Merry-Go-Round Sites: When Websites Don’t Provide What They Say They Will

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

With the introduction of the Panda filter by Google (originally dubbed “Farmer”) in February 2011, one commonality of sites that were hit was what I called merry-go-round sites.

Here’s how I described it at the time:

You get to a page that uses the keywords you typed into Google, only to find that you need to click a link on that page to really get the information. But when you click that page, you either end up at another site or on another page on the same site — and you still don’t quite have the info you wanted. It seems that you could keep clicking that way forever and never find what you were looking for.

In 2011, the merry-go-round sites that I saw getting Pandalized were also showing lots of ads and/or were mainly aggregating other websites’ content. Since that time I’ve seen other types of sites that I would also classify as merry-go-rounds.

Directory Sites Are Often the Biggest Offenders

For instance, one site claimed to be a directory of providers of a certain type of medical service. They had previously been ranking very highly and received lots of Google traffic for keyword phrases such as “[medical service] in [city, state].”That’s a straightforward search query where, if you were typing it into Google, you would almost always be looking for specific doctors or medical establishments that offered the service within your city.

However, instead of being a directory of medical providers, the site had lots of keyword-rich content that droned on about the type of medical service. In some cases there were all sorts of ridiculous drivel about the city itself, such as where its name originated. Now why in the world would someone looking for a specific type of medical service care about any of that? They wouldn’t. It was only put there as an excuse to use the medical service keywords and the city keywords on the page. And it was a very poor user experience. Most of those top-level pages didn’t even list any providers. Just the drivel and a number to call if you wanted help finding a provider.

A Case of Poor Usability

This site did in fact have a directory of providers. However, it was buried deeply in the site and wasn’t created in a search engine-friendly manner so it wasn’t being given much credence by Google. Plus, the site owner made more money when people called their toll-free number to get a recommendation rather than clicking over to the providers’ websites in their directory. In other words, they delivered just enough information to make you think you were going to get what you were looking for, but then made it difficult to find.

And So They Got Pandalized

Another site I reviewed that had lost a lot of Google traffic was supposed to be a directory of surgeons, but in reality it was just 4 surgeons from one practice. If a person looking for a directory of surgeons ended up on that site, at first they may have thought that was what they were getting. It claimed at the top of every page to be “your best source for finding the world’s leading surgeons who offer xxx, yyy, zzz, etc.” But it was literally a bold-faced lie. Google eventually figured that out and stopped showing the site for related phrases.

Don’t Make Me Keep Clicking

Then there was the site that was a guide to hotels. While they had lots of great information on the showcased hotels, it took way too many clicks to find it all. For instance, if you clicked the “Bed and Breakfast” link on a top-level page, rather than taking you to a list of the B&Bs it took you to a page describing what bed and breakfasts were all about. And even when you clicked a particular city link within the B&B section, you still were not taken to a page that provided the lists of B&Bs in that city. Instead, you got a whole lot of information on how the site reviewed and rated the B&Bs that they were eventually going to show you.

If you didn’t leave in frustration at that point, you could then click through and find the listings and the reviews, which were great. But many users probably didn’t make it that far and Google eventually stopped ranking the site as highly for important keywords such as “[bed and breakfast] in [city, state]“.

Another variation on the merry-go-round site was one sponsored by a huge tech company, but on a separate domain. It had a forum, articles, videos and other interesting things on the surface. But upon closer inspection, much of the content already existed on the sponsor’s main website. And when you really started clicking around the site you found lots of links that never quite took you to the topic you thought it would. Instead, you were led to a page with one sentence of information and a link to the sponsor’s site for the rest.

In this case, it was difficult for the company to create great content for the site because there wasn’t really any reason for the site to exist (other than to try to gain more results in the search engines). The main company already dominated the first page of Google for the targeted keyword phrases, but I guess they wanted even more.

The Takeaway

What I learned from my reviews of merry-go-round sites is that the most important thing is to provide exactly what you say you will on every page of your site — that is, the information the searchers at Google were originally looking for. Sometimes this means turning your site inside out and featuring the “meat” more prominently.

Don’t assume that you need pages full of hundreds of words of text content in order for Google to rank them highly. If you have a directory site, the meat is the actual listings. While it may be helpful to provide additional information about the geographical area or about how you have chosen what to put in your directory, it isn’t what the typical Google searcher wants to see first. Understand that it was a mistake for Google to ever have ranked those types of pages highly pre-Panda. If your site was hit, don’t think of Google as having penalized your site so much as them having fixed their relevancy algorithm to better understand the intent of the searcher. Once you do the same, you’ll know exactly what you need on your site and where to feature it.

Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings, an SEO Consulting company in the Boston, MA area since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen. If you learned from this article, be sure to invite your colleagues to sign up for the High Rankings Advisor SEO Newsletter so they can receive similar articles in the future!

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Merry-Go-Round Sites: When Websites Don’t Provide What They Say They Will

Eight Reasons Why You Need to Get on Google+ Today

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Google+ is the search engine giant’s attempt to combine social media with Internet searches. And while the site may have its skeptics, there are many reasons why you need to get on Google+ today.

1. Because it’s Google

The main reason you should get on Google+ is because it was created by Google. This Internet search leader has more leverage over members on its social media site — better than even Facebook and Twitter. If you want the search results to list your site prominently, you need to get on Google+.

2. Social Media Helps SEO

Google has always valued the opinions of real people over those of businesses and other optimization strategies. This is why they continue to make changes to the algorithms that categorize websites, through updates such as Google Panda and Google Penguin. Social media sites are often used by individuals to share information. When a member of a site posts a link and shares it with others, that link is more valuable to Google than linking strategies the company creates to promote its own site.

There has been some discussion of “Google+ Bubbles” in the past few months, and for good reason – if someone you follow on Google+ gives a +1 to some piece of content, it gets a boost in your results. Obviously, from this one can infer the value of having highly-shareable content as well as influential fans.

Social media also helps with optimization because the sites are highly active. Google search engine spiders access the most popular sites on a regular basis to categorize information. Having your information on a site such as Google+ helps to refresh your search engine results and get you to and keep you on the first page of Google.

3. It Gives You Authority

One important aspects of Google+ is Google Authorship. When you create articles and authoritative blog posts and you are a member of Google+, your information will appear next to the article or post on the search engine results pages. If someone clicks on your content and takes the time to read it, he or she will see your other content that was also created by you on the Internet. This allows you to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field.

4. It Helps Focus Campaigns

With the circle feature on Google+, a company can create more focused campaigns. Each circle on the site is tailored to users’ individual categories. For example, if you are a marketing company that specializes in luxury rehab centers, you can categorize your Google+ circles for Geo marketing aspects and tailor content to each local marketing campaign.

5. It Helps Build a Network

Participative marketing is an important strategy to embrace. You need to establish two-way communication with your customers and other stakeholders. Google+ helps you to communicate with customers, provide them with content you believe is important, and ask questions and receive feedback about products or services. This information can be used to help improve your company as well as sculpt future advertising campaigns and offerings.

6. It’s Expanding

Google+ is constantly evolving as the organization receives feedback from its customers and tries to tailor its features to meet their needs. These changes have already taken place in the areas of videoconferencing, live events, and what Google members see on search engine result pages. Google+ is making additional changes to create its own analytical tools to help companies determine from which aspects of social media they will benefit the most.

7. Your Customers Are on Google+

You need to focus your social media marketing efforts on sites your customers frequent. Chances are, a significant number of your customers are already on Google+. By becoming a member of the social media forum, you will be able to establish communication with your customers and target market on a format they are familiar with.

8. It Combines the Best of Both Worlds

The reason Google created Google+ was that it believed there should be a way to combine the best of both worlds: social media, and the ability to pass information and receive advice. Internet search engines help find tailored information based on keywords. Thus, combining social media in search engine results helps people to find tailored information based not only on keywords but also on recommendations of people they know and trust.

Becoming a member of Google+ allows your company to take part in what was the dream of many people when the Internet was developed: allowing people to decide what information is relevant instead of being forced-fed information by companies.

Google+ could still be considered in its infancy in many aspects. Compared to Facebook and Twitter, Google+ may have had a slow start but, as it continues to evolve, many businesses and individuals are realizing its benefits. Those who have become members of Google+ will now be on the ground floor of an exciting social experiment and have a competitive advantage over companies who don’t realize its benefits until later on.

Adrienne Erin is an aspiring novelist and Internet marketer who does work for several luxury rehab centers among other things. She loves that her job is intrinsically tied to the Internet and wouldn’t give it up for anything.

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Eight Reasons Why You Need to Get on Google+ Today

10 Tips for Writing a Powerful Press Release

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Writing and submitting an online press release is a powerful marketing tool for you and your small business. However, you certainly don’t want to invest valuable time writing and distributing your release only to discover that it didn’t bring you any traffic, leads or sales.

To ensure your press release writing efforts are not in vain, here are 10 tips for writing powerful press releases that work:

1) Provide Newsworthy Content.  Make sure your press release is timely and relevant to your readers. You can accomplish this by tying your story to current events, recent headlines or social trends.

2) Write Like a Reporter. When writing your release, use third-person (he, she, etc.) and a reporter-like format. Take a look at today’s newspaper to reacquaint yourself with the way journalists write articles.

3) Capture Your Reader’s Attention Instantly. You only have a few seconds to capture your reader’s interest. Therefore, take time to create a compelling headline and a strong first paragraph.

4) Use Important Keywords. To optimize your press release for the search engines, identify what keyword phrase your readers will use when searching for your topic. Incorporate your keyword phrase into your headline and throughout the body of your release.

5) Use Links, Files, Images and Videos. Many press release distribution services allow you to insert relevant files, images, links and videos to augment your press release. This allows your readers the chance to interact more fully and completely with your small business.

6) Provide Solutions. Illustrate to your readers how your small business has solved real-life problems for your clients and customers. In addition, if you can insert testimonials into your release, it will further enhance its effectiveness.

7) Just The Facts. Avoid exaggerations, hype or embellishments. Remember that today’s consumers are highly skeptical and it’s important to establish an atmosphere of trust with your readers. The “truth and nothing but the truth” should be your small business motto.

8) Be Concise. Avoid long, drawn-out paragraphs, excessive use of adjectives and unnecessary redundancy.  Make sure your release is straight-forward and to-the-point. Save your flowery language for your poetry class.

9) Proofread. Don’t forget to proofread your press release for spelling and grammatical errors. Simple proofreading errors will instantly discredit your small business professionalism.

10) Provide a Clear Call To Action. It should be crystal clear exactly what you want your readers to do after they read your press release. Do you want them to call a 1-800 number? Visit a website? Download a free offer? If you don’t tell your readers what to do, chances are they won’t do anything.

The next time you sit down to write a press release, be sure to follow these simple tips to ensure your press release will achieve the desired result.

Jessica Swanson is the founder and president of Shoestring Marketing University and Shoestring Marketing Solutions. Jessica has helped thousands of small business owners, all over the world, implement low-cost, high-impact marketing campaigns. Armed with years of teaching and a M.S. in Written Communications, Jessica takes complicated marketing concepts, turns them upside-down, and makes them incredibly simple and outrageously straightforward. Known for her energy, passion and “get-it-done” attitude, Jessica shares her savvy marketing tips through her information-packed blog at To download Jessica’s free Shoestring Marketing Kit go to:

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10 Tips for Writing a Powerful Press Release

Bug in iOS 6.1 Allows Anyone to Bypass iPhone Passcode

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

It just got easier for anyone without scruples to access your iPhone.

A video posted on YouTube illustrates how to “bypass iPhone 5 passcode” on Apple’s latest iOS releases, including iOS 6.1.

The uploader of the video demonstrates how simple it is to access the phone application on a passcode-protected iPhone. Once accessed, the person can view and modify your contacts list, listen to your voicemail, and peruse your photos.

iPhone_5_PF_Black_wPods_PRINTTo exploit the iOS 6.1 bug, the hacker would open the emergency call function, push down the power button and tap cancel. Next, the hacker would dial 112, tap green and then immediately red before returning to the passcode screen.

“Keep pushing down the power button …1…2…3…seconds and before showing the slider ‘turn off’…tap the emergency call button and …voilá,” the instructions under the video read. “Then without releasing the power button press the home button and ready…”

The video, published Jan. 31, was not discovered by the media until today (Feb. 14).

YouTube poster videosdebarraquito described the video as a way to “prank your friends, for a magic show. Use it as you want, at your own risk, but…please…do not use this trick to do evil.”

This isn’t the first time this type of bug has popped up — there was a similar security issue with iOS 4.1 which was corrected in the next version: iOS 4.2.


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Bug in iOS 6.1 Allows Anyone to Bypass iPhone Passcode

Adobe Confirms Zero-Day Exploits Circumvented Safeguards – Affects All Versions of Reader and Acrobat

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Adobe has confirmed two zero-day vulnerabilities in Reader and Acrobat are being used to target and attack users by tricking them into opening malicious PDF files.

The vulnerabilities exist in every version of the software, including Reader X and XI, both of which were designed to prevent attacks.

Adobe issued a security advisory late Wednesday (Feb. 13), to say its engineering team is working on a fix.

“Adobe is aware of reports that these vulnerabilities are being exploited in the wild in targeted attacks designed to trick Windows users into clicking on a malicious PDF file delivered in an email message,” the advisory reads.  “These vulnerabilities could cause the application to crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.”

Director of Kaspersky Lab’s malware research and analysis team Costin Raiu is describing the exploit and the malware it installs as “super high-level” and “not something you see every day.”

Raiu told Computer World the attacks are likely part of an operation of “huge importance” that “would be on the same level with Duqu,” cyberespionage malware that was discovered in October 2011.

When carried out, the current exploit opens a malicious PDF of a travel visa application form, Raiu said. The document is named “Visaform Turkey.pdf.”

The exploit also installs a malware downloader on to the infected computer that then connects to a remote server and downloads two more bugs which can steal passwords and system information and log keystrokes, he said.

Affected software versions include:

• Adobe Reader XI (11.0.01 and earlier) for Windows and Macintosh

• Adobe Reader X (10.1.5 and earlier) for Windows and Macintosh

• Adobe Reader 9.5.3 and earlier 9.x versions for Windows and Macintosh

• Adobe Acrobat XI (11.0.01 and earlier) for Windows and Macintosh

• Adobe Acrobat X (10.1.5 and earlier) for Windows and Macintosh

• Adobe Acrobat 9.5.3 and earlier 9.x versions for Windows and Macintosh

Users of Adobe Reader XI and Acrobat XI for Windows can protect themselves from being targeted by enabling ‘Protected View.’ To enable this setting, choose the ‘Files from potentially unsafe locations’ option under the Edit > Preferences > Security (Enhanced) menu.

Enterprise administrators can also protect Windows users across their organizations by enabling ‘Protected View’ in the registry and “propagating that setting via GPO or any other method,” Adboe said.

Further information about enabling ‘Protected View’ for enterprise is available here.








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Adobe Confirms Zero-Day Exploits Circumvented Safeguards