2015: The Year of Broken Link Building

Every year begins with a flood of questions to SEO experts about their predictions or recommendations for the upcoming year. I am normally careful not to get involved into too many of these forays because they seem speculative or risky given Google’s penchant to change courses so quickly. When your target is moving so fast, so frequently, and seemingly erratically, it is hard to make predictions and recommendations. So, how should we proceed? One of the common responses is to give very generic, holistic tips like “build your brand”, or “users first”. While I think these are absolutely true, they don’t offer much in the way of actionable advice. Some of the lengthier responses by good SEOs do go into detail on these issues, and...

Google Page Quality Rating Guidelines

Following the release of a document outlining the steps for a Search Quality Evaluator in Google’s Search Quality Rating program, I thought it might be helpful to highlight some of the notable points made in the guidelines for a quality website.  Obviously, we can take away from this that we need to make best efforts to ensure our websites follow the quality guidelines as closely as possible.  This is an expectation; Google even made notes of caution throughout the document advising reviewers that webmasters are likely aware of these guidelines and will try to ‘convince’ them they are a quality website. The document begins by painting the overall picture that sites must have a fulfilled purpose and verifiable reputation. Purpose – One of...

Holy Shit You Still Haven’t Run a Panda Survey?

You. Yeah you. Slacker. That’s right, you, the slacking piece of shit, have you really not run a Panda questionnaire on your website yet? Don’t know what a Panda questionnaire is yet? Really, OK. maybe you can claim ignorance. A Panda Questionnaire is a survey you run against your site which include the questions asked by to the Google reviewers who created the training set for the Panda algorithm. They were asked questions like “could the content on this page appear in a magazine” or “would you trust this page with your credit card” about thousands of sites to build a data set that Google could then apply machine learning techniques to in order to create their Panda algorithm. You have been able to run these yourself for...

A Plea for Data

Hey folks, many of you who follow me on twitter (@rjonesx) may have noticed some discussions between myself and @authoritylabs a week or so ago. I have embarked on a new study that looks at the relationship between SERP features (places, ads, carousel, images, video, etc.) and organic click through rates. Using GWT CTR data, Google Keyword Traffic data, and Authority Labs SERP data, we can determine the actual organic traffic a SERP will return. Take for example two keywords – one gets 1000 visits a month, the other gets 400 visits a month. The second has no advertisers and no SERP features, the first has places and 10 ads. It is actually possible that the second one with less traffic volume actually delivers MORE organic traffic because of these SERP...

Announcing warnJS – the internet emergency broadcast system

I don’t know if you have ever huddled in an internal room with your children during a tornado warning, but it is one of the most unsettling things I have experienced in my life. While unsettling, it is equally relieving to know that you are in the best place you can be before it hits. There are many ways we become aware of impending weather emergencies – the emergency broadcast system on TV and radio, weather apps or text message services on our phones – but one media provider seems left out altogether… the Internet. It seemed silly to me that the most versatile medium mankind has ever known wouldn’t have a solution that made the dissemination of this kind of information quick, easy, and unobtrusive. So I went to work. I used my 8...

A Formal Proposition of Search Ethics

Many of you may not have known this, but the first time I ever became publicly introduced to Moz and the SEO world in large number had nothing to do with introducing a new tactic or proving my merits as an SEO, but rather my particular position on the growing debate about ethics and Search Engine Optimization. Rand Fishkin picked up on my piece entitled “Consensual SEO: Debunking the myth of Ethical SEO” in a post called Russ Jones of Virante on Search Engines & Consent. While it is still a good read, we humans tend to do this silly thing called “grow” and in time I have come to what I believe to be a more thoughtful and complete understanding of the Guidelines, ethical search marketing, and the reasons for the continued tensions...