What Google Added To The Link Schemes Document Found In Webmaster Tools

By Matthew Schmoldt

Recently, Google updated the “Link schemes” informational document found in Webmaster Tools. The change was easy to miss. There were no large scale announcements.

Unlike a Wikipedia document, there is no easy way to see what was changed. Thankfully, the Internet has the wayback machine for such matters. The tool shows that two records have been kept this year for the page in question. One archive is from June 28th, the other is from August 5th.

As you can see, there seem to be significant changes. The June 28th version of the link schemes page had an opening paragraph that explained why external links were important and why Google uses them as a key influencer in search results. Now the document begins with a stern warning:

“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.”

To many, this paragraph is not only troubling but troublingly ambiguous. You will notice the use of the word “intended” in the paragraph. How does Google determine if a link is intended to manipulate PageRank? In the second sentence, is Google saying any link building efforts will be considered manipulation?

On July 10th, Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, was interviewed and said the following:

“No, not all link building is bad. The philosophy that we’ve always had is if you make something that’s compelling then it would be much easier to get people to write about it and to link to it.”

Does the July 10th interview with Matt Cutts answer the questions of the August update to the link schemes document? My guess is, yes. Google seems to be preparing to take the webspam fight to the next level and has updated their official link schemes document with a hardcore and broad stance.

In the same interview, Matt Cutts said:

“I would concentrate on the stuff that people write, the utility that people find in it, and the amount of times that people link to it. All of those are ways that implicitly measure how relevant or important somebody is to someone else.

Links are still the best way that we’ve found to discover that, and maybe over time social or authorship or other types of markup will give us a lot more information about that.”

It is clear to me, that link building is quite appropriate and still legal. But, shift from thinking about link building to the idea of link earning. High quality links from high authority links should be the target. These sorts of links are earned and not built with a few clicks of the mouse.

What else was changed in the link schemes document?

Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link

The above paragraph seems to be fairly black and white. Google doesn’t want people to sell links for money or for products. But, what If you sign up for a Chamber of Commerce and pay a fee. Have you just purchased a link from their site? Should you request a nofollow of your link just in case?

Matt Cutts has said that you should only pursue a link if it is something you would have built or pursued if SEO did not exist.

Excessive link exchanges (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking

The use of excessive and exclusively are ambiguous and troubling in this new entry in the document. It is impossible to know where the line is with this rule. But, remember, Google wants you to do things naturally. They want you to do things that make logical sense. If you are a flower shop, it makes sense to have a linking relationship with the local chocolate shop. It may make sense to link to the local cookie shop, to the local wedding dress store, etc.

Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links

The ambiguous word here is “large-scale.” To me, I refer back to my rule of link earning and not link building. If the link is too easy to get, it’s probably not the kind of link that is desirable. Removing the easy to get links removes most of the ability to create a large-scale link building operation. The hard links take time to get. Also remember, Google is targeting keyword-rich anchor links and not generic links in articles.

Using automated programs or services to create links to your site

This seems to be the one area where Google was decisive. Do not use automated means to build backlinks. If you are tempted to use automated programs, don’t. Google is constantly indexing the Internet and can detect a sudden and unnatural increase in backlinks.

Author’s Bio: Matthew Schmoldt is an Internet marketer who has been published at Yahoo and Moz. He has four years of SEO and social media experience. He is the owner of Cool Things To Buy Inc. His website features amazing gadgets other neat stuff.

Why Automated Link Building is Bad For Your Business

By Rob James

A few years ago, it was common practice for businesses and Search Engine Optimisation marketers to use automated link building to increase links to their sites, with the aim of boosting a website’s PageRank in Google. However, with Google clamping down on “black hat” SEO strategies in their Penguin and Panda algorithm updates, automated link building isn’t going to do your business many favours; instead, it’s better to focus on “white hat” and organic SEO to get the most out of search.

Primarily, automated link building is all about quantity, whereby you run software and join directories to multiply the number of backlinks to your page – blog comments, and filling blogs with low quality repeated content could also enable a single website to generate large numbers of links. However, while this might be an effective method for building up a page’s ranking, automated link building is less invested in getting good quality links from relevant sites, and has been increasingly punished by Google.

The main problem that Google has with automated link building is that it can effectively represent a form of spam – multiple links from low quality sites, or spamming comments boards with links, and posting content with awkwardly placed content distorts the actual relevancy of a page for users. In this context, your business may have a high search ranking, but not one that’s necessarily made up of the right kinds of associations.

Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates were consequently designed to prevent PageRank, the main Google algorithm, from being manipulated. Panda has received 24 updates since February 2011, and crawls pages for low quality features and links to duplicate content – the emphasis with Panda is on duplicated and “thin” content, where the use of links isn’t contextually motivated, and closer to spam.

By comparison, Google Penguin, introduced in April 2012, comes down even harder on automated link building through directories – if you have a portfolio of links that are mostly from link farms and other low quality sites, then Penguin will ignore or rank these links as less relevant. It’s not perfect, but it means that Penguin is going to punish your ranking if you have too many links from low quality pages.

So, what kind of actions can you take to improve your SEO without automated link building? The most straightforward method is to focus on creating original content, and on getting high quality guest posts on blogs and pages that aren’t going to get singled out by Penguin – while there are ongoing questions about how effective Google can be at identifying the right pages to disregard, it’s clear that businesses will have to spend more time on creating great content.

It’s also important to optimise existing content and pages, and to ensure that your HTML and CSS on pages is clearly set up to ensure that they can be picked up by search engines; moreover, businesses can do their SEO a big favour by investing in social media content, which can be easily shared and recommended via social toolbars and buttons. The more organic links that you get from high ranking, trusted sites, the higher the chance will be that Google will increase the value of your own website.

Author’s Bio: Rob James is an online marketer and recommends DeepBlueSky web design to help you build a high quality site. In his spare time Rob can be found blogging about the many different linking techniques out there, which ones to apply, and which ones to avoid!

How to Stop the Content Scrapers

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Right?

Except when someone has done a wholesale ripoff of your creative idea or blog post.

For anyone who produces online content, it’s crucial to protect your assets.

Make Life Difficult for the Thieves

Alert the readers

It’s good practice to do spot checks on your best blog posts, to make sure they haven’t fallen victim to the “content scrapers” who ruthlessly roam the web looking for content to steal. Just go to Google’s Advanced Search and type the title (or a sentence) from your post in the “exact phrase match” box.

The silver lining for these automated scrapers is that they often take the whole post without a human reading it, so you can add a note to the end of the post that will notify readers of the original source (you’ll want to include a link to your actual site):

This post originally appeared on Rosemary’s Best Blog Site. If you’re not reading this via email or RSS feed from Rosemary’s Best Blog Site, it may have been stolen.

Check referring links

In your Google Analytics, look at your referred traffic periodically (you probably already do this). If you see anything suspicious, check the source.


Any visual content you post, including photos and videos, should have your site name or logo watermarked on it. That way, even if it’s stolen, you’re getting credit. One option is an application like VisualWatermark.com.

Excerpts only

Try changing your RSS feed to excerpts only. The scrapers often like to use RSS feeds as a funnel for content; if you’re only sending excerpts, you’ve made their job much more difficult. The Advanced Excerpt plugin for WordPress is one way to do this.

How to Do a DMCA Takedown Request

Use a “whois” lookup to find out who the web host is for the site with your stolen content.

Most web hosts will have a DMCA form on their site for you to submit your claim. Click here to see Google’s copyright infringement form (if the content happens to be on a Google-hosted site like a Blogger blog).

Unfortunately, tracking down those who have stolen your content can be like a big game of “Whack-a-Mole.” But if you take precautions that make it harder for the scrapers to get your posts, maybe they’ll pass you by.

How have you dealt with the content thieves? Please share any special tips with us.

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for social strata — a top ten company to work for on the Internet . Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee

Google Quality Score – The Ultimate Guide

By Deepak Gupta

Recently, Google took it upon itself to be the bastion of quality in the world of internet marketing. Every website promotion company is well aware of the recent search algorithm updates. However, it’s not only organic search that is being assessed by Google in terms of quality. Pay per click advertising or paid searches are subjected to quality checkpoints as well and in the end, a Quality Score is assigned to every keyword of your ad campaign.
Google Quality Score Factors

According to the definition provided by Google itself: Quality Score is an estimate of how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing page are to a person seeing your ad. Having a high Quality Score means that our systems think your ad, keyword, and landing page are all relevant and useful to someone looking at your ad.
This definition may appear to be crystal clear, but very few marketers know how to deal with Quality Score. Here is a straightforward and simple guide that you can use in understanding Quality Score.

Understanding (not set) and (not provided) Keywords

Google Analytics (GA) is a tool that provides rich insights to a website promotion company as to how its paid search campaigns are doing. However, there are times that you cannot assess the quality of your campaigns because Google Analytics return (not set) or (not provided) keyword data when you extract a GA report. For a rookie website promotion company, this may be confusing and may even be used interchangeably although they are two very different concepts.

A (not set) keyword data occurs when something is missing between the GA tracking and the AdWords click. Typically, this happens with auto-tagging or when repetitive codes are found on pages or there are multiple GA accounts connected to your AdWords campaign.

Length of Display URL and CTR

An experienced website promotion company would know that a URL is not just a web address. In terms of PPC Quality Score, display URLs play a significant role, since one of the criteria used by Google to calculate for your Quality Score is the click through rates of your display URLs. Length and presentation of display URLs are critical factors as to whether searchers will click on your ad or not.

For one, Google will automatically add www to display URLs with fewer than 35 characters. Historical data will show that URLs without the www prefix get more clicks than those with the www prefix. Another not so known fact is that if you exceed the 35-character limit by two (37 characters) it is perfectly fine. Last, if you really can’t contain your URL within 35 characters, insert a few keywords so that when Google shortens it, your keywords are highlighted in the display URL. However, exercise extreme care as Google will decide how to shorten your URL. Basically, the rule of thumb is to target 35 characters without www.

The Surprise Perfect 10 and Pre-assigned Quality Scores

Getting a score of perfect 10 is every web promotion company’s dream. The excitement is equal to going viral in social media marketing services. But before you jump up and down, check for which keywords those perfect scores were given and most likely, you’ll find out that these keywords have zero impressions and zero clicks. Experts are now toying with and testing whether including “empty” keywords gets a perfect score of 10. Your ads won’t show up for these keywords. The goal is to increase the overall score for the entire campaign and raise an ad group’s eligibility for auctions.

Another crucial concept worth pointing out is that your ad groups and keywords have pre-assigned scores before you even launch your campaign and many experts have observed that most of these starting scores would be the end scores by the time a campaign is done. This particular information led PPC marketers to believe that you can actually modify your campaign’s architecture to boost your Google Quality Score even before you launch your ad campaign.

Multiple Groups for Keyword Match Type and Delaying the Use of Bid Management

Along with the campaign’s architecture, matching keyword types within ad groups can increase quality scores. To get the most impressions, it is encouraged that you use a number ad groups for all keyword match types that you want to target.

Finally, if your ad campaign is fresh and new, don’t use the automated bid management yet. Statistics will show that campaigns that were manually optimized during their early stages were more successful versus those that were introduced with the automated bid management system.

Google’s Definition of Quality Evolved

The Quality Score that every web promotion company is using today may not be the same a couple of years down the road. In fact, what Google considers as quality ad campaigns may not stand true in the near future. Who knows? Maybe social media marketing services will be closely tied into the PPC Quality Score. A lot of things can happen and the key is to always be on the lookout and satisfy whatever quality indicators there are.

Author’s Bio: The writer of this post is Deepak Gupta, who is an experienced internet marketing professional and active blogger. He is associated with a search engine optimization company in India that provides professional SEO services and takes care of the search engine marketing activities for clients.

What Makes a Link-Worthy Blog?

Tara Hornor


What Does Link-Worthy Mean?

When creating a blog, it is essential for the content on the blog to be link-worthy. What does link-worthy even mean? It’s a standard you should consider for every single post — link-worthy means that your content is good enough that site visitors would want to bookmark your page, share with friends, or use as a reference piece on their own blog. It means that your blog will build a great amount of backlinks, and thereby increase its visibility online. When people link to you, your site receives many benefits from added social credibility to search engine boosts and more.

To ensure that your blog and its content are linkable, focus on writing about topics that truly interest you as well as your visitors. Some people dive right in to creating a blog without focus and then end up short of the success they hoped for because they were not fully dedicated to a specific topic or niche.

Key to Link-Worthiness: Passion

Starting with a topic you’re passionate about will help you to keep your blog up-to-date with quality content — content to which others will create backlinks. If you love a topic or know a whole lot more information than other people know, use that to your benefit and write about the topics you love and know best. In doing so, you are teaching what you know and sharing your passion about it. Offer content that is informative and useful that connects your passion to others, and people will be linking to you.

So make sure you love what you write about first and foremost. This will drive the rest of the content generation and energy behind your blog. When you’re excited about a topic, you’ll go the extra mile to make the post amazing.

Always before you hit “Publish,” ask yourself, “Is this the kind of resource that I would want to revisit?” If not, what’s missing? What extra bit of information would take it over the top? Now go add it to your post!

Setting Your Blog Up for Success

When your blog is set up in a professional manner, you are more likely to have success. The following is a list of a few aspects you need to consider:

  • Choose a domain name for your blog that is professional, catchy, and easy to remember.
  • Choose a blog layout or template that matches up with the content and is visually appealing.
  • Offer only original content on your blog. nIf you quote someone be sure to link to their work.
  • Write with a friendly and conversational vioce because that is what people tend to look for.

Promoting Your Link-Worthy Blog

Other people are the most important part of helping you build a blog that is linkable. Many well-established blogs already have strong readership. Owners of these popular blogs know to look around to see what other bloggers have been saying about them. If you are write about them and link to their work, you can easily get noticed by these bloggers and sometimes in return, they may link to you. This means more success for you because links from established bloggers often carry more google juice which can raise your visibility and help you to become more established too.

Guest blogging is also an ideal way of building a link-worthy blog. As a blogger, you can offer to guest blog on other well-established blogs and instead of being paid, you can ask that the blogger link to you. That link back will ultimately help you establish credibility with search engines and increase traffic to your blog. With more traffic, you will find people who are following your blog on a daily basis because they are so interested in what you have to say.

So how do you make sure that your blogs are link-worthy?
Do you have a specific set of ideal pieces of content you always try to provide?

Author’s Bio:
Tara Hornor writes about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design, and desktop publishing for PrintPlace.com a company that offers online printing for print marketing media. Find her on Twitter as @TaraHornor .


How To Create One Way Inbound Backlinks


Successfully Working From a Home-based Office

Backlinks are those links which directs users towards your website or blog. Backlink is an important term with respect to SEO; it effectively increases the creditability of your website. Search engines tend to look for these backlinks to rank the websites in their page. But the backlinks should be from the niche where your website resides. Effectively backlinks is considered a tool to increase the page rank of a website.

How To Create One Way Inbound Backlinks

There are methods to create inbound backlinks of your website:

1. Creating a blog is one of simplest way to generate backlinks for your website. A blog is a dynamic website where the content keeps on changing. A professional blog can help you attract traffic as well. Post quality and researched content about your services or products to glue in your readers. This will also compel others bloggers to link to it and you can benefit with the quality backlinks.

2. Participating in forums in your niche can help you in gathering backlinks. Forum participating exposes your website to a different set of audiences. Readers from these forums will increase the bounce back rate of your website too. While registering for different forums do link your website as you submit the solutions for different queries. Register in multiple forums and participate in them regularly. You can even submit your articles to different web directories. If your article gets selected, web directories are a fast means to attract the backlinks.

3. Guest posting is an important step in gathering quality backlinks for your site. There are number of websites and blog which exchange one or two backlinks in exchange of a guest post. When guest posting the articles, target those websites which rank higher in your niche. Higher ranked websites will help you in bringing not only traffic but will expose your brand as well.

4. Creating free products or services can help you to create a buzz in your niche while driving backlinks as well. Creating professional videos can be another method. Upload a quality video on you tube and let the users share them on their websites. While uploading videos be certain that they are of professional quality, this will increase the number of backlinks.

5. Social media submissions can help in gathering the inbound backlinks. Social platforms such as Digg and Google+ are few examples of such media. If you mange to reach the front page of Digg, you might be getting heavy backlinks and traffic in quick time. Start commenting on various articles, acknowledge the shouts of various people and submit unique and catchy articles on the community. Making to the first page of Digg will require hard work and most importantly smart work.

While looking for inbound backlinks concentrate on the quality and not the quantity of the links. A 100 low quality backlink would be equivalent to 5-6 high quality backlinks. Be aware of the low quality websites as links from these sites will work as a negative factor. Apart from these tips, commenting on other websites and blog will increase the number of backlinks as well.

Author’s Bio:
Brianne is a freelance writer who often writes about acronym maker and ipad docking station. She also has written a number of articles on technology and social media. You can find her on Twitter @Brianne.

Thank you, Brianne!

–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!

How to Know if You Are Blog Begging

Worth Saying Again

relationships button

As soon as I turned on my computer, an IM popped up. This is the conversation that occurred. I’ve changed the name and location of the other party because . . . um . . . I’m the nice one. Truth is, I suspect that the sender doesn’t read my blog and won’t know about that post. I hope I’m wrong about that. If I am, I hope that we might try the conversation over.

Here’s what was said.

sender: hi liz please give me some trik for my blog

ME: Hi What is that?

sender: :) for some make good my blog

ME: Do I know you?
sender: :-oooh sorry. I’m from [name of country]

ME: again . . . do I know you?
sender: ok sorry

ME: You might tell me who you are.

[I’m pretty sure he was gone before I typed these words.
Did he want links or money?]

How to Know If You Are Blog Begging

Ask yourself these two questions. Then fill in the blanks in the sentence that replaces [what is asked for] with the phrase lots of money.

  • What’s your relationship with the potential linker?
  • What benefit comes from the request?
  • Hi _______, would you give me [what is asked for] so that _______ .

Using the answers from the IM Saturday morning the sentence now reads.

Hi complete stranger, would you give me lots of money so that my blog will be good?

Doesn’t sound as if it has anything to do with me.

It’s worth saying something I said once before.

I want a relationship, not a one-link stand.

Links might stay and stick for a few months. Over time, they die out and break. Links to people I don’t know have the protential to harm me. Relationships with like-minded folks are good things and have the potential to grow.

This is a an unusual blog request story. Not everyone gets a IM at “dark o’clock” in the morning. What’s the most interesting blog request that has come your way? Would you say it was blog begging?

–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!

The Mic is On: Guest Host Timothy Johnson

It’s Like Open Mic Only Different

The Mic Is On

Here’s how it works.

It’s like any rambling conversation. Don’t try to read it all. Jump in whenever you get here. Just go to the end and start talking. EVERYONE is WELCOME.
The rules are simple — be nice.

There are always first timers and new things to talk about. It’s sort of half “Cheers” part “Friends” and part video game. You don’t know how much fun it is until you try it.

Naughty or Nice?

Timothy Johnson of Carpe Factum has been moonlighting as Santa’s spy this year. We’re going to be talking about good deeds and ornery pranks. Klondike Bars and Nachos available on request. Open bar will be flowing: egg nog, spiced cider, and hot chocolate all evening (well, at least until the Fat Tire runs out).

Timothy Johnson

And, whatever else comes up, including THE EVER POPULAR, Basil the code-writing donkey . . . and flamenco dancing (because we always get off topic, anyway.)

Oh, and bring links about pranks and good deeds to share!

–ME “Liz” Strauss

Related article
What is Tuesday Open Comment Night?

The Mic is On: We're Talking about Gifts

It’s Like Open Mic Only Different

The Mic Is On

Here’s how it works.

It’s like any rambling conversation. Don’t try to read it all. Jump in whenever you get here. Just go to the end and start talking. EVERYONE is WELCOME.
The rules are simple — be nice.

There are always first timers and new things to talk about. It’s sort of half “Cheers” part “Friends” and part video game. You don’t know how much fun it is until you try it.

We’re Already Thinking about Them…

We might talk about:

  • Gifts we gave
  • Gifts we got
  • Gifts we had to take back
  • Gifts we wish we never got
  • Gifts we re-gifted

And, whatever else comes up, including THE EVER POPULAR, Basil the code-writing donkey . . . and flamenco dancing (because we always get off topic, anyway.)

Oh, and bring links about gifts to share!

–ME “Liz” Strauss

Related article
What is Tuesday Open Comment Night?

3 Easy Steps to Persuade a Quality Blogger to Link to You

Linking Relationships

relationships button

The blogosphere is a web of connections made by links from blog to blog. The strongest relationships and the links that last longest are those that are made between bloggers.

If you want a link from a blogger you’ve not yet met, you’re really asking for a vote of trust. The link I give to your blog or your blog post means that I’ve tied my name to yours. Naturally any blogger would be more inclined to give your link a home, if you show it will be in the blogger’s best interest.

Who wouldn’t want to link to you if your link improved their readers’ experience in some meaningful way?

3 Easy Steps to Persuade a Quality Blogger to Link to You

Choose carefully when finding home for your links. Hopefully, you’re starting a long-term relationship. You want to be part of a network of quality people. Let’s imagine that the blogger you want to link to is me.

Here’s how you might persuade me in three easy steps.

  1. Do Your Homework
  2. Get to know me and my blog. Make a a project of finding out who I am and what I write about. Study my blog and my readers’ comments. In other words, do a little homework.

    So many people peddle their blog posts from blog to blog without even bothering to read the front page. You’ll stand out if when you say, “I’ve been reading your blog . . .” and what follows that shows that you really have. Chances are, if you show a real interest in my blog and your idea is off, I might suggest a new idea for you to try.

  3. Plan a Link that Adds Value
  4. No one needs a link on their blogroll. No one needs a random blog post that’s unrelated to a blog’s readership. Find a reason that your post that ties well to one I wrote. Show how your post expands on a topic that my readers have an interest in. Explain how the subject your content compliments mine or offers a point of view my readers might enjoy.

  5. Persuade an Individual (not sir or madam)
  6. When you send that email, be personal and gently persuasive. Don’t talk about yourself; talk about what you are offering.

    Please be simple and brief. Realize that I wasn’t waiting with nothing to do until your email came and that I probably still have plenty to get done. Doesn’t everyone these days? I want to see a compelling reason for your using your link. I can’t say “yes” to everyone, but it’s not fun to say “no” either. It’s real luck when a clear thinker comes along — someone who knew exactly what to offer that really does add value for my readers.

You lose nothing if I refuse. Make a good case, and a friendship could be starting. If you researched the blog you want to link, you’ve probably learned a few new things.

If your post goes up, you’ve made a connection to a quality blog. Hopefully that blog will grow into old age with yours, sharing many links along the way. We’ll all meet to discuss how the bloggers who come asking for links never seem to do their homework, don’t show how they’ll add value or personally offer a compelling reason why we might want to link.

–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!