Archived posts from the 'Uncategorized' Category

Google Blog Search Banned Legit Webmaster Forum

I’ve been able to get all sorts of non-blog stuff onto the SERPs of Google’s blog search in the past. However, my attempt to get contents hosted by Google into blog search is best described as miserable failure. Although Google Blog Search BETA delivers results from all kind of forums, it obviously can’t deal with threaded content from a source which recently got rid of its BETA stage.

First I’ve tried to ping blog search, submitted feeds, linked to threads from here and in a feed regulary fetched for blog search as well. No results. No robots.txt barriers or noindex tags, just badly malformed code but Google’s bot can eat not properly closed alternate links pointing to an RSS feed … drove me nuts. Must be a ban or at least a heavy troll-penalty I thought, went to Yahoo, masked the feed URLs, submitted again but no avail.

Try for yourself, submit a feed to Google Blog Search, then use a somewhat unique thread title and do a blog search. Got zilch too? Try a web search to double check that the content is crawlable. It is. Conclusion? Google banned its very own Google Groups.

Too sad, poor PageRank addicts running blog searches will miss out on tidbits like this quote from Google’s Adam Lasnik, asked why URLs blocked from crawlers show toolbar-PR:

As for the PR showing… it’s my understanding that the toolbar is using non-private info (PR data from other pages in that domain) to extrapolate/infer/guess a PR for that page :).

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Code Monkey Very Simple Man/Woman

Rcjordan over at Threadwatch pointed me to a nice song perfectly explaining romors like “Google’s verification tags get you into supplemental hell” and thoughtless SEO theories like “self-closing meta tags in HTML 4.x documents and uppercase element/attribute names in XHTML documents prevent search engine crawlers from indexing”. You don’t believe such crappy “advice” can make it to the headlines? Just wait for an appropiate thread at your preferred SEO forum picked by a popular but technically challenged blogger. This wacky hogwash is the most popular lame excuse for MSSA issues (aka “Google is broke coz my site sitting at top10 positions since the stone age disappeared all of a sudden”) at Google’s very own Webmaster Central.

Here is a quote:

“The robot [search engine crawler] HAS to read syntactically … And I opt for this explanation exactly because it makes sense to me [the code monkley] that robots have to be dilligent in crawling syntactically in order to do a good job of indexing … The old robots [Googlebot 2.x] did not actually parse syntactically - they sucked in all characters and sifted them into keywords - text but also tags and JS content if the syntax was broken, they didn’t discrimnate. Most websites were originally indexed that way. The new robots [Mozilla compatible Googlebot] parse with syntax in mind. If it’s badly broken (and improper closing of a tag in the head section of a non-xhtml dtd is badly broken), they stop or skip over everything else until they find their bearings again. With a broken head that happens the </html> tag or thereabouts”.

Basically this means that the crawler ignores the remaining code in HEAD or even hops to the end of the document not reading the page’s contents.

In reality search engine crawlers are pretty robust and fault tolerant, designed to eat and digest the worst code one can provide. These Google’s Sandbox“).

Just hire code monkeys for code monkey tasks, and SEOs for everything else ;)

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Finally dumping M$-Office…

… in favour of “Google Office”, err, Google Apps.



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Hapless Structures and Weak Linkage

Michael Martinez over at SEO-Theory (moved!) has a nice write-up on how to get crawled and indexed. The post titled “Search engine love: now they crawl me, now they don’t” discusses the importance of internal linkage, PageRank distribution, and Google’s recent architectural changes — topics which are “hot” in Google’s Webmaster Help Center, where I hang out every now and then. I thought I blog Michael’s nice essay as sort of multi-link-bookmark making link drops easier, so here is some of my stuff related to crawling and indexing:

About Google’s Toolbar-PageRank
High PageRank leads to frequent crawling, but nonetheless ignore green pixels.

The Top-5 Methods to Attract Search Engine Spiders
Get deep links to great content.

Supporting search engine crawling
The syntax of a search engine friendly Web site.

Web Site Structuring
Do’s and don’ts on information architectures.

Optimizing Web Site Navigation
Tweak your UI for users to make it crawler friendly.

Linking is All About Popularity and Authority
LOL: Link out loud.

Related information

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Interested in buying a text link

Today I give up on answering emails like this one:

Hello,

First of all I would like to introduce my company as one of the best web hosting service provider from [country] named [link]. We are in the hosting business since 2004 and have more than 3000 satisfied customers.

We are having PR -6 and an alexa ranking of 63,697

We are interested to purchase a link at your site, please provide us with a suitable quotation.

Waiting for your kind reply.

Regards,
[Name, Company …]

Besides the fact that a page claiming a PageRank of minus six most probably is not that kind of neighborhood I’d tend to link out to, it’s a kinda stupid attempt.

Not only the page where the contact link was clicked is in no way related to web hosting services (it just triggers a few green pixels in the Google toolbar). Each and every page on this topic has a link leading to my take on paid links, which does not encourage link monkey business, so to say.

My usual reply to such emails was “Thanks for writing, you can buy a nofollow’ed link marked as advertising for a low as [tiny monthly fee] when you suggest a page on my site which is relevant to yours and I like what you provide to your visitors/users” plus an explanation of the link condom. No takers.

The message above is from a clown abusing my contact form today, so I guess it’s OK to quote it. It is however symptomatic, there are lots of folks out there who still believe that fooling the engines is that simple. I admit it can be done, but I’m with Eric Ward who says it’s not worth it.

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Priceless SEO Advice

Just stumbled upon: If you are too stupid to use a computer you might try giving SEO advice. Best business plan ever, for idots ;)

My favourite:

Q: Why are SEO Consultants too expensive for webmasters?
A: I personally used a firm that did a 250,000 site submissions for my site, it worked great.

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Just in case I’ve missed your email …

Just in case I’ve ignored your message: sorry. I was (am) sick, but I hope I’ll be back to work soon.



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Good to see Blogger.com cares about spam

Due to family issues I didn’t blog much recently. Today I tried to update an older post and got this

WARNING

This blog has been locked by Blogger’s spam-prevention robots. You will not be able to publish your posts …

A bit weird though, because I don’t run AdSense or other advertising, I’ve comment moderation on, and don’t post w/o entering the captchas. Probably my sidebar links have triggered a filter. Oh well.

What really bothers me is that Blogger tells me they’ll delete my blog if they don’t get a review request within 10 days or so. That could happen when I’m sick, traveling, or for tons of other reasons. Since they’ve my email addy, a warning by email would be suitable.

I’ve submitted the review request and look forward to reading the promised email reply from the Blogger team.

Update: A few hours later I got this email:

Hello,

Your blog has been reviewed, verified, and whitelisted so that it will no longer appear as potential spam. If you sign out of Blogger and sign back in again, you should be able to post as normal. Thanks for your patience, and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

Sincerely,
Blogger Support



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Is buying and selling text links risky?

To answer the question above: Yes, selling links can be risky, buying links is quite safe, and I do recommend link brokers. I don’t want to fuel the heated “paid links evil or not” debate, but there is so much misinformation out there that I feel I’ve to step in. Two things pointed me to this topic today, TLA’s affiliate program and an article by Jill Whalen.

I got an email from Patrick Gavin from Text-Link-Ads.com (TLA) introducing his new affiliate program. I know he’s a nice guy, so I’ve signed up and placed his banner on all related pages of Smart IT Consulting Internet Services. Checking the link I found this statement on the landing page:

…our ads can … help your link popularity which is a top factor in search engine rankings.

Well, I disagree respectfully, so I wrote an article How to buy and sell (text) links and linked it as editorial note below the ads. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t promote TLA for ‘lousy’ $25 per signup. I do believe that traffic brokers like TLA provide extremely valuable services, and although I don’t use TLA’s service myself I got a few recommendations from trusted sources. So please consider TLA’s program recommended when you buy traffic.

Ok, next I stumbled upon Jill Whalen’s good article Buying Text Links - Is It Evil?. Jill does a terrific job in explaining why paid links confuse the hell out of the search engines and why they dislike selling link popularity. Basically she says that buying links isn’t evil and bought links will not get a site penalized by the engines:

It’s not a matter of if this [dropped rankings] will happen with paid text link ads, but when. It could be next week, next month, or next year. Regardless of when the engines decide to lower the boom, you can bet we’re going to hear a lot of crying in the forums about it! For now, if you’re buying text link ads, or have been thinking about it, I wouldn’t really worry about it. Just make a mental note to yourself that whatever boost to your rankings they may provide now could vanish at any time.

That’s right, the destination page may not get the PR boost, but the page carrying the link may get penalized, and unfortunately she doesn’t mention the latter fact.

If Google or another SE takes away a site’s ability to pass reputation in links that’s fatal. It may be not that big deal with outgoing links (although that’s pretty much questionable!), but internal links do lose their power too. If a site concentrates incoming links on the home page or few points of entry, the result may be that all the content pages attracting the money terms in lower link levels disappear from the search results.

So if you sell links, via broker or not, you really should make clear that your links will be castrated. Selling links with condom is fine with the engines. If you buy links, don’t worry but don’t expect an everlasting ranking boost, if any - just enjoy and convert the traffic.

Related links:
Sell and buy links via Text-Link-Ads.com (affiliate link to TLA)
Jill Whalen’s article “Buying Text Links - Is It Evil?”
My notes on buying and selling text link ads

UPDATE: Patrick’s statement: “We recommend only purchasing links on websites that have a good chance of sending you targeted traffic that converts for you. If you are getting your money’s worth in targeted traffic you don’t have to worry about how the search engines treat the link and any benefit will be a bonus.

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How to stop email spammers abusing contact forms

Recently some email spammers figured that my contact forms aren’t that safe and started relaying their spam through my machine. I’ve spotted the abuse late on a Saturday, as my inbox got flooded with cc’d emails and bounce messages. I forwared such an email to my hosting service and whilst I cleaned up my inbox they stopped the spammer. Awesome service, thank you National Net!

NationalNet support patched my PHP scripts
if (ereg(’^[_a-zA-Z0-9-]+(\.[_a-zA-Z0-9-]+)*@[a-zA-Z0-9-]+(\.[a-zA-Z0-9-]+)+$’, $email-from))
mail($email-to, $email-subject, $email-message, $email-headers…

and they sent me an email explaining what they did to stop the spammer within 15 minutes or so.

GrayWolf posts a similar case and recommends this helpful page with PHP code to stop header injection, there is more useful stuff in the manual’s comment section, and a great thread at WMW. I found that a combination of the NatNet patch and the tips provided there, plus a few custom add-ons like database lookups, should secure my email forms in the future. Next step is sending automated complaints to the spammers ISP.



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