Nathan Anderson, SEO and Internet Marketing

Nathan Anderson’s personal blog

Search Engine Optimization articles

Nathan

June 6 th , 2012

Categories:
Search Engine Optimization

2 comments »

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. ;)

Nathan

June 11 th , 2009

Categories:
Search Engine Optimization

5 comments »

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

Nathan

May 30 th , 2009

Categories:
Search Engine Optimization

1 comment »

Bing.com – 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 Bing.com – 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 “jinxies.com”; 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? Live.com? 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 Bing.com; but I don’t hold much hope at this point. Time will tell.

Nathan

March 27 th , 2009

Categories:
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

Nathan

September 8 th , 2008

Categories:
Search Engine Optimization

Comments »

Search Engine Optimization Tactics 3 is ready to roll…

It took me a WHOLE lot longer than expected, but SEO Tactics 3 is ready to go.

SEO Tactics 3

I expected to just update my now 7-year old SEO ebook, but there was just TOO MUCH to change! So I pretty much re-wrote the whole thing.

In it you’ll find information on SEO by the numbers, Social Media and SEO, common problems, and some advanced ways of getting backlinks that just about no one reveals.

It’s a fast read, but you’d be better off if you read the whole thing a few times over. It’s extremely concise and full of tactics you can use to get more natural search engine traffic to your sites TODAY.

Did I mention that this is a Free SEO book?

Have at it!

Nathan Anderson

Nathan

August 29 th , 2008

Categories:
Search Engine Optimization

8 comments »

Stomping the Search Engines 2 (STSE 2.0) Review – An Honest One

Stompernet has sent out “review copies” of Stomping the Search Engines 2.0 to strategic partners… more accurately, affiliates. I happen to be on that list. Even though I’ve never promoted anything the Stomper Boys have sold (Brad Fallon and Andy Jenkins), they were kind enough to send me a review copy of STSE 2.0.

In fact, they sent me two!

I’m going to be a spoiler for you…

It’s not the best thing since sliced bread.

You won’t automatically have top search engine rankings and millions of visitors after reading it.

But it is a very complete instruction on the ins and outs of SEO.

There are a few technical inaccuracies in it… but that’s splitting hairs between top SEO minds. I could go into a diatribe about some of the statements they make in the course… and prove here on this blog that I’m right with examples and statistical data to prove my point. But that won’t help anyone. The fact is, the stuff they’re wrong about really doesn’t matter. If you follow their instructions, you’ll get great results.

I really only have one problem with STSE 2.0… it’s presented in a format that is really hard for me to consume. And if you’re a seasoned SEO enthusiast, I think you’ll find similar.

It’s presented in a video format similar to a powerpoint with the instructor talking over the top. It’s not a bad format for learning… similar to going to a seminar and hearing from a speaker. But for guys like me that read REALLY fast, it’s like pulling teeth!

I can see how it will be VERY effective in instructing those that aren’t SEO veterans, though. Lay it all out with audio, video and text to take advantage of different learning modes. Those with only a passing familiarity with SEO should find it compelling.

If you decide to take the Stompernet Boys up on this offer, be warned… You’re about to be exposed to one of the finest marketing machines on the Net. They give extreme value, and and ask a premium for it.

Here’s a link to the special deal for STSE: Stomping the Search Engines 2

For the rest of us… those that are more familiar with the topic, or that can consume material through the written word quite easily… I’d recommend my ebook SEO Tactics. Version 3 was recently published, and it’s completely FREE.

Nathan Anderson

Nathan

May 8 th , 2008

Categories:
Search Engine Optimization

1 comment »

Another Video SEO Tip – 3 minutes this time

Do you blog?

Is any of your content syndicated via RSS?

This 3-minute Video SEO Tip may just give you a nice “ah-hah!”

http://screencast.com/t/3lZYHp0EJDo

Nathan Anderson

Nathan

May 4 th , 2008

Categories:
Search Engine Optimization

Comments »

Have you been watching this Microsoft/Yahoo debacle?

Ever since late January, I’ve been watching the news (particularly the New York Times) coverage of the Microsoft bid to buy out Yahoo.

There has been rampant speculation in the tech world as to what the truth is behind the scenes. My only certainty is that the reality of the situation doesn’t match what we get to witness.

I’m anxious to see what happens tomorrow.

We’re about 9 hours from the opening bell of Wall Street. What happens then will tell a lot about the situation.

Yahoo most certainly will be seeing a huge stock drop tomorrow. It will be their #1 aim this week – to bolster their stock.

Microsoft… I’m 50/50 with no change in share price or a dramatic increase. Certainly not a drop.

If Yahoo can’t get control of their share price… they could very well be devalued to the point of being an easy target later. Going to Google for search monetization tests does not help that situation AT ALL. Instead of differentiating themselves from Google – a ploy that would bolster their value to the market and to shareholders – they openly admitted and displayed to the world that side-by-side, their search monetization pales in comparison. Yes, it may have helped keep the Microsoft wolf at bay, but it was a long-term major mistake.

I’ve been very critical of Google “buying their way to the future”. But in comparison, these antics are positively sophomoric…

Nathan Anderson

Nathan

April 28 th , 2008

Categories:
Search Engine Optimization

6 comments »

Headspace2 Plugin for WordPress… any good?

A friend on Facebook asked me today:

Nathan, I just installed Headspace2 as a plugin and wanted to know if you have any experience or feedback you could share with me.”

So instead of just replying to him via email, I thought I’d put the response here.

Taking a look at Headspace2, there are some very interesting features. In comparison to the “All in One SEO Plugin” I recently reviewed with Jack Humphrey, this plugin allows pretty exceptional control over meta tags and content tags. For someone very particular with their SEO, it’s a winner.

However, if you aren’t all that picky about your exact SEO bits, it isn’t a great improvement over the All-In-One.

So my conclusion is: If you’re an SEO Nut like myself, go grab it!

Nathan Anderson

Nathan

April 14 th , 2008

Categories:
Search Engine Optimization

3 comments »

Quick 5-Minute Video SEO Tip

Hey, I just went round and round with someone about the importance of META tags.

I thought I’d share the video proof with you, plus a few other factors, in a free video I just made.

Enjoy!

http://screencast.com/t/63LtutDEn

Nathan Anderson