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October 25, 2012

Google Launches Disavow Links Tool

Google has released a new webmaster tool that allows users to disavow links to their links. The tool is designed for users who have received a message from Google about a manual spam action based on unnatural links pointing to their sites. According to the tech giant, messages are sent to webmasters when Google identifies paid links, link exchanges, or other link schemes that go against its quality guidelines.

“By removing the bad links directly, you’re helping to prevent Google (and other search engines) from taking action again in the future,” wrote Jonathan Simon, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, in a post on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog.

He added, “You’re also helping to protect your site’s image, since people will no longer find spammy links pointing to your site on the web and jump to conclusions about your website or business.”

You can access the tool by visiting this page: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2648487.

Bing launched a similar tool in July.

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3 Ways to Maintain Your Company’s Online Reputation

Most companies have a distinct online presence for a definite reason – to manage an online reputation.

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Considering the importance of a company’s reputation to its growth, there’s no doubt that being able to manage its reputation in times of crises is indeed an imperative activity. So here are three tips that can add perspective to maintaining your company’s online reputation:

#1: Establish a strong online presence

When someone googles your brand name, it is important to ensure that it’s not just your website that should pop up on the first page. Consider using the numerous social media sites that are available, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, which will establish a solid online presence.

And remember that being in the first search engine results is vital to your brand’s success, especially if it’s a common name.

#2: Controlling responses during a crisis

Considering the highly publicized failures of the past, there’s no doubt that there are severe consequences in not being able to handle a crisis online effectively. Whether it is handling customer complaints or even dealing with a lawsuit, it is of utmost importance to monitor online conversations at all times with the intent of defusing the situation as soon as possible.

#3: Monitor Conversations

Most businesses understand how important it is to stay up to date with what’s being said about the company. In fact, the best way to do this is by using social media tools which make the overwhelming process of monitoring several social media accounts much easier.

Better still, these social media tools will help you respond in real-time and turn negative situations into positive opportunities.

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June 28, 2012

Penguin Update: An Interview with Pierre Zarokian of Submit Express

Pierre Zarokian is the CEO of Submit Express, a search engine marketing company. I have met him several times in industry trade shows and they also sponsor our blog. His company serves over 200 SEO clients, so I thought it would be a good idea to get his input on the Penguin update. Below is an interview I did with him about this subject.

Many people have already heard about the latest Google update Penguin. I wanted to see what you have learned so far about it.
Google actually had 2 updates. One was on April 17th, called Panda 3.5 and the other was on April 24th called the Penguin update.
The Panda update is more of a content related update, targeting sites with duplicate content and targeting spammers who scrape content. The first one was over a year ago and Google has had several updates to it since then.
The Penguin update was actually announced by Google about a month prior to its launch and they labeled it as an over optimization update. From the looks of it, it appears to be looking at many factors such as low quality links.

What specifically do you think is the Penguin update targeting?
It is too early to tell. I have been analyzing a few of our clients that were effected and also reading online blogs and forums about it. No one has a concrete answer and obviously Google does not disclose exactly what they did.
From what I can see, I think that this algo is looking at the overall back links and if it finds the majority of your back links are low quality or spam looking you might be effected.
I say this because we had some clients at the low end that had only directory type and link exchange type back links which were effected and then we had some clients at the high end who also practiced link buying, who were affected.
However, it seems that there are many sites that have these kinds of low quality links that are not affected. So Google must be looking at your overall percentage of low quality links as a factor. If you have many natural looking links in the mix and a few low quality links, then you are probably not affected.
Another thing they may be looking at is the link anchor text and if the specific keyword in the link anchor text is being used to many times vs. other keywords on your website or your company name.

What have you seen in specific to your clients that you think might be a factor in Penguin?
We had about 6 clients that were affected so far out of over 200 that we serve. This is not that bad for us given the scale of this update. I am glad that the SEO techniques that we use have not been considered spam.
One of our clients had too many doorway pages with city/state pages that got affected. These were done prior to them signing with us. We think these doorway pages may have affected his ranking. They never wanted to remove them before, because they were bringing a lot of traffic to them, until now. We have not recommended to them to place NOINDEX tags on them.
Another client was selling links on his own website on the footer. We think this may have caused his site to be affected.
A different client had some duplicate content issues from his affiliates who copied his content.
The rest of the clients had a variety of different type of back links, which need to be analyzed so we can figure out if the backlinks are the problem or not.
As I said it is still too early to tell the exact causes.

What specific factors do you think Google is looking at to find low quality links?
– Too many exact match keyword links in anchor texts
– Any footer links
– Any links from unrelated sites
– Any sponsored links that have the words “sponsored” or “advertisers” or something similar posted before it. Note that if this is stated in an image, Google will not be able to detect it.
– Any consecutive sponsored links, with no text descriptions in between the different links
– Site wide links
– Links coming from same IP’s or similar C class IP’s
– The ratio of what appear to be low quality links vs. what appear to be natural links. I.e. if you have more low quality links than natural links, then you may be in trouble

What do you suggest people that have been affected do?
If people are doing their own SEO, then they probably have an idea of what links are low quality, so they can proceed with removing a few at a time and wait a few days to see if rankings come back.
They should also review their keyword links in anchor texts and see if they have too many links for any specific keyword. Normally a company name or the domain should have the most links pointing back to their site, so if there are keywords that are pointing back more than the company name, this needs to be changed. I would recommend not to use any keyword more than 10 to 20% of your overall keyword links.
If the site effected has hired an SEO firm to do this, they should make sure to ask for a detailed link report to see what exactly the SEO firm has done. There are many SEO companies that keep their clients in the dark and never send link reports. You need to make sure the companies you are hiring discloses what they do and that they do not engage in tactics that Google may not like.

If anyone would like to contact you, how would they get in touch with you?
They can visit our site at http://www.submitexpress.com/ (which is our search marketing site) or http://www.iclimber.com/ (which is our social marketing site). They can contact me at my Linkedin profile www.linkedin.com/in/submitexpress

Filed under Google, Search Engine Marketing by on .

October 27, 2011

Three Ways to Maintain a Steady Flow of Content Ideas

Quality content is king. It’s what the search engines love, and what some of us feel stuck to produce sometimes. If it makes you feel any better, it’s a struggle that most of us have to accept – as we’re not content machines.

But there are ways by which you can remedy this situation and so here are a few tips by which you can avoid the proverbial writer’s block:

#1: Browse other websites

If you are unable to produce content as you wish you should, it’s probably a good idea to check websites or blogs which create in the same ‘niche’ as you do. In the process, you might be able to find out whether you can add valuable information to the content already created or even create content that might be missing.

#2: Use audio or video

Instead of just sticking to text-related content, it’s a good idea to also produce audio or video posts especially if everyone in your niche is sticking to blogs only. Finding different ways by which you can deliver this content can also help you get out of a rut.

#3: Read comments or browse forums for problems

Reading comments, browsing forums and social media sites will give you content ideas as there are some people who are looking for information or are looking to solve a problem. Interestingly, you can look for what’s most recent in the news as well. All you will have to do is add a new angle to the content, and maintain a repository of ideas in the process.

Filed under Marketing, Search Engines by on .

October 3, 2010

Search Engine News from this week

Here are some of the search engine related articles and posts we have found interesting this week.

Can Google Detect an Affiliate Website?

Graywolf: The answer to that is slightly nuanced but, for simplicity’s sake, they don’t hate affiliate websites. Nor have I seen any evidence that shows affiliate sites are penalized.

Google New Shows You What’s New With Google Products

Google Tutor: Google New is a service launched by Google recently to help a Google fan stay abreast of all the new things and developments happening in the world of Google products, all at one page.

How To Find Public Domain Works with Google

What are public domain works, and how can you find them on the Web? (Wendy Boswell)

girl with music playerKindle Secret Exposed: Popular Highlights Reveal Content That Clicks

Search Engine People: Readers can highlight passages on the Amazon Kindle. When your highlights sync with your Amazon Kindle account they get shared with Amazon. Amazon aggregates those highlights into Popular Highlights.

Bing Social now with added recommendations.

P Bradley: Bing Social Search is supposed to help by providing suggestions for people that you can follow, based on the searches that you run

47 sites you can use instead of Wikipedia

Wendy Boswell: Wikipedia is perhaps the most popular reference site online, with millions of high quality articles available on virtually any topic. However, there are limits to what Wikipedia can offer.


Microsoft’s Bing, bold bets face payoff testSteve Ballmer

Seattle Times interviews Steve Ballmer of Microsoft and Bing: “Our maps are better, our images our better, our picture is different. And Google keeps responding. In a sense, because we have lower share, it’s almost easier for us to try new things. They have to sort of stay conservative, they gotta make a lot of money.”

For Google, Open Is the New Closed

Google Watch: “Google CEO Eric Schmidt wowed (and scared) the crowd at TechCrunch Disrupt Sept. 28 when he talked about autonomous search and serendipity engines, but he also piqued curiosity by framing Google as open and Apple as closed. If you really think about it, Google’s open strategy can be limited by companies taking open-source platforms and adapting them for their own benefit. ”

Facebook Jumps Yahoo; Second Largest Video Site in U.S.

SE Watch: According to comScore Video Metrix, 178 million U.S. Internet users watched online video content in August for an average of 14.3 hours per viewer

Google, Facebook Tout Serendipity Engines, Personalized Media

eweek: One day after Google CEO Eric Schmidt touted autonomous search as a serendipity engine where information comes to users instead of tracking them down, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said the future of media will be personalized.

Recapping Google’s new two-factor authentication

Google’s Matt Cutts: Two-factor authentication is something you have (e.g. a phone) and something you know (e.g. a password). It’s a Big Deal because if your account or business has two-factor authentication, those accounts are immediately less likely to be phished, hijacked, or otherwise abused. There’s a neat Google Authenticator application that runs on Android, iPhone, and Blackberry.


Microsoft Launches A New Loyalty Program: Bing Rewards

Search Engine Land: Prior Microsoft search loyalty programs, SearchPerks and Cashback, were retired. But maybe the third time’s the charm: today Microsoft is rolling out Bing Rewards Preview (beta). It’s a credit card or airline-style loyalty program that offers users credits that can be redeemed for products, gift cards or charitable donations.

Twitter leap-frogs MySpace in US web rankings

techradar: Twitter makes it into the top 50 web properties.

Propeller.com Spinning to a Stop

SE Watch: Propeller was the new name for NetScape’s social news experiment, a project which first emerged out of AOL as the killer app for the Netscape portal and originally led by Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc.

Google Instant Hasn’t Really Changes Traffic Referrals

SE Roundtable: As you know, Google Instant has changed how people search. But does that make a difference on how your pages are ranked, how people search and ultimately how people click on your Google listing to view your web site.

Google’s Bringing “Sexy” Back to Display Ads

Google believes that in 2015, 75 percent of ads on the web will be “social” in nature—across dozens of formats, sites and social communities. 50 percent of ad campaigns will include video ads bought on a cost-per-view basis (that means that the user will choose whether to watch the ad or not, and the advertiser will only pay if the user watches).

AOL Acquires TechCrunch and Mike Arrington is Really Excited About It

SE Journal: Arrington explains that nothing is going to change on the blog, they will continue to write and run it as they always have, and that is precisely what AOL wants them to do.

Official: Bing xRank Is Dead

SE Land: Launched in 2007, xRank was essentially Bing’s version of Google Trends, but with a number of additional features.

Google CEO Schmidt Pitches Autonomous Search, Flirts with AI

eweek: Google CEO Eric Schmidt said at TechCrunch Disrupt that the search engine’s next step is “autonomous search,” bringing information to users instead of making them seek it… This means Google will conduct searches for users without them having to manually conduct searches. As an example, Schmidt said he could be walking down the streets of San Francisco and receive information about the places around him on his mobile phone without having to click any buttons.

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August 17, 2010

Simon Cowell Wants to Look Like a Good Guy

For all the straight talking “I don’t care what you think, I will say what I want” attitude he has on TV, it seems to be quite the opposite on the web for Simon Cowell. Observations on certain trends seem to suggest that the former American Idol judge is going out of his way to avoid bad press.

Observers have stated that it is almost impossible to find any bad news about Cowell on Google’s searches and that he probably has something to do with it. An actual test of this allegation seems to confirm it, as any search for “Simon Cowell” does not turn up anything negative about the Briton.

The theory is that Cowell is using an SEO or Search Engine Optimization firm to ensure that nothing but the good stuff turns up on Google. This could be true as any critical news of him only appears after the 20th page on Google’s search results. Casual users wouldn’t go beyond even the 3rd page on any search result. The theory seems to carry even more weight in light of a censorship story.

Apparently a blog slashing Cowell and his behavior was taken down by the host, WordPress. They had explained the action by calling it a violation of the terms and conditions of the website. Although the blog was restored after several hours Hans Ebert, the author of the blog, did some digging to find out the truth. According to Ebert, the complaint had come from an SEO firm that was operating out of Bangalore, India. Further digging revealed that the SEO firm was under contract from a firm in London, England which gets them to monitor news about specific personalities. A spokeswoman for Cowell rubbished the story and denied any knowledge of a person named Ebert.

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March 24, 2010

Top 5 movie search engines

Pandia top five movie search enginesOften, when I am watching a movie, I get curious about stuff like “Where have I seen this actor before?” or “Isn’t this the same director that did that other movie I like so much?”

Earlier I would have called my friend the movie buff. Now there are some excellent search engines available so I don’t need to bother him at odd hours. Here are the top five movie search engines. Three of them will help you find movie facts, two will help you find movies you might enjoy.

IMDB

If you are at all familiar with movie search online, it will be no surprise that the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) is my number one pick. This site is a treasure trove of all kinds of cinema related information and it’s easy to navigate.

The search box has a drop-down menu that lets you search titles, TV episodes, names, companies, keywords, characters, videos, quotes, bios and plots. This is where most people go to find the answers to their film related questions.

But did you know that from the same drop-down menu you can also access advanced search?

Here you can:

  • Do an advanced title search
  • Do an advanced name search
  • Do a title text search
  • Search collaborations and overlaps (the place to go for a list of titles in which both Brad Pitt and George Clooney appeared)
  • Browse movies by genre, country, language and year
  • And more…

The front page also presents all kinds of film related news like box office hits this week, movie news, TV news, celebrity news and mores.

Filmsite

Filmsite has been around since 1996 and contains interpretive, descriptive review commentary and historical background on a large number of movies.

The search box lets you search by director, actor or movie. The search engine is a Google Custom Search and has no advanced search options, but the results are still relevant and interesting.

Still, the most intriguing part of Filmsite is browsing, using the top tabs with drop-down menus. The main categories are:

  • Genres
  • Directors and stars
  • Quotes
  • Oscars
  • Reviews
  • Posters
  • Greatest films
  • Videos
  • Best of…
  • Scenes
  • History

Between them, they contain more than 80 subcategories of movie facts and trivia. There are even hundreds of colorful, vintage film posters for some of the best Hollywood and American classic films in the last century.

Anyclip

Anyclip has some advanced search options that let you search for quotes, actions, objects, actors and movies.

The front page has no less than five search boxes, so you can combine queries to find — for example — when a certain actor said a certain line or when a certain object appeared in a certain movie. I haven’t seen any other search engine that can do this.

You can also browse by movies, actors, directors. You browse films by poster view, which is appealing to me. Anyclip does not have a huge index yet, but it keeps expanding.

Nanocrowd

Nanocrowd is a powerful, yet simple search engine that use crowd sourcing to help you find movies you might like.

The technology is called Reaction Mapping and it interprets the comments people write about movies. This way Nanocrowd can analyze millions of viewer comments from all over the Web to find out what movies are really about and what people think of them.

There are two ways to use Nanocrowd. The first is to use the search box to search for a movie, an actor or a director. I enjoyed Avatar, so I ask for recommendations based on this.

Nanocrowd has five clusters of characteristics attributed to this movie and ask me to choose one. I choose “future, humans, thought-provoking” and get a list of movies including some of my favorites: Blade Runner, Terminator and The Matrix.

The other way to find a picture is to take a quiz that will determine if a certain movie is right for me. I follow the link on the front page. I am thinking about renting A Serious Man, which I missed in the theatres, so I input the movie title. This produces a list of 10 related movies and I get to choose if I enjoyed them or not if I have indeed seen them.

The next step is a list of 6 “nanogenres” ascribed to this move and I can choose which of these appeal to me. The last step, “Movie in a nutshell”, is a cloud of the most prominent terms that are used to describe this film in all the sites indexed by Nanocrowd.

I get to decide whether this looks good to me. Based on my choices, it seems I should definitely get my hands on the DVD.

Jinni

You don’t use Jinni to find facts about movies and actors, you use it to find movies to watch — movies that are right for your mood and your taste. The Jinni team calls their product a semantic discovery engine for movies and TV shows.

You search by using Jinni’s visual user interface to input your preferences in one or more of the available categories. I chose mood: offbeat, plot: friendship, genre: fantasy. Jinni recommended, among others A Nightmare Before Christmas, My Neighbour Totoro and A Charlie Brown Christmas — movies I know and love.

There are a number of ways to refine you search. Choose from 12 moods, 15 types of plots, 5 genres, and a number of time periods.

Reviews, trailers and show times

If you are looking for movie reviews, trailers and show times, you could check out:
Yahoo! Movies
MSN Movies
Rotten Tomatoes

Thanks to Charles Knight.

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