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How to Easily Debug Markup Implementation Errors

Posted By on : April 23rd, 2014

Debugging can sometimes be a tricky affair but it has now been made easier. The Structured Data Dashboard from Google Webmaster now has a new feature that helps to make debugging easier and helps users learn how Google sees marked-up data on a website.

In the feature an ‘item’ stands for a top level structured data element (excluding nested items) that is tagged in the HTML code. They are arranged according to data type and the order is by number of errors. There is also a scale for the errors themselves.

This will make it easier to make comparisons between errors and items. Any changes you make on the website can easily be traced back to the change in markup errors (whether they are appearing or disappearing).

The process

•    Click on the specific content type and you will be able to view the errors. The results can be filtered or viewed in one go.

•    You will then check whether the markup meets the implementation guidelines for each content type.

•    Click the URLs on the table provided and you should be able to see specific details of the detected markup the last time the page was crawled and the missing pieces.

•    Fixing the issues is now easy and a test can be done in the Structured Data Testing Tool. The pages are crawled again and reprocessed and the changes are ready to be reflected in the Structured Data Dashboard after implementation.

Structured Data Testing Tool

More error types will be added over time so as to improve debugging. Questions are inevitable with any new feature so for this case you can go to the forums on Webmaster to attain more knowledge on the details of this feature. You can also relate your experience to them and listen for feedback.


Expect More Detailed Search Queries in Webmaster Tools

Posted By on : April 23rd, 2014

Expect More Detailed Search Queries in Webmaster Tools

Search queries tell you the number of times that your URL has been clicked. Over the years Webmaster Tools has been rounding the figures to the nearest whole, even million. This would give a not so clear picture of the actual traffic and impressions on sites.

An upgrade was recently made that allows you to view the exact number of clicks and impressions that were made and when they were made. These statistics then remain available to you for 90 days. If you haven’t already verified your website in Google Webmaster Tools then you should.

Once it is verified and you want to see the changes in action you can log into your account. Once you log in click on a link on the left written ‘search traffic’. Go to the ‘search queries’ link on the left and click. You should be able to see the activity.

Mobile sites

Those with mobile sites can now get statistics for those sites separately from desktop sites. Accessing sites from mobile devices is gaining popularity very fast so this information cannot be clumped together with desktop query stats any longer.

Where ‘skip redirect’ is utilized (a user views a desktop URL in the search results but upon selecting it they are taken to the corresponding mobile site, the stats are also included. You can switch from mobile stats to desktop search query stats by clicking on the search queries page and then selecting the filter you would want to use to view the results. 

All this information will allow you to better understand your audience in terms of how they interact with your website. Webmasters will also be able to figure out where problems lie on their website. It could be something that the users are searching for but don’t find.


How to Disavow Spammy Links to Your Site

Posted By on : April 5th, 2014

To disavow simply means to deny any responsibility for something. Thus, when you ask Google to disavow a certain link, you’re essentially suggesting that you’re denying any responsibility for those spammy websites that link to you, and so Google shouldn’t penalize your site.

Here are the easy steps for disavowing spammy links to your website

1. Download links to your website

Start by looking at all the pages and sites that link to your site. Go to your Webmaster tools and look for the button known as “download more sample links”. To find this button, log in > select your website > click “search traffic” > click “links to your site” and under “who links the most”, click “more”.


Review this file to identify those links you’d like to remove.

2. Create a .txt file

The second step is to create a .txt file with all those links you’d like to disavow. Google doesn’t seem to care how you name the file so you can name it something like disavow.txt or even your website.txt.

Using the file downloaded in step 1, pick out those links you would like to disavow and then add them to the .txt file. Remember to include only one link per line.

If you would like Google to ignore all the links from the entire domain such as example.com, then you can add the line “domain.com” but you should take care not to include your important links!

3. Upload to Google

Lastly, upload the .txt file to Google. After logging into your webmaster tools, you can then visit Google’s page for disavow links tool.

Before you upload the .txt file, you will see warnings in three pages. The warnings are simply a reminder that the disavow tool is an advanced feature that should be used with caution. Additionally, Google reminds you here that incorrect use of the tool could potentially harm your website.


Harm You Can Cause To Your Site by Using Google’s Disavow Tool Incorrectly

Posted By on : April 5th, 2014

Other than keyword density, social signals and website speed, link building is among the most crucial factors that influence SEO. Each bank link that leads from a reputable site to yours can give your site a higher page rank.

However, not all websites that link to your site are desirable.  Possibly, you’ve engaged in spammy link-building strategies in the past, and are now attempting to correct this.

Perhaps, some links to your website have strangely appeared on a forum or website you’ve never thought about.

Unfortunately, you may not be able to determine whether a third party site should take your links down. It’s here that the disavow tool comes in handy.

What’s the disavow tool?

The disavow tool is the tool that webmasters can use to ask Google to disregard certain bank links when it comes to determining the page rank of a site.


When to use it

You should use this tool if you realize that a particular website has spammy, artificial links that point to your site.

The Possible harm of using the tool incorrectly

Therefore, do not disavow any links from your website for another reason such as if it’s a low PR. This can potentially harm the ranking of your website in a way you cannot reverse.

Remember Google’s algorithms are so fine-tuned and so, you shouldn’t do anything extreme that might throw them off.

Google’sEric Kuan in a thread onGoogle Webmaster Help puts it clearly that you should use the disavow tool with caution because it can cause potential harm to your website’s performance.

Therefore, if you use the tool to disavow those links that are useful in your ranking, it will affect the performance of your site.

So, do not just blindly, disavow links because you’re afraid. Instead, you should be careful, slow, and patient with those links.


Using the Improved Public URL Removal Tool for Better Results

Posted By on : March 22nd, 2014

Information is constantly changing and this requires changes to be made on various websites and searches. Google has a way of ensuring that the content you see is updated so that search results actually bring up valid results.

They have updated the public URL removal tool. It allows you to request changes or updates on third party sites that may not be reflected on the search engine yet. It could be content that was removed from a particular site (if you choose that URL on the search engine you will not find the content you are looking for) or some small changes that were made to the URL.


You’ll need to sign into your Google account in order to submit all the removal requests. The page is supposed to have a 403, 410, or 404 result code (this can be confirmed via a good HTTP header checker), a noindexMeta tag if not the robots.txt. Soft 404 errors are also recognized but not preferred.

How to go about it

First enter the exact webpage’s URL that you’d like to remove. The URL removal tool should confirm that the page is indeed gone and then prompt you to complete the submission. That’s it! With regard to parts of a page that have been changed or removed you will need the URL and a word that was there initially but is no longer there.

This tool makes it easier to make changes and is to be used wisely and carefully.


Google’s Manual Penalty – Site-wide matches vs. Partial matches

Posted By on : March 22nd, 2014

In the last few years, Google has introduced a number of major algorithm updates such as Caffeine, Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird. All these are efforts by Google to improve the user experience.

In August 18, 2013, Google added another feature called “Manual Actions” under its “Search Traffic” section found at Google Webmaster Tools (GWT).

What is manual action?

Manual action refers to the penalties imposed against a website after real humans from Google web spam, review and find that the website violates the Google’s Webmaster Guidelines

If you have a penalty resulting from manual action, Google will reveal whether this penalty affects specific URLs (partial matches) or whether it affects the whole site (site-wide-matches).

How to know your site has been penalized

To find out whether your site has been slapped with this manual penalty, you should look out for the following:

  • Drop in organic traffic
  • A decrease in your site’s performance
  • Your website doesn’t show in the search results

What to do next

Unless Google sends you a notice, the next step should be to head to your Webmaster Tools account and check through the Manual Action page just to confirm the penalty.

If you’ve a penalty, then Google will specify whether it affects certain URLs (partial matches) or whether it affects the entire website (site-wide matches).

How to identify and fix the penalties

If the manual action has been listed, you have an idea of where to check and start fixing your website. Here are common things you can look for:

  • Use Fetch as Google tool from GMT to find out how Google sees your particular web pages.
  • Compare the content fetched by Google and the one that human visitors can see to find out whether the two are different.
  • If the two contents are different, then you should remove the part of your website that serves different content to bots and users. To do this, go to the server and look through the site’s code.
  • Check whether the site has any URLs that direct visitors to a different place than where they expect
  • Find out whether there’re any URLs that redirect users from specific locations or redirect users that come from Google SERPs.
  • If your website has any of the two redirects, remove the site’s portion that uses these links. You may do this by changing the site’s code from your server.

After making these changes, you may send a reconsideration request to Google describing the specific changes you’ve made to solve the issue.

Promise not to repeat the same in future. Google will then confirm that all is good and revoke the penalty.


The Definitive Guide to Link Building with Infographics

Posted By on : March 12th, 2014

Check the best blogs in your niche and chances are you will come across one infographics after another, every day. In the recent years, many people seem to be using these pieces of content to deliver a visual punch. According to the latest stats:

  • Between the years 2010 and 2012, infographics increased Google searches by 800 percent
  • 90 percent of information that gets into the brain is visual. We are visual beings!
  • Those using infographics get up to 12 percent more traffic

Therefore, infographics are excellent when it comes to content marketing and link building. They are not only a powerful way to tell a story, but are colorful and able to deliver tons of information fast.

Here’s a guide on using infographics for effective link building:

1. The Data

Infographics stands on solid data. The info part is as important as the graphic part. The data used should be relevant, updated, and useful. You can choose good data from:

  • Authority sources within your niche
  • Research firms such as Gartner, econsultancy, Pew and others that publish in many fields
  • Statistical sites from global bodies, government agencies and NGOs
  • Your own (online) surveys

2.The Graphics

You should convert the research into something appealing to the eye. You can choose various visuals to deliver the information. These may include:

  • Icons and vector form of art
  • Graphs and charts
  • Clean illustrations and photos
  • Animations

These aspects should all work together to bring out your data’s main points. Things to consider are:

  • Choose the first image carefully – It’s the visual headline and will determine whether they’ll at everything else.
  • Let the flow of your images tell a story
  • Keep your design simple yet harmonious – Separate different areas using different backgrounds and use similar format for graphs and charts.
  • Use colors that compliment each other when used together.
  • Use shapes, colors, arrows, and lines to guide the reader through different parts

Seek inspiration from other infographics and you can search Pinterest, for example.

3.The Writing

In addition to the images and data, you need to use the correct words to:

  • Come up with headings and subheadings in the infographics sections
  • Highlight any interesting facts
  • Call out or caption data.

Pay attention to the infographic’s title as that’s what will motivate people to click. Do the same to subheads and captions.


Has Hummingbird Changed SEO?

Posted By on : March 12th, 2014

If you come across the concept that SEO is dead whether in your mind or in print, simply dismiss it. The truth is nothing is going to change as far as ranking is concerned. What worked before the release of Hummingbird will continue to work after its release. This includes:

  • Engaging and original content remainsto be king.
  • Legitimate back links earned using the right SEO techniques are still essential
  • The need to use keywords carefully and moderately is still imperative
  • Similar signals that worked before Hummingbird will still generate results

The only change to anticipate is the way this new algorithm interprets your search. Hummingbird has been made in such a way that it improves the likelihood of getting more specific results to search queries.

Hummingbird pleases people, not websites

Almost every article online about Hummingbird doesn’t say anything about Google pleasing websites. Instead, Google’s intention is to ensure that users who type in questions receive specific and relevant answers.

In its history, Google has never promised websites something beyond a fair chance to rank by using proper SEO. So, everything this search engine has done is for the user, not a website with answers.

Therefore Hummingbird has not affected SEO in any way. You still have a chance to improve your search engine ranking by making efforts to use proper SEO and publish original content.

However, you’ll also need to compete with the Google’s Information Cards that could already be having answers to the searcher in them.

 As of now, this applies to Google Chrome only. We don’t know how long it’ll take for the other browsers to follow suit.

The Hummingbird Presents an Opportunity for Growth

If your business has to grow, then the website and its blog should grow as well. What worked before should be able to work with Hummingbird, particularly if content has answers to the latest topics from which people may ask questions.
All of the following aspects still work:

  • Combing the news websites and then generating creative content from the current stories
  • Videos remain to be hot and appealing to those who choose links that have answers to their queries
  • Infographics create curiosity and are an awesome way to answer most search engine queries in an attractive and creative way.


Common FAQs about Filing a Reconsideration Request

Posted By on : March 12th, 2014

In 2012, Google rolled out manual spam action to prevent spam in the search results. The penalty may affect your entire site (site-wide matches) or some links on your site (partial matches).

When this happens, it can affect your ranking in search engines and you need to make changes to your site such as removing spammy back links using Google’s disavow link tool.

It’s only after this that you can send a reconsideration request to Google to revoke the penalty. Here are frequently asked questions related to filing the reconsideration request.

When can I file a reconsideration request?

Google may penalize your site for violating the Google Quality Guidelines. The penalty comes in form of a manual spam action.  You can learn about the violation through a notification in the Google Webmaster Tools or an SEO specialist.

To get the penalty revoked, ensure that your site no more violates the quality guidelines. After this, you should then file a reconsideration request.

Can I file the reconsideration request after an algorithm change affects my site?

Reconsideration requests apply to those sites affected by manual spam actions. If an algorithmic change affects your site but there’s no manual spam action to be revoked, there’s no need to submit a reconsideration request.

How do I evaluate the quality of website’s back links?

Start by checking out the Google Webmaster Tools and specifically, the section on links to your site. You’ll find a good number of your website’s inbound links.

You can then look at any patterns that bring out general issues worth resolving. For instance, look out for spammy blog comments, autogenerated text ads or forum posts with links that may pass page rank. This could be unnatural links that would go against Google’s quality guidelines.

How do I remove bad back links?

Start by identifying the poor links and then endeavor to get them nofollowed or removed. You can then deal with the other unnatural back links using the disavow links tool but be careful because incorrect use of this tool could harm your site’s performance.

How much information should I provide?

You should provide detailed documentation that explains the specific changes you made. You should also remember to promise not repeat this in future. If you include a link to any shared document, ensure anyone with that link can access the document.

What is the possible outcome?

After sending a reconsideration request, you’ll get an automated confirmation in the GWT. After your request is processed, you’ll receive another message on the outcome of your request.

Usually, the message may say that the penalty has been revoked or your website still violates the quality guidelines.


All About rel=”author” Tag

Posted By on : March 12th, 2014

As Google continues to be more personalized, it is worth looking at the Google Authorship mark up. Using the rel=”me” and rel=”author”, it is possible to enhance how SERPs show off your content by putting your face and name to your own work. The photo is obtained from your profile at Google plus.

How to set up the rel=”author” tag

First, you should set up your Google plus profile page. Your author name within search results will be linked to this page. So, ensure you’ve a clear and easy to recognize mugshot because this is what will appear close to your search results.

A couple of methods can be used though the easiest one is submitting your email to Google. The method will work if your email is of a domain similar to your site.

If this is not the case, you should create a link between your content and your Google plus profile. You can achieve this in the following way:

1. Createthe link from your own webpage to Google+ profile

This is the way to do it:  <a href="[Google + profile URL]” rel=”author">Google</a>

For ex:  <a href="https://plus.google.com/104103625779880789542" rel="author">Shabir MS</a>

Remember to add a rel=author tag to your author information found below every blog post.

2. Put a reciprocal link, which should run from your G+ profile to the website you updated

To achieve this, you should head to your Google+ profile page and edit the ‘Contributor To’ section.

Now, click on ‘add custom link’ and enter the site URL.

3. After doing this, you should confirm that this is working by using this tool. You’ll be able to see the information that Google will pick up from your page as well as preview your search listing.

That should suffice, though you’ll realize that the enhanced listings may show up quickly for some people, and take some time for others.

Why do you need the rel=”author” tag?

1. Improves visibility

Google seems to use social media information in search results and this tag will definitely improve your visibility in search results.

2. Your results stand out

When visitors come to your site and find valuable stuff, you’ll become an authority and whenever they search for more information in future, they’ll be looking forward to see your image and click on your link.

Other sites may offer similar information but your mugshot will single you out from the crowd.

3. Easy to set up

The above steps take a couple of minutes and can improve your search results

4. Increases credibility

Displaying your mugshot and connecting it to your Google+ profile page shows that Google’s verification for the author and site. This makes the search results more credible.

5. Trust signalA

In addition to increased CTR through the search listings, this tag can enhance trust for your site because of the human image.