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Google Adds +1 Aka The Like

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March 31  |  News  |   Ryan Clark

This is fresh news hot off the press, and it has be a tad worried. Google is implementing a new social feature to their search engine similar to that of Facebook’s Like button. This is most likely not going to make much of a difference, although, you never know for those locked into a heaty top 10 SERP. I won’t go into it much because the feature is pretty self explanatory, and will only be used if you’re logged into your Google account. I do see how easy this is going to be gamed by black hats, but that’s not much of a big deal either as links are already as easily spammed. I’ll let the video do the rest, or one of the 100′s of other blogs that covered this news today already…dupe filter here we come!

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Google’s Spam Team’s Goals In 2011

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March 27  |  News  |   Ryan Clark

Here’s a video with Matt Cutts talking about what Google’s spam team is going to be focusing on for the rest of 2011. While they’re just finishing up the Panda update, I have been getting the hints that links will be viewed differently in the coming year. Matt does quickly mention that link quality is going to get another look, and frankly it’s about bloody time. I have a post coming out soonish on just how Google might look at links as I have a decent guess at it. Link spam works way too easily still, and paid links by large companies seem to go unnoticed in large amounts. A quick look at any financial keyword’s top 10 listings will prove that theory within a minute, easy. I’m glad to hear that some more change is coming, and I can imagine it’s going to cause all sorts of fun (ie Panda update) for webmasters around the world.

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Link Building Freelancer Threatens A Client!

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March 22  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

I was doing my morning help over at Google’s Webmaster Central and came across this somewhat scary post. I imagine many of you have hired a freelancer from one of “those” sites in the past, and I imagine most of you learned an important lesson. Those freelancers are mainly building junk/spam links, and it shouldn’t surprise you. While I imagine this happens more often that I’d like to know, there was some great info by a Google employee on the topic of spam links. To cap the post up for you first, this is what the site owner had to say;

I hired a freelancer to build links for my site, all white hat and above board.  However when I came to check the links they were not very good quality and half of them were missing.  After a dispute via Freelancer I agreed to pay half and he accepted that.  Over the next couple of days he has sent me many emails saying that he would remove the links I paid for if I did not pay the rest of the cash for this month.  I said that was not fair as I have paid for the links he has built. Now he has come back saying if I do not pay he will send 2000+ bad links to my site and wipe it from the search engines… I didn’t know what to do so I just paid him.

So here we have a sticky situation. Luckily for him, freelance link builders are cheap and he was able to bite the bullet. So I could stop there and we could all contemplate the thought of this happening to our business. First of all, don’t hire a freelancer from “one of those sites”, and stick with well known companies in the industry (cough cough). This is your business we’re talking about here, and no one should be held hostage for links!

So on to the next point of topic in this discussion. A lot of the people said don’t worry about it, those spam links can’t hurt you. This had me a little flabbergasted to say the least! Clearly, some of these consultants have never had a client with an anchor text filter penalty. I’ve heard this time and time again, that spam links cannot hurt you at all so don’t worry about it. I have never shared this thought, and we’ve dealt with so many inquiries from people with those exact penalties. Needless to say, I was pleased when a Google employee piped in on the conversation;

Google doesn’t penalize a site for having spammy links to the site unless we can tell that this was part of a link scheme.

-thejack (Google Employee)

So there you have it, a real world example of the dark side of marketing. This should also clear up any questions you had about getting hit by bad links. While it might be frustrating to see a competitor over take you in the short run, a quality marketing plan will prevail in the end.

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Google Owned Like.com Outranked By Content Scrapers Post Panda

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March 18  |  Ecommerce SEO  |   Ryan Clark

We’re currently in the middle of submitting a clients feed to a few product comparison search engines, and I stumbled onto something slightly amusing. Like.com, which was acquired by Google, has a bunch of (really lousy) content basically to just internally link their key product pages. While I know this has been in place long before the big G got in there, so it’s more of just an amusing blog post to peek at. By the recent Panda update, the content on the site would be defined as a content farm, and I kind of think Like.com got hit by the update. As it stands, most of that content has been scraped and is currently outranked but low quality article sites and blogs.

The site has been slowly going down hill anyhow, and the only point in time it saw any real action is when Google announced the purchase. I’m surprise this hasn’t been cleaned up yet, but I imagine they just used the technology elsewhere. That domain has some serious potential though, so feel free to let me at it Google if you don’t have the time(tee hee). I checked around 10 “articles” that are up on the site and ended up with the same result as you can see in this next image below. Sometimes, I didn’t even get Like.com back as a result in the top 30 listings, something I found a little strange.

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Google Panda Q/A From SMX West

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March 15  |  Link Building Videos  |   Ryan Clark

SMX West has just wrapped up, sadly we missed it and were stuck sitting here in the office working away. There are always a ton of awesome videos that come from the conference, and sadly not a lot of them get the exposure they should. I really enjoy slapping these on my mobile and watching them while I work out, or before falling asleep. But, generally speaking they’re brilliant videos with industry leaders discussing the latest and greatest, and in this case the latest and painful. The Panda/Farm update has heads still spinning, and we’re still seeing a lot of scrapers and spam still ranking quite well. I hope this video clears up some of the questions you may have had, or if you’re just wanting to see what the marketing world is getting at behind close doors.

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Google Panda(Farm) Update Help Roundup

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March 10  |  News  |   Ryan Clark

The Google Panda/Farm update has been cleaning up the crap, filtering the high quality and still leaving a blender of scraped, low quality content all over the top 10 rankings. While the first bit of time after any big update usually leaves many with headaches, there are solutions and changes in the works. Google has already acknowledged that tons of quality sites caught wrongly f$%^!ed over, but as time ticks on this isn’t going to do for some. We’ve gladly made it through, and any of the “dupe” content we may have doesn’t teeter over the 20% mark, so phew!

I do what I can with my spare time to help people out in Google’s Webmaster Forum, and I’m seeing a ton of big name sites coming up with issues. It usually ends in speculation from too many ill-informed consultants and SEO weekend warriors, so I feel for the people seeking true help. This has inspired me to do what we can and round up all the good info on the Panda update for people seeking questions, help and answers. I would be more than happy to have you folks drop some links I missed in the comments that are helpful because I won’t catch them all.

google panda farm update

First up we’ll start with the most useful and resourceful posts that came from the greatest minds in the SEO field. So many great people did a lot of research, great writing and the outcome was more than amazing. It also saved us from having to jump on the bandwagon and try and make sense of it all…for some this update sure didn’t make a whole lot of sense!

Google Panda Update Analysis & Research:

********************update

Kristi Hines beat us to the punch with a much better job…I was half way through this post until I noticed her write-up. So while I had to erase a thousand words or so, I’ll just lock it up after this and link her post which sums it all up. Kristi is from the marketing firm Vertical Measures, most of you most likely know that already but they’re awesome so they deserve another link from us.

The post that beat me to it: http://www.stayonsearch.com/complete-guide-to-the-google-panda-update-50-articles-resources

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Forbes.com Caught With Paid Links Again?

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February 16  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

While I’ll usually refrain from posting about specific sites and problems, this is already made public thanks to Google Webmaster Central. Since JCPenny was getting some flack from Google and the web this last week, it looks like other Fortune 500′s are being treated equally. While a site like Forbes.com does have what to appear to be paid links, they’re always quite on target. Despite that, they’re followed links and it seems that the new “unnatural links” message was warranted. I applaud their marketing manager for addressing it, but I don’t think he has any other option as this is Google’s only support line!

This Google Webmaster Help thread got a response from even Matt Cutts himself, which makes total sense when a big name like this asks. The thread covers a lot of interesting ground, and shows you that even the big fish have to clean up things from time to time. While they’ll most likely just have certain pages devalued, a site with this many links and that much trust won’t fall too hard. But having the paid links in question under “Resources” is also bringing more bad attention than good.

Matt Cutts even calls out Conductor Inc in the thread as they’ve been known to sell links via such authoritative sites as Forbes…but again that’s all speculation. Regardless, a few nofollow’s appended to those resources and all would be cleared according to Matt. If you watched this video I posted the other day from Matt, we can see if it auto fixes itself. By the looks of Forbes Alexa ranking, they may already be feeling the sting of the Googlebot.

Let’s hear your thoughts!

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JCPenny Caught With Paid Links?

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February 12  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

I just enjoyed reading the long and well done report by the NT Times on the black hat hi-jinx JCPenny has been tangled up in. I don’t need to chat much about it as they went 5 pages deep into uncovering what was going on. JCPenny, by the looks of their Alexa, did quite well this last holiday season!

This is a good warning to all big brands not to game their links and stay away from any anchor text filters…something JCPenny is still stuck in by the looks of it. While it was reported they got slapped up into the 70′s, I’m now seeing them back in the 30′s, but there’s no traffic to be found there. JCPenny could have also been setup in this situation. Of all the huge brands we’ve worked with, they’d never have to resort to tactics like this to get those kind of results. While it’s not easy, these companies most definitely have the budget to do it right.

Just 7 percent of JCPenney.com’s traffic comes from clicks on organic search results, she wrote. A far bigger source of profits this holiday season, she stated, came from partnerships with companies like Yahoo and Time Warner, from new mobile applications and from in-store kiosks.

This is also great for them, any this should be similar for any large company. We always tell our clients to NOT have all their eggs in one basket, especially in case something bad happens. If you’re still relying 100% on search, it’s time to start looking at Facebook storefront options, a strong Twitter presence and get mobile in one way or another.

The one major thing JCPenny could improve on is of course much better product descriptions. If you were a smaller ecommerce site with a weak link profile and brand presence, then you’d be trumped. This is where having such a big company comes in really handy, but don’t feel invincible.

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