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Castles, keeps, moats... No, sadly we haven't got any of those, but we do have all the first hand knowledge you need to help your website to rank well in search engine results. No hype, no false promises, just clear advice, training or direct assistance to get your website found.

Archive for the ‘Information’ Category

The Definitive Answer On Nofollow

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Readers of this blog will know we went through this one when Google announced they had changed the way they viewed the ‘nofollow’ tag.

You can read these posts here:

PageRank Sculpting
Matt Cutts Answers PageRank Sculpting Question
PageRank Sculpting Phase Two

Also, here is a new video from Matt on this subject.

There are many (many…) sites on the web that still have a ‘nofollow’ based PageRank sculpting architecture. There is an element of ‘not broke, don’t fix’ about this, but it is worth bearing in mind that if you have this environment you are burning a great deal of PageRank that you could be channelling more wisely.

International Missing Children’s Day

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

International Missing Children's DayNo SEO or PPC message today, just a note to say today (and every May 25th each year) is International Missing Children’s Day. A day to heighten awareness for all the children world-wide who are missing and maybe a day to tell your own kids how much you love them.



Shock! Google Doesn’t Use The Keywords Meta Tag

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Well, not really a shock, but good that Google has come out and said this finally.

We have known for a long time that the ‘keyword’ Meta tag was not being used by Google. There was also the suspicion that both Yahoo and Microsoft weren’t using it too. As we know the tag had been open to abuse since the early days of search engine importance and because it is hidden from the web viewer it was pretty much fair game for all sorts of SPAM and keyword stuffing.

Here is a video from Matt Cutts explaining the whole thing.

So until Microhoo come out with the same information, it pays to still use the keyword tag sparingly. It is not much of an effort to put the three or four keyphrases your page is trying to be optimised for in the tag. Any more than this is a waste of effort and also Google said ‘we don’t use the keyword in the tag’ it didn’t say that ‘we don’t use all the Meta tag information to help us gauge trust’. So, don’t stuff that Meta tag for old times’ sake and think it won’t be noted still!

BT Launch BT SearchSmart

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Is it April 1st?

Check this out… BT Launch BT SearchSmart.

This is done with Latitude, here is the press release from them.

You’re kidding right?

Is Microsoft Getting Serious With Search?

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

I have not really posted on Bing, etc. There have been so many false dawns with Microsoft on the search front that I thought I would wait to see if this was just another re-brand with no substance.

More to come on this, but my three thoughts are:

1. Bing is actually quite a decent search engine (shock!) and if they build on this solid base Microsoft will eventually have something (in some way) to rival Google. Apart from the fact that (more shock!) Bing is more than just a re-brand and Microsoft have actually got something right, this thought is based upon the law of diminishing returns (Google can’t make as many leaps and bounds in the search side of the business as Microsoft can at this point in time). Therefore if MS continue on this track they will eventually make enough ground to be a serious contender. Whether anyone (or enough to make it interesting) will use their engine is another matter (see item 2… they just have).

2. Today’s Yahoo and Microsoft announced that they will pair up on the natural search front gives them enough joint searchers to make this a distant but worthwhile contender to Google’s strength. UK wise they still have to make a lot of ground even jointly, but worldwide their combined power is now significant. Like item 1 they now need to build on this to make the alliance a good and seamless one, that way they can develop the offering and seriously market to entice users to switch them from Google.

3. A really little point this, but try http://pagehunt.msrlivelabs.com/PlayPageHunt.aspx. This is the first time I have found something from Microsoft on the search front that overtly tries to go the extra mile. As said it is a small thing (and the current version of this test, isn’t wonderful), but it does show a sign that they have got some people who will try to push things along. If they engender this spirit then the momentum may just mean that they get a group of people who want and believe they can upset the big guys (I know it sounds strange saying that about Microsoft, but in this instance it is very true). Mind-set wise this is absolutely crucial and a really difficult one for Microsoft (bearing in mind how arrogant they can be).

So there you go. I will now start to take a bit more interest in Microsoft/Yahoo from a natural search side (PPC wise I always did). Who knows maybe this time next year we will have a slightly different story on our hands. A long way to go though, but a least this time they have made a real start.

P.S. to celebrate this I have now added a ‘Bing’ category, who would have thought it!

Free SEO Site Review

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Sorry for the lack of posting recently. What with one thing or another, I just haven’t had the time to get some done. Maybe it is the temptation to just micro blog things now. Still, no excuses.

As you will have noticed I put up a box on the top right a while ago offering a free SEO assessment from a top UK SEO no less… (self-proclamation is it really needed or worthwhile?). Well, we have got to the stage now where I am getting about two or three enquiries per day for this; thank you! Every person who submits a request gets a personalised assessment back. Some are brief and some are somewhat longer (depending on my current time pressures), but all of them should add some insight and value to the SEO situation for the site concerned.

There were two reasons I started this service. The first was to keep myself fresh (you know what I mean) and ‘with it’ with new sites and situations to look at and analyse. The second was to maybe get some paid assignments out of it too. This is when the initial assessment is greeted with a ‘let’s talk further’. I am pleased to say that I have hit the mark with both of these goals so far.

So what has changed? Well, I would like to open these out a bit and maybe once a month use a particularly good (or bad) situation and write about it publicly. The good news here is that the public ones will be quite in depth (the ones that usually have a fee attached if the person/company wants me to go a lot further) and this (public) assessment will now be free. This will only be by agreement (if you ask for an assessment you won’t now suddenly find me dissecting your site in a live post) and also I will make sure the version that appears here is a little bit more truncated that the one you will get. Hey, we might even do some live video or screen cam ones.

Now, here comes my get out. If this takes off too much I may have to rein back on the amount that I can do and be more selective. But let’s see how it goes.

If you would like me to give you an SEO assessment overview of your site, just send your detail via the contact form. You never know you might be the first one to get an extended assessment for free and make it on to the site too.

P.S. as the name of the site suggests this site is (meant to) concentrate on the UK SEO scene. So, please don’t be offended, but I do ask for the sites submitted to be UK based (doesn’t need to be hosted in the UK, but needs to be administered in the UK). However, if you have a site outside of this region and you think (or know) I couldn’t resist to delve further on the SEO side you are welcome to submit it and give it a try!

Matt Cutts on Google link: Command

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

My goodness, I knew that Matt was making some videos about questions he has had regarding SEO, etc., but I didn’t realise how many he had made. Well done Matt, it must have been a hell of a session(s).

I found this video regarding checking for back links, etc. Matt also mentions the ‘link:’ search command. I did an article on the Google ‘link:’ command a few days ago and talked about its flakiness. Matt mentioned the Google stance that they only show a few links to give a small overview of the back link profile to protect the link data from prying eyes, etc. I am not saying that this is not on the money, it is just that the ‘weirdness’ of some of the results is puzzling. Also, how exactly do Google get a real randomness to this subsection of results?

Anyway, here is Matt’s video.

Let’s not put too much weight on this analysis. I am sure it is not going to lead us to the Google search holy grail or anything. I have just always thought that it was very strange for the best search company in the world to put its name to flaky results, no matter how they down play it.

Search Kingdom Word Cloud

Monday, July 6th, 2009

There is a great tool for creating tag or word clouds for any given web page or site. It is called Wordle. Check it out.

For fun I thought I would see what the word cloud looked like for this site. Here it is.

Wordle: Search Kingdom Word Cloud

Guess what the most used word is? I will give you a clue it is not Yahoo or Bing!

Google’s link: Command Revisited

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Have you ever received one of those emails that says,

“As you may know Google puts a great deal of store in incoming links. We have noticed that your site has very few incoming links according to Google. You can try this for yourself by typing ‘link:www.yourwebite.co.uk’ into Google. This will show you how many incoming links Google can see for your website. As you can see you only have 23!”

The email usually goes on to say what a wonderful job they could do for you and how 23 links is a pretty rubbish effort.

As you probably know Google has always treated the ‘link:’ command in a very lacklustre way. This is the direct opposite to the way it treats literally any other search term. I have always been quite puzzled by this and thought that Google may as well just pull the facility rather than leave something out there that was, at best, poor and at worst damaging.

So based upon my last post ‘Google Search Operators‘ I thought I would have a small play with the ‘link:’ command mixed in with some other operators. The theory is that any insight you can get into how Google views links must be worth something.

To start with this is what usually happens with the ‘link:’ command in Google. Listed below are the results for this site and some others.

Search Kingdom ‘link:’ results in Google

Search Engine Land ‘link:’ results in Google

Matt Cutts ‘link:’ results in Google

Apart from the fact that both Danny’s and Matt’s sites have infinitely more links than me (boo hoo), you can see the way that Google treats sites with more importance (and links) with the ‘link:’ command.

The results you get usually mimic the ratio of internal links/pages and external links. Both Danny’s and Matt’s sites have thousands of incoming links from a wide variety of websites. So the results the ‘link:’ command returns for their sites are varied and depicts the ratio of incoming and internal links on the sites in question. Try this for yourself on your own site or any sites you may be working on. Are there many results? Can you see more internal links than external links? Are the internal links/pages at the top of the results? Do you see a site wide external link coming up first? If so how many pages are shown and what pages are they? Do they look pretty random?

Answering some or all of the above may be a small insight into the way that Google looks at link weight and importance of your site or in general.

Now, after mixing the ‘link:’ command with other operators and having a little bit of a play with this it seems in most cases the results go crazy! If you are going to play with this yourself pick websites that have small to medium amounts of links and in contrast also ones that have lots of incoming links. The craziness for a site with a smaller to medium number of links is really interesting and seems to go really off the wall. For instance the ‘link:’ command really breaks down if you use this site (www.searchkingdom.co.uk) as an example and then add the ‘-site:www.searchkingdom.co.uk’ operator to the search command. For example:

Weird incoming ‘link:’ search results for www.searchkingdom.co.uk

The results really expand from the paltry ‘3’ for the ‘link:’ command without any operators. As you can see the thread works for some of the time through the results, but Google also decides to mix in some results for the term ‘search kingdom’ and include pages that do not link to this website and seem to be about Kingdom Hearts. There are lots of references on the web to ‘search Kingdom Hearts’ and for some reason Google decided to mix these results in with my ‘link:’ command. Does this mean that the operator has ‘broken’ the results here or just made them more interesting?

Try this on your own site and also test this out with some more operators. Also, have a look at the ‘related:’ command. Both of these commands mixed with other operators spit out some really interesting results that are worth examining.

Overall, there is a definite possibility that the ‘link:’ command in Google is just a broken and forgotten about thing that no one pays much attention towards. This is certainly the reputation the command has built up. However, it is worth having a closer look at the craziness that some of these results throw up and seeing if these can give us even a small insight into how Google views some of its link structure, the weight it places on some links and how it deals with unique links.

Now we all know that a good link is one that is relevant, not bought, intrinsic and valid. These are the links you need to find to give your site the importance and exposure you would like it to have. The quality of your content and the way you market that content will give you more reward than anything else. However, Google holds the cards in this particular game, so shedding any light on what hand they have is always useful.

I would be interested to hear from anyone who has discovered some more interesting results. This will help to see whether it will be valid and useful to take this analysis further.

PageRank Sculpting Phase Two

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Last post on this one from me (famous last words…).

Great article from Danny Sullivan today on PageRank sculpting. Saves me a lot of work, thanks Danny. Also, included is a video from Matt Cutts from May (I will include below in any case), which unfortunately I missed the first time around (if I had seen this and really thought about it and combined it with the data I was seeing from some old JavaScript links, I might have been well ahead of the game on the big two recent developments).

So, it looks like sparse internal linking, not linking out, turning comments off and iFrames will now be the order of the day! I hope not. Here are a few (white hat) things that you might want to try.

  1. Combining your ‘legals’ and ‘privacy’ pages in to one page and linking to it more intelligently. I have no idea on the legal ease of where these pages should be linked from on your site (maybe someone could comment), so do this at you own risk. I am also absolutely certain that Google has factored in some weighting to these pages already, so don’t sweat this one too much.
  2. Think about your other navigational links and make them better for users and Google (how many ‘about us’ pages do you really need?). In this I mean think about if you really need to link to a page or if you really need that site wide link to an unprofitable area. As we know ‘nofollowing’ no longer works and in some ways this is a good excuse to get your house in order from a usability, ‘weight’ flow and ‘weight’ wastage perspective.
  3. Remember a good website should embrace what the ‘web’ is about. Linking to sites and pages is a good thing if done for the right reasons and well. So all you ‘nofollow’ addicts should think a little about the trust your site develops by being an authority site. Authority sites do link to other sites (and give PageRank away). Rather than delete all of your outbound links that you previously ‘nofollowed’, open some of them up and ‘dofollow’ the ones that add value.

There will be a million takes on this new news and I am waiting to see what the fall out is. Either way Google makes the rule and we have to follow (no pun intended) them. Didn’t you know that? If you were Google would you do it any other way? Remember they own the search engine and we choose to use it.

Google Squared

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

I always look closely at all of Google’s new tools. How I wish that Google Squared was around when I was at school!

Apart from the ways it can save you time in starting an information collection based activity or project, have a think about it from a link building perspective.

Do you think the information sources Google lists here are trusted? Wade through the Wiki links and you will find some real gems that you may not have uncovered before. As Google adds to this project this will grow and grow.

Google, JavaScript and Flash

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Apart from sounding like a children’s book about frogs or rabbits or both (hey, look out for the animated film too; Tom Hanks is the voice for the Flash character!), Google, JavaScript and Flash now have a slightly different relationship.

This is a slow evolution based upon Google’s need to index the web like no one else could even dream about. This brings its own pressures and the need to index Flash (lot of pages) well is needed and the need to follow JavaScript links (more than you can count on ten abacuses and all your fingers) is even greater.

Rather than me talk about this, here is a fantastic post from Vanessa Fox on Google, JavaScript and Flash and some other stuff. Well (well) worth a read.

In essence, please don’t see that as a green light to do silly things (build your site in Flash, only have JavaScript links, etc.), but it certainly does open up some good possibilities.

P.S. clearly I was only joking about the new book and film. But Tom, if you are reading this, are you interested?

Just Testing

Friday, April 17th, 2009

This is a post about me setting up some tests to see the differences between a few things in the search results. Really basic stuff at first.

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All will be explained later…

Google AdWords Bidding and Quality Score

Monday, March 16th, 2009

A large part of any process that involves getting good at something is the ability to still hone the basics. This is particularly relevant if you want to become an expert. Think of guitarists practicing scales, football players practising free kicks, etc. Even though their ability level has far exceeded these elementary drills, the need to perform them never goes away.

With this is mind watch this video. It will make you remember some fundamental parts of the Google pay per click system that you may have been taking for granted.


Strange Search Results

Monday, March 9th, 2009

A quick one that (if I get the time) I will expand upon and do some research on, etc.

I was running a ‘site:’ query in Google a moment ago and accidentally pressed the return key after I had typed in ‘site’. Try typing in ‘site’ into Google (I was using google.co.uk ‘the web’) yourself.

As you will see (well, for most of you I guess) the ‘Banksy’ site comes up as number one with some other sites like the ‘Keane’ and ‘Franz Ferdinand’ also appearing in the top 10. Now this is obviously because of the anchor text of the links coming into the site, but why these sites? Each site is popular in its own right, but I really can’t think of why the anchor text would naturally include the word ‘site’ to take them to such a high position for this word above many others sites.

Anyone got any ideas?

The link profile for these sites (particularly the Banksy one) is too deep to meaningfully go through. Also, the term ‘site’ is too generic to use many of the other ways that this result could be distilled.

So, I think I will pick some lower placed results and see if I can see a pattern.

All of the ‘top of the head’ stuff like ‘official site’, ‘web site (two words)’, etc. doesn’t really explain anything about these results for these sites (i.e. there are many other sites that out rank them for these terms).

One to ponder… I don’t think it is a Google glitch and these must I be some basis for it. But, why that anchor text particularly for those sites?