Powerhouse Fitness have great Online Marketing here is why!

Recently I have noticed two fantastic campaigns by a UK company called Powerhouse Fitness. I give them both 10/10 for creativity.

First they rolled out some “different” paid search ads:

When you searched for numerous keywords like “Light Weight” or “Small Weight” in UK Serps you saw the following ADS.

These ads really make you want to click “Nah Bro” enhanced CTR


Now once you click the ad you are taken to a smart landing page with a meme and a discount code “get lifting”


see above example: http://www.powerhouse-fitness.co.uk/do-you-even

Now today they have rolled out another great piece of content marketing in light of Googles changes to Not Provided:

They rolled out 100% not provided proetin

not provided protein

see above example: http://www.powerhouse-fitness.co.uk/not-provided-protein.php

So to who ever is behind Powerhouse Fitness SEO and PPC campaigns, thank you for been different and creative I love your work so far.

Big Business SEO is a long term ROI process

Someone recently asked me a question about the Process and ROI of SEO if I could put it into a few lines. Now the thing is gaining ROI and process from SEO is very different for small business and big business. It is question where you will have a different answer for a different type business.

I decided to break the process down for both small and large business:

1. Small Business – If you work with a small business where you deal directly with the business owner or the key marketing people in the business you can gain ROI quickly in comparison to a big business. The thing is with smaller businesses you can launch things quickly, you can get things signed off quickly you do not have many barriers to entry. Smaller clients will prefer to take risks to gain traffic. Therefore with a smaller business you will be able to see positive ROI quickly.

2. Big Business – If you work with larger businesses you will have to deal with far more stake holders, you will be dealing with various different departments where every one has their own budgets and every one has a different requirement and need.

I have worked on numerous Enterprise SEO accounts in the past and this is the normal team set up below, where as a SMB client will have one contact point. With a big business it may look like the below:

PR Team – The PR team will be helpful to your SEO process if you can train them up on using PR to assist SEO in a nautral way.
Social Media Team – Building links and citations from social media and also running competitions to assist SEO and social is hand in hand. You really do need to get on with the social team.
Marketing Team (Offline & Digital) – Marketing teams both online and offline will need feedback from SEO, I have seen offline teams roll out creative that states “SEARCH FOR XYZ KEYWORD” and they only use paid search they do not even use SEO for the campaign it is a real night mare.
Sales Team – Sales team will want to be your friend if they think their is some benefit to them making ROI within the business, Sales people by nature are usually curious about any easy money makers so be prepared to have a chat.
IT and DEV Team – IT and DEV team will be one of the most important groups in a business to get on with, some ideas are: 1. Bribe the DEVS with Whiskey or treats to get them moving because SEO will be right at the back of their to do list. 2. Get in contact with their seniors and try and get SEO included in their KPIS. I have done both in the past.
Customer Service Team – Customer service team can be very helpful for SEO if you treat them nicely, I trained up a forum and twitter reply team for one company to do some low level link building, its good to include the help team in the wider project because you want people to feel like they are part of a wider project.
Senior Management – This is any one from the CMO to even the CEO when they chime in on SEO such as searching for random terms and asking “why are we not ranking”. And also looking at the balance sheet and saying why are we not making specific ROI in a specific time frame.
Legal Team – They will want to check various things such as copy on sales items. And specific targeting on various terms, legal team can be a hard process to get things passed quickly.
Copywriters – Internal or external they will also be a very important part to any SEO project.
External Suppliers – Who need to check off content, if you work on big project with numerous suppliers you need to get things checked off.

Now This is just a small sample of a enterprise SEO project you probably have other areas such as Eternal agency partners; web dev, content, social, PR and so many more who want to chime in on different things, or recently a tactic I see big companies doing is they use say 3 different SEO companies at once to target 3 different sections of a site and they test them all at once my company has worked on projects like this.

One other thing I would recommend is to have Monthly meetings or bi weekly meetings with the key stake holders for the SEO project. Also every 6 months hold a big meeting with everyone from the project even the help desk people and pay for every ones lunch. Shows them progress with the project, get every one keen to do more great work.

Now further to the team you will work with on a big project the SEO process with big business is you have many stages moving forward in the project before you see ROI:

SEO Process

So overall as you can see working on a big SEO project is VERY different to a Small SEO project. ROI processes will be different in both cases so please be aware of what is involved.

11 Questions with 17 year old Internet Marketer

Today I have decided to interview an up and coming Internet Marketer who is only just 17 and has been doing SEO and internet marketing for over 5 years. I have promoted young internet marketers in the past in my post top 15 young internet marketers which I aim to update.

The reason I picked this IM for an interview is he has been making a fair amount of noise in the inbound community recently, he has been testing numerous grey hat strategies and creating a few controversial articles. I was personally impressed by his enthusiasm for SEO and approach to testing methods and trying new SEO tactics.

1. How long have you worked in Online Marketing and for which companies and how did you originally get into the business?

I’m 17, I run my own Internet Marketing Blog and have been doing SEO for the past 5 years (approaching 5 and a half). I’ve worked with and for some quite big names now including .Com Marketing, Foster SEO, Wow Internet (Where I currently reside), Boot camp Media, Bazooka Search, SEO New York and I’m sure I’ll work with a ton more in the future.
I got into SEO when my mum was told by her development company that they’d charge her into the thousands per month for SEO (This was a medium sized company with maybe 10 employees at the times). I was already into computers, though was a bit more mischievous with them then and she asked me to take a look into it, she was giving me £200/month budget to play around with and I quickly started to get into all the tools and jobs.
I picked up Scrape Box when it first came out almost 4 years ago now and I remember picking up SE Nuke Legacy prior to that, they were fun times and I quickly got my first proper client as a referral at 15, whilst I was still in school.

2. You are currently working at Wow Internet, what does your daily job currently involve?

Generally debating with Matthew Barby about ethical things, though he’s been twisted into the world of Scrape Box and he loves it! I’ve also been showing him a few more sides of the black/grey hat world and working with him on a few projects like his Scrape Box and Buzz Stream post for super speedy Outreach.

3. How have you found the move from working freelance to working for a company such as Wow Internet?

I was doing Freelance from 15 – 16 via oDesk until my account got banned, luckily they gave me all the money they owned me as you need to be over 18 to use oDesk.
I think it wasn’t moving jobs that was more stressful it was editing my sleeping and “moving about” pattern. I went from sleeping until 1 pm in the afternoon and working a few hours here and there to 9-5 everyday, it hit me pretty hard and after around 4 months at Boot Camp Media (the job before Wow Internet) I crashed out and have now reduced my days to 4 days a week.

4. What is the best SEO tactic you have personally implemented for a client?

This is a pretty tricky one, the best one I can think of was my niche forum homepage backlinks exploit, I was working with a telecoms company and managed to get them a backlink from Nokia (DA 98) we saw a pretty hefty increase from Position #7 to Position #2 (for a Keyword that is MASSIVE and competing vs the likes of BT, Wikipedia etc.. as well as having over 9,000 monthly searches, I know but it legitimately had over 9,000)

5. Content Marketing is very popular at the moment, I notice you have been talking a bit about it on Inbound.org as well. Have you implemented many content marketing strategies which have yielded great results for clients?

We haven’t been doing to much stuff in terms of content marketing for clients except implementing guest posting on a massive client. We had a chiropractic clinic that had epic success when we added her blog and she even started writing us 3-4 posts every month for outreach purposes, which generated some serious DA backlinks and brought in some great business.

6. Conversion rate optimization is also popular, do you have any tactics which you have successfully implemented for clients you would like to share?

I did a post on my little Schema trick to add the Reviews to products, I’ve been seeing 12 – 15% increases in conversion rates from it, especially if you go to the next level and change the name to social engineer the person e.g. you can change the Schema review author to Your Friend or Trust pilot etc… To make it look a lot more “legit”. Though that was a bit to black hat for Wow clients.

7. What SEO or digital marketing Tools are you currently using that you would like to recommend?

I use Moz.com, though they recently stopped my Pro membership as I’m not 18. So I’ve had to borrow a friend who owns a 30 campaign account and only uses 15 – 20 of them.
I’d recommend Moz purely for On Page SEO.
Other recommended tools –
ScrapeBox.com, this is a MUST right now and saves so much time and money on jobs, Jason king and I are trying to push it as hard as we can in the SEO industry as of right now.
http://thebestspinner.com”The Best Spinner – Manually spin content for automated tools, manual spinning can go into some serious detail and build really good links, look at the Matthew Woodward advanced spinning tutorial if you’d like to see the 500 words to 300,000 characters spin he did.

8. From reading your blog you are fairly into testing Grey hat and Black Strategies outside of work. Have you yielded many long term results from Black Hat SEO for affiliate sites if so from what strategies?

I’m actually working on a pretty large case study from last year, I made close to £6k profit on Word Press themes, where I had Theme Forest affiliate links on a micro site and boosted myself to the top for 3-4 months using private networks. It worked awesomely and I even got a badge on Envato.
Long term, Hashtag SEO is pretty black hat link profile, though the content is pretty epic. I received a manual penalty notice and dropped 3 spaces for 1 keyword in my entire SERPs. Haven’t really spent much time or money on it as of recent but I don’t really need to as it gets me 3-4 leads every week from Organic visits.

9. You are currently running a campaign where you aim to rank for “Rand Fishkin’s” name, have you seen much traffic from ranking for his name? Also nice work on the current rankings I have been tracking the progress on that keyword.

I actually disavowed the entire link profile (after asking the network owners to remove the links, wouldn’t want to hurt the spammers that helped me) about 2 weeks ago. For his own name I’ve actually seen close to 200 visits and a couple 100 visitors from the other keywords I was pushing for. The case study is all written up, just looking for the perfect place to take it.

10. What is the single best win you have had from online marketing in your career?

I posted a YouTube optimization tutorial to black hat world, 2 days later I had a client paying me £1,500/month to do YouTube optimization, my old boss remembers having to go to Western Union to pick up £500 as a tester for me as I was only 16 and couldn’t collect it myself. Walking around with £500 in your pocket is awesome.

11. If other young Internet Marketers (under 18) were looking to get into SEO and Digital Marketing what advice would you have for them?

I’d say don’t listen to everything everyone says, build your own judgments and don’t throw money at something until you know it’ll work. Buy Scrape Box and learn how to use all the features (Which I am still massively far from learning) once you know how to use the features of Scrape Box for outreach etc.
The basics of On Page dive straight into getting small clients, work on a parents or family member’s site or even buy a blog and just spend time reading articles, creating content and trying to rank your site. You’d be surprised how much work I get from my blog and just being active on it. I’m going to London in a few weeks to do some consulting, free hotel, train and meals all for a few hours of talking to people!

What SEO domain sold for over 5 Million?

So today I was doing some domain name research and I decided to pull some data on the prices people have been paying for SEO related domains.

My research is based around looking at primarily “SEO” +.TLD as this is the most lucrative SEO based domain to purchase. The prices ranged from $650 to 5 million.

Below is a break down of the sales data for the top 10 domains, this is the key information I could locate in the public domain. Their may have been other sales listed by they are not in the public domain.

I have also looked into each domain to see what they are currently doing with the web property.

10. SEO.nu
Price Sold for: $650
When did it sell: Aug 06
Where did it sell: Sedo
What have the done with the domain: Have set up an SEO blog.

9. Seo.us.com
Price Sold for:$2,500
When did it sell: Feb 11
Where did it sell: Sedo
What have the done with the domain: Redirects to Extreme SEO website.

8. Seo.im
Price Sold for: $4,000
When did it sell: Jul 11
Where did it sell: Private
What have the done with the domain: Domain shows a 403 error

7. Seo.es
Price Sold for: $7,620
When did it sell: Jul 10
Where did it sell: Sedo
What have the done with the domain: Redirects to IIS.net SEO tool.

6. Seo.at
Price Sold for:$16,551
When did it sell: Dec 10
Where did it sell: Sedo
What have the done with the domain: Have set up an SEO blog on the domain.

5. Seo.in
Price Sold for: $18,500
When did it sell: Mar 11
Where did it sell: Sedo
What have the done with the domain: Have set up an SEO agency on the domain.

4. SEO.info
Price Sold for: $21,930
When did it sell: Apr 09
Where did it sell: Sedo
What have the done with the domain: They seem to have set up an SEO information site.

3. Seo.cn
Price Sold for: $29,850
When did it sell: Sep 10
Where did it sell: Moniker
What have the done with the domain: Have set up an SEO business on the website.

2. Seo.de
Price Sold for: $70,382
When did it sell: Dec 07
Where did it sell: Sedo Auction
What have the done with the domain: Have set up an SEO blog with tools and information.

1. SEO.com
Price Sold for: $5,000,000
When did it sell: Jun 07
Where did it sell: Private Sale
What have the done with the domain: Have set up a massive SEO company from the domain.

Now from these domains it is evident that SEO.com and SEO.in seem to be doing the best with their SEO based domains, sure with the EMD update and the downward swing on the domain name market we may never see sales like this again.

If you know of any other high priced SEO domains please comment below.

Recent Algo Changes in US Search Results 13th July

I have been working on several US based clients in 2013. On one specific project I am working on which involves the following:

– Analysis of poor quality links.
– Manual removal of a large number of links in thousands.
– Large amount of links been disavowed in thousands.
– Building new high quality links.
– Reconsideration requests.

Now we have been pushing hard for several months, I noticed on the 13th July Moz Cast noted 87% flux on the SERP weather report.

This has resulted in a positive impact on the clients SERP position (see below)


Overall it could be a niche specific update or a wider update for sites based on July 13th.

If you have noticed something similar on this day please comment below.

What is coming for SEO over the next few months and Penguin 2.0

penguin 2.0
penguin 2.0

Today Google’s very own Matt Cutts head of web spam has released a new video today, I decided to pull the video apart and put together my top 10 take away’s from the video, if you want to check out the full video click here.

Here are 10 key take away’s from the video:

1. Google has noted that Penguin 2.0 will be launched in Summer (US time)

Google has noted that they are expecting to release the next round of Penguin, which is going to be more advanced in comparison to Penguin 1.0 which was rolled out in 2012.

2. Advertorials that pass page rank:

Google has noted that will start paid PR ads which pass paid rank, so if you are paying for a large number of news paper placements it may be time to re-think your strategy.

3. Targeting spam links and black hat packages:

Google has noted they are looking to target black hat links on scale and will take the full force of removals where possible for websites which have engaged in this type of link building.

4. Hacked web sites will be easier to pick up:

Google will start to be more prominent with displaying search results as been hacked, to make sure more users steer clear from visiting infected websites.

5. Targeting spammed keywords:

Google has noted they will start to target keywords such as “Payday Loans” heavily which is currently a keyword which is spammed heavily. It will be interesting too see how quickly Google moves on some of these commercial keywords in the Australian market as I see spammers move on these keywords on a daily basis.

6. Google has new advanced link monitoring software.

Cutt’s has mentioned that his team has a new advanced software for tracking links online, they are able to pick things up far more quickly in comparison to the past. Brian White at SMX Sydney was using this type of software to complete a link review on a website it seems like Majestic SEO on overdrive =)

7. Providing Authority for high value websites

If your website is a brand within a specific niche and you are doing something great then this will mean that Google is going to treat your website more favorably. This is why businesses need to start thinking like a big brand, start acting like a big brand and do what you can to push a positive and authority message for your business.

8. Limiting Cluster Results:

Cluster results are where you see the same website ranking for multiple positions for a specific keyword. Google is confirming that they are going to limit this type of activity.

9. Overall the benefit will be here for high quality content driven sites:

Matt Cutt’s has noted that websites which use high quality content and push for a high quality site are the ones who will see the best benefit from this roll out.

10. Don’t worry if you are doing things right:

The key message is if you are working with SEO’s who are doing high quality work you do not need to worry, if you are using low quality spammy tactics for short term gains you need to worry.

The Importance of Weekly Content Updates and SEO

So I own around 50 websites, I have been building websites for the last 10 or so years and with building websites comes SEO hand in hand naturally, I picked up learning SEO from testing various methodologies over the years on my own sites too see what works and what does not work and then moved onto direct consulting. I use to make a full time income from running websites back when in 2006-2008.

Today I want to show you the difference between two websites I work with.

Website 1 (refer to image below): Has not been updated since 2010, no SEO work has been done since 2010. As I have been busy with a huge range of other projects and working on numerous thing it has just been running on auto pilot. But the days of a website running with no work are gone in my eyes. Websites really do need monthly/weekly content updates and SEO work to stay alive.

Website 2 (refer to image below): Now this is a bigger site with more content which I have been working on since 2011 to push growth, the difference is on a weekly basis 1-2 new articles are made related to the site, on a monthly basis some SEO work is completed. Sure more room for growth is evident but it would require more time which I will be able to push soon.


(Both websites traffic above are 100% organic search traffic/direct, 0% paid search traffic)

Now recently I have stopped working at my corporate job which was around 50+ hours a week of my time. What this means is I will be able to push further time and effort into sites like the two listed above plus many more. I will also open up my time direct to work with other websites and businesses on a consulting basis, contact me via the right banner if you are interested to talk.

Now the moral of this short story is that I have met business owners and affiliates in the past who say that they can have a website running on auto pilot or with no updates, It is evident that you need fresh relevant content and fresh SEO work on a monthly basis to really stay ahead of the game. Even if you want to have your websites traffic stabilized and increasing you really need to implement monthly on going work or things will slip away and you will start too loose revenue.

SEO is NOT dead, you are just doing it wrong!

Recently I have been going to a few events in the Australian market, at every event which has an SEO component I always see people asking the same question or making the same statement that “SEO is dead, content marketing is the way” or “SEO is dead social media is the way of the future”. that been said every time I log onto Facebook I am heavily targeted by “SEO is dead” advertising like this:


Whilst I agree that SEO has changes over the years I believe people need to be more educated with SEO, gone of the days or low quality scraped content website with corner cutting SEO, the SEO that will work in today’s market is high quality SEO which has a technical element.
To prove the skeptics that SEO is not dead in 2013, I have put together a small case study with some example form a client in the SME space I have worked with over the last year.

So around a year ago a mutual business contact who runs quite a large website contacted us for some SEO assistance. The current agency they were using was not providing the results they were hoping for any more and they were also concerned that they were not receiving monthly link building reports and having 100% transparency in the work in which was been completed, there were some concerns to the websites SEO strategy moving forward.

We started consulting with the client to help them fix the ways of their current SEO strategy and to implement a more advanced SEO strategy moving forward.

10 key elements we implemented on this project to yield positive SEO results and to increase traffic by over 400,000 unique visitors a month (comparing January 2012 and January 2013) were:

Strategy 1. Provide a full analysis of the current link profile using:
(1) Majestic SEO – www.majesticseo.com
(2) Google Webmaster Tools www.google.com/webmasters/tools/
(3) Open site explorer opensiteexplorer.org – this stage in the process allowed us to identify the links which were not natural and were from low quality locations online.

Strategy 2. Removing links from link networks which were pointing to the client – many people do direct to webmasters of link networks to remove link networks we consulted with the client to work out who the prior agencies were and to go direct to the agency to have the link network taken down, I would not advise any to use a link network as it can be a sure fire way to destroy you link building strategy.


Strategy 3. Removing other dodgy links which involved a general link clean up, you might have to run link detox software on the site www.linkdetox.com if you consider the link profile to be large, in the case of the site we were dealing with it was quite an extensive link profile. As the disavow tool https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main?pli=1 was not available when we needed to remove these links we had the links removed by contacting webmasters directly, my advice in this process is to use a girl’s name on the email when you contact webmasters they are usually males who will warm to the chance that a girl has emailed them, believe me I have tested this methodology numerous times over the years.

Strategy 4. Implementing better link building targeting 20% targeting the home page and 80% targeting lower level sub pages and sub category sections on the website with anchor text targeting brand heavily. Too many SEO’s only focus on driving links to the home page you need to build your link building strategy around diversification to lower sub level pages.

Strategy 5. Further link building from government, social, higher quality PR, outreach and also blogging.
High quality link building takes time, this is why outreach and building quality personas for your niche is crucial, If you obtain one high quality government link it can be the same value as building say 50 lower value links, hence the time invested in focusing on quality far out weights low quality.

Strategy 6. Looking at the current PPC strategy the client was using and finding opportunities from the PPC front which can be utilized for SEO. PPC should be one of your strongest areas for collecting keyword data which can be used for your SEO research. Also you can take a top series of PPC converting pages and created SEO based landing pages for these terms.


Strategy 7. Implementing mark ups onto the site such as Google Rel=Author, don’t get me wrong the correct mark ups can work very effectively in driving additional traffic, especially if you are using a blog where many of the authors have 100’s if not 1000’s of pre-existing posts. Implementing a large scale Rel=Author set up can work very well. Another important element is also implementing price and rating information an example can be seen below:


Strategy 8. Cleaning up many elements of the site architecture is also another highly important area, when you do a large scale piece of keyword research for a website also remember to implement sections of the keyword research in the sites navigation. Also look for articles on the website which are highly popular and cross promote content internally on the website. Internal structure of websites is still highly important and if you are not

Strategy 9. Working with the content team to effectively implement a further content strategy.
Content strategy is huge and if you are not investing considerable time into working with a content team you are missing it out, ideally each month you need to meet with the content team at least twice to talk about content ideas you wish to implement on the website in the near future. I would build a content calendar and look for upcoming events and also holidays. For example you can build content around all the popular holidays and events such as: Valentine’s Day/ Easter/ Christmas or even any sporting events such as the World Cup. Also look at other competitors in your market see what they are doing which is working effectively and implement a similar strategy. Another important point when developing your content strategy is to join it back up with your SEO efforts.

Content Calendar
Strategy 10. Working to make some on site tweaks and fixes with the developers.
Working with the development team is also a huge part of fixing up a website, after you complete a comprehensive website audit you are going to need to work with your developers to get changes implemented, if you do not have a good relation with the developers changes may take a while to be implemented on the site so always remember to keep the developers on your good side.

These 10 changes were just a small section of a wider range of fixes and strategy which was completed for the website, overall many things were done.

The result of the ongoing high quality SEO services provided by my team yielded:

traffic increase SEO
traffic increase SEO

So as you can see from the above analytic’s analysis that SEO is far from dead, and if you employ a high quality strategy and high quality methods it is not going to be dead for many years to come.

2012 was a busy year for SEO what will 2013 bring?

So 2012 is now over it has been a busy year, I thought I would put a blog post together to talk about some predictions for the market and to give a brief overview of what I have been up too in 2012.

Firstly here is a list of some of the things I achieved in 2012:

1. Working with several large enterprise clients in the Australian market, helping these boost their SEO and Social presence and also learning’s of SEO and social. Increasing SEO team revenue by well over mid $XXX,XXX+ yoy.
2. Speaking at SMX Sydney 2012 on the main stage on Enterprise SEO & also been involved with the Q+A panel on enterprise SEO.
3. Speaking at several local SEO and Social events.
4. Attending well over 25+ local SEO/Social Media/ Developers and Big Data Meetups.
5. Starting my own Local Search Meetup “Online Marketing Sydney” – http://www.meetup.com/Online-Marketing-Sydney/
6. Making guest posts on Several large SEO websites.
7. Creating some real buzz in the search industry by intervieing an EX memebr of Matt Cutts team which was featured in over 80 industry websites include the home page of Search Engine Round Table, Search Engine Land and inbound.org
8. Having my content picked up by some global search sites and translated into numerous languages such as chinese, Russian and more.
9. Personally have over 140+ domains and have acquired some new premium domains in 2012, in 2013 I hope to reduce the overall portfolio to 70 domains or less.
10. Effectively managed a team of content writers, link builders and SEO professionals.
11. I have sold several websites, domains and social properties in 2012 which was also a success.
12. Also took a 2 month holiday to Europe and the UK, was still doing work but and checking emails on the fly 😉

Predictions for 2013 in SEO and Online Marketing

1. More integration of Google+ into search results, More direct influence from Google+ on search lising pages.
2. Content marketing will become more advanced, if Australian businesses do not get involved they will be left behind.
3. Larger take up on advanced web analytic’s by Australian businesses.
4. Links will still be important if they are high quality and relevant to users and relevant to the content they link from.
5. Knowledge graph will come more into play in 2013, we will see a far higher integration

Also I would like to wish every one a fantastic Christmas and a wonderful New Years! all the best luck in 2013

A few images from 2012


Most checkin areas

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An Interview with an EX-Member of Matt Cutts’s Search Quality team!

Today we have something special for the readers of JamesNorquay.com, I have an exclusive interview with Andre Weyher. I first met Andre at a Search Industry event in Sydney and was intrigued too see why some one who use to work with Matt Cutts had moved to Sydney, if he could possibly share any “secret information” and also to talk about his new project which we will also talk over.


Question 1: Tell us about yourself Andre, how long did you work in the Google Search Quality team?

I’ve been in Google for close to 5 years, after spending 2 years in the AdSense and AdWords teams (and some shameless self promotion) I got the chance to join Matt Cutts’s Search Quality team. A great experience as there are much less people in his department and the experience and knowledge I got are quite unique. Matt is a great guy and the atmosphere in the team is fantastic, you get to investigate the deep and dark corners of the internet, keeping the search index clean from spam and blackhat SEO. It’s also great to see the exact other side of the coin now!

Question 2: What were your daily roles in the search quality team?

The teams main focus is fighting spam and keeping Google’s search results clean so that the user gets the best possible experience. This is a very important thing for Google if you think about it. Google’s entire earning model relies on the good quality of the organic results, if people didn’t trust organic, they would stop using search and not click on ads anymore. Everyone in the team gets a market or a specialisation. I was mostly busy with content quality and back link profile, making decisions on the quality of pages and the links pointing to them and if needed, applying a penalty based on the severity and nature of the violating behaviour. The job also entailed creating reports about the current spam “situation” on a particular market.

Question 3. What are your thoughts on the recent algo updates penguin and panda are more on the way?

Absolutely, from what I have heard, there are still plenty of tweaks to come in the future. I think the message that Google is sending is very clear, they are fed up with people breaking the guidelines on an industrial scale and are coming down very hard on webmasters who do. Everyone knew that Penguin would be pointed at links, but I don’t think many people expected the impact to be as large as it turned out to be. At this stage a webmaster is out of his mind to still rely on techniques that were common practice 8 months ago. Purchasing links was always risky but resembled a game of roulette, you could get caught but many people also got away with it. Today it’s not a question IF you get caught, it’s merely a question of WHEN you’ll get caught. Not only this but take PR for example, getting a link from a high PR page used to always be valuable, today it’s more the relevance of the site’s theme in regards to yours, relevance is the new PR.

Question 4. What are common trends you looked for to determine a spammy site?

These can be divided into a few categories; On page signals like keyword stuffing, hiding things under the CSS or silly techniques like making a keyword rich text in the same colour as the background of the site. The second category would be content quality, it’s important to remember here that Google does not judge the nature of your content, only it’s authenticity. So any type of scraped, synonymised or obviously poorly written text would be a clear spam signal. The third would be backlink profile.

Question 5. What are common trends you looked for to determine a spammy link profile?

There are a good few elements taken into account here, like how many links are there in total? A very important one; what is the quality of the pages they come in from? Do the pages look “real” or are they just there to host the links? What anchors are used? The commercial vs. non commercial ratio of the anchors. In reality it’s very easy to recognise a blackhat profile, all you have to do is imagine what anchors would have been used if the linking happened completely naturally and compare it with what is going on in reality. Anyone can do it, just think logically and keep in mind which keywords convert to money.

Question 6. From your time in Google what are 3 on page tactics that you recommend?

Very good question, on page tactics are often overlooked, while in reality they should be a key element in your SEO strategy. First of all, choose your domain name wisely, having a good URL can give you a head start in the race. Good domains are still expensive and for a good reason. Second, be very thorough about your basic elements like titles, descriptions and H1/H2 headers. People are so focussed on putting the most expensive fuel in their car (backlinks) that they totally forget about the basics like putting wheels on it (on page elements). Of course you can’t over-do it as Google now also penalises for over optimisation, so don’t putt more than 2 commercial keywords in your titles or Google will frown upon it. Third, and most important, focus on content quality. Try to work on your website as if SEO was not part of your plan, create content out of a sincere interest and enthusiasm for the topic of your page. This is what Google and your users want form you, I know it’s tempting to think about financial gain but remember that Googles primary concern is valuable information!

Question 7. What are 3 off site (link building) tactics that you recommend?

Off site link building has dramatically changed since the recent updates. Anything that you can do automatically or at scale putts your website at risk. So keep the following in mind; Link building has changed from an almost purely technical process into something that resembles a relationship management campaign. Building a network with owners of sites that are related to yours for example. If your website is about cheese production, reach out to people in the milk industry, like I mentioned before, relevance is the new PR. Second, don’t dismiss directories completely. I have heard people talking about directories being altogether bad and advise people to avoid them. This is not the case, good quality, moderated directories, or niche directories are still worth looking in to. Third, to stay focussed on quality of pages linking in to you, Google judges your link profile by the quality of pages linking to your site, getting 3 links from authentic pages will do much more than 1000 links from splogs, so invest your time into getting quality, not quantity.

Question 8. Are there any other secrets or tips you can give to SEO’s from a search quality member?

This is a hard one… There are many secrets in Google’s sauce. I am aware that this might disappoint you but what I tend to tell people is the following; if you want to please Google with your SEO, then forget about SEO. Google wants you to create a site as if you don’t intend to manipulate their algo, but as if you are doing it because your passionate about the topic of your site. If you really are, your content will be great and your target audience will love you, this will do the best possible SEO you can imagine. Apart from this, follow Matt Cutts on Google+ 😉

Question 9. What are your thoughts on the trend towards social in search is more social integration on the way?

The change is definitely in the air, I think we have all seen signs of this happening already. It also looks like Google is moving towards more localised versions of search instead of a country wide version. Social will surely play a huge part in this. Integrating Google places into Google+ was a clear sign of the direction in which they are heading. I can only guess how it will look in the future but you can bet on Google+ being a very important part of it. I don’t think Google will let go of their social network any time soon so if you don’t have a profile for your site yet… don’t wait.

Question 10. Tell us about your new project Netcomber.com, how can it help SEO’s?

Netcomber is a brand new project that I have been working on, together with my business partner. We are planning to make it into the world best fingerprinting website. Our system uses over 3000 factors to calculate which websites are owned by the same person who’s website you submit. We use signs like account IDs, hosting information and even coding style to determine ownership clusters, so it will also show hidden relationships that normally would not be shown because of anonymization of data. Search engines always used this data in their fight against spam, checking the quality of a network, or even taking down an entire (spammy) owner cluster. The data was always internal only, we have made it external! SEOs can use it in many ways e.g. checking if a directory is of good quality (if the same owner has 500 of them in the same template, you might want to watch out), getting new ideas for potential linking partners, or simply keeping an eye on the competition and much more… Currently the tool is based on 20 million sites, in a few short weeks we will finish a crawl of over 200 million sites, so we are in BETA and the tool is free to use for now.

Thank you to Andre for taking his time to answer these 10 search related questions.

For more check out Andrea on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/andre-weyher/4/524/859

And be sure to check out his new project Net Comber here: netcomber.com

About the Author: James Norquay is a well known Australian digital marketer and founder of Prosperity Media a High Performance SEO Agency in Sydney, with over 8+ years experience. James deals with Enterprise level projects from some of Australia & Asia Pacific’s largest corporations. You can find him online via: Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin.