Obscurely Defining Acceptable Levels of SPAM

14 Sep

Hey everybody Rob here, today I want to discuss anchor text over optimization penalties and what SPAM signals actually seem to be acceptable.

I don’t know for sure if I was hit by a recent Google algorithm update or their discovery of my newly created back links finally triggered a penalty. So some of this will be speculation since that’s really what we’re all left to do regarding Google.

Honestly it’s not like Google ever really gives you a straight answer. Their stock answer is write good content that people will link to naturally and provide a great user experience. Oh my goodness, thank you for making it so simple!

Over this past weekend (September 10 and 11, 2016) I noticed that one of my websites had dipped for a highly competitive keyword phrase. To be more position specific, I watched this SERP drop from page 2 – position 18 to page 8 – position 82. Ouch that hurts! Now I’m trying to figure out why.

A little background – I’m using an exact match domain name in a national niche and approximately one month ago I bought an expired domain name and redirected it to this website whose SERP fell. This is a good time to mention that I did NOT redirect the newly acquired domain name directly to the money site. Instead I opted to stack redirects in an attempt to aid topical relevance. I think this is a sound tactic and I don’t believe this is the reason my SERP fell for this specific keyword.

This is also a good time to mention that my website only appears to have been penalized for 1 keyword phrase, which tends to suggest anchor text over optimization – in my mind. I think it’s important to note that the keyword phrase that plummeted is also conveniently enough a high value Adwords keyword phrase. What a coincidence!

So what we have so far is an EMD that has fallen in the SERP for its exact match keyword phrase. I don’t believe it’s particularly over optimized but it’s not really up to me either. I’m sure you expect me to say that but I in all seriousness I would happily admit and possibly even brag about it if I thought I had over optimized.

What could of have led us to this point? Newly discovered back links could be the culprit, a tightening of the screws or adjustment in the Google algorithm could have caused it, the loss of critical back links could be the cause or some combination of these.

This is the exact reason that relying on organic Google traffic alone is a bad business model. Your entire income can vanish in a heartbeat, better known as the minute Google decides to change something. Because we all know that just because something is acceptable today doesn’t mean it will be acceptable in the future.

Acceptable SPAM level?

How is a website like this still ranking?

What form of SPAM is still acceptable? Back link SPAM still seems to be very effective. I’m not recommending it, simply making an observation. I have researched certain competing domains that have thousands of weak back links. Significantly more than other competitors and these back links include really terrible metrics as seen in the image below.
Is it also coincidence that these people that are ranking organically are also at least occasionally paying for Adwords advertising? Look at these numbers: Trust Flow 22 and Citation Flow 39. Holy shit, I would NOT even think about buying a domain like that for a PBN but its ranking. How about 31,386 external back links from 75 referring domains? If that’s not a huge SPAM signal then I don’t know what is.

So my conclusion boys and girls is simply this. All SPAM is not created equal or in this case punished equally and if you own EMDs in a national niche then you are going to be heavily scrutinized and seemingly more subject to penalties. Don’t worry though, I have a feeling it won’t be long before local EMDs get their date with the executioner.

Brands are the way forward but EMDs still have their place in your toolbox.

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Creating quality challenge coins is not childs play

2 Mar

Creating quality challenge coins is no longer enough.  As a challenge coin company you must possess the ability to look beyond the surface of a coin design and see what lies beneath.  We recently manufactured a special shape coin that I didn’t believe could be a bottle opener due to the constraints of the design.

A prospective customer came to us with the following parameters.  He wanted his coin to be in the shape of an A-10 aircraft – top view, no larger than 2 inches in size and wanted his challenge coin to have the ability to open bottles.  If you’ve ever seen a special shaped coin or know the shape of an aircraft then you know the challenges I faced.  I used vector artwork that I had on file for the view of the aircraft he wanted to use.  Upon spending a little time with this artwork I had an epiphany.  I ran through all my necessary calculations to obtain proper tolerances for a functional bottle opener.  Wouldn’t you know I came up with a solution that hit every parameter the customer required, without the need to build a big obtrusive hole into the coin design to accommodate the bottle opening feature.  I was and still am astonished and proud of my discovery.  By taking some additional time I was able to see something in the design that no one else did, but more on that later.  I don’t have the luxury of an engineering background.  I have only been designing coins for almost seven years, yet I was able to accomplish something that I’m sure more seasoned designers would be envious of.  After all, the customer for this coin design said he had received artwork from approximately eleven different vendors before deciding on us.  This is a perfect example of free artwork not living up to expectations.  He received artwork that missed on his desired parameters until he came to us.

custom challenge coins

In our industry we have a big problem with companies creating free artwork prior to any form of commitment.  The reality is that anyone with the right software can create an outstanding, life like coin design.  The functionality or lack thereof is not really considered by those companies issuing free challenge coin artwork.  After all, what can you really expect when your design is just one on what I am sure is a long list of people wishing to see free artwork.  “Can you show me what it’s going to look like?” is a common question we receive.  Perhaps a better question is “Can you tell me if my design will be functional and or feasible in the real world?”.  Isn’t functionality and feasibility much more important than how it’s going to look?  I have years of experience working with custom coins.  You would think I have a strong grasp on what’s going to make your coin design elite and how I will use my years of experience to your benefit.  I have come to the conclusion that it’s best to keep my design ideas to myself or reserve said ideas for use on my customers’ coin designs.  Information that is learned through experience shouldn’t be discounted or given away.

The moral of this story is: know what questions to ask, don’t emphasize receiving free artwork just to see what your challenge coin design is going to look like.  There are more important issues that exist beyond what something looks like.