Reposting content from other sites

In one ear we hear that to increase reach cross-posting a blog post or update on a number of other sites and social media platforms will lead to success. In the other we hear cross-posting too many automated links will class us as spammers. In this post you can view Matt Cutts of Google in a video where he answers a cross-posting question. Continue reading

Tweets do affect Google rankings

Felicity Crouch reports: Using our own award-winning Twitter petition site; Twitition.com we conducted a study into the effect of tweets on rankings in Google (no other search engines were used for this study). In the biggest study of its kind, we have found that there is strong correlation between the amount of tweets about a URL, and its Google ranking. This is the biggest study of tweets conducted anywhere in the world, and we think it’s produced some really interesting results. via Revolutionary study: We prove that tweets do affect rankings | B3Labs | Branded3.
A tip of the hat to Tim Grice re: The Tweets vs. Rankings Test by Branded3

Do I Need a Domain?

WordPress.com hosts many types of blogs and you can determine if the kind of blog you want to establish is allowed or not allowed very easily.  These are the characteristics of successful bloggers: Purpose, Passion, Productivity, People Skills and Persistence. You don’t need a domain to become a successful blogger but it helps. Blogs on their own domains communicate the message that the blogger is serious about blogging, serious enough to purchase a domain. Continue reading

Tips for Avoiding Blogger Burnout

We are all suffering from information overload and the notion that everyone must have a blog has led to the creation of hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of new blogs every year. However, a significant number of those new blogs will be abandoned blogs or deleted blogs in less than a year from the date of their creation, as blogger burnout is a common ailment. Continue reading

Revisiting Keywords and Tags

google magnifying glass Search engines detect and use keywords when indexing your posts and each tag has a unique descriptive keyword term – permalink. Theoretically assigning relevent Tags/Categories to posts helps potential readers locate relevant content in search results, and increases the odds your content will be found by new readers. Continue reading

12 Tips for Improving Search Queries Ranking Position

google magnifying glass Google announced, “starting today,  we’re updating our Top Search Queries feature to make it better match expectations about search engine rankings.  The new definition will take the average of the top ranking of your site for all searchers, as opposed to all URLs listed and average that. In the past, they would take all the positions of your rankings and average them together, now they are taking only the top positions.” — Google Changes Definition Of Average Search Ranking Position. Continue reading

Google Search is all over Your World

google magnifying glass
If you are concerned about your privacy and what your online “friends” may have shared about you that wasn’t appearing in simple searches before, then take note of Google Search, plus Your World is being been rolled out for people who are signed in and searching on www.google.com in English.

We’re transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships. We began this transformation with Social Search, and today we’re taking another big step in this direction by introducing three new features: Continue reading

Get the Most Out of Image Search

When it comes to bringing search engine traffic to blogs, images  do that. Search terms ie. keywords people type into search engines can result in traffic to your images as well as to your posts. That’s why learning how to optimize images for Google search is an important skill for bloggers to acquire. Continue reading

What You Need To Know About SEO in 2011 & 2012, Search Round Up 2011

…You were no doubt hit by Panda and saw anywhere between a 15% – 60% drop in organic traffic from Google. This update was designed to weed out sites with low quality pages, however what defines ‘low quality’ is still very much up for debate, but here are some general guidelines. Continue reading

Search quality highlights: new monthly series on algorithm changes – Inside Search

We’ve been wracking our brains trying to think about how to make search even more transparent. The good news is that we make roughly 500 improvements in a given year, so there’s always more to share. With this blog series, we’ll be highlighting many of the subtler algorithmic and visible feature changes we make. These are changes that aren’t necessarily big enough to warrant entire blog posts on their own.

via Search quality highlights: new monthly series on algorithm changes – Inside Search.

Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Raising awareness of cross-domain URL selections

Now Google will alert you if  they canonicalize your URLs to a different domain.

To be transparent about cross-domain URL selection decisions, we’re launching new Webmaster Tools messages that will attempt to notify webmasters when our algorithms select an external URL instead of one from their website. The details about how these messages work are in our Help Center article about the topic  via  Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Raising awareness of cross-domain URL selections.

Related posts found in this blog:
Can Google detect which content is original?
Duplicate Content in the SERPs Sucks!

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

Google+ added to Google Social Search

google button Today, Google began adding Public Google+ Posts to Google Social Search.

Remember, to experience this updated feature, you’ll need to be on Google+ and also make sure that you’re logged into your Google Account when you search. In addition, only public posts on Google+ are visible in search results. Private posts on Google+ aren’t.

To learn more, check out our help center. May your searching be tasty!   The latest update to Google Social Search: Public Google+ Posts

Bottom line: Google Social Search continues to operate as before. Things shared socially at places like Twitter and Facebook by those you’re connected with may appear with annotations and rank better in results.  The main difference is, as Google’s post says, is that things you share on Google+ itself are now part of the mix. — Google+ Public Posts Coming To Google’s Social Search Results

Google+ has been on quite a ride in its first 6 weeks of existence. It obtained 10 million users in just two weeks and is now said to have over 20 million users. The overall reaction has been positive, but since the platform is currently invitation-only, the early adopters have mostly been the tech savvy crowd. Google+ Makes Splash in Social Sector, But Will It Last? Social media and search leaders react to Google+

Related posts found in this blog:
Google + The Next Big Thing in Social Networking
Google Search Changes and Search Approaches

Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

globe, boxes, computer mouse The most common reason for moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org is the desire to make money from advertizing and/or affiliate sales. In reality if your WordPress.com 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 WordPress.com to WordPress.org means you will have added responsibilities so don’t hurry into self hosting thinking you will be handsomely paid for the effort.

WordPress.com bloggers frequently ask:  “What’s involved in moving to WordPress.org and self hosting?” That’s a good question.

If you are moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org you will have to purchase a domain name (if you do not already have one),   hire a web host , install and configure the WordPress.org software, export your blog content out of your WordPress.com site,   and then import it into the  WordPress.org 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 WordPress.com to WordPress.org means you will have additional responsibilities and if something goes wrong, you have to figure it out  and fix it.  Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org means you will be responsible for all installations, all WordPress.org 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 WordPress.com to WordPress.org 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 WordPress.com URL for the blog.

Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org 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 WordPress.com to WordPress.org  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 WordPress.com to WordPress.org then WordPress.com 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 WordPress.com to WordPress.org  you can use this comprehensive  Setting up a self-hosted WordPress.org 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 wordpress.org 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 WordPress.com content into your new site
  8. Import your Links (blogroll) into your new site
  9. Change the visibility of your WordPress.com blog to private
Related posts found in this blog:

Can Google detect which content is original?

Has your blog content every been stolen? Have you ever used Google search and been incensed to discover the stolen version ie. duplicate content is appearing in higher positioning in SERPS (Search engine page results) than your original article appears?

Duplicate content is content that can be accessed on more than one URL. “Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. If search engine spiders can’t tell which version of a web page or document is the original or canonical version, then the consequences will be less search visibility.

Duplicate content within a domain

Duplicate content within a domain is a common problem on blogs where multiple URLs can refer to the same content, for example, if you have full posts displaying in Archives, Categories pages and Tag pages. On self-hosted wordpress.org installs the no-index, follow tag can be used to instruct Google and the other search engines to crawl the page and follow the links but not add the page to its index. This cannot be done on free hosted blogs on wordpress.com, as it’s a multi-user blogging platform where users cannot access and edit themes or templates. With Panda rolling out globally and Google giving advice to remove duplicate content and non-original content, what is one to do?

To reduce duplicate content within my domain I have taken these steps:

  1. I have  set my RSS Feeds > Settings > Reading to “Summary” rather than “Full” to  reduce content theft.
  2. I have a Copyright page and copyright notices also to reduce content theft.
  3. I do not use a theme that displays full posts in Archive pages, Categories pages and Tags pages.  Instead I use the Inuit Types theme as it is a theme that automatically provides excerpts of post content on the Front page,  Archives, Categories and Tags pages.
  4. I copy and paste a sentence from my latest post into Google search a few hours after publication to search for duplicates.
  5. I use Copyspace to search for duplicates.
  6. I also use plagium (beta)  to track plagiarism.
  7. I have set up Google Alerts for my domain names.
  8. I act immediately when I discover my content has been stolen and file a DMCA take down notice when required.

Duplicate content across domains

Though it isn’t the only cause,  the most obvious cause of duplicate content is when people intentionally lift content from other sites for their own use.  Many content thieves are using Blogspot free hosting and Adsense (Google owns both) to make money from stolen blog content. In March Google decided to change the search algorithm  by means of the “Panda update.” It was aimed at rooting out duplicate content from content farms thereby delivering relevant results and enriching users search experience.  The bad news is  Google’s new “Panda” algorithm is ranking some  stolen content higher than the original versions.

Kunal Pradhan, Ahmedabad, India posed this question to Matt Cutts of Google:

“Google crawls site A every hour and site B once in a day. Site B writes an article, site A copies it changing time stamp. Site A gets crawled first by Googlebot. Whose content is original in Google’s eyes and rank highly? If it’s A, then how does that do justice to site B?”

How can I make sure that Google knows my content is original?

Updated June 21st, 2011

Will showing recent posts on my homepage cause a duplicate content issue?

Further reading on the Google Panda Algorithm update:
Why you should offer partial feeds after Google Panda Update
The Panda that hates farms (Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal Wired interview)

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 bit.ly or goo.gl) 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

Why About Pages are Essential

outstretchehand Static pages are not a requirement for blogs I do recommend having an About page.  I always amazed when I visit a blog and don’t find one because it’s natural for visitors to  want to know a bit about who you are and why you are blogging.

Creating an About page is a way to introduce yourself and let visitors know what kind of content to expect to read in your blog.   A concise  blog description on your About page will inform visitors what they can expect to find in the content and when it will be published.

An About page exists:

  • to provide visitors with essential facts need to interact with you (and/or your company),
  • to give visitors context for the information found elsewhere on the site,
  • to differentiate your blog (and/or your company)  from others like it, and
  • to give visitors a reason (several reasons, ideally) for doing whatever it is you want them to do
  • to provide contact information.

Who are you and what’s the blog about?

Your About page could be as simple as a brief description of who you are and what your purpose for the blog is.  It’s up to you to decide  how much personal information you want to share, and whether or not to post a photo of yourself, but don’t forget to let your personality shine through the text on your About page.  It’s the blogger’s ability to promote their content that creates traffic flow, and it’s their community building ability that determines the blog’s success. Write in an engaging style so visitors know you want

  • to be heard;
  • to connect;
  • to receive comments;
  • to enter into discussion;
  • to form relationships;
  • to build a blog centered community.

Optimize About Page Content

Now let’s consider building and promoting your online presence. Does your blog promotion strategy include a strong web presence? It should. Google is known to make up to 400 algorithm changes annually so having some basic knowledge of the major changes will inform a discussion about a site’s presence and ranking on the web.

You can expect to be ‘googled’. When your name (brand, key words and phrases) are is googled, you want links to your blog to that the reader sees in the SERPS (search engine page results). What will searching reveal? Or not reveal?

When creating a blog description and expressing what the purpose for the blog optimize your About page text to include  relevant keywords and phrases that you want search engines like Google to index.  Consider  other details you may want to include that will target long-tail keyword phrases on About page. For example, you may want to include geographic and demographic information  on your About page aimed at having it appear in local search results.

Discussion

I believe the time you spend and the care you take when creating your About page and keeping it updated is a good investment.  Do you agree?

Related posts found in this blog:

Is Google penalizing no-follow sites?

Five years ago no-follow links were introduced to combat comment spam. In the beginning all links were do-follow.   It didn’t take long before blogs were being inundated by those who left insincere comments that added nothing to the discussion just so they could get a backlink, so no-follow links were introduced.

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.

Meanwhile we hear the drama lamas who blog for money projecting the silly notion that the internet is full of no-follow blogs. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Matt Cutts answers todays’ webmaster video: Will Google penalize sites which only link using the nofollow attribute?

Related posts found in this blog:
Links: No-Follow and Do-Follow
More from Matt Cutts on no-follow no sculpting

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

12 Step Blog Evaluation

checklist Visitors expect to quickly access specific information when they visit blogs. First impressions are critical when it comes to them making the choice to linger and read and perhaps return, or to click out and not return.

When a visitor enters a blog and clicks out without clicking an additional link in the blog this is referred to as a “bounce“. Ideally a blogger wants a zero bounce rate but that’s next to impossible to achieve. How high is your blog’s bounce rate? And, how long does the average visitors spend on your blog?

I am frequently asked to help bloggers going through the blog evaluation process and I always decline.   I prefer to share the steps I take when I  evaluate a blog with my readers here, so they can review my approach and share their feedback with me in discussion.

After blogging for a while  you  need to assess whether or not your blog is on the right track or if adjustments need to be made.  The results of your evaluation may be branding changes,  setting new goals,  a change in theme, or even a complete blog make-over.

“First impressions are lasting impressions”, so they say.  The word “effectiveness” is the key word when I assess the following points:

1.    Page loading time is a ranking factor. How quickly does the site load?

  • How many widgets and gadgets are there in the sidebar?
  • How many scripts are running?
  • Is there autoplay music?
  • How much decorative “tat” (clutter) is in sidebars and/or footers?

2.    Is the theme in keeping with the content?  For example, does the theme in use appropriately reflect and showcase the true nature of the blog content? Or are you looking at a professional content business blog being presented in theme that would better be suited for use on a parenting or personal blog?

3.    How is the color scheme for readers? I it in keeping with the blog post content? Colors evoke emotions and can provoke readers to either move on or to linger and read.

  • Do the colors chosen evoke a calming mood that encourages to readers to relax and read content? Or do the colors evoke stimulation of emotions that may provoke readers to click out?
  • Does what’s been placed in the sidebar tend to detract from the blog design and distract readers away from reading content?

4.    Does the theme quickly communicate branding and the purpose of the blog to new visitors?

  • If the theme is not unique, then has it been customized and personalized (eg. custom header image, logo, unique graphics) to reflect individual branding?
  • How does the quality of design and the customization aimed at personalizing it compare with other blogs in the same niche?

5.    Is the blog search engine optimized? Note: If you are using a WordPress.com theme good SEO is a given. However, going beyond the theme what the blogger has done within that structure is worth evaluating.

6.    How readable is the content by readers of all ages including the visually impaired?

  • Is the background black or dark? If so is the font color easily readable against it?
  • Is the background “busy” as in patterned and/or extremely colorful? If so then are the fonts easily readable against it?
  • Is the background distracting? Does it draw the eyes and mind away from the post content? Note:  Presbyopia, the loss of up-close focus that forces billions of people to wear reading prescriptions by 40 years old, is commonly considered an inevitable fact of aging. The condition affects 100% of the population by age 50.

7.   Are pages being used effectively?

  • Is there an About page with a blogger’s profile,  blog description, contact information, and copyright notice?
  • How is the blog structured? Is it post based, or page based with custom menu?

8.   Are navigational aides provided?

  • Does the theme provide next page and previous page links?
  • Is there a sitemap, archives, categories and tags?
  • Can readers easily locate deeper content found in earlier posts that doesn’t appear on the front page?
  • Have links to related sites in the same niche been provided for readers?

9.   Is the post content well written, properly “sourced” and are links in working order?

  • Are the tiles attention grabbing and do they accurately reflect the content?
  • Is the content free of typos, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors?
  • Are the posts written in an engaging style that flows?
  • Do the post contain links to sources for verifiability, acknowledgment, examples, and context?
  • One of the most common problems that readers encounter is dead links.  Do an random check for broken and dead links and see what you find.
  • Are media (images, audio, video) being used effectively?
  • Do posts contains invitations for readers to participate in discussion and/or requests for reader feedback?
  • Do posts have social networking sharing buttons?
  • Reference:  3 Ways to Evaluate the Real Activity of the Blog

10.  Are the commenting links obvious, inviting and easy to use?

  • Has a commenting policy been provided?
  • Does the blog have a CAPTCHA for commenting?
  • Does the blogger reply to comments?

11.   Is there a means for readers to subscribe to the RSS feed or to subscribe to receive new blog posts by email?

12.   How intrusive are the ads?

  • Is the blog content above the fold, or does advertising occupy the best real estate positioning on the blog?
  • Are there pop-ups, pop-unders, toolbars, etc.
  • Are the ads minimal in number, tasteful in appearance, and in keeping with the content in the blog?

Discussion

1. Have you ever evaluated your blog’s effectiveness from the standpoint of a reader?

2. If so what process did you use to do so?

3. Which of the twelve points in my article resonated most for you?

4. Which of the tweleve points did not resonate for you?

5. If you believe I overlooked any important points, please share what you think ought to have been included.

Related posts found in this blog:
How to select a WordPress.com theme Part 1
Select a WordPress.com theme Part 2
Select a WordPress theme Part 3

A Dozen Free Ebooks for Bloggers

ebook stackFor writers who are taking up blogging there’s a lot to learn. For those who don’t  possess strong writing skills there’s a larger learning curve.

As I’m getting more and more questions from those who are new to blogging,  and especially from business bloggers who are just getting started,  in this post I’m sharing links to free ebook resources for bloggers in all niches. There are many free  ebooks available that contain and great deal of useful information on the topics I list briefly below and more.

  • Getting Started
  • Choosing a Niche
  • Domain Names
  • Blogging Platforms
  • Themes and Organization
  • Pages, Posts and Widgets
  • Images and Media
  • Comments and Discussion
  • Headlines and Content Creation
  • SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Post Length and Posting Frequency
  • Blog promotion, Social Media, Social Networking
  • Guest Blogging

Free ebooks on blogging for bloggers

I began researching and reading ebooks in preparation for creating and publishing this post two weeks ago.  I was aiming to have it ready for publication by  Wednesday or Thursday of this week but Mother Nature interfered on Tuesday night. A snow storm knocked out our power for 2 days.   I’m pleased to say that I finally completed the project and am publishing it as the week comes to an end.

  1. Personal Branding for the Business Professional (PDF format). Chris Brogan compiled 15 pages (including the cover) and contains everything from strategy advice to some considerations to over 100 tactics and ideas on what to do next.
  2. (a) Killer Flagship Content is a guide to arranging enjoyable and profitable joint ventures, how we all need the help of other people, and everyone has something to offer.- Chris Garrett’s  free ebook introduces the concept of Flagship Content and provides all the information you need to create, package and promote compelling resources that attract more attention to your blog. (b) Authority Alliances is a guide to arranging enjoyable and profitable joint ventures, how we all need the help of other people, and everyone has something to offer. You can download both free of charge just by subscribing.
  3. Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Freshly updated by seomoz  for 2010, the Beginner’s Guide is the most popular SEO learning resource on the web. More than 1 million users have read or downloaded this beautifully illustrated, value-packed, free resource.
  4. WordPress SEO guide for beginners (PDF format) – The Blog Oh! Blog way. It can be considered as a crash course for all the people who are struggling to get better search engine results with their WordPress blogs. In this e-book, I will guide you how to rapidly configure your WordPress blog with maximum SEO benefits.
  5. How to Start a Business Blog (Scribd format) is a step by step workbook with exercises to help you plan, set up and create content for a business blog. Michael Martine.com wrote a huge 12-part series of posts on how to start a business blog and expanded on them in the form of an ebook.
  6. Who’s There (PDF format) is not an ebook about how to write better or how to follow the traditional conventions about formatting and building a blog. It’s not designed to sell you one service instead of another, either.  Instead, Seth Godin divides the blog world into three groups and turn my attention to one. And in particular, I try to sell you hard on how building a blog asset can have a spectacular impact on you, your career, your organization and your ideas.
  7. Content by Cory Doctrow is among the most important books in social media. Read this ebook and get the straight goods on copyright.
  8. The Art of Community (PDF format) by Jono Bacon. A solid guide to building, energizing and enabling pro-active, productive and enjoyable communities, covering community leadership, and best practices.
  9. Geeks Guide To Promoting Yourself With Twitter An ebook containing tips, tools and resources for  using Twitter for promotion purposes.
  10. The Zen of Blogging (PDF format) This is the story of an aspiring blogger who sets out on a journey to discover the secrets of blogging. What will he find at the top of Mount Blogmore? Will he learn how to become a great blogger, or will he get his head cut off? You’ll have to read to find out!
  11. Focus – A simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction (PDF format) is Leo Babauta’s free ebook.  Leo Babauta is a very popular blogger whose blog Zen Habits   educates people on leading a simple, stress free life. Tip of the hat to Sandra Lee of Always Well Within.

For those bloggers who are exploring free and/or low cost methods of printing their blog posts, or creating ebooks, or publishing a book please see Bloggers: Publish your book, ebook, or your blog. See also Promoting Your Writing or Poetry Blog.

Discussion

Have you read any free ebooks on blogging topics that don’t appear here? If so, how many have you read? And, which ones  would you recommend?

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 https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/reconsideration?hl=en 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

Duplicate Content in the SERPs Sucks!

duplicate dollsThe theme of this post is: don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content. Almost every day when I visit new blogs on the internet I spot duplicated content. The most common instances I witness are bloggers, who set up free blogs on WordPress.com, whereon blogger initiated advertising and duplicate content are not allowed, who then go on to create a mirror site on a free Blogger blog containing all the same content, so they can benefit from the niggardly income provided by Google Adsense.  The second most common experience I’m having is witnessing is published articles from article directories duplicated on multiple sites. The third most common experience I am witnessing is very similar content on multiple sites that differs only in that a few words or paragraphs have been added to the core text.

What constitutes duplicate content?

Duplicate content is content that can be accessed on more than one URL.
Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin. Examples of non-malicious duplicate content could include:

  • Discussion forums that can generate both regular and stripped-down pages targeted at mobile devices
  • Store items shown or linked via multiple distinct URLs
  • Printer-only versions of web pages
  • If your site contains multiple pages with largely identical content, there are a number of ways you can indicate your preferred URL to Google.   (This is called “canonicalization“.)  However, in some cases, content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic. Deceptive practices like this can result in a poor user experience, when a visitor sees substantially the same content repeated within a set of search results.”

    Why is duplicate content an issue?

    One of the biggest issues with SEO is duplicate content. If search engine spiders can’t tell which version of a web page or document is the original or canonical version, then the consequences will be less than ideal search visibility. Most duplicate content is created by blog scraping sploggers who steal content by subscribing to RSS feeds. Some duplicate content is created by the author’s of the content and the latter is what this article is focused on.

    Search engines are designed to provide the most relevant results to those who use them. When it comes to a blog not making the ascent to the top of the search engine rankings and SERPs (search engine pages results) the issue of duplicate content arises. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask have developed tools and filters that locate and remove web pages containing duplicated content, in order to deliver the most relevant and timely results to searchers. Not all duplicate content has to be identical to be spotted and removed a search engine crawler. But web pages with similarity over of over 60% will definitely be detected and impede any ranking success a blogger is aiming to enjoy.

    Matt Cutts of Google introduces the canonical link element

    Whenever content on a site can be found at multiple URLs, it should be canonicalized for search engines. This can be accomplished using a 301 redirect to the correct URL, using the rel=canonical or in some cases using the Parameter handling tool in Google Webmaster Central.  The ways of properly handling cross-domain content duplication are found in Handling legitimate cross-domain content duplication on the Official Google WebMaster central Blog.

    Get with the program, please!

    On my regular read around today I came across the following comment relating to traffic generation and link building.
    “Submit some of your more popular posts to article directories in order to gain greater exposure”
    Let me just make myself 100% clear on this statement….
    It is false, do not submit any content from your site/blog to article marketing directories, if you do it will be labeled duplicate content and no doubt your page will be thrown into the supplementary index.” — Tim Grice in  SEO – Some Common Newbie Mistakes

    1.   It  seems clear to me that those creating duplicate content mirror blogs on WordPress.com and Blogger (blogspot) blogs are motivated by greed, and fall into the group who are deliberately duplicating content across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings and/or secure more traffic.  I report all such sites when I encounter them.

    The types of blogs allowed and not allowed on the WordPress.com blogging platform  and the Terms of Service prevent using a WordPress.com blog as a publicly available and indexed duplicate content blog.  WordPress.com Staff will suspend or delete all duplicate content blogs reported to them. If you have exported your content out of a blog on another blogging platform such as Blogger, Blogger, Israblog, LiveJournal, Movable Type, Typepad, Posterous, Spaces, Tapuz ,Vox, and Yahoo! 360, and then imported it into a WordPress.com free hosted blog, change the visibility on the original blog to “private” so there will be no duplicate content issue.  If you don’t do that then my understanding is that the first content to be indexed will be considered to be  the original, and all other copies will be considered to be  duplicates.

    2.   Ezinearticles and most article directories so accept article(s) that have been previously published elsewhere, provided you are the unique person who holds copyright to the article.  However, Hubpages, Buzzle, Ehow and Knol do not allow duplicate content. They want to only unique content on their sites and will delete your article(s) and your account if you persist. It seems to me that anyone who can write can also rewrite.  So smart bloggers are not duplicating content and having content in  article directories, etc. out place their blog content in the SERPs

    3.   Reputable blog directories do not allow duplicate content sites to be registered. If and when they do slip in under the radar and are reported to site Admin they will delete the site from their directory.

    4.   When RSS syndicating content, create different versions of the same article that you want to syndicate,  rather than posting the same article everywhere.

    Further reading: Six Easy Ways to Eliminate Pesky Duplicate Content

    Plagiarism checkers:

    There are many free plagiarism checkers you can use online. Copyscape is a free plagiarism checker. The software lets you detect duplicate content and check if  articles are original.

    plagium (beta) – Track plagiarism by pasting your original text.

    Conclusion:

    I require the use of search engines to do research for my contracted work and  prior to creating and publishing blog posts. And, I resent going through screen after screen of duplicated content results presented to me in the SERPs. I think it is a good strategy for search engines to penalize those sites with duplicate content by omitting them from the search results.   Google’s algorithm will continue to be adjusted over time to fit one simple goal:  return the most relevant, helpful pages for any particular search.  Really?  Then  why Google isn’t doing a better job?  Duplicate Content in the SERPs Sucks!

    Update:  Google Webmaster Central: Duplicate content summit at SMX Advanced.

    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.
    • Ask.com 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