Well, the fine folks that develop WordPress have finally offered, what might be considered, one of the most controversial features they have ever introduced. While some might think this is a blessing others will think it to be the end of their site running smoothly. The updates will be enabled by default for Minor Releases only. These tend to be the security releases. You need to manually add other parameters for more (or less) functionality.
The biggest issue this will introduce is the need to make sure that what you are developing is based on good practices and follows the WordPress Codex. For example…
- Make sure to put functionality into plugins. This can have two impacts on dealing with issues from an automatic update: 1) The plugin could get automatically disabled should a fatal error arise or 2) An issue could get temporarily dealt with by disabling the plugin in the Administration Panel.
- Prefer child themes to custom themes and minimize functionality changes to the theme. This will allow you to keep the upgrades going and not suffer from changes in the theme. Make functional overrides into plugins.
- Choose plugins and themes wisely. Pick plugins and themes to utilize or base you work off of that have a solid track record of keeping up to date. You don’t want to constantly have to go seek out new plugins for functionality because of issues
If all else fails, you can disable the update mechanisms or filter out ones that you can’t work around.
To disable all automatic updates add this to the wp-config.php file:
define( 'AUTOMATIC_UPDATER_DISABLED', true );
And for good measure put this into the theme’s functions.php file:
add_filter( 'automatic_updater_disabled', '__return_true' );
For a full list of filters consult Configuring Automatic Background Updates in the WordPress Codex.
Keep in mind that the WordPress developers plan to increase the rate at which the release new versions and this will mean that using automatic updates will be come more and more necessary. So make sure to plan and develop carefully.
Follow These Steps to Help Remove your Manual Action from Google for Unnatural Links Pointing to your Site
Nowadays, you hear a lot about Google placing manual actions on websites due to the unnatural links pointing to them. These manual actions can really cause a site to suffer and the removal of them can be a tedious process. One of the mistakes I often see websites make is to continue building links after they receive this penalty. At this point, all link building efforts should stop and the main focus should be taking the time to revoke the penalty. Please keep in mind that though this process takes time — it cannot be done overnight or in a couple days — it’s important because Google wants to see that you made the effort to recover from the penalty.
Step 1: Compile all of your external backlinks. You can download all of your links in Google WMT, but I also recommend using additional sources to compile them. Other tools I like are Ahrefs and Moz’ Open Site Explorer. Just make sure that you remove all duplicate links once you have a compiled list. A lot of the time, these backlink profiles will hold two of the same links: one that has the www-version and one that has the non-www version. I recommend removing “http://” and “http://www.” by using Excel’s “Find and Replace” function. Removing these from the URL’s and then removing all duplicates will save you time when later analyzing these links.
Step 2: Analyze the compiled list of links, highlighting all of the bad ones. This step can take some time, considering how many links make up the entire link profile. Additionally, each link needs to be thoroughly investigated (you cannot just look at some of them). Keeping everything organized, analyze each link from the top of the list down to the bottom, highlighting all the links that Google deems unnatural. The best way to learn Google’s definition of “unnatural” is to look at their considered Link Schemes in their content guidelines, found here:
Use this as a guide to determine which links are good and bad. I have learned that links that use exact match anchor text are often the most targeted. A lot of times, Google will go after a website’s most linked keyword and you will notice its rankings start to tank. The majority of links surrounding these keywords usually need to be removed.
Step 3: Make a strong effort to remove the bad links and document it. Google wants to see that you have dedicated a large amount of your time to removing the bad links. This is a manual process that consists of e-mailing the websites that these bad links originate from and asking that they be removed. Use WhoIs.net to look up the e-mail address associated with the domain in question. Often the “WhoIs” will be private and you will need to search the site from top to bottom to find an e-mail address or a contact form.
Politely inform the webmaster of the situation that you are currently in, explain the location of the links and ask for their help in removing them. This entire process needs to be documented, showing the e-mail address associated with the bad link, the date the message was sent and the response (if any) that was received. This outreach should be repeated two or three times, documenting all efforts to get these links removed so that Google can see all the steps you took to resolve the issue.
Step 4: Disavow all the links that you were unable to remove. About a year ago, Google launched a great feature that allows you to disavow links to your site. Basically, this file makes the links invisible to Google’s eyes, almost akin to turning them into no-follow links. Be careful, though! Google does not want you to abuse this feature and it should only be used for links you have no control over and are unable to remove. This file must be submitted as a .txt file, and should be correctly formatted. I prefer disavowing whole domains rather than links, as most of the time the unnatural links are found on spammy websites and it is just easier to disavow the entire domain. Google even allows you to leave notes in the disavow file, explaining the different situations that accompany each link or domain. You can describe how the following domains requested payment for removal or how there was no contact information, etc. See the example below:
Take all of the links that you were unable to have removed and add them or their domains into the file as shown above. Filtering by the different responses you have collected from your outreach process will help categorize the different links.
There has never really been any documentation on how long it takes for this disavow file to go into effect, but I recommend waiting a week before moving on to the next step — submitting a reconsideration request.
Step 5: Write and submit your letter of reconsideration. This is the final step of the process. For manual actions, you need to “request a review” in Google WMT so that your site can be reviewed by Google’s Quality Search team, who will determine whether it meets their guidelines or not. This letter needs to convince Google that you have done everything in your power to clean up the link profile and meet their quality guidelines. They want to see documentation of all your efforts and everything you did and are currently doing to overcome the linking penalty. The following are a few key points that you will need to include in your reconsideration request:
- Take full responsibility for the penalty, explain what caused it to occur, admit to what you have done in the past, and tell Google what you are doing now to treat the issue. It is your website and you should be the one taking the blame for the penalty. You can throw your SEO under the bus, but you should still take responsibility for their work. Did you ever pay for links in the past? Google wants you to include this type of information in the request.
- Include documentation of your outreach efforts. Rather than just saying you have e-mailed a handful of webmasters for link removal, provide documentation of the efforts you made when contacting the webmasters. Put all of this into a Google Doc and link to it in the letter. Make sure the document lists all of the bad links, the webmasters’ e-mail addresses, the different dates that messages were sent and the responses that you received.
- Discuss your disavow file. It is a good idea to talk about the disavow file that you uploaded and it doesn’t hurt if you choose to link to it in a Google doc, as well.
- Make it known that you are strongly committed to following Google’s Quality Guidelines and that your site is meant for users, not search engines. Explain that from now on you are going to follow the rules and that it is your goal to create unique and compelling content that is beneficial to users.
Once you have compiled all information and proof of your efforts through the process, you are ready to submit the letter. These requests are not evaluated by robots — they are read by humans, so make sure to use a pleasant tone in the letter. The time it takes for Google to respond varies, but based on my experience, it normally takes about one to two weeks to get a response. Once you’ve sent the letter, it is time to play the waiting game. Good luck.
When I mention the Internet and danger, I’m not referring to explicit content; I’m also not referring to the addictiveness of Netflix or the questionable sources of premium TV shows I don’t have to pay for. What I’m talking about is textual content that’s sloppy, uninformative and produced with the sole intention of acquiring higher search engine rankings, not of educating and engaging online users.
As a creative web writer, I can’t think of anything more dangerous than lackluster textual web content. Or maybe the right word is disgusting.
Yes, when I read blog posts, whitepapers and articles written without care, attention and passion, it disgusts me. But that’s beside the point, because I realize that not everyone is a web writer or shares this attitude. However, almost everyone is an online reader and, as such, is affected negatively by valueless web content. The reason that content written for the purpose of obtaining higher search results is dangerous is because
- it often gets the facts wrong
- it offers nothing to the reader except wasted time
- it pollutes the Internet like toxins pollute the atmosphere and our bodies
This is the kind of content my fellow WebiMax writers and I stay away from. Instead, we produce web content that’s SEO-friendly primarily because of its user value – not because of how many keywords it squeezes in between filler text.
Because of writers like us and the brilliant world of search engine technology, the Internet is becoming less polluted by poor content.
We’re Fighting the Good Fight
When I read an article on the Internet, I expect it to be either informative, interesting, entertaining or a combination of the three, and I’m sure the entire WebiMax writing team agrees with me on this. Actually, I know they do because we’re taught to write content that we’d actually want to read ourselves. And after I read anything produced by my peers, I leave the page feeling informed, excited, entertained or, more often than not, a combination of all three.
By producing content we’d actually read, we’re making the Internet a prosperous space that can be trusted — not just by search engines, but by anyone with access to the Internet who is ready to open his or her mind to the seeming infinity of online space.
When we write with purpose and passion, we obtain the best results for our clients. By taking their unique business ideas and combining them with our writing skill and knowledge of what’s relevant, we attract organic traffic, social signals (likes, tweets, shares) and, consequently, the attention of the most powerful search engines. You could say we help to redefine what SEO copy and content writing really are every time we write. With this approach and the help of smarter search engines, we put worthy content at the forefront of search and bury the garbage content far beneath.
The Evolving Search Engine is Helping Us
Google’s objective is to lead search engine users to websites that fulfill their needs and desires, not to unhelpful content. This ethic is great for online users and, additionally, makes it harder for soulless SEO “writers” to succeed at ranking high in search. Google’s recent Hummingbird algorithm update is a testament to the company’s ongoing mission to deliver useful results instead of keyword-focused rubbish.
In addition to Google, there are other promising new search engines focused on providing online users with awesome content.
Blippex is a new kind of search engine that ranks websites based on bounce rate instead of keywords, phrases and links. If this isn’t a sign for web writers with old habits to change their strategies, I don’t know what is.
Do you know of anything (or anyone) else that’s making the Internet “less dangerous.” If so, drop a line!
As someone who contributes to numerous blogs and has a few of her own, I’m always browsing around the Web looking for inspiration and trying to find ways to improve my own content. There’s definitely an interesting contrast between personal blogs and those that belong to certain brands. While checking out the blogs for individual brands, I found that some corporate companies are absolutely killing it by honing in on a specific target audience/demographic and providing interesting, useful, and entertaining content for them. Those of us who write for smaller brands can definitely learn a thing from these four in particular.
The Brand: Whole Foods
The bloggers at Whole Foods really know what they’re doing when it comes to catering to their audience. Just look at their page – you’re greeted immediately with pictures of mouth-watering (probably organic) meals and treats which encourage you to read the surrounding text. With a closer read, you find that Whole Foods wants to supply its customers with recipes, tips, and information about different types of foods: namely, the ones they sell in their stores.
What we can learn: master the art of the how-to! Clearly, if you’re a big enough fan of Whole Foods that you’re checking out their blog, you’re probably a foodie to some degree. Whole Foods is doin’ it right because they show you cool things you can do with their products.
The Brand: Flickr
You know Flickr – the photo-sharing site renowned for offering its users an insane amount of storage and presentation space. It’s got one of the coolest blogs around, especially for photography lovers (which, one can assume, is nearly everyone in their target audience). Their posts are rife with super-cool, eye-catching pieces of art and often contain very little text aside from descriptions. They also have monthly themes and encourage their readers to get involved and submit their own themed photographs.
What we can learn: a picture is worth a thousand words. Blog posts don’t always have to be text-centered. And, maybe more importantly, get your readers to engage by contributing their own content.
The Brand: Zappos
Zappos faces a bit of a challenge: they don’t have a very niche target demographic, and they sell everything under the sun, so generating fresh content could be considered a bit difficult. They jump this hurdle pretty gracefully, though, by distributing their posts amongst multiple bloggers who all specialize in something different. They do weekly themes, such as Designer Picks and Wanderlust Wednesdays, which serve as a prompt and get their readers into a groove so they know what to expect from the blog.
What we can learn: weekly themes are useful when you feel like your blog is drifting from its intended focus and when your idea well is running dry!
The Brand: Modcloth
Modcloth’s target demographic is extremely niche, especially in comparison with the aforementioned brands. They reach out to twenty-something females who love somewhat retro, alternative clothing. For someone who fits the bill, their blog absolutely never gets boring to read. From their conversational, informal language to their cute, girly graphics, reading the Modcloth blog is kind of like having a chat with a friend.
What we can learn: be the target demographic! These blog posts don’t just talk about what cute clothes are for sale on the site – they offer recipes, recommend books, post art, discuss style icons and celebrities, and much more. You can tell their brainstorming sessions involve them getting into the mindset of their target audience and figuring out what things they’d want to talk about, which, to the potential customer, makes the blog worth sticking around for.
Between the countless writing classes I took a bit too seriously in college, the time I’ve invested in my hobbies, and the past couple years I’ve spent freelancing and working for SEO companies, I’ve written a lot of blog posts. As a result, I’ve written on a lot of blog platforms.
There are a lot of great platforms out there – some that are easy to use and secure, some that work well for niche purposes, some that make interacting with other bloggers really easy. Though I’ve had my dances with Tumblr, spent many a late night conversing with Quora, even had my morning coffee with Blogger, I’ll always return to my love affair with WordPress.
Perhaps it’s true that my affinity for a free, sophisticated, minimalist theme and a reason to spend hours perusing possible personalization options are what initially attracted me to WordPress, but its superior SEO capabilities are what keep me coming back. Maybe you’re blogging for the sole purpose of SEO or maybe you’re a hobby blogger who optimizes out of necessity; either way, blogging and SEO are happily married, so all authors should prioritize posting on a platform that’s easy to optimize.
If you’re not taking advantage of these four WordPress SEO customizations, simply stated, you’re doing it wrong.
The WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast
It doesn’t get any more straightforward than this. The SEO Plugin allows you to choose your focus keyword for the blog post, edit the post’s meta description, create custom descriptions for social media platforms, edit the post’s meta title, and more. It’ll even provide you with suggestions to make the post more SEO-friendly. Get the plugin here.
The Ability to Customize and/or Modify Permalinks
Your permalink – that is, how your blog post’s URL appears in your browser bar – should be as reflective of the content as your title. If you modify your permalink, then instead of your permalink reading “www.webimax.com/blog/2013/10/01/modifying-permalinks,” it’ll simply read “www.webimax.com/blog/modifying-permalinks.” That way, Google only has to do a shallow crawl to see that this page is relevant. All you have to do to modify your permalinks is access your WordPress Dashboard, go to Settings, then go to Permalinks. Choose ‘Custom Structure’ and in the field, simply put /%postname%/.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this: I can write a decent blog post on nearly any topic, optimize it, and promote it. What I cannot do on my own, though, is make my blog look pretty. That’s why WordPress themes are the design-inept blogger’s godsend. There are few things more important than a user-friendly, attractive website if you’re trying to attract (and keep) traffic, but accomplishing a clean, easy-to-navigate look is hard when you know virtually nothing about Web development. Premium themes on WordPress are a good investment because they don’t glitch, they appear sophisticated, and they’re almost always pre-optimized by their developers, so your blog has a predisposed fair chance at competitive ranking.
The ‘Related Posts’ Widget
LinkWithin is a widget that shows related stories from your blog’s archive under each post. It’s genius! If someone’s reading a blog post about a recipe you created or a home repair how-to you detailed, chances are, they’re going to be interested in another recipe or another home repair how-to. Show them where to find more! Having them click to another one of your blog posts will keep them browsing your site, helping you to maintain their attention and giving you the opportunity to demonstrate your credibility. It’s basically free interlinking, and it helps your old content to resurface, making your blog posts into gifts that keep on giving.
With football season now in full swing, everyone is wearing their favorite team jersey, talking up their team’s success, and undoubtedly expecting big wins and accomplishments for their team. What makes this American sport a favorite among many is that there is always something brewing. From drafts and trades, to injuries and outstanding plays and performances, football season certainly doesn’t go unnoticed. Even fantasy football has become an increasingly popular pastime – and football fans are serious about their team picks. So, what do football and SEO have in common?
If you work in SEO, your main goal is to make it to the top. Well, the same can be said about football. But, they have more in common than just winning. It’s also about perfecting a winning strategy.
Have a strategy
To win anything, you need a game plan. Like designing a play in order to score a touchdown, you need to put together a strategy to help your website make its way to the top. Do you have the right set of tactics for your marketing efforts? Are you able to measure, track and adjust your tactics?
Know your competitor
This is one of the most important points in your game plan. Just like knowing the current standing of an opposing football team, where does your competitor stand in the SERPs? What is your ranking in comparison to theirs? If they are higher than you in the Google standings, what actions are you going to take to move above them? How do they promote a similar product or service, and how can you promote yours better?
Work as a team
Just like a coach needs his team to execute a play, you need a team of online marketers to work together to help you reach your goal. From developers to link builders, content writers and social media marketers, it’s important that you are all aware of the strategy for a successful play.
Be willing to improve
No one ever made it anywhere by sticking to the same routine. If a game plan has failed, why continue to run the same plays? The same theory can be applied to SEO campaigns. If you want to make it to the top of the SERPs, you can’t always stick to the same strategy – you need to discover and find new and better ways to get to the top.
Play by the rules
While football players have referees and whistles, marketers have Google algorithms. You have guidelines to play by to ensure that you play fair. It’s crucial that you play by Google’s rules and make it to the top without performing black hat techniques. A skilled and experienced SEO company will go about winning the right way.
In football and SEO, you don’t want to just win, you want to get noticed. Press releases, articles, blogs and social media are all intricate parts of putting your business in the spotlight. When an SEO campaign works properly, you’ll feel the need to celebrate like a receiver who just snagged a touchdown for the victory.