Archive for the ‘Search Engine Rankings’ category

Removing Bad Backlinks – New Year Resolution #1

January 7th, 2013
Backlinks2

Removing Bad Backlinks - Do It!

One of the most important website ranking factors is the number of backlinks you have.  A backlink is simply a link on another website to your website. In the past it seemed that he who had the most backlinks had the best rankings.  So, many questionable search engine optimization tactics included getting the most links you could – even if those links were basically spam.  This tactic seemed to work well for quite a while.  Then along came Google’s Penguin Update, which seeks to find spam and penalize those websites that rely upon it.  If you have questionable backlinks and have seemed to somehow skate by this update, consider yourself lucky – but beware.

A Case Study On Just What Might Happen If You Don’t Consider Removing Bad Backlinks

I had a client who was ranking very nicely for a well-searched keyword as a result of the services of their previous SEO company. They came to me because they also wanted to be found locally.  After reviewing their website, I was surprised that they were ranking so high as their site was not well optimized.  So I dug further and looked at their backlinks.  There lied the answer.  They had a tremendous number of backlinks, but 98% of them were spam.  Bad SEO practices were working.  I advised them that their backlinks were questionable at best and could pose problems in the future.  They decided, against my advice, to ride it out, not wanting to take the risk of a drop in rankings if the number of their backlinks dropped. So, I simply went ahead and optimized their site for the local markets, for which they also ended up having high rankings.

Those wonderful rankings lasted for 3 months!  In June, the Penguin Update caught up with them.  The client’s rankings tanked.  Nothing on their website changed.  No real new backlinks had been created.  No new competitor sites were launched.  I suggested that the decrease in rankings was Penguin related.  So, they retained me to get those backlinks removed.

How To Remove Backlinks

Unfortunately, there is no real quick fix. It is actually a very time consuming process, but one is this definitely necessary.  I started with a thorough backlink audit, identifying the good and bad links using a backlink check tool such as SEOMoz Open Site Explorer and good old hand done research.  I then went to each bad backlink website and manually requested that each of those bad backlinks be removed – either through contact boxes or direct email.  Unfortunately this is not as easy as you may think.  Some sites did not have contact information, so I had to do domain ownership searches.  I used a site called Domaintools.com.  To try and save time and money, I had the client reach out to their original SEO company for all of the contact information; however, the company insisted that they did nothing wrong and would not provide anything.  So I continued on.  When I finished I compiled an Excel spreadsheet highlighting the website address and date of my removal request.  I then used this information to file a reconsideration request with Google outlining all of my removal requests and any problems I had encountered.

The Benefit of Spending Time Removing Bad Backlinks

Wouldn’t you know it, within a single month the client’s rankings rose again – actually they were even better than they were before.  If you haven’t been hit by Penguin, lucky you.  If you are experiencing a drop in rankings, you may want to look into those backlinks.

Page Load Time and SEO? Yes, they are connected, so you better check your site speed.

May 13th, 2011

A slow page load time doesn’t just cause visitors to hit the back button, it can also affect your rankings.


Google announced it was including site speed in its ranking algorithms as far back as last year. At that time, Matt Cutts at Google clarified that it is only one of 200 factors that the search engine considers and that it doesn’t weigh as much as relevance, reputation, etc. But it still carries weight—and could possibly be a determining factor when sites are close in some of the more important factors.

One year later, some Google actions confirm the significance of page load time


A few weeks ago Google introduced Page Speed Online, a performance analysis tool, which gives developers suggestions on how to decrease load time. This week the search engine giant unveiled a new Page Speed Online API that allows developers to integrate this performance analysis into other tools and dashboards.

Page speed matters for conversions and web visibility. Is your site fast enough?

How to check your page load time


Google’s Webmaster Tools is one way to take a look at your load time—over time. Click on the Diagnostics tab, then Crawl Stats to view a chart that highlights your high, low and average load times over a few months time period. For real time load time, check out Web Page Test.

How to reduce your page load time


Page Speed Online and Web Page Test, which are both FREE, can provide some eye opening information in terms of time and how you can shave it off – but you will probably need your web developer to explain the recommendations and make the changes. Although, Web Page Test gives a grade, so even non-techies can see where the problems lie. So do the tests and talk to your web developer about what they reveal.

Here are some general things you can do to increase your page speed:

1. GZIP Compression. See if your site’s host uses this form of compression, which can really speed up your load time.
2. Reduce the size of your images. But make sure you use a graphics program such as Photoshop or Smush.it to do so.
3. Cache your pages. This avoids the need for the browser to dynamically generate your page every time. Some content management systems, such as Joomla and WordPress, allow you to do this.
4. Limit your use of 301 redirects. And don’t pile them.
5. Combining CSS / Java Scripts. Load them in external files rather than putting them on every page so that the browser only has to load them one time instead every time someone visits each page.
6. Try a Content Delivery Network.

Different Search Results On Different Computers

February 26th, 2010

If you are like our clients, you are always checking out your rankings on Google. Somewhere along the way, you may have noticed that your rankings are different on different computers. Unfortunately, a typically great feature of Google may be letting you think your rankings are much higher than they actually are.

Why are rankings different on different computers?

Every computer that is connected to the Internet is assigned a unique number called an Internet protocol (IP) address. Google uses this IP address to provide you with the most relevant results possible through its Personalized Search. This feature enables Google to customize search results based on the last 180 days of your search activity, i.e. the searches you have done, results you have clicked, and URLs you have typed into the address bar. Google may also use information about your location to customize your search. All of this affects what websites you will see on your search results pages and their order. So if you frequently visit your website on the same computer, the ranking you see may be drastically different from your actual ranking.

There are ways, however, that you can opt out of personalized search to find your true ranking:

1. To do so through Google itself, visit http://www.google.com/support/accounts/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=54048 for step-by-step directions.
2. Turn on Private Browsing in your browser.
3. Remove any Google cookies from your computer.
4. Disable personalized search in Firefox and Internet Explorer with this plug-in from yoast.com: http://yoast.com/tools/seo/disable-personalized-search-plugin
5. Use Google Chrome’s incognito browsing mode: http://www.google.com/support/chrome/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=95464

So while it is imperative that you stay on top of your current search engine rankings, you must avoid personalized search while doing so or you will end up seeing different rankings on different computers and that will not provide useful insight for your SEO campaign.