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BrightonSEO 2014: Two Ex-Googlers & A Link Builder Debate 'The Reality of SEO'

We always look forward to the panel debates at BrightonSEO as the discussion is more open. It's even better when they involve ex-members of the Google Search Quality team (and a "former" spammer).

Moderated by theMediaFlow's Nichola Stott, this year's panel included Fili Wiese and Kaspar Szymanski, both ex-Google turned SEO Consultant, and Gareth Hoyle, representing LinkRisk.

Watch the full panel debate

Key Takeaways

  • You cannot recover from a penalty with just a disavow file, you have to do link removal
  • Google is using the disavow tool to crowdsource bad links/domains
  • A bad link is any link "made for SEO"
  • Link building is fine, as long as you build for traffic
  • Google can tell if a link is getting clicked or not
  • Negative SEO is far less common that it is talked about, it is usually a spam attack or result of miscommunication
  • Sites hit by negative SEO are never clean to start with
  • There are hundreds of reasons that your site might drop in Google, not always a penalty, so do discovery on your own site, don't look for answers on the internet
  • Google focus on users, not SEOs/webmasters, so there is always going to be collateral damage
  • You can't recover from a penalty and then delete your disavow file, Google keeps track of everything and will find out
  • Second penalties are much harder to recover from that first ones

BrightonSEO 2014 Panel Debate Reality of SEO

userCraig Charley

date25 Apr 2014

Mammoth Guide to Webmaster Tools for SEO

Get hands-on with Webmaster Tools on our brand new advanced SEO Strategy Training course- the most up to date course on the market.

Google Webmaster Tools is an incredible tool for running health checks, monitoring your site's progress or uncovering the source of a problem. It's also an essential SEO tool.

If you're not familiar with Webmaster Tools or you haven't been keeping up with the latest changes & additions then we are here to help.

Learn about every feature of Google WMT and find out how you can use it for quick and long term SEO wins.

If you want to get hands-on with Webmaster Tools then come down to Brighton for our 1-day SEO course which will give you hands-on experience using WMT for SEO. We are always updating our SEO courses with the latest trends and best practices. If you're more interested in the analytics side of Webmaster Tools then we also recommend our 1 day Google Analytics or Advanced Google Analytics course.

I've thrown in a lot of tips along the way based on our experiences at Silicon Beach so you will have some good ideas to use Webmaster Tools to improve your site's performance.

Let's start from the top...

userCraig Charley

date13 Feb 2014

Downloadable Link Removal Guide - When to Remove Links

One of the most common reasons that small businesses attend our SEO Courses is that they've had a Google link penalty - manual or algorithm - which have become part and parcel of SEO since the Panda update first reared its head.

With the increase in penalties has come an increase in link removals, but it's not always easy to know when to remove links, or even which links to remove. After all if you remove all your links then you're not going to rank for anything at all!

We decided to clear up the confusion surrounding link removal by creating a downloadable guide to removing links. Simply work your way through the guide to decide if and when to remove bad links, and how to go about doing it.

Click the image below to download the full PDF:


Share this: Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn

It's important to remember that links are no longer the be all and end all of SEO anymore. Personalised results based on location, preferences and search history now mean that no searcher has the same results. This is even more true for mobile searches, which is why we've just launched our one-of-a-kind Mobile SEO course that focused specifically on the mobile side of search.

Have You Had a Manual Link Notification?

Check your Webmaster Tools account for unnatural link penalty notifications, which mean that Google have taken manual action against your site.

If you haven't set up Webmaster Tools then it's essential you do; use our guide to using Webmaster Tools and make sure you set up email alerts so you don't miss important messages.

userCraig Charley

date7 May 2013

Eric Schmidt, Verification, Google+ & a Storm in a Teacup

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has been in the news a lot recently. Firstly he has a new book coming out, “The Digital Age”, from which The Wall Street Journal “leaked” the following quote:

 “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

Secondly, he’s announced that he is about to sell 42% of his Google stock (worth more than $2.5 billion).

As with any story about Google, the conspiracy theorists have come out in force to guess at what these two moves mean.


Marketing blog The Drum claimed that Schmidt’s verification quote is ‘confirmation’ that Google+ is to become a ‘search priority’ in future and that this is part of Google’s on-going battle with other social networks.

They've made the assumption that what Schmidt calls verification is the same as Google verification. With Google products you can verify yourself as an author, a publisher, a business, a place.

It didn't take long for certain SEO blog commenters to connect this to Schmidt’s stock sale, believing that the move towards ‘Google verification’ will force businesses to buy more ads, increasing the value of said stock.

Of course, as SEOs it is always important to listen to Google employees, especially those at the top. As one of the top dogs at Google, Schmidt’s personal views are always going to trickle down to those below him. The first piece of advice on our SEO courses is to go and read everything that Google has published about SEO!

But what does Schmidt mean Google+ when he uses the term ‘verified’?

userCraig Charley

date13 Feb 2013

How to use Google+ Communities

The Google+ communities uptake seems to have been staggering but the roll-out hasn't been without its issues. The site seems to be struggling with the amount of activity - so far we've had crashes and glitches galore, but hopefully that won't be a long-lasting issue.

As we've been creating our own Community pages today, we've been learning ourselves how and what to do with them.

Make sure you know your G+ from your LinkedIn by trying our Social Media Courses.

So to help you avoid some of the mistakes we made (believe me, there have been quite a few!) we decided to put together an FAQs post about how to use Communities. We hope this proves helpful but if you do have any other questions, feel free to comment, Tweet or even get in contact on g+ itself and we'll do our best to give you some answers.

userAaron Charlie

date7 Dec 2012

Is Google About to Start Showing rel=publisher in SERPs?

UPDATE JULY 2014: Google has now withdrawn authorship photos from SERPs. With this in mind it is unlikely that publisher info will start showing. We still recommend implementing authorship & publisher markup as results will still have a byline and your content will rank better for your Google+ connections.

Recently, while testing out some new titles and markup for our Photoshop courses using Google's Rich Snippet Testing Tool, I was surprised to notice a new addition to the preview:

This will be a familiar sight to those who have marked up their blogs with rel=author already, which we highly recommend. Author info in SERPs is highly visible and many sites (big and small) are seeing a marked increase in click through since implementing author markup. Pages with author markup look similar in the testing tool but usually show the author info on the left of the result in SERPs:

As yet, I haven't found any example of Publisher information appearing in SERPs but if Google is showing it in Rich Snippets previews it can only be a matter of time before they go live.

userAaron Charlie

date31 Jul 2012

How to Customise Your Google+ Profile Page

Check out our updated post on how to get the perfect

social media cover photos;including for the new Google+ Layout.

Download and unzip our Photoshop Template

Step 2:

Open up the template in Photoshop. We've left the images of my face in the template so you can see how it all works - but if you don't want to see my face (and I can sympathise with your position if you don't) then either hide or delete the "Colin" Layers!

Next you'll want to import the image (or images) that you want to use in your own profile.

To do this, select File > Place and select your image file.

Drag and resize it so its in the correct position, and hit enter to place it:

 Click on the image for full size version

userAaron Charlie

date9 Jul 2011

How to Pimp Your Google+ Profile Design - Download Template

The web is alight with Google+ fever at the moment, and it seems that Google might have come up with a Social Networking concept that will truly challenge Facebook.

Like everyone else we've been getting to grips with how to get the best out of our profiles.

We've also devised a natty method for customising your Google+ profile design using tiled images.

pimp your-google+ profile

And what's more we've put together a Photoshop Template to make it easy to implement for anyone who knows a bit of Photoshop (for those that don't - we run a great 2-day Photoshop course here in Brighton!)

We're sure you can all come up with some brilliant and creative ways of using the method to customize Google+ profiles that really stand out - we'd love to see the results - so if you use our template please post a link to your profile in the comments section so we can check out your work.

If you're on Google Plus - follow us in the following places for all our goodies: Andy Trainer | Heather Buckley

Here's our step by step guide to customize your Google+ Profile using our PSD Template.

NEW - Check out our selection of the most creative Google+ profile designs!

userAaron Charlie

date6 Jul 2011

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