Removing Bad Links Isn’t Enough

Link removal and link pruning. Whatever you’d like to call it, it’s important to remember that removing bad links isn’t enough to bring your site back to the level it once was at in terms of rankings, traffic, search queries and impressions.

Here are some reasons why it isn’t enough to just remove bad neighborhood links, sit back and wait for a penalty to be lifted:

  • Sending a link removal request to a webmaster doesn’t mean that they’ll remove it. Some contact information could be dead or webmasters might even charge a fee to remove these old links.
  • It might take time for Google to crawl these low-quality pages and recognize that the links to your site are removed.
  • If you use the disavow tool, it could take weeks for Google to address the links you want disavowed. (It’s helpful to get things straightened out and to send a Google reconsideration request and disavow request at the same time with accurate details about what you’ve tried to remove.)
  • Removing links means that the credible link juice to your site must be replaced. Of course, if you’ve removed dozens or even hundreds of links, it will take awhile to replace those bad links with natural and relevant links. As bad as it sounds, think about it as having your site earn Google’s trust again.
  • There are 200+ factors that Google’s search algorithm relies on to rank websites. Doing one thing isn’t necessarily going to be a cure-all for your site.

This sounds fine on paper but execution and the waiting for results is the difficult part. For the DIYers, you can check out and participate Google’s Help Forum to see what other website owners are dealing with and see what you can learn from their experienced. This forum is often frequented by Google employees and if you’re lucky, they might even respond.

Remember to contact your SEO as soon as you suspect your rankings have been dropping to discuss the best plan of action. Feel free to also contact us for a free consultation about your site’s specific scenario.

Why You Should Care About Co-Citations

Up until very recently (this year), getting good links associated with desired keywords pointed back to your site was a main goal in SEO. Then, Google’s Panda and Penguin came along and caused all sorts of trouble.

co-citation

Alternative to Over Reliance on Unnatural, Exact Match Anchor Text
Because shady links, over-optimization, low-quality exact match domains and bad link neighborhoods were becoming more of a problem to sites hit by these algorithmic updates, SEOs began to further diversify by turning to different methods including: social media sharing, strengthen brand by promoting company names, optimizing web design factors and more. This is where co-citations also come into the mix.

The Relationship Between Relevancy + Trust
Co-citations aren’t a new concept but this could become the most important SEO strategy for 2013.

Think about it in terms of a citation for a research paper that you might have done in college. If you’re a highly-regarded researcher who constantly publishes new work about the eating habits of bonobo monkeys, other studies will cite your work and you’ll gain recognition of being the prominent researcher in that specific field. Colleagues, peers, students and other authority sources will cite your legitimate and credible work in anything related to what bonobos eat.

This is the idea behind co-citations for SEO. And it also explains why some businesses rank for keywords that they don’t appear to be actively pursing on the actual page. For example, many people write about, link to and search for “backlink analysis” when it comes to SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer. The argument is that Google is becoming a smarter search engine and no longer needs to rely solely on links to determine the relevancy of your business and certain keywords.

Adjusting Your SEO Strategy?
Once co-citations are on your radar, it shouldn’t really change your current strategies but just change the way you think about them. Co-citations can be part of nearly all aspects of your online marketing plan: social media, local search, blogging and other content creation. Although thinking of utilizing this strategy can make it harder to physically track your progress (versus building x amount of links), it could take your mind off things when you tried to attain a certain amount of links during a set period.

The take away from all this co-citation talk in the SEO world is that you can’t analyze your competition from only looking at number of backlinks and where their coming from. This is wildly different depending on your industry and even location. As if the opaque nature of Google’s ranking factors could be more difficult, we can now add co-citations as a factor!

Read more here:
Not All Anchor Text is Equal and other Co-Citation Observations

Thinking Out of the Box: 6 Link Building Strategies

Link building is increasingly becoming more important but at the same time, more complex. Nowadays, it’s about more than just tweaking your on-page SEO and submitting articles to to directories. It’s easy to give broad advice like “network with local colleges and ask for a link” or “call a related local business and ask for a link” … Here are some easy to implement ideas that can help with your link building campaign:

1) Create a free stock photo gallery – Whether you’re an avid photographer or Instagram fan, offering free use of your pictures can be a great way to get a link. It’s easy to set up a dedicated page on your site with stock photos that people can freely use. Even better, if you’re a web designer, you can offer free social networking icons, fonts, or even stylesheets – all while asking for a link back to your site.

2) Broken/dead link building – This can be a tedious process. One way to do this is to search the top terms you want to rank for and check out the top competitors. You can run a broken link check on them (like Xenu) and see if they have any broken links. It’s more than likely that they’ll have a broken or outdated link on their resources/links page. At this point, you can send a friendly email informing them of the dead link and asking (but not pressuring them) to add your link in place of this broken link.

3) Build a definition/glossary page – This strategy is great way to show that you are an expert in your field. At the same time, you’ll get to cover your most important targeted keywords and then some! Think of something like this, that will be helpful for years to come and something that can always be updated – so that people keep it in their references.

4) Wikipedia and wikis
– Although links on Wikipedia are nofollow, it’s a great addition to your backlink profile and it can bring relevant traffic your way. The key here isn’t to spam but to find relevant articles and to make citations or add to helpful “External links” at the bottom of the page. Remember, Wikipedia is not the only one out there. It’s a matter of digging around to find some more relevant ones to your business like wikidoc, AboutUs and so on.

5) Give away badges
– Post Penguin/Panda, it might not be such a good idea to get or ask for links with the same block of anchor text. Images are a great and safe way to diversify your link profile and it doesn’t take much. Many niche bloggers (tech, moms, gamers) appreciate well-made badges that they can add to their site. Think of something fun and simple, like Foursquare badges.

6) Live blogging at industry events
– Microblogging platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, Posterous combined with smartphones make it easy to live blog before, during and after events. An important part of having your posts re-shared is offering interesting insight not just mundane updates like “So excited for the seminar to begin!”. Take creative pictures, add your opinions and provide non-attendees with info that just might make them wish they were there with you!

Can Competitors Attack Your Site With SEO?

Lately, there’s been much debate on whether Google penalizes bad/low-quality links OR if they simply de-value them. With every algorithm update, there is more speculation. The argument is that Google can’t (or shouldn’t) penalize outside factors, such as links, that can be created by virtually anyone – including your competitors.

This is where the notion of negative SEO comes into play. Since frantic webmasters are scrambling to avoid over optimization penalties, what’s to stop the really vindictive ones to use these tactics against a competitor?

If you’re interested in reading this long thread, 2 users posted a case study about their experiment on using “negative SEO” techniques to cause 2 sites to tank in just a few weeks. They post rankings of specific keywords before and after their link bombs and the 2 targets suffered accordingly. If this experiment really holds true, this means that competitors can focus on penalizing your site instead of optimizing theirs. Rand from seoMOZ eventually joined in on the conversation and even offered his site as an experiment for negative SEO.

On one side, this is terrifying news and imagine all the possibilities! Competitors can spend a few hundred dollars a month to send crummy links to your site, buy social mentions, submit false/wrong information to automated local citation services and more. This is all in the realm of possibility… but others argue that negative SEO alone cannot bring down a site that has been thriving solely using white hat techniques.

The best thing you can do is to keep an eye out on the search marketing newsphere. Keep this information on your radar so that you know what’s going on and when. It’s also important to keep tabs on your site via analytics and check them regularly for any drastic and unnatural changes – like say a couple thousand incoming links from irrelevant sites! It also helps to check your rankings (with a service like Authority Labs) or even keep Google Alerts so that you’re aware of mentions and if anything else unusual occurs.

For now, we’ll have to stay tuned to see how this negative SEO experiment turns out. In the mean time, SEOs around the world are awaiting Google’s official word on this topic. This idea of manipulating a competitor’s link profile is controversial but relatively low-key (for now) but what if it catches on with more and companies attacking each other? Do you think that Google will wait until then to make an announcement or change the way that they value bad incoming links?

Life After Google Panda Updates and Link Building

link building

Love it or hate it, link building is still an important part of SEO after the massive Google Panda updates.

The quality of your inbound links is becoming more important as Google Panda updates have shown us.  Although these updates are aimed at getting rid of “content farms” and lower quality links, many people’s rankings have been hurt by the recent Google Panda 2.2 updates.  For example, many people who used to rank well for certain phrases using article submission sites have now seen drastic drops. Of course, you know Google is already preparing version 2.3!

Because of these updates and changes to Google’s search algorithm, quality links have become increasingly important. Overall, the point of these updates is to help you recognize and ultimately remove low ranking on site pages and off site content in order to improve user/customer experience.

And with the debut of Google +,  you bet that social media activity is becoming more important in determining your search engine rankings! Back to my point of link building – it’s crucial to continue your efforts on a consistent basis. Here are a few good link  building resources that are sure to be helpful.

Free Broken Link Tool

I recently read about this tool and was inspired to test it out. The program is called Xenu and I was able to get it going in a few minutes. The download was small and the program setup in less then a minute. You just pop in your URL (http://www.yourdomain.com) and the tool goes to your site and checks your pages for the following criteria: size, title, last update, outgoing links, inbound links, and much more! I’ve included a screen shot below of the start up menu where you enter your domain and an image of the results. It also shows the results in a web browser when the report is finished. The report crawled 230 URLs in about twenty seconds!