The importance of a good neighborhood

Installment 5 in an opinion series by Linda Bradshaw about blogging and SEO

Mr Rogers Neighborhood – free clip art

Is your website or blog in a good neighborhood?

Web hosting can get really confusing and expensive. Who can blame you for signing up for cheap web hosting? You probably did not know that Google has defined some of those cheap web hosting companies servers as “bad neighborhoods.” I know that when I first started blogging I had no idea at all that there were “bad neighborhoods” in the Google universe. As for how to find out what web hosting companies have “bad neighborhood” servers, well I see there are sites that claim that they can check for you. I do not know if any of them work, and for the purposes of this discussion I really am not interested right now in pursuing that. Maybe sometime in the future, maybe not.

But the fact remains, Google, as the all-knowing and all-seeing and omnipotent ruler of the almighty much coveted Google page rank and Google Search Engine Results Page KNOWS where your domain is hosted. When Google does its quarterly re-indexing (or “sweep”) one of the things that it looks at is what “neighborhood” your domain is in. If it sees your website/blog is on one of those “bad neighborhood” servers, then they will at least penalize your website, which reduces the page rank, and at most they will “ban” or “black-list” your website. What that means is that they will put YOUR website on their list of naughty boys and girls that get ignored from that point on until Hades freezes over and a gay woman becomes the Pope of the Catholic Church.

Opinion disclaimer
Opinion disclaimer

Proper Syntax will become vital

Blogging penguin
Blogging penguin – free clip art image
Installment 4 in an opinion series by Linda Bradshaw about blogging and SEO

For the purposes of this discussion, I am using the word “syntax” to represent proper spelling, grammar, and sentence structure in the English language.

From my recent discussions with people in the networking groups that I go to, in association with the Fauquier Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Warrenton Chamber of Commerce I have come to understand that up until the Panda and the Penguin updates Google did not have algorithms in place to recognize syntax. “Relevant, or good syntax” basically means “does this sentence make sense?” Some advertising agencies were (and some still are) telling their clients that any and all links were good links and they were extremely happy to be able to take advantage of the willingness of desperately impoverished bloggers in underdeveloped countries to work for pennies in their desire to build back links to their web pages. At this point in time Google does not like those tactics, and as technology advances the programmers that work at Google have been able to modify their algorithm to recognize proper syntax and reward it, and recognize improper syntax and penalize it. I think that it is a pretty safe bet that will be used consistently in the future as part of their sweeping algorithm.

Kung Fu Panda
Kung Fu Panda – free clip art

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Opinion disclaimer

What to do with a black hat

Installment 2 in an opinion series by Linda Bradshaw about blogging and SEO

Black magician hat - free clip art
Black magician hat

I would like to take a moment to address those bloggers that I have met that have found themselves in the situation where they were convinced that spinning articles for content will help them to earn a lot of money with their blogs. On top of that perhaps they have arranged for cheap hosting for their blog on a hosting server that has been flagged by Google as what they call a “bad neighborhood.” Oh, and they also were told that they could make a lot of money from buying an expired domain name with pre-existing PR and using it to blog for money! (Please understand that I am not being judgmental here, and accept my apologies in advance if you get the feeling that I am being judgmental. I truly strive in my life to not be judgmental.) These above listed activities and situations are some of the types of activities that Google SEO experts call “Black Hat” and Google is trying very hard to find those blogs and penalize them. They are getting better at it, and advertisers are starting to realize that doing business with those bloggers might penalize them, too!

Recently I found myself flooded with private messages from some bloggers that have found themselves in this position and they have been asking me to help them to increase their income with their blogs. After a few questions about their techniques, I determined that these bloggers, whether on purpose, or by accident, were using “Black Hat” techniques. Now I am not an expert by any means, but I have learned a few things that I don’t mind sharing, so I decided to address that situation here in the hopes that this post may help all bloggers to understand what is going on, why it is happening, and what can be done about it. This might be the perfect time to change hats.

Opinion disclaimer
Opinion disclaimer

SEO Hitler and hats

Installment 1 of an opinion series by Linda Bradshaw about SEO and blogging

Adolf Hitler free clip art image
Adolf Hitler free clip art image

One of my favorite classes in college was sociology – the study of society. I like to think that we, as bloggers, are members of a fairly new society. One definition of a society I recently found online is: “An organization or association of persons engaged in a common profession, activity, or interest.”

Much like any society, each group within that society tends to prefer the company of other people in the same group. Sometimes people find themselves in one group or the other without even realizing that they have choices that they can make to change from one group to another. Rather like “gang” activity on the city streets. If you are born in one area, you are surrounded by the “Purple” gang and if you join a gang, it will be the “Purple” gang, and if you know what is good for you then you will not even talk to a member of a different gang. Now I’m not implying that bloggers are gang bangers, but I think you get the idea of what I’m trying to say! Peer pressure may prevent people from changing to a different group, and fear of rejection from the other group may prevent people from even trying to change membership from one group to another.

Members of one group, in some cases, may feel themselves to be superior to others in different groups, and they may even strongly dislike and/or distrust the other groups. They may even blame their troubles on the other group. This is called “scapegoating” and it is a normal and completely natural way that societies work. The “benefit” of “scapegoating” is that it builds cohesion within the group so that they will put aside their own personal and petty grievances with each other and work together in their desire to focus their negative energy onto the “scapegoat” of the moment.

I’m not saying that is a good thing, but it exists and it can be manipulated by people with great leadership skills. It can be a great motivator for change. That change can be good, or it can be evil. This, for better or for worse, is one of the ways that society works.
The perfect example of this would be how Hitler manipulated the German people into doing terrible things to each other.

Somewhere, sometime, in a universe far, far away, self-proclaimed SEO experts decided to separate SEO techniques into three groups and call them “White Hat” (Google loves) “Black Hat” (Google hates.) and “Gray Hat” (Google suspects but hasn’t proved it to be evil yet.) There is a web page that I just found and decided to share for this article that discusses the definitions and differences of the three SEO Hats. As for me, well, I’m a member of the Ladies Red Hat Society, so I’m just a little bit crazy and try to make the best of any situation I find myself in.

red hat free clip art
red hat free clip art

(There, now do you see how I got Hitler into a discussion about SEO and hats? I warned you, I’m a little bit crazy! And I am wondering if by putting both of those words in the title of my post I might get some strange search results!)

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Opinion disclaimer