Does the Google Panda Update Spell the End for Duplicate Content?

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Remember the Google algorithm, now nicknamed ‘Panda’ which was rolled out in March to the USA and now last month to the rest of the world? The implementation of the algorithm has caused much interest in internet marketers and some consternation in the websites it has affected but now results are beginning to come in to show how much websites have been affected by the changes.

Changes Caused by the Update

If the USA version of the change had one effect, it instantly knocked back articles by Suite101 and Hubpages. These websites have traditionally been used by internet marketers to backlink to their websites to enable them to rise in the search engine rankings. The problem was that although these websites were moderated and edited, the articles on them went back to the beginnings of the website. There needed to be some changes and both websites have implemented stricter edits and have begun to delete older and perhaps less useful articles. The change did not affect all websites however such as Ehow which also contained a lot of content.

The version rolled out to the rest of the world showed that Google had listened. Ehow lost some of its traffic, but so did UK tech websites and price comparison websites. Ebay improved their ranking as did UK newspaper websites.

Improving Search Results

The stated aim of the update was to improve the Google search and eliminate duplicate content. For years internet marketers have suggested that the best way to get quick results have been to submit the same or very similar articles to article websites such as Ezine and Technorati in order to gain back links. The articles can be submitted for free and are allowed links. Members of these websites can copy these articles for their own use and therefore spread the links over the internet. The problem is that many of these articles are simply copied, spreading duplicate copy over the web.

Using these articles allowed website owners to populate their websites quickly with copy for the price of a link and it seemed a win-win situation. The problem occurs when a user searches for information and the same article on several different websites is returned.

Say No to Duplicate Content

Duplicate content has never been a good idea. There is so much rubbish out there on the internet that it can be hard to find the right information that you are looking for. Google is going to continue to update the algorithms and try to eliminate websites that it perceives as being nothing less than spam.

The message is clear: by all means add content to your website. Regular, relevant content added to a website will help it to rise in the search rankings but make sure that it is original and useful information in order to ensure that your website is not hit by further updates.



The Simple Guide to SEO Terms

Here are some of the terms regularly used in SEO jargon and the simple explanations for them.

Affiliate Marketing – running ads on your website for a company which will pay you per impression or click or lead. There are umbrella companies set up that will enable you to apply to suitable affiliates for your website.

Algorithm – computer programme that is a series of steps designed to solve a problem.

Backlinks – links from external websites leading back to a website. Backlinks should relate to the websites that are being linked and should be one way for the best effect on the search engine results.

Black Hat SEO – Using practices that are not honest to achieve SEO. If you are caught by Google, then your website will be ignored or ‘sandboxed’.

Conversion – The art of turning ads into sales.

CPC – Cost Per Click. This is a measurement unit used when assessing adverts for a website. Often paid by companies to their affiliates. This can also be measured in cost per impression depending on the terms of the agreement.

CTR – Click Through Rate. Way of measuring the effectiveness of ads

Highlighted search results – these are usually paid for, often by a bid process. There are more paid for ads in the right hand column.

Keywords – Words that relate to the subject matter of your website or business. Choosing the right keywords to aim for is important to help your website rise in the rankings.

Keyword Density – This measures how often a keyword appears on a page.

Keyword Research – there are programmes to help you decide which keywords to aim for. They can rank them in the volumes of people who search for them, how difficult it is to rank for them and even how much companies are prepared to pay for them. If you want to use your website to make money then using these programmes is essential.

Landing Page – a special web page or home page designed to help users navigate the website. Can also be a special sales page that an advert points to.

Page Rank – an algorithm that enables Google to list all the websites on the web from the most to the least important based on search results. It measures one way links from websites and if those websites are ranked well themselves, then their links are worth more. Often stated as a number: PR1 will be PageRank 1. The higher the ranking, the more Google values the website.

Rankings – the order of websites returned when a search is conducted.

Search engine – a facility for searching for information from websites. Google is the most popular search engine but Bing is catching up. The websites are listed on pages and it is desirable to have your website show up on the first two or three pages.

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation – Making sure that your website shows up during a Google search for certain keywords

SERP – Search Engine Results Page

Web Content – Articles written about a subject to give a website more informational value. Can include any information put on a website.

White Hat SEO – Practices that are acceptable in the world of SEO.


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SEO Basics – Using Backlinks


3D Full Spectrum Unity Holding Hands Concept by thegoldguys

When you are trying to promote your business blog or your website there are several things that you can do in order to increase the search engine optimisation or SEO. You can add content to your blog regularly and research and aim for keyword phrases. You can also pay attention to writing good headlines, ensuring that your chosen keywords are used.


Keywords and content are only one of the ways in which Google assesses what a website is all about. The search engine also looks for backlinks from external websites that are similar in content in order to verify that the information is useful and in context.

There are different ways to build backlinks to your website. It should be noted that over time, organic or natural backlinks should occur where other people find your website and link to it because of the great content. If you have a new website and want to bring it to the attention of other people then there are other ways to go about it.

Comments on Forums and Blogs

Visiting other forums and blogs and commenting on other people’s posts is a time-honoured way to get links to your website. Choose popular blogs with plenty of comments and check that they are relevant to your website. When you comment, leave a link to your previous post. Make sure that you add value to the blog when you comment. Blog owners will delete blog comments if they are obviously spam. Getting involved in forums is a great way to meet people in a similar field to yourself. You can either join a general business forum or a more specialised forum for your line of work. You can build a profile and get involved in the discussions. Not all forums allow links in the signatures of free members, but it is worth a free membership to see if you want to get further involved.


I find that using photos from Flickr is also a way to bring links in. I often use photos from Flickr that have been labelled for reuse. There is a previous blog post about this. I always leave a comment on the photo owner’s page to let them know that I have used the photo and where they can view it. I have not had anyone ask me to take them down, but I have had traffic from Flickr.

Internal Links

Building internal links to other articles also helps convince Google that the website is real. When you write a post, you can include links to other articles that you have written, if they relate to the material. This enables you to highlight old posts which disappear from view as the website gets older and also can save you writing the same information over and over again.

Submitting Articles

Finally people use article submission websites to help to build back links. These websites have been knocked back recently in the Google algorithm change but they will come back because they are such a useful tool. There will be further information on them in another post.

These are some of the ways in which search engines categorise your website. Getting it right will help to drive traffic to your website from outside which can help to bring it up the pages of a search. Enabling potential customers to find your website can only have a beneficial effect on your business.

Photo Credit: Found on Creative Commons by thegoldguys



Google Algorithm Change Rocks Content Websites

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Last week, the biggest search engine on the internet at the moment announced a change to the algorithm it uses to rank articles when responding to search criteria. The change was meant to help to weed out duplicate and low ranking articles on content websites, sometimes referred to as ‘content farms’. The idea is that more relevant content will be brought to the top of a search listing which should help to reward more useful articles and blogs.

This caused speculation as to which of the content websites are being targeted in this way. Suite101 and Hubpages, which are both revenue-share models, are two websites which have seen some of their articles fall from grace, although whether this is due to the implementation of the algorithm, who can tell? On the other hand, Ehow articles seem to have benefitted from the changes.

Demand Media owns Ehow and is considered by some commentators to be a content farm although it pays for articles upfront. The company has responded that it is not being singled out for this treatment and that of the articles it has, some are benefitting while others are suffering. The company suggests that it will pay more heed to what consumers want in the future.

In the early days of internet marketing, web marketers threw up websites with a little content and a lot of adverts. These websites were of little informational value; they were unashamedly there to encourage visitors to click on the ads and no more. Now consumers demand more of their websites: they use the internet regularly for information and expect the results returned by their searches to be of good quality and useful. The search engine could argue that it is responding to consumer demand and trying to crack down on low quality websites.

I think that this will even out in time. The results will show an initial dip and the companies affected will have to take steps to protect their page rankings and ensure that the content that they produce is of a good enough quality to count as useful information. However, Google has a symbiotic relationship with these websites. They use its adverts as part of their revenue share model and to destroy them completely would not be in the search engine’s best interests. It is therefore probably more likely to be a warning shot to the companies to encourage the production of well-written information rather than lazy, badly constructed content. This can only improve the internet for everyone concerned.

For more reading, check out this article.



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SEO Basics – Choosing Your Keyword Phrases

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Keyword phrases help to define your blog and explain to the search engines what your blog is all about. If you want to lift your blog above others in the same subject, then it is important to get your keyword phrases right so that when customers search for a subject, then your blog is the one they find.

There are two aspects to choosing the correct keywords for your blog: the frequency of the search and the competition for the keyword. You can easily use the Google Adwords tool to search for your keyword phrase. Google Adwords will show you the volume of searches, based in your country for your keyword phrase. It will also give you an idea of the competition for the keyword, grading it as high, medium or low. It is a good idea to write down the information in a spreadsheet so that you will know which keywords will be the best for you.

Checking Out Keyword Competition and Volume

The competition tells you how many other people are trying to rank for that keyword in the search engines. It is generally best to look for medium-ranked keywords which a reasonable search volume. This is not an exact science, however and it is possible for low ranked keywords to have a high conversion rate despite reasonably low searches. It may be best to leave such experiments until you are more familiar with the process.

Once you have a list of keyword phrases that you would like to rank for, then try and work out a list of potential articles that could include one or more of your keyword phrases. I tend to do them in groups of ten. You can use forums, internet questions and the phrases themselves to help you work out a list of articles.

Write  a Natural Article Around Your Keyword Phrase

When writing an article, keep your chosen keywords in mind, but don’t overuse them. Write naturally, in a readable style about the subject, including useful information, bullet points and sub-headings. Once you have finished writing, then go back and check over your work. You are looking for an easy to read style with the words you are aiming for used four or five times over the work. The writing should be between 400 – 600 words. You can use your keyword phrases in the sub-headings and picture captions as well as in the body of the text. It should be obvious what the article is about, just not unnaturally stuffed with the words that you are trying to rank for.

Write Frequently

If you are able to write two or three posts, so much the better. A website will rank better in the search engines if content is added frequently and regularly. This blog is updated three times a week. Other blog owners prefer to post every day. You should at least aim for once a week, but bear in mind the more frequently you post, the more likely it is that your website will rise in the search engines.

Check Your Stats

Keep an eye on your website statistics and check regularly on the search engines to see how you are doing. You may have to adjust your keyword phrases if they do not seem to be working for you. Expect this to take a little time. The older the website, the more likely the search engines are to trust it.


SEO Basics: Adding Content to Your Blog

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Adding fresh relevant content to your blog is one of the important rules of search engine optimisation (or SEO). It has been said by someone, somewhere that content is king. The search engines adore new content added regularly to a blog. It is therefore a given when starting a blog that adding to it regularly will be necessary to help it to rise in the search engines.

Writing a blog is fun at first: the freshness of the new challenge, the start of a new venture and the joy of how good it looks. Soon enough, the delight of it all begins to wear off. You have to find enough topics to blog about at least once a week, but preferably two, three or five times. You don’t want to plagarise someone else’s content, but it seems that all the topics have been written about. You need some help. You need to find some more blog content.

Searching for Blog Content

With the World Wide Web at your fingertips, finding new content for your blog is not as hard as all that. Search for forums in your chosen niche. Now go looking among the topics. See what questions that you can find that are related to your topic. If they are questions that you can answer, then make a note of them to write a blog post about.

How about using one of the search engines themselves to find questions? There are facilities such as Yahoo Answers among others that exist so that users may ask questions. Again, you may find some ideas for blog posts. You may get comments on your website that you are able to write about.

I normally try and get about ten fresh ideas when searching for new topics. Not all may be used, but many will be and with a little research will soon be ready for publication. Have a folder where you can keep your ideas and cross them off as you use them. It enables you to keep organised with your blogging.

Finding Time to Blog

If you find difficulty in finding time each day or every other day to sit and blog, why not set aside some time and do a weeks’ blog posts in one? Write them all together and then schedule them on your blog so that they will be published at the right time. This means that you will only need to find one chunk of time to sort out your blog instead of lots of different chunks of time. It means that it is a job that you can cross off your ‘To Do’ list and you will find it easier to be more disciplined about writing your blog posts.

Hire a Blogger

If you really find it difficult to write your blog posts, then perhaps you can hire a blogger to write your posts for you. A blogger will write your posts under your name for payment. There are a lot of different prices out there, but you will want someone to write about 400-600 words, including key phrases for SEO regularly. Expect to pay a decent amount for a good blogger. Good writers do not sell themselves short but expect a good wage for a good job. It will however be one less job that you will have to do!

Photo Credit: Photo on Flickr by klepas

Sarah Charmley is available for blogging, web content writing, copywriting – in fact pretty much any kind of writing you can think of. Contact me today with your writing requirements.

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Style Guide – How to write an Outstanding Headline

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Headlines are designed to grab the reader and entice them to read further. Some are clever, some are funny while others are perfect. How do you write the perfect headline?

I often start with a working headline which names the document that I am working on. This is often not the eventual headline, but just a starting place. As I write the article, then further headlines suggest themselves to me and I might make a note of them. Once the article is finished, then read the ideas for headlines back to yourself and decide which is best.

If the article is for the internet and to be used for SEO or Search Engine Optimisation purposes, then choosing the right headline is even more critical. You can use a Google search to type in your suggested headline as a search. The search box automatically produces more suggestions for searches. Do any of these match your article more closely? You can also use a free adwords tool to check which yields the biggest search, but for one article, I prefer just to know that other people are searching for that keyword.

Your headline should reflect what your article is about. It should describe it rather than be too clever and obtuse about it. Save clever puns for the tabloids who can describe more fully what the article is about.

The style of your headline can be bold, to make it stand out. Some people choose to make it bigger than the rest of the text: but this depends on what your style on the rest of the site is. To make your heading stand out, capitalise the main words of the headline, but any unimportant or smaller words are left normal.

For example:

How to Write an Outstanding Headline

For further SEO purposes, you might like to check your article to see whether you can insert sub-headings as well. These can also be bold, or just on a new line. They follow the same style as the heading: capitalise important words, but leave the unimportant filler words as normal. Choose the words for a heading and sub-heading carefully to ensure that the words fit in with the keywords that you have chosen.

If you also use the same style to caption photos or graphics, not only have you given your website a professional finish by aligning all the headline and caption styles, but you have also given your website a boost in terms of SEO. Hopefully you have also induced your reader to read on, which will justify your hard work.


Why Do I Need Search Engine Optimization?

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Search Engine Optimization or SEO has been a buzzword among internet communities for some time. If you own a company website, or even just a blog that you are hoping to promote and bring new readers to, then you need to know about search engine optimization. It all comes down to search engines and to Google in particular. The main search engine collects websites and categorizes them according to relevant content. This involves a complicated algorithm which is the subject of much debate among internet marketers.  The formula is regularly reviewed and the rules can be changed so that a website that originally did quite well in the rankings can take a fall and drop down the pages of searches. The list of websites is then organized in order of relevance to the original search term. If a page appears to be simply spam, then it will be removed. Those websites that are consistently seen as useful will therefore be promoted and brought to the fore in the listings. Google takes into account the age of a website and back links which lead back to a website. For most companies, to get on the first page of a search engine is highly desirable as it will bring your website to the attentions of clients searching for something that you can provide to them. To help achieve this, find the correct search terms that you want to be ranked for. Choosing searches that are often made can help you optimize your website more effectively and bring relevant, targeted traffic to your website. If you can get people who are searching for the kinds of products or services that you are offering to come to your website, then you will have a very effective marketing tool indeed.

Photo Credit: Photo found on Flickr by Crystaljinger


Choosing the Right Name for Your Blog

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If you have been on the Internet for any length of time at all, then you will have heard of SEO or Search Engine Optimisation. What is it and what can it do for you?

Optimising your website for search engines simply means choosing the right language to enable search engines to categorise your website correctly.

It is no good writing about what you had for breakfast on a business writing blog. That will confuse the algorithms of the search engines and ensure that your website does not appear in the correct search results. Writing about what you had for breakfast on a food blog, would however give correct results.

If you hope to produce good search results for your website, then choose a name that reflects its purpose. Putting keywords in the name will help it to rise higher in the searches. You may have to play around with it in order to find a name that nobody out there has chosen. Using the right keywords in the name of your website will also make it more memorable. Remember that you can use dashes, popular abbreviations or slang terms to help you find the right name.

However do not use slang terms or incorrect spelling if you are putting together a writing site. It gives the wrong impression to a visitor to your site and  does not give a good account of your writing ability.

Check out how your name will look when it is run together as an url. There are some very funny examples out on the Internet of companies that have unintentionally set up a name that reads completely differently when run together. Beware of hidden words that can appear in this way.

The best way to counteract this is to ask someone else to check it out for you. Also watch out for unfortunate acronyms and initials that may mean something different to your original intention!

Take your time to get the right name for your business blog and it will be worth it in the long term.

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