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Google Panda 4.1 Really?

by Jim on October 1, 2014

Last Friday Pierre Far of Google announced on G+ that there had been a Panda update to the algorithm. For those playing along at home this would be update 4.1 . Whilst I have seen some reports of ranking devastation Panda 4.1 Brandon Dennisfor the most part I have not seen anything like this in Australian results. Some local SEOs are saying the exact opposite and are claiming that it has adversely affected directory sites, I’m not seeing any evidence of that though. In fact I’d even go as far to say that it has not been rolled out in AU yet. John Mueller is saying that it is a global update but it will affect different countries in different ways.

If you think you have been affected by this update then please let me know. From what I’ve read of sites that have been affected in other countries, it’s what you would expect lots of advertising above the fold. However there are a lot of quality issues in addition to too many ads on a page that we have seen sites get penalised for. They include;

  • Content duplication – do a site: search look for any results that should not be there and remove them
  • Broken links – crawl your site with a link checker and make sure it’s not full of busted links.
  • Unique Content Ratio – Make sure you don’t have lots of pages with only a couple of words of unique content. Typically these would be seen as low quality pages
  • Don’t forget to let me know if you have been hit.


    SEO And TLD Checklist

    by Jim on September 24, 2014

    I get asked a lot about the SEO benefits of having multiple domain names with keywords in them. There is no benefit to having multiple domains pointed at one site. In fact if it’s done without the right redirects it will hurt your rankings. There is however benefit still in having an exact match domain despite Google making a change to how it ranks them about two years ago. Having a keyword early in the domain is treated as a ranking signal for that keyword. These days I’m getting asked more about the new Top Level Domains (TLDs). Most of these have only recently been released but there is a bit of a gold rush going on to secure potentially lucrative ones. For instance, I have received marketing material proffering that it would be beneficial for me to purchase, .melbourne being a new TLD . Traditionally Google has not looked at the TLD as a keyword signal. It’s either been a geo signal like .au or an institutional one like .edu or .mil. The lines have become a lot more blurred in recent years with the flurry of alternate TLDs available like .me .co .info etc.

    SEO Is About Content

    Whilst the keywords in a domain are part of the signal and right now it would seem an important part, they are only one part. A couple of years ago I was offered to buy It was tempting but I declined as I had enough content to create with existing sites and could not justify spending the $1000 for the domain and then throwing additional resources at it to create the content. Having keywords in a domain is not a magic ranking pill, you still need great consistent content and a well structured, well performing site.

    TLD & Branding

    Whilst I’m not a branding expert I can see how TLDs might be great for a new brand. I’m not sure about existing brands though. I guess you could have but you would still need a content strategy for that site, unless you were just using it in advertising because it was easy to remember. In that situation you would need to 301 redirect to If it simply pointed at the same content you would have a duplicate content issue.

    TLDs Not A Magic SEO Pill

    Look at this way does not rank for travel. Why you would even bother setting up the www in that situation is beyond me. You go to all that trouble to have a keyword rich domain then you mess it up with WWW? Keep this in mind, the earlier you get your keywords into an address the better. That has always been a good signal. Guess what does rank for though? “Travel Travel”. Interesting eh?

    SEO & TLDs

    SEO & TLDS

    The travel industry sorted itself out with SEO years ago, so best practices have been in place a long time as they have gone through a lot of Google seismic shifts. In this situation the keyword rich domain MAY provide a ranking edge in a highly competitive environment, all other ranking signals being equal but the more competitive the space is, then the more important great content is.

    Google on TLDs

    Google has said it will take time to understand the various TLDs but for the most part it will treat them like other generic TLDs. This means the likes of say .melbourne won’t automatically indicate to Google that the site is Melbourne related. This may happen once Google has several years of data to show that only Melbourne related domains have been registered at .melbourne but initially no geo juice will be bestowed on such TLDs. Here’s what Matt Cutts said about them a couple of years ago.


    The Saga Of The SEO Consultant

    by Jim on September 19, 2014

    Well that was fascinating. The post I wrote yesterday afternoon has resulted in in a 3 spot bump for SEO Consultant Melbourne plus a 1 spot bump for SEO consultant. Taking a closer look at the results for SEO Consultant Melbourne reveals some strange rankings. For instance there is a Linkedin profile.

    SEO Consultant Melbourne Results 19/9/2014

    On closer inspection it looks like Adam Kelly the SEO responsible for the listing has had a red hot go it getting the listing ranked for the phrase. His linkedin vanity URL includes the phrase SEO Specialist (Which he ranks no.2 for) as well as a backlink from an SEO related site. His name field includes;

    SEO Specialist | SEO Consultant in Melbourne

    And yes that was intentional. I have put it there as a H1 as that is exactly as it appears on Adam’s page (EDIT: I just changed this to a H2 as I think it was having a detrimental effect as a H1 23/9/2014). Nice work. Both of those phrases appear again on his page in at least 2 H2s. His profile is appearing there mainly because of his name field. Interesting SEO hack. A nice one to play around with but one that LinkedIn could destroy with their next update. That’s always the gamble building on someone else’s platform.

    SEO Girl

    The “SEO Girl” on the Mornington Peninsula is another interesting result. She only has links from 8 domains. More on page goodness only. What I am deducing from search results like this is that backlinks maybe downgraded as a signal for some categories in exchange for On page signals. Very curious.



    SEO Consultant Update

    by Jim on September 18, 2014

    You may remember about 14 months ago I wrote a series of articles about getting ranked for the phrase SEO Consultant Melbourne. I got the page to no.1 very quickly and then subsequently we went to no.1 for SEO Consultant as well. Since then I have done nothing on the phrases and just recently we have dropped to about no.5 for SEO Consultant Melbourne and about the same for SEO Consultant when doing the search from Melbourne. Nationally for the latter I think we average around tens or elevens. It’s a little hard to get an accurate fix on this.

    SEO Consultant Bump

    As this phrase is one I understand quite well I wanted to see the effect adding another article targeting this phrase would have on rankings. I’m giving the Googlebot a couple of ways to find this post but I’m not doing any external backlinks apart from Social shares. It’s been fascinating to watch how the SEO space for ranking has become quite volatile.  Phrases like SEO Melbourne that we ranked no.1 for for about 6 years, are jumping around all over the place these days. At the moment they seemed to be dominated by EMDs, which tells me there is probably an update coming soon in that area. Below is a screen grab of where we are ranking for SEO Consultant & SEO Consultant Melbourne.

    SEO Consultant Update

    SEO Consultant Update

    How the mighty hath fallen eh? Stay tuned folks :)


    Digital Ready Business Kit

    by Jim on September 17, 2014

    First of all I just want to apologise in advance to anyone involved in the site or the organisation behind ACCAN (Australian Communications Consumer Action Network). Their site was pointed out to me by know trouble maker and journalist, Paul Wallbank. He posted the link on Facebook last night after I had already recorded this week’s show. I’m not going to delve to much into the merits of a taxpayer funded site delivering a “Digital Ready Business Kit”. I will leave that to the likes of the aforementioned scribe. I will however record another show today as I can’t stop thinking about some lessons we can learn from the seemingly total abandonment of any SEO principles.

    I’m sure the people behind the site are lovely and there is always a back story of which I know nothing about and the site may have built this way for a reason. I just can’t think of good one.

    Best CMS For SEO

    If you are just doing content and you don’t need a big ecommerce engine then I would always recommend WordPress. If someone asked if they should build in Joomla my advice would be only if they didn’t care about ranking. It would seem Digital Ready would be in that category. I am very familar with Joomla and up until 2009 it was my CMS of choice. As the image below demonstrates though, the world jumped off it and onto WordPress at about the same time.

    Joomla vs WordPress Digital Ready

    Joomla vs WordPress Digital Ready

    I’m not saying you can’t get ranked with a Joomla site but it a heck of lot harder than WordPress.

    Do HTTPS or HTTP

    Don’t do both like this site is doing. Right now you have the site visible at an http and an https version. In our experience this is a big quality issue with Google. If your launching anew site just do HTTPS.

    Don’t Launch With Errors

    20% of the pages are either 404s or 500 errors. This is another quality issue.

    Digital Ready Errors

    Joomla vs WordPress Digital Ready

    Don’t Duplicate Your Home Page

    The home page is duplicated, another quality issue. It is available at / as well as index.php and /?view=featured which is actually a link on the page.

    Don’t Replicate Your Site At WWW

    The whole site is replicated at To Google we now have four versions of the same site. The HTTP & HTTPS plus the WWW versions of those.

    Don’t Copy, Create Original Content

    Selecting a random selection of content shows that it has been repurposed on a number of other related sites. Once again a quality issue as the site is just republishing another site’s work. Why should Google rank it when it can show the site which originated the content? From the checks I have done most of the content is lifted from the parent site

    There is so much more I could go on with like page titles, H1s etc but you get the picture.

    Be Digital Ready, Be SEO Ready

    Getting these things right not only helps your users it helps you rank :) The fact that taxpayers money was wasted on this is one of the reasons that I have total disdain for ALL politicians.





    A Post Authorship World; 4 Takeaways

    by Jim September 10, 2014

    You may have missed the announcement last week that Google killed off Authorship. They did not make a big song and dance about it, just quietly took it out the back and choked the life out of it. As many viewers will know I have been a big advocate of the IDEA of authorship because [...]

    Read more: A Post Authorship World; 4 Takeaways

    How Spammy Is LinkedIn?

    by Jim September 4, 2014

    In the immortal words of Monty Python’s Brian, “A Lot” and it’s getting worse. Last year one of the  Beers Blokes & Business podcasts was dedicated to LinkedIn. I came out on the side of it being a spammers/recruiters paradise which is great if you are selling stuff or looking for staff right? I also [...]

    Read more: How Spammy Is LinkedIn?

    SEO Google Pigeon Update Recovery

    by Jim September 3, 2014

    Well this one was a bit weird. Back at the end of July there was a few stories around about a Google update code named “Pigeon”. This is not to be confused with the old PigeonRank April Fools day prank from Google. In fact Google has said little about this update publicly. It was first [...]

    Read more: SEO Google Pigeon Update Recovery

    4 Marketing Essentials For Christmas 2014

    by Jim August 27, 2014

    I hate to add to the “hey it’s only 100 days until Christmas” chorus but I usually get asked these questions in October when they should have been implemented in August. 1. Get A Blog As the old saying goes, “The best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago, the second best [...]

    Read more: 4 Marketing Essentials For Christmas 2014

    3 Steps To Capitalise On HTTPS Google Love

    by Jim August 20, 2014

    Google have been banging on about https as a ranking signal for quite some time. Well it became official last week. Here’s what you need to know. 1. Get an SSL certificate for your web server. For most businesses you will get these through your hosting company. They can cost between a few dollars per [...]

    Read more: 3 Steps To Capitalise On HTTPS Google Love