Colin Cochrane

Colin Cochrane is a Software Developer based in Victoria, BC specializing in C#, PowerShell, Web Development and DevOps.

Back in Business

My apologies for the downtime for the past couple of weeks.  My server decided to kick the bucket, and I have been incredibly busy since then, so I didn't get an opportunity to sort out new hosting until today.

On the plus side I have a lot to write about as I have been juggling a new sharepoint application, SQL 2008, and deploying a brand-spankin' new Active Directory infrastructure, among other things, so stay tuned!

Google's Oldest Backlink?

I was doing a little competitive keyword analysis recently and one particular site that ranked pretty highly in the SERPs caught my eye.

   RFC Google Snippet

It was the snippet at first that piqued my interest, with the words "Connecting you through the millenium". Wasn't the millenium, like, almost a decade ago? Hmm, I may have to delve further.

The site itself is an excercise in mid 90's web development; very plain design, mandatory animated gif, text scroller (very Web 0.56a), web counter (graphical no less) and italisized footer copyright text. Not very much in the way of high quality keyword related textual content to get it to rank where it was found.

Checking the whois info it can be seen that the domain was registered in April of 1996. So this old guy is being given some authority for his long service, and may go some way to explain his position in the SERPs for this keyword.

That's enough of the 'I know how Google works' babble, back to the pre-millenium website bashing. Hidden deep in the link page are the best gems that this site has to offer. I particularly enjoyed the JavaScript "Back" button, to help people who are browsing this new fangled internet thing with their beta version NCSA Mosaic software. (actually Mosaic did have a back button, but whether civilians knew what it was for, is another story)

One of the links on this page may actually be Google's oldest backlink, and I'm advised to try the "newest search engine" by the blurb with the link.


Google's Oldest Backlink?

I may have to switch from Altavista and try out this Google. I'm not expecting much, and what the hell is a "Google" anyway?

Urban Dictionary and Google Sitelinks

A little while ago Google allowed some method of control over the sitelinks that are associated with a sites' Google snippet listing. Through the Sitelinks feature of Google Webmaster tools, webmasters are able to decide which sitelinks appear with their listing. However, I don't think this feature has been picked up by the guys over at the Urban Dictionary, as the snippet below shows:


 I can only imagine that the Goog has decided that this "c word" page is valuable to it's searchers and have thoughtfully provided a link directly to it, or perhaps the UD have intentially provided a link to one of their most important pages afterall. 

Google Supports Obama for US Presidancy - Anti Hillary Propoganda on Google Website

It's already widely known that Google employees support Barack Obama ahead of the clean cut Ms. Clinton for the Democratic party presidential nomination. Interestingly, the Yahoo brigade also favour Obama, whereas those at evil lovely Microsoft prefer Hillary. I wonder if there'll be some employee "re-education" at Yahoo when Microsoft eventually forces through the takeover.

Now I have discovered some tenuous compelling evidence that there may be some sort of strong-arm tactics at Google to force the will of the company on its employees. Whilst enjoying an informative Google Adsense Optimization Demo presentation, I found the following blatantly partisan anti Hillary subliminal messaging within a presentation slide. Click "Pick Colors that Complement Your Site" to skip straight to the offending slide.


Google AdSense Presentation Supports Obama

Examining the highlighted Adsense examples on this slide we can see the rather obvious anti Hillary propoganda. "Hillary is a Liar" barks the ad title of one, "anti-hillary" ad text in another.


Anti-Hillary AsSense Ad Examples
Associating poor old Hillary with the oft-disliked current Republican administration in this way is also highly amusing and obviously reflects the political opinions of the presentation author (and possibly Google?).

GMail Security Exploit Allows Backdoor Into Your Account

I normally don't discuss topics related to online security, but I recently came across a post over at Sphinn that detailed how David Airey had his domain hijacked thanks to a security exploit in GMail and wanted to help make sure as many people as possible are made aware of it.  I recommend to any of you who uses GMail to read David's post that details the trouble that this has caused him and make sure that your GMail account hasn't been compromised.

Not the most festive post for an early Christmas morning, but I'll wish everyone a Merry Christmas anyways.

Google Cracks Down On Sites That Are Losing Importance

There has been a lot of controversy in the world of SEO as of late, mostly centering around the PageRank penalties that Google has been handing out to enforce their paid-link policies.  The members of the SEO community, who do enjoy to voice their opinion from time to time, increased the size of Google's index by about 2.3% blogging about it (just kidding! I love the SEO community).  As more updates to the Toolbar PageRank happened over the weeks, more disgruntled SEOs, webmasters and site owner's came out of the woodwork to express their outrage at Google for decreasing the Toolbar PageRank of their site. 

This outrage was in the form of more blogging which, inevitably, a lot of people were reading.  For a while you would be hard-pressed to find someone who wasn't writing about the latest Google PageRank Massacre.  PageRank was on everyone's mind. 

Those of us, such as myself, who pay little attention to the little green bar sat back and watched, interested in the developments regarding Google's policies and the paid-link debate.  We would sift through post after post of someone denouncing Google because their Toolbar PageRank dropped from a 3 to a 2, loudly proclaiming that they shouldn't be penalized for the 2 paid links they have when the site around the corner has nothing but paid links and cloaked text.  

As more and more people shared their tragic stories of their little green bar shrinking I started to notice that something was missing in the SEO blog community.  No-one was complaining about their ranking positions anymore, wondering how their site could not possibly be in the top then when they had a 900 characters in their meta keywords tag and was positioning a div full of keywords at -9999px to the left.  Suddenly it appeared that everyone had a perfectly optimized site with an abundance of high-value, relevant backlinks with content so useful and compelling that bounce rate was a thing of the past.  But these sites were losing Toolbar PageRank, and since they were shining beacons of optimized perfection the only explanation is that they were casualties of the PageRank Massacre.

Give me a break.

I'm going to kill the sarcasm now and get to the point now.  Here are some things that you might want to consider if you are thinking you got slapped by the latest Google crackdown:

1) Does Your Site Actually Have Paid Links?

Surprisingly there are people out there who are complaining about Google penalizing them in a PageRank Massacre when their sites don't actually have any paid links, or anything that even looks like a paid link.  Whether its a cheap ploy to draw some worthless traffic or just a desire to be part of the group, it make you look foolish.

2)  PageRank Can In Fact Decrease

Take a deep breath on this one and repeat after me: "My PageRank is not guaranteed to go up on every update".  PageRank is a relative value and if your site is not keeping up with the rest of the herd your PageRank will decrease.  This is growing more prominent every day as the level of competition continues to increase with more sites actually making an effort in SEO.

3) Stop Making Excuses

Unless you are in minority of sites that were actually penalized without cause, step back and take a good, honest look at the state of your website.  Do you have quality content, user-friendly navigation, optimized titles and descriptions?  Is it really so perfectly optimized that the only possible explanation is Google's ire?

My point here, if somewhat longwinded, is that it is easy to hop on the "Google screwed me" bandwagon when your site doesn't perform to your expectations.  It takes a little more honesty and willingess to improve yourself, and your site, to recognize areas that need improvement and work on those.  When it comes down to it, whether you got smacked with a PageRank penalty or simply fell behind the rest of the pack the best thing you can do is roll up your sleeves and get back to work.  The time will always be much better spent and your site and your site's visitors will benefit because of it.

Missing Link Data in Google Webmaster Tools

Late last night I noticed that the link data for my sites was missing in Google Webmaster Tools.  I assumed this was the result of some routine maintenance on Google's end and thought nothing of it.  Apparantly this may not be the case, as I came in to work this morning and discovered the the link data was still missing, and was also missing for every single one of our client's sites (both external links and internal links).

I'm not going to throw out wild theories about what Google is up to, but it will certainly be interesting to see if anything comes of this latest development.  If I had to hazard a guess, I would say the most likely explanation is an update of the link database.  However, when it comes to Google, as we all know, the only people that really know what's happening are the people at Google.