The TOOLS Show: Stop Guest Blogging. Now! – August 14, 2014


Note: For clarification, if you’re not familiar with the difference between “legitimate” Guest Blogging and Guest-Blogging-for-SEO-purposes, check out this article first. I promise, it will make the rest of this post/episode make more sense.

And of course, the latter type of “guest blogging” is what we are talking about today: the spammy, no-real-content, plaster it all over the internet kind. The kind that someone may offer to you at some point. It strikes me as a kind of cyber drug deal: “Hey, we all know that content is what makes you more popular on Google, so do you want some cheap content?” [Insert villain-type character here] “It’s cheap; just link back to us and you, too, can have great page rank.” But don’t fall for it! Like in Real Life, the good stuff ain’t cheap, and it can land you in hot water.

Sage figures this is the next step in the evolution of Link-Building schemes: first there were link exchanges, then link farms, then link “brokerage” sites where people paid for links, and now another scammy, spammy way to try and outsmart Google by calling it “guest blogging.”

Yes, this seems like maybe it should be common sense, but as we all know, sometimes common sense isn’t all that common. Even Chrome fell victim to a quick fix, paying bloggers to write about their new browser (back when it was new, of course). Google caught them and kicked them out of the search results for a while, which looks like some Tough Love for sure from this parent!

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines

According to a recent article on Search Engine Land, Google’s Webmaster Guidelines are now reflecting this more specific change in what’s ok and what’s not. What we’re talking about is “low quality guest blogging that aims at manipulating search results” (Sage), not good quality, informative, original content. The bottom line, as written by Google: “Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.” This should always be your goal for content, anyway. So unless you’re doing something sneaky, you probably don’t have anything to worry about.

For example, if the Mayor wants to write a guest post on your blog because you’ve got a great local business following, the consensus is that this is a legit use of Guest Blogging. As long as you know what you’re doing, you should be fine. But if you’re not sure, better to err on the side of caution and be safe, because your ranking and website’s reputation could be on the line. Just like in high school, protect your rep because that’s all you’ve got.

Sage’s (sage) advice: “If there is a noted authority in your community or industry, and there is a legitimate reason why they would want to write on your blog, then by all means have them do it. If, however, more than, say, 20-30% of your posts are written by guests, you are putting yourself at risk.”

So if you get a request from a potential “guest blogger,” check them out: if they aren’t an expert in their field, or have stuff all over the place that doesn’t make sense, or the content all looks the same or extremely similar (“scraped” content), run away! The vast majority of content on your site should be written by YOU and your team.

Other Things NOT To Do

(Google will find you and punish you)

  • white text on white background (although this seems like an easy way to get keywords on your pages, it’s actually cheating)
  • same for super tiny text
  • blocking your entire site from being found: This happens often when a developer forgets to un-block the robots.txt file from a new site, so that Google’s “spider-bots” can crawl it to index the site
  • getting links to/from low-quality directories (a page full of links with no content), or an irrelevant one (a plumber on an accounting site)
  • creating multiple websites and cross-link them to try and make it look like there are lots of links
An Old Penguin

So Google’s last algorithm update (not counting that silly “Pigeon” we talked about last week), Penguin, hasn’t been updated in over 300 days. So what?

Well some website owners are upset because, due to changes to the algorithm that targets spammy behavior in order to manipulate Page Rank (see above), they have been (not penalized) “algorithmized.” And without a new update, even if the problem has been fixed, they may still be suffering from the lack of organic search results, which could shut down a business that primarily relies on online search traffic as their main source of income. Sage makes the good point that surely some of those sites have gone out of business by now.

Although there are some supposed workarounds out there, like this “Orca” technique, it seems like it all comes down to rebuilding a new website. Of course, the rational person’s suggestion would be to rebuild a website without all of the spammy bad links, but there is a feeling of “once a spammer, always a spammer” here at SageRock. If someone is always looking for the “easy way,” especially when it comes to online marketing, then they will most likely continue to be targeted “algorithmized” by Google, who only wants their innocent users to find good, relevant, useful search results, not cheesy websites full of crappy so-called content and a million links to nowhere.


The TOOLS Show – Google Pigeon Update :: August 4, 2014

This week’s show begins with a fascinating discussion of whether or not pigeons and seagulls are the same bird, or are even related (see here for everything you wanted to know about the differences between gulls and pigeons). They are not really even related, other than that they are both birds, and Sage concludes from the Google images of gulls that they are “evil bastards who will attack your head.” So hopefully, Google’s so-called “Pigeon” update will not be as nasty as all that.

Actually, Google didn’t pick this name for its latest incarnation; apparently Search Engine Land did when it was released in late July. And yes, like you, we are also pretty tired of the variety of “P” animal names for these updates. But the biggest changes are in the local search results and how those are displayed, according to an article in Small Biz Trends.

To test out this theory, Sage did a Google search for “Akron Roofers,” looking at the differences between the Paid, Map, Local, and regular Organic listings. Here’s my example, with each section marked (similar, but not exactly the same, of course):


We don’t really see a big difference from what was happening before the change, but it does seem like the directories (BBB,, AngiesList) are getting a boost from it, as they are appearing (as you can see) at the top of the Organic results, even before the Local “seven pack.” So yet again it seems that Google is giving a boost to the Big Guys over the small, local companies, delegating them further down the page.

Have you noticed either a difference in the search results you’re getting or any effect on your standings onGoogle?

According to Greg, this may have been partly a result of Yelp complaining rather loudly that Google’s local results were coming up ahead of Yelp results, even if the user put “Yelp” in the search term. Here’s an article about that, if you’re interested.

So what do we DO with this information??

  1. Use it as a reminder to always check yourself in regular searches for your name and keywords.
  2. If there are directories that are relevant to your business that come up, make sure you’re in them!
  3. In the same vein, once you have claimed those listings, fill them all out and update them with photos, coupons, videos, articles, etc.


In Other News

Foursquare still kinda sucks. Google’s local results (at least in Northeast Ohio) look and come back with better, more relevant stuff. For example, even though Sage chose every “interest” in the app except drinking, it still just show him bars all the time!


More exciting is that Pinterest now has Messaging! You can send a Pin & add a message to it, either to a follower of yours or just someone in your Contact list (via SMS).

After playing around with it for a bit, Sage feels that it’s one of the better messaging tools out there, since you can “escape” the app, by sending to people outside of Pinterest. This well-thought-out feature will, of course, help drive non-users to convert, as demonstrated by Greg when he receives a Pin/Message from Sage. Greg isn’t a Pinterest user, so it prompted him to get the app when he received the Message, but also just let him view it in a browser.


And we will leave you with some more bird trivia…

Crows and ravens are NOT the same animal; though they are quite difficult to tell apart. (And Sage owes Greg a dollar for that information).

The TOOLS Show 7.31.14: How to Stay Motivated (from Assateague Island)

Sage is hosting by himself this week, coming to us from Assateague Island (AKA Pony Island), Maryland, mostly because he couldn’t figure out how to add Greg back at the office.  (No judgement!)

This is one of many “on the road” video posts by Sage, and while having the technology to be able to do it is nice, he’s not always sure it’s worth it (or that the tech has gotten any better over the years). Reporting from the Nature Center, with the beach as a background, Sage is demonstrating his commitment to his audience when he goes in search of electricity and wifi!

Sage makes the good point that “Three Ways to Keep Yourself Motivated” sounds a lot like a woman’s magazine headline (This month in Cosmo: “Ways to Keep your Sex Life Exciting!”), and that the key to both is Variety. The first way, then, to keep yourself motivated, then, is getting as much variety as possible.

You might have thought that one of the best ways to keep yourself engaged was money, but no, that’s not the case. Studies have shown that beyond a certain level of “paying the bills” income, most people aren’t any happier with more money {Check out this article to see what the level by state}, once they are past the initial excitement phase. Sage tells the story of people who have left SageRock over the years to pursue more money, but usually they don’t last long there either, once the “new” wears off.

Most of us feel like we will be satisfied when we have “more,” or when we’re “rich,” but what does that really mean? Sage posits that most of us are seeking that point of more-than-comfortable, or the feeling of some left over is what we are looking for, because once we can pay the bills and not feel stressed about money, we probably won’t be any happier while we keep trying to make more.

Money in and of itself won’t keep you inspired; the chase for more might, but you probably shouldn’t count on that.  Sage uses the example of doing the show from the road, which is pretty exciting, no doubt, but might not always be the “good” kind of exciting. But is “exciting” good or bad? Can it be anything but just exciting?

Either way, those kinds of things are secondary to taking care of yourself, in order to stay focused.

Sage follows James Altucher, who was a finance guy but now writes about passion and leading an inspired life. The great thing about Altucher, according to Sage, is that he gives his ideas away for free instead of locking them up in a book or a course that you have to buy first. And basically his message is that mind, body, and spirit all have to be in shape. If one is lacking, then life is harder because you’re not up for the challenge.

Some of the advice that you hear is so strict, won’t necessarily be right for everyone, which is annoying. But here are some tips that Sage has picked up over the years:

  • Drink enough water! Most experts recommend 8 glasses a day. Did you know that dehydration can affect all areas of your mind and body, and you might not even realize that you are dehydrated? It makes you cranky, sleepy, and just generally doesn’t let your brain work as well as it should. So when in doubt, drink some more water!
  • Exercise: You don’t have to be a triathlete, but if you can do some kind of exercise for your body, do what you can. Because you will feel better if your body feels good.  “If your body is strong, your mind will be strong.” –Sage
  • Read and follow inspiring people. Whether it’s Lincoln, or Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, Jr. reading about and understanding how great people think will change the way you think, and have a positive effect on you.
  • Get enough sleep! This is another thing that people don’t always think about. Some people say you can function on 4 or 5 hours a sleep per night; Sage calls bullsh*t. You can function, maybe, but probably not optimally. He’s no doctor, of course, and your mileage may vary, but why not try for 8-10 hours of shut-eye and see if you don’t work better.
  • Try to avoid negativity. Watching the news, for instance, is the best way to feel like crap–mad, or sad, and angry–mostly because that’s the point. If you’re mad about something, you’re more likely to vote, maybe, or at least complain about or buy stuff, which drives the economy, but in the long run, it ain’t healthy. You’ll feel better and stay more inspired if you stay away from the (negative) news.

Basically, if you have a good strong physical and mental base from which to operate, then you will be more powerful, motivated, and inspirational.

When your body and mind are soft, then everything is more difficult; you end up blaming other people and influences outside yourself. Instead, start fixing your problems with your insides–stop drinking, smoking, eating crap, not drinking enough water or getting enough sleep–do whatever little thing you can start with, and you’ll find that other things become easier.


In Other Online Marketing News
Sage talks about a recent article about Google’s Penguin update from Search Engine Land, where the author is lamenting that Google isn’t doing the “forgive and forget” game with sites who were being bad and paying for links in order to boost stats.

We’re not so much in this guy’s camp, but can see his point. At the same time, Google’s doing ok without these people, so maybe it’s not so bad.

And unfortunately, that’s all we’ve got this week, folks, as the wifi gods stopped looking down kindly on Sage while he was enjoying his vacation, and he left off unexpectedly.


The Ultimate Tracking Method

When it comes right down to it, the amount of money you make from your marketing and advertising you do is how you determine success.

These are the actual numbers from a business we’ve started. This is a presentation I’m giving. I think I’m going to record the audio of this presentation and build it into this presentation.

The presentation is below.

I went back to the office and made a video over the audio.

You can see that here:

This is the powerpoint.

How Search Affects Your Business Today