Nathan Anderson, SEO and Internet Marketing

Nathan Anderson’s personal blog


June 6 th , 2012

Search Engine Optimization


Pandas and Penguins – Black and White

I’ve had a huge number of inquiries lately as to the nature of the Panda and Penguin updates. It seems a large number of people have been impacted by recent Google changes. So here’s my analysis, both from examining data from hundreds of websites, and from my statistical analysis.

Panda is our friend.

Actually, Panda seems to have been updated a number of times. It first rolled out last year, then was updated a few months later. Now it seems to be updated about as often as a teenager’s Facebook page.

It’s pretty simple, actually. Google is finally attacking the quality question. You can choose to look at it like a progressive penalty, or just an objective quality score. But if you have crap for content on your site, you are not fond of the big black and white bamboo eater.

This applies to sites that use content from other sites, or ‘spun’ content, or simply content that is of little use to a searcher. I used to preach against duplicate content simply from the perspective that it is easily identifiable and easily penalized. But Google (in their crazy wisdom) has taken a more difficult, and holistic approach. Duplicate content is of low usefulness, and therefore quality. So a number of huge sites bit the bullet with Panda. Rightfully so.

I’ll preach yet again – the number ONE thing you need to be doing with your content creation is satisfying the needs of the searcher. People searching on Google have one of two needs: 1. They have a question they need answered. 2. They have a problem they need solved. As a website owner, you should be addressing that need.

In the case of a query that is obviously asking a question, does your page answer said question?

In the case of a search that is looking for a solution to a problem, does your page provide that solution?

There are a million ways to turn those searches into income for you. But the most important step that MUST come first is to satisfy the needs of those users that have made the queries.

>soapbox stowed<

Penguin is an entirely different beast.

Sure, he’s upright and black and white. But is a bird in any way related to a bear? Not really. (please, no comments on whether or not a Panda is actually a bear…)

Penguin is a spam filter. He’s not a quality index or score or progressive penalty. He simply looks for sites that are breaking the rules, and sends them to the South Pole. And he’s completely automatic (which is great).

Google has really struggled with how to objectify some of their rules. For example, if they prohibit linking in a certain way, or from certain types of sites, or even at certain ‘velocities’, they are bound to catch legitimate sites in their filters. So they designed a filter that looked for obvious indicators. If someone is trying to influence their rankings in Google by building links all over the Web, and they know a thing or two about SEO, they’ll build those links with their target keywords as the anchor text of those links. If their efforts are the majority of linking behavior on the Web to that site, obviously the propensity of links will have keyword-loaded anchor text. So if your site has incoming links that are all of the same anchor text… obviously you are link building and unfairly trying to influence your rankings in Google.

So a certain amount of link building will be tolerated. If there are other, natural links coming into existence as well, your link building behavior won’t look totally unnatural. It’s a pretty simple equation. Look natural. If you have done any sort of analysis of backlinks on a larger site… you will see that there are a huge number of links with the URL as the anchor text; as well as “click here” and “here” and even “link”. Your site needs to mimic this. Be it unnatural or natural.

There are several other factors that Penguin looks for. Anchor text is the most easily examined with data instruments, so I’ll leave my analysis there. But the overriding principle is to keep your SEO efforts in check and go for more organic promotion of a site. Get Web 2.0 and Social Media traffic. Do things that are buzzworthy. Provide resources that no one else provides. Build quality resources and people will naturally link to them.

And if all else fails… hire me to figure it out for you. ;)


July 24 th , 2011


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How to use Google+ as a Web Professional

I’ve seen some decent instruction on how to use Google+ out there on the Web. But nothing on how to best take advantage of it for the purpose of Internet Marketing or as a web professional. So I shot a 14 minute screencap video to show the basics and my thoughts and impressions for best practices.




June 21 st , 2011


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It’s been a loooooong time…

I haven’t posted to my blog in a very long time. Nearly two years. Can’t believe it.

But that’s kind of how my life is. I pay great attention to different areas for periods of time, and then I move on to other things. I don’t worry about managing absolutely everything, all the time. Yes, it leads to some problems, but there’s very little stress in my life. ;)

The reason I haven’t posted is that I haven’t felt the need to shout anything from the rooftops lately. That’s really what a blog is, in my mind, more than a journal. It’s a soap box.

Believe it or not, the world of SEO hasn’t really changed all that much in the last couple of years… at least on the side of “best practices”. If you build quality sites with solid, unique content on them… and then do your best to get other sites to link to them; you’re set.

There have been some MAJOR changes in the algorithm at Google in the last couple of years, but those changes really haven’t affected best practices. It is rather satisfying, though, that two of my big predictions have come true recently:

1. Google will start incorporating visitor behavior into their ranking algorithm. This started just over a year ago.

2. Google will stop giving full weight to duplicate content. This changed a few months ago.

I’ve predicted these two things for many years; dating back to 2003. In fact, I was getting a bit disappointed with the big G for not making me right sooner. ;) But we all know that Google takes its time when incorporating big changes in their natural listings algorithm. They don’t like gigantic shifts. They get a lot of angry emails when they make drastic changes. After all, there are a whole lot of people’s lives dependent upon Google these days.

So there’s only one big change you can make in your SEO strategy as a result of these changes: Get more non-Google origin visitors to your site. Facebook and its ilk used to be completely useless for SEO. Now, the more people you get to your site, the better you’ll rank. And it’s sticky. So you don’t have to work on this every day, or even every month. You can prove this to yourself if you have an email subscriber list. Take a site of yours that is ranking somewhere in the top 10, but not #1. Send out an email blast with a link to it. Check your rankings afterwards, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

In other areas of my life: My kids are awesome, doing well in school, and the joy of my life. My sister won an EMMY for her film; Split Estate. I was promoted to Lieutenant at Beulah EMS, where I now spend a lot of my time (because I can!). Chickens, goats, and yaks are still a part of my life. Google, as always, brings me great joy and much of my income.

Perhaps I won’t wait so long for the next post…

Nathan Anderson


August 7 th , 2009


1 comment »

Split Estate Film Screening in NY and LA

I am so incredibly proud of my sister.

She has been working for YEARS on a very special film project. This is at the same time as her normal work activities as a film and television editor. (She’s edited all kinds of kewl stuff like “Dog the Bounty Hunter” and Biography Channel specials on David Letterman and Adam Sandler).

This film project is on a very important topic to people where I live. In Western states like Colorado and New Mexico, huge areas of the states were sold off without their mineral rights. In fact, a majority of land in Colorado is in a “Split Estate” situation, where the landowner doesn’t own their mineral rights.

Most landowners don’t even realize they don’t own their mineral rights.

That is… until the oil company shows up and starts drilling in their back  yards. You see, the mineral rights supercede the rights of the surface owner. So an oil company can plop an oil derrick 150 feet from your front door if they feel like it. And they do.

There’s a whole lot more to the story, so I’ll leave it up to her to tell you. But the film has already won a whole mess of awards, and has been picked up by the prestigious Docuweeks 2009 Showcase in theaters in New York and Los Angeles August 7-13. So if you’re in New York or Los Angeles, you need to get to one of these showings!

You can see the trailer on the website for the film: Split Estate .com. You’ll also be able to view the film on the Discovery Channel’s Planet Green sometime in October.

Love you sis!


June 11 th , 2009

Search Engine Optimization


PR Sculpting via Nofollow – Myth and Reality

I just read yet another article from a big-name muckity at a big SEO company about “PR Sculpting with the nofollow tag”. It took real restraint not to add a comment (as a rule, I don’t… it just encourages them).

“PR Sculpting with the nofollow tag” is like saying “Cake decorating with chainsaws”. The two don’t go together. The nofollow tag was not created in any way with this purpose in mind, and it doesn’t function well in this usage.

The nofollow tag is used in relation to links using the ‘<a href=’ HTML code within a web page. It was created to tell search engines (read – Google) whether or not a link is “trusted” by the site owner. It can serve to minimize blog comment spam, as it tells Google that links in your comments are not to be trusted, and it can serve to tell Google that certain links on your site are advertisements, not links you personally endorse.

I think the whole confusion arose from the name of the tag itself. Google made a mistake. (no lynch mobs, please!) Google should have named it something else… like notrust or noreference or similar. Because the Google spider (called Googlebot) most certainly follows links with rel=nofollow added to them. You can prove this for yourself by registering a new domain name and uploading a basic site of some sort like a blog; then go place a comment on a blog that uses the nofollow tag, with a link back to your new domain. You’ll see googlebot in your stats in no time, and the referencing site will be the blog you placed the comment on.

We’ve done a number of experiments in SEO Club with nofollow links, and not only does googlebot follow them, Google gives some juice to them as well. You can get a site ranked in a long-tail niche with only comments on blogs with nofollow usage.

So why in the world would you ever use such an amorphous and unpredictable tool for something called SCULPTING?

Yes, sculpting PR is a very real and effective strategy. I’ve taught it for 8 years now. You want complete control over your on-site linking strategy to ensure that maximum “juice” or trust is directed at the most important pages of your site. You also want to maximize the usage of the proper anchor text in these links.

For example, you probably don’t need your Terms of Service page ranked highly in the search engines. It can be indexed and used for internal linking, sure, but it doesn’t need much juice. But you want to have links to your TOS from every page on your site so that you’re covered, legally. It’s simple, really. You just make the links to your TOS page in your navigation javascript or flash; not <a href= links.

Second example: You have a site that you want to rank for the term “low-inome mortgage modification”. That’s the targeted term for the home page of the site. So you want internal links to have “low-income mortgage modification” as the anchor text of the links. If you have only one main site navigation, that might not only look unruly, but also be very confusing to visitors. You want the main navigation to the homepage labeled “home”. Again, you just make the “home” link JS or Flash, and then place a link with the proper anchor text back to the homepage someplace else in the site template or in the navigation.

Those two examples are very simple forms of PR Sculpting. More advanced methodologies… I don’t need to go into detail about here.

So let’s go back to PR Sculpting via nofollow. Are you going to use a tool that denotes “do not trust this link” to point to pages on YOUR OWN SITE? That’s crazy. And it doesn’t work. If the proponents of such methods would simply empirically test these strategies, they’d already know that. What it comes back to is yet another example of an SEO strategy that is simply there to impress clients and newbie SEO enthusiasts.

So go ahead and do some “sclupting” to the PR flow of your site. Just use the proper tools!

Nathan Anderson


May 30 th , 2009

Search Engine Optimization

1 comment » – Microsoft is at it again!

One of my favorite quotes is “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

Perhaps Microsoft should heed this truism.

There’s a lot of talk about the imminent release of – Microsoft’s new search engine. I’ve read a bit about it at MSN and watched the intro video…

Microsoft is doing the same thing again, and expects a different result.

Re-branding has absolutely NO EFFECT on the Web. Seriously. Research it. None.

Internet denizens are keenly tuned into FUNCTION. That’s what the web is all about. It doesn’t matter if the stupid website is named “”; if it does what the users want and expect it to do, they’ll continue to use it and recommend it to their friends! After all, Google was a stupid name… a misspelling of Googol (a number- 1 and 100 zeroes). But it’s so popular it’s in danger of losing its trademark, as it is now used as a verb in the English language. (I dunno, let me Google it.)

So here we have Microsoft YET AGAIN renaming their search engine in an attempt to gain more marketshare. Is it MSN Search? Bing? Who cares what the name is, the functionality plain sucks. The engine is littered with spam and their own properties. Finding what you want is difficult; and that’s bad news when the whole purpose of the thing is to FIND, not SEARCH. (anyone want to invent a Find Engine?)

After watching the video promo for Bing, my only thought is “this is going to make it easier for Microsoft to hide more monetization in their search”.

That’s my prediction.

The extra doodads that make it easy to find a local restaurant, a cheaper airline ticket, a better travel itinerary… They’re all monetization opportunities for MSN. That is quite obviously their only goal. They have a long and detailed history displaying such. My own statistical analysis of their search engine nearly proves it as well – showing that their search results are unfairly stacked with their own sites.

I’m obviously going to reserve final judgement for the launch and performance of; but I don’t hold much hope at this point. Time will tell.


April 29 th , 2009


1 comment »

Unseminar 6 Here I Come!

Remember the Alamo!

I’m headed to Texas, and I’d love to meet you there in person.

I’ve got some good friends down there, and we’re getting
together to hang out and share our best info for a few days.

It’s not a normal seminar. It’s an UnSeminar.

We tend to enjoy cigars, libations, and guitars on the deck
every night. Everyone has plenty of time to talk.

Joining me will be Dr. Joe Vitale (of The Secret), Bill
Hibbler, Craig Perrine, the host of the show Pat O’Bryan,
Eric Farewell, Simon Leung, Tony Laidig, Erica Douglass,
and Wendi Friesen.

All good peeps that I respect and am anxious to spend some
quality time talking amongst.

It’s May 22-24 in San Antonio (of Alamo and Riverwalk fame).

Here’s details: Unseminar 6

Sign up and show up. I’ll give you a special gift upon your
arrival. (A real gift, not some e-something).

Can’t wait to see you!



April 15 th , 2009



True Conservatism Isn’t Convenient

I’ve been watching a lot recently… tracking trends.

One of the most interesting is the “TEA Party” movement.

It stands for Taxed Enough Already, or some such. Really, it’s Republicans trying to rally the troops. Newt Gingrich is one of the guys really pushing the rallying cry.

I have one thing to say to TEA Party people… and you’re not going to like it.

Where were you when GW was spending this country into oblivion?

I mean, a TRUE conservative is conservative all the time… no matter what. And a true conservative would be completely OUTRAGED that someone calling themselves conservative was behaving in a liberal way. That’s probably why GW had a 29% approval rating in his last years. Conservatives had finally given up.

But now… the country elects a liberal… and you’re upset enough to rally?

I will admit… I had hope for Obama. Hope that he was a Washington outsider, and would bring real change to this government. But it’s pretty clear… so far… that he’s a party-line Democrat. That can and may change, and I hope it will.

But he’s behaving in the exact way anyone would expect a Liberal to behave… and you rally?

Where were you when the president was a hypocrite? A Liberal in Conservative garb?

It reminds me of the story of the man that rescues a snake from a terrible blizzard. The viper is nearly frozen solid, but the man is able to nurse it back to health. Then one day, for no apparent reason, the deadly snake bites his rescuer whilst being fed.

“Why did you do that? I saved you from the storm!”

“I am, after all… a snake! You are surprised that I bit you? Really?”

Thus it is with Obama. You’re really surprised that he advocates taxing and spending? Really?

This is one of the most Conservative generations in the history of the country, yet we elected a Democrat. I chalk that up to complete generational confusion. They confuse their Liberal social ideals with Democrat liberal social ideals. Freedom is the most important ideal… yet we don’t want to have to pay for everyone else’s freedom. Even if I supported a woman’s right to choose, I shouldn’t be forced to pay for her procedure.

Truly, this generation is Libertarian.

I think we all need to admit it, and embrace it. Conservatism has its greatest future hope in the Libertarian party. Libertarians can’t hide behind causes and excuse spending in the name of anything. They can’t be in favor of taxation nor spending for any reason. That is why the Republican party is completely bereft of a soul. They’ve been able to make excuses for their behavior for social reasons… to repay their election supporters just like the liberals. Republicans and Democrats alike just belly-up to the public trough and hand out the money to those that paid for them to get their position.

Libertarians simply cannot do that.

That is why the Libertarian party has been so weak for so long. They cannot repay their campaign donors.

So that’s really the point I wanted to make… Anyone at a TEA Party should totally rebuke the Republicans and never again give them the time of day. You’re a Libertarian, and you may not even know it yet… But don’t ever let a politician convince you that this or that government program is necessary. Government is there for protection… providing for National Defense… and for regulation of trade between the States. That’s all.

Everything else has to go, and the majority of this generation agrees. Let’s just embrace it and GO!


March 27 th , 2009

Internet Marketing, Search Engine Optimization

1 comment »

Outsourcing Made Simple

One of the questions I get most when it comes to my SEO projects is, “Do you have a staff that does all the less technical, time-consuming parts of Search Engine Optimization?”

I, of course, answer “Yes!”

Especially when talking to an SEO client. I tell them I have a staff of 14, from programmers to designers to link building personnel.

What they DON’T know is that I have NO employees.

After all, who wants to do all the payroll, the taxes, the insurance, the paperwork.

I have people that work for me, but they’re all overseas. And they’re in several different countries, depending on my needs.

When it comes to having full-time people doing the more mundane tasks that require excellent English skills, I choose the Phillipines. These are the workers that I have performing article marketing, web 2.0 management, and link building. They use all sorts of different techniques for building link reputation to my and my clients’ sites.

Keeping on top of this many people doing this many different things would appear to be a full time job in itself, but it is not.

It’s all about the tools.

I use a service that not only has a project management system in place to manage the many tasks and workers, it has worker training as well. Training in all the areas I use – article marketing, web 2.0 management, video promotions… everything. So the workers literally train themselves and get to work.

I tell ya… it’s working smart rather than hard. In fact, if I wanted to, I could probably limit my workday to 2 hours if I cared to.

How much do these employees cost?

Depending on the level of expertise, from $200 to $600 per month per worker. Yes, that’s full-time.

If you’d like to check out the service I use, click here.

-Nathan Anderson


March 11 th , 2009

Internet Marketing

Comments »

Some Twitter Tips

There’s plenty of information out there on how to use Twitter, but I still see some points missing. So I thought I’d “chime in”.

I have the uncommon experience of being around at the advent of email. This lends some really great insight into our current situation with Twitter.

Back in the old days, any sort of commercial message delivered via email garnered an immediate negative reaction. After all, the Internet was a place of intellectual pursuit, blissfully separate from the commercial world. Every once in a while, someone would get the bright idea that they would sell their stuff or services via this new communications medium. They would be immediately greeted with mountains of hate-ridden email in return (flaming). That deterred many people.

But soon, many creative marketers learned they could send email without giving a genuine return address, and thus the era of spam was born. You’ve probably heard most of the rest of the story with email.

So now we have this new communications medium:

Unlike email, each user chooses who can send them messages. It’s more like an RSS reader than email. It’s pull rather than push. In fact, when you look at it stripped of all the extra nifty softwares that have come out to make twitter easier to use, it’s really just a blog. A blog that allows you to post only 140 character posts.

So any cries of “spam” are completely ridiculous. If someone posts a commercial message on a blog, can it in any way be considered spam? No.

It just feels like spam when you’re using a nifty reader like twhirl or tweetdeck.

Keep that in mind. How it feels is actually kind of important.

When someone is new to Twitter and asks me to give them advice on how to use it, I almost always say “Use it to entertain or educate. Everything else is questionable.” After all, if you merely entertain and educate for a good long while, you should develop a nice following that actually reads your tweets.

Once you’ve developed a following, and really understand the ‘culture’ of twitter, you can decide whether you’d like to use it for other purposes or not.

That leads us to the Commercial use of twitter. Using twitter to build a business is quite possible. Just read Twitter Power by Joel Comm. You can tactfully talk about your business, even link to your products and promote them, without too much of a problem. Make sure to slowly transition your tweets from purely entertaining and educational to more talking about what you’re doing in your business. Don’t just suddenly change.

In that light, we can talk about some specific tools and tactics.

TweetLater is a service that allows you to automatically publish tweets at a given time. It also allows you to “Auto DM”. That’s an automatic direct message. Lots of ‘twitter gurus’ have made their opinions known about these types of services, and I thought I’d give my 2¢.

An auto-DM when a new follower follows you, in my opinion, is totally fine. Don’t make it too hypey or grandiose. If you have some free products you give away, go ahead and put them in your auto-DM message. It’s like a gift for following you. I think it’s also just fine if you require them to give their email to do so. Some twitter gurus would disagree with that.

As for the auto-tweet at a given time, I really think that’s tacky; unless you personally research and write them. A tweet is by its very nature a personal message. Automating it and making it thus impersonal seems wrong. I only follow a very few people who use such things, and I generally ignore their messages unless directed to them by someone else.

That’s the other danger in your abuse or over-commercialization of twitter: People can start to ignore you. They might as well unfollow you. This is the same issue as with email marketing. But generally, in twitter, people take the moment or two it takes to ‘unfollow’ you rather than just ignore you.

I think this danger, the ignore danger, will increase dramatically if twitter decides to add advertisements to the mix. Users will get used to ignoring them, and thus will find it easier to ignore the users they don’t value, rather than unfollowing them.

A note on ‘educate’:

When I say to educate, it can come from pearls of positive wisdom, or links to sites with great information. If you think you’re educating anyone with pearls of negative wisdom, think again.

140 characters really isn’t much. It’s enough to make a comment, display a link, or quote someone. It certainly isn’t enough to display ‘evidence’ of any kind, support an argument, or fully explain yourself. That’s why you should never use it to try and change someone’s mind. That’s what I mean by pearls of negative wisdom.

Do you like to be periodically hit with negativity? I sure don’t.

This leads to a more overarching rule that I hope you’ll follow:

Never, and I mean NEVER tweet about politics from a stance.

The only possible result is pissing off half your followers. 140 characters can only insult, not inform. Leave that for your blog.

If you want to comment “Wow, Candidate X had over a million attendees at their Chicago rally”, that’s just fine. No stance there. But a tweet of “Candidate X is a baby killer and should end the war now!” will do nothing but make supporters of Candidate X dislike you. There is no other result. You cannot sway even a single vote in 140 characters. It is NOT possible. If that’s your goal, make your arguments on your blog and direct your followers to the blog post with a URL in your tweet; but make the tweet polite.

So with those warnings in place, I’ll direct you to some positives.

You have the power to enrich people’s lives with this little tool.

You know things. You have unique insight. You are like a parent to everyone else in the world that hasn’t seen what you have.

That’s one of the great things about parenting, you know. You get to introduce someone new to the wonders of the world. ;)

Think of yourself in such a way, and direct people to things that are enthralling, amazing, entertaining, and profitable. Pointing out the latest funny video on YouTube is the easiest form of this suggestion. Sure, it’s nice, and it’s fun. But it’s only an appetizer. Direct people to the banquet of information you’ve found on the Internet that has enriched your life.

I love seeing the latest tech gadgets, the latest scientific discoveries, the latest archaeological finds. It’s great to have someone ‘in the know’ in these areas point them out.

What areas are near and dear to you? Think anyone would be interested?

Believe me; however obscure, there’s a BUNCH of people that are interested.

Bring your uniqueness to the ‘twitterverse’, and people will follow you. They might even spend money on something as a result of your suggestions. ;)

Nathan Anderson