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Resurrecting Dead Backlinks

I came across a great post today from JR Cooper on the SEOMoz site in which he was discussing how to use backlink checkers to find broken links and how to use these to obtain new links. First off he recommended a great new Chrome extension called "Check My Links."

dead link grave

I have just installed the extension myself so I cannot comment directly on it. But the great things JR Cooper reports about it sound very compelling.

"Pretty much, it’s the greatest link building browser extension I’ve ever used. First of all, it’s extremely fast. Like almost too fast. It usually checks half the page in under 10 seconds. It also finds the links that are quickest to check, saving the links with long load times for last (I still don’t know how they do this). Best of all, I can check multiple pages at once, which saves some serious time because I usually find 50 pages at a time to check. As a bonus, it even tells you what kind of page error the broken link got (i.e. 404, 500, etc.)."

The description from the Chrome Web Store:

"Check My Links" is an extension developed primarily for web designers, developers and content editors (and SEOs).>When you’re editing a web page that has lots of links, wouldn’t it be handy to be able to quickly check that all the links on the page are working ok? That’s where &Check My Links" comes in. "Check My Links" quickly finds all the links on a web page, and checks each one for you. It highlights which ones are valid and which ones are broken, simple as that. HTTP response codes and full URLs of broken links are published in the Console log.

As most of us in the SEO industry are finding, it is becoming increasingly difficult to build links to your client’s websites. Tactics that were once widely utilized are no completely ineffective. At the risk of repeating myself again and again; the Panda algorithm has effectively changed everything about how links are obtained. For instance, subsequent updates have rendered posting to forums virtually ineffective for these purposes.

Cooper goes on to detail how this extension can be used for dead link building. The first tactic he describes is Direct Find and Replace. This is where you generate a list of broken links from blogrolls and link pages. You then contact the webmasters of the sites and ask to replace one of the dead links with a link back to your site.

The next method he describes is Content Replacement. He suggests looking at the actual pages that are broken and using the Internet Archive’s "Way Back Machine" to find the original content that was being linked to and then to recreate the content on your own site. You can then contact the webmaster to update their links to the new (and improved) content. Subsequently, you can then use free tools such as Open Site Explorer or Yahoo Site Explorer to discover other sites that were linking to the original content as well and ask if they would like to link to the new and improved content as well.

The last technique he describes is Broken Blogger Blogs where you use the tools to find broken links on blogrolls that point to subdomains on and then looking to see if he can register the blog himself. If so, then he puts up a static page with a desired keyword linking back to the new blog location. Not only does this give you the anchor text of your choice, but it gives a link with a higher amount of link juice (depending on how many outbound links are pointing to that page). He does state that this is a fairly "greyhat" tactic and has requested reader feedback on the ethics of such a tactic.

To recap; the Panda updates are forcing all users to generate better content. It is a bold effort by Google to reduce the amounts of web-spam that have inundated the SERPs for far too long. As an end-user you should love Google for their efforts; as an SEO it means that the whole game has changed and that we have to continue to evolve with the changes to remain effective in our industry.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:53 am on October 19, 2011


What word to use for anchor text?

As a well connected SEO I digest a lot of publications from the web and I try to limit my opinion to factual results either from real world feedback or by controlled tests. Google is constantly evolving and improving itself to render the best search results possible, or at least better search results than the competition.

Considering where Google was with regards to just hardware in 1999, things certainly keep changing:

Evolution of Google - First server

On Monday SEO Moz published a small test they did to gauge the importance of keywords in the anchor text of links. The test is discussed in detail over on SEO Moz but the result was rather straight forward.

In a nutshell they took 3 new sites, randomly equivalent, and tried to build some controlled links to the sites using three different approaches:

  1. Build links with just ‘click here’ text
  2. Build links with the same main keyword phrase
  3. Build links with random components of the main keyword phrase

Obviously the test is a bit broken, because if you don’t have existing keyword relevance for a phrase, you should build relevance with keywords in the anchors. When Google is sorting out who will be ranked #1 for a site dealing with candies, the site linked to with relevant keywords should always rank higher than a site with links like “click here” or “this site” which aren’t relevant. The only exception would be in a situation where the links seem excessive or ‘spammy’ and may result in Google not considering any of the similar links for relevance.

Outside of a clean test environment we know the best results would be a blend of all three types, with a bit of brand linking mixed in to avoid losing focus on brand keywords. A well established site with a healthy user base will constantly be establishing brand due to all the time on site and click-through traffic for that brand.

ie. If I search for “Sears” and click on the first link only to find it’s a competitor, I’d hit back and find the right link to click. In most cases Google’s watching/learning from the process, so brand links aren’t going to be a necessity after a site is quite popular, and the % of brand links wouldn’t need to be much at all.

Kudos to SEOMoz for publishing some of their SEO test info regardless of how experimental it was. We’re constantly putting Google’s updates to the test and it’s often very hard to publish the results in such a clinical fashion for all to see. We will always make an attempt to blog on the topics we’re testing but it’s still on the to-do list to publish more of the data.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:56 am on October 11, 2011


Early October SEO Shakeups at Google

New panda updates that target tag clouds and forum links? New paid adwords seems to be diminishing the quality of the free service? Landing page quality score improvements to be had with latest AdWords updates? What’s not changed over at Google this month?

Seeking change

Tag Clouds and Forum Links?

For some time now it’s been easy to add tag clouds to blogs and websites, most of them are even dynamically built so they reflect the ongoing topics of your pages, and the really clever ones make each keyword a link.

The result of all that effort leaves a typical tag cloud looks something like this:

.. and that’s a LOT of keywords + links for a crawler to ignore! Word from some of the worst hit sites seems to place a common factor on keyword clouds as the likely component that is now the target of this most recent Panda update over at Google. We’re a really aggressive source of content with a high level of trust, so I doubt one instance of using a tag cloud will tank our blog, but I did debate making the above example an image only.

Forum Links are Worth-Less?

One site that’s been taking a beating from Panda over and over again (eh! rocko!) is DaniWeb. They have been acting as a lightning rod during the storm of over 500 changes Google’s made this year alone to ranking algorithms. In a recent video post from the CEO and Founder of DaniWeb on WebProNews the topic of diminished return of value from forum posts begs for testing:
(Video removed – no longer available)

New AdWords Pro and Language improvements?

This is a topic we can’t just lump into a big multi-post and we know needs in-depth discussion. Many SEOs are discussing how the professional offerings from AdWords coincide with ‘improvements’ to the free service that have actually been viewed as setbacks by the users.

Right now we’re still working with the free version that all our clients are using, but I’d bet we’ll give the pro-service a trial by the years end and will have some input on how valuable we think the upgrade is. I doubt we’ll extract enough value to cover the monthly fees Google is currently asking for, but we would have to try it and see to be sure.

The recently improved AdWords language support means that targeted ads are improving the quality score of landing pages. This could be a bit of a change depending on where your competition is based. If you are a local US market you probably won’t see much if any competition change, but if you’re an international your customers for other countries could be looking at a fresh set of SERPs. As a result, SEOs, and people watching their stats closely would do well to note this factor.

Expect to hear more about these changes, and really any changes that effect SEO in a way that matters. It’s one thing to mention things as they happen it’s another situation entirely to have tested these things first hand and have intimate experience to share. Soon!

SEO news blog post by @ 12:41 pm on October 4, 2011


Google purchases Zagat – Answer to Yelp?

I will admit it, I have a very ‘frugal’ attitude towards information and the internet. So when Google bought Zagat it was the first I’d heard of the long running rating service.

Google takes over Zagat

For those who are web-frugal like me, it may come as a surprise that this paid food review service has managed to go from a printed format to on-line. Most attempts along those lines die quickly when it becomes obvious there’s a niche for the information. However Zagat’s originators were very clever in how they have gone digital and it’s worked very well indeed:

A paid member of Zagat gets a selection of discounts and promotions which quickly pay for the perks that come with paying $25 a year. Free members have to include payment details which helps to force genuine/honest sign-ups for the most part. This keeps the information useful, while still providing enough access to retain the casual user who might never pay, but is likely to contribute.

With any luck Google will quickly merge this product into their services, allow you to login with your Google profile, and eventually apply all these great search features to the entire database of eateries.

Food search on Google

As much as I like to ‘skim’ the net for free, without coughing up any info or details, I decided to try out Zagat’s 7 day offer.

The 1st Challenge:

A hamburger in downtown Victoria BC should be an easy challenge for a city packed with pubs?

Apparently not, since the only result was an “Eclectic / Int’l, Vegetarian” with an impressive almond burger. I’ve had non-meat hamburgers, but ‘Vegetarian’ is not what I was looking for and certainly the last place I’d suggest given my years living here.

The 2nd Challenge:

Pretending I was the average homesick traveller with no idea of the city’s offerings I decided to search for some ‘American’ cuisine.

Thinking of all the steak houses, and US brands operating in the city core, I was sure I’d get a good list to pick from, yet Zagat disappointed me again. This time they suggested a ‘Barbecue, Creole’ dive outside of the city core which is famous for it’s unpretentious ‘here’s sum meat’ approach to dinning. If I had typed in ‘budget BBQ’ that is the only way I would have anticipated such a result.

The 3rd Challenge:

I’d tried something specific, I’d tried an entire country, lets just see what they can list?

Well at first I felt I’d hit the jackpot, look at all the results! Then I started clicking on the places Zagat was suggesting and they were all over in Vancouver, an entirely different city, not even located on the same landmass as my city and currently selected location?

So that’s when I started to see the problem, tried a blank search for “Victoria, Canada” with a radius of 15 miles, and the result was only 29 restaurants..
At that point I started fiddling with the sliders/filters:Zagat filter settings.

  • Food
  • Decor
  • Service
  • Cost
  • Distance
  • % liked
  • Relevance
  • Reviews
  • etc..

This is what I want!
Give us tools for doing specific searches!

I need these tools for more than just food, and now I can see another reason (beyond challenging Yelp!) why Google bought Zagat.

Sure my local city needs more reviews to help things along, but that’s not Google or Zagat’s fault, we just need to start discussing something we do every single day.

I know that personally I will give this service a few reviews, once I find a place to have lunch. ;)

SEO news blog post by @ 11:39 am on September 8, 2011


Google Changes Classification of Subdomains

Google announced on August 31st, that they would be implementing a fundamental change to the way that Google categorizes link data in Webmaster Tools.


Google’s Webmaster Tools lists links coming to your site into two separate categories internal and external. Google stated that: "Today’s update won’t change your total number of links, but will hopefully present your backlinks in a way that more closely aligns with your idea of which links are actually from your site vs. from other sites"

Prior to this change, subdomains were treated as a separate entity and any links from it would be considered as an external link by Google. As of the announcement, these will now be treated as internal links; the reasoning being that they reside within the parent domain.

Google rationalized that most users treat www and non-www domains (www.example .com & as the same thing and that many people that own a domain typical own the subdomains as well. "…so links from or will also be categorized as internal links for".

"If you own a site that’s on a subdomain (such as or in a subfolder ( and don’t own the root domain, you’ll still only see links from URLs starting with that subdomain or subfolder in your internal links, and all others will be categorized as external links. We’ve made a few backend changes so that these numbers should be even more accurate for you."


Google did however give the caveat that if you own a or site, that the number of external links may appear to go down as the reclassification of the urls that were once external will now be internal, but that the total number of links (internal + external) will be remain the same.

The biggest questions that arise from these changes are: Can we speculate that Google will be changing the way they treat links from subdomains in their link algorithm? Most importantly, will fewer subdomains be listed in the SERPs as individual results?

You can read the ongoing discussion in the Webmaster World forum and the see the official Google blog release called Reorganizing Internal vs. External Backlinks

SEO news blog post by @ 9:23 am on September 6, 2011


Google+ Free For All

If you’ve been able to get on-line with all the outages this morning (EAST-1 was down for a bit) then you may have seen a number of links showing up for ‘free invites’ to Google+.

Free for all tomato fight

I know we did an article about the rumor that Google+ was going to accept new sign-ons without invitations on July 31st, but this came from the ‘official Facebook group’ which was a rather poor source. To my knowledge, the rumour never panned out and we still have an invite only system in place where Google can track how each person is related to the next. It’s not hard to get into Google+, it’s only difficult to do it anonymously.

Almost all the links are valid, point to a “ngemlink” path, and seem to work, even though the final section appears to be totally random:

Random invite example #1
Random invite example #2
Random invite example #3

This would mean that advertisers, groups, and other technically ‘unwanted’ new users should be hitting the system for the first time without a legitimate connection to the accounts that are letting them join? If that’s the case, where’s the response? The only thing I found related to spamming on Google threads today was this little thank you picture:

Google Voice anti-spam

Perhaps I am in a quite circle of the web and I haven’t got the exposure to such things, but my Google+ profile has been entirely spam free. Indeed, the worst offender for spamming are associates in the SEO business that like to push out a few posts per day due to the wide range of stuff they tackle. Most of that content is related to topics that I’m interested in both professionally and personally, so it’s not really spam per se, just an excess of content that dwarfs the smaller feeds.

It’s quiet, almost too quiet..

SEO news blog post by @ 11:43 am on August 9, 2011


Survive Post-Panda By Writing Awesome Content

Before the Panda Algorithm update from Google, using articles was part of an effective SEO strategy and was commonplace. Articles were submitted to syndication sites that would link back to the website specified in the article’s bio at the end of the article.

After the Panda update, major article sites such as Ezinearticles and eHow suffered huge losses in rankings and traffic. As a result SEOs have had to ask themselves whether or not article marketing should still be part of their overall link building strategy.

The quality and strength of links back to the client site was hotly debated for some time. Indicators showed that the link equity that articles provided were only of limited value. The links acted more like a pointers and helped with the discovery of your site. The real benefit came to the article site that accumulated trust, authority and PageRank due to the articles it published. Very little link juice flowed back to the client.

If you wanted to distribute your articles to more than one site, it would be treated as duplicate content. The real value from Ezinearticles was finding people who were interested in taking your content and publishing it in exchange for a link, then tracking the competition in the space to see what other link building sources/methods they were using.

Post Panda, articles are still somewhat useful, but the standards have changed. The Panda update is focused on bringing quality back to the web. AS a result of diminished rankings and penalties from Google, articles sites and the web in general have and to raise the status quo for content on their websites and articles alike.

It is also no longer worthwhile to anyone to mass distribute articles through a large syndication network. Websites are now more severally penalized for having duplicate content.

Article syndication is still a viable means of link building but is even more limited post-panda but it has resulted in a fundamental paradigm shift. The focus is now is on quality; not quantity.

Articles should only be published to 3-5 of the best ranking syndication sites. You should not publish more than 15-20 articles per year. The ROI just does not add up for the amount of effort put in to this tactic.

The most important thing to learn from the Panda update is to diversify your link building strategies with several methodologies and tactics. The sites that suffered the most from Panda update were those that put all their eggs into one basket. Produce high quality content and the visitors and rankings will follow.

Points to remember are:

  • Article Marketing is still a viable marketing strategy…just much less important that it was pre-Panda.
  • Raise the quality of your published content (in articles and onsite).
  • Submit to no more than 3-5 articles directories and only submit about 15-20 articles per year.
  • Link to your articles from your website and other sources
  • Don’t think of the tactic as link building, but an arrow leading back to where the quality content can be found.

SEO news blog post by @ 7:01 pm on May 25, 2011


The New +1 Button from Google

No…this is not a nerdy Dungeons & Dragons reference. Google announced on Wednesday that they are introducing a new feature called "+1 Button." This new feature from Google is still in the experimental phase, but it is most definitely going to have an impact on SEO and rankings. So far this new feature has only been release in English searches in the USA and Canada.

Google +1

Use +1 to give something your public stamp of approval, so friends, contacts, and others can find the best stuff when they search. Get recommendations for the things that interest you, right when you want them, in your search results.

Your +1′s are public. They can appear in Google search results, on ads, and sites across the web. You’ll always be able to see your own +1′s in a new tab on your Google Profile, and if you want, you can share this tab with the world.

Google states clearly that:

The +1 button is shorthand for "this is pretty cool" or "you should check this out."

Click +1 to publicly give something your stamp of approval. Your +1′s can help friends, contacts, and others on the web find the best stuff when they search.

Google is being very clear that this will have a significant impact on sites and will be part of the new Google Social Ranking signals. It seems that this is another step in reducing the emphasis on links as a ranking signal as well.

It is well documented that social signals are already a determining factor in determining rank. Facebook "shares", for instance have long been established as having a significant impact on rank.

This is another move towards the "Social Web" by Google. Inbound marketing is definitely the future for all SEO efforts and will soon be one of the few ways to garner truly organic traffic to your site. It is increasingly necessary to engage users across as many social mediums as possible.

From an SEO standpoint, some people feel that the new social metrics will be easy to game. However, I would have to disagree. Google collects a lot of information on users in order to determine that profiles are in fact tied to real people and are authentic. Taking a look at your Google Dashboard will give you a good indication of some of the main factors that Google uses to determine if you are “rea” [erson with authority. Some of the factors Google will look at are: Gmail account, Analytics, Blogger, Buzz, Calendar, Contacts, Google Docs, Picassa, Reader, and perhaps most importantly: Social Circle and Content.

Both Bing and Google have been very clear that links shared through Twitter and Facebook have a direct impact on rankings and as SEOs we need to make this major part of our SEO strategies.

Google is already working on implementing a +1 feedback button for you to embed on your website. This will be similar to the Facebook "Like" button, or the Twitter "Tweet" button, or an upvote. Once you enable +1 you’re also opted in to show this information on 3rd party sites in exactly the same was as Facebook buttons.

I think the biggest concern that arises from the implementation of this new feature, is what about sites that are not necessarily “cool” or “popular,” but are more useful in nature. We can only hope and assume that the more traditional ranking signals will still hold water for these sites.

SEO news blog post by @ 6:35 pm on March 31, 2011


BOTW Promo Code

BOTW is offering up a promo code thorough the month of February that gives those who submit to their directory 20% off. The promo code is valid for Web, Blog and UK Directory submissions.

For those of you who don’t know – BOTW (Bet Of The Web) is one of the oldest directories on the web and respected by Google. They will say no if your site doesn’t meet their guidelines which gives their say a boost in the eyes of Google. it’s not a paid link – it’s a human edited vote. Not much better than that. :)

If you are going to take advantage of the promo code deal I recommend going for the permanent listing. It’s twice the price ($236 after discount) however it lasts forever as opposed to $119.20 (after discount) which only covers a year.

To take advantage of the offer you’ll need to head over to and enter the promo code: FEB20

You can thank me later. :)

SEO news blog post by @ 5:45 pm on February 1, 2011



20% Off BOTW Submissions

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  Best Of The Web (BOTW) is having a 20% off directory submissions sale.

For our regular blog readers – you’ll know that rarely do we tout the wares of others.  I don’t make recommendations lightly and I rarely stick my neck out on the offerings of others.  You’ll also know that every time BOTW offers a discount – I’m one of the first to blog about it and one of strongest proponents of signing up.

Since DMOZ basically died, BOTW has become my favorite directory.  Yahoo! is obviously a good one but pricey.  For the same price (or 20% less right now) you can get a permanent listing on BOTW as an annual listing on Yahoo!  If you only want to commit to a year – you can get an annual listing on BOTW for less than half the price of Yahoo!

So my recommendation to you is to get yourself a listing on BOTW – but only if you have a good site.  They will decline you if you don’t.  If you do however you can get a good trusted vote/link with BOTW.

The promo code to use is: SAVE20

Alright, I think you know my opinion now. :)  Good luck and happy ranking. :)

SEO news blog post by @ 5:26 pm on October 5, 2010



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