

Big Mouth Media’s internal linking technique

Does any one else get annoyed by the internal linking technique on Big Mouth Media’s news / articles pages?

Basically every time they mention certain keywords the word links to a specific page on the site. Now don’t get me wrong, I know this is good for SEO, and it is not breaking any rules but they do it on EVERY key term in the article.

It actually looks ok on their site as the links are quite subtle but in Google reader there are blue links all over the gaff!

big mouth internal linking thumb Big Mouth Medias internal linking technique 

Perhaps they should look at Gab Goldenberg’s neat little Internal Linking building plug-in for ideas on how to implement the internal links a little better.

I do actually like how Big Mouth have implemented this system apart from the excessiveness of it. Though I am pretty sure it is recomended to use – over _ for the URLs ie http://www.bigmouthmedia.com/products_services/search_engine_optimisation/

Rant: custom design and development

Ok I am not bitching about everybody who offers custom design and development, but I see a lot of so called web design companies offering this to clients but then clearly sell on other peoples work.

The worst case are people that sell a static design to a client, then rip off the HTML code from another persons site and customise it a little. This has happened a few times to me now (the ones I am aware of!) and one case they even ripped off the tracking code, which sort of gave the game away.

The other more common case are companies that use out of the box applications / open source scripts such as Joomla. They sell the website, find a free or premium theme customise it a little and claim it is bespoke.

I am sorry but in my eyes that is not custom or bespoke! That is re-selling another persons design!

I personally think a bespoke design is something that has been created from scratch, most likely in PSD form then sliced and coded into (x)HTML. Then depending on the job it maybe integrated into an application. This means the client gets the exact design they want, if they don’t like a colour or layout they can change it during the design process. Once they are happy with the design they sign it off and it then is coded.

Some companies are so lazy (or stupid) they don’t even change the bloody name of the theme they used! One example recently (I won’t name names) did an e-commerce site in Joomla. I viewed the source and saw the theme name gk_eshoptrix_2. A quick Google search led me to Gavick.com. A quick look at his demos and I found the theme in question. The ONLY alterations done were the shop name, and 4 images. I am assuming the theme was supplied in PSD so it probably would of taken 30 minutes to do!

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying people can’t do this, or that people can’t take design ideas from other sites. But if you are selling a template site to a client, it is only fair the client knows this first!

What’s your experience with recruitment agencies? Do you ever use them?

My company is only small, we are a team of 5 and most of us have known each other for a while. So the whole recruiting process has never been much of an issue for us.

The last lad we took on we did advertise the role, we decided a graduate would be best, so he can be trained up to work how we want him to not how someone else trained him too. It was a bit of a pain finding someone but not that hard in the end, more time consuming.

However the idea of using an agency never crossed our minds, I am not that clued up how agencies work but I believe they take a % of the wage, so if I offered 15k the agency might take 15% of that (please correct me if I am wrong). Now this seems VERY expensive for a small company as the employee would walk away with £12,750 so not likely to accept the job offer and the agency would get £2250.

Obviously for a larger company, or someone needing staff for shorter period of time I can see the benefit, but for a small company why would I want to do this?

Then there is the fact that I get 2-3 calls a day from people who claim the specialise in SEO recruitment. Funny how they all seem to say that. When I was advertising for a job, I would get 5-10 calls a day. Even when you tell them you don’t use agencies and not to call back, they still call back 3 months later!

The fact that agencies are so aggressive  is the main reason I don’t like them, I am sure there are many benefits of using a GOOD agency and the facts and figures I quoted above regarding their fees is probably completely inaccurate however I have never had the desire to find out more as I despise them that much!!!

Does anyone have any positive agency experience? Especially for the SEO industry?

I know Lyndon Antcliff has recently brought the matter up. The job he is advertising is 70k + comm + benefits so if my company was large enough to pay an SEM manager that kind of money and I knew I had a experience SEO recruiting for me I probably could justify the agency fees.

The new Yahoo! Site Explorer goes live

Yahoo announced the new Site Explorer in August and as of today it appears to have gone live in the UK at least. Though I have no doubt the yanks had it before us as they always do!

Today’s Google logo is my favourite yet!

Not exactly important SEO news, but I thought I would complement the Google logo today.

I think there are 4 logos in total but my favourite is by Daniel Thorne, aged 15, from Howard of Effingham School

doodle for google thumb Todays Google logo is my favourite yet!

The others are:

Joseph Compton (aged 5) (I can’t even draw this well at aged 26!):

doodle for google joseph thumb Todays Google logo is my favourite yet!

Sheza Rani (aged 11):

doodle for google sheza thumb Todays Google logo is my favourite yet!

Daisy Pearson (aged 13):

doodle for google daisy thumb Todays Google logo is my favourite yet!

If Dave Naylor can land a penalty is there any chance for the rest of us?

Over the past year I have read Dave Naylor’s blog quite frequently, he is regarded very highly in the Search Marketing world and is arguably one of the most experienced search marketers out there. His blog has a large readership and many high profile SEMs comment on there, even Matt Cutts has been known to comment.

Recently Dave announced that he was closing down the blog due to a large Google penalty. Some said it could be a publicity thing, but it does look like a genuine threat.

The root of the problem appears to be the server was compromised and some cloaked links were placed on the site.

The scary thing is that it has taken Dave quite a lot of work to try and resolve what the problem maybe. He has tried to use Google’s Webmaster Tools to identify the issues, and he has tried contacting Google.

There was absolutely no help from Google what so ever. I think this is a serious cause for concern as a lot of people online manage everything themselves and if a guy with extensive experience with websites and Google can have such a hard time with a penalty then everyone else is pretty much screwed.

If Google provided even a small amount of feedback it would make life so much easier, letting someone know there is a penalty or issue with the site at least gives you a chance to fix it! Also they have all you incoming links, and internal links, maybe they should list your external links too? So then any cloaked links would be listed in WMTs. You would also be able to manage links a lot better, I am sure there are cases where people miss off a nofollow where they should be one. If Google listed all the links and their attributes we could identify problems so much easier.

GoCompare link spamming again

In January this year GoCompare was hit with a penalty from Google for what would appear to be paid links. Once they had cleaned up some of the backlinks they the penalty was lifted in March.

The cause of the problem appeared to be latitude, the SEO company they employed, were paying for blog posts with links back to their clients sites. The quality of these posts was reported to be awful with the following snippet of a paid post:

“It needs insurance plans? That such to know Kwik-fit Insurance? There you it will be able to find one infinity of products and services that will become its more easy life. If you have a car,”

You would think GoCompare may want to tred a lightly after being Google slapped for questionable links. However yesterday I received the following email to one of my sites:

Hello. I`m Alex Jones, Website Manager at gocompare. com. We are one of the UK`s leading insurance comparison sites, with over 70 insurance companies on our panel.
We have an idea which I hope you will find useful – we originally found xxxxxx.co.uk by searching for terms related to home design but in fact we also have an expanding range of information and advice relating to motoring in general, together with household, buildings and content insurance. As such we are looking for good quality partners that have a motoring, automotive, general household or lifestyle theme.

We would like to have our editorial team research and hand write some content for you to add to a page on xxxxxx.co.uk. We will agree a subject with you that is relevant to both of our sites (it won`t be a sales pitch for us!) and will include a single simple text link back to a relevant content page on our site. The content will be uniquely written for you and will not be re-used elsewhere. It should be helpful to your visitors and of course the search engines, as will the presence of a relevant link back to us. Hopefully we will also benefit from the link in the longer term. We are not currently in the position of being able to exchange or return links so we thought this could be a good alternative.

Naturally there are no costs whatsoever for you.
If this isn`t appropriate for you, please accept my sincere apologies for having troubled you.

Hope to hear back.

Kind Regards – Alex Jones
Website Manager
gocompare .com

 

Now I realise this is not exactly the same as pay per post and in theory I would get some good content for the sake of one link. Unfortunately Google does not see it like that, this would not be editorial link as I have not chosen to link out to GoCompare and therefore would break Google’s guidelines.

To make matters worse the web site they contacted was a web design company and absolutely nothing to do with "home design". I am assuming this is an automated email so I can understand how this can happen however GoCompare are quite a large company I am sure it can’t be that hard to employ some student to vet the domains they contact to make sure it is reasonably on topic?

If they can’t even email the correct niche then what will the quality of the article they proposed be like!?

I am not sure if GoCompare are with Latitude anymore but the email was from gocompare@contentnowclients.co.uk  which appears to belong to ContentNow.co.uk who offer link building via reciprocal links and Content-for-links and this company appears to be owned by UK Offer Media Limited

Link building / Back link penalties do they exist or not?

A couple of months ago I had a couple of sites that seemed to receive the dreaded -30 penalty. To be fair they arguably deserved it as I had bent the rules slightly on what would be classed as an acceptable link building strategy. Basically too many links, similar anchor texts, low quality etc etc.

Rather foolishly of me I thought I could get away with some dodgy links on the side as I presumed the worst would happen would be that the links would be devalued, I would drop a little in rankings but nothing major. However I ended up with a drop of 30+ places across all key terms, which is a little more serious!

On further investigation the sites all had other minor little issues so I obviously cannot say that the penalty was 100% applied to the sites for the links, but I am pretty sure they are the root cause of the issue. One possible theory I came up with was the links triggered some alarms with the Google Algorithm and then it applied the penalty for the other minor issues which by all accounts had been around for years.

However over at Google groups I got involved in a discussion about a website called Sonic Shack receiving a penalty. One of the common responses on Google Groups is that the site probably doesn’t have a penalty and they are just not ranking as well as they should, but in this case the website wasn’t even ranking in the top 30 for its own name and website’s with blogs or articles about this site were ranking on page one. This therefore gives me the impression it is a little more than the site just not ranking as well.

As with my sites this site has a few issues, slightly spammy titles, duplicate meta descriptions, canonicalization issues etc. It also had quite a large number of links from blog posts, and most of these blog were un-related and also using the same anchor text in the links. Also there were some sidebar links looking quite like paid links. It did however have a few decent links including one from Download Squad.

So anyway my reason for them receiving the penalty was for the links, I told them to try and remove the low quality paid for links, and get a few new higher quality links then file for reconsideration. This view point was apparently not shared amongst most of the other people in the discussion.

I was told that:

“If it would be 1% more effective/easier/cheaper to gain rankings by
bowling your competitors out than doing your own job well everybody
would start it and SERPs would be ruined in days.”

“I’m still quite sure that Google Bowling does not exist in this
way.”

“A figment of your imagination. Out of MILLIONS of webmasters out there, only two have ever suggested it is possible. Dead simple – if "Google bowling" actually worked, it would overnight become the most exploited opportunity on the planet.!”

“What a load of rubbish!”

“Forget it. It’s an escapist avenue.”

“I’m referring to TODAY – end of Augiust, 2008. Neither here nor anywhere else relevant are there any mass complaints about "Google bowling". Whether or not it ever worked, it certainly doesn’t now.” (I stupidly posted some out of date examples)

“As to Yossarian’s comment that Google might manually apply a penalty to random sites, this is nonsense – not only would this require way to much human time to do, it goes against Google’s basic philosphy that they want their algo to be able to spot things – the best example of this is the famous ‘total failure’ Google bomb that had a link to the White House site of George Bush as the #1 result – Google had an AdWords link explaining this and explaining the reason they had not manually removed the link was because they feel it is more important to update their algo to be able to detect this sort of thing.” (I had commented I would hope it would be a human that applied a penalty for link building rather than the algo as a human probably could tell if someone is building he links themselves or a competitor)"

So I guess I made some friends with that one.

JohnMu also got involved saying

“Hi welcome to the groups!

It might be that the links to your site are not counting the way they might have in the past. In general, it is important to us that links are not just exchanged, bought/sold or otherwise used in an attempt to manipulate rankings, as we have detailed in our help center article at

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66356

If you find that your site has issues with regards to our Webmaster Guidelines that can be resolved, I would recommend doing that and then submitting a reconsideration request, detailing the changes that you have made.

Hope it helps!

John”

From this I would like to think that means the links are just devalued, I did respond asking that but I have had no response as of yet.

So from this it looks like I am a complete moron and know nothing. However I am pretty sure that quite a few other people believe incoming links can hurt a website.

Matt Cutts confirmed that Google bowling is theoretically possible in a Forbes article, though this was a year ago

“Matt Cutts, a senior software engineer for Google, says that piling links onto a competitor’s site to reduce its search rank isn’t impossible, but it’s extremely difficult. "We try to be mindful of when a technique can be abused and make our algorithm robust against it," he says. "I won’t go out on a limb and say it’s impossible. But Google bowling is much more inviting as an idea than it is in practice."

He also commented on a popular thread regarding the penalty of Faraway Furniture

Saying:

“ShyBoy, have you been collecting backlinks in any unusual ways? It looks like you may have, and I would pay special attention to that. For example, if you had been attempting to get PageRank via paid links on various templates, then when that PageRank stops flowing (e.g. if Google improves its detection in various ways), the fact that you have less PageRank can also mean that a site won’t rank as well.

If that applies to you, my advice would be to pay special attention to that issue, in addition to the other good advice you’ve already gotten.”

SE Roundtable did a poll on whether most minus X Google drops are associated with backlinks the results being:

  • 7% said Yes (50 responses)
  • 28% said No Idea (30 responses)
  • 25% said No (26 responses)

106 responses probably isn’t classed as a acceptable number considering the number of webmasters/SEOs out there.

And another post from SE Roundtable advising to check your backlinks

Go Compare was also penalised in January for what would seem questionable links building

JustSayHi appeared to receive a penalty for Widgetbait for link building

Slightlyshadyseo made a nice post on Negative SEO which includes comments about link spam

And well the list goes on..

Competitor Can Sabotage Your Website Rankings In Google!

Can Quality Sites Be Google Bowled & Hurt in Google’s Search Results?

Help! I’ve Been SEO Sabotaged!

In fact it seems well known enough to of acquired its own acronym:

BLOOP (BackLink Over Optimization Penalty)

July 2008 Google PageRank Update

Ok so it is not important AT ALL, but we still all love a bit of page rank.

It looks like PR has been updated for most the sites I am checking. Quite a few PR5s have dropped. It certainly seems hard to break past PR5 nowadays.

Though the important thing to realise is that PR generally means sweet FA. It has no bearing on rankings or traffic. At best it may have some indication on the authority/importance of a site, though it is only one factor in evaluating this as a lot of website can have a high PR and still be crap / spammy etc