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Nicholas Chimonas
Intergalactic space bandit!
Intergalactic space bandit!


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Hello! If you've stumbled upon this here G+ page of mine from some archaic link out in the oblivion of the interwebs, please follow my Twitter account instead: 

Nowadays I only use G+ to engage in a few small communities, no longer sharing any public posts here.
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Rank Tracking Tools

What's everyone using? Which tools have impressed you and which have disappointed?

We've been using Authority Labs for a year or so, and it's OK.

The general issue with rank trackers is that they are never 100% accurate - the best you can do is make sure your rank tracking tool is capable of being set from different geo locations, strips the personalization data, can track difference between mobile and desktop, recognize schema markup vs maps results vs video results vs image results, etc... which Authority Labs does all these things.

We spot check with SerpLab, RankTank, and SEMRush to get a holistic view point, but curious if anyone here uses anything else that they like better than those 4 sources.

Hreflang implementation

How similar does content need to be in order to use hreflang tags? 

I've seen it used when the content is identical across the same domain name with different country code extensions, but in this scenario, the client has,, etc. and the content is fairly similar, but still unique on the two different domains. 

Would it be wrong to use the hreflang attribute when the content isn't identical? 

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Here's a neat script that downloads your site's Search Analytics data and stores it in a database for long-term use. It's updated to use the new API too, woot!

I'm looking forward to see what other folks make :)

Thanks for putting this together, +Paul Shapiro!
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The new top level domains are a good opportunity for folks to get that domain name they really wanted for their website or business. A bunch of Googlers got together to work out a short FAQ on how they're handled in search, the result is linked below. Somewhat simplified: if you spot a domain name on a new TLD that you really like, you're keen on using it for longer, and understand there's no magical SEO bonus, then go for it :-). 
Google's handling of new top level domains
Google's handling of new top level domains
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Hey everybody! 

+Linkarati and myself will be the featured guests on +SEMrush 's Twitter Chat - #SEMrushchat   TOMORROW @ 11 EST

Join us to discuss "Link Building Fundamentals"!
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Asking for Links

This will not make me popular but I find the reaction to the advice from a Portuguese Google Webmaster blog post to be hysterical - in both senses of that word. 

The line in question is that you shouldn't 'ask for links'. The sadly predictable response is a complete freak out and 'look at this shit Google's saying now' type of meme, which is seriously close to the 'thanks Obama' meme.

It's a shame people are more interested in page views and drama instead of reading comprehension and critical analysis. Read the post and you'll see that the context is for those that have engaged in unnatural link building techniques and that should color your entire reading of the advice. 

Because in the same post they single out widgets as well. And, in fact, I know a lot of folks who are terrified of widgets because of a certain +Matt Cutts video. But there are good widgets and bad widgets. The advice was, in fact, to not engage in bad widget behavior. I don't go out of my way to talk about that because it's good for my clients when the competition is being stupid.

So too can this advice be placed into context. Asking for links can be done well or poorly. More often than not, lets be fucking honest for a second, it is done poorly. Very poorly. You get the requests. I get them. It's crap. And that's what I believe is being addressed in this post.

Hell, I'll go even farther. If you're still relying on 'asking for links' as a primary way to obtain links you're going up a very muddy stream with no wooden implement to assist you. And are you still emailing folks and asking for someone to change the anchor text on a link? Send me that request and the link will more than likely just disappear.

You want to get your moral jollies off or spend time pumping up out-of-context information, go for it. But is it really worth your time? 

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A huge thanks to Googlebot for this exclusive guest post on my personal blog! What an honor it is!
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I have a large site and removed lots of irrelevant pages for good. Should I return 404 or 410? What's better for my "crawl budget"? (more from the depths of my inbox)

The 410 ("Gone") HTTP result code is a clearer sign that these pages are gone for good, and generally Google will drop those pages from the index a tiny bit faster. However, 404 vs 410 doesn't affect the recrawl rate: we'll still occasionally check to see if these pages are still gone, espectially when we spot a new link to them.  

In practice, I doubt you'll see a noticable difference at all between 404 and 410, so while it's great to use 410 in situations where you're sure, with regards to Google search, it's not worth spending too much time on that decision or on its implementation. 
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