Category Archives: SEM – SEO/Natural Search Optimization

Strictly the organic component of SEM.

Recovering from Penguin and a Lengthy Hiatus

Hello, friends! Nearly three years have passed since this blog was hacked. The security vulnerability was exploited because I failed to update to the most recent stable release of WordPress in a timely fashion. I was so discouraged that I didn’t even try restoring this blog… Until now. A project on which I am working was impacted heavily by Panda 4.0, Payday Loan 2.0, and Penguin 3.0. While identifying inbound links to disavow, we found myriad links from what appeared to be hacked WordPress blogs. That was the moment at which my anger level peaked while thinking back to someone hacking my personal blog for the purposes of using it to spam the world.

I have been neither promoter nor practitioner of blackhat SEO practices. As such, I have never had to scramble to recover from algorithmic penalties. Working through an action plan for recovery made me realize I have been doing it wrong all along. Similar to most things in real life, SEO hats should not be viewed as black or white. I made a conscious effort to avoid even learning about the blackhat side. That was a huge miscalculation. Strange as it may sound, I have a newfound respect for blackhat SEOs. I can now easily argue that blackhats have a deeper understanding of the blackbox ranking algorithms than their contemporary whitehats.

At the risk of generalizing, whitehats do what they’re directed to do. Blackhats reverse engineer the complex ranking algos to find exploits and then do what they think will produce the most immediate results. I am diametrically opposed to questionable tactics for the purposes of short-term organic growth, but I still am able to respect the unique capabilities of blackhats. There exists at least one commonality between blackhats and whitehats – The test and learn approach. Test and learn is foundational to so many professional disciplines. </soliloquy>

(pops a Ritalin…) ohai back to the WordPress hacking. During our toxic backlink analysis, we noticed a pattern of random TLDs with /wp-admin/includes/XYZ/*. They all resolved to the same payday loans site with some tricky behind the scenes routing. This particular client may or may not have engaged in questionable link building techniques, but disavowing these toxic links has resulted in 50% recovery from Google organic traffic declines which first appeared two weeks ago. Good progress, but we’re only halfway there.

I know what you’re thinking. The recent algorithm updates have made it even easier to conjure negative SEO campaigns against your competitors. You know what I think about that hypothesis? I think it’s an excellent topic for my next post…

Find a Lawyer – How to Guide

How do I find an attorney/lawyer to represent my best interests and with whom I am able to speak freely? This question was posed to me recently by one of my best friends from college. If you don’t want to read this entire post, my executive summary was simple: Leverage the Internet as a decision-making tool.

  1. Use a broad-based, horizontal search engine (Google, Yahoo, MSN) to generate search results for sites that can be considered as subject matter experts. In this case, we are searching for local attorneys and lawyers.
  2. Search engines nowadays are intelligent enough to provide local results for broad queries such as “lawyers” or “attorney” in their search results pages. The same can be said for other verticals such as real estate and health/medical.
  3. On these search results pages, subject matter experts (aka vertical search engines) generally receive top placement.
  4. Intrinsically, broad-based horizontal search engines like Google are not designed to provide comprehensive, trustworthy content that they own… Being navigational in nature, search engines strive to provide search results listings to sites their algorithms consider most relevant to the search query entered.
  5. Personally, I like to use online search tools to evaluate and research both vertical directories as well as the end level service providers (individual real estate agents, doctors, or attorneys).
  6. Search for any reviews on the vertical search sites returned by your search on a broad engine – select one vertical search site with favorable reviews and use it to conduct a search on local attorneys who specialize in areas of law relating to your needs.
  7. Pick a couple attorney listings and save them in a spreadsheet.
  8. Conduct name searches for these lawyers/law firms on broad search engines like Google to see if they have any negative references.
  9. Rank attorneys on your spreadsheet using +/- scores for positive/negative references.
  10. Contact lawyer or law firm to set up a discovery call.
  11. Repeat #10 several times
  12. Select a lawyer/firm with whom you are most comfortable.