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From the category archives:

SEO Video Blog

Bigcommerce SEO

by Jim on October 20, 2014

Bigcommerce made some SEO “improvements” back in June. Problem is they actually had some very negative SEO impacts. Thanks to “Dylan” who saw one of my posts on Twitter. He forwarded me their newsletter from June where they discuss their improvements and also have a free SEO eBook. For an ecommerce platform, their SEO ebook lacks some key advice such as using structured data for all your products as well as a bunch of other basic stuff. Maybe I’m being too harsh but the ebook is very basic and sadly some of the things that are omitted, like using structured data for addresses (Google my business) is not possible on their CMS.

Bigcommerce SEO

Bigcommerce SEO email

This video though is a last ditch attempt to get BigCommerce SEO to use robots.txt on . This is a change they made in June. Basically they are duplicating all their clients sites at subdomains. If you use bigcommerce, do a search like this. “brand name” you will then see your site in the results. As I point out in the video, they do use rel=”canonical” but they are using it from one domain to another. Now whilst Google will tell you that you can canonicalize across domains if you really have to, it doesn’t work. That is our experience anyway.

SEO & Canonical across domains

Over the years after working on thousands of sites we have found it a good idea not to use rel=”canonical” across domains, even though Google has a whole page telling you how to do it. The reason we don’t is that Google still crawls and indexes content even though it as the canonical tag AND Google webmaster tools sees it as a backlink. Wait, what? Yep, if you canonical from one domain to another Google will see that as a backlink from another domain.

Bigcommerce SEO Canonical

Bigcommerce is the biggest backlinker

Bigcommerce Inconsistent Canonicals

So digging a bit further since I made the video I can see that there is some real inconsistency in the way Bigcommerce applies the canonical tags to their sites. For instance the site below has it’s content indexed at both the sub domain and their real domain. In this case the sub domain is canonicaled to itself.

bigcommerce seo canonicals

Bigcommerce inconsistent canonicals affecting SEO

Why Bigcommerce?

Whilst it’s lovely to have an intellectual discussion on whether canonicals should work like this, here’s what we know;

  • The sub domains are getting crawled and their pages indexed even though they are canonicalled
  • Google sees these canonical URLs as backlinks from the subdomain to the main domain (spammy much?)
  • Bigcommerce application of this technique seems inconsistent.

If you need these sub domains just BLOCK THEM FROM GOOGLE so we can all get on with our lives!!



Top SEOs Smashed In Australia

by Jim on October 15, 2014

Last Wednesday it was reported that long time SEO “ranking” or “awards” company was absolutely smashed by Google and removed from the index. According to the story over at Searchengineland Top SEOs has being using a couple of domains since their deindexing by Google including and As you will see from today’s video they have since moved on from those domains and are now employing a sub domain strategy.

What was Top SEOs

I use the past tense as it looks like their business model has just been ended by Google. Top SEOs has been around since 2002 according to a media kit I have from 2010. In that they claim the following;

top seos research

Top SEOs Research Claims

We regularly were “awarded” Top SEOs gongs or rankings and I can tell you that none of the above happened. In fact in 2009 we were awarded the “Best Link Popularity” firm. I don’t even know what that means. Below is part of the email notification we received at the time.

Top SEOs award

Top SEOs award from 2009

In that notification they claim to have contacted our clients and they list 3 “clients”. Only one of those listed was a client the other two were sites that belonged to mates. The reason they assumed they were clients is that I was linking to them. It was at that point it was confirmed for me that the “awards” were questionable to say the least. Mind you over the years a lot of people have put a lot of stock in them. So what was their business model? Advertising essentially. From the same 2010 media kit they offer different levels of membership for $1000, $2500 or $3500 per month. Amongst other things the membership includes a backlink from a PR5 page. Or as you and I would call it; a paid backlink.

top seos paid links

Top SEO Paid Links

In addition to that you can also sign up for their “lead generation” plan for an additional $10,000/year. A quick search of Google news reveals that SEO companies, including Australian ones are still touting their Top SEOs awards as recently as Saturday AFTER they had been removed from Google.

SO why has Google smashed them now? Surely they have known for years they were selling backlinks. Who did TopSEOs piss off at Google? This is no algorithm adjustment, this is TopSEOs been hunted down and obliterated. It’s only taken Google 12 years to work out what the rest of us have known for years.



Even though you are not using three of them. Several weeks back we brought you the story of setting up HTTPS for a ranking boost.  In that video and accompanyingblog post I take you through the steps. This week Google has started sending messages in webmaster tools about setting up all the different versions of your site in webmaster tools and setting up the preferred domain as well. What Google does not tell you is that you should redirect (301) three of those sites to one version.

SEO Webmaster tools

SEO Messages in Webmaster Tools

Google never used to be this explicit. Now it’s telling you to setup all four versions of the domain and to setup the preferred version to appear in search results. You can do this under “Site settings”. Google won’t let you do this though unless you have previously setup the www version as well.

SEO Setup Preferred domain

Setup preferred domain for SEO

Good for SEO

So why is this good for SEO? It ensures you have only one domain that should appear in search (providing you redirect the others). This is interesting as “setting the preferred domain” has never been a big deal before. As far as I was concerned it was more aesthetic than functional. For instance I have never set it up for this site but because I had everything redirected properly Google has never shown the www version of the site.

SEO Webinar

Finally today I’ll be doing an SEO webinar on the 30th of October at 11AM AEST (GMT+11) PLaces will be limited so don’t forget to book.


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.


    Digital Ready Business Kit

    by Jim 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 [...]

    Read more: Digital Ready Business Kit

    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

    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