Blog about Internet marketing strategies - social media, & SEO

Category: Google

Google on Guest Blogging – Stop Waste Blogging!

There is a growing trend to do guest blogging. So much so that it is turning close to using such blogging as article spinning techniques. This hurts websites bad as we have noticed in past through Google Panda as well as Google Penguin. And now Google’s Matt Cutt has also made it clear that they want nothing from such guest blogging – or should we just say waste blogging.

Check the the Video here.

Having said that, as the search engine underlines, and as common sense, it is always good idea to guest post if it is original and adds value to the users. On other hand if you are using guest blogging to promote poor wasted or copied content, it is sooner than later that both the blogger and the blog host will be affected by one of the Google’s algorithm changes.

What are your thoughts on Guest Blogging or the alternatives?

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Google+ Pages for Business

Google+ Pages allows creating online presence for business and brands through Google+, much like the Facebook Pages. Pages can be created for several categories such as:

  • Product or Brand
  • Company, Institution or Organization
  • Local Business or Place
  • Arts, Entertainment or Sports
  • Other

Creating Google+ Pages

Google+ pages are similar to the regular Google+ profiles in the sense that it allows profile owners to add or block people to chosen circles, share content, +1 on others’ content such as comments or photos, and create and join Hangouts. Google+ Pages can be identified with the square shape next to the name at the top of the page.

However there are some important differences that must be taken into consideration. Using Google+ personal profile for promoting business can get the person to be banned from Google+ altogether. The differences between Google+ page from normal profiles are:

  • Pages can’t add people to circles until the page is added first or mentioned.
  • Pages can be made for a variety of different purposes as mentioned above whereas profiles can only be made for people.
  • The default privacy setting for elements on your page profile is public. So Google can index everything on Google+ Pages for their search results unless you change the settings.
  • Pages have the +1 button at the left navigation. (similar to Like Option at top of a Page in Facebook)
  • Pages can’t +1 other pages, nor can they +1 stuff on the Web.
  • Pages can’t play games.
  • Pages don’t have the option to share to ‘Extended circles’ (that is circles of circles – or friends of friends).
  • Pages don’t receive notifications via email, text, or in the Google bar.
  • Pages can’t hangout on a mobile device.
  • Local pages have special fields that help people find the business’ physical location.

In future users will be able to reach to a Google+ Business Pages by directly searching in Google for “+BusinessName”, such as +Coke or +Pepsi.

You can start creating Google+ Pages now here.

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Correct use of robots.txt to allow all crawlers

Robots.txt file is used on web server to to give instructions about the website to web robots (also called bots or spiders or crawlers), such as those from search engines. The complete list of available robots can be found here.

The web robots scan the information and index the websites accordingly. So if you do not want web robots (or crawlers) to index your website, you can disallow everything using the robots.txt file. Similarly if you want all the content to be indexed, then you can allow all web robots using the robots.txt file. Generally it is a good idea to allow indexing to your publicly visible pages and disallow to publicly invisible files, folders or pages (such as those inside your control panel or the pages you get to after logging in). The robots.txt file should be placed inside the home directory of your website. For example

As for the robots.txt file, search engines such as Google can determine whether there are useful information and crawl and index your websites accordingly. If you don’t want to disallow any web robots to crawl your site, there could be three options for letting the search engines know.

  1. Not have a robots.txt file
  2. Having a blank robots.txt file
  3. Adding following lines in the robots.txt
User-agent: *

While all three should allow all crawlers, the safest way to ensure that your website is indexed correctly is using the third format. That is use the robots.txt and put the above code to ensure that all user agents (or robots) are allowed.

There is also a good explanation about this in the Google Webmaster Central Video.

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New location targeting features on Google AdWords

Google AdWords location targeting tool has undergone some changes to make it more easier to target. Some of the new features added are:

  • Search Suggestions
  • Nearby Locations
  • Reach
  • Improved Location Outlines
  • Location Target Limits per Campaign

Meanwhile some of the old obsolete features have been phased out. You can see the details here too.

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Standout Content in Google News

Google has just launched a new type of link attribute called standout that news organizations can use to highlight their major news. This will be used to promote the news in the featured section of Google News.

The syntax is simple. Just add rel=”standout” on your link. Such as

a rel="standout" href="yourstandoutnews.html" to highlight your internal news or

a rel="standout" href="" to highlight external news. Currently Google only allows upto 7 standout news per week. More than that is not considered for featured content. Google even encourages citing others’ standout content as important parameter for earning trust on your own standout work.

This could be very significant for news organizations in terms of gaining extra exposure. This can be compared to the sitelinks features of websites where important pages get extra attention.

Some more help on how to use the standout feature can be found at Google Help here.


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Google Search and AdWords Research with SEMRush

SEMRush Logo
SEMRush is an online tool for Google organic keywords, AdWords and competition research. SEMRush analyzes data from its millions of keywords and domains database. This tool is as simple as entering your (or competitor) domain name or keyword to get back insights to the organic keywords, AdWords keywords, competition analysis and more. SEMRush is an essential tool for online marketers!

Let’s look at some of the features of SEMRush that makes it such a great tool. For reference I have used as the website under consideration and categorized the results into three types of reports: Organic, AdWords and competitor analysis. These reports can be easily viewed from the navigation on the left. The results can be exported to various formats as well.

1) Organic Keywords Report
The first visible results are the organic keywords results. Among others, this shows the organic keyword list, its traffic share on the website, the URL triggered by that keyword and the position of that keyword on Google, each of which can be sorted. For example you can sort by your best ranked keywords. It even shows the volume of search in other countries (SEMRush currently supports 9 countries).

SEMRush Google organic report

2) AdWords keywords Report
This shows the keywords that trigger the AdWords ad, position of ad in Google, search volume, cost for ad, competition and other details. You can even view the ad copy. Quite a handful if you want to know your competitor ads.

SEMRush AdWords

3) Competition Research Reports
The remaining reports show the competitors in organic or AdWords. These are

  • Competitors in organic search,
  • Competitors in AdWords,
  • Unique AdWords Ads (ad copy),
  • Potential ad/traffic buyers, and
  • Potential ad/traffic sellers

SEMRush competitors
SEMRush ad buyers sellers

An interesting addition is the competition graph, where you can compare various properties such as search traffic or number of AdWords to your competitors in graphical format.

SEMRush trend graph

You can also use the SEMRush competition research by starting with target keywords to find the related keyword variations and competing websites.

SEMRush keyword search

Free version of SEMRush shows the first 10 results in the report only. So you may want to upgrade to pro version to view the full reports. SEMRush is a tool by the same team that brought popular SEO tools such as SeoQuake and WhoRush. And SEMRush is among the best search engine marketing tools available.

Start using SEMRush

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Google bias – Google Books Explosion

Does Google give preference to search results from its own products? It has been a topic of great discussion, particularly after the search bias research by Benjamin Edelman. In my recent search for long phrases I also found Google’s ineffectiveness in results and a bias towards its product Google Books.

Here are some of the results on Google search engine.

Query 1:
Do any of them show progress? Which one is the best? Note the characteristics
Google Books results among the top 10 results = 10. External results = 0.

Query 2:
not everybody are created equal. But what is the logic? Shall we proceed
Google Books results among the top 10 results = 9. External results = 1 (6th position)

Query 3:
I suspect not. Why is this happening only here? Answer remains to be explored.
Google Books results among the top 10 results = 7. External links = 3 (starting from 5th position)

Other search engines such as Yahoo do not display Google Books results for these terms. Does this show some problems with the search algorithm of Google? Or intentional bias towards its product, that is Google Books in this case? The problem here with the search results is that there is no relevance to the search phrase and the displayed Google Books result. So what is with this explosion of Google Books results? I believe Google knows the answer. But will it tell?

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Google cannot flag spam links to a website

As much as webmasters want the feature, there is currently no provision by Google to flag spam links to a website. This is because Google doesn’t take into account if it has been been created by the webmaster or not. Although Google claims that their algorithm is good enough such that one competitor cannot hurt another, it poses a serious risk of website being exploited by competitors.

Video: Google explains the linking system

Hopefully Google comes up with a more reasonable flagging system to prevent third party link spamming.

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