Downtimes and SEO

August 25th, 2007
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One of the most debated questions in the world of Search Engine Optimization, as well as one that is in the most frequently asked list, “What happens to the SEO of my website if I have downtime?”

Firstly let us understand the agenda of Search Engines and the way they work, now Search Engines like Yahoo and Google are supposed to be having search results which people can visit, which people can go on to gather information they need and results which are over everything, useful for their visitors.

points of sale Logo Quiz answers chain of cosmetics Amazon Coupons makeup, skincare consumers

So it is only natural for Search Engine to remove the pages of a website from its index if Downtimes occur, since the search engines do not want people searching for something and ending up at a website that doesn’t even work. However, there has to be a severity of a downtime for the Search Engine to actually take the plunge and remove the web page from its index.

Sometimes this can take months, and the other times it might take a few days. It all depends on a few factors:

– Past downtime history of the website
If a website is known to have downtimes and coming back up, the Search Engines will not remove their pages from the index, but the website and its pages will also not be able to rank high in the SERPs.

– Time of downtime
Search Engines regularly check for the existence of pages, and if after an x amount of times,  the Search Engine cannot reach the page., it demotes the page from its ranking in the Search Engine, if even then after a further x amount of times the Search Engine cannot find the page, it will remove the page from its index. If its just put down in rankings, its rather easy to get back up with some updates, however if the page has been removed, it could get back in natural course if its back up and running for a decent amount of time.
– Domain Registration
If a website went down because its registration expired. Search Engines will most likely delete all traces of the website from the SERPs in a week or two at most after the website going down. Once this has happened, the website will have to work all its way back into the search engine all over again.

Not a lot to worry about as far as SEO is concerned, but still this is something you should watch out for, downtimes never *ruin* your SEO contrary to popular beliefs. But they could still harm it temporarily, so try not to have downtimes, thats the only advice I can give on this matter.

What is Negative SEO?

August 25th, 2007

Competition is everywhere, you can sense it around you when you’re in something that has even one bit of competition. There is always a vibe or two coming from somewhere that tells you that you will face people wanting to take over your business and replacing it with theirs. Its inevitable, competition will always exist.

Search Engine Optimization is something that is no exception. There is a lot of competition in SEO as well, whether you’re providing it as a service, or doing it for your own website, you will always get people trying to get better than you. Competition is appreciated in most circles and is mostly welcomed. But in SEO, this might not be the case.

In this field of the Internet, which is the optimization of websites on the Internet, comes out a negative aspect of competition. Competition which is supposed to be healthy, and that is, Negative SEO. It could be defined as deceptive practices in SEO to make another person’s website(s) perform bad in Search Engines, how are these practices taken about? Lets check out:

– Incoming Links: Search Engines pay heed to what kind of websites link to you, and sometimes, people “GoogleBowl” their competition with practices that involve linking from shady/illegal websites. The good part is that Search Engines don’t ban websites over such links anymore, but there is also bad news, with Google’s new paid link detection methods coming up, Googlebowlers may just find a new way to destroy competition.

– Outgoing links: Forums, blog comments, discussion groups. All of these places are supposed to have activity from people, but sometimes Negative Optimizers might use these places to link to websites that are considered unsafe/illegal/banned by Search Engines. As a result of which your website might be straight out banned from the SE’s. Solution? Nofollow all outgoing links by default (guide coming up soon)

– Script Hijacking: Sometimes people might exploit the scripts used by their competitor’s websites and do things that violate Search Engine policies (such as keyword spamming) and then get the website banned. Highly unlikely if you’re a webmaster who keeps a watch and maintains security.

– Links Explosion: Somewhat of a sister to Googlebowling, this is a method used by people with a large number of websites under their control (Typically 200+). What happens is, when a website gets a lot of links with the same anchor texts etc. from many many websites (200+) they get sandboxed in Google. There is really no way to avoid this, but to much relief this is a rare occurence.

– Accusations: If you have any ads on your websites except adsense. There is a chance of your competitors reporting you to Google for serving them with spyware and adware. I know this because it happened to a website of one of my colleagues, he had Clicksor’s Interstitial ads. Now if you look up his website in Google, they don’t appear right at the top of keyphrases and Google actually shows a warning that the website might be dangerous.

So this all that is basically to Negative SEO, attempts in getting the competitor’s website kicked out of the Search Engines’ index, getting them low in SERPs, getting them blacklisted, it all counts as Negative SEO. Although Search Engines try a lot that people aren’t influenced by this black face of SEO, one must also be cautious and keep a watch, its only then websites could be protected from the effects of Negative SEO.

Blackhat widely in use by SEO’s!

August 24th, 2007

Whenever you go on a website that has to do with SEO, or some place where people talk about SEO, or if you even buy an ebook about SEO, what you see almost all the time is that people tell you that White Hat SEO is the way to go and you must always use White Hat SEO for your websites, people also say that Black Hat SEO is not worth the effort because its use will ultimately get you banned.

This notion could be rested upon a simple logic of the ethical and unethical, White Hat SEO is purely ethical Search Engine Optimization, and Black Hat SEO is like using cheat codes in a video game, in other words unethical SEO, but the difference between using a cheat code in a video game and using Black Hat SEO for your website is that when you use the cheat codes, there’s no real harm done, you just enhance your gaming experience sitting in front of your computer.

But when one uses Black Hat SEO for their websites, it results in simple, straight forward, yours truly, Bans. Bans from the search engines who think being unethical is simply not the way to go, as common sense states. However, through my personal research I have found out that Black Hat SEO is reigning supreme amongst start-up SEO’s and novice SEO’s, even more commercially than personally.

What happened was that I was reviewing a friend’s new website he said he had got optimized for best Search Engine performance by a local SEO, I checked into the source code etc. and much to my surprise I found keywords stuffed in the bottom of each web page in background color font. There were also many more trails of a Black Hat on the website, which I removed off my friend’s website upon telling him that it was ethical.

This was not the first case I saw of Black Hat, but a lot of self proclaimed novice SEOs today are using Black Hat to give their clients the results they want on Search Engines, most of these people work this way, they promise their clients a certain spot on some keyphrases/keywords. With Black Hat SEO, they obtain 50% of the keywords, which is mentioned in their clause as the minimum required results to be paid. These SEO’s then get paid and get out of the scene.

Some time later, the clients’ website gets banned. Much to the dismay of the client, but the SEO can not be technically accused of anything as he did give the rank he promised. Even though it was through deceptive practices. This brings me to the next point, why don’t SEO’s choose the white hat way? Especially the novice ones? Well there are certain reasons –

– White Hat SEO is hard to learn
– White Hat SEO requires lots of practice
– Building links with White Hat is a tough job
– White Hat is a slow process
– White Hat SEO requires more time and money

So basically we can see that in an effort to earn a lot of money quickly, novice SEO’s shove Black Hat down the throats of their clients and their websites. A website might even get permanently banned due to these practices. Most Black Hat SEOs are smart and will not let you know whats going on, you might even get the impression that they are performing their task honestly. But the truth might be otherwise, therefore here is what you should do when you’re getting your website optimized for the Search Engines:

– Ask someone experienced with White Hat to look at your website
– Look in your source code, if you find keywords stuffed in anywhere except the Meta Tags, then its Black Hat.
– Browse your whole website at regular intervals to make sure if any page-forwarding etc. is not going on
– Ask your SEO what are they doing to your website.
– If you find anything suspicious, talk about it with your SEO and with someone experienced with White Hat.

A few precautions here and there will save you from falling prey to the effects of Black Hat, I used to believe nobody would use Black Hat commercially in their business, but these shocking experiences I have had say otherwise, therefore make sure you keep a watch if you’re buying SEO services from anywhere.

Pop-ups, worth the annoyance?

August 24th, 2007

Advertising is one of the most popular ways for website owners to make money online. Almost every website owner these days opts for a PPC or CPM program in an effort to make some more money from their website. In this race of making more and more money, there have been introduced many more new forms of advertising as well.

Simply put, in the online world, many more new ways of advertising are appearing everyday in an effort to give the publisher as much financial return from their website as possible and the advertiser as many views of their advetisement as possible. Among these new ways of advertising are interstitial ads, pop-under ads etc. as well. But we can trace them back to their most annoying and popular ancestor, the Pop up ads.

What is a pop up ad? Simply put, advertisement windows that pop up uninvited when an internet user is trying to open a web page. Every now and then we come across a website that serves its visitors pop up ads. Although not always the case, but this is most observed in the websites of people who have been banned/rejected from the popular PPC program Adsense. Or simply put, just want to make more from their website.

Webmasters might be successful in getting the most out of serving their websites with pop ups and some of them might also believe Pop ups are great, But is it the same case with normal Internet users? What do they think of pop ups? Map100.com checked on online communities for its answers.

“I hate them” says webmaster GRIM, “especially the ones with multiple pop-ups on every page”. User Blackmane gives further insight saying “unless the website has content I really want, I hit the back button as soon as possible and usually never visit again” another web enthusiast shares vaguely the same views and comments “I wouldn’t revisit a website with popups unless there’s a strong reason”.

These are not just a few users, but a representation of what the whole online community thinks of websites that have pop-up ads, judging from the responses Map100 saw to pop-ups, its clear that people do not want to see pop-up advertisements on websites and most would not re-visit a website with pop-ups unless they had a very strong reason to do so.

For webmasters therefore, it would be advisable to not have any kind of pop up ads on their websites, they are really unwelcomed customers for Internet users, similar goes for Interstitial ads and Pop-unders, nobody wants to view pop-up ads, especially since 95% of the times they are way unrelated to the theme of the website the pop-ups are coming from. Through the mode of survey, Map100 has been able to determine that having pop up ads not only reduces the amount of traffic you have substantially, it also gives your website a bad name. (Some websites with pop ups have been even blacklisted by Search Engines)

So play it clean, play it clear, and don’t use Pop up ads for your website, they do more harm than good.

What to do when your website is “famous”

August 22nd, 2007

Whenever someone begins a website, they cannot accurately depict its future. Sometimes some people might think their startups are going to get huge success but that fails to be the case. This is a very common online occurrence, but a rarer one, is a situation in which a website becomes “famous”.

Now firstly we must get into this term, what does it mean for a website to become famous? Well:

– Loads of Traffic
– A lot of activity in the forum/usergroup of the website
– MANY organic links
– A lot of sign ups
– References to your website from prominent sources.

Most of the people are ready to accept the fact and are prepared for it that their website didn’t work, since it is so common. But what happens when a website becomes famous? Nobody is dead sure a website will become famous, but what when it does? There are many things famous website owners goof up, lets look into that first:

Put their personal details on the website
Unless your personal details are already there, there is no need of disclosing them to the public in that way. It invites a lot of negative attention towards you from jealous people.

Revamp Websites
Sometimes, when someone’s website becomes famous, they start thinking that their current website and content is not up to the mark of being entitled to so much traffic, and they start revamping their website, changing their content, begin to address themselves in their articles. But what they don’t think is, the traffic came because the originality was there.

Go OFF topic
A lot of times, several website owners whose websites became famous, go off topic. Which means that they stop talking about the issues addressing which the website became popular, and instead start addressing the crowd to their activities, their interests, where they go, whatever they do. But website owners don’t understand that the crowd is there in the first place because they wanted to read CONTENT related to the subject of the website, not about your life! (Sorry if this offends someone, but its the truth)

Sell the website
SEVERAL people I know have done this, their website became popular and on that spurge of time, they put it up for auction. This might be a very regular practice amongst newly-famous website owners, but is certainly not what one should do.

Now, the things mentioned above never do any good, people sometimes want to become rich from their newfound glory, or famous, but if you don’t do it right then you might just find yourself in more problems instead of peace. However, here are a few things a lot of website owners miss out on when their website becomes famous and a high-traffic one, and reasons as to why you should take up these measures as soon as your website can be classified as famous:

Get better servers
Because your website is now famous and growing in traffic, you might as well get better servers (if you haven’t already). Resellers etc. don’t often give much CPU usage and if your website processes scripts (like registrations even) then you should upgrade.

Increase updates!
The most important important thing, INCREASE updates as soon as traffic goes up, because if you keep updating the traffic on the website at a fast pace, the traffic will increase as well seeing as they could get so much from the website. This is a tiring job, but gather yourself up and do it for the website and the visitors!

Appoint Moderators
If you haven’t appointed helpers for your website from the website’s user community itself till now, do it. If someone is underperforming in their moderation duties or not performing at all, reduce them to a rank thats above the member and below the moderator. Something like “Respected Member”. Then appoint someone else in that place, remember, law and order goes first!

Organize Meet ups (If possible)
Organize meetings with your members if that is possible. If there is a place where lots of your regular traffic comes from, ask the people in that region to meet up on a specific date, then take pictures and put them on your website. Really helps your website gain credibility. The kind of meeting you want depends on the niche of your website, if it is a website that has to do with some serious issue, then you could organize a paid seminar etc. If its a website on a casual subject, just do a little meetup like you’d do with your friends, give away some shirts with your site’s URL, it all depends on you. Bit one thing’s for sure, Interaction with your members is what really makes you someone they could look up to (or at least respect enough to keep coming to your website)

Contact the appropriate news authorities and media
This is what many people miss out on, write out letters (real ones) to your local press/AP etc. telling them about your website.

Make sure it doesn’t read like an advertisement, more of something like why is the website is famous, why people visit it, whats so unique about it, what discussions occur, how does the website influence the society, related websites (important so they don’t think its an ad). Sooner or later you’ll be in the news, even if its just a snippet. Also try to contact your local radio stations, who knows you might get called in for an interview if your website is that spectacular.

Get new Advertisers
This is very important, automated advertising might be paying you decent, but when a website gets famous, it is about time you start asking for bids on advertising on your website (banners, links etc.) you know, most of the people do not buy advertising for PR, but for traffic, everything in the world is ultimately for traffic, and if a website has great traffic, advertisers would rush to it. You don’t even need to remove your previous PPC if you think its good, but getting new advertisers/sponsors definitely opens the gates for more money.

These are just some tips (apart from the common ones) that people with high traffic, famous websites miss out on, and if applied, could land the website into better heights and lot more glory, both online and offline.