seo

Top SEO Tools I Use: MonitorBacklinks.com

Series of posts over the next few months to say what I’ve found works and what doesn’t in SEO.  So this is installment 1 in Top SEO Tools I Use.

So this is somewhat of a product endorsement piece but its also worth sharing with others what you’ve found useful and hopefully they’ll let you know what they have found useful. So Tools I use and even a few I don’t and why.

monitor backlinksMonitorBacklinks.com

No the first tool has NOTHING to do with keywords but more importantly everything to do with deciding what your keywords are … if you think my life revolves around keywords you really need to catch up.  Backlinks and anchor text are the hardest things to control and often the most impactful.  Consider….back in the 2000s Miserable Failure was backlinked to George W Bush’s White House biography page by so many websites that he ranked number one on Google for Miserable Failure.  Now I guarantee his site had NO SEO or optimization for Miserable Failure but he held that spot until a counter wave of links went to Jimmy Carter.   Then Google manually shut the term war off.  Its backlinks that make or break a sites ranking.

You can optimize all day long on content choices and keywords but if the rest of the world doesn’t think you are that in their links neither will Google.  So the product is essential.  It trends your links and competitors and its just $25 a month.  Here are screenshots I have taken from time to time to include in reports to clients.monitorbacklinks.com

Notice the colored circles at the top break down the links and provide you with metric like CF TF and DA.  Below that image you can see link by link and the strength of each link as well as no follow or follow status.

Below are more links since the site added more features.  Under the status column the G shows if its indexed by Google with green as good and indexed, yellow as not indexed but not out right banned and finally red … the worst link and honestly its like being caught hanging out with the wrong crowd.  Google even allows you to “disavow” the red Gs.

 

Backlinks ranked

Backlinks Ranking and Traffic

Image above trends you backlinks, your traffic and your keywords.  This graph is also why I dont mind nofollow links and I believe they do affect ranking.  Notice the tower of purple nofollow domains that linked to us when I released a news story.  The orange keyword position swings up from 90 to 50 as the new position.

 

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What To Do With Your Political Site After The Election

Don’t Take Down Your Site After The Election

 

Its something farthest from your mind, I’m sure.  If you’re working for a political campaign you’re pushing forward and the next 5 weeks are all out war ahead.  What to do with your campaign site after the election?  Heck I suspect some of you are just now getting around to your website, or many feel it hasn’t helped in the past so no need to worry.  You’d be wrong if you fall into either of those mindsets, if you’re the diligent one you’ll find the rewards are like a garden.

I started renting a house in my hometown after returning from Chicago and suddenly I found I had room to grow things. I wanted hydrangeas so I planted 14 or so … it took a lot of them to make a show at a gallon a plant. We also planted a grapevine.  Not much happened though, and I could have easily given up after the summer, just ignore them…but they were never going to be mature in one season.  A grapevine takes 3 years before it produces grapes, I learned hydrangeas were “old” wood and new growth wouldn’t come from new plant life.  If you get where I’m going, I’ll stop with the gardening story.  You’re website will not produce fruit in its first couple months.

Domain age actually has both a direct and indirect effect on your ranking.  For one, a website thats been up and running since the last election has had links from other sites organically made, not a ton if you just leave it sitting there but definitely more than if you take it down and just hold on to the domain.  In a previous post I mentioned it takes 3 to 6 months to rank a site, you’ll be a step further if you just leave it up and alone.  (Best not alone, maybe post a new article every couple months.)

Domain Age directly affects your Trust Factor/Citation Factor and your Domain Authority which in turn suggest that your Google standing next election cycle is going to be improved as well.  And stop thinking your target keyword is your name, if someone is Googling your name they’ve already heard of you. Take the big terms like election results, voter guide or the other candidate’s name.

Take seandelahanty.com and judgeseandelahanty.com the first is younger but it has 70 times the backlinks and its been updated religiously, has the social media mentions, it has the content.  The first address is a Domain Authority 23 and the older one is a Domain Authority 2! Its still neck and neck in some searches.  Just today I Googled the candidates name the older one comes up 3rd and the real site thats 2 months old, has 10+ times the domain authority that site is 6th. Here is a representation of how much weight domain age may have, I link to the case study below.  Oh and BTW the new site is actually doing pretty good I think. Page 1 ranking on 45 keywords on Google…100 ranked keywords altogether. But back to the point…

what goes into a ranking

Now let me clear the air though, no matter how old your domain is and consistently you’ve had a site up…if the content isn’t any good its a lost opportunity.  So do make an effort to convey your continued message through your site and when you run for the next office you’re site will be that much more ready.  Final note here, there are a ton of opinions out there on domain age, but no one would disagree a site thats up and updated periodically is more likely to gain backlinks.

SO Just get a cheap web hosting plan and post every few months, don’t just take it down and box it up till a month before the next election.  For further reading on domain authority a case study.  Id recommend that article, it goes over several factors.

And I can tell you one person who’s still got her site up…signs of the times.

clinton

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Cloudflare DNS and CDN With WordPress High Availability On Google Cloud

Long Title But This Is About Search Rankings

Lets start off skipping the title and saying what this is actually about. Ranking on Google search for a clients site.  First off the site itself is just 2 months old, studies suggest it should take about 3 to 6 months to rank well.  The site languished in the 30s … or page 3 for the first month but now its presenting a commanding ranking.  Of the 283 keywords I track the site ranks in 211. Page 1 rankings now reach 19 on Google, 37 on Bing and 38 on Yahoo….UPDATE…I was looking at last weekends numbers.  27 on Google, 54 on Bing and 63 on Yahoo for page one results.

SEO trends
Latest SEO numbers

SEO isn’t marketing.  Onpage SEO may be, but what does a marketing course teach us about the Offpage SEO which is backlink and server performance related?  Top ranking sites need both and I’d argue that Offpage SEO is more important.  Granted neither of the two halves will rank a site as the top result alone, but too often people focus on Onpage SEO and neglect the technical side of ranking.

Of course the top 3 positions of search results are the next step for the site I’ve mentioned above and feeling confident in content and Onpage SEO I’ve focused recently on the server side of things.  Towards that goal I am testing a WordPress High Availability deployment.

WordPress HA
WordPress HA Utilizes a server cluster with dedicated SQL cluster and failover resources.

CDNs By Definition Remove Bottlenecks

This coupled with Cloudflare DNS and CDN is I think going to produce a server environment that’s obscene. For those who aren’t familiar with a CDN network here is a handy image explaining it.

cdn
CDNs store cached versions of your centralized server in regional hubs decreasing the amount of time it takes to acquire a resource.

I’ll update everyone on the effect of the sites rankings.  The first kick in rankings which in the line graphs is where the trend really caught upward direction happened when I moved the site off of a shared hosting server to its own LAMP stack server.  Essentially now I am dividing the stack across auto-scaling servers.

Here’s a the getting started guide as provided by Google.

WordPress High Availability Getting Started Guide

WordPress Deployment Overview

This document aims to provide the information necessary to maintain and perform administrative tasks on your WordPress High Availability deployment from the ​Google Cloud Launcher

Google Cloud Prerequisites

This solution leverages a few GCP features, which require certain APIs to be enabled in your project in order for ​Deployment Manager​ to successfully deploy these resources. The following APIs should be enabled ​before​ you deploy the solution:

  • ●  Google Identity and Access Management (IAM) API
  • ●  Cloud SQL Administration API
  • ●  Cloud Container Builder APIThe Google Identity and Access Management (IAM) API is required in order to create a service account who only has access to the GCS bucket that will also be created as part of the deployment.The Cloud SQL Administration API is required in order to create and interact with the Cloud SQL instances that are created as part of the deployment.The Cloud Container Builder API is required in order to delete the GCS bucket and its contents at deployment deletion time.

    Architecture

    The solution architecture is made up of 5 main components:

  1. A ​Google Cloud SQL​ instance running MySQL configured with failover to handledatabase workloads
  2. A ​Google Cloud Storage​ bucket to act as a synchronization point for content stored in
     /var/www/html/ 
  1. A ​Managed Instance Group​ for running Cloud SQL proxy tool, responsible for maintaining secure and efficient database connections
  2. A ​Managed Instance Group​ for the VM that will be used to perform administrative functions in WordPress
  3. A ​Managed Instance Group​ for the VMs that will serve the content of your blog
  4. An ​HTTP Load Balancer​ to distribute the traffic between the content serving nodes

Below you can see an architecture diagram of how the components relate to each other.

Key Components & Services

There are two custom services running on the deployed machines that are essential for the solution to function properly. These services are ​gcs-sync ​(running on WordPress instances – both Admin and Content) and ​cloudsql-proxy​ (running on the SQL Proxy instances).

The ​gcs-sync​ service runs a script ​/opt/c2d/downloads/gcs-sync​ that, depending on the role the VM is assigned (Content or Admin), will check in with the GCS bucket tied to the deployment and determine if content needs to be pushed to or pulled from GCS. If you need to interact with the service, you can do so via ​systemctl​. For example:

systemctl stop gcs​-​sync

will kill the script checking GCS, and the node will not receive any updates that come from the Administrator Node. Conversely, if the service needs to be started you can do so with the following command:

systemctl start gcs​-​sync

The ​cloudsql-proxy​ service makes use of the ​Cloud SQL Proxy​ binary so you can connect to your Cloud SQL instance without having to whitelist IP addresses, which can change when instances are deleted and recreated in a Managed Instance Group. The Cloud SQL binary is located at ​/opt/c2d/downloads/cloud_sql_proxy​ and the script that executes the binary is located at ​/opt/c2d/downloads/cloudsql-proxy​. Like the service that runs ​gcs-sync​, it can be interacted with using ​systemctl​. Stopping the service can be done with:

systemctl stop cloudsql​-​proxy

At this point your instance will not be able to communicate with the Cloud SQL instance, and the application will not function. If you needed to manually start the service for any reason you can do so with the following command:

systemctl start cloudsql​-​proxy

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SEO Tools: Visualize Pages And Their Interrelational Linkage

Anyone who knows me knows I love visualizations. I’ve been working on SEO strategies for a site and the beginning of any good strategy is understand the site and quality of its content. Some studies suggest 60% of people think in pictures…that is to say if I said the word “cat” some people will see a cat and some will see the letters cat. Its hard for visual people to grasp complex concepts such as “millions” its harder to produce that word in a visual way in your mind. Similarly when we think about a web site its often hard to grasp the links and relationship between a sites pages. Sure we can create a boring flow chart but it often has to be over simplified and lacks a good representation of the sites content.

internal site links visualization

Recently while working for https://pearlharbor.org I found a tool that created some really useful visualizations of the site and the sites pages with linkage between them. I believe the software limits its linkage to 10,000 which is astounding. The site offers information and Pearl Harbor tours while serving as a memorial that includes a page for all the survivors. My focus with this site is to make SEO recommendations and ensure the effective utilization of social media in improving site ranking.

A website visualization for SEO purposes

The free plug for this software is Website Auditor you can use the free evaluation version for as long as you’d like, you just cant save or print anything. Its still something extraordinary for understanding a sites layout. In addition this software includes additional tools for site link building and so on.

I’m excited about my newly discovered free SEO tools. I’m going to make these images for any site I work on. While I want to improve SEO through increased authoritative external links its essential that these links land on a site that utilizes intelligent internal linkage.

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