Welcome back, hope you are finding this SEO tips series helpful. A few weeks ago we discussed how to properly link to your site and the documents in it. Today, we’ll learn how to discover what other sites link to you, what pages they link to, and what words they use to do it.
You may recall from my SEO Ranking Factors article that the item believed to have the most positive affect on your search engine rankings was the anchor text used in links to your pages. If you are able to influence that text, you have a better chance of improving your rankings. But, before you can influence it, you have to know that the links exist.
There are many tools that let you search for sites that link to you. Some are free, others you have to pay for. As should be expected, the ones you pay for offer a few additional features, however for the purposes of this article, most of the free ones will work just fine.
Backlinkwatch.com is a free tool for identifying up to 1,000 of your incoming links. It will show you the URL of the site that links to you, the text (or image) that is used in the link, the PageRank (if available) of the page, how many outbound links the page has and if the link is “nofollow.”
Below is a sample of the results from Jay Thompson’s site, www.phoenixrealestateguy.com. (click it to open a bigger version in a new window and follow along)
We can see that Jay’s choice in a domain name has paid off for him. Many people when linking to a Web site will just use the words from the domain as the anchor text. Because of this, Jay has BUNCHES of links with the words “phoenix real estate” in them. That is sure to help his rankings for that phrase. There are also a lot of links for his name “Jay Thompson”, which certainly will help his site rank in searches for his name, but that’s probably not very useful for acquiring new business. I consider the links using “Phoenix RE Guy” to be almost useless. I say almost because all links are good, and the use of “Phoenix” will help somewhat with other local-based searches. But, unless there are a lot of folks searching for homes using the phrase “phoenix re”, it’s pointless.
As with everything else they do, Google keeps the mechanism they use for scoring links a tightly guarded secret. However, we do know that they do NOT like link farms, and they assign lower values to links from blog rolls than from links within the main content sections. It stands to reason then, getting links from pages without a ton of other links is your best bet for a better value.
Unfortunately most of the pages linking to Jay do not have a PageRank assigned by Google. This is not uncommon. Many sites do not get PR assigned to interior pages. However, if you can get links from ranked pages, those are much better – and naturally, the higher the rank the better.
Looking at our sample of Jay’s links, we can see the number of outbound links from the pages, located in the column titled “OBL.” Some of them are quite large, well into the hundreds. As I said before, all links are good, but links from those pages are not nearly as good as the links from pages with fewer outbound links.
The last column shows us that only a few of the links are flagged as “no follow.” This is good. Google (and other engines) will still follow these links, but the “no follow” attribute tells them that the site is not verified, or trusted by the site providing the link. Because of this, they assign much lower values (if any) to the link.
Well, maybe a gotcha. There’s a flaw in some of the tools. They may find links only for the exact page you provide them and possibly NOT the entire site. So you may have 500 links to the home page and another 50 to various pages inside your site, but unless you test them all you wouldn’t know about it. backlinkwatch.com does show you all links to your site – up to the 1,000 link limit anyway. If you use another tool, be sure to verify what it does or does not report.
What do you do with all this information now that you have it? Spend some time going over your list of links. Analyze the anchor text. Does it use key words you want to target? If not, muster up some courage and ask the site owner to change it.
Ever wonder how your competitor does better in the rankings than you when your pages are so similar? The answer might be backlinks. Use one of these tools to analyze who links to them and what anchor text is used. Maybe you can also get the site to link to yours as well.
Get out your binoculars, put on your pith helmet and get busy exploring the web, discovering your own backlinks.
Will cash still be king after COVID-19?
(EDITORIAL) Physical cash has been a preferred mode of payment for many, but will COVID-19 push us to a cashless future at an even faster rate?
Say goodbye to the almighty dollar, at least the paper version. Cashless is where it’s at, and COVID-19 is at least partially to thank–or blame, depending on your perspective.
Let’s face it, we were already headed that direction. Apps like Venmo, PayPal, and Apple Pay making cashless transactions painless enough that even stubborn luddites were beginning to migrate to these convenient payment methods. Then COVID-19 hit the world and suddenly, handling cash is a potential danger.
In 2020, the era of COVID-19, the thought of all the possible contaminants, traveling around on an old dollar bill makes most of us cringe. Keep your nasty sock money, boob money, and even your pocket money to yourself, sir or madam, because I’ll have none of it! Nobody knows or wants to know where your money has been. We like the idea of taking your money, sure, but not the idea of actually touching it…ewww, David. Just ewww.
There is no hard evidence that cash can transmit COVID-19 from one person to the other, but perception is a powerful agent for changing our behavior. It seems plausible, considering the alarming rate this awful disease is moving through the world. Nobody has proven it can’t move with money.
There was a time when cash was King. Everyone took cash; everyone preferred it. Of course, credit cards have been around forever, but they’ve always been just as problematic as they are convenient. Like GrubHub and similar third party food delivery apps, banks end up charging both the business and the consumer with credit cards. It’s a trap. Cash cut out the (greedy) middle man.
Plus, paying with a credit card could be a pain. Try paying a taxi driver with a credit card prior to, oh, about 2014 when Uber hit the scene big time. Most drivers refused to take cash, because credit cards take a percentage off the top. Enter rideshare companies like Uber. Then in walks Square. Next PayPal, Venmo, and Apple Pay enter the scene. Suddenly, cabbies would like you to know they now take alternate forms of payment, and with a smile.
It’s good in a way, but it may end up hurting small businesses even more in the long run. The harsh reality of this current moment is that you shouldn’t be handling cash. No less an authority than the CDC recommends contactless forms of payment whenever possible. However, those cabbies weren’t wrong.
The banking industry has been pushing for a reduced reliance on cash since the 1950s, when they came up with the idea of credit cards. It was a stroke of evil genius to come up with more ways to expedite our lifelong journey into crushing debt.
The financial titans are very, very good at what they do, at the expense of all the rest of us. The New York Times reported on the trend, noting:
“In Britain alone, retailers paid 1.3 billion pounds (about $1.7 billion) in third-party fees in 2018, up £70 million from the year before, according to the British Retail Consortium.
Payment and processing companies such as PayPal (whose stock is up about 55 percent this year) and Adyen, based in the Netherlands (up 72 percent), also stand to gain.”
All kinds of related banking-related industries stand to benefit as well. Maybe we’ll go back to spending physical cash one day, but I don’t think there’s any hurry. Fewer old grandpas are hiding their cash in their proverbial mattresses, and the younger, most tech-savvy generation seems perfectly content to use their smart phones for everything.
We get it. Convenience plus cleanliness is a sweet combo. I only wish it weren’t such a racket.
If this trend towards a cashless future continues, there may be a possibility that travelers in the future may not experience what it’s like to fumble with foreign currency, to smile and shrug and hand over a handful of bills because they have no idea how many baht, pesos, or rand those snacks are. They may not experience the realization that other countries’ bills come in different shapes and sizes, and they may not come home with the most affordable souvenirs (coins and bills).
We shall see what the future holds. Odds are, it may not be cash money, at least in the U.S. I hope the cashless movement makes room for everyone to participate without being penalized. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, people. We need to find more ways to ease the path for people, not callously profit off of them.
Google Maps will soon display traffic lights
(TECH NEWS) The addition of traffic light positions to Google Maps promises to boost navigation accuracy. Now you won’t run a light while looking at navigation.
At over 150 million monthly users, Google Maps’ value is not to be understated. With a new feature that shows traffic light positions rolling out to select devices and locations soon, one can expect that trend to continue.
A common issue with navigation via an app–especially when navigating solo–is a lack of precision that can lead to confusion, missed exits, potentially dangerous driving, and, worst of all, spilled coffee. By adding the location of traffic lights, Google Maps will improve both landmark recognition and automated navigation by providing drivers with more accessible information.
It’s worth noting a couple of arguing points, the first of which is the assertion that Google is starting from scratch on this feature. They aren’t. In fact, Japan-based Google Maps users have had access to traffic light positioning for years; Google is simply expanding the feature to include a larger number of cities and population density.
In a similar vein, Google also isn’t the first company to implement an ease-of-access feature such as this. Apple Maps has incorporated traffic light recognition since the release of iOS 13, and while its use is hit-or-miss (my iPhone 11 fails to pick up most traffic lights in my admittedly rural town of residence), the option to have Siri direct users to the nearest traffic light rather than saying “in 213.7 feet, turn left” is helpful.
That said, Apple Maps is a service which sees a little over 20 million monthly users–a far cry from Google Maps’ monthly base. For Google, accuracy and speed of updates will be paramount for a successful, routinely helpful launch.
At the time of this writing, Google plans to release the traffic light feature in New York, San Francisco, and a few other United States cities. The feature will be available on Android devices–sorry for now, Apple users–and will ideally expand to encompass most of the country if the initial release is successful.
It will be interesting to see how comprehensive Google’s coverage is and how quick the company is to adjust positioning of lights as cities do what cities do best. For now, if you have an Android device, keep an eye on your Maps app–good things are coming your way.
Plastic bags are making a comeback, thanks to COVID-19
(BUSINESS NEWS) Plastic bags are back, whether you like it or not – at least for now.
Single use plastic bags are rising like a phoenix from the ashes of illegality all over the country, from California to New York. Reusable bags are falling out of favor in an effort to curtail the spread of COVID-19. It’s a logical step: the less something is handled, generally, the safer it is going to be. And porous paper bags are thought to have a higher potential to spread the virus through contact.
It’s worth mentioning that single use plastic bags are considerably more
environmentally efficient to manufacture compared to paper, cloth, and reusable plastic bags. Per unit, they require very little material to make and are easily mass produced. It also goes without saying that they have a very short lifespan, after which they end up sitting in landfills, littering streets, or drifting through oceans.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s hard to deny that single use plastics have the potential to be as dangerous to humans as COVID-19. Coronavirus is a very immediate existential threat to us in the United States, but the scale of the global crises that stem from the irresponsible consumption of cheap disposable goods, also cannot be overstated. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t going anywhere. (And did you know that it’s just one of many huge garbage patches around the world?)
So… what exactly are we going to do about the comeback of plastic bags? Because to be honest, I used to work in grocery retail, and it is difficult and often unrewarding. So, I wouldn’t exactly love handling potentially contaminated tote bags all day in the midst of a pandemic if I were still a supermarket employee. You couldn’t pay me enough to feel comfortable with that – forget minimum wage!
I used to have a plastic bag stuffed full of other plastic bags sitting in my kitchen, like American nesting dolls, before disposable plastics fell from grace. (I’m sure some of y’all know exactly what I’m talking about.) This bag of bags was never a point of pride. It got really annoying because it just kept growing. There are only so many practical home uses for the standard throw-away plastic shopping bag. Very small trash can liners; holding snarls of unused cables, another thing I accumulate for no reason; extremely low-budget packing material; one could get crafty and somehow weave them into a horrible sweater, I guess.
I don’t miss my bag of bags. I don’t want to have to deal with another. Hey, Silicon Valley? Got any disruptive ideas for this one?
Even if we concede that disposable plastics are a necessary evil in the fight against COVID-19, the fact remains that they stick around long after you’re done with them. That’s true whether you throw them out or not.
I’m not trying to direct blame anywhere. Of course businesses should do their best to keep their customers and staff safe, and if that means using plastic bags, so be it. Without clear guidance from our federal government, every part of society has been fumbling and figuring out how to keep one another healthy with the tools they’ve got at hand. (…Well, almost every part.)
The changes to the state bag bans have been cautious and temporary so far, which is a small relief. But nobody really knows how much longer the pandemic will rage on and necessitate the relaxations.
I won’t pretend that I have a sure solution. All I can really ask is that we all be extra mindful of our usage of these disposable plastic products. Let’s think creatively about what we might otherwise throw away. We must not trade one apocalypse for another.
Will cash still be king after COVID-19?
Google Maps will soon display traffic lights
Plastic bags are making a comeback, thanks to COVID-19
Scammers are taking advantage of the unemployed
PopCom designs smart vending machines to automate regulated products
HEROES Act could increase unemployment stimulus benefits, add return to work bonus
A closer look at the HEROES act, and who stands to benefit the most
The White House pushes for $450 per week return to work bonus
Managing bipolar disorder and what I wish my employers understood
Google Glass didn’t succeed, but Apple’s AR glasses might
Anti-surveillance mask – creepy, ingenious, or potentially illegal?
Amy’s Ice Cream founder on Austin’s business risks and rewards #WhyAustin
Turns out a lot of people are in between introverted and extroverted
P. Terry’s founder on the booming economy in Austin #WhyAustin
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