Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Archive for the links Category

Are Social Media Links Devalued?

social mediaThis is a frequently asked question.

We’re often asked if links from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter count less than other kinds of links. We’ve found an interview conducted awhile back by Stephan Spencer of Netconcepts with Matt Cutts (widely known as “The Google Guy”) where that question was pointedly asked.

Here’s Google’s response

Typically, our policy is: a link is a link, is a link; wherever that link’s worth is, that is the worth that we give it. Some people ask about links from DMOZ, links from .edu or links from .gov, and they say: “Isn’t there some sort of boost? Isn’t a link better if it comes from a .edu?” The short answer is: no, it is not. It is just .edu links tend to have higher PageRank, because more people link to .edu’s or .gov’s.

To the best of my knowledge, I do not think we have anything that says social bookmark links are given less weight. Certainly, some sites like del.icio.us (now delicious.com) and other people, may choose to put individual “nofollows” in and they may choose to take actions to try to prevent spam, but we do not typically say anything like: social bookmarking by itself – give less weight.

So there you have it. If this emboldens you to become more active on social sites, go for it. And if you need help with that or other SEO issues, just give us a call.

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What Controls Your Search Engine Rankings in 2013?

This is what controls where you rank.

Click the infographic then click it again to access a larger version that you can read.

Search engine ranking factors 2013

Comments and discussion are welcome.

Struggling with your rankings? Rank Magic can help.

How to Disavow Bad Links

LinksWeb sites suffering a significant loss of rankings as a result of the Penguin Update last spring have been scrambling to correct the factors that have hurt them. One main class of factors is on-page keyword stuffing. The other main factor is a bad inbound link profile.

Bad Backlink Profile

If you’re getting too many links with keyword rich anchor text (the clickable text in the link that points to you) and few or none of the more generic type (your URL, your company or website name, or “click here”) that may be taken as another kind of keyword stuffing. Also, if you’ve engaged a company to get you tons of links from non-relevant websites or participated in link farms, those links can hurt you as well. Some inexpensive off-shore outfits promise hundreds or thousands of backlinks to your site from websites they own and control which were set up just for the purpose of providing those links. Others send comment spam to unrelated blogs, hoping those comments will be accepted and provide links back. Some website owners worry that people might point bad links at their sites in an attempt to harm them with “negative SEO.”

All of these bogus or artificial links carry the risk of earning you a Penguin penalty. You need to try to get those links removed or dis-counted so they don’t continue to weigh down your rankings.

Disavowing Links in Google

Google logoIf you’ve contacted the webmasters of sites with bad links to you and have been unsuccessful in getting them to remove those links, Google has a “link disavowal” tool that can tell Google you disapprove of those links and they shouldn’t count toward your link popularity. That will also cause them not to count toward a Penguin penalty as well. Google says this about the tool:

If you’ve done as much work as you can to remove spammy or low-quality links from the web, and are unable to make further progress on getting the links taken down, you can disavow the remaining links. In other words, you can ask Google not to take certain links into account when assessing your site.

Search Engine Land wrote about the process a few weeks ago and their article is worth a read. To go straight to the Google tool, click here. I encourage you also to read Google’s instructions.

Caveat from Google

This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you disavow backlinks only if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you. In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most normal or typical sites will not need to use this tool.

Bing has a Disavowal Tool, Too

Bing logo

To disavow links in Bing, you can do the same thing via Bing Webmaster Tools. Bing’s instructions are here. I’ve seen no sign of a similar tool from Yahoo, but that may be unnecessary as Yahoo and Bing share the same index.

If you’ve suffered a Penguin Penalty, take a look at your incoming links and see if they may be the cause of your trouble. If you need help with that, Rank Magic can help.

 

Press Release Links Don’t Help Your Rankings

One of the old standby methods of improving link popularity has been press releases. Maybe not so much anymore. Recently, Google’s Matt Cutts wrote this:

I wouldn’t expect links from press release web sites to benefit your rankings, however.

The Open PressDoes this mean that press releases are a waste of time? Certainly not. The links from your press release itself no longer seem to confer any link popularity benefit. However, a well crafted press release might catch the eye of a reporter, a blogger, or another interested person who may write about you and the material in your press release. Any link to your website from those secondary sources will almost certainly contribute to your link popularity and, in turn, to your rankings in the search engines.

We’ve been de-emphasizing press releases as a link building tool for some time, and this clarification from Matt Cutts just clarifies what we’ve believed for some time. If you have something compelling to say in a press release, by all means submit it to online press release websites. Just don’t expect an immediate benefit from them until others pick up your story and run with it.

What Makes a Quality Site? Answers from Google.

Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting recently had a conversation with Google’s Matt Cutts about what makes a quality website. One of the essential points they drive home is that having a page that’s simply non-duplicative of other pages isn’t enough to gain good rankings.

Google's Matt Cutts speaks at a web convention.Inadvertent non-duplicate content

Many car repair websites, for example, have a page about brake jobs for people looking for brake service and/or information about brake maintenance.  Typically they all say pretty much the same thing. In fact, sometimes when creating their web page they look at other car repair websites to get ideas about what to talk about. Usually they put everything in their own words and feel good that they don’t have duplicate content.

But that doesn’t mean that they don’t still have duplicate information.

And quite frankly, search engines don’t do consumers of information any service if they display lots of web pages for a query that all just say basically the same thing.

The trick is to make sure your web pages provide an additional value not found on other similar pages. You have to figure out what makes you special, and then create pages that highlight that.

Mat Cutts also talks about a number of other things that reflect on a website’s quality, including their inbound link structure. It’s a thoughtful conversation and I recommend it to you.