Tag Archive for link building

PR Spam Still Present in Lasik

I was looking for some specific eye surgery related news content in Google but I was shocked to see how bad the quality of the Google News results were.  PR Web Press releases hold 4 positions which shows the platform still holds a fair bit of authority as a trusted provider for Google News. It’s good that Google is more clearly displaying these results are a (press release) but the diversity of sources and therefore the quality of “Lasik” news is terrible.

Lasik PR Spam

The basis of this post is the dominance of self-promotional PR items in Google News on the first page of results.  While there is a strange Japan Times post on some legal issues linked to issues with Lasik surgery and recognition of misleading ads, the other item on the Deccan Herald appears to be more of a blog posts than a actual news piece.

The upside for PR Web and to some degree the other channels is that it does reinforce the value of it’s paid syndication channel for getting your article shown in Google news. So if the diversity of Google News sources could be fine-tuned it would make for a much better Google News result as The Braverman Eye Center has the same PR item shown twice on two different syndication channels.

What do you think? PR spam or quality Google News results?

SEO Desktop Tools

This a review of one of the leading platforms that I’ve trusted for my SEO research and client campaigns over the past 4 years but has actually been in the market since 2002.  The platform I continue to trust for my SEO tasks has been Advanced Web Rankings and it’s sister package Advanced Link Manager. One platform I use for checking my keyword rankings and the other I use for monitoring and link building campaigns but also for analysis of competitors websites. This is not the only package I use but it’s one platform that I’ve been consistently using over the past 4 years and certainly wonder sometimes how I can do my analysis without it.

Go Desktop or go home

Some of the many reasons that I’ve been such a fan of their platforms is they run a desktop application which means that when my internet connection goes down or I need have to access their data offline I’m able to, unlike many of their competitors which are built on web 2.0 platforms. They offer the most powerful seo software in the business and I’ve stuck with it as it offers the hardcore analysis you need to get the best data possible to make the right decisions, no need to wait 2-3 months for new data it can be mined and ready for analysis in just a few hours. If you have done something wrong such as tracking the wrong keywords you can make a change such as add in an extra keyword and re-run the update to get a fresh batch of ranking reports.  The other benefit is that once the data is in place and you have to track a new competitor you can just drop their domain or URL into the platform and it will map them against your existing keyword data.

The performance of desktop software compared to web 2.0 is one of the other reasons that I prefer to do my hardcore analysis in a dedicated platform, just as you export your data to Excel when you want to do real number crunching.

SEO software suitable for the paranoid

While it’s not a massive concern for myself currently, there are a number of people in the industry that are reluctant to use web-based SEO platforms as the T&Cs can imply that they in fact own all your SEO data.  I have found there is also the bonus feature of AWR is that your campaign SEO data is stored locally so there is no concern that other people are able to access your tracking data so the package is perfect for the paranoid marketers and those who may need to keep such data private.

Main benefits of SEO Desktop Tools?

My main reason why I love the AWR and ALM platforms and continue to use them and recommend them is that their platform is that it is available offline, but that it also offers enterprise/hardcore crawling & keeps my data stored locally. While the upgrade process can sometimes be a bit time-consuming the other advantage of running a desktop version is that you are not force upgraded to the latest version without consent.  This forced upgrade of web 2.0 properties often causes users a lot of head ache as they might be happy with the current features and interface and having to go through a major change and re-learning process does not feature on their weekly to do list. It’s also another great source for tracking how some of your sites or your competitors sites have been hit by recent Panda 2.5 updates.

Primary Benefits of Web Rankings & Link Manager

  • Search engine rankings on your desktop
  • Most accurate, reliable and comprehensive seo data
  • Automated SEO reports for make your reporting process faster
  • offering automated data backups to safe guard your search data
  • always improving and rolling out progressive updates/refinements
  • access to the most comprehensive and accurate keyword research tools
  • data privacy is ensured as all data is stored locally no-one has access to it
  • add personal touches to your SEO reports and deliver straight to their inbox

Why website owners should use Advanced Web Ranking

  • Keyword research tool
  • search engine friendly
  • Choose from more than 2000 search engines
  • Import keywords from file, URLs, websites or automatically
  • Get automatic keyword suggestions from Google
  • Sort all keywords by priority
  • Manage your keywords and create compound keywords
  • Get keyword data from WordTracker
  • View information in interactive reports
  • Quick overview of website ranking
  • only gather the relevant results
  • evaluate your competitors before optimising your web page
  • request new custom search engines
  • quickly analyse your website and learn how to improve it
  • query Google Maps to check local rankings

Why SEOs should use Advanced Web Ranking

  • Google preview search engine
  • use multiple proxy servers to decrease update time
  • constantly monitor search engine updates
  • get onpage analysis for keywords
  • email your customers automatically
  • export your ranking reports in multiple formates
  • automatically upload client reports via FTP
  • schedule updates for multiple projects at the same time
  • easily organise hundreds of projects
  • manage multiple user profiles
  • setup automatic triggers to send special reports
  • export your data to your in-house tools
  • get the same result your customers see in their part of the world
  • schedule updates to be done while you are away from your computer
  • use multiple API keys for search engines

Caphyon continuously improving their platform

There have been some amazing updates to their platform since I previously reviewed it back in April 2010, but the biggest change has been the move to the new interface which has increased some functionality but also streamlined some work processes. The new platform is much similar to popular web 2.0 interfaces and offers a far simpler interface for daily tasks and the analysis while taking a bit more to adjust if you are used to the old platform does make it quicker to do quick analysis.  The biggest difference I’ve seen over the years is the radical improvement in the platforms ability to deal with massive amounts of historical data as some of my projects have 3+ years of tracking data.

Advanced Web Ranking (Old Interface)

Advanced Web Ranking (Old Interface)

Advanced Web Ranking (New Interface)

Advanced Web Ranking (New Interface)

The new platform has been scaled right back to focus on the 6 key aspects of your campaigns, but it is a learning curve when you are switching from the old version to the new interface and some of your standard seo ranking features take a bit more digging to find them first time round.  The only aspect which is not yet possible is to customise the primary icons or create shortcut icons for common reports that you might need for your day-to-day tasks. The only 2 new features that are not showing in the screenshot are the backlink reports and google analytics data that you can now import into AWR so you can start to have a central platform for making analysis on how your SEO campaigns are performing.

Why not use Multiple IPs?

One of the issues with running desktop software is that you risk having your IP address blacklisted by Google for scraping its SERPs but also it can take far longer to do a complete your ranking update.  But after struggling with this issue for a number of years I finally made the jump to multiple IPs and I haven’t looked back, besides a few technical hiccups with the supply of some below average IPs the process has been fairly awesome and i’m considering how much I can scale this process up so I can get updates done in minutes and not hours?

Advanced Web Ranking Update History

  • Version 8.5 (Sep 29th, 2011) – Import SEOmoz Linkscape backlink data, synchronise ranking data with Google Analytics data
  • Version 8.1 (June 14th, 2011) - Improved printable reports user interface, ability to display best position in charts for multiple date reports, ability to copy/paste keywords from Project settings, ability to modify an existing keyword, browser manager
  • Version 8.0 (April 18th, 2011) - Redesigned the application User Interface, Over 1000 improvements to usability and design, new and improved scheduler service, search from location in Google
  • Version 7.5 (October 5th, 2010) - overview printable report grouped by keyword category, Google Suggest for countries, Website Optimisation Overview (Top 10 comparison), Export to HTML for the Website Optimisation
  • Version 7.4 (August 10th, 2010) - Overview chart, the Website Optimisation report, ability to get keywords from the Google Webmaster Tools API, ability to display not ranked items in the multiple dates chart, Overview by keyword category, ability to display mozRank in reports, FTP over SSL
  • Version 7.3 (May 28th, 2010) - ability to group proxies by category, SEMRush API for keyword suggestion, Bing API, FTP profiles per project, table summary to the competition report, XSLT transformation for the competition report, ability to import local search engines from CSV, ability to import Google Preview locations from CSV

Advanced Link Manager Update History

  • Version 7.5 (October 5th, 2010) - Website Optimisation Overview (Top 10 comparison), Export to HTML for the Website Optimisation, ability to gather up to 10000 links from SEOMoz
  • Version 7.4 (August 10th, 2010) - the Website Optimisation report, FTP over SSL, ability to run only Rank updates, the index page by default to a project, ability to update broken links on scheduler
  • Version 7.3 (May 28th, 2010) - ability to gather links from a SEOMoz Pro account, mozRank column to interactive Unverified Referrers and Referrers reports, Bing API integration, proxy server categories, Automatically add the meta keywords and the title as keywords on a new project, progress for FTP files uploading
It’s free so why not try it?
As no-one want’s to take the dive into a new platform without some insight like most of the leading SEO platforms they do offer a free 30 day trial download, which includes both Advanced Web Ranking and Advanced Link Manager. I suggest you take it for a spin and see how this can help your day-to-day SEO tasks and certainly make end of month reporting that much easier.

Scribe Makes SEO Simple

Scribe. SEO Made Simple.

One of the recent developments following the Google panda update seemed to shift the value away from shitty low quality or thin affiliate/adsense websites to those sites that had quality content.  Part of that shift also re-enforced the ideal if you were going to get content created you had to make sure you produced useful and easy to read content suitable for human visitors and not just bots by overloading the content with a certain density of keywords.

The issue with SEO focused content is what comes first the chicken or the egg? Do you create a broad/vague article and then seed it with keywords or do you find your seed keywords and build an article around those terms?

The benefit of platforms like Scribe SEO is they seek to fill that gap as they can refocus your existing article to be more suitable for SEO, give guidelines on what Google/Bing think might be the most suitable content for your site along with adjusting your terminologies and phrases to match the language of what people are actually searching for.  Some of the other smaller basic items around SEO are also covered to ensure you follow SEO best practices but also link these into your link building strategies.

Scribe’s billable method?

The platform is interesting as it uses a model that only charges on each analysis of content via it’s Scribe algorithm, with initially the process to fully optimise a page taking 3 to 5 evaluations which will improve with more use of the platform.  Their model is fairly conservative and is modelled around the amount of content you need to produce or optimise each month with the rough guides shown below.

  1. Advanced Users for 75-100 pages/posts per month
  2. Professional Users for 30-40 pages/posts per month
  3. Publisher Users for 7-10 pages/posts per month
  4. Starter Users for 3-5 pages/posts per month

Is Scribe SEO suitable for multiple websites?

Their platform is suitable for multiple projects as their license is based on keyword searches and content evaluations not on the number of websites.

Does Scribe SEO offer an API?

Yes their API supports most web based protocols including SOAP.

What technical support is available?

Yes the subscription offers support via the myScribe system

What CMS platforms does Scribe SEO support?

The platform is web based but supports WordPress (version 2.8.4 or late), Joomla (version 1.5) and Drupal (version 6 or later), but does not support the free WordPress.com blog platform.

What WordPress SEO plugins are supported?

  • HeadSpace2
  • WordPress SEO by Yoast
  • All In One SEO Pack (both free & pro version)
  • FV All In One
  • wpSEO
  • Platinum SEO Pack
  • SEO Ultimate

What WordPress Themes/Frameworks are supported?

  • WooThemes (Framework 2.7.22)* and child themes
  • Genesis framework and StudioPress themes
  • Thesis framework and child themes
  • Catalyst framework and associated themes
  • Headway framework and child themes
  • Hybrid framework and child themes
  • Frugal framework and child themes

Why SEO and how platforms like Scribe can help?

Scribe helps SEO for WordPress

Get a free SEO report
If you are looking for guidance on how you can create compelling content that drive quality traffic to your site, encourage people to link to and share your content you can check out their free SEO report.

What the free report contains

  • Why SEO Copywriting Matters
  • How Bing/Google Work
  • How you can spoon feed search engines
  • The 5 primary elements of quality keyword research
  • Creating Content That Google/Bing love
  • 5 Link Building Strategies that will work
  • 5 Areas you can focus on for effective SEO copy writing
  • Why can writing for people also works for search engines
  • How you can make SEO simpler

Text Link Ads are back!

Text Link Ads LogoLet’s start this with I’m not say crash hot on the idea of whole domains being remove from the search index unless its Malware/Criminal.  But for most sites at some point one of your many keywords you are trying to rank #1 for risk losing some ranking positions due to a number of external factors, is just a fact of business for most websites as the rankings loss can be attributed to bad seo, poor site design, terrible server response rates or competitors doing it better link building/content creation than you.

So about 2 years ago the hammer of Google went down on Text-Link-Ads.com and their entire domain was removed from Google’s results at the time there was discussion around the impact on their business and that they would possibly now reliant on Google AdWords if they wanted to survive.  Instead they focused on improving and increasing their affiliate network and it seemed that it didn’t really stop or slow the company down, so it boiled down to more of a PR issue.  Google could show the industry what happens when you aggressively and in plain view of the search engines flaunt the benefits of buying and selling links, they made sure that when doing a brand name search for the company only their affiliates and competitors would show up.

But it seems that with the new Google algorithm’s being rolled out in the last few weeks that Text-Link-Ads.com is now back in the search results for both domains including the Textlinksads.com and using Google Instant, it’s actually recommending you should check it out as it offers it as the primary instant result.

Google Instant Text Link Ads

Google Instant Text Link Ads

Not to be left out of the argument the old Digg platform banned Text-Link-Ads.com all the way back in 2006, but great news it seems that all past errors and transgressions have been forgiven with the new Digg v4 and I apologise ahead of time to those who follow me on Digg and thought ive lost the plot by digging an affiliate signup page it was a test for this article.

No longer banned at Digg

No longer banned at Digg

So I wanted to explorer more about Text-Link-Ads and see how Google’s own Trends for Website tool would provide for Text Link Ads including a number of similar sites that their clients visit. The screen shot list below shows that while a majority of the search traffic is for the brand name there is a few related tasks projects that you would explore before making a decision or buy or sell links with Text Link Ads.

Text Link Ads Related Searches

Text Link Ads Related Searches

These are the types of activities I suspect is going on based on the type of services Text Link Ads offers with each stage likely involving a visit to Text-Link-Ads.com.  The first part of the process in building a new website would be to start finding out what is this SEO thing, then you have to find out what keywords/trends you should consider targeting again using Google’s own platform.  Look at how much money you are going to spend on link building or buying and now you know how much you have left to build the website.  Now that you have an idea look at what options you have for WordPress themes, add site & verify in webmaster tools and then look at Adsense to see how you can start to monetise the site.

All is forgiven?

So the question is after all the affiliate and banner advertising across pretty much every SEO/Industry blog and the algorithm updates has Google given up on trying to punish Text-Link-Ads and just let them rank organically for their own brand terms initially and eventually for their products/services.

*Disclaimer I’ve got an affiliate account with Text-Link-Ads

Blog Spam works

Much of the focus for the search industry has been around building up content networks and everyone has promoted directly or had someone else directly plug their article, application or website via a comment on a blog or a post, but why do it? The point is that basically it works and will continue to work either via driving traffic, developing a level of trust via links or improving indexing of the promoters website. Rand wrote up a big open letter calling for the Google webspam team to review how they are evaluating what is spam based on a decreasing level of relevance for a number of popular terms.  As for the best process for defining spam or making a broad decision that a particular method or intention is black/white or gray is not the purpose of this article its to look at why it will continue to happen.

I have been meaning to look into this matter in some more detail so by just picking 2 random but popular articles that have been published on this blog that had obvious self promotional links dropped, was it worth it for them? This site being a run on the WordPress.com blog platform so I can make it clear that all the links placed into the comments are “nofollow” so their should be no direct benefit for “link juice” or ranking benefit for you, but why does it keep happening and what is classed as spam?

Author Name Keywords
There are 3 sides to using Blogs for self benefit or promotion, the first and most common to slip through is to use the author details to place in keyword friendly names as part of the websites backlink strategy.  The use of keyword friendly author names is usually heavily frowned upon by a number of popular blogs as some do follow the author URL so the link text does have relevance and a benefit for the poster. Often the author’s name is matched to the blog post but often so not relevant that the following listed below are classed as spam.

  • Internet and network marketing tutorial
  • Link Building
  • Demo
  • capodimonte figurine
  • limo in baltimore
  • iPad
  • business inspiration
  • iPad Frenzy – Everything Frenzy on the Apple iPad!
  • 22 inch car rims
  • Zone of the Dead | Playstation3 Blog
  • Mrs Anti-Virus
  • Get Paid for Your Opinion
  • Online Casino Roulette
  • SEO

Author Website
The next part will be that they will usually to match the author name to their website URL but often automated bots or low quality link builders often increase the chance of being flagged as spam by trying to matching the URL to a similar focused keyword domain.  So the author name used for the comment would be “website designers” will be matched to “http://website-design-ers.info” which is fairly easy to spot.  The author usually owns, manages, benefits or is paid to increase the traffic to the website they have listed. A number of the URLs listed below have been used in comment spam and have been flagged automatically as spam and I have not included the full website address because this post is not designed to provide them with a benefit.  Often much of the comment spammers are not just link spammers but drop links to sites that contain malware, MLM schemes and mostly just not suitable for work audiences.  The author websites listed below are easily classed as spam and many are low quality template websites that are mostly not suitable for this blog to be found associated with even it is just via nofollowed links.

  • antivirus-free-download51…
  • game101guide
  • roulettestrategie.fast-instant-money
  • 23-inch-car-rims
  • webuytool
  • limobaltimore
  • ipad-tipps
  • infinitydownline
  • relevantlinkbuilding

Spam Comments
It may not always be done with evil or spammy intention in mind and the comment maybe be manually approved after its viewed if the comment is relevant to the post. The following is a list of spam comments that have recently been posted on this blog, they are good example of the types of blog comments which are used and flagged automatically as spam:

  • This was a great post, thank you very much :)
  • thanks nice..
  • Thanks for your awesome post,! More to come on Monday….
  • nice work guys really impressed with your marketing style.
  • Thank you for your info, Recommended to read!!! i’ll bookmark your site and hope can find more hot info for the future.
  • :)
  • hy man thanks for the comment on my blog ,hope will be back soon
  • hi every body
  • I found your article very interesting, do you still have another article? maybe we can share the article
  • This is a really useful post. Thanks for the info.
  • I found your article very interesting, do you still have the article with the same theme? maybe we can share the article
  • nice blog and nice articel..coool ha !!

Often the comments are even less relevant, and if created by spam bots or lazy link builders just take sections of your own article and post that in the comments as if they had written something relevant and useful, this does not add value to a blog post so are classed as spam. The comment combined with the author URL is a clear sign if the comment is a spam comment or one that should be approved as it is relevant to the blog post and is suitable for visitors if they should want to visit the authors page to learn more about them.

Link Dropped in Comments

The aspect of dropping a relevant link to a related post or product is a tougher conversation to have with both blog owners, search agencies and link builders.  Placing a link into a blog post still works well and can often add a relevance to a blog post where an author may have not referenced some details contained in their post, you might have seen or read a post that disputes their post or seek to create some more discussion.  I don’t believe that there is a single person in the industry that can claim they have never dropped a link to one of their sites/posts/clients at one time or another, but when it moves away from relevance then it can border on being spam.  If I have written a post about AdAge Power 150 failing, dropping a link to a dating site is clearly spam and is not going to be approved. Here is a short list of some of the many comments and links dropped shown in blue text that are not relevant to the blog post shown in (example) or often even spelled correctly and are regarded as spam:

(Article was written about links)

  1. This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are great and needs to be appreciated by everyone. Auto Marketing
  2. I don’t generally reply to posts but I’ sure will in this case. Seriously a big thumbs up for this 1 C CLass IP hosting!

(Article was about advertising)

free advertiser to all bblogger bussnines
free advertiser
free advertiser
free advertiser

(Article about a marketing failure)

Nice Blog thanks ankara evden eve nakliyat Hosting

Summary of comment links

Sometimes the links match the author but often gmail accounts are used with the author’s url being squidoo.com, blogspot.com or wordpress.com sites.  These are flagged automatically as spam by WordPress so its a waste of time and resources trying to get ranked #1. Often blogs automatically approve comments so you will see the same comment or link being posted under different authors name/email to try and get around spam filters but it will mostly lead to failure. Spamming in foreign languages will also be flagged as the blog author won’t automatically approve it if they don’t know what the text says.

Links dropped in comments get clicks

3 Links that were dropped into 2 posts on this blog, actually showed to give the website a decent CTR actually in aspects higher than any links that are contained within the actual post.  So if you are doing article writing for the pure purpose of driving relevant website traffic to your site, it maybe more beneficial to have a decent link placed within the first few comments if you are looking for traffic, people are curious so that is why dropping links into comments works. The click-through rate for the links was actually well above what I expected which is why I wrote this blog post, 3 samples show:

  • Link 1 click-thru-rate 5.88%
  • Link 2 click-thru-rate 1.13%
  • Link 3 click-thru-rate 0.27%

Summary of Spam Strategies

So dropping links and spamming blogs can work for some sites/projects but in the long-term it’s not sustainable or going to help your brand/site if you get flagged as a spammer.  There are a number of things you can do to ensure you get more benefit when using blogs as part of your social/content strategy but this blog post is not the place you can learn about that.  If you choose to go down the path of heavily spamming blogs, your problems will compound overtime and eventually even if you are not spamming a blog you will be automatically flagged for review every time by Akismet, so best not try to make things that much harder for you and play nice.

Your backlinks may vary

In a short discussion via Twitter with Alan Bleiweiss of Search Marketing Wisdom, it seemed of interest that once again there is a massive variance in data.  Ive picked a site that I worked on previously and have access to in Google Webmaster tools and have ensured to removed any identifying details, but some pieces of data were removed from the screenshots but the data removed did not relate to this blog post. To access any of the backlink packages detailed below just click on the screenshot to be taken direct to their site to play with the tool yourself.

To get my own baseline for the site and how the different backlinks tools compare I averaged out the total links found which are shown in the screenshots below.  The average number of links between the 6 different applications is 2,292 links, and I will rate the percentage of links found below up or down based against this average number of links.

Google Webmaster Tools Link Count

Webmaster tools link count

Analysis: Google Webmaster tools is actually fairly close just 1% lower than the average number of links found by the different software packages, what is interesting is that it was the only package to get close to the average.  The biggest problem to get this data you have to verify that you actually own or control that site, which makes it harder to be used for competitive analysis.  The amount of back links found seems to indicate GWT may not be your most accurate guide, its just an average after all…

Google Search Tools Link Count

Analysis: This LINK: statement has to be one of the worst methods of all techniques to see your backlink profile so if you are using this to judge the success of your campaigns you might as well give up now.  The number of links found using the Link: statement was just 2% of the averaged figure, a massive failure.

Yahoo Site Explorer Link Count

yahoo site backlinks

Analysis: Yahoo SiteExplorer which soon may disappear with the merging of Bing/Yahoo search platforms which a shame as it is fairly accurate with just 14% less links than the averaged amount, showing just 1,981 backlinks or as it calls them “inlinks”.  The best part about Yahoo Site Explorer is that it doesn’t require you to verify you own the site so its still great for competitive link analysis.

OpenSite Explorer Link Count

open site explorer links

Analysis: Built by SEOmoz around the Linkscape architecture it is the heavy hitter in link analysis finding 68% more backlinks than the averaged amount but slightly less than the subscription software.  The interesting part was that the total links found by OSE was actually quite close to the count of follow backlinks the subscription software found.  OSE only estimated that there were around 366 backlinks which were dofollow links which can have a positive effect on your search rankings.  OpenSite Explorer might provide you with a fair bit of benefit when doing a link analysis as you can potentially only get the links that count and maybe less likely to have duplicated links counted or dead links included in your total count as can happen with even the best subscription software.

Majestic SEO Link Count

majestic seo links

Analysis: Majestic SEO is one of the older link discovery packages but has only recently started rebuilding and expanding its data set, it still appears to be too early in the process as it showed 37% less links than the average. The software offers more data to those who have signed up for a free account and it can provide a lot more technical information than many of the other backlink tools listed.

Subscription Software Link Count

Analysis: Using some specialist software ive tracked around 4447 backlinks to the site, this was the largest number of links found with around 81% more links than the averaged amount.  The package is obviously more expensive than the free options but it does show that you get what you paid for, as it also allows you to see a detailed backlink profile including 3772 followed links and 387 nofollowed links.  Both of these do not match with Google Webmaster Tools, which crushes any claims that Google is only choosing to show either just followed or nofollow links in its links to your site.

Since there are several backlink tools available I didn’t want to give preference to any and a also because ive found some just use the platforms above accessing the data via data APIs.  This data is then just packaged in some nice CSS or stripped back to bare essentials and presented within your dashboard, it is a shame that some packages that claim to offer backlink analysis are just regurgitating public backlink data via Yahoo or Linkscape.

Bing LinkDomain:

It seems that this tool is once again not publically available but it did show the most promise of all the solutions last time I tested it, so we cannot do a test at this stage.

Which Backlink tool is best?

If you can afford the subscription alternatives they are always going to provide more functionality and the brute force strength you need on some projects to get a true understanding of a competitors backlink profile.  Outside of that GWT is the most averaged of all the solutions examined which should keep your boss happy but OpenSite Explorer or Subscription platforms vastly outperform the other alternatives.

Alcon does better at seo

alcon logoAlcon one of the world’s largest health care companies focused on vision and eye products appears to be a leader in its market thanks to effective SEO. The swiss based company has a number of keyword friendly domains but also a number of complex brand names that are more difficult to spell.  But I have noticed a number of subtle changes they can make to their websites to get a bigger impact growing their organic keyword traffic.
One of the best benefits of seo for pharmaceutical companies is that they are able to market the solution via complex names but can also make sure consumers/doctors can easily find your products when using generic terms such as dry eyes. Its corporate site seems to follow some of the basics starting with their homepage title tag starts with “Eye Care products…”, the reason that this is significant is that it both matches to their product offerings and is helpful in helping them achieve #1 result for the search term “eye care products“.
eye care products
Many companies make the mistake of placing more importance on their brand/company name than their products/services, a test search for “flights“, show a few examples of sites that see brand as more important.  While Travelocity, Southwest airlines and Continental Airlines were all listed on the first page of the search results, some slight changes to the title structure within their site would likely have a benefit with increased rankings for generic terms.  The only times that brands need to consider using brand terms first is when they have a common name, geographical competition or affiliate marketers who can possibly outrank them for brand related searches.
brand titles
Alcon Corporate Site
They also use a number of keyword friendly internal links, but they could improve more by replacing a number of the image menus with text links.  The image below shows the corporate website is using its strength and trust to help its product sites with keyword friendly urls.  This is not spam or paid links but relevant and suitable linkage between the parent companies site and its product sites.
alcon footerlinks
The following keyword friendly links from Alcon link to the following sites, and in brackets its position in the search engine results on Google.com
  • Intraocular lens - http://www.Acrysofrestor.com/ (#4)
  • Cataract lens removal - http://www.infinitivision.com/ (#4)
  • Cataract surgery - http://www.cataractsurgery.com/ (#1)
  • Allergy eye - http://www.pataday.com/ (#8)
  • Contact lens solution - http://www.opti-free.com/ (#1)
  • Dry eye - http://www.systane.com/ (#34)

Analysis: It seems that the variation “eye allergy” does slightly worse ranking #9, but the biggest surprise that Systane almost fails to rank for its generic term showing up 34th, and the more suitable term would be “dry eyes”.

Opti-Free Site
alcon opti-free logo
Opti-Free’s site also has a number of image items that could be replaced with text to increase the amount of onpage content.  The title tag matches to the product solution which is a perfect match for the Alcon footer links, which is part of the reason that the site ranks highly for its generic term. Below is a screenshot of the footer links from Opti-Free.
opti-free links
The following keyword friendly links from Opti-Free link to the following Alcon sites, and in brackets its position in the search engine results on Google.com
  • Glaucoma http://www.travatanz.com/ (Not in first 100)
  • Eye vitamins http://www.icapsvitamins.com/ (#4)
  • Allergy eyes http://www.pataday.com/ (#7)
  • Nasal allergies http://www.patanase.com/ (#42)
  • Ear infection treatment http://www.alcon.com/en/alcon-products/pharmaceutical.asp (#35)
  • Cataract surgery http://www.cataractsurgery.com/ (#1)
  • Intraocular lens http://www.acrysofrestor.com/ (#5)
  • Dry eye http://www.systane.com/ (#34)
Analysis: Travatanz could benefit from an increase in backlinks and a the selection of a keyword that will actually show in the first 100 results.  Pataday has targeted a slightly different plural variation and ranks higher in the search results for the plural term.  The “ear infection treatment” product page could benefit from its own product page that would make it possible to add more content.
Systane Site
systane logoSystane has a much more seo friendly site, as its menu structure is text unlike many of the other sites.  It also makes extensive use of text for product listings and onsite content, but there are still more images than can be replaced with text.
systane footerlinks
The following keyword friendly links from  Systane link to the following Alcon sites, and in brackets its position in the search engine results on Google.com
  • Glaucoma http://www.travatanz.com/ (Not in first 100)
  • Eye vitamins http://www.icapsvitamins.com/ (#4)
  • Allergy eyes http://www.pataday.com/ (#7)
  • Nasal allergies http://www.patanase.com/ (#42)
  • Ear infection treatment http://www.alcon.com/en/alcon-products/pharmaceutical.asp (#35)
  • Cataract surgery http://www.cataractsurgery.com/ (#1)
  • Intraocular lens http://www.acrysofrestor.com/ (#5)
  • Contact lens solution - http://www.opti-free.com/ (#1)
Analysis: The points to note are identical to Opti-Free, except the terms that are already ranking #1 may benefit from alternative link text to increase their presence within the search results.
Acrysofrestor site
acrysofrestor logo
The site appears to have a lot of content hidden under a number of sub text menus, which doesn’t give it the full advantage as spiders won’t crawl that deep.  There is also a lot of white space that could be filled with either larger sized font or more content. This site also has a lot of legal notices and disclaimers making up a majority of the homepage content, there is also two links to Cataract Surgery at the bottom which doesn’t offer an increased benefit.
acrysofrestor links
The following keyword friendly links from Acrysofrestor link to the following Alcon sites, and in brackets its position in the search engine results on Google.com
  • Glaucoma http://www.travatanz.com/ (Not in first 100)
  • Eye vitamins http://www.icapsvitamins.com/ (#4)
  • Allergy eyes http://www.pataday.com/ (#7)
  • Nasal allergies http://www.patanase.com/ (#42)
  • Ear infection treatment http://www.alcon.com/en/alcon-products/pharmaceutical.asp (#35)
  • Cataract surgery http://www.cataractsurgery.com/ (#1)
  • Dry eye http://www.systane.com/ (#34)
  • Contact lens solution - http://www.opti-free.com/ (#1)
Cataract Surgery Site
cataract surgeryThis site does a very good job of combining a generic domain and with lots of information about the disease and links in with Alcon products.  The problem is that once again a bulk of the information and menus are image based and not text so don’t get as much benefit for onsite content.
Analysis: There are no links in the footer to any of Alcon’s related product sites, which seems a lost opportunity but might also be restricted under FDA rules and regulations around pharmaceutical advertising codes of conduct.
Patanase Site
patanase logo
The site seems very inconsistent as it makes very good use of images replaced with text in some parts of the site and menus but not in others, there also seems to be a mixture of terms and keywords related to the product.  Looking at the website, I have listed some of the many terms and phrases that are used that don’t rank well in SERPs: Nasal Allergies, Allergy Symptoms, Seasonal Nasal Allergies, Allergy symptom reducer, seasonal allergic rhinitis.
patanase linksAnalysis: There are no links in the footer to any of Alcon’s related product sites, which seems a lost opportunity but unlike CataractSurgery.com this is a product site and not an informational page so it is not clear why no links have been added in the footer.
Pataday Site
pataday logoOf all the Alcon websites, this site makes the most use of text for the information sections and its menu structure, the only confusing part is the cross-promotion of a similar product Patanol. The site design is also appears to be one of the older designs and if it is updated to use images in place of text will likely impact its search traffic significantly.
pataday links
Analysis: A number of the sites use their website address instead of a keyword friendly link, reducing the benefit, and Coprodex.com is linked as “Ear infection treatment” on the other footer links, and is a 301 redirect to the Alcon products page. The way some of these links are written almost make them appear to be sketchy spam links such as AcrySofReSTOR.com or  TravatanZ.com. It is likely that many of these sites are already able to rank for their own brand terms so the links could have been better utilised.
iCAPS Eye Vitamins Site
icaps eye vitamins logoThis site has one of the strangest mixes of large images, and a very limited amount of content/information on the product. Its likely with an expansion of content it could easily increase its presence in the SERPs, and rank much higher for the term “eye vitamins”.
icaps vitamins links
Analysis: There are no links in the footer to any of Alcon’s related product sites, which seems a lost opportunity but unlike CataractSurgery.com this is a product site and not an informational page so it is not clear why no links have been added in the footer.
Travatan Site
travatan logo
The site has a fair amount of detail about Glaucoma’s as well a majority of the information is accessible via text links.  The only issue is the mixture of glossary pages and a strange popup definitions window. There should be a consistent process, and a number of browsers block pop-ups so information maybe missed by visitors.  Also this information should form part of the site not a separate no-indexable popup module.
travatan linksAnalysis: similar to many of the other footer links with the only difference being there are two links for eye infection treatment, one to the Alcon product page and the other to the Coprodex.com which is a 301 redirect to the same page.  This might be a bit more risky behaviour than the other links as it tries to get a double benefit of two links to that page.
Many more sites under marketed
What is interesting is that two other Alcon businesses one that details with Lasik and the other Retina information are not listed within the site footer links on any of the sites, and would have been a prefect match for CataractSurgery.com.
  1. Lasik information – www.alconrefractive.com
  2. Vitreoretinal surgery information – www.alconretina.com

Overall Alcon Website Network Review

It seems that the company has done a number of things right, but it also seems that some of the search results are pure luck and is not as consistent as it possibly could be across the Alcon network as highlighted by the inconsistent use of footer links. There could be some more effort and planning spent on the footer links and would have a direct benefit for their brands and would likely result in an uplift in organic search traffic.