Top 10 SEO posts of March 2014

March 2014 saw advent of Google taking action against several popular web projects – MyBlogGuest, Portent and DocSheldon.com – which caused the SEO community to discuss those cases all around the web space. There was also SMX West 2014, which provided some food for thought, first-hand opinions from Google insiders and interviews with SEO celebrities. Last but not least, several authors published really amazing practical SEO content. Below is a summary of top 10 SEO posts of March 2014, broken down into three large thematic groups.

On poking the bear

1. Google Takes Action Against Guest Blogging

Author: Lynn Terry

Source: Click News

Publication date: 03/27/14

Social flares: 336

Comments: 32

Google taking action on MyBlogGuest has by far become one of the hottest SEO topics of the last decade of March. The industry reacted with floods of Google-disapproving tweets and dozens of posts, and this article by Lynn Terry is one of the most detailed and brings important points to the focus. In her article, Lynn provides a thorough digest of events around Google de-indexing MyBlogGuest and points out that the whole campaign looks more like burning a presumed witch at the stake without trial than an attempt to clean up the web. According to the author, MBG was singled out and punished for the purpose of making a point, and "going viral" with their message. It appears though that Google’s purpose was not to teach people approved link building practices but rather to put them off guest blogging.

2. An Open Letter to Matt Cutts, Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, et al.

Author: Doc Sheldon

Source: The Meld

Publication date: 03/22/14

Social flares: 352

Comments: 56

Doc Sheldon’s open letter and the follow-up twitter chat with Matt Cutts have become the second most discussed event in the SEO community in March, though it is actually closely related to Google’s actions against MyBlogGuest. DocSheldon.com has received a site-wide manual penalty, which the owner first related to his connections to MBG and the also-penalized Portent. The guess, though, soon proved to be untrue, as Matt Cutts declared that the irrelevant post on Hispanic social networking is to blame. Whichever the reason is, Doc Sheldon questions the entire approach Google seems to have adopted, and it’s not really about his own site as it’s not relying heavily on organic traffic. It’s about multiple unfairly penalized sites for which even temporary lack of organic visibility can become fatal. “You may be too big for others to destroy, but as a business, you can destroy yourselves quite handily”, appeals one of the most respected member of SEO community to Google.

3. Why I blog less frequently: I’m scared

Author: Jon Cooper

Source: Point Blank SEO

Publication date: 03/26/14

Social flares: 268

Comments: 41

In his recent article at the industry-favored Point Blank SEO, Joe Cooper confesses he’s no longer feeling secure about sharing his link building knowledge so openly as before in fear of getting on the Google radar. It’s not that he’s up to something on the black/grey side, it’s just that there’s an increasing number of people in the SEO community are being punished just because they poked the bear. “I don’t want to wake up one day to find G targeting all sites I’m associated with (clients, my own sites, etc.) because of some new reason to be angry with,” explains Jon. According to Jon, Google is clearly shifting from being on the defensive to being on the offensive, and fear building is continuing to grow.

Must-reads from top influencers

4. Quo Vadis Author Rank? The Present and Future of Author Authority in Search

Author: Mark Traphagen

Source: Stone Temple

Publication date: 03/12/14

Social flares: 618

Comments: 18

Following some contradictory yet thought-provoking feedback from Google officials at the recent SMX West 2014 on the role of Author Rank in ranking content, Mark Traphagen put together this article, which is a must-read for anyone puzzled with the same question. It all started with Amit Singhal stating AuthorRank could possibly add value in the future, and Matt Cutts catching up that it already does, in In-depth artciles for example, though the use of the concept is limited at this time. In his article Mark goes through some compelling examples that suggest AuthorRank might already be in play, even given the complex behavior of ranking algorithm. In the end Mark concludes though that his new belief in this topic is that we very likely won’t be able to recognize it if and when AuthorRank does become a factor. The thing is, AuthorRank is more like a confirmatory signal rather than a direct signal, so it works only in tandem with other signals, which makes it next to impossible to spot it.

5. The ridiculous power of blog commenting

Author: AJ Kohn

Source: Blind Five Year Old

Publication date: 03/25/14

Social flares: 964

Comments: 91

Going on with the talk on the importance of winning the attention auction, AJ Kohn says that in most cases what smaller players are fighting for is the attention of content creators, and blog commenting appears to be one of the obvious ways. Easy as it may sound, most people suck at writing interesting and memorable comments. “Most creators want a reaction. They want a debate. They want a conversation. They want to learn. They want to be challenged. They want to be mentally stimulated,” explains the author.

In March, AJ Kohn came up with two more articles worth reading – Knowledge Graph Optimization and  SEO Is Stone Soup - so make sure you check them out.

6. Duane Forrester’s 5 Keys to Improving Search Rankings

Author: Eric Enge

Source: Stone Temple

Publication date: 03/26/14

Social flares: 828

Comments: 10

In his interview to Eric Enge, Duane Forrester of Bing shares his big-picture approach towards SEO success, covering 5 core areas: content, social, UX, link building and on page SEO.

Now that Google has grown to be somewhat unpredictable, maybe it’s high time for make use of these valuable tips and maximize one’s presence in Bing? If that’s what you’re looking to do, this interview is where you should start from.

SEO practicalities

7. How we grew OkDork with these exact SEO tips

Author: Noah Kagan

Source: OkDork

Publication date: 03/26/14

Social flares: 27

Comments: 0

This post by the famous ex-director of marketing at Mint.com is a detailed breakdown of an SEO strategy for OkDork, which has been implemented for 6 months and resulted in 200% non-branded organic traffic increase. Aimed at site optimizers of different levels, this post covers intent-focused keyword research, content strategy, link building and things to do social for organic traffic. Given the current state of the SEO industry, I headed over straightly to the link building section to find out that Noah recommends broken links building and internal linking. The article ends up with a no-no list, which appears to be quite up-to-date.   

8. How To Build a Keyword Matrix [and Why You Need One]

Author: Nick Eubanks

Source: SEO Nick

Publication date: 03/18/14

Social flares: 566

Comments: 33

In general, all viral SEO content these days is either opinionated rants or highly-practical helpful stuff. If you’re looking for the latter, check out this article by Nick Eubanks. Since the search environment is now much about user intent, not provided close to 100% and geo personalization, how should SEOs change their keyword strategies? According to Nick, the answer is a new type of keyword matrix for organic search, built with these recent changes in mind. To shape up the most compelling approach to keyword matrices, the author refers to multiple opinions of his SEO peers on choosing keywords with search intent in mind and mixing content, usability and SEO needs. Nick’s search intent template is available for download for $5.

9. How We Would Fix Dundee.com’s Traffic Drop: A Panda Audit

Author: Chris Gilchrist

Source: HitReach

Publication date: 03/05/14

Social flares: 96

Comments: 7

Similar to the article by Steve Webb we showcased last month, this writeup by Chris Gilchrist is a step-by-step guide to identifying the penalty cause for dundee.com, the official site of Chris’s home town Dundee. Even though the author has no access to analytics data, he manages to uncover a number of problems with site structure and content, which appear to have caused issues with the site. Dundee.com appears to have suffered a Panda Penalty in April 2013, caused primarily by the 39,600 event listings which are exactly duplicated on the Dundee City Council website, concludes Chris. The article can be used as a manual to identify the reasons for penalties for any site, even if you don’t have access to its analytics data.

10. Five SEO steps to take before redesigning your site

Author: Aleh Barysevich

Source: MarketingProfs

Publication date: 03/03/14

Social flares: 1161

Comments: 5

Site owners often redesign their sites for better SEO, yet each time they do it, they’re running a risk of diminishing their previous SEO achievements. If you want to stay on the safe side, check out this article and learn how to research your keywords and rankings, identify most important landing pages, set up for an improved site structure and check who’s already linking to you. I believe the top advice here is sticking to gradual changes: “Rather than taking up redesign as a one huge step, divide it into smaller pieces, changing sections of your site one by one.”

 

As you can see, this month quite a lot of SEOs have been wondering if it’s worth poking the bear and making opinionated stands of any kinds against Google. There’s also a trend among SEO bloggers to publish really lengthy guides to doing SEO the right way, basing them on some case studies. Who are you with: those publishing SEO rants or the people who write highly practical posts? Also which article in the list resonated with you most? Let us know in the comments!

is content marketer and blog editor at WebMeUp. Olga is passionate about growing a remarkable blog, finding the right content to resonate with readers, and making a noticeable difference in the SEO community. Follow Olga on Twitter at @OlgaGab.