sub-domain-zombie-hunting.minLast week I wrote an article for The SEM Post on the hazards of zombie sub-domains and how your very own site could be affected without you being the wiser. I also used an example of Houzz.com which is the 177th most trafficked website in the USA yet it is suffering from zombie sub-domains; it can truly happen to anyone.

What follows is the introduction and a link to the full article here:

Google dislikes spending precious resources indexing web content on your site that is of no consequence to itself or its users. Inconsequential web content can be present in the form of duplicated pages and irrelevant or repetitive and/or thin text. Even worse, it is a waste of Google’s crawl budget on your site and such content will delay the indexing of legitimate content. In this case, however, the offense is greater than usual because we are dealing with unlimited duplicate versions of a website triggered by improperly installed DNS wildcards; I none to fondly call them zombie sub-domains.

DNS wildcards are used in a variety of ways but in this case I am focusing on the desirable redirect from a non-existent or miss-typed sub-domain to the appropriate URL (e.g. the root of the TLD).

Please continue reading my article “Why Google Dislikes Zombie Sub-Domains” at its official home on The SEM Post.

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Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Web Site Audits Should be Free

One of the most common questions I get in sales call as my role as an SEO and web site auditor is,

“Why should I pay you just so you can tell me what is wrong with my web site and what it will cost to fix it? After all, you don’t pay your mechanic to diagnose your car and provide a quote, do you?

Web site audits should be free

A much more pleasant version of that mechanic analogy was used in an email I received recently from a prospect who I have been in a number of discussions with in regards to helping her improve site visibility and site conversions for the charity she represents. She happens to be very engaged in the car industry which explains the analogy. Since I have to reply to her anyway I thought I would spend a little time to create an article I can show to StepForth’s valued readers and future prospects.

First, Some Insight into What a Web Site Audit Should Include

I can only speak for our own services but whenever we pitch a web site audit to a prospect/client we  explain they are paying for a service that will:

  1. Examine all online and offsite factors (i.e. links to the site, and/or social media usage, and/or online reputation) that can have an impact on the web site’s search engine rankings and (optionally but preferably) its ability to convert browsers into buyers; or for the charities we support the ability to convert browsers into donors.
  2. Provide in-depth results complete with detailed appendices as applicable; some of the overly in-depth data is often placed here in case the client wishes to review it.
  3. The final report will include all of the issues found in priority of importance and we often include instructions to implement each recommendation.
  4. We include a 30 min to 1 hour (depending on size of audit) conference call to review the results with them and answer any questions.

In short, we provide the roadmap to improving their web site’s opportunities for increased rankings and we do so using clear and concise language. This service takes between 6 and 15 hours for small-to-medium sized sites between the research, analysis and writing of the final report plus the final meeting. Larger websites with long (and sometimes turbulent) histories of online marketing can take upwards of 24-30 hours to audit. Read more…

A graphic of the book cover

Today StepForth released a comprehensive manual on How to Setup Google Authorship which is available now for free as a web version or PDF download (right-click this link and save).

About this Free Manual

Written by Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth, this unofficial manual is for anyone who writes regularly online and website owners/administrators of a website with or without a blog. It is designed to help everyone understand what Authorship is, why it is important and how to ensure it is setup for the greatest personal and/or professional benefit. 

This manual covers implementation of the rel=author and rel=publisher tags within the following scenarios and platforms: Read more…

A few months ago website owner who has worked with us periodically in the past contacted us as a result of a ranking decline around the same time as a Penguin update, and we performed a small audit on his site.

A con man selling watches in a cheap plaid suit and sunglasses

Our investigation had revealed that his inbound link profile consisted primarily of paid links – most of which were from low quality websites with minimal or no relevance. Our recommendation at that time was to remove those paid links and work on expanding his profile with quality & relevance.

Just last week we received a notification from Google that this particular site had received a manual penalty due to unnatural linking. While the notification does not specifically state the source links of the “manual spam action” we remembered the paid link building tactics he was using which we discovered in the past audit.

Passing Along News of the Google Penalty
I forwarded the message from Google to the site owner letting him know what had happened. Initially I suspected that the paid linking had caught up with him. While it is possible that some of the paid links contributed to the problem, it turns out they are far from the primary issue.  A conversation with the site owner quickly revealed he had been using a cheap link building company for the past several months.  I suggested he contact them to get their input on the Google warning. He shared part of his conversation with me and I was completely shocked. Read more…

UPDATE October 30th, 2014: Hello everyone. I have great news. As of a while back this tutorial is no longer necessary because Bing smartened up and now allows us Canucks to add our business and administrate the listing at BingPlaces.com. The process is very straight forward but if you do have questions please post them in the comments. If I see enough demand I will rewrite this into a tutorial for the Bing Places setup.

Also, if you represent a small business and have any interest in receiving answers to web marketing questions you might find MarketingHigh.com worthwhile looking at. You can ask UNLIMITED web marketing questions of myself and my veteran team of web marketers for the price of a fancy coffee per month. Why us? I have been web marketing successfully since 1997, my Senior SEO has 12 years of experience and we are both 100% white hat (that means ethical) web marketers; we will not give you advice that could hurt your business. For more info check out MarketingHigh.com and please pass the word to other small business owners who could use a helping hand navigating the world of web marketing. This is a mind-blowing steal considering what most consulting costs in this industry.

Cheers, Ross Dunn

The MarketingHigh.com logo

Ask unlimited web marketing questions of experts for $49/year.

 

——- Here is the original article on the old method of Bing setup for Canadians ——-

Rejoice fellow Canadians! After years of crying foul and bugging Bing engineers at search engine conferences I can finally say that Canadian business owners can submit their business to Bing Canada for free instead of relying on YellowPages listings; which were an unreliable solution at best. What follows is a little more detail on the subject and a full walkthrough of the submission process and end result. Also, if you wish to see just how much anger and frustration the previous system created please see my article “Bing’s Local Listing Center Lacks Forethought” posted in 2009: yes 4 years ago, so you can count me frustrated (politely put) with them as well.

What Made Bing Get its Sh*t Together?

Sadly it seems we have no need to thank Bing engineers (or my significant prodding) for this advance in Canuck accessibility because it was Nokia who bridged the chasm. Nokia increased its already significant maps partnership with Microsoft to allow their Nokia Maps system to update Bing’s Canadian Local data. This all started, it seems, back in January 2012 but I can’t find any indication this bromance between the two companies included Canadian business submissions that early in the game. Anyway, if you go to Bing and try to submit your business you will now be redirected to Nokia Prime Place where you can  follow their submission and address verification process which I have outlined in detail further along in this post. Read more…

I recently worked with a team to launch World Elephant Day (WED) on August  12th, 2012. In the lead up to WED our Facebook campaign was going well; however, we wanted to increase our overall engagement. To do so we implemented 3 key tactics to increase the campaign’s Facebook engagement.  As a result our total reach boosted from 1500 to over 200,000 people in the days leading up to and right after the campaign.  Below outlines the 3 most successful tactics used to generate this increase.

Read more…

There are a lot of articles out there that provide advice on how to develop a strategy for Twitter, however once you have a strategy, it can be challenging to implement if you don’t know HOW to act on the tactics. This article discusses several key objectives we all want to do on Twitter and how to go about putting them in to play.

Please note: this post will not define Twitter marketing strategy. Instead, it will show you the best ways to make Twitter work for you so you can achieve your objectives.

How to Find New Followers

  • Look at who is following your competitors. Scan their past tweets and see what they have been tweeting about. If relevant to you, follow them and engage them by responding to one of their tweets or RTing something valuable they’ve posted.
  • Find a link that is a hot topic to do with your industry, enter it on Topsy and see who has been tweeting about it. For example, say I was looking for new followers interested in elephants. I come across this article titled “The Last Day of the Elephant Female.” I enter this link into Topsy, and out pops all people that have tweeted about it. If you highlight over the tweeters, it allows you to follow them directly from Topsy.

  Read more…

At the most recent Victoria Web Marketing Meetup we had a full house as Gil Namur, President and Creator of the popular ezine LifeasaHuman.com presented his secrets behind building his successful website. The reason Gil was chosen to speak was because our Meetup membership showed great interest on WordPress and he had a mountain of knowledge to share after creating LifeasaHuman.com on the WordPress platform using StudioPress and taking it from zero traffic to 200,000 Quantified visits per month (add 30% to get a more accurate number says his tests).

Life as a Human has over 200k unique visitors per month!

In addition, I know Gil personally and was convinced he would give a great presentation and indeed he did. To that end, you can view his presentation in all its glory below. Read more…

Learn how to create a list of links that are benefiting your competitors so you can obtain them as well. This competitor analysis tutorial focuses on the incoming links portion of offsite SEO competitor analysis. Taught by search engine optimization (SEO) industry veteran Ross Dunn (of WebmasterRadio.FM’s SEO 101 Radio Show) this tutorial will provide you with the tools and tactics you need to improve your competitiveness in search engine rankings.

Elements of this analysis include: how to find your competitors backlinks, how to determine why your competitor is succeeding online (from an offsite perspective), how to check if your competitor is spamming Google, how to beat whois privacy protection (legally), how to conduct a link popularity analysis, and much more.
Read more…

A picture of a brick wall with barred windows and the words "YOU in GoogleJail" - "How to get out on good behaviour"Search Engine Guide kindly republished my article called “How a Google Penalty Can Make Your Site Stronger” which prompted some great questions from readers which I have reformatted and posted here for readers of the StepForth Web Marketing Blog:

Question 1) My site has been penalized by google coz of paid post and links, which left my site with a PR 0, do you have any suggestions for that?”

Ross Dunn: Yes, the best way to go is to have all of the paid posts and links removed; if that has not happened already. Then once you are certain you are no longer infringing on Google’s guidelines, go into your Google Webmaster Tools account and submit a request for reconsideration of your website; if you can’t find the area to do that, then just do a quick search in the help area and you will find it.

Unfortunately there is no guarantee this will get you back into Google’s graces and there is also no telling how long Google will take to even get to your request, however, it is an excellent first step. The next step is to build your site into a powerhouse of excellent information by creating a blog or getting more active in the one you have. This involves posting original, high quality content that provides potential readers with something of value – be it simply an enjoyable read or useful tips. The act of building your site’s reputation through new quality content will help your odds of getting back into Google’s graces considerably.

Question 2) “I am eager to know if we go for URL removal request and make changes to site and then again submit link to google.Does it faster way to get out from penalization?” Read more…