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Quick Tip: Keeping Content and Links Natural

By | Mar 25th, 2014 04.30 AM | View all posts in Tips & Tricks

Google seems to have placed itself into a lot of newsworthy topics lately. Many of these topics include Google penalizing handfuls of blog networks, communities, websites and a large, well-known social forum called My Blog Guest. My Blog Guest, as many are aware, is a large and social forum—not blog network—that brings together individuals searching for high quality, written and relevant content.  The idea of the website is simple; individuals looking for quality content can come here amongst quality sites posted by others. Think of it as looking for fresh, organic vegetables in a supermarket. It was a win-win situation for both sides; one party gains quality content while the other side gets their link posted and is relevantly categorized. Links exchanged and partnerships formed, that’s how it worked… until Google penalized MBG.

Many people were shocked, stunned even to Google’s abrupt move on MBG which promotes followed and natural links in articles. MBG founder and administrator, Ann Smarty and MBG’s policy makers enforce all links to be natural and strictly no spam links are allowed. Self-serving links can be added in the author byline or added in the lower half of the article to be natural. Thanks to the penalty, MBG’s policy has changed little in regards to followed links.

As of the moment, all author bylines from MBG are all nofollow links until further notice.

Image source:
Image source:

So what went wrong? According to this post, Matt Cutts declares guest blogging is finished (or dead) as many guest blogging articles seem to advertise intentional spammy links. But is what they’ve done justifiable? MBG was built on the idea of quality content and not spam; the administrators made it perfectly clear they were against paid links (and nofollow links). They kept it clean, natural and absolutely, all white hat tactics. And as a fun fact, guest blogging existed before SEO, too.

Now, fast forwarding to the present, what’s left there to do if your website depended on quality articles, links and My Blog Guest? Quite frankly, there’s only so much you can do. For one, always ensure your website hosts quality content, non-spammy links and absolutely no duplicate content. It’s the least your website can do. Optimize your titles, meta-descriptions, alt keywords with a combination of short and long tail keyword variations as well. Secondly, get in touch with other websites that clearly share your niche and express the same passion as you. Don’t contact them simply because you want to put a link on their website. Build real relationships with the website. Third, employ the usage of social media to spread the word about what you’re trying to say. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram are some of the great services you can use to share your content. People love sharing things. Sometimes PageRank isn’t that important but nonetheless, a healthy amount of traffic is good, too. It shows your website is engaging and appealing to visitors who love reading rich, informative and engaging content!

The main conclusion is: Keep it natural and keep it real.

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Google Penalizes Virool: Even the Big Guys Could Get Burned

By | Feb 20th, 2014 01.22 AM | View all posts in News and Updates

Google has just penalized social video advertising site: Virool. Alexander Debelov, co-founder of Virool first noticed a problem around 5 weeks ago and only discovered how great their problem was once logged into Google Webmaster Tools: bad backlinks. The website has contacted site owners and disavowed a handful of link, expecting to be reinstated soon.

“While National Positions hasn’t received a penalty for their work they did for Virool, Google isn’t above penalizing SEO companies that are engaging in black hat tactics for their clients, as they did with iAcquire in 2012. And Google has been very active in handing out penalties recently, including another seed-funded company Rap Genius, as well as multiple link networks.

It can be difficult for the average person to know whether an SEO company they have hired is ethical because a lot of the unethical ones claim that they only do white hat SEO – after all, not very many people are going to hire a company that strictly does black hat SEO, unless it is for a churn and burn site.

This is the latest reminder to be careful when hiring an SEO firm, because the last thing you want to do is get stuck trying to clean up a mess and recover from a Google penalty.” —Jennifer Slegg (Search Engine Watch)

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Getting De-indexed by Google: Top 5 Website Characteristics to Avoid

By | Aug 20th, 2013 08.24 AM | View all posts in Tips & Tricks

So you’ve launched your website, started to see some traffic and over the course of the next few months, enjoyed continual increase in traffic as your website starts to appear in search results for different keywords. All of a sudden, your site sees a sharp drop to zero visitors and you start to panic. If you suddenly lost rankings overnight for all your key search terms, especially your brand keyword, it’s a sign that Google has most likely placed a penalty on your site.

Is that the end then? Luckily, no. For many website owners, these penalties come out of the blue and they feel that it’s unfair given there was absolutely no intention to manipulate search results. That is why Google has what is called a ‘reconsideration request’ which could be submitted via your webmasters tools login. Although there is no guarantee that your site would ever regain visibility, it’s always worth a shot.

To avoid ever having to go through the horrors of a penalty and getting de-indexed, here are 5 important website characteristics to compare your website against. Ultimately, your website should not have any of these characteristics.

The number 1 way to get penalized is sending different messages to the search spider and actual human visitors; in other words #1: Cloaking. Basically, clocking when you technically configure your website to detect if a site visit is made by Google’s spider and if so, to feed the spider a different set of content from what the normal site visitor would see. Writing meta tags and having a robot.txt to help search engines better understand your website as oppose to deliberately misleading search spiders are 2 very different things.

Next is what we widely refer to as plagiarism. In the online world, this is commonly referred to #2: Duplicate Content. This simply means you shouldn’t be stealing content from other people’s website to display on your site. The best way to keep strong rankings in the long run is to frequently publish fresh, new and unique content on your website.

Linking is still a very strong site-popularity signal for search engines, but as soon as you overdo it or take the easy way out by joining bad neighborhoods; (in other words, having lots of inbound links from #3: Link Farms), you’ve just increase the chance of your website getting penalized indefinitely. Don’t buy or exchange links. It would too easily get you in trouble. Should you be considering advertorials or endorsed news publications with links, those are fine. It’s when the main purpose of any payment is obviously for buying links.

#4 Doorway Pages is a lesser known site characteristic that is eyed closely by search engines and one that many websites unknowingly triggers penalties for. What are doorway pages? They are basically websites and pages that are developed with the sole purpose to rank for certain targeted keywords in order to transfer search traffic for those keywords to the main website. Characteristics of a doorway page is what appears as a website with content quickly and effortlessly put together along with a handful of outgoing links going to the same destination URL.

Finally, abusing #5 Exact Match Domains (EMDs) to create what search experts sometimes call ‘content farms’ to transfer traffic from individual exact match domain websites to the main. It is no secret that if your website URL closely matches the keyword you want to rank for, your website would reach the first page search results for that keyword very quickly and stays there. So if you had 5 keywords you want to rank for, isn’t it just easier to buy 5 domains for each keyword and they’ll rank easily? Yes. But ever since this has been abused by many SEO practitioners, Google is on the watch and if you’re caught owning a handful of domains going to the same website, most likely all of them would get de-indexed or lose rankings simultaneously. There are 2 take away messages here, 1: when buying domains take note to avoid appearing like an EMD and 2: if you want to own a few sites to build up branding, it’s technically alright, but stick to what makes sense and avoid overdoing it.

Are there more ways to getting penalized or de-indexed than these 5 main criteria? Yes. However, we’ve pointed out these 5 given they are the most common ones that web owners may unknowingly trigger penalties for sans the intention to manipulate search results.

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