How Should You Vet A Referral?

I was recently approached by someone who immediately had that demanding vibe that so heavily annoys me and makes me get more frown lines, and that encounter has caused me to rethink how I vet a client, both for my own business and to send out as a referral. You see, I feel like I am wasting someone’s time if I know I have no room to take them on, so I immediately tell them that and try to help them find someone who can help them. Usually it goes well and people are thankful that they don’t have to go trawling for someone with half a brain but sometimes it blows up in my face.

There was the guy (a lawyer, naturally) who flipped out on me when I said I had no room but that a friend of mine was very good at working in that niche so I’d be happy to make an introduction. He told me what he was looking for in the initial email so to me, that was enough info that I felt like I could just pass it on if he wanted. I did ask his permission, of course, but still he started insulting me for not spending more of my unpaid time in order to better suss out his exact business requirements. He called me unprofessional and it’s not like I was using smiley faces in my email signature so really, that bastard offended me quite a bit. 🙂

There have been the people who have followed up on my referrals but found them lacking and then emailed me to complain that I hadn’t given them enough info, or enough names, or basically done enough to help them find someone to help them. X company that I referred them to didn’t respond to their email and it had been at least 4 hours so damn it Julie, get on the ball and find someone who is faster at answering emails. Is that my job? No.

clocky clock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t charge a referral fee to the SEOs that I send business to, and I’ve never had a referral where the referring SEO asked for one. I’m very, very lucky in that, so I feel like if I do know some good qualified people who have room for some new work, it’s just the right thing to do.

What exactly do people expect in terms of being helped to hook up with the right people though?

I will say that if someone is nice and appreciative, I will go above and beyond for him. I will personally ask around and see who does have room and I’ll follow up to make sure things are being taken care of, but still, that is unpaid time for me that takes away from everything else. It’s my choice to do it of course but lately it’s been more common for people to almost demand it, to expect it. Can you imagine calling a dentist who said sorry but we don’t have an appointment that day and you’d say well damn you, you silly cow, give me the names of 5 other dentists who DO have an opening for that day?

Take my latest encounter with a company who not only demanded that I immediately hop on a phone call in the middle of a weekend afternoon which would have severely impacted my time spent on the couch watching Luther on my iPad, but who then proceeded to ask me the kinds of questions that I answer in an extensive SEO audit, and who then proceeded to get extremely uppity and rude when I said I simply do not have the time to do this unless you want to pay me for my time. I recently had asked the Julia Sugarbaker of SEO, Debra Mastaler, how to handle situations like this as Debra has 1000 times the business sense that I do, and she told me to just give out a fair figure and say if you want me to dig in, this is what it’s going to cost you. Digging in, whether it’s to find the cause of a problem on the site or simply to figure out who might be able to help, all costs time and money. Right after this conversation, I decided to try it out, thinking that the person would bail but lo and behold she didn’t. She paid me to dig in and spend some time trying to help her figure out what to do. She didn’t expect me to take a couple of hours of my time and do it for free.

Deb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So why do people keep thinking that we should be happy to work for nothing like this? Maybe because some of us keep doing it.

I can’t be the guy below if this keeps on.

no money man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And how much of your time should you spend vetting and helping a person that you can’t take on as a client? As I’ve said, some people are incredibly nice and gracious but some are 100% users. I’ve had someone try to get me to write up a presentation for him to present as his own in order to get a job and when I said no, he got very nasty. I’ve had someone try to get me to look at how they build links and tell them exactly what I would do differently. I’ve had several people try and get me to diagnose their problems and tell them how to fix everything, and all of this was expected for free, with none of these people being my clients or even prospects. I certainly don’t want to send worthless and time-wasting referrals to anyone and I have, sadly, and that’s something that really pisses me off because I feel like it’s rude on my part. Some people really are just absolute users though, and unless I spend my own time figuring that out, how am I to know?

So what do you do to vet someone that will only be a referral to someone else?

Click-to-call Syntax and a Weird 404 Issue

For many of us working in technical SEO for an agency, the first stage of any new client win is to perform a site audit. Whilst many agencies will have their own procedures most experienced professionals will start with crawl-related checks and research. If a site (and pages therein) can’t be crawled, then they won’t appear in any search engine index and if there’s nothing indexed, then there’s nothing to optimise. (So let’s all go home and play CoD.)

As part of the checks and diagnostic procedures we make sure to cover at theMediaFlow, we have a look at any reported crawl errors in Google or Bing Webmaster Tools. I want to share with you a recent example of some unusual errors found as part of such a process; what caused these errors and how to fix them.

URLs with Company Phone Number Appearing as 404

In this part of the process I was looking to identify how many types of 404 errors were in play, (rather than instances of 404 error) and noticed that many of the thousands of total reported 404 errors followed a particular format. To refresh our memories Google Webmaster Tools reports the URL path, post domain…

Sample of 404 errors from Google Webmaster Tools

 

 

 

For the example site in question many of the errors appeared as follows:

——

0800%20111%201111

normal-directory/0800%20111%201111

nothing-to-see-here/normal-directory/0800%20111%201111

honestly-Im-okay/nothing-to-see-here/normal-directory/0800%20111%201111

——

The eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted that there’s a common theme and that:

a) all these 404 errors have a number in the path

b) stripping out %20 (which means that a space has been encoded) would leave us with a phone number format #### ### #### (i.e. four digits, three digits, four digits)

and c) that such phone number formatting used with 0800, 0843, 0845 and other non-geographical types are often used as customer service phone numbers.

So… you may know where this is going… For every URL on the site, there appeared a second version, with an appended directory – that (directory) being the addition of their own phone number.

 

What time is why?, taken from Know Your Meme

Given that the symptom reported (i.e. a 404 error URL for every genuine URL) logic would suggest there was an error in the mark-up around the phone number in the site header area as opposed to anywhere else it might occur, so this was my first port of call.

In Chrome and using Inspect Element to look at the isolated element (mark-up of the phone number) everything looked hunky-dory. Schema>Organisation mark-up was in place with the correct itemprop, (itemprop=”telephone”) so nothing of concern; however when I looked elsewhere in the code I found the following well-intentioned use of a href to phone number (for click-to-call) mark-up.

code_error

 

 

Now; referencing the phone number as per above was facilitating click-to-call functionality, so any front-end testing they may have done would show positively that a smart device user could click the phone number to call the company. However, due to the omission of the tel: instruction the syntax had the side-effect of creating a relative file path to the phone number as appendage to the existing URL. Hence generating thousands of annoying 404 errors that could easily be avoided, making for a much more effective crawl process.

 

Correct Click to Call Mark-up

To correctly reference the phone number and effect click-to-call without generating 404 URLs due to relative file path annoyingness do as follows:

<a href=”tel:+44#########” itemprop=”telephone”>

The important part here is the addition of the tel: instruction, as it is the omission of this that also creates the relative URL and thus generates our 404 errors. The addition of +44 (UK dialling code) was an optimisation so that the click-to-call would connect regardless of location. I found this piece on click-to-call links really useful background reading, particularly that there’s a list of additional native app URI schemes too!

So, not exactly a ground-breaking error or a revolutionary fix that will rocket this site up the SERPs overnight; however this was one of those weird quirky consequences of a simple code omission that could have hindered crawlers and inhibited the business progress a little. I thought it might be worth sharing as the cause of why these 404s appeared wasn’t immediately obvious.

With thanks to Joost for confirming my logic on the syntax omission and for sharing my belief in relative URLs as the root of evil

Gimme My Money

Recently we’ve seen several SEOs fussing about not getting paid, resorting to outing the offenders. Everyone’s favorite Dutchman-in-Ireland Barry Adams wrote “How I’ve Been Shafted By Darryl Collins from Banjax and Gingerparts” (which sounds so much like a revenge porn title) and the comment section is completely full of people coming forward to say that they’ve either also been shafted by Mr. Collins (that is so hard to type without giggling) or that it’s been a problem for them with someone else. Suffice it to say, it IS a problem. In my Link Club, we’ve recently discussed how to avoid this and let me tell you, it’s definitely a huge problem and I’m still trying to collect on an account for a client who left us years ago and still owes us a small fortune.

money

When you’re starting out, it’s tough to demand payment upfront because you might not think you have the credentials to back that up. Hell, you might not have them to be honest. However, we’re in an industry where some people feel that if we don’t get them the exact results that they think they deserve, they think they can screw us. The client I mention above signed off on buying links, saw the link report each month, and was happier than a pig in shit as long as he was making money but when he gets slapped by Google? He doesn’t want to pay us because we “got him into trouble” doing what he knew was risky, what he asked us to do, and what he was informed about every single month without fail. Funnily enough, this trouble of his happened 2 years after we stopped working with him and was never mentioned as a reason why he couldn’t pay until Google sent him the warning. Before, he’d just say something about it being hard to pay but he was working on it, but the second Google gets him? He can’t pay because it’s all our fault.

We’ve had other issues with various excuses attached, such as “we didn’t know what you were doing, not REALLY, because we didn’t have time to read all your emails or the actual contract which clearly listed exactly what you’d be doing” and “we were thinking that when we did not say yes please abide by the contract and continue working as we’ve both agreed, you’d know that we didn’t really want you to keep working.” If you went to the dentist and had a tooth filled, would you refuse to pay because you didn’t understand the chemical composition of the filling? Can you get out of a late payment for your mortgage because you didn’t like the color of your roof? Why do SEOs keep getting screwed like this?

screw

Here’s another problem: to get a client, you have to lay out enough strategy and tactics that you plan that they can just take you out of the process, do it themselves, and screw you. If you try to be vague enough to hook them but not give too much away, you might not land them as a client. Do you have any idea how many proposals I’ve had to clarify where I’ve had to list out actual ideas, because the general ones didn’t make the potential client feel comfortable that I could do a good job? Too freaking many, and guess how many of those came through? I can’t think of a single one, and after the last go-round with it, I just walk away if they don’t want to pay me upfront for the ideas that I want to implement, because I do enough work for free. I don’t make money off writing for any site but there’s always the person who comments that I should have given them more information and more tips. There’s always someone adding me on IM or emailing me, asking so many questions that I finally have to point out that I have a company to run and things to do for my own work and that I cannot continue to dig into THEIR problems, and every time I say this, I don’t get an apology. I get a comment about how they thought I was supposed to be a nice person and then they go into the guilt phase of being sorry they wasted my precious time.

I’ve always been against outing sites for doing bad things so logical thinking dictates that I should feel the same way about outing clients that don’t pay, but I’m not. I’ve never personally done it but will I? Who knows. I’d rather spend time brainstorming with my employees than sending the 15th email saying “we still haven’t received a check from you and I’m making a very indignant frowny face due to it.” When I hit my first non-paying-client roadblock, I sought the advice of other people as to how to handle it and the number one response was “threaten to out them somewhere for it.” However, I’m still uneasy with doing what Barry did although I respect him for it, but I’m still uncomfortable with it because with my luck, I’ll out someone who has been in the hospital in an iron lung for 3 months or something. Is it bad karma to do it? It’s certainly bad karma not to pay someone who worked for you in good faith. Some people are crazy though and will do whatever they like whether they’re right or wrong, and since I am Dr. No, all I can imagine is that I’ll pick the true psycho to out and say hey, Mr. Po Pants didn’t pay me for my link audit. Mr. Po Pants will end up burning my house down and since all my vinyl is in storage, he won’t even have any problems from toxic fumes.

In the end I suppose that the way around getting screwed like that is to demand payment upfront and in full. The first time I did that I was slightly embarrassed (thanks Mom) but I laid out my reasoning to the client and to my great surprise, she said “no problem. It’s happened to me too so I respect you for it.” Wowzers. Sometimes when something isn’t going to cost much, I’ll just do it and bill the client later but I’m now chasing payments from two people because I was that stupid. So I’m going to get better about it, and the second someone screws me on my money, I’m shutting them down. If a client felt like I was wasting their money and doing nothing, I’d expect them to shut ME down so I need to do the same right? Right.

So get your money upfront if you can. Get a downpayment if you can’t get the full amount, but don’t let it slide when things start to go wrong, not even for a second, because if people think they can avoid paying you, or that they can pay you very late, they’ll do it. If you’ve never worked with the client before, get at least a percentage of the amount before spending time on it and lay out the contract so that you have legal recourse if they don’t pay. Make a plan for how you’ll handle this if it does become a problem for you, and let clients know as soon as they sign on. Put details about payment expectations on every invoice, even if it’s just that payment is expected within x number of days. If payment isn’t made by the due date, stop working and tell the client you’ve stopped and will continue when the check arrives. It’s actually starting to work well for me, so no outing for me just yet. However, give me a few more months and if I’m still chasing that one client, it might just happen.

 

What Is ‘Mobile’?

Mobile traffic, mobile websites, mobile apps. These and similar phrases are increasingly being discussed in SEO circles, but sometimes (and I am as guilty of this as anyone) we forget to define what we actually mean by the term ‘mobile’.

The Official Definition

The Mobile Marketing Association recently defined ‘mobile marketing’ as “a set of practices that enables organizations to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through and with any mobile device or network.” [emphasis mine]

But to the average person (at least here in the UK), ‘mobile’ is a synonym for ‘cell phone’. No one says, ‘let me look it up on my mobile’ and then takes out an iPad. Tablets, smartphones and feature phones are all very different devices, and encourage different behaviours, and therefore require different marketing approaches.

Continue reading “What Is ‘Mobile’?”

Interflora – When Spammy SEO Goes Bad

***The views in this blog post are those of the author and do not represent those of any of the other SEO Chicks***

The story of the Interflora penalty is not one of link building gone wrong, nor is it one of a sudden and unexpected penalty. The story of Interflora is something experienced SEOs are going to reference for years as one sterling reason why aggressive link building strategies should be designed and executed by experienced search professionals, and how short-lived high profile brand penalties are.

My father is a lawyer and he once told me a great many years ago “pigs get fatter – hogs get slaughtered”. I think it was in relation to something else I’m sure since SEO didn’t exist (ya, I’m that old) but it seemed an excellent life lesson and fits many situations. It also fits the situation with Interflora and why they got penalised.

This is *not* a penalty related to the blogger outreach they did which delivered a lot of links of varied anchor text (mostly brand), but advertorials (if one thing is to be blamed). I mean, the link farm, footer links, sidebar links, and other garbage weren’t helping but the blogger links certainly didn’t cause the penalty. In fact removing the only thing that could have helped recovery removed and creating bad blood among bloggers was a terrible decision in my opinion.

I’m quite cross with whoever is the SEO at Interflora or whomever is responsible for their digital marketing. I’m thinking papercuts and lemon juice. I’m talking about the individual who thought buying 150+ advertorials using computer-generated text all in the same month was a good idea. Also, who didn’t talk them out of it? Surely this kind of link building doesn’t happen in isolation – you need to buy *from* someone. Who didn’t check the text? Who didn’t care about the timings? Who the heck allowed this insanity to happen?

There was a lot more than advertorial links going on – there were low quality links as well. There are a lot of links lost recently as well. There are a lot of reasons, including article sites and directories losing their PR and therefore value. Jackie Hole suggests what I think many SEOs agree with – low quality links are likely discounted algorithmically and are not passing any value. I’ve experimented with them to differing effect on different sites for different reasons 🙂

Nichola Stott though has a different spin on things. She, like me, believes that Google is relying more on human ‘grasses’.  She says “Since Panda, each significant update has relied on human feedback (be it quality raters, or industry professed “grassing up” via webmaster tools) which has informed the machine-learning algorithm. So I’d completely support your theory that the crap is devalued, reason being aspects of Panguin helped identify the hallmarks of that crap.”

There have been a lot of conversations on forums, groups and at conferences about Google basically scaring the crap out of webmasters and using FUD to force people into giving up any and all activity they had done for any reason. I think that the scared panic removal of the Interflora blogger links smacks of this panic fear. It also will encourage the “grassing up” Nichola talks about and I think is starting to happen a lot more often.

Nichola feels that, based on her experience at Yahoo that Google is likely on its third phase of working on algorithmically penalising or removing value from links. I feel that as a core part of the algorithm from its early days, the value of links will never be fully reduced and so link building will continue. The key is strategic approaches to link building and going back to the old reasons for it – traffic driving.

As part of my job, I’ve been working on planning and part of planning is stepping back from the scene and understanding the higher level business goals. Link building is to push up rank. Pushing up rank is related to getting more traffic. Getting more traffic is about increasing sales or leads. So stepping back we want more leads or sales so instead of mindlessly building links, build relationships with relevant communities, relevant bloggers and journalists for on-going coverage (with or without a link) and improving the on-site conversions and bringing together all different departments of sales, advertising and marketing and ensuring they are all working together.

Link building will never die and SEO will never die but what needs to get stronger is strategy, thoughtfulness and taking a step backwards to see the big picture. I’ve always said: don’t be a dick – buy links wisely.

How To Better Crowdsource Your Next Post

Crowdsourcing interests me for many reasons, not the least of which is that it’s a great way to get multiple people to promote content (yes, I’m always thinking about that.) Some of my favorite evergreen content pieces have been crowdsourced and I’ve noticed that when I search to see what’s recently been said about specific topics, those pieces still appear at the top of the SERPs.

crowd

With that in mind, I thought I’d ask a few SEOs to fill out a quick survey, with the questions being listed below:

1. What are your thoughts on crowdsourced pieces? Does it make you think that the author is being slack and taking a shortcut by asking everyone else’s opinions, or do you think that it adds more value to what could be a one-sided post?

2. What factors do you take into consideration when deciding which people you’ll ask to contribute?

3. What causes YOU to contribute to a crowdsourced post request?

4. What would cause you to immediately reject the chance to contribute?

5. What’s your favorite crowdsourced post and why?

For my people of interest, I grabbed a quick list of SEO contacts that I trust and took a small random selection of them to email. Since I love crowdsourced pieces (both contributing to and consuming) I thought I’d get a quick overview of how others feel about them. The results were exactly what I was hoping for.

44.4% of respondents love crowdsourced pieces. No one hates them or thinks the author is just being a slack ass (I was honestly worried about that one.) 55.6% think they add value to what would have been a one-sided piece.

What makes a person decide whom to ask: 100% said that they’d ask people who are subject matter experts. Only one person said they’d ask a person just because he or she participated before.

What causes you to accept the offer to participate: 76.9% said that they’d do it if the person asking was nice. Only 15.4% said they’d do it just for the link. 46.2% said they’d accept if the subject matter was interesting, 30.8% said they’d do it if the subject matter was controversial, and 46.2% said they’d do it if the topic had not been covered to death. 23.1% also said they’d do it if they had nothing else to do. (I like those guys. Boredom is a great motivator.)

What would cause you to say no immediately: 58.3% said they’d decline if the person asking “is an idiot.” Good. That’s my main reason for declining. 25% said they’d decline if they didn’t know the person asking, and the same amount said they’d decline if the subject had been covered to death recently. 16.7% said they’d decline if there were either typos in the email and 33.3% said they’d decline if the person addressed them by the wrong name. I’d add my two cents into those two reasons myself.

Favorite crowdsourced posts:

http://www.alessiomadeyski.com/now-thats-what-seos-call-music/ got multiple votes

http://pointblankseo.com/creative-link-building also got multiple votes (I’d add my vote here as well)

http://01100111011001010110010101101011.co.uk/2012/01/the-best-seo-interviews-you-will-read-in-2012/

http://stokedseo.co.uk/2012/12/05/seo-2013/

The interesting bit about the favorites though? Most people didn’t remember one or didn’t have the link to hand. What does that say?    Obviously bias will be a factor and all of those three posts mentioned contained responses from my survey respondents. We may pay closer attention when we’re a part of something, no?

My absolute favorite crowdsourced piece is Rae Hoffman-Dolan’s annual Link Building With The Experts series. As a link builder, it’s awesome to read what everyone has to say each year, as these are serious experts and I am humbled to have been included this past year. As I said, I also added my vote to Jon Cooper’s piece (and I’ve used it in a presentation as well) because it’s massive, it’s fascinating, and it is full of responses from people that I respect the hell out of. Alessio’s music piece was fantastic because it was DIFFERENT, and because I’m obsessed with music. The chance to see what everyone else listens to was quite cool even though Bill Sebald did list “Cherry Pie” by Warrant and I find that almost completely unacceptable. Sean’s interview piece was incredibly well done (like all his stuff) and quirky. Gaz’s post was mentioned for the reason “because of the sheer scale of it.” As you can see, these posts have something in common: they’re different from all the other stuff out there. They include both industry “names” and people who aren’t as well-known (yet.)

So based on this how can you better do crowdsourced posts?

1. Be nice, as people are more likely to respond to you if you’re not an asshole or an idiot.

2. Make your topic interesting/controversial/not-totally-overdone.

3. If you’ve never interacted with someone, don’t expect them to immediately rush to participate. I’m not saying that you should only ask your friends of course, but generally speaking, if your first interaction is “hey can you do something for me?” it’s not going to go well.

4. Make sure you’re addressing the correct recipient or you could do what I did, which is lump them all into “People of Interest” which, thank God, didn’t seem to offend anyone. Check for typos. I might answer some questions for a post about the best rarebit but not about the best rabbit. Well…I might answer that one too actually. It’s Blazer Taco, MY rabbit.

Blazer Taco, rabbit of destruction

5. Time it so that you’re asking people when there’s not a lot going on. For example, if Google has just unleashed another crippling algorithmic update and people are crying online, don’t send them an email asking if they want to answer 10 questions about their favorite Moz post from last year. Actually don’t ever write a post asking that question.

Thanks to everyone who contributed. I’m not sure who you all are as I can’t see who responds, but thanks.

 

 

 

 

Why Google+ Fails to Blow my Skirt up

Of late it seems I can barely go a day without bad mouthing Google+

Not only does G+ fail to blow my skirt up, furthermore I rather enjoy poking fun at it and on occasion* being out and out nasty about it.

*These ‘occasions’ are actually pretty frequent.

Want to know what my problem is?

Hold on to your skirts hats 🙂

 

Google are making you their bitch.

Google are using a pretty common marketing tactic – engaging with influencers in order to gain traction.

Continue reading “Why Google+ Fails to Blow my Skirt up”

Yes Virginia, There Is Negative SEO

I would dearly love to believe that so-called ‘negative SEO’ was not possible in this day and age of human editors, link checkers and auditors. Given my recent experience with a museum who were manually penalised, I can say ‘Negative SEO’ is alive, well and easily executed.

 

From thisseolife:

Proving Negative SEO Works Is Like

 

It all started when a museum launched a longer-than-average exhibition. They gave this exhibition its own domain and featured blogs from the curators. This was a significant enterprise for them and they worked quite hard on promoting it. My company gave them some support so we had a relationship with them and started helping ensure they could be found but we were not engaged to do SEO at this point or any sort of search support work. Everything was going along well until one day they were hacked.

 

The hack wasn’t too sophisticated so it was immediately visible that it had happened and they were able to flag it with their IT department. As these things go it was dealt with moderately quickly but the hack was up for awhile. Once resolved we went back to business as usual for them. Lurking in the background, unbeknownst to them or us, was a ticking time bomb.

 

Eventually we were contacted by them in a panic as they didn’t know what to do. They had dropped out of the rankings completely for their key terms (a phrase they invented). Upon examination we found they had dropped for their own brand term, their key terms and once we got Webmaster Tools access we found they had dropped for almost every key term and there was a message. They had received the dreaded “un-natural links” warning email. Disaster, but why?

 

Looking back over what they had done we could find nothing they have actively done which would explain the problem. They were a museum engaging in only the normal PR work – so what had caused the problem? Well, a few brilliant minds came together and one spotted it – the spammy links causing the manual penalty. Apparently once the hack happened, it caused a bunch of pharma links to be pointed at the museum site.

 

The weird thing was, those pharma links were irrelevant and should have been passing no value at all. So why did the museum, who were not selling anything like those links indicated, get a *manual* link penalty? The links were irrelevant and the anchor text was irrelevant so the links should have been passing no value.

What we have is an excellent example of how ‘Negative SEO’ works.

 

Manual checkers aren’t using common sense to check the sites it seems. How a museum could have been mistaken for a site benefiting from pharma links is unknown to me but it did clearly demonstrate ‘Negative SEO’ was still possible.

 

It only worked for a short time – eventually Google saw the lack of wisdom in the decision and when we contacted them they removed the manual penalty. This seems to me to be a really effective seasonal ping – throw the spammy links at a site just before a major shopping holiday, rake it in as your competition disappears and voila, you’ve won.

 

What should you do if you think you’ve been hit? Firstly check Webmaster Tools. We got a note, you’re likely to as well if you got a penalty. Next, check your back links. You can check Majestic SEO on your own site, Google Webmaster Tools, SEOmoz, and a number of other tools. Look at the anchor text of your back links – this is super easy in SEOmoz, Majestic SEO and a few others. Look to see if there is anything untoward or suspect. You should *never* have more keyword links than brand links and your keyword links should be on the theme of your site. If there are spikes on the Majestic SEO graphs around the time just before you got your penalty it could be due to volume of acquisition and in that case you might not have gotten an alert. We didn’t when we accidentally tripped a volume flag. Just dig using free or paid tools and see what is going on.

 

Once you find the errant links, if they are irrelevant as these were, use a WHOIS lookup and use the email contact to request that the links be removed. If it like it did for us, they will all bounce or be ignored. Once done, use that spreadsheeted list of the bad URLs and include them in your reconsideration request, stating that not only did you clearly not build them but they were contacted to ask for removed and emails bounced or went unanswered. It, of course, helps to be able to email a Google engineer but hardly anyone can. The above should work without extraordinary intervention.

 

Negative SEO is still possible, poisonous links do still exist and you can still harm an irrelevant site with bad links despite attempts to do so not always succeeding.

Predatory Thinking for SEOs

I was fortunate enough to attend BrightonSEO a couple of weeks ago – big love to Kelvin and the team for organising another fantastic event. For me the stand out presentation of the day came from Dave Trott on Predatory Thinking.

Don't panic, this is not Dave Trott.

Dave Trott is the Executive Creative Director for CSTTG. He trained on Madison Avenue at the end of the Mad Men era, when the three-martini lunch and golf course advertising was for dinosaurs, and the creative revolution was just starting. After 4 years, to avoid getting drafted for Vietnam, Dave came back to London. Some of the advertising he worked on included: Ernie the Milkman for Unigate; Aristonandonandonandon (quoted in a speech by Margaret Thatcher); Red Rock Cider with Leslie Nielsen; the Holsten Pils campaign featuring Griff Rhys Jones and dead Hollywood film stars; and a controversial multi-media campaign, made entirely for free, that helped get the Third World Debt discussed by the world s governments.

There are a whole bunch of round ups you can read for further info on Dave’s talk and the conference in general, but I wanted to focus this post purely on predatory thinking, and what that might look like for SEOs.

Continue reading “Predatory Thinking for SEOs”