Blog Archives

The End of Google Search Relevancy

Google Search Size Matters not Content

At a high level meeting of senior Google business strategists in April a crucial decision was taken to change the way Google search works in order to “encourage” people to pay for placement in search results. “From now on we only want big sites to feature at the top of SERP. We will no longer list links to highly relevant content if it’s a smaller site. Owners of big sites are more likely to pay us for Google Ads and after all profit is what we are all about, not what people want”.

No I’m not a fly on the wall at Google HQ, and this hypothetical meeting probably never took place, this decision was probably never taken! YET!

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Built Our Own Link Farms

We Built Our Own Link Farms – Really Bad SEO

A “webmaster” desperate for backlinks decided to build her own link farms for backlinks… No, I’m not talking about 3 or 5 years ago, this was recent, this year in fact. Worse yet, not only one link farm, an entire network of link farms.

“Old McSpammer had a farm, e-i-e-i-oh,
And on that farm he built some links, e-i-e-i-oh

With a backlink here, and a backlink there,
Here a link, there a link,
Everywhere a link, link…”  Video about link farming

Hasn’t the Webmaster Heard About Google Farmer, Panda, Penguin

Maybe because this is a South African webmaster, the news about Google Farmer, Panda and Penguin never reached this far…

Surely, everyone in the web industry knows link farms are useless these days as a source of backlinksBacklinks from link farms can even harm the site. Read the rest of this entry

No Loss to Penguin

Google Penguin Had Zero Impact on My Sites

google penguin iconApril 24, 2012 and Google hits out against over-optimised sites with its Penguin algorithm. Penguin penalised websites with over optimised anchor text in incoming links – backlinks in other words.

The Penguin algorithm slipped past my attention until I read a tweet from Matt Cutts. I’m nearly obsessive about watching traffic stats for the sites in my portfolio; they get checked daily for activity of all types – traffic, attacks, broken links and so on, and I hadn’t seen any unusual traffic dips on April 24 or shortly after. If anything traffic  has increased to these websites since that time.

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Fix Widget Position

CSS Fix for Text Widget Without Title

I previously wrote about using a Text Widget without a Widget Title or Name as a way to gain a small improvement in SEO for a WordPress.com blog (see WordPress Widget Headings) by using a lower order <h> attribute than the <h3> standard mark-up used by the theme.

Some themes play nicely when the title is blank by collapsing the space used by the title if it is missing. More themes however keep the space intended for the title resulting in a large blank space that spoils the appearance of the blog. This can be fixed fairly easily using CSS styles to reposition the widget content.

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Cache Pre-load Impact on Performance

Cache Pre-load Improves Google Page Load

Using a cache pre-load system can improve Google crawl page load speed substantially as clearly shown in the infographic below. Google considers page load in it’s SERP algorithm as an indicator of site quality: Where two similar ranked sites exist, the site with faster load speed will usually get better SERP than a slower site. With this in mind surely it’s a good idea to make the effort to improve page load speed as much as possible.

Page load speed can be improved in a number of ways;  moving the site to a better hosting service, optimising the site technically, including getting rid of unnecessary plugins, keeping image size as small as possible, and using an effective caching system are some of the things we can do.

No matter how well all the other technical aspects are improved, caching the site, and especially pre-loading the cache, will make a big difference to page load speed.

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Changing WordPress Permalink Structure

change wordpress permalink structure

If you want to change the WordPress permalink structure of your blog or website there are a few things to consider first, and preparations to make before proceeding

The structure of Permalinks WordPress uses is easy to change; selecting a new option and clicking the radio button will take care of it for you. But what is the effect on SEO, what about all the links from other blogs and referrers?

You need to make sure search engines will still be able to find the content, and backlinks from the thousands (hopefully) of sites linking to yours will still send visitors to the correct page.

Here are a few guidelines that will reduce the loss of search engine ranking, and take care of the backlinks.

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Google Rich Snippets Ratings with WordPress

Google Rich Snippets Star Ratings for WordPress

Ever noticed the stars on some search results in Google and wondered how this works? The star rating make use of Google’s relatively new Rich Snippets features, the same feature that displays authorship markup in search results.

WordPress (self hosted WordPress) can add this Rich Snippet Star Rating to their websites and blogs using the GD Star Ratings Plugin.

Star Ratings Good for Traffic Referrals

Boost the conversion rate from search listings to visits with a star rating system. The stars stand out from the crowd, catching a Google searchers eye and encouraging click-throughs to your blog.

Star Rating Rich Snippets Read the rest of this entry

Is Valid HTML Needed for SEO?

Does Validation Failure Affect SEO Negatively?

The simple answer is NO. Html that fails W3C validation does not necessarily adversely affect search engine ranking. I do not mean to imply faulty html is OK, it is not! Common reasons for validation failure are attributes not included in the standard, simply because they did not exist at the time the protocol was created, or back then caused display problems with early web browsers. HTML validation is more about consistency in displaying content uniformly across browsers and less about search engines parsing content.

Major websites throughout the world often do not have valid HTML, either throughout the site, or for a high percentage of pages. Google.com included

Experts Discuss Validation and SEO

Don’t take my word though, instead see what the experts have to say. Matt Cutts of Google answers the question “Is HTML validation necessary for ranking?”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

WordPress SEO guru and creator of the excellent  WordPress Plugin WordPress SEO by Yoast, Jooost de Valk considers minor validation errors irrelevant to SEO  in this article “W3C Validation: why you should care, and why not” on yoast.com Read the rest of this entry

Should I use Google Webmaster Tools

Should I use Google Webmaster Tools?

YES, you should! Google Webmaster Tools is a suite of useful utilities to help get your website rocketing. First of all, you can submit a sitemap – or as many sitemaps as you want, confirm Google bot is able to read the file, and there are no errors in the file, e.g. to broken links or missing content. If you don’t use any of the other webmaster tools, sitemap submission is essential.

Then there are other useful tools; You can monitor for Broken Links Google has indexed (broken links will really harm your site ranking if left unattended.) You can ask Google to delete entries from the index. Webmaster Tools can tell you how Google bot crawls your site; if there are access problems for the bot or page load speed issues. You also get Google Plus1 analysis.

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Is WordPress Thesis Theme so Good

Thesis Great When Released

The Thesis theme for WordPress self hosted blogs has been very successful since being released in the previous decade. Online reviewers rave about Thesis. This author asks the question, “are these rave reviews justified?”

Thesis WordPress Theme in 2012When the theme was released it may have been a masterpiece of simplistic styling and compact code. When compared to many other WordPress themes of the time, it may have offered superior performance, and several well developed built in standard features.

Is this wonderful rating still justified in 2012. If we look at the way WordPress has developed since the mid to late 2000’s, becoming a fully fledged CMS system for web sites, instead of just an easy to use blogging platform, I think not!

In response to all these reviews, many of which date back to circa 2008, I published a new review today titled Thesis WordPress Framework Theme Debunked on my company website concentrating on the more technical aspects. This article continues with commentary and my personal opinions.

The main points discussed in the article are summarised next. Read the rest of this entry