Surprise PageRank Update 2013

grinchThough no Google PageRank update was expected until 2014 as the toolbar was broken, on December 6th there was an unexpected update. Relevancy and reliability are the two important elements of search engine page results and my blogs both retained their page ranks? How did your blog(s) do? Continue reading

Keyword Metatags

google magnifying glass

The keywords metatag was a critical element for early search engines but hasn’t been used in search engine ranking since 2002. There is no such thing as setting a meta keyword tag for a blog. However, from time to time new bloggers post to the support forums asking for instructions for setting a meta keyword tag for their blog.   Continue reading

Two SEO Videos for Bloggers

web people SEO is an acronym that stands for search engine optimization, which is the process of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your site from search engines. Generally, the higher your website ranks in the search engines, the more traffic you receive.

The process of applying Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices to your site relies on understanding both sides of the system so you know how search engines work, how to use them effectively, and what your target audience searches for. Continue reading

Moving from to

globe, boxes, computer mouse The most common reason for moving from to is the desire to make money from advertizing and/or affiliate sales. In reality if your blog does not currently attract 1,000 – 1,500 unique visitors every day, and your traffic stats do not demonstrate a growth trend, then it’s unlikely that you will earn much more than what’s required to cover web hosting costs.  Moving from to means you will have added responsibilities so don’t hurry into self hosting thinking you will be handsomely paid for the effort. bloggers frequently ask:  “What’s involved in moving to and self hosting?” That’s a good question.

If you are moving from to you will have to purchase a domain name (if you do not already have one),   hire a web host , install and configure the software, export your blog content out of your site,   and then import it into the software install.

Your domain name should be short, memorable, and easy to spell. Wherever possible your domain name and blog title should be the same.  For SEO include keywords in the URL and tagline that reflect your “brand”.  Your domain name is your own, it’s portable, and you can have an email address and blog on the same domain. Having your own domain means provides increased opportunities to: build your own unique brand, online presence, and reputation; and to assist your followers (readers, clients and customers) to recall and locate your site very easily.

Moving from to means you will have additional responsibilities and if something goes wrong, you have to figure it out  and fix it.  Moving from to means you will be responsible for all installations, all software upgrades, all backups and all troubleshooting. Current backups are critically important. They must be done frequently and the database must likewise be backed up frequently. If you have recent backup and something goes wrong, you can reasonably easily restore your site and not lose much data.

Moving from to means your new site will be starting all over again when it comes to earning authority and Page Rank.  The Google Page Rank and Technorati authority and rank for your content belong to the root blog ie. the original URL for the blog.

Moving from to means  purchasing domain mapping  or an offsite redirect, so readers will  seamlessly transferred between the URLs.   Because when  you purchase a domain name and move your content from to  a new URL all the old links will be broken and visitors will experience a 404 (page not found) if you don’t.

If you are moving from to then offers a guided transfer service where they set up your new site and move everything over for you. If you prefer a do it yourself move from to  you can use this comprehensive  Setting up a self-hosted install guide and  Moving Your Blog from WordPress.Com to WordPress.Org: Resources and Tips

  1. Purchase a domain and hire a web hosting provider
  2. Register a account and locate resources
  3. Download a FTP Client
  4. Upload the most recent  self hosting version of wordpress.ORG software into your new site
  5. Select and upload a theme
  6. Select and upload plugins
  7. Export/Import your content into your new site
  8. Import your Links (blogroll) into your new site
  9. Change the visibility of your blog to private
Related posts found in this blog:

Shortened links and SEO

URL Shorteners are one the most popular free tools bloggers use today.  There are benefits to using URL shorteners.

  • Shortened links are convenient to use and are required on site like Twitter where characters are restricted;
  • Shortened links can be tweeted and retweeted may be shared more often;
  • If they are 301 re-directs they can pass PageRank.

There are also concerns that center on the longevity of shortened links services and on security issues as we do not know what may be lurking at the end of a shortened link. It could be a phishing site, malware  site,  or could cloaking affiliates.  Without doubt  they assist spammers to do their dirty business, undermine googlejuice, and expose users to security vulnerabilities.

To extend our knowledge of shortened URLs commenced in Link Shorteners: The Short Version  I’d like to draw attention to what Chris Crum reports on passing of PageRank and anchor text:

This isn’t completely new information, but it still seems to be a topic that continues to come up fairly regularly. Google’s Matt Cutts addressed the issue in a video posted to Google’s Webmaster Help YouTube channel. — URL Shorteners and SEO, According to Google

Do URL shorteners pass anchor text?

“Custom URL shorteners are essentially just like any other redirects,” he explains. “If we try to crawl a page, and we see a 301 or permanent redirect, which pretty much all well-behaved URL shorteners (like or will do, if we see that 301 then that will pass PageRank to the final destination.” — Matt Cutts

However, Twitter’s Web pages have a “no follow” tag – which means that anyways pagerank does not pass through.

Read also: Quality links to your Site

More from Matt Cutts on no-follow no sculpting

Matt Cutts via Buzz:

Let’s do another pass at the question “How does Google treat sites where all external links are no-follow?”

The short answer is that we don’t treat those sites any differently in our rankings, but it’s still not a good idea to do that, in my opinion. Here’s why. When Google sees a nofollow link we drop that link from the link graph we use in our web crawl: we don’t use that link to discover new web pages, and we don’t use the anchor text from that link in our scoring. … We changed the math several years ago so that if a link is nofollowed, that PageRank doesn’t go out on the other links instead [no sculpting]. — Read more

Related post found in this blog:
Links: No-Follow and Do-Follow

Matt Cutts tells SEOs ‘no more’ sculpting via nofollow
Say NO to Black Hat SEO

Google roots out content farms

What is a content farm and what does it do?  ” … create a ton of niche, mostly uninspired content targeted to search engines, then make it viral through social software and make lots of money through ads.  In December 2009  Richard MacManus published Content Farms: Why Media, Blogs & Google Should Be Worried. That article and his earlier ones struck a chord with me as I had been witnessing low-quality content in search results.

Well , the good news is that Google has announced an algorithm change that commences in the U.S. only to start and then will roll it out out from there.  I’m encouraged by this turn of events and think my readers will be too.

matts cutts tweet

Google says this change isn’t a result of feedback gained from last week’s launch of the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, but also says the algorithmic change addresses 84% the top several dozen or so most-blocked domains from the Chrome extension. They have been working on this for some time now.

This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

We can’t make a major improvement without affecting rankings for many sites. It has to be that some sites will go up and some will go down. —  Finding more high-quality sites in search

Below are some early responses:

Danny Sullivan:

While Google has come under intense pressure in the past month to act against content farms, the company told me that this change has been in the works since last January. —  Google Forecloses On Content Farms With “Farmer” Algorithm Update

Michael Arrington:

What are those sites? Google isn’t saying. But the changes are designed to weed out low-value content, they say, such as content copied from other websites or non-useful content. That means sites like Demand Media, Associated Content and Mahalo are likely on the list. In a couple of months traffic data to those sites will likely confirm that they were impacted. —  Google Targets Content Farms With Major Search Algorithm Tweaks

Natural Links: Google Warns Webmasters

Understanding backlinks is an important part of blogging. Links add valuable content to your site and the best linking building strategy is to get a lot of unpaid relevant non-reciprocal links (or one-way links) to your site from high ranking and popular sites. When your site receives a lot of quality non-reciprocal links, the search engines consider your website and the web pages that receive these inbound quality links as containing highly valuable web content.

In Natural Linking Strategy for Bloggers I made my readers aware that Google is favoring blogs with natural linking patterns and penalizing over-optimized blogs.   The most important factor contributing to your Google ranking, is  reader-friendliness, and naturally acquired organic links are the best kind of links because  they indicate that real people are showing an interest in your content.

Google is warning and penalizing websites for excessive link exchanging, link selling,  cloaking and other link schemes. Examples of link schemes can include:

  • Links intended to manipulate PageRank
  • Links to web spammers or bad neighborhoods on the web
  • Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging (“Link to me and I’ll link to you.”)
  • Buying or selling links that pass PageRank
Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable detailed Google’s enforcement efforts using Google Webmaster Tools. I learned several webmasters who run large sites have reported that they are receiving automated alerts via Google Webmaster Tools saying the following:

Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected unnatural links on [domain]!

We’ve detected that some or all of your pages are using techniques that are outside our quality guidelines, which are available here.

Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links on your site pointing to other sites that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. For more information about our linking guidelines, visit this page.

We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please visit to submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.

Matt Cutts, a member of the Search Quality Group at Google has confirmed that Google is now penalizing sites who are selling links in a comment he posted on Webmasterworld. Click  through to read Mark Maunder’s advice regarding exchanging links Issue #54 of The Weekly Feed.

Google Update 2009 Reviewed

sad girl My transition into New Year blogging will be slower than I expected. I do have my own computer back but it has been completely rebuilt. The operating system has been updated and I have a new email program so I’m learning to use those.

The good news is that my research data for my contracted work was recovered and I did make the deadline. I will also have a post ready for publication on my personal blog later today. The bad news is that not all of my data was recovered and I have major reconstruction work I’m undertaking in the background.

Today I took a short break and read Chris Crum’s The Year in Google 4 part series and recommending it to my readers as well.
The Things Google Did in 2010 (The First Quarter)
The Things Google Did in 2010 (The Second Quarter)
The Things Google Did in 2010 (The Third Quarter)
The Things Google Did in 2010 (The Fourth Quarter)

Related post found in this blog:
5 Google Webmasters Video Tutorials

Links: No-Follow and Do-Follow

pagerank imageIn the beginning all links were do-follow.  However, it didn’t take long before blogs were being inundated by those who left insincere comments lacking in value just so they could get a backlink, so the original reason for the introduction of no-follow links was spam.

Do-follow comment links do pass on PageRank. No-follow comment links do NOT pass on PageRank. If you need more information on link juice and  how it is passed please read The rel=nofollow debate: Let’s Try and Get To Grips With It

Today many blogs and content management systems, including WordPress,  Blogger (Blogspot blogs), Typepad and most of the main blogging platforms have no-follow links enabled by default on comments and to change the links to do-follow links that pass PageRank action must be taken. On WordPress installs  a plugin must be installed. On  Blogger (Blogspot blogs) you have to download your blog template’s HTML source code and remove the rel=”nofollow” in the comments area.

How different search engines treat do-follow and no-follow links

Different search engines interpret and treat no-follow and do-follow links in different ways.
  • Google follows no-follow links but does not pass on PageRank  to outbound links.
  • Yahoo follows no-follow links but excludes the link from all ranking calculations.
  • Bing may or may not follow a no-follow link,s but it does exclude it from ranking calculations.
  • does not adhere to no-follow.

If you use Firefox browser a quick and easy way to find out if blogs have do-follow links is or not is to  use the SearchStatus addon that will highlight all “no-follow” links on a page.  It will also display Google PageRank, Alexa rank, Compete ranking and SEOmoz Linkscape mozRank anywhere in your browser, along with fast keyword density analyser, keyword highlighting, backward/related links, Alexa info and more.

Expert advice on no-follow and do-follow

Matt Cutts of Google has provided advice about PageRank and the no-follow attribute. If you are considering changing your links from no-follow to do-follow, then you may find the video below to be helpful.

Brett from Michigan asks Matt Cutts of Google:
“Are there negative SEO implications to having a blog with do-follow comments?
What about commenting on do-follow blogs?”

Question: Can having do-follow comments on my blog affect its reputation?
Short answer: Yes.
Question: Are there negative implications to having a blog with do-follow comments?
Short Answer: Yes.
For full answers please watch the video.

Can having dofollow comments on my blog affect its reputation?

Last year Matt Cutts also announced that page rank sculpting (the manipulation of no-followed and do-followed links) is no longer effective. Previous to that no-following comments directed more link juice to your other links but that no longer applies. Google has already done the math and has devised a way to stop manipulation.

The old practice was …
You have a PR 5 page
You have  5 links on that page
Each link gets 1 a bit of PR
You apply rel=”nofollow” to 4 links
1 page gets PR 5,  the other 4 get nothing.

The new practice is …
You have a PR5 page
You have 5 links on that page
Google knows there are 5 links
If you apply rel=”nofollow” to 4 of those links
the 1 remaining normal link gets PR of 1

spam canAdvice when changing from changing from no-follow to do-follow

Changing your  blog from no-follow to do-follow means you must become more vigilant about the kind of comments you approve and  post. These days there are not only bots leaving comments, there are also humans who are paid to leave bogus comments. That means that you will have to exercise discretion, moderate all comments, and be very careful about screening them. Hence it pays to run a bad neighborhood checks on any links that give you a “hinky” feeling.  The rule of thumb is it looks link a spam comment, it probably is so don’t post it.

Also keep in mind the reason that no-follow links were introduced. It’s not always a good idea to brag about your blog being do-follow and to promote it as a do-follow blog. Hanging up a “this is a do-follow” blog sign will definitely result in some people making opportunistic comments just so they can get a “juicy” link.  If you are considering changing your links from no-follow to do-follow you may find this article to be helpful: Do You DoFollow?

Linking ReCap

  1. Write high quality articles that others in your niche will want to backlink to and discuss.
  2. Avoid linking to unrelated sites.
  3. Avoid entering reciprocal link exchanges with unrelated sites.
  4. Link only to related sites in your niche.
  5. Avoid creating “blogrolls” or long lists of links.
  6. Exercise discretion by moderating all comments, trackbacks and pingbacks, and be very careful about screening.
  7. Build authority by leaving quality comments on related blogs.
  8. When it comes to commenting on do-follow blogs, remember do-follow passes PageRank from the linking site to all the other links  so (a) your PageRank 0 blog doesn’t really benefit, and (b) the more (spam/real) comments you get on a blog the less Page Rank there there  is to allocate among the links out anyway.

Related posts found in this blog:
Understanding Backlinks
Understanding Reciprocal and Non-Reciprocal Links
Natural Linking Strategy for Bloggers
Getting the Perfect Link
SEO Basics for on Page Optimization
Link building strategy: Locating similar sites
Links: No-Follow and Do-Follow Followers Widget: No Thanks

followers widget imageFollowers Widgets have become ubiquitous sidebar decorations in blogs as more blogging platforms and social networks are providing them. Followers Widgets dynamically display the visits to the blog by the people behind icons (avatars, gravatars).  Bloggers display them to demonstrate connections other bloggers  that range from mere acquaintanceship to friendship with subscribers who regularly read the blog and comment. Let’s investigate the claims and  uncover what Followers Widgets  do and don’t do for your blog.

Blogger says:

The Followers widget is a great tool to help you grow your blog’s audience. Readers often visit a blog and enjoy it but fail to return. With the followers widget you can get all readers to return and become a fan. We highly recommend that you write a post about your followers widget and encourage all readers to become a follower. Additionally you should put your followers widget at the top of your sidebar so more readers will notice it. Many readers ignore sidebar items so by writing a post about your followers widget and moving the widget to the top of your sidebar, you will inevitably grow your audience. — How to grow your audience with Following

The implication that using a Follower’s Widget will  drive traffic to your blog and  grow your audience is far fetched.  But then most advertising is based upon marketing gar fetched notions to the masses, isn’t it?


Followers widgets can spoil the blog design and give the blog an amateurish appearance. Take note that top bloggers in every niche who tend to have customized themes do not to use them, so why should you?

follower widget imageDistraction

Followers Widgets can distract readers’ minds and eyes from reading the content in your blog posts on your front page of your blog and direct them to your sidebar. In sidebars Followers Widgets distract readers’ minds and eyes away from navigational widgets containing links to the deeper content in your blog. If your emphasis is on presenting your content to visitors then why add a distraction to your blog?

followers widget imagePage Loading Time

Followers widgets increase blog speed (page loading time);  and viewers have to wait for widgets to load before they can interact with the blog. Most people surfing the web today are on dial-up service. Also as page loading time has become a Google page ranking factor most bloggers are reducing page loading time, not increasing it.

Why having a well designed blog is important
Widgets: Less is More

follower widget imageGoogle juice

There is no reason to create and display hundreds of links,  as any page with many links looses “weight” or value on a per link basis.  Moreover, too many outbound links can reduce your blog’s PageRank. It is all about balancing the number and quality of outbound links with inbound links.

“1.   Inbound links are links from pages on external sites linking back to your site. Inbound links can bring new users to your site, and when the links are merit-based and freely-volunteered as an editorial choice, they’re also one of the positive signals to Google about your site’s importance.

2.   Outbound links are external sites that you’re linking to.  Outbound links allow us to surf the web — they’re a big reason why the web is so exciting and collaborative. Without outbound links, your site can seem isolated from the community because each page becomes “brochure-ware.”

Relevant outbound links can help your visitors.

  • Provide your readers in-depth information about similar topics;
  • Offer readers your unique commentary on existing resources.

Thoughtful outbound links can help your credibility.

  • Show that you’ve done your research and have expertise in the subject manner;
  • Make visitors want to come back for more analysis on future topics.”
  • Analysis

Analysis: The way I understand this is that every little icon in a Followers Widget is an outbound link (Google juice) flowing out of the blog. Also every Followers Widget has a link to the site that offers the followers widget.

Suppose some search engine spiders stop indexing when they reach 100 – 115 links on any given page. Consider that most blogs have a sidebar appearing on every page and not just the front page.

Aside from links in Followers Widgets  in most themes Blogroll Links are also displayed in sidebars on every page in the blog,  and every one is an outbound link (Google juice) flowing out of the blog.

Also every button, chiclet and badge for social media sites, social networks, bookmarking sites,  blog directories, etc. is linked, and  every one is an outbound link (Google juice) flowing out of the blog.

Matt says, build your site for the user experience, and make sure your inbound and outbound links are valid, not spammy, and relevant. Therefore the approach I use is  simply focusing on user experience.

SEO experts advise that a better blogger ensures that the number of inbound and outbound links are kept in balance. Therefore the approach I use is  simply focusing on maintaining a balance between outbound links and inbound links.

Who benefits?

followers widget imageWhen it comes to use of a Followers Widget if a blog reader clicks an icon in a Followers Widget – zoom – they are gone from the blog.

When a blog reader clicks an icon in a Followers Widget the site the widget comes from gets a hit.  If the page is  monetized and/or if the site has PPC (pay per click) the social network site owners get income from every click every visitor makes on the site.

followers widget imageThe follower whose icon was clicked by a blog reader gets a hit on a profile page on a social network site (and maybe an indirect click through that site into their blog).

My criteria for adding widgets is:

I love followers (who doesn’t?) but I do not add a widget to my blog unless it:

1.   improves the functionality of my site by providing reader access to content that is not located on the front page;

2.   redirects readers to high quality sources of relevant information found in authoritative blogs in the same niche.

Discussion questions:

  1. What criteria  have you set for adding widgets to your blog?
  2. Do you have a blog on which you are currently using follower widgets?
  3. If you are a WordPress.COM blogger and a followers widget is introduced at WordPress.COM will you use it?
  4. Why or why not?


Page Rank Update

On December 20, 2010 I decided to purchase a domain and domain mapping for this blog.  I did so knowing that the authority, backlinks and PageRank earned by the root blog at belonged to that blog , and that the new domain would have to start from being “unranked” and climb the ladder again.  I assumed from past experience that it would take 4 – 6 months before my new domain earned a PageRank but I was wrong.

Due to the support of my readers and subscribers who updated their links to the new domain and all of those who chose to backlink to my posts I have an announcement to make.  The PageRank of this blog is now 5/10.

Thanks you all so much for your support, comments, links and best wishes. I appreciate them very much.  :)

Here are the reports:

Link popularity for
Domain age? – 3 months 15 days
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Link building strategy: Locating similar sites

The Golden Rule of Networking is:  Give before expecting to receive.

Effective networking is built a foundation of building relationships leading to reciprocity.  In other words, if  you want bloggers  with similar blogs to  link to your posts, then link to their posts first.  If you want them to comment on and/or promote your posts, then comment on their posts and promote them first.  Continue reading

Google PageRank removed from WebMasters Accounts

google pagerank imageDid you notice that two weeks ago the PageRank distribution feature, once found in Google WebMasters accounts on the crawl stats section under “Diagnostics”  was removed? Although it was removed from WebMmasters accounts it still appears on the Google toolbar and this had led to a lot of discussion.

Continue reading

Natural Linking Strategy for Bloggers

medsecretbaseReaders have been asking me  questions  about linking  strategy, and what prompted  me to complete and  publish this post today was reading  Link Building: Who Is Your Website’s Biggest Competitor? What follows is  information for bloggers to consider when developing a natural linking strategy.

Continue reading

Blog strategy: Google sandbox or trustbox?

Among one of the most important things a blogger with a new blog can do is to develop a blog strategy. Whether or not the Google sandbox is real has been debated over and over. Google has not clearly stated if the “sandbox” is a reality or just a myth  but the  SEOs  I know do believe it exists. Thus  my blogging tips include advising bloggers to determine whether or not their new blog or a blog they have moved from free hosting to their own domain is in the sandbox and to account for the same in their blog strategy.

Continue reading