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Category Archive: Internet Tools

  1. 10 Free Tools to Master Social Media Marketing

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    Social media marketing isn’t as easy as people think it is. It’s more than just posting an update for your business every once in a while; if you want to get a steady stream of revenue and build a passionate audience about your brand, you have to go all-out, managing and cultivating a community while accurately measuring and analyzing your impact.

    Fortunately, you don’t have to do this alone. Thanks to the increasing popularity of social media marketing, there are dozens of free tools available to help you keep your community under control and break new ground in your social strategies.

    Here are 10 of our favorites:

    1. Hootsuite.

    articleimage784hootsuite

    You’ve likely heard of Hootsuite before, and you’ve heard of it for a reason. It’s one of the best and most comprehensive social media tools available on the web, and it has full integration with most social media platforms you’ll need, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Social post scheduling is the shining feature here and the one most commonly associated with the platform, but Hootsuite also features weekly analytics data and a handful of team delegation/task management features that make it useful for social media team members working together. There’s a free version and a paid version, though the paid version is still relatively inexpensive.

    2. Social Mention.

    articleimage784socialmention

    Social Mention is a search-based tool that works similarly to Google alerts. However, instead of providing alerts for news and information on certain keywords, Social Mention provides monitoring for more than 80 different social media platforms, including all the biggies—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and so on. If you so choose, you can opt in for daily or weekly email digests featuring all the mentions of your chosen keywords during that time period, and there’s even an API to integrate it into your site. It also helps you measure the impact of your brand with metrics related to the frequency, positivity, diversity, and consistency of mentions.

    3. Followerwonk.

    articleimage784followerwonk

    Followerwonk is a niche tool, so it may not be useful for everybody, but for companies actively involved on Twitter, it’s extremely beneficial. Through Followerwonk, you’ll be able to retrieve detailed analyses of your followers and Twitter activity. All you have to do is enter your username, and you’ll receive information on your followers as well as the people you follow. This information includes when your followers are most often online, how influential your followers are, and how active your followers are. It’s very useful in better understanding your audience.

    4. Addict-o-matic.

    Addict-o-matic is a fairly straightforward tool, which is great news if you’re just looking for something simple to add to your lineup of social listening and analytics platforms. Through Addict-o-matic, you can perform searches to discover new trending topics, or monitor the web for mentions and discussions around your brand. Using whatever keywords you choose, the search tool will scour the web on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and Flickr to find new mentions and instances that could be useful for you. It’s a near-perfect social listening tool that’s perfect for finding new things to talk about.

    5. HowSociable.

    If you’re looking for a general idea of how impactful and how successful your brand is in the social world, HowSociable is a perfect tool for the job. Using a free account, you’ll be able to monitor your progress on 12 popular social platforms—you can unlock 24 others with a relatively inexpensive “pro” level account. HowSociable will use information like your total following, your engagement, your total number of shares, and other tidbits to calculate an influence score you can use to ballpark your reach and influence. You can also use the tool to compare yourself against your competitors.

    6. IceRocket.

    IceRocket offers monitoring and analysis of a number of different platforms and languages, with interactive graphs that allow customization on the fly. It’s ideal if you want to keep a passive eye on developments in a given community, since they have more than 200 million different blogs at their disposal in their database. It’s perfect to find new trending topics and get a glimpse of your impact and reputation on the web.

    7. Sprout Social.

    Sprout Social is an all-in-one tool that allows active management of multiple social profiles on multiple different platforms. While LinkedIn is not currently supported, there is full integration with Facebook and Twitter. Through Sprout, users can schedule posts for the future and review them in a queue, assign and manage tasks to other team members on the platform, discover new content through social listening software, and view and manage regular reports on your progress. However, the free version of the program does not come with the same features as the paid version.

    8. TweetReach.

    TweetReach is similar to Followerwonk, at least in the sense that it’s a platform exclusive to Twitter. TweetReach, however, is specifically intended to help you figure out how far your tweets are travelling, and what you can do to maximize the reach of your tweets. For any tweet you study, or for your profile as a whole, you’ll be able to estimate the total number of accounts you’ve reached, including how many impressions you’ve achieved and how many shares got you to that point. You’ll also be able to view charts and graphs that detail your progress and compare your present and past efforts.

    9. Google Analytics.

    If you aren’t using Google Analytics as part of your social strategy, it’s time to integrate it immediately. Head to the Acquisition tab to see a breakdown of your incoming traffic. This should give you a general idea of the success of your social campaign (at least in terms of site traffic compared to other sources). You’ll also be able to see a breakdown of which social profiles generate the most traffic within that span of users, and where those users are going. For example, you’ll be able to see which syndicated links tend to attract the most users, and you can adjust your posting strategy accordingly.

    10. SumAll.

    SumAll is especially useful if you’re managing multiple different accounts for your company, since it aggregates them into one interactive analytics platform. For example, SumAll features integration with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, as well as non-social media accounts like Google Analytics and PayPal. SumAll is specifically intended to serve small business owners, so if you fit that description, you’ll probably find use with it. You can also customize reports, so on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, you’ll be able to get a snapshot of your progress on all fronts.

    These tools aren’t necessary to be successful in a social media campaign, but they are extremely useful if you’re serious about getting results. Social listening software, scheduling features, and analytic insights are all important components of a long-term, uninterrupted engagement strategy.

    Since all these tools are free, you don’t have anything to lose. Try a few of them out as a trial, and get a feel for what you want and need in a social media solution. Of course, if you want to get serious about social media marketing, but don’t have the money or resources, you can always consult with us—we’re experts!

  2. 5 WordPress Plugins to Help Create a Mobile Friendly Website

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    Optimizing for mobile is a necessity. The rise in popularity of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, is shifting the landscape of search and user experience from a world confined to desktops to one that favors a responsive, flexible experience. With a generation of users becoming accustomed to browsing the web and performing searches no matter where they are, major players like Google are doing their part to ensure that the greatest number of users can have a fully satisfying mobile experience.

    What that means for webmasters is that Google is rewarding sites that offer a mobile experience, and punishing those that do not. Mobile-optimized sites get a ranking boost compared to their desktop-only counterparts, especially when accessed via a mobile device, so simply ensuring your site is mobile-optimized is a sure step in the right direction for more online visibility. Add to that the idea that not all sites are mobile-friendly and your users will value you for giving them one, and you’ll have an additional leg up on your competition.

    If you haven’t already taken measures to ensure that your site is optimized for mobile experiences, it’s time to do so. If you don’t, you’ll officially be behind the ball. Fortunately, these five fantastic WordPress plugins are invaluable for taking your site to the next level:

    1. WPtouch.

    articleimage778WPtouch

    WPtouch is a plugin currently used by 5.5 million different blogs. While you can’t judge the usefulness of an app simply by its popularity, the amount of recognition it has garnered is well received. WPtouch is the self-proclaimed “complete mobile solution for WordPress,” and is compatible with virtually any type of mobile device.

    With WPtouch, you’ll be able to choose a responsive WPtouch theme, which tends to run about four times faster than comparable responsive sites with touch enhancements. Furthermore, the WPtouch plugin features something called an “infinity cache,” which works to cache your mobile site on mobile devices, which will make your site even faster when accessed via mobile. The faster your site is, the happier your users will be—and you’ll get a ranking boost as well.

    The only potential downside of WPtouch is that, unlike the majority of WordPress plugins, it is not free to use. The basic version of WPtouch is $49, though there are more advanced versions of the plugin available, with a host of other features.

    2. Jetpack.

    articleimage778jetpack

    Jetpack is a single plugin that can help you optimize your site for mobile, and make other tweaks that enhance site performance and allow you to improve both SEO and user experience. The Jetpack plugin comes with 33 distinct special features, attempting to be a catch-all that can help you improve multiple different dimensions of your site performance.

    As one of the primary selling points of the plugin, Jetpack offers a mobile theme that you can use to make your WordPress site responsive, which will ensure that both desktop and mobile users have a similarly great experience when attempting to view your site. You can also customize your Jetpack responsive theme, so long as you’re familiar with CSS and bit PHP.

    In addition to its mobile-optimization functionality, Jetpack sports a number of verification and site enhancement tools. For example, the “photon” functionality will increase your site speed, and another feature can integrate directly with your social profiles.

    Best of all, Jetpack is completely free to download and use. Despite its many features, it’s a relatively easy plugin to learn, so if you’re not confident in your abilities, it’s a nice beginner platform to experiment with.

    3. WP Mobile.

    articleimage778WPmobile

    WP Mobile is an option for any webmasters who want to forgo the responsive style of web design in favor of converting your website into a mobile version. In a responsive site design, one web layout will adjust based on what type of device is accessing it. In this style, separate desktop and mobile versions exist, and users will have the ability to toggle between the two based on their preferences. From a search engine perspective, Google doesn’t care how you make your site mobile-optimized—responsive and mobile-specific designs are treated with equal weight. However, you may find a user experience advantage in one over the other, depending on your core audience.

    The WP Mobile plugin features a straightforward mobile theme, which is simple and easy to load, keeping your loading times well within your comfort zone. The adaptation feature of the app also auto-detects the device being used to access the site, so it automatically loads the appropriate version while still giving users the option to switch if necessary. It even comes with mobile advertising settings, which are optional, in case you want to pursue that route. The plugin is free to download and use, so if you want a mobile-exclusive version of your site—have at it!

    4. WP Mobile Detector.

    The WP Mobile Detector doesn’t have quite as many features as some of its competitors, but it’s a perfect fit for some businesses who only need a convenient way of detecting which users are accessing their site from a standard mobile phone or a smartphone. If you’re in a business where a sizeable portion of your audience is still using traditional mobile phones, it could be extremely useful.

    With this plugin, your site will be able to automatically detect the type of device being used to access it, and will load an appropriate theme based on that information. It also features an integrated analytics platform, which can help you identify your audience’s makeup and behavior, and seven pre-loaded mobile themes that you can use to ensure your site is properly optimized for mobile without compromising your brand standards.

    Like WPtouch, WP Mobile Detector is not free. The basic version of the plugin is $50, with more features and greater functionality attributed to the premium version, which is a bit more expensive.

    5. WordPress Mobile Pack 2.0.

    Last but not least is a plugin that comes from WordPress itself. The WordPress Mobile Pack 2.0 exists to help you consolidate your website and provide a similar experience across any platform, any operating system, and most importantly, any device. It has full compatibility with all the major players in the web world, and allows you to convert your website into a responsive format.

    The plugin also comes with its very own custom theme, which features six abstract covers and plenty of customizable options to ensure that the theme becomes your own. Like the WP Mobile Detector, it also has a fully integrated analytics platform, which allows you to track your user behavior and regularly measure your site’s performance. It’s a simple, easy-to-use application that can help almost anyone optimize his/her WordPress site for a mobile experience. The plugin is free to download and use.

    Optimizing for mobile is a one-time responsibility, and with these WordPress plugins, it’s an almost painless one. Giving your users the option of accessing your site via desktop or mobile devices is a must in the modern era, and ensuring that the experience is seamless no matter what device is used to access it will ensure that your customers keep coming back for more. If your site isn’t currently optimized for mobile, download one of these plugins, and get moving. Your customers will thank you.

  3. 10 Unique Ways to Make Your Website Load Faster

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    Nothing can frustrate visitors to a website more than a slow loading web page. Seconds count, whether they choose to wait or click on another site to visit. It can be almost impossible for web site owners to make revenue from a slow loading site because the reality is that people are in a hurry.

    Slow websites lead to lower search engine rankings because fewer visitors frequent them. Inbound traffic to a fast site will please both the visitors and increase the website’s ranking in the search engines.

    The number-one goal is to have the website appear on the primary page after people type whatever it might be they are searching for into the search box. A website landing page that takes less than four seconds to completely download will increase the likelihood of a website reaching the first page.

    A fast site means better search engine rankings because more people visit. The site might have repeat visitors often that helps the site maintain a good ranking. It helps increase overall revenue because potential customers stay there and possibly buy from the site.

    Steps can be taken to speed up the download time of a slow website. The key to success is implementing them until the website loads completely in a few seconds.

    articleimage186Image File Reduction

    Tip One / Image File Reduction

    Nothing can be more appealing than having images to go along with the information in the content of articles on a website. The problem with images is the large file sizes that these images usually add to speed of downloading the website home page. A visitor can notice this when they are waiting for the site to download. Most of the time, the text will download before the images do.

    Using software such as paint shop, paint shop pro and infra-view can reduce the file size of images from megabytes to kilobytes. This will reduce the amount of time necessary for the files to download on the website.

    Reduce the size of the file by cropping the image. Converting the image to a lower resolution will reduce the size of the file also. Another technique to implement is to reduce the image size by changing the height and width dimensions of the image to a smaller version. This has a huge effect in the file size of the image once it is saved.

    articleimage186Plug-in Elimination

    Tip Two / Plug-in Elimination

    Every new website owner has a fascination with installing as many plug-ins as possible. They might read how this one is needed for a certain situation and simply install it. This is a rinse and repeat situation with the website owner until finally, they have too many plug-ins on the website. Installing many plug-ins can reduce the download speed of a website.

    Always take a close look at which plug-ins can be eliminated to increase the download speed of the website. Some of the plug-ins might be out of date and need to be upgraded. Others might really have no use at all and can be eliminated altogether.

    Tip Three / Content Delivery Network

    A Content Delivery Network uses a network of servers to cache data while locating the fastest delivery route to users. It makes large websites with tons of content and images load more quickly.

    It moves data, images and content on servers that are closest to the physical location of users. Large companies incorporate the use of CDNs because their number-one goal is to offer the fastest speeds possible to users to get them to purchase from their companies.

    Users in another country trying to access websites in the United States for an example would receive the content from a CDN in their country. It definitely is something to consider when a website is there to make revenue for the owner.

    Tip Four / Switching host Providers

    Sometimes it becomes necessary to change hosting services. Not all hosting packages are alike, and many website owners prefer one to the other. Some providers might have many website accounts operating on one server. This can lead to poor service through slow download speeds and the server being down a lot. This is called shared hosting.

    Dedicated hosting means you have access to the server alone. Although a difference in the cost means more money for better hosting, the difference paid out can quickly be recovered in increased revenue from happy visitors who turn into customers.

    articleimage186usingcss

    Tip Five / Using CSS

    Using Cascading Style Sheets instead of charts or tables on a website will help the site download faster. Style sheets upload immediately while chart graphs take much longer to appear on the page.

    Once the page is downloaded, it is stored on the user’s computer. A marked increase in rendering speed is an advantage for using CSS over charts. The size of the web page files is reduced by up to 50 percent.

    Tip Six / Discard Clutter

    Visitors enjoy a clean and well maintained website. Nothing is more appealing than visiting a website that loads fast and is properly maintained. Out of date content along with images can decrease the speed of the site downloading. Eliminate this clutter.

    Break each product category into shorter pages to decrease the time it takes for the page to load. Never clutter the landing page of the website with too many images and content. Use links such as “read more” to reduce the amount of time it takes for the homepage to download.

    Tip Seven / Tracking Codes

    Website owners like to keep track of visitors and what they do on a website. This also slows down the website’s ability to download quicker. Each tracking code installed on a website requires the visitor’s browser to make requests to other servers. This can hurt traffic trying to visit a website during peak hours of the day.

    Tip Eight / Place Style Sheets at the Top

    Moving stylesheets to the document head will make the website download faster. It is an important concept for website pages with tons of content. It helps visitors with slower Internet connection providers download websites quicker.

    Placing stylesheets in the document heading allows the website page to render progressively. Adding them to the bottom prohibits progressive rendering.

    Tip Nine / Install a Caching Plug-in

    Installation of a caching plug-in will increase the download speed of a website. Basically, this means that a cached version of the webpage will be given to the user unless the content has been changed since the last cache. This speeds up the download times of the site by lowering requests to the website server.

    Tip Ten / HTTP Request Reduction

    Http requests are made when a new visitor goes to a website for the first time. The visitor’s browser hasn’t cached the images and content from the website. Http requests are made for those cascading style sheet files, java script files and images.

    Combining cascading style sheet files can reduce website download time making a website stay busier with more traffic. It will work with java script files also.

    Other tips to increase website speed performance can be removing duplicate scripts, eliminating unnecessary cookies, reducing cookie size and optimizing images. Remember that website download speed is critical as to whether a first-time visitor stays and decides to come back again to visit in the future.

  4. How to Strengthen Your Website Architecture and Content

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    articleimage128 How to Strengthen Your Website Architecture and Content

    If you are a business owner, you’re probably aware that having a great website can be the key to helping you develop a strong online presence and subsequently increasing your conversion rates from online purchasing. In order to ensure that you accomplish these objectives, it is important that your website be amazing. Although there are several factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of a great website, two are particularly important: the website architecture and content. If you’re interested in learning about strategies you can implement to improve these two aspects of your website, the following tips can help you.

    articleimage128architecture

    Architecture

    In context of web design, the term “architecture” generally refers to the physical look of your website and can pertain to its color, background, text, graphics, and other physical aspects of it. There are several things that you can do to improve your website architecture, and some of them include:

    1. Branding

    Although broadly defined, branding is basically the use of specific icons, mottos, text, and graphics to cultivate a unique image for a business. The end goal of branding is to create memorable, consistent concepts regarding the business’s goods and/or services so that prospective customers are enticed to make purchases. Companies have many opportunities to use branding strategies for the purpose of increasing conversion rates, and this opportunity should not be missed during the construction and maintenance of a business website. This is the case for several reasons, including the fact that the implementation of effective branding techniques gives your website a structured, orderly look. Many people don’t recognize this reality, but oftentimes individuals who visit websites are more interested in staying on the page if there is a clear and consistent theme or idea that gives the site shape and structure. When you design your website with a central logo that appears on each page, this form of branding can contribute to facilitating the interest of your prospective customers.

    2. Add Share Buttons.

    Adding Share Buttons to your website is a great way to improve its design. This is the case for several reasons, including that the graphic can be added to the site in a plethora of different ways. There are a million different ways that Share Buttons can be placed on your website, including in a cluster or as several individual icons. You also have the ability to select Share Buttons in unique color formats that contribute to the cultivation of an aesthetically appealing look for your website. And in addition to helping you create a web design that your visitors will find visually appealing, Share Buttons increase the likelihood that your content will go viral given that your visitors can do things such as tweet links of your product pages to everyone within their social networks.

    3. Make It Functional.

    One of the most frustrating things that website users site when discussing their experiences online is that many of the sites they visit are functional. Although the term “functional” is used broadly and often vaguely, in the context of web design it generally refers to a website that does not have features that make it easy to move through the pages. For example, if a user navigates away from your home page and to another page, she or he may want to return back to the home page once they attain the information they were looking for. Websites that were not designed with a “Home Page” icon make it more difficult for the visitor to accomplish this objective.

    Yet another example of website architecture that isn’t particularly functional would be the placement of ads in a highly conspicuous area of the website such that the reader is distracted by the goods or services being marketed. In some cases, web designers will allow pop-up ads to be integrated into the architecture of their website, meaning that viewers can be perpetually interrupted from reading your content as a result of the ads. There are several solutions for the challenge of web designs that include poor placement of ads. One such solution is to format them such that they are relatively small. You can also place ads to the far right of the screen. Both of these solutions ensure that your ads are still noticeable by your viewers while simultaneously decreasing the likelihood that they become distracting. With respect to pop-up ads, it’s safe to say that avoiding them entirely is a great web design strategy to implement.

    articleimage128content

    Content

    In addition to implementing website architecture strategies to improve the look of your website, business owners who are interested in optimizing their sites should note that the development and integration of great content should also be an aspect of the web design strategy. This is the case for several reasons, including the fact that your website content can determine whether your prospective clients purchase your goods or services and subsequently become loyal, life-long customers. Here are several strategies you can implement to make the most of your web content:

    1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

    Although broadly defined, search engine optimization (SEO) is basically the implementation of several strategies to ensure that a website’s content attains a competitive ranking in the search engine results pages of major engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. There are several SEO strategies that can be implemented to accomplish this purpose, and one of them includes keyword analysis. Keyword analysis is a process that involves examining which words people are entering into the search engine when they look for goods and services that are similar or synonymous to those that you offer. Once you determine what these keywords are, you can systematically integrate the words into your own content. Upon doing so, you will likely note that your content attains a higher ranking in the search engine results pages.

    Yet another SEO strategy that you can implement for the purpose of strengthening your web content is the use of linking. There are a variety of linking strategies you can integrate into your content, and one of them is the use of external links. External links are links which you include on the page of your content that direct the reader to another site. These links are a great way to make your content more visible because linking to reputable sites can increase your ranking in the search engines.

    2. Make It Scannable.

    Outside of implementing SEO strategies, making your content scannable may be one of the most important strategies that you implement. This is the case for several reasons, including the fact that research shows most people who go online to read do not seek to read content in entirety. Rather, they want to skim through the content in order to find the information they seek. With that idea in mind, savvy business owners should do all that they can to ensure that their text is scannable. There are several ways to accomplish this purpose, and the use of headers, bullets, and numbered lists are three of the most common and effective.

    Conclusion

    If you are serious about using your website to catch and keep the attention of your prospective consumers, note that strengthening your website architecture and content can help you accomplish this objective. By implementing some or all of the strategies outlined above, you can ensure that you develop an aesthetically appealing website with content that is interesting, informative, and easy to read. Once this happens, your business will likely experience the continual growth and expansion that you want.

     

  5. How to Protect Your Website from Hackers and Malware

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    On the Internet, the threat of your website coming under attack is a constant one. You never know when you might become the target of a competitor looking to use Black Hat techniques to take you down, a hacktivist group looking to prove a point or a foreign hacking cartel trying to create chaos. No system is perfect, of course, but you can take several steps to limit the possibility of a successful hack.

    Apply All Updates

    articleimage123applyallupdates

    The number one largest vulnerability hackers use to access a website and gain control over it is out of date software. Companies push updates for two reasons; to add features and to patch holes. If you put off updating your site, you’ll find that you’re leaving security holes open. It’s like locking the deadbolt on your front door, but leaving it open when you do. Hackers with the knowledge to exploit these security holes will find it an easy matter to do so. Apply all updates, regardless of their content; there may be hidden bug fixes that close security holes.

    On that note, you should also avoid using old, unsupported software. Some companies fail and cease to support their old software. If a hacker discovers a vulnerability, the company no longer exists to create a patch. Even if the company still exists, unsupported software by definition no longer receives security updates.

    All of this goes for the software on your workstation as well. It doesn’t matter if your website is secure, when a hacker with a keylogger can steal your password when you log in. Maintain active virus scanners and firewalls, keep your operating system and software up to date and only sign in through a secure connection.

    Use Strong Passwordsarticleimage123strongpassword

     

    If security holes are like locking an open door, weak passwords are like using a deadbolt made of paper. Take a moment to read one of the annual published lists of most common passwords. Is yours on the list? If so, change it immediately. There are a number of rules to follow to create a strong password.

    • Avoid using dictionary words. This applies even if you replace some letters with numbers, like the word “That” spelled “Th4t” — dictionary-based password cracks include common letter substitutions. If you want to use a word, interject a random letter or number in the middle of the word. Try “Th33at” in this example.
    • The longer the better, within reason. Some password systems refuse to accept passwords beyond a certain length. Most websites and account creation software will recommend a password of at least seven or eight characters. Ideally, you will want to double that number; a 14-character-long password is much harder to guess, particularly if the letters and numbers are semi-random.
    • A random, non-word-based password is best, but can be difficult to remember. Avoid writing down your password, either digitally or on paper. Hackers aren’t always external forces, after all. If you can’t remember your password, use a secure password manager.

    There are other password tips as well; it’s a subject on which much has been written. Review articles by top security experts for more information.

    Use Security Add-ons

    articleimage123securityaddons

    Some website software, particularly WordPress, allows additional plugins and add-ons to increase functionality. One plugin you should always get is an up to date security suite. Of course, make sure any add-on your use is up to date as well.

    Always be wary about the third party content you use on your site. Add-ons can be very helpful, but if they’re published by an untrusted source — or they’re several years out of date — they may be gaping security holes waiting to happen.

    Use a Dedicated Shopping Cart Suite

    If you sell anything through your website, do not, under any circumstances, program your own commerce platform. There are several good commerce platforms to choose from online, all of which are designed with security in mind. Programming your own is both reinventing the wheel and opening yourself up to outside access. Use an online shopping cart suite from a trustworthy developer, process transactions in a secure manner and maximize security each step of the way.

    Use Encryption

    Any data sent between the user and your website should be encrypted. This means using SSL and HTTPS for your data traffic. You want to do this for two reasons. First, in case there is any device on your network or software on your server that can monitor or access user data, the data it can access is unreadable. Second, in case your user has compromised security. You cannot control how security-conscious and updated your users are. Rather than risk data leaks from an external virus, encrypt your traffic.

    When you’re updating your website, use encrypted channels as well. Regular FTP is a plaintext, easily readable format. You’ll want to use secure FTP to upload your data through an encrypted channel.

    Inform Your Users

    Take steps to keep your users informed about security. Let them know that there may be imitators looking to impersonate your site to steal their information, in a process called phishing. Let them know that to increase their own data security, they should maintain active virus scanners. One particularly good avenue for these basic security tips is through your e-mail newsletter. Don’t forget to add security descriptions, certificates and other information to your checkout process. The safer users feel when they use your platform, the more likely they are to return.

    Store Data Encrypted

    This goes hand in hand with using encryption to transmit data. No matter how secure your data is when you transmit it from one place to another, if that destination is plain text, hackers can simply read it without issue. Store user data in encrypted databases.

    Maintain Backups

    If something happens and your site is compromised, what can you do? You need to keep regular backups of your website, user data and other important information. You can store this locally, on a remote server or on the cloud. Make sure it is stored encrypted, of course. Maintaining a backup is an important part of data security.

    Search Yourself

    Occasionally, a site may be infected with malware without the owner realizing. One way to learn is to search your site on Google. Google is very good about flagging a site as untrusted or malicious when there is an infection present. Make sure your site looks as it should from a search engine perspective. If you use Google Webmaster Tools, you will also receive a notification if malware is detected on your site.

    Have a Recovery Plan

    No matter how good your security is, how strongly encrypted your information or how secure your passwords, it’s always possible for your site to be hacked. Don’t fall prey to overconfidence; plan for disaster. A disaster recovery plan will help you recover from a potential hacking as quickly as possible, to reassure users and to maintain your own flow of commerce. Your business can’t afford the downtime associated with lacking a disaster recovery plan.

    With these steps taken, your website will be as safe as it can be. Again, no system is perfect, and it’s always possible there’s a flaw yet to be found in some software you use. Do your best to protect yourself and chances are you’ll be safe.

  6. Avoid These 10 Harmful Uses of Google’s Disavow Tool

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    Google’s Disavow Links tool is an incredibly potent piece of equipment for any business concerned with negative SEO, old links and harmful remnants of old campaigns. Much like most powerful tools, however, it is very much a double-edged sword. It’s easy to misuse the Disavow tool and effectively shoot your business in the foot. Here are ten ways people misuse the tool, and why to avoid them.

    1. Using it Before Learning it

    articleimage502Using it Before Learning it

    The Disavow tool is powerful and irreversible. Like any powerful tool, you need to learn how to use it before you put it to thee test. The last thing you need is to accidentally upload a list of links you want to save, for example. While that kind of catastrophic removal of good links is unlikely, it’s always possible for a good link to slip in through a copy and paste error.

    Learn how the tool works before you use it. Matt Cutts has several good videos detailing how to properly use the Disavow tool. You can also find an excellent guide on Savvy Panda. Make sure you read all of the warnings posted by Google about the tool. Any link you sever with Disavow will be gone forever.

    2. Using it Indiscriminately

    articleimage502Using it Indiscriminately

    Sometimes, when your site has been hit by an algorithm update or change in the SEO policies that results in results removal or manual action, it’s tempting to nuke everything and start over. Occasionally, if your SEO plan was too far in the hole or your site too low on the rankings to matter, that may be an option. However, the Disavow tool is not to be used as a weapon of mass destruction.

    If you have any links to disavow, chances are you have a few links worth saving. Using the Disavow tool to remove every incoming link is an over-reaction in almost every circumstance.

    3. Using it Without Other Strategies

    If your site has been hit by a manual action or general SEO penalty due to older incoming links, especially those from paid links, it’s a good idea to use the Disavow tool to remove bad links. However, removing these links alone won’t boost your SEO up to functional levels. You need to implement a modern, developed SEO plan in conjunction with the Disavow tool.

    The best modern strategy is a constant flow of high quality content, a campaign to develop quality backlinks through guest posts, minor keyword emphasis and an eye for local keywords. Paying for spam links, directory inclusion and other link building techniques will just lead to a situation where you’ll need the Disavow tool down the road.

    4. Using it Without Trying to Contact Webmasters First

    Before you even think about using the Disavow tool, you should contact the webmaster of the site that’s linking to you. Ask them to remove the link, and helpfully supply the URL of the page you’re talking about. Most of the time, the webmaster will remove the link.

    If the website links to your site in several places, it’s possible that the webmaster won’t remove all of the links. It’s also possible that the webmaster is inattentive and does not answer e-mails. Some negative SEO webmasters will even try to charge you for the link removal. In these cases, it’s time to use the Disavow tool.

    5. Using it Without a Link Profile

    It may seem like a simple thing, but you need to have your link profile before you can use the Disavow tool. It might be enough to know the page URL of a single link you want removed, but chances are if you know about one bad link, there are others you don’t know about.

    In your Google Webmaster Tools menu, under the traffic section, is a link titled Links to Your Site. Clicking this will allow you to view all of the incoming links to your site that Google has indexed. Click the more button to expand the menus and click the new button to download the entire table. Make sure to record all instances of spam links to remove.

    6. Using it on High Authority Links

    Another common trap for Disavow users is to attempt to remove any link you haven’t personally vetted. The Internet is alive and growing, and you can’t always control where your link is placed. One impulse may be to remove any link you don’t control, but that’s a good way to cut off your entire linkbuilding campaign.

    In your link profile table, Google provides a column labeled Page Authority. This is the weight and value of the site that is linking to you. Higher numbers are good. A site with a high number linking to your site is a quality backlink. Under almost any circumstances, it’s worth leaving these links alone.

    7. Using it on Individual Links

    articleimage502Using it on Individual Links

    In the words of Matt Cutts himself, too many people are using the Disavow tool like a fine-toothed comb. Instead, they should be using it more like a machete. What does this mean?

    When you download your link profile and pull out all of the links you want removed, don’t just submit that list. Look over it and see what patterns emerge. Are there a few specific websites that tend to submit spam links to your page? Rather than remove each individual link on that domain, use the domain operator in the Disavow tool to disavow that entire domain. It makes it much easier for Google to process, and in turn lowers the time it takes to remove the links.

    8. Not Using it as a Last Resort

    The Disavow tool is powerful, but it is also a weapon of last resort. When a webmaster links to your site from a low quality, low authority site, your first move should be to contact them about removing the link. If manual action has been taken against your site, disavowing a few links may help, but it won’t completely solve the problem.

    9. Using it When You Don’t Have to

    Using the Disavow tool should be carefully considered. How important is it that you remove these links? Some links are actively detrimental, yes, and they should be removed. Others simply have no effect on your pagerank or site authority one way or another.

    The best targets for the Disavow tool are old links from paid link campaigns, before said campaigns became flagged as suspect. The Disavow tool is great for cleaning up the messes made by bad SEOs. For most modern SEO campaigns and link management tactics, disavowal is not important.

    10. Not Using it At All

    There are many reasons to avoid using the Disavow tool, and for good reason. It can be incredibly easy to misuse the tool, especially when you don’t need to use it in the first place.

    Equally bad, however, is avoiding the tool completely. There are a number of good reasons to use the tool, including your website becoming the target of a link bomb or negative SEO campaign. In these cases, avoiding the tool is worse than misusing it.

    In any case, before you use Google’s Disavow Links tool, make sure you know what you’re doing. Download your link profile, pull aside the worst links, flag spam domains and submit the result for processing.

  7. 3 Great Spam Backlink Checkers to View Your Links

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    Getting inspiration from the link profiles of your competitors is one of the oldest and most effective search engine optimization tricks in the book. It has become increasingly difficult to do this, however, with the changing of the Yahoo search engine.

    Being able to get rid of spam backlinks is another use of link checkers. With the recent updates of the Google search engine, this is perhaps the most important use for the technology. The major search engines will now complete ban a website that has too many spam links.

    In order to maximize your link profile, you need a top flight link checker. Below is a comparison of three of the best.

    SEO Spyglass

    articleimage511seospyglass

    SEO Spyglass Is a unique type of back link checker in that it is part of a larger suite of applications. It is, however, quite an effective tool in and of itself. If you are looking for a back link checker that is easy to use with a simple layout and intuitive structure, then this might be the application for you.

    When it comes to getting rid of spam back links, the Spyglass application will download your back links from many sources around the Internet into a proprietary database. You will be able to access these links from the software directly and receive real-time data on the links that have been created.

    Within each of the listings, you will be able to determine the page ranks, the anchor text and many other features of links that have your website as the underwriting entity. You will be able to easily export these reports into PDF format for the benefit of clients or for internal use in your company.

    You will be able to see if your website links back to these internal links and the total amount of links that each link service such as Alexa credits your website with. With these tools, you can actually limit your exposure to different aggregation sites depending on the type of search optimization that you are looking to create for yourself.

    The Spyglass application is available for a one-time fee, which can be reduced significantly if you purchase the entire suite of applications that it is a part of. It is also one of the few top-flight back link checkers that has a free trial that is available online to the general public.

    Ahrefs.com

    articleimage511ahrefs

    The overall functionality of the Ahrefs.com back link checker is second to none. Even on the most basic of functions, the data includes the number of links that your site has, the number of IP’s that the links are coming from, which pages are being linked to and the anchor text that is being used as well. This data can be viewed in a number of different formats depending on the characteristics that you feel are most important. The program also has its own proprietary ranking structure that has proven to be quite useful when used in conjunction with the ranking structures of the major search engines.

    Data is presented with many different, completely customizable characteristics including do follow links, no follow links, links that are sitewide versus links that are not sitewide, redirect links, links that include an image, links from.gov and.edu sites and any other determining characteristic that you can think of or create. The reports also include errors, warnings and notices so that you can easily locate and destroy any links that are old or which lead to a misdirect.

    The data is also presented in a highly attractive visual format that is easy to interpret, even if you have not had a great deal of experience with back links for search engine optimization. You can view links using line charts, line charts or numeric charts depending on your preference.

    The pricing on this particular tool is expensive; however, there is a free option that allows you to pull a limited amount of reports and results. The data is so intensive that even the less expensive packages will provide plenty of results for small businesses. This is definitely an enterprise-level program that is scalable for growing companies. The pricing is also per month rather than a one-time fee.

    Be sure that you have the money set aside in your budget every month, because once you begin using this tool, it can quickly become an integral part of your online marketing strategy. Losing it after relying on it for even a short period of time can be devastating to online strategy.

    Raven Tools

    articleimage511raventools

    Raven Tools is the reason that the much more well-known link tracking tool SEOMoz is not on this top three list. The two programs have a great deal in common; however, Raven Tools builds on many of the weaknesses that SEOMoz has failed to patch during its long tenure as one of the most well known programs on the market.

    If you are familiar with the SEOMoz layout, then you will take warmly to the Raven Tools landscape. Aside from being a simple back link profiler, Raven Tools is actually a complete suite of online marketing tools that can manage your online campaigns from beginning to end.

    The functionality of the reports is much wider in scope than either of the other two entries within this article; however, it may simply be too much for a company that does not have a need for a full search engine optimization suite. As a matter of fact, Raven Tools is actually much better suited for a company that has its own IT in-house, as many of the data that you receive are only useful if is able to be acted upon in real time.

    The reports are easily customizable according to the data that you feel is most important within your online campaign. You can receive reports on the number of links that you have online, the ranking that the linking sites have as well as the effect that these links are creating on your own Page Rank. The tools will allow you to easily disassociate yourself from any website that is pulling down your search engine rankings.

    One of the best features of Raven Tools is that it has a full month trial that is completely free and fully functional. You will be able to determine if this solution is the best back link profiler for you without any hangups in the functionality.

    The blog that you can access from the website is also one of the most informative social media tools that is available within any search engine optimization company. You will always be kept up-to-date on the latest happenings in technology and how you can apply them to your current Raven Tools suite in order to give yourself a leg up on your competition. Raven Tools is also one of the best companies when it comes to creating updates based on the needs of its client base, updates that will be profiled in their blog.

    The Final Verdict

    Each of the programs profiled above has a personality that will definitely match with different types of companies. Take advantage of the free trials that are available for all of these programs and decide based upon the integration within your specific company rather than just the statistics. This will give you the most effective program for your needs.

  8. How to Perform a Full Backlink Audit to Remove Toxic Links

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    In May, 2013, Google launched the Penguin 2.0 update and suddenly sites all across the Internet dropped in Page Rank. Not surprisingly, porn and gaming sites were among the sites that suffered the most, but they were not the only ones. Many legitimate companies saw their websites suddenly drop in search engine visibility as well. Toxic backlinks, which had previously had little effect on websites’ Page Rank, began to harm many websites in a noticeable way.

    What are Toxic Backlinks?

    articleimage515toxicbacklinks

    “Backlinks” are basically incoming links. When website A links to website B, it creates a backlink for website B. Backlinks are important because the more reputable backlinks a website has, the higher the site will rank in Google searches and the more likely searchers are to find it.

    Not all links are created equal, however. Some backlinks pass on positive ranking juice, others pass on negative ranking juice and still others are ignored by Google altogether. Toxic backlinks are backlinks that harm a website’s search engine optimization (SEO), or the ability to rank well in a Google search. Paid links, links received from link schemes, link wheels and blog networks, and links from porn, gaming or payday loans sites are all considered toxic.

    Why is it Important to Remove Toxic Backlinks?

    articleimage515Why is it Important to Remove Toxic Backlinks

    Toxic backlinks reduce the Page Rank of the sites they link to so website owners want as few of them as possible. If Google notices that a site has a fair number of toxic backlinks, it likely will reduce the site’s Page Rank. If Google notices that a site has a very large number of toxic backlinks, it likely will exclude the site from its database altogether.

    How Do I Know if I Have Toxic Backlinks?

    articleimage515How Do I Know if I Have Toxic Backlinks

    There are several ways you can find out if your site has toxic backlinks. Here are four common ways.

    •  You Know Because You Created Them

    If you created the toxic backlinks yourself through suspicious web activity such as paying for links or content spamming, then you already know the links exist.

    •  You Receive a Warning Notification from Google

    It is possible that you didn’t create the toxic backlinks yourself. They may have been created by a scammer or a questionable SEO company you hired in the past. If you are genuinely unaware of the toxic backlinks, you may not find about them until you receive a warning message from Google.

    • You Notice a Sudden Drop in Traffic

    If your organic traffic levels suddenly dropped, particularly around May 22, 2013 when Penguin 2.0 took effect, toxic backlinks are likely the cause.

    • You Pull Up a List of Your Backlinks to Check

    If you are nervous about the latest Penguin 2.0 update like many other website owners are, you may want to pull up a list of your backlinks just to check for any suspicious links. You may or may not find any, but it never hurts to make sure.

    Where Can I Find a List of My Website’s Backlinks?

    Google recommends that the first and only place you should look to find a list of your website’s backlinks is in your site’s Google Webmaster Tools. To do this, log into your Google Webmaster Tools account and select traffic, then links to your site, then more. Here you will find a sampling of the backlinks to your blog. However, if you wanted a complete list, you will need to pay a backlink checking service such as Ahrefs, SEOmoz or Majestic SEO.

    How Do I Determine Which Backlinks are Toxic?

    Take a look at each of your links to see where they are coming from. You will want to keep links that come from high-quality sites and get rid of links that come from low-quality or spammy sites. If your links come from any of the following types of sites, they are most likely toxic links and need to be removed.

    • Obviously spammy sites, porn sites, payday loan sites or gambling sites
    • Sites that are not indexed by Google
    • Sites with a virus or malware warning
    • Sites that have no Page Rank
    • Sites with very new domain names
    • Sites with very little traffic
    • Link networks
    • Sites with an unusually large number of external links
    • Irrelevant sites

    You will also need to remove all paid links and some site-wide links, such as those that show up in website footers and blogrolls. Not all links that come from sites such as these are toxic, however. It is important that you go through each of your backlinks manually so that you can be sure to delete all the negative ones while maintaining all of the positive ones.

    How Do I Remove Toxic Backlinks?

    Once you determine that your site does have toxic backlinks that are currently affecting your Page Rank or that could affect it in the future, you will want to act immediately to clean up your links. Here are four steps you should take.

    1. Delete Them Yourself

    If you own the sites that the toxic backlinks are on, delete them yourself.

    2. Contact the Site Owners

    More than likely, your toxic backlinks will be on sites that you do not own, however. You will need to make a good faith effort to contact the site owners and ask that your links be removed. You may have to contact them several times. Be sure to tell the website owners which links you want taken down specifically, and document your efforts so you can show them to Google later, if you need to.

    3. Disavow Toxic Backlinks

    Once you have done your best to get your toxic backlinks removed, use Google’s disavow tool for the rest. This tool asks Google to not take the links into consideration when determining Page Rank for your site. This tool should only be used by advanced webmasters who have made every effort to have their many toxic backlinks removed, however. The majority of website owners should not need it.

    4. Delete Your Website

    If your website is new, it has little traffic and you have far more toxic backlinks than you can reasonably take care of, you may wish to simply delete your website and start over.

    What Should I Do Next After I Have Removed the Toxic Backlinks?

    Once you have cleaned up your website’s backlinks, you will want to file a reconsideration request with Google. In this request, you should admit your mistake, outline the steps you took to correct the problem and promise to use only best practices in the future. Be sure your request is polite and detailed. Once your request has been submitted, expect to wait between two to three weeks for a response.

    While performing a backlink audit can be arduous and time consuming for websites that have a large number of toxic backlinks, it is worth the effort for website owners who want their websites to do well. Google seeks to reward websites that have high quality content and that gather positive backlinks naturally. Removing toxic backlinks is one essential steps website owners must take if they hope to rank well.

  9. How Often Are Moz’s Domain Authority Scores Updated?

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    articleimage524How Often Are Moz’s Domain Authority Scores Updated

    Domain Authority metrics report on domain performance rankings on Google search results. Moz Analytics campaigns as well as Mozscape API contribute to those rankings. Score compilation of over 40 signals, including reporting from MozRank, MozTrust and Mozscape web index inform Domain Authority correlation of rankings.

    A machine learning model algorithm that predicts rankings across thousands of search results allows users to observe aggregate performance of their domain over time. The total tracking strength reported for a domain is derived from these results, and calculated in a single score. Domain Authority metrics account for fluctuation of those results, as well as competitive reporting as a measure of SEO campaign performance.

    On-demand, daily reporting is part of the Domain Authority analytics feature, allowing for thousands of links per domain. Domain Authority reports on rankings across clients once per week. Each domain has an assigned reporting day that coincides with the first day that a Domain Authority campaign was set up. The reporting day is static and cannot be altered.

    Link analysis data in Domain Authority taken directly from the SEOmoz Mozscape index which is updated every 3 to 4 weeks. The Mozscape index populates the data field with key information in the SEOmoz Web App for each campaigns. SEOMoz tracking in Domain Authority offers result on the top 50 rankings. Although there is some delay in data population updates due to the now over 20,000 campaigns currently tracked in SEOmoz tracks, users can also obtain new data from Open Site Explorer.

    Domain Authority Scoring Metrics

    articleimage524 Domain Authority Scoring Metrics

    Domain Authority score indices are a 100 point, logarithmic scale. The more your score advances, the easier it is to improve it. Thus, growing a score closer to 100 rather than a score on the other end of the spectrum is more expedient. Comparison of search engine rankings offers a combined metric for aggregate performance modeling measure of your dedicated domain. The combined metric approach uses link scaling (i.e. linking root domains, number of links, MozTrust and MozRank) in reporting of a single score.

    MozRank provides the global link popularity score for SEOmoz compares the ranking power or relative link value between URLs. With continuous updates, MozRank outperforms Google’s PageRank metric in frequency and precision. Average MozRank for a domain: 3.00.

    The global link trust score for SEOmoz, mozTrust is measures link trust rather than value. The measurement between the distance of the seeded trust source on the Web, and a given page determines the trust score. Seed trust are generally recognized, lead institutions and organizations such as governmental departments, not-for-profit organizations, scientific associations and university websites.

    Other link metrics include measurement of total links, external followed links, linking root domains, followed linking root domains and linking C-blocks. Metric analysis of total links reports on all links. With total links metrics, more than a single link from the same URL is still treated as a single page. External followed links are measured from the external root domains for pages on a domain.

    Linking root domains are the number of unique root domains containing at least a single linking page to a domain. Followed linking root domains are the number of domains with at least a single followed link for any page page signaled from the root domain. Linking C-blocks or group domains are administrate clusters of domains and the links between them. More than one domain on the same C-Block indicates ownership by the same party.

    How to Mobilize Domain Authority to Boost Website Performance

    articleimage524How to Mobilize Domain Authority to Boost Website Performance

    Users observe the top five pages linking a domain. Once anchor text and Authority metrics have been input, the client can request export of up to 10,000 backlinks, or access Open Site Explorer for additional metric reporting information and links.

    Review of the top five most linked to pages to a domain allows a user to explore competitor content. Search for URLs with the most high quality links not currently redirected to the domain under your ownership (i.e. HTTP Status 404, 302). Identify the link strategies that will best work for your domain. Having knowledge of how competitor domain earn links, informs strategic link acquisition.

    The domains with more link value are those that will rank higher in response to optimization, and convert value to other domains that require rankings. Application of Competitive Domain Analysis metrics such as MozRank and MozTrust, and linking data, analysis of the root domain or the root domains of competitors can be analyzed further.

    Rankings for new keywords are indicated under the ‘Account Settings’ tab on the dashboard. The rankings schedule is displayed as a calendar with a day of the week posted to indicate that an attempt to collect rankings in the PM of that day will be made.

    Domain Authority Reporting Analytics

    The Domain Authority models predict search engine position. Rankings are updated periodically to capture changes in page position of a given domain. The search engine ranking algorithms update data about domain performance over time. Domain Authority offers on-demand reporting. The model also affords better accuracy than competitor metrics. Multivariate analysis features offered in Domain Authority create sophisticated graphical illustrations of requested computations.

    SERP results can be manipulated in co-efficient analyses in queries about domain wide rankings. Taken further, comparative frequencies in linear regression report median performance of domains across time. Prediction of SERP ordinals is also availed in Domain Authority, for reporting of higher to lower score values. Domain Authority has the capability to report on large aggregate datasets. For instance, aggregate metric reporting on 10,000 SERP can be analyzed for comparison of a single or multiple domains.

    Domain Authority accuracy ratings are said to be in the 70% range. While hardly a normal standard deviation from mean performance in the conventional sense, self-reporting by the application is actual rather than trending in comparison with similar search engine analytic providers. Best proximate scores to domain-specific link metrics are possible by eliminating keyword specific features (i.e. anchor text, and on-page keyword usage). Scoring will then report query-independent or non-keyword-based ranking inputs rather than random selection.

    Most Web-metric analytics specialists agree that Domain Authority is the highest caliber predictor of all search engine ranking applications. Use Moz Domain Authority to track, score and analyze your website domain in comparison with those in the same sector of field. Application of link metrics to define a single, predictive score ensures that forecast of trends in domain performance makes better future results highly probable.

    About Domain Authority

    Domain Authority is a marketing analytics software designed to assist in improving website domain and SEO advertising search engine ranking performance. Improve social media outreach, and increase brand awareness connected to your domain with Domain Authority’s compendium of Web-based power analytics tools. Improve the position of your domain across search engines with Domain Authority.

    Moz members can join the 300,000+ community of SEO marketing specialists and Web analysts to find out more applications for Domain Authority scoring. Members have advice to Moz support services, as well as industry experts in a Mozinar. Benefit from knowledge sharing about Domain Authority scoring and reap the most rewards from reporting of domain performance against competitors.

    For more information about Moz Domain Authority Scoring and other Moz software products, visit: www.moz.com

  10. 5 Spam Backlink Cleanup Tips from Professionals

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    If you have any experience with search engine optimization (SEO), then you probably know how vital it is for your website or blog to have backlinks. For search engines like Google and Bing, backlinks serve as proof that your website or blog contains reputable and useful content. Therefore, many website owners seek out backlinks, because backlinks increase page rank as well as rankings in search results.

    However, not just any backlinks will do when it comes to search engine optimization. One must acquire quality backlinks from reputable, popular websites if they want to benefit. Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of acquiring backlinks from anywhere, including spammy, blacklisted websites.

    While backlinks are definitely useful, spam backlinks will give the exact opposite of the intended effect. These backlinks will decrease your website or blog’s ranking and search engines and a lot of spam backlinks may cause Google to blacklist your own blog or website.

    Whether you made the mistake of acquiring spam backlinks, or had the unfortunate luck of purchasing a domain with many spam backlinks, there are things you can do in order to “clean up.” Here are five spam backlink cleanup tips from professionals that you should enforce to get your website or blog back on the good sides of search engines.

    1. Use a Backlink Checker

    articleimage547Use a Backlink Checker

    Your very first order of business should be to use a backlink checker. It’s pretty much impossible to effectively get rid of spam backlinks if you have no idea where they are coming from and how many your website or blog has. Fortunately, there are many free backlink checkers online that will provide you with a backlink profile.

    Some excellent backlink checkers you should consider using are as follows: BackLinkWatch, Ahrefs, Analyze Backlinks, Majestic SEO, as well as Open Site Explorer. You can also use Google’s Webmaster Console in order to see all of your site’s backlinks.

    Once you have a list of all your backlinks, you need to identify the low-quality ones, so you don’t end up removing backlinks that are actually helping your website or blog. Typically, spam backlinks come from domains that are very new, domains with little to no traffic, from pages that have many, many external links, from pages with many ads, and from websites that have a page rank of zero or N/A.

    2. Request for a Link Removal

    articleimage546 Request for a Link Removal

    One thing you can do is visit every single backlink and find the contact information of the webmaster. With their contact information, you can send them a request to remove a backlink from their website. Ideally, you shouldn’t simply demand that they remove it, especially if you were the one who put the backlink there in the first place.

    If there’s a spammy backlink in a comment and you weren’t the one who placed it there, mention that in your request. However, if you were the one who placed it there, you can mention that Google is penalizing websites (Sprint, for example) for spam comments. Also, if there website really does look spammy, you can mention that you’ll have to use the disavow tool for any backlinks that aren’t removed, which may end hurting their website.

    Requesting for a link removal can be very tedious, especially if you have many, many spammy backlinks leading to your website or blog. If you have the money, you can go to a website like Odesk and outsource the task of requesting link removals. There are also programs that will aid you with the task, if you’re willing to buy them.

    3. Use the Disavow Tool

    articleimage547Use the Disavow Tool

    Fortunately, Google recognizes that spammy backlinks aren’t always to blame on the webmaster. If a backlink is hurting your website, and removing it is completely and utterly out of your power, you can use Google’s disavow tool.

    One can use the disavow tool to request that Google not take low-quality backlinks into consideration when assessing a blog or website. However, ensure that you put in a lot of effort to remove low-quality backlinks before resorting to the disavow tool.

    There is a chance that Google may give you a manual penalty if you use the disavow tool without any evidence of you actually trying to remove the spam backlinks yourself. Overall, just use the disavow tool as a last resort, and you’ll be fine.

    4. Move Content

    If most of your spam backlinks aren’t linking to your site’s homepage but to a regular page, then consider deleting that page and moving the content to a new page or 404-ing the page. If a page becomes a 404 or 410, then the links to that page won’t be considered by Google at all.

    However, there are two major drawbacks to this method. The first drawback is that you might not be able to afford to remove the page with many spammy backlinks, as you may actually want to rank the page in search results. Also, your website or blog won’t be very SEO friendly if it has 404/410 pages, which may defeat the entire purpose of 404/410-ing the page.

    If you have thousands of spammy backlinks, it may be best to simply start a new website or blog on a new domain. While a hundred or so spammy backlinks are manageable, albeit tedious, thousands of spammy backlinks are not. You will waste countless hours of your time just to make a tiny dent in your website or blog’s recovery.

    In such a case, it is better to abandon your website (perhaps temporarily) and start a new one on a new domain. However, don’t delete your old website as a Penguin refresh may revive your website in the future.

    5. Prevention

    Of course, the number one way to deal with low quality backlinks is to have never had them in the first place. Typically, you can easily prevent spam backlinks by not placing them there yourself, because that is how most low quality backlinks are established in the first place.

    Don’t link to websites that probably have a bad reputation, like illegal websites and porn sites. Avoid buying backlinks because search engines like Google only like natural backlinks. In fact, speaking of Google, the company made it crystal clear that they consider buying and selling backlinks as spam and that they will treat it as such.

    Having backlinks from high page rank websites is obviously a good thing, but it isn’t the only thing you should be striving for. If a website or blog happens to only have backlinks from high quality websites, it won’t look authentic at all.

    Another method of prevention you should enforce is checking the backlinks of a domain before buying it, especially if it’s a quality domain. It would be terrible to spend hundreds of hours on a website only to discover that its domain is plagued with spam backlinks.

    As you can see, there is no reason to panic and lose hope immediately if your website happens to have many spammy back links, no matter if you are to blame or not. If you follow the above five spam backlink cleanup tips from professionals, your website or blog will most likely be on the road to recovery in no time.

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