Google makes constant efforts to improve the search algorithm and detect quality content and that is why it rolled out the Google Panda 4.0 update.  What is this update really doing? It deranks low quality content and boosts the high quality one, according to Google’s idea of valuable content. In the screenshot below you can see what kind of content you shouldn’t be looking into if you are really determined in making a mess out of your organic traffic. 

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Having large groups of content that all revolve around the same topic will build more relevance around keywords that you're trying to rank for within these topics, and it makes it much easier for Google to associate your content with specific topics. Not only that, but it makes it much easier to interlink between your content, pushing more internal links through your website.
If both page are closely related (lots of topical overlap), I would merge the unique content from the lower ranking article into the top ranking one, then 301 redirect the lower performing article into the top ranking one. This will make the canonical version more relevant, and give it an immediate authority boost. I would also fetch it right away, do some link building, and possibly a little paid promotion to seed some engagement. Update the time stamp.
Hey Don, that is a great question and I will give you the overview. Now I have been trying these out for almost two years, for example Yahoo Answers was one of the first ones I tried and brought great results then. So first you need to decide which ones will you try and then track the results. I use Google Analytics to track the incoming traffic. So if I am focusing for example on blog commenting, I will note where I commented, how many times, etc and then see if those comments brought me any traffic. It depends a lot on the type of comment I make, the title of my ComLuv post, but you can still get some overview of how that traffic source is working for you. There are of course sources I discover "by chance". For example, in the last month Paper.li brought me 24 visitors, that spent more than 2 minutes on average on my blog. That is more than some blogs I comment on regularly bring me. So in this case, I will try to promote the paper.li a bit better and make it work for me. I will unfollow some people on Twitter that are not tweeting anything good so my paper.li chooses better posts hence better tweeps and get me exposed to them. A lot of them will RT my paper.li daily, so there is more potential of my content being shared. In case of the blog I mentioned, since none of the posts are becoming viral, the blogger is average, it is obviously not bringing me any traffic, I will start commenting less and work more on those that bring me more traffic. Now this is all great, except I get emotionally attached to blogs I read so I don't look at numbers like that :) But that is how you should track results. The main thing after reading this post is to choose up to 5 of these sources you feel comfortable with, work on them and track results. Keep those that work for you and ditch those that don't. It is a lot dependent on the niche you are in, too. I always try one source for up to a month, if there are no results in a month, I stop working on it and move to another one. If I didn't answer all you wanted to know, just ask additional questions, I am more than glad to help :)

Basically, what I’m talking about here is finding websites that have mentioned your brand name but they haven’t actually linked to you. For example, someone may have mentioned my name in an article they wrote (“Matthew Barby did this…”) but they didn’t link to matthewbarby.com. By checking for websites like this you can find quick opportunities to get them to add a link.

Direct traffic is defined as visits with no referring website. When a visitor follows a link from one website to another, the site of origin is considered the referrer. These sites can be search engines, social media, blogs, or other websites that have links to other websites. Direct traffic categorizes visits that do not come from a referring URL.
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