How ironically crazy this is… I was trying to research some new image optimization techniques for an SEO report that I have to present this Wednesday for a customer. I was specifically looking techniques that would give our photosharing website a competitive advantage to outrank our competition. Just as I was looking into how-or-if Google crawls EXIF data in images, the Google Gods were reading my mind and Matt Cutts posts this video to answer my question. Nice Timing!
Today Google posted on their Official Blog to let us know they care so much about your rights and privacy that they filed this new petition to protect our “civil liberties”.
Well I’m calling Google out, this is sheer propaganda! This whole thing is just a dog and pony show to deceive and distract because Eric Schmidt is a US State Department asset working as an unofficial Ambassador. He also works with Scott Malcomson former State Department advisor or how about Jared Cohen the former advisor to Condoleezza Rice and later Hillary Clinton! Basically, Eric and his team are the clean up crew for US affairs.
Please don’t take my word for it, research it! You can start by looking at the pre-publication endorsements of his book “The New Digital Age”… Tony Blair, Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright to name a few.
Oh and did I mention that Google actually got paid to give the government our private data?
Whatever happened to “don’t be evil”?
For more info about Google and the Government, watch Julian Assange interview that he just did last week! I think this petition is an attempt to minimize the impact of this interview.
I first wrote this article about porn SEO in 2009 while still in the industry but came back and updated based on comments made in 2014.
The 3Ps, pills, porn and poker are the toughest niches online. I’ve ranked for “free porn”, “Asian porn”, “anal porn” and several other hyper-competitive keywords bringing in more than a million unique clicks per day. If you already rank for these keywords then you can go ahead and bounce now. Otherwise, read and enjoy this discussion.
Step 1 Content is Still King
First thing’s first, CONTENT! Most adult tube sites rip videos from other sites and either manually post them on their site or they have automated software to do this for them. The problem isn’t necessarily that the videos are duplicated from other sites but that the titles, tags, and descriptions are duplicated as well. Google hates duplicate content! Since Googlebot doesn’t actually watch the videos, they only use the titles, tags, and descriptions to tell if a video is unique or if it’s been lifted off of another website. My tips for adding new videos are to manually edit these attributes with keyword rich textual content. Next, you will want to make sure to categorize them appropriately based on the titles and descriptions. Let’s not forget that you also need to have good videos from a wide variety of porn niches because even if I get your site ranked in the top of Google, having a high bounce rate will eventually cause your site to drop again. Lastly, the more categories, the better because it helps to expand your long tail keywords.
Content 2014 Update
Content is still king 5 years later and this will only increase in the future. That being said, now it’s not just content but all the new bells and whistles that make a site better like social media APIs, rich snippets, microdata, PageSpeed and more. A better site is simply going to have better rankings so build the most awesome site you can and don’t take any shortcuts.
Step 2 Setup Porn Buffers
One of the biggest challenges of porn SEO is the censorship. It can be very difficult to get links, likes and bookmarks back to your adult content and for obvious reasons. This is why is it important to setup, what I call “porn buffers”. Porn buffers are sites that do not contain adult content but may have a somewhat relevant subject matter that could possibly lead to a porn theme. A few topics can be relationships, sex education or scandals. After setting these pages up you can link to them and then they link to the money site. This creates a buffer between the adult site and the censored site giving you an indirect but powerful link. Twitter, Blogger, and other Web2.0 sites can also provide high-quality buffers for adult link building.
Buffers still work Update 2014
Porn buffers still give you a powerful link but some content managers are right when they say it doesn’t pass PR very well. PR is definitely not the end-all metric to value your actual rankings. We’ve all seen numerous low PR sites ranking in the top 3. Actually, if you have a low PR and you rank well that could be a sign that you are doing something right. The practice of channeling link juice from high authority sites to your money site is still very valuable and effective. Many authority sites will not allow you to link directly to your porn site but you may be able to link it to a buffer and then that buffer can link to your main site. These links are not as strong but worth the effort, this logic is hard to argue with.
Step 3 Directory Submissions
There are tons of paid and free directories out there. Don’t just focus on the Adult directories either, hit em all! Spend the time to manually submit to as many as you can. While submitting maximize by always filling out as much information as they allow. If it says 250-word description then use all 250 words. Be sure to categorize each submission articulately. Use only unique content each and every time to make sure the work looks and is natural. Google, Yahoo and Bing crawl even the smallest directories in an effort to increase their index. Set a monthly budget of $200 and use discrimination while choosing if this directory is worth the price. You should spend on average $10 to $30 for a good listing.
Directory Submissions Updated 2014
This has changed, at least for the porn niche. When I wrote the article, there used to be no such thing as a bad link so even tens of thousands of directory links used to do wonders for porn sites. On the other hand, this would not be a “discussing” practice for some niches even in 2014. Other niches can still reap benefits from directories such as DMOZ or even other high quality, manually curated industry-specific directories.
Step 4 Like is the New Link
Social media optimization aka, SMO is a must. Until recently, off page SEO boiled down to just one thing. LINKS but nowadays likes, +1s, diggs and etc. can be even more powerful than links if done right. The trick with social media and web2.0 (Porn SEO 2.0) is that the accounts shouldn’t just appear to be real, they must actually be real. This means instead of using SEnuke or other automated software, you need to manually setup profiles. Another important attribute to good social media optimization is to show regular activity on all your accounts. These SMO activities include making friends and followers, updating your profile with pics, posts, links and comments. Then you need to engage the community by commenting on other relevant posts and profiles, take polls, like relevant material posted on others profiles. I always tell my social media agents to picture themselves at a party, “do you want to be a wallflower or do you want to socialize and make friends?”. Many social media sites do not allow links to adult content so in these cases, you will link to one of your porn buffers.
Like is the new link Update 2014
Again a lot of content managers get this wrong as can be seen with the addition to the Google Analytics “Social” section. Social signals can still be more powerful than a link. Especially those coming from Analytics Social Data Hub Partners. Note I said “can” be. One instance where a social signal “can” be more powerful than a link would be if a famous person tweeted one of your videos to a million followers. This is an extreme case but smaller social signals can also outweigh weaker links. I don’t want to get offensive but anyone who fails to recognize the increasing importance of social media as a ranking factor, should not be in this line of work. In the video below, Matt Cutts himself envisions social signals possibly overtaking links altogether in the future.
Step 5 Link Building
Just like with social media there are tons of black-hat programs out there like Xrumer and ScrapeBoard that will automatically create accounts and post links to hundreds of thousands of forums but Google and the other search engines
know the difference and so do the webmasters who own these forums. The best and most effective way to get links from forums is by doing it manually. The process is simple but time-consuming. Sign up to a forum and start engaging the community. Many forums do not allow outbound links so be sure you don’t waste your time with these ones. In addition, many of the forums that do allow links only do so after you have proven yourself to be worthy or only after a certain amount of posts. This means you must first become a valued member of the forum, provide good feedback, informative posts and contribute to the community. You must show regular activity on these forums (twice a week or more) and in some cases, you will also have to employ the use of your porn buffers in the case where links to adult content are banned.
Forum Link Building Updated 2014
Forum link building for porn sites is practically dead. Like mentioned in his comment, you can still get some valuable white-hat links and traffic from adult forums but it must be done manually and with care.
Step 6 Porn Link Buying & Exchanges
In the past, Google implemented algorithm changes that have voided reciprocal links and the debate of whether or not they are good still remains so the safest and most effective way to exchange links is via 3way link exchanges. It’s also quite simple, you link to one of their sites and in exchange, they link back to you from a different domain. You can initiate these link exchanges by searching the web for other porn sites and we simply shoot them an email offering a 3way link exchange. Make sure to keep reports in spreadsheets so you can track the links and check them from time to time. Negotiations can be tricky so try to keep the exchanges fair and you will have greater success.
Whatever you do, don’t stop buying links. Instead, just change the way you buy links! Buying porn links is an old school, a strategy that Google has recently addressed in the Panda and Penguin updates. Even Matt Cutts, chief engineer of the Google webspam team, has openly warned against this practice many times.
I have tested this on top porn sites and have come to the conclusion that buying links from certain sites and networks can actually have an adverse effect so you must really pick and choose. For example, watch out for networks of sites that can easily be detected. Prior to Panda and the Penguin, these links worked fine but nowadays you’ll be throwing your money away at best and worse yet, they can now actually affect your rankings negatively if you participate in what Google calls link schemes. I could teach a small child could look at some of these sites and tell you if they’re are connected in a network so of course, a multi-billion dollar company like Google can figure it out. For starters, do they share the exact same CSS, IP addresses, images/content or are the using the same script to help automate the network.
Buying Links for Porn Sites Updated 2014
We both seem to agree about this. For a complete guide to link buying check out my article “Link Buying Ain’t Dead Yet“.
Step 7 Article Marketing for Porn Sites
Just as you would do in traditional SEO, you can promote your porn site with article marketing. Many article websites do not allow links to adult content so you will use your porn buffers for this. You can still target your articles toward specific niches and keywords. For example, you can write an article about the health risks of having anal sex and then point that link to a buffer page that in turn links to the anal sex category of your site. For the best results, write articles that follow what Google calls “high-quality content” just because it’s porn SEO doesn’t mean you can take shortcuts or just jot down a bunch of gibberish.
Article Marketing 2014
Article submission sites died a nasty death shortly after I wrote this but article marketing itself will never die. You can still write genuinely great content and contribute to high authority sites as a way to earn powerful links. TMZ, Bloomberg, Xbiz are a few examples I’ve used. A lot of content managers seems to be missing out on some very valuable opportunities to get great links.
Step 8 On-page
All the same on-page SEO attributes apply to a porn site as they would on any site but that being said, there are specific characters of a porn site that just seem to work better for the porn niche. Here are a few… Tube sites rank higher because they have a lower bounce rate. Users can come in and can easily find what they are looking for. Adult picture galleries are always good for browsing and provide extra content. Ratings and comments allow user interaction and lastly, having a branded site with high-quality design and graphics are invaluable. It would take a full textbook to fully cover on-page SEO so I will just mention and provide links to some of the more critical attributes and practices…
- Implement the canonical link tag in the header of your site.
- The markup should be W3C validated and free of any major errors and conflicts.
- The CSS should be checked in the W3C CSS validator and free of any major errors and conflicts.
- All titles and descriptions must be well written and unique.
- Your robots.txt file should block bots from the back end of the site as well as from any part of the site that is not optimized such as search pages and user profiles.
- Your site should not contain duplicate pages and if it does, they should be removed or corrected with the canonical link tag.
- Image optimization by including the keyword in the file name, title and alt text of all images.
- Videos, pictures, and posts should only be assigned to one category.
- Social media integration using OpenGraph meta content and social media plugins.
- Each page needs a minimum of 250 unique words with the suggested use of h1, h2 and h3 tags that also include the keyword or a variation of the keyword.
- make sure your DNS settings are resolving correctly by using this tool DNS Checker.
- Generate an XML and GZIP sitemap that will be automatically updated each time the site updates.
- Fix all broken links, 404s and not found errors.
We agreed on Step 8
Step 9 Blog Comment Posting for Porn SEO
Just as with social media and forums, there are several programs that will automatically post comments with links on various sites but this leaves behind a huge footprint that can easily be tracked by Google and other search engines. Not only that, but the approval rates for this type of spamming has gone down tremendously due to people abusing the software. If you want good quality links from blog comments, the best way is to do it manually. Using URL harvesting software, you can gather millions of URLs and then filter them based on PR, CMS type, keyword relevancy and more. I then distribute these lists and have my SEO agents actually read the posts and say something constructive or engage the conversation in the comments section of the site. Mostly anyone who owns a blog can spot comment spam from a mile away and report it. This not only wastes your time and effort but it can also get your site put on blacklists.
Blog Commenting Updated 2014
Blog commenting for porn sites is totally dead but it used to work like a charm from about 2004 well into 2009. I don’t even suggest “doing it right”, sure there are white-hat ways to do this but it’s just not worth it.
Step 10 Setup a Network of Porn Sites
For each one of your categories, you will need to register at least 25 domain names and put them in groups based on relevancy to each category (25 anal porn, 25 blowjobs, 25 ebonies etc.) You will want to make sure these domains are setup on multiple IP addresses across multiple C classes. Next, install WordPress on each site. Using a software called LinkFarmEvolution you can easily manage and post new content to these sites daily. Each post should include highly spun text, high quality, spun pictures and embedded videos (embed from your own site only). Before you get all crazy posting links in this network, you should first try to build up good content and get the pages indexed. I actually spend a lot of time making manual customizations, adding plugins and building links to the sites in the network. Once this is done, you will want to slowly add links from the network to the relevant pages within your site. Adding the links all at once or too quickly could leave a big SEO footprint behind and get the network discovered.
Network of Porn Sites Updates 2014
I’m not sure I even want to suggest building a network of sites or “gateway blogs”. It can be done but its just too expensive to justify the effectiveness. If you’re going to give it a shot, I do agree though that tools like LinkFarmEvolution will get your network compromised. That being said, it would take another 5000k words to try to describe the correct way to do this. If anyone here thinks they have a undiscoverable network, feel free to send me a link to just one site and the chances are that I can find the whole network attached to it. If I can see it then you bet Google can see it. I extend this offer to critics as well because I have the notion that either they are spending thousands of dollars to maintain their network(s) or they are already compromised as well.
Step 11 Competitor’s Links
Monkey see monkey do, if your competitors can acquire those links then there’s a good chance you can too. You can install an SEO toolbar with this built in. This task is time-consuming but can be very rewarding because these are going to be the best links you can get. Obviously enough, if they were good enough to get your competitor’s website ranked on the first page then they will be good for your site as well.
Step 12 Black-Hat Techniques for Porn SEO
“If you can’t beat em join em.” After spending several hours reverse engineering almost every porn site on the first two pages of Google, I have found that ALL of them are practicing black-hat techniques, myself included. There’s an old SEO saying that has become the golden rule for Black-Hat techniques; “Anything you could do to get your competitor’s site banned won’t get you banned.” This really means that Google has made sure that you cannot attack your competition by hammering their site with black hat SEO. If it was possible we could easily take out the first ten results real quick. If you think about the algorithms that make this possible it seems very complicated but in actuality, it’s quite simple. This means that any off-page, black-hat SEO that you do cannot harm your site unless it can be traced with a server-side interaction. The most extreme case I witnessed was when Google traced back forum spam campaigns to files that were being pulled off the same server as their main site. They completely removed the site from their index and lost millions of clicks of traffic.
I have found that dedicated servers, located off-shore are well worth the investment (mine is in Russia). From this server, I remotely run programs like Xrumer, ScrapeBox, ScrapeBoard, LFE, Xgen and anything else I can get my hands on. It is highly suggested that you use these proxy IP addresses to help cover up your tracks. These are all very powerful programs but they often fall into the wrong hands and end up getting abused by less than qualified individuals. This ruins the effectiveness. That being said, the people that actually learn to use them correctly can get good results. I mostly use them for link juicing and rarely toward the money site.
As for black-hat software for social media, they don’t really serve a good purpose when optimizing for porn SEO. The reason is because with social media it’s quality, not quantity that matters. You can use programs like Tweetfollowing and Facebook auto posters to assist with your manual SMO task but take it slow because most social media giants can easily detect these programs and will erase your account. This will cause you to loose valuable pages and profiles and all the time spent setting them up. There’s always new tools and programs coming out and developers are constantly striving to keep one step ahead of Google’s next update. The trick is to not get into a hurry, do not take any shortcuts and quadruple check everything before hitting the submit button. Finally, remember the golden rule, make sure that nothing can be traced back to an on-site or server-side connection.
Black-Hat for Porn Update 2014
Not one bit ashamed to admit that I was one of the top black-hatters of my day. With servers in Romania and Moscow running nonstop, I used to get hundreds of thousands of links in just one week. I wasn’t the only one though as every major tube on the first page of Google did the same. That being said, we all made millions so please, no hard feelings about all the Webspam. Another update to this is that black-hat can now be used to attack a competitor when in my previous statement I claimed this was not possible.
Step 13 Porn LinkWheel
Here’s a list of some high PR sites that do allow links directly to adult content and adult websites. Again, I suggest you fill these sites up with high-quality content not spun crap. That will make this porn link wheel more of a content link wheel”.
Porn LinkWheel (Critics’ Comments)
Really a linkwheel? What is this 2006? Apart from the fact that the list is just plain wrong (since when does Youtube accepts adult material?) most of these websites provide a no-follow link and that won’t help you rank. This is a waste of money, this is not how you get results.
Porn Link Wheels Updated 2014
Youtube doesn’t allow adult material as we all know but you can still have a PG13 channel like Pornhub’s and use this to get social signals, direct traffic and link out to other buffer sites. While many of the sites and posting rules have changed, this is still a practice that you should employ.
How I rank a porn site
First of all, every honest online marketing professional has to admit, that SEO is the only second place to media buying when it comes to porn\adult sites.
Media Buys (Zack’s Comments)
I imagine this is what some of my critics tell clients when he doesn’t deliver enough organic results. “Sorry you’re still on page 10 but we can buy traffic.” Sure media buys are important for many sites in many niches but this article was about SEO some media buys can actually hurt your rankings so this can be a double-edged sword. You need to buy good traffic as to not tarnish your user activity in Google Analytics.
Neutral domain name
It is very hard to find non-spammy blogs, which link back to a porn site. They are either charging hundreds of dollars or are spammy sites just about to be penalized by Google. Therefore what you need to do is to choose a neutral domain name and have linkable content as well.
Obviously, it only helps if you start a new porn site and will not help with your exact-match domain site you already have. Btw. exact match domains won’t help you much. Don’t believe those domain re-sellers and don’t pay thousands of dollars for an exact match domain. That’s money better spent elsewhere.
It is really beneficial for link building to have a neutral domain name. I can’t stress this enough. But even if you don’t have a neutral domain name there is a way to build quality links.
Domain Name (Zack’s Comments)
The domain name itself plays such very little significance that it’s almost not worth mentioning except for this… choose a domain that is brandable and easy to remember but this is just good all-around marketing.
Linkable content blogs
After you have your neutral domain name you should set up your linkable content blogs. In the case of a porn site, a good neutral domain name example would be temptations.com and a linkable content blog could be a safe-sex advocating blog, adult industry insider blog. sexual health blog and so on.
You should set up these blogs the following way temptations.com/safesex , temptations.com/insider , temptations.com/sexualhealth.
So an ideal SEO-ready porn site should have a neutral domain name, two or more linkable content blogs. This blog should be related to porn but do not have hardcore porn content. This makes link building easy and this is true for every website in a difficult niche.
90% of the link building campaign would target these blogs and with a neutral domain name, 90% of the bloggers would never know, that they are actually linking to a porn site. So it could be just a regular link building campaign.
The reason why we need two or more linkable content blogs is, that it gives us more targets to build links on.
You might ask, how will links from sexual health, safe sex, video production blogs help my porn site rank?
Well very easy: High domain authority+good on-page = good rankings
The links from these blogs link back to your linkable content blogs on your domain, which increases your domain authority helping the porn part of your website as well.
High domain authority + good on-page optimized content will get your porn site ranking.
Google determines the relative importance of pages within a domain by internal links. So to help Google tell, that the porn of your website is actually the most important we will place strategical internal links throughout your linkable content blogs to the porn part of your website.
This concentrates all the linkjuice to these pages and tells Google, that these are the most important pages.
Link Networks Zack’s Comments
Link networks are one of the quickest ways to get your site penalized. There are still a few diamonds in the rough out there but 99% of the networks I see are garbage. These days you need not only unique IPs but also unique C-classes, unique registration, code, content, linking and more. Just the slightest SEO footprint can be easily traced. I derive lots of pleasure in uncovering networks.
Targeted Link building
You only need a few targeted links to your hardcore section and if your domain authority is high enough -increased trough link building with the linkable content blogs- that should be enough.
Because even if you have a neutral domain name and linkable content on the site link building to a porn site is pretty difficult. Therefore I would suggest buying high PR used domains too in addition to other forms of link building. If you are smart about it high PR domains can be cheap and you can get a PR 3-4-5 used domains with a good link portfolio for around $ 100 – $ 150. you set these up as a genuine regular blog about something porn, sex, sexual health, erotica related. With these blogs, you can create some powerful backlinks.
Just make sure to make the necessary precautions if you have more than 5-10 of these. Blog networks are penalized so Whois lock, different Google authors on each blog, unique C class Ips, different Analytics accounts, and webmaster accounts for each and all the rest.
Gateway Blogs (Zack’s Comments)
Again this is just a network of sites that few people can afford and know how to build. I do not suggest this technique unless you already have millions of clicks and therefore, the money it takes to do it right. Hiring the wrong guy for this job could cause irreparable damage and major layoffs in your company.
I have a blog post about discussion marketing I suggest reading that first: http://simonsblogpark.com/onlinemarketing/referral-traffic-meets-link-building-discussion-marketing/
So a few tips on how to do effective and non-spammy discussion marketing for a porn site.
- Posting on porn forums: “Check out these super hot girls here: <link> WOW!”
- Identifying opinion leaders, popular porn blogs and commenting there (with a link), or partnering with them for a link back in exchange for a little exclusive content from the member’s section of the site.
- Identifying who is using your videos or pictures (very easy to do it) and sending a cease and desist or link back to us letter to them. Might not work with video syndication websites.
- Contacting personal bloggers (old high PR domains, men aged 20-35, single) and offering some money in exchange for a sponsored review of the website with a link-back. These websites are guaranteed non-network genuine personal blogs. You just have to find the right targets, who will accept your offer. You can even offer them free membership and some money for the review.
- Commenting on porn video sites in the comments section with a link.
Discussion Marketing (Zack’s Comments)
This is basically the same as Forum Link Building mentioned above. That being said, this is just one very small part of the process that sometimes seems too labor intensive to be worth doing.
Extra XXX SEO Tips
- Keep your keyword density around 1% per page
- Keep a set schedule of tasks for better time management
- Hire good writers and content managers
Always try to go the extra mile because, in the world of Porn SEO, the difference between the 1st page of Google and the 2nd page is millions of dollars. Now go forth and concur! There are 10 spots on the 1st page so good luck and I hope to see some of you Porn SEOs joining me there real soon!
After Matt Cutts post about guest blogging sent a ripple through the webmaster community, I wanted to clear some of the smoke and explain why I think Matt Cutts is just trying to use scare tactics and discourage hard working SEOs.
As we say back home in North Carolina, If you believe this, I got some oceanfront property in Tennessee selling REAL cheap! If guest blogging hurts your rankings, that means every time someone else writes about you on their blog or site, they are actually hurting you and this just cannot be the case. It doesn’t take an SEO genius to be able to see that Google could never implement an algorithm that would effectively put a stop to guest posting.
Heres a Real World Example
When I was working at NYFA.edu I noticed hundreds of articles being written about our organization every week. Being one of the most famous film schools in the world with several thousand students and international locations, this is just bound to happen. I even set alerts to notify me of each one so I could track them down and make the most out of each posting and mention. That being said, according to Matt Cutts, this kind of activity should have killed our rankings!
How to Guest Blog Effectively
As mentioned in one of my earlier posts Guest Posting for SEO, you can be caught violating Googles link scheme guidelines via guest blogging and penalized! However, the trick is to not get caught so this means you have to do it in a way that looks natural and compliant.
Don’t send mass mailers– If reported as spam, it will raise red flags with Google. Manually write each email to be unique and customized to each outreach scenario.
Don’t ask– for links that pass PR in your email exchanges. That’s a clear violation of Google’s quality guidelines.
Don’t use EMAT– Using exact match anchor text is a thing of the past anyways and a clear signal of ranking manipulation. Less than 20% of your inbound links should contain EMAT.
Don’t post on crappy sites– Stay away from splogs, bad neighborhoods and spammy networks. Only do guest posting exchanges with high-quality relevant sites that will increase your credibility and authority not pull it down.
Don’t allow bad placement– Make sure your posts are not specifically marked as “guest post”, “sponsored post” or even put into a sponsored category or archive.
Don’t worry about even getting a link! Instead, a mention of your site or brand can be just as effective via citation building. You can also get great exposure and link juice from your Google Authorship account or from linking to your Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts.
- Think of legitimate ways to engage and collaborate with relevant sites.
- Provide high quality content from authoritative Google Authorship accounts or known bloggers.
- Pick up the phone or try to contact people on other networks such as Linkedin, Twitter, FB or even face to face within your business community. Relying solely on emails can be view as spam.
Matt still didn’t answer Nandita’s question in the video, How will a webmaster know if they are being affected by the Panda and I think that’s because the answer is, you will not know and you are not meant to know. Google doesn’t want to tell you the exact mechanisms of the algorithm. If your site is being affected by the Panda updates, you start by looking on-page at your site’s structure and content. The Penguin targeted off-page while the Panda focused only on your site’s on-page attributes.
To identify what Panda violations could be harming your site, you have to look at all aspects of the site to make sure it complies with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. If your site isn’t ranking well, then the chances are you may have attributes or violations that are triggering the algorithms to affect your site negatively.
When trying to understand the Panda, I find its best to try to read between the lines of all Google documentation and Matt Cutts politically correct answers. It would take a small book to explain how to tell if your site is being affected by the Panda but I have given post panda tips and SEO trouble shooting instructions and here are a few Panda between-the-lines translations to get you started:
- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
Get Google Authorship or other high exposure bloggers and journalist to write your work.
- Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
Avoid keyword cannibalization.
- Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
Display all logos and associations along with phone numbers and addresses that correlate with your local business listings.
- Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
Use correct grammar, spelling and a vocabulary above a 6th-grade level.
- Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
Avoid doorway pages that target similar longtail keywords of the same group.
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
Don’t copy or regurgitate other peoples content. Copyscape.com will get you and spinners don’t work either, the Panda is for too advanced for that.
- Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
You must go above and beyond what else is posted out there. If you see a 500-word article on the same topic then you have to do a 750-word article and add more bells and whistles like I mentioned here on my post about Panda friendly articles.
- How much quality control is done on content?
Keep a clean and organized site, instead of just having random content all over the place. It’s best to have 100 awesome pages than 1000 crappy pages.
- Does the article describe both sides of a story?
Do in-depth research to cover all angles and even mention and link to other sources.
- Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
Google gives more rankings to brands and established online businesses. You can also do high authority citations and even get your own Wikipedia page.
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
Put the black-hat software away. Xrumer, SEnuke, and Scrapebox are all busted. Those days are long gone, Google started cracking down on that type of stuff two years before the Panda even came out but now its really over.
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
Get all the share buttons and APIs installed. Social media are more important now than ever before and the trend will continue. Google even integrated new social signal metrics in Analytics. Good content gets shared, liked, tweeted etc. I spend just as much time on social media as I do on link building and citations.
- Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
Watch out for the page layout penalty.
Is Article Marketing Dead?
The question isn’t whether or not article marketing is dead; The real question is how to adapt your article marketing to a post Panda SEO era. After watching the top article directories lose anywhere from 50% to 80% of their traffic, it’s clear that a new strategy is well overdue. Matt Cutts publicly announced the increasing ineffectiveness that article marketing will have on your search engine rankings. Usually, you have to read close between the lines with Matt but this time he just came out and said it
1. Social Article Marketing
Take Matt Cutts’ advice and stay away from article directories and instead focus more on Web2.0 and social media sites. That being said, the best channels for social article marketing are platforms that integrate Web2.0 with social media communities. A few examples of these are Hubpages, Squidoo and Tumblr. These sites not only offer a platform to distribute your articles but they also offer social communities by allowing you to do things like comment, bookmark, share, follow and attract other followers. This allows the Google Panda to judge the quality of your content not by the keyword density or the word count but by the user activity surrounding it. No longer is just posting an article good enough. Now that article must get commented on, shared, tweeted, dugg, stumbled, liked and +1 before Google will consider it worth a damn.
2. Article Marketing for the Masses
Take the time to do some guest posting. Find relevant, quality sites and offer them your high-quality content in exchange for a link. News sites, forums, white papers are all good ways to get your article out to the masses. It’s easy to see how this is making better use of your content in comparison to letting it get buried in some failing article directory.
3. High-Quality Rich Media Articles
Sorry folks, its time to put the spinner to rest! Take your content’s quality to the next level not just by improving your writing skills and following the Google Webmaster High-Quality Guidelines but also by including better images, audio, video or interactive flash. Google used to not like large images that load slow but now it’s actually worth sacrificing the load time for rich media.
Writing Panda-Friendly articles is the foundation of any modern day SEO campaign. Googlebot armed with the new Panda algorithms is scouring the internet looking for poorly written content and punishing anyone that doesn’t comply. This is why changing up your article writing style may be one of the most valuable Post-Panda SEO tips I have to offer.
4. Small Informational Bites
Keep the paragraphs short; Between 3 to 6 sentences long and separate them with headers. Online writing is different than normal print publications in the sense that the average online reader is less engaged and therefore, wants to read small bites of information. Rather than having large blocks of text that might make a reader click away, keep your paragraphs short and packed full of information. No fluff!
5. Semantic Keyword Density
2% keyword density is too much in the Post-Panda era as a 1000 word article would have to mention the keyword at least 20 times and this totally looks spammy. Instead, use keyword synonyms or semantically related keywords because according to Matt Cutts, Google loves synonyms. An example could be replica watches, imitation watches, counterfeit watches or fake Rolexes. Using this strategy you can really get your keyword density up to 3% or even 4% without raising red flags with Googles webspam team. I also suggest reading my more in-depth article titled Expert Keyword Research.
6. Create Bulleted or Numbered Lists
Readers like to see bulleted and numbered lists because it helps them find useful information when skimming or scanning your article. In addition, search engines read the HTML attributes that create these list and give more weight to the article. You can put the whole article into a numbered format as I have done here or just create a number or bullet list summarizing, outlining or indexing the subject matter.
7. Use More Than Just Text
Other forms of online content increase the quality of your SEO-friendly articles. Include high-quality images, polls, relevant videos, quizzes, graphs, tables, charts or flash. A great example of this would be Squidoo or Hubpages; These guys won’t even publish your article unless they include a few of these bells and whistles.
8. Panda Approved Article Length
Some topics require more words than others however, longer is almost always better so try to aim for a minimum of 750 words. While this article may only be around 750 words it is packed with information, reads as a step-by-step guide and fully covers the topic. If I was writing about nuclear fusion, I would expect to write a couple of thousand words to accurately discuss the topic.
9. Give Outbound Links
This sounds crazy right?!? Why in the world would you want to give away links and lose your link juice? Link to your sources, not only because its proper journalism but also because Google likes to crawl as much as possible so if you can provide a relevant link to a helpful resource and the user clicks-through and sticks, it shows Google that your content was informative and high quality. Here are the dos and don’ts, do not link to any page or site that competes for the same type of traffic. Link only to high authority sites like .edu, .gov or any high PR site.
10. If Outsourcing Your SEO Articles
Outsourcing your article writing is tricky because few companies out there understand these Panda-friendly article guidelines or if they do understand them, they don’t want to follow them because the time and costs associated. That being said, if you will be outsourcing your SEO articles to other countries like India, Philippines and Romania make sure the copywriters write English like Americans write it. Common mistakes are punctuation, incorrect singulars and plurals, future, past and present tenses and poor sentence construction. Even little things like “I am interested to cars” when a true English speaking person would say, I am interested in cars. If an 8-year-old child can tell the difference, then you better believe a multibillion dollar company like Google can tell the difference too.
11. Create User Activity
Easier said than done but the basis is to try to get the reader to engage by asking questions or evoking them to comment below. Google loves to see user generated content and user activity. The best way to give an example of this is by asking you a few questions here.
- Was this article helpful?
- Are there a few things that you might have disagreed with?
- Is there anything I left out?
I’ve mentioned the use of synonyms in previous posts like 2012 Keyword Research and Post Panda SEO Tips but in this post, I want to elaborate more and talk about why Google loves synonyms. Using synonyms has been beneficial for SEO for a few years now but they are even more important after the Panda and Penguin have rolled out.
Why Synonyms are so Important
According to Matt Cutts, Google’s measurements show that synonyms affect 70 percent of all user searches. An example they use in their post Helping Computers Understand Language is if someone searches for [pictures] they should get the same results if they search for [photos]. The task of identifying the relationship between synonyms and other words is a core function of any search engine. This is why Google has a massive synonyms database and complex algorithms that allow them to intuitively understand your query.
Another reason synonyms are so important to Google is because this same technology can also be used to identify spun content. I stopped spinning back in 2010 as a precautionary measure because I realized that if TheBestSpinner.com can have a database of 82,000 synonyms, then Google must have a substantial amount more. Google’s Webspam Team should be smart enough to use this database and algorithms unspin and identify black-hat articles.
2% keyword density is super old school and can even lower your rankings. Plus it just looks spammy and doesn’t read well. This is why I suggest using the main keyword only once or twice while filling up the rest of the 2% with synonyms. You can also stick synonyms in title tags, alt tags, meta content, file names and etc. It’s become second nature for me to just use the keyword once or twice and insert synonyms throughout the page instead.
Some Cool Stuff to Check Out
- Google’s Synonyms Custom Search Tool
- Websters new dictionary of synonyms: a dictionary of discriminated synonyms with antonyms and analogous and contrasted words
- Video of Cutts Talking about synonyms
Google really sees all! Just drag and drop a picture from your desktop into Google Images and Google will show you where the original came from as well as all the other sites that reposted the same image. This even works if you have cropped or modified the image!
Google rewards sites that use unique images while copied images hijacked off someone else’s website can bring your site’s authority down. The lesson here is to buy or create your own images as much as possible and Google will reward you with better rankings and more traffic. I know, it’s tough but there really arent any good shortcuts for producing high quality, unique content. This really sucks because I’m a true image kleptomaniac so do as I say, not as I do! Lastly, this brings up the question of what if any changes this will have on Thumbnail Picture Galleries and Porn SEO.
Drag and drop an image from your desktop directly into the search window of Google images. This works in Chrome, Firefox and IE.
Next, you will see the all the places where the image has been posted.
Just about every day I get asked how to Analyze On-page SEO Attributes so I figured to make things easier I would write this post in an effort to save time and breath. This is a comprehensive, super easy step-by-step, checklist of how to make sure your site is fully optimized. I am hoping that this page will serve as an On-page SEO Tutorial or at least a prerequisite to further conversations. That being said, not only have I written about it but you can also use this post as a shining example of a completely optimized page.
Keyword Research for On-page SEO Attributes
For starters, you need to pick your keywords. Use one keyword per page and when selecting the right keywords, compare the competition level with the number of monthly searches. You can use Google’s keyword tool for this. Find this tool here, keyword tool or by searching in Google, using the search term keyword tool. In case you haven’t noticed, the keywords that I have chosen for this post are On-page SEO Attributes.
Meta Content for On-page SEO Attributes
Now we have our keywords selected, here’s how we implement them. Start adding On-page SEO Attributes by including the keywords in the page title, meta description, and tags. The title should be catchy, the description should be 250 characters and you should use around 3 to 5 tags and make sure they include the main keywords and that the other ones are relevant. Meta keyword tags are no longer read by Google but many of the other search engines still use them so you might as well include them. Lastly, very important On-page SEO Attributes are to make sure that you do not have any duplicate tags anywhere within your site or you will see a warning in Googles Webmaster Tools telling you to uniqueify them(yes, uniqueify is a real word now).
Optimize Images for On-page SEO Attributes
Next, upload an image or two and use the keyword as the image file name, image title, image description and most importantly the images alt text. Not only is this considered good bot food but you would also be surprised how many clicks you can get from having your image show up as the first result in Google’s image search. For an example of how I optimize images for On-page SEO Attributes, just check out this HTML image to the left. Even download this image so you can see the file name I gave it and the other attributes.
On-page SEO Attributes Keyword Density
Now we are ready for the textual content, which is probably one of the most important On-page SEO Attributes and the HTML code that you use to format the text. Each page should have a minimum of 250 words but you should really try to at least write 500 words or more. Then make sure the keyword is mentioned around 2% of the time within the text so if you write 500 words then the keywords should be listed around 10 times. Any more than 2% and it will look very spammy in the eyes of Google, any less and the page may not be picked up by the bots at all. This is called keyword density. I like to use this online text analysis tool but when writing on my WordPress sites, I also use a cool little plugin called SEOpressor. It’s best to just write your article without thinking about the On-page SEO Attributes and after you have finished, just go back over it and squeeze the keywords in later.
After you have your article written and the keyword density at 2%, you are ready to make your keywords stand out more. You do this by adding the following formatting features. Mention the keyword in the first and last sentence of the page. Put the keyword inside h1, h2 and h3 tags. I went a little header tag crazy on this page as you can see if you view the source. The h stands for “header” which is just a type or text formatting that puts your headers in a larger font. The tag looks like this <h1>. Bold your keywords using the strong tag like this <strong>On-page SEO Attributes</strong>, don’t use <bold>! Next, underline and italicize a few of your keywords as I have done on this page.
HTML & CSS On-page SEO Attributes
As for HTML, you can use this validation tool from W3C that will point out errors. Other than that, be sure to use <div>tags instead of tables <tb>. Tables are super old school and actually give the search engines trouble while trying to crawl and index the text within.
Next is the navigation. The bots should be able to follow your navigation so it can go to the other pages on your site but a lot of people make the mistake of creating a flash or java based navigation. The best and most crawlable solution is a pure CSS navigation using list items for all the links within. The list item tag looks like this <li>. W3C also has a sweet little validation tool for CSS so you should check that for errors as well. Another great tool that checks for clean CSS and much more On-page SEO Attributes is this Web Page Analysis tool. You want to keep the code light and clean to increase load time and crawlability.
Siloing On-page SEO Attributes
Siloing was first written about by another veteran SEO, Bruce Clay, who claims this is one of the most important On-page SEO Attributes. You can read what he has to say about it in this article Bruce Clay Silicone but while his theory is widely respected, I personally don’t agree with everything he has to say about it. The On-page SEO Attributes of site siloing work like this. If you have a site that sells fruit, then keep all the content about apples on the apples page and all the oranges on the oranges page. You will never want to assign or optimize a page to fit into more than one category and furthermore, you don’t want to link these pages or categories together. Instead, if someone is on your apples page, then they should have to go back to the homepage to get to the oranges category. You can also prevent these silos from getting mixed up by using the controversial <nofollow> tag. This sounds simple enough but it is easy to get your sites silos mixed up.
URL Structuring for On-page SEO Attributes
Just look up in the address bar and notice that the keyword is also in my URL. Don’t use capital letters, always separate words with the dash not underscores and especially not spaces. If you see a URL with a question mark or equals sign, it is what’s know as a query string URL which means that page doesn’t actually exist in a static form so every time someone goes to visit that page it must be generated on the fly aka dynamically. On-page SEO Attributes with URLs are critical. Since the content for this page dynamic and is actually stored in a database most search engines simply cannot index it and the ones that can index it like Google and Bing still have a hard time doing so.
On my next On-page SEO Attributes post, look out for more details on siloing, internal link structure and my new and exciting flash optimization techniques.