Category Archives: search engines

Hostgator is bad for SEO – Goodbye Hostgator

hostgator are crap

This marvellous Infographic that I made should sum it up for you. HostGator is CRAP, using it to host my sites has hurt my Google rankings quite badly.

Let me explain, in order for Google to love your website it has to be able visit your sites pages and index them. It does this with its googlebot crawler. I had a few problems with the rankings of one of my main sites, some of the inner pages were not indexed or had fallen out of the index. after a few more weeks this became really bad in that of the whole site with over 200 pages, only the front page was indexed. Google Web Master Tools was also reporting that Googlebot could not access the robots.txt file.

The website is currently only a brochure type site and uses WordPress as a CMS for flexibility and ease of publishing. It use to rank in the top 2 spots for the keywords I targeted and many of the inner pages ranked for similar and related terms. After the de indexing of many of the inner pages the sites homepage still ranks on the first page of the Google search for some of the terms, but the inner page rankings had been lost.

After some serious testing with different hosting accounts I also use; Host Papa, Bluehost, Servage, United Hosting, Xtra Hosting, Heart Internet and some others. I have quickly come to the conclusion that HostGator is blocking googlebot on innerpages of wordpress sites. This is bad, really bad for the search rankings of any of my websites with Hostgator and has lead me to the conclusion that Hostgator is CRAP and damages your SEO.

I really don’t know how or why but they are blocking googlebot but I created a simple test site on HostGator and the same on Host Papa. Tested them both using the brilliant web-sniffer which can mimic googlebot accessing your website and show you the responses. With the brand new sites created, both sites allow googlebot to crawl the home page, both sites also allow googlebot to crawl the sample inner page too.

 

Sample page on HostGator works fineHG ID sample page test

 

Sample page on HostPapa also works fine.

HP ID sample page test

So then what’s the problem? Sample page is working as it should right?

Most people who setup WordPress will not use the default permalink settings as the URL is left ugly. the URL for the sample page on the test sites were www.website.com/?p=2 which is an ugly URL. So to get the URLs looking like www.website.com/hello-world you will need to select this option in the permalink settings of wordpress.

Permalink select

 

I then retested both sites again with the new URLs

Host Papa first this time, with no problems

HP sample page test

 

Next up HostGator. Look at the response header

HG sample page test

 

Status: HTTP/1.1 503 Service Temporarily Unavailable

That is the same result that I get for ALL inner pages on ALL WordPress sites on my HostGator account and that is why HostGator are crap for SEO as they turn googlebot away and that means I will also be turning away my websites and my business from them.

I did raise this issue with their support and they just told me to check the robots.txt file. I have obviously done all the appropriate checks. Its something technical to do with their servers or firewall or something else. Either way its not good, its crap. Goodbye HostGator!!

 

 

Chinese New Year 2009

!!Gung Hei Fat Choi!!
Wishing everybody health, wealth and prosperity in the year of the OX

Year-of-the-Ox-2009-Singapore-Chinese-New-Year-Market

Another year another celebration. I love chinese new year; getting together with family, stuffing my face with delicious foods and getting red packets from all my older relatives.

From this year forth as I am now married me and Sally have to give red packets to the younger ones of our family. Its tradition and is for good luck and as the old saying goes “its great to give!”.

Google and Baidu the two most popular search engines have again changed their homepage images for the festive days.
Google:

Chinese New Year Ox Google image
Chinese New Year Ox Google image

Baidu:

Chinese New Year Ox Baidu Image
Chinese New Year Ox Baidu Image

For those of you who have never heard of Baidu, Baidu is the most used search engine in China. Which is probably why its main page is in madarin. In China surfers tend to mainly use Baidu and Yahoo. Google is not too popular.

Anyway which image do you like better?
The Pastel shades of the Google image or the traditional red and gold Ox head drawing from Baidu?

Soda Estates gets authority from google

Whilst there is another PR update happening at the moment, most of my sites have not been affected. One site has reached PR4 which is very good considering I have not even promoted it much.

One of my best website marketing achievements at the moment is for the Soda Estates site. When I do a google search for “soda estates” I get the following result:

soda estates site links
soda estates site links

See the links underneath the listing (how we help, latest news, repossession stopped) ?
In the webmaster community a site is considered to have “authority” when it has those links. The site becomes an authoritive site. According to google however there is no such thing as an “authoritive” site. The correct name for these links is “sitelinks” as listed in Googles webmaster tools. Google adds them to a site to help the users browse to different sections of the site and these happen automatically.

They cannot be changed manually and there does not seem to be a way to influence them. This is a shame as I would not automatically choose the same links that are displayed. Whatever they are caused by they seem to be quite an achievement considering the age of the site and the relatively low content that the site has. The site still does not list too well for the keyword terms that I have chosen, but its slowly getting there.

Happy Chinese New Year 2008

Gung Hei Fat Choi – San Lien Fai Lok !!

Happy new year! Chinese people all over the world will be celebrating the coming of the new year. The festival which traditionally lasts 15 days begins on the first day of the new lunar month.

There are 12 animals in the chinese zodiac, each year is attributed to one animal. 2008 is the year of the Rat. Google China is celebrating with this festive image which replaces their normal Google logo.

year of the rat
year of the rat

Google is China’s second most used search engine falling behind the much more established Baidu. Baidu have also a festive Chinese New Year image.

year of the rat
year of the rat

Which image do you prefer?

I’m off now to hang my red lantern and eat some lotus seeds. Gong Hei Fat choi!!

Google Pagerank 2008 Q1 Update

Something strange is happening at the Google datacentres. The Google search seems to be returning some strange results on some of my targeted keywords. This usually indicates that a Pagerank (PR) update is in process.

I’ve just checked the Pagerank for my sites and can confirm that this blog (www.daveso.com) has reached PR3, Yipee!! But what exactly is Pagerank?

An Explaination of Pagerank


The Pagerank of a website is greater the more incoming links the site has, it is a measure of a websites link popularity. Sites rank from 0 to 10 for Pagerank. New sites are ranked 0 whereas very popular sites (Google.com) can rank as high as 10. The number given is a measure of a websites popularity.

In a nutshell, google considers each link to be a vote for that site, the more links a site has the more popular it must be. Links from more popular sites are considered as more important than others. Google uses Pagerank along with other factors to determine where to place a website in its search results.

What wikipedia says:

PageRank is a link analysis algorithm that assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of “measuring” its relative importance within the set. The algorithm may be applied to any collection of entities with reciprocal quotations and references. The numerical weight that it assigns to any given element E is also called the PageRank of E and denoted by PR(E).

PageRank was developed at Stanford University by Larry Page (hence the name Page-Rank[1]) and later Sergey Brin as part of a research project about a new kind of search engine. The project started in 1995 and led to a functional prototype, named Google, in 1998. Shortly after, Page and Brin founded Google Inc., the company behind the Google search engine. While just one of many factors which determine the ranking of Google search results, PageRank continues to provide the basis for all of Google’s web search tools.[2]

The name PageRank is a trademark of Google. The PageRank process has been patented (U.S. Patent 6,285,999 ). The patent is not assigned to Google but to Stanford University.

read the rest

So there you go. I’ll soon write a post on how to check your websites Pagerank. At the moment whilst the update is happening a lot of the tools available to check PR seem to be down.

Google Adwords Prices

The keywords that I compete for on my property sites are always increasing. When I first started using adwords for my sites about 3 years ago it came to about 50p per click, I considered that expensive. It can now be as much as £10 per single click. That click may not even bring you any business, I’ve found that it may take up to 10 clicks for 1 person to complete the online form, it can then take 10-15 of these leads before we can convert one to a sale.

That’s about £100 for a lead, which then works out to about £1500 to achieve a sale!!

It’s surprising then that there are still so many new entrants to this market. Just try typing “sell my house quickly” into google and see the hundreds of responses. It is my estimate that there is a new site up every week. Currently there must be something like 200 sites advertising quick property buying. All these sites are just simply competing for the same commodity, its no wonder than that the adwords prices have shot through the roof.

Increasing number of online sellers?

Are there more sellers to sell to the increasing number of online property buying companies? Has the bottom fallen out of the internet bargain property finding websites? Have all the buyers raised the prices for everyone involved due to competition?

One thing is for sure and that is Google is certainly making a packet from its adwords revenue.

nofollow – No more. WordPress Hacked

I’ve uploaded a new theme today and somechanges to my blog.
Don’t worry I don’t think that ugly picture of me will be staying for too long.

One major change, that will hopefully temp more people to comment on this site is that I’ve removed the “nofollow” from the comments. By doing this I’m making the links that my visitors leave when they comment count towards backlinks for their site. The more “real” links that you have to a website, the better for the site as search engines count these links towards the sites popularity and it may help boost the sites page rank too.

you comment i dofollow

So if you’ve been shying away and not posting comments on here, now is your chance. Post a comment, leave a link to your site and it will count towards your sites popularity.

I’ve tried to do this before by using a plugin for WordPress, but couldn’t get it working. Instead this time I’ve directly hacked the code for WordPress. Only 1 line, but hacked it nonetheless.

Here is the hack from Douglas Karrs site.

Removing WordPress rel=nofollow on Comment Text

Links in the actual comments are a little tougher to find. However, I was able to track down where the filter was applied in wp-includes/default-filters.php on line 125. To disable the filter, you need only to remark the link out by putting two forward slashes in front of it. Edit

add_filter(‘pre_comment_content’, ‘wp_rel_nofollow’, 15);

like this:

//add_filter(‘pre_comment_content’, ‘wp_rel_nofollow’, 15);

Voila! No more punishing your users for generating great content on your blog! The advantage of doing it this way is that you’re not applying more code later in a plugin to remove the code that was there in the first place. The disadvantage of doing it this way is that you’ll have to update it each time you upgrade WordPress on your site.

I take no credit for this i only found his site via a google search.

I think this is thoroughly worth doing to encourage comments to your blog, I may think again if I get too much comment spam. Meaningful comments that encourage discussion will always be accepted by me.

google adwords open to click fraud

i use google adwords on one of my property sites and some of my other sites that i run. it has been getting more and more expensive to bid for the keywords that i want a year ago it would have cost £.50 for the keywords “sell my house quickly”, whereas now it costs around £4.00. thats for one click, ouch!

poor performing adverts

i’ve been a bit disappointed with the results this month as even though the budget of £40 per day is being used up we do not seem to be getting any conversions. conversions for my sites would mean people are submitting their details. so we still get about 6-10 clicks a day which drains the budget, but no conversions. this IS quite strange as normally the ratio is about 3 clicks to one conversion.

one malicious IP address

i downloaded this months log files for my site just to see if it would show me what what happening. after looking through the logs for a few minutes it became apparent that alot of the visits were coming from one IP address. so i double checked how they were reaching my site and each visit was the same. they came via google with the same search string each time, sometimes up to 5 times a day.

its not difficult to realise that “sponsored listings” cost money. so why unless they were malicious why would someone go to google type in the same search string and then click on your advert to access your site 5 times a day, everyday of the week? hell if you really liked the site you would bookmark it or even make it your homepage on Internet Explorer.

people don’t realise that the internet is not THAT anonymous and that most of your actions can be traced. i am first and foremost an IT geek so this is no mean feat for me. i must have some pretty malicious and unscrupulous competition in the property world to have some one go as far as to devote time everyday to use up my marketing budget. this is not the route any honorable business person would take.

google responds to adwords click fraud

i emailed google giving them details of what had happened and asked for a refund of the credits used as this is definitely fraud. I didn’t even know that they would allow this sort of thing to happen. this is there long and detailed (most of it is cut and pasted) response.

Hello Dave,

Thank you for your email. I understand you are concerned that you have received multiple clicks from the same IP address and as a consequence have excluded this IP address as these clicks have been using up a lot of your budget. I understand you would like compensation for these clicks.

Each click on an AdWords ad is examined by our system. Google looks at numerous data points for each click, including the IP address, the time of the click, any duplicate clicks and various other click patterns. Our system then analyses these factors to isolate and filter out invalid clicks that fit a pattern of use intended to artificially drive up an advertiser’s clicks or impressions or a publisher’s earnings. It is not in Google’s interest to allow invalid clicks in order to generate revenue since this would not accord with the interests of our advertisers.

are you sure its not in your interest? you still get paid for it don’t you?

If you notice click activity that does not fit your usual patterns, please keep the following factors in mind:

– Return visits: Individual users may legitimately click on your ad more than once when comparison shopping or returning to your site for more information.

yes i often visit sites, forget the name of them so have to search the same keywords to get search results. but after doing this a couple of times i’ll either remember the URL or save it to favourites. My site was visited through my adwords ppc by the same IP 36 times in 18 days, they just clicked and left, thats got to be foul play.

– Shared IPs: Multiple clicks from a single source may be due to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigning identical IP addresses to multiple users. Certain ISPs, such as AOL, distribute a relatively small number of shared, rotating IP addresses to a large number of users. As a result, multiple visitors may access your site from identical IP addresses, giving the impression of repeated clicks from a single visitor.

hardly ANY ISP’s still do this, but i’ve confirmed this with the ISP that owns the IP that they DO NOT share IP addresses

– Web server logs: Your site’s web server logs include data for all visitors to your site, not just those who arrived after clicking on an AdWords ad. You may also see ‘Google.co.uk’ referrers from users who reached your site via the Google search results. Please be assured that your account would only be charged for clicks that your ads received.

yes but the IP log data tallys up with the dates the adwords adverts were clicked.

No direct logging of IP’s in google analytics

is this the reason why google analytics does not directly log IP addresses, so that this kind of fraud normally goes undetected and google carries on making revenue on these clicks?
maybe the amount of business generated from adwords click fraud is too great to lose.