Category Archives: Search Engine Rankings

Get New IP for Fresh Results

These days it seems like everyone online is trying to track you. The big names like Facebook and Google grab all the attention, but the reality is that almost every company online is interested in where you have been and where you are going. This tracking can interfere with online research where results are “personalized” or where services block you if too much activity comes from your computer’s IP address.

Private Browser Settings graphicThe most common way to track users is with cookies. Cookies are small files stored within your browser that can store things like your account information so that you don’t have to keep logging in to your account. However, websites do much more than just what helps YOU with your cookies. Deleting your cookies helps to protect your privacy.

Unfortunately, there are some websites you would rather keep the cookies on your computer. For example, most banking sites require you to answer an additional security question whenever your logon from an unregistered computer. By answering the question and then registering the computer as one of the ones that you authorize for access, you can keep from having to answer the extra question each time you login. However, that registration is stored as a cookie on your computer, so if you delete all of your cookies, then you delete your registration as well. It’s also a pain to remember to constantly delete your cookies.

Fortunately, there is an easy solution for Google Chrome users. The Vanilla Cookie Manager extension for Chrome allows you to set up a whitelist of protected cookies. Everything else is deleted when you start (or shutdown, depending upon how you configure it) Chrome. That way, you can log into Facebook, for example, and stay logged in as long as Chrome is open. Once you close Chrome, your Facebook cookie is hammered and won’t come back until you log in again. That means, no more Facebook Open Graph following you around as you read your news, update your blogs, or whatever. With your bank registration cookies, you can mark them as whitelisted and they will not get deleted.

Read my latest Credit Check Total review at Finance Gourmet.

It’s the best of both worlds. Your tracking cookies get deleted regularly (rendering them useless) automatically, but the cookies you actually want to keep are kept safe and sound.

Deleting Tracking Cookies is Not Enough

As it turns out, some companies just don’t want to take no for an answer. Even if you delete your cookies, they will still track you and log information about you based on your IP address. Then, they will match up your cookies and IP address and still get a pretty good picture of what you are doing whether your delete your cookies or not.

To get around this, you can take advantage of a wrinkle in the way most internet service providers work. Back in the day, getting a fixed IP address was a big deal. You can’t host your own website without one, for example, and there were only so many addresses available. These days, most ISPs use IPv6, which has plenty of available addresses, but it still is a pain to manage fixed addresses. Besides, they have gotten used to charging extra for a fixed IP.

That means that most internet service that is either DSL or cable internet does not have a fixed IP address. Instead, IP addresses are assigned dynamically. You can use this to your advantage by disconnecting your connection and getting a new IP address. However, most dynamic addressing keeps the address assigned to you for a period of time after you disconnect. It keeps things smooth in case your connection just drops for a few seconds or minutes. That means you need a long enough disconnect so that your ISP releases your IP address, assigns it to someone else, and then has to assign you a new one. This can take a few hours depending upon your service.

With my Comcast cable internet, it takes at least two hours to be sure I get a new IP address. Unfortunately, I use the internet extensively for my freelance writing business and I don’t want to try and use the connection only to remember that I had disconnected it earlier, go and reconnect it, and then wait to get online. Instead, I stole my outlet timer from the Christmas tree. Now, each night between 3:00 am (sometimes I work late) and 6:00 am (sometimes I work early) the power gets cut to my cable modem. That three hours of disconnection usually results in a new IP address each morning.

First thing each morning I use the tools that get bogged down if there is too much activity from one IP address, like when Google starts showing you a captcha for everything you do. With a clean, new IP address, and no cookies still stored, all of those interactions take place with whatever counters are out there set to zero, and I don’t have to worry about getting tainted results that are “personalized” for me.

What tips do you use to keep your online activities private and untracked?

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Bing Faster Than Google?

I’ve put some additional effort into tracking some of the various keywords that I write about for some of my clients. One of the new tools I’m using shows Bing rankings in addition to the more traditional Google rankings. What I’ve noticed can only be considered anecdotal at this point, and has only been observed on a handful of keywords over 45 to 60 days. However, it seems that when it comes to rankings, Bing is faster than Google.

Bing Search Rankings Accurate Sooner?

Faster Search Rankings graphic

Here is what I mean.

Imagine a website that is a well respected authority site for something like dog clothing. (I have no idea how this does or does not end up working out for thin, affiliate, type websites where the goal is to rank for a single keyword. I don’t have any of those sites to try it out on.)

Now, imagine that the website publishes a new article about ascots for dogs. Let’s assume that the goal was to rank well for the term plaid dog ascots. Furthermore, let’s assume that the page is reasonably well optimized for search and that a regular, non-automated, amount of links has been built to the content in question. Finally, assume that while this may be a competitive keyword, it is not highly competitive and that the top ranking results are not giant, authoritative, well linked pages of PageRank 7 websites, but rather regular, middle of the road, webpages for longer-tail keywords.

Continuing our example based on this scenario, after five to 10 days, Bing starts ranking this webpage for the keyword plaid dog ascots at #5. Google starts the ranking for the same page for the same key phrase at 28. Most website owners fixate on the Google ranking and consider their efforts to be a success or failure based upon that number.

However, what I have noticed a few times now is that without doing anything more than maintaining the existing site that over a matter of two to three weeks, the webpage in question will slowly, but surely (though not linearly) make its way up Google’s SERPs until it comes to rest within one or two rankings of the original Bing ranking.

This suggests a few things. One, that Bing, unlike widely reported on Google, may not limit or “sandbox” new content, allowing it to rank naturally almost immediately. Google, on the other hand, seems to almost require that an article be at least two or three weeks old before it can rank in the top 10, assuming that it is not given “hot news” treatment. Two, it seems that Bing might be a good predictor of the final ranking position for long-tail keyword webpages that are not hyper-competitive. Three, if that is all true, then observing one’s Bing ranking for a given keyword offers some insight into how effective the webpage was constructed and linked.

I’ll keep you posted as I work. Maybe this is a fluke that only happened a couple of times. Maybe, this is a very useful insight into SEO for writers.

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Google Search Results Filling Up with Spam

Continued from first page How Content Mills Beat Google.

The most well-known Google ranking signal is the number of incoming web links pointing at a webpage.  A webpage with 500 incoming links is considered “better” than one with 20 incoming links.  While those other ranking signals may have some impact where pages have link counts within a few hundred of each other, the fact is that a webpage with 5,000 links will rank higher than one with 50 links regardless of how many of the other ranking signals suggest the lesser linked site should rank higher.

The only other question to be answered is what each webpage should rank for.  That question is answered for Google by a webpage’s title tag.

junk search resultsGoogle’s search algorithm does a basic pattern text matching against the title tag of each webpage in the index.  The closest matches are put through the ranking algorithm and scored to determine the top results. The next closest matches are then ranked against each other and so on.

Unfortunately, the pattern matching that Google does is pretty rudimentary.  When a user enters a search query like quiet hamster wheels Google’s ranking algorithm starts by finding the exact matches, then looks for those that match some of the words in order, then ones that match all of the words (not in order), then ones that match some of the words and so on. The more exacting the match, the higher the relevancy of the page. There is some overlap, especially when there are not enough very close matches to rank, but for the most part, the closer a webpage matches the query exactly, the higher it will rank.

The content mills churn out not one article on quiet hamster wheels, like any legitimate pet information website would do, but rather they publish numerous articles with variations on the title.  When a user searches in a way that closely matches the title tag of the high quality article it likely will rank higher thanks to legitimate diversified links from other websites.  However, when a user searches using slightly different phrasing, the high-value article from the pet information website is up against a webpage with a more similar name.  Google considers that lower quality page to be more “relevant” and therefore ranks it higher even though it has nothing but the supposedly lower-worth backlinks from the same website.

Make Money Writing Online Using Content Mill Tactics

If you want to make money writing online with your own websites, then you need to learn from the content mills tactics, if for no other reason than to keep them from beating you.

Always link your own content. Those links might not be as valuable as offsite links, but they do count for something.  Link your highest value webpages a lot. Link everything else at least a little.

Always pay attention to your title tags.  If your analytics start showing that people are finding your webpage by searching for a keyword or key phrase that differs more than a little from your title tag, change the title tag to fit better before someone beats you to it.  Even better, write another webpage with an exact fit title tag with useful (if re-phrased) information from the original and then link to both. If things go your way, you can rank highly for both variations, just like the content mills do.

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How Content Mills Beat Google

There has been a lot of news lately about how spam-filled Google’s search results pages have become over the last few years.  One of the oft blamed culprits are the so-called content mills.  A content mill is essentially a website that cranks out high volumes of webpages in order to always have something ranking highly for any search a user might perform.  They are also masters at search engine optimization, or SEO.

If you believe in the Google myth that content is king and that high-quality content will eventually become highly ranked, this should be confusing.

  • How can it be that a website cranking out thousands of webpages a day gets high-quality backlinks from authoritative website linked to all of that new content?
  • How can anyone generate that much quality content so quickly?

content mills vs googleThe answers to both questions are, they don’t.

How To Really Rank High In Google Search Results

Most of the content published by content mills has no links pointing to it whatsoever from external websites. However, every page links to multiple other pages within the same website.  Based on size alone that ensures that a website like eHow has a 1,000 incoming links to each of its articles.  These links are produced automatically by the system regardless of quality, but each one counts as a link to the Google spiders who gobble them up like ravenous rats.

Part of Google’s mythology is that it distinguishes incoming links and that good links are more valuable than bad links.  However, live search results prove that whatever downgrading or upgrading Google hands out based upon the quality of any webpage’s incoming links is easily overwhelmed by sheer volume.

Imagine that Google makes an incoming link from the same domain count for only 1/10th of what an external link would count for.  That means it only takes ten same-site incoming links to score the same as one incoming link from off-site.  Each content mill webpage has hundreds or thousands of same-site income links thanks to its volume of published pages.  Couple these low-value links with the content mills’ other trick and you have a recipe to rank high in Google search results for anything.

Of course, the content mills don’t put all their eggs in one basket.  Most of them run several websites all with thousands of webpages to use to boost linking whatever content they want.

Google’s Algorithm Overvalues Title Tags

Google claims that there are hundreds of factors that go into each ranking.  In practice, there are two or three factors that make up the vast majority of a webpage’s search ranking position and the rest are small factors that rarely influence anything but the thinnest of searches.

Next Page:  Google search results filling up with spam

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