Another Top 3 Google Ranking !!

Our client Martin Colin LLC just climbed to a #2 ranking for a very competitive attorney phrase. We have to congratulate Bill Martin especially for the great job he’s done with the content. Nothing tricky about this ranking… he earned it by making a lot of excellent content.

Google is looking for certain indicators or “signals” to help them rank web pages. Their goal is to provide the best quality search engine results to users. So when a website in a very competitive genre gets to the top 10 or the top 3, they are doing a lot of things right.

WordPress helps attorneys get higher rankings on Google

WordPress does a lot of things that Google recommends and that old style HTML sites don’t do very well. One of those things is interior linking or getting your pages linked together internally in an intelligent way. WordPress also makes it easy for attorneys to add their own content. This is so important in today’s laundry list of items that Google is looking for in terms of positive signals.

Building a Law Firm Website Correctly is Half the Battle

The big box vendors will tell you that the website costs as much as a new automobile because they sell links from or or as part of their package. Well you don’t have to drop a fortune buying links from the big box vendors to have a great site that ranks well – or in this case better than the more expensive competition. It’s because the “on page” SEO factors that Web Design WorkPlace can build for you are more than half the battle to good rankings.  And the content is even more critical in today’s ranking environment. Do the big box vendors links help the clients that buy links from them? Yes to a degree… but not as much as before. Google looks first at the on page factors and then on the external factors like links to rank sites.

Remember these words of SEO Wisdom from Web Design WorkPlace founder Mal Milligan

“If you build it correctly, the Google Spiders will come.”





Google Site Verification for WordPress StudioPress Genesis Users

I’ve bought unlimited developer’s licenses for all three of Brian Gardner’s WP theme companies starting with “Revolution”. I build a business around these themes and the best in industry support that StudioPress is world famous for.

Their top of the line product is a WordPress framework called Genesis. When you use Genesis, you have a multitude of “child theme” options that allows WordPress and Genesis to be continuously updated without having a negative impact on your child theme. Genesis has a lot of features built in that are not native to basic WordPress installations, and the Genesis control panel add-on to the WordPress Dashboard is one of those features.

The Genesis control panel makes life easy for users that want to add their sites to Google WebMaster Tools. When you have a verified website in “Tools” you can access Google Analytics and Google Places. All this is free for now but many in the industry have suggested these excellent tools may not be free in the future. In any case I would highly recommend you use them as they provide a lot of SEO data that otherwise would cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to get with a 3rd party option.

Here is the YouTube version of the instructional video:

Click below to get the Screencast version of the instructional video:

Google Verify Process for StudioPress Genesis Users

To login to Google WebMaster Tools, I usually start by logging into Gmail.

From there, I pick the account pulldown menu and choose “account settings”. This gets me to my main Google Accounts screen.

From there I can pick “WebMaster Tools”.

WebMaster Tools will allow me to choose an option “add a site” and then I can type in the website URL.

From there Tools will offer several methods to verify:

  • create an ascii HTML file and upload it to your website root folder via FTP or SFTP.
  • add a meta tag
  • do a DNS change and add a text field they supply
  • add Google Analytics

StudioPress Genesis users will go to the “alternate methods” screen and pick “add a meta tag” which will look something like this:

<meta name=”google-site-verification” content=”2Ec_TpSNzlAj3TmVTjOqG6IbtQPW7r489pZpDYrpqTA” />

OK at this point login to your WordPress website and from the main Dashboard pick the “Genesis” option to get to the Genesis Control Panel.

On the lower right corner of the screen there will be options for “Header / Footer Scripts” and the top section there is to add tags and links to the wp_head section. That’s where we paste the verification string… the “meta tag”. Then we go to the bottom of the page and do a save.

Mac users can hold down the command key and PC users can hold the control key and you can click on the website name at the top of the WordPress Dashboard to open a new window with the website at it’s homepage. From there using FireFox, you can do a View / Page Source to get under the hood and look at the HTML code that makes up the page. From there I go back to the browser menu bar and choose Edit / Find. I look for the string meta and I keep clicking the next button until I get to the “google-site-verification” string we saw earlier.

<meta name=”google-site-verification” content=”2Ec_TpSNzlAj3TmVTjOqG6IbtQPW7r489pZpDYrpqTA” />

OK from this point we know the meta tag is in the homepage under the hood in the HTML and we can go back to WebMaster Tools and click the botton that says “verify”. Google will not give us a fancy message that tells us the verification worked, but they will let us immediately into the account to work with the data.


Facebook #1 Result for Attorney Searches on Google?

When I exchanged comments with search engine marketing pundit Mike Moran on Search Engine Guide last December he was warning full time SEO’s to pay more attention to social media in terms of search. I read his first book “Search Engine Marketing Inc.” (with Bill Hunt) cover to cover underlining and highlighting important lines until that book fell apart. It was my generations “SEO Bible”. Later disciples may have done the same thing to Aaron Wall’s “SEO Book“. Well Mike Moran was right on the money as usual.

I build attorney web sites and I get them ranking on Google for a living. And for a while I’ve been putting links to their Facebook pages and LinkedIn accounts and Twitter Nests on their websites.  More than 99% of all attorneys don’t use any of that social networking stuff and I have never seen a new client arrive via a twitter tweet but the day of judgement has arrived.

Now take this with a grain of salt because Google is constantly experimenting and this might just be their experiment of the day, but after typing literally tens of thousands of attorney phrases into Google over many years I just had the SERP’s #1 ranking natural result for a highly competitive phrase return as a page on Facebook !!! I’m in a state of shock and I’m going to tell all my SEO friends. Here is what it looks like

So is this real? Is this what we can expect from Google going forward… that FB pages are going to outrank real website’s that we’ve worked hundreds or thousands of hours using White Hat SEO principals to achieve good results with? I hope not. I hope this is just a glitch in an Algorithm Experiment. But Moran told me in a kind way that I better get ready and start working hard because the future holds more of this stuff. SERPS page rankings being effected profoundly by FaceBook.

I’m going to have to start dropping bs comments more frequently in FB now and I’m going to have to start making bs tweets on twitter now and I’m going to have to start inviting more people to become “friends” on my LinkedIn page now.

The work to get good rankings on Google never ends and it’s always changing.

Regards Everyone !!

Mal Milligan





Dangers of Paid Links

Using Paid Links Can Get You in Trouble with Google

My dad just sent me the New York Times article describing Matt Cutts from Google manually downgrading JC Penny for using tons of obvious paid links. That’s a blatant violation of the Google Webmaster Guidelines. Unfortunately it works well and lots and lots of companies use paid links. JC Penny made millions and millions of dollars dominating a dozen lucrative phrases during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in 2010 largely because they gamed the Google Algorithm with paid links.

What Are Paid Links?

To boost a web page’s Google PageRank and get higher in the rankings, some cheating companies will pay other companies to link to them from their websites. When the paid links are sloppy, it’s pretty obvious that they are there only for the purpose of gaining link credit. For example, a strip mining operation in Uganda would not normally link to the homepage of JC Penny using the phrase “spring dresses” but that is the type of linking that got JCP into trouble when it got to the spam boss at Google Matt Cutts. Of course a spokesperson at JC Penny claimed they knew nothing about it and the practice violated their linking guidelines – R I G H T… they had no idea.

What’s the Punishment for Using Paid Links?

Well Google does not ban you from the internet or anything like that despite popular opinions. Your website will still be there the day after you get caught and people can still go to your website. But it will not rank well on Google for it’s key phrases. People will just have to type in the URL manually or link to them from Bing or Yahoo provided they did not catch then for paid linking as well.In the case of JC Penny, they went from an average ranking of #1 on more than 10 phrase to an average ranking of #52. No one looking to buy a dress will click on a link on the 5th page of search results. About 30% to 40% will click on the #1 search phrase and about 10% to 20% will click on teh #2 phrase.

Who Buys Links?

I have seen lots and lots of attorney sites using paid links – some unwittingly and others knowing about it. They paid big box legal marketing names to build them websites at inflated costs and to run SEO campaigns. The over zealous SEO’s at big box legal marketing sites went way over the top buying ridiculous links for their clients. Here are some partial URL’s I found linking to a very well respected attorney’s office and I’ll bet this attorney would be shocked and angered if he found out the company he is paying $5,000 to $10,000 per month for SEO was using unethical practices that could drop his website from site if Google catches them.

I would recommend to you if you are a law firm paying for SEO and you see links from these companies to your website… ask your SEO vendor for a complete list of every link they made for you and give that list to another SEO company to see if they used paid links. If they paid for links to your website then you can probably get your money back.

You can hire me, Mal Milligan,  to find out if your attorney website was setup using paid links. Just drop me an email or call. Regards – Mal

Twitter is a Fad (But Include a Link Anyway)

I’ve been writing this since it was invented: Twitter is a fad. It’s something people try a few times and then abandon as fast as throwing out a candy wrapper. For most internet users… and I mean more than 99%, Twitter is a tool for idle chatting that will never get touched after the initial couple experimental uses.

There are people who Tweet all day every day and yes, it’s an important social media tool for them. Mostly people in that category are in technology and they have people from coast to coast listening to their every move. Guys like Brian Gardner – CEO of Studio Press. Brian tweets sometimes over a hundred times in a day but he is also communicating with a group of hundreds of other industry leaders and pundits and fans.

Other people use Twitter to gain a little more fame or pretend they integrated the latest technology into their daily lives. Right… like Oprah. She wanted to do a showbiz “impress the crowd thing” by bringing Ashton Kutcher onto her show to start her new Oprah Twitter page. Take a look a year and a half later at how Oprah integrated Twitter into Her daily life… hmmm let’s see, she used it on 5 days in the last 7 weeks. I wonder if that was even her tweeting.

Twitter has a very low retention rate. That means a lot of people try it and then leave it in the toybox forever. I’m not the only one saying it. Take a look at this article called (can you guess?) Twitter is a Fad. Looks like the has the same idea.

So now the real reason for this article. Ahhhhh !!!! I just did a search on Google and I was served a results page where ranking in at #2, #3, and #4 were tweets from unreliable “garbage” sources… “Twitter Trash“. Wow. Now why would I as a researcher want garbage results from an unidentified 18 year old with a twitter page taking up positions #2, #3, and #4 on a search engine results page? I would not is the answer. Then why is it happening? Google tests all kinds of stuff and I hope this is just a test. It would be a real mistake to compromise the quality and reliability Google brought to search with Twitter Trash. And I hope I don’t see it again. If I do see it again it’s a bad mistake on the part of the new kid running his own company – Larry Page. Please Google, Twitt away on you own personal time and leave the Twitter Trash out of our important research.

Since Twitter associations are apparently becoming part of the Google Algorithm, and because Oprah and a lot of SEO pundits are trying to create ways for them all to still have jobs, I have Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn icons on my website. I make them for all my clients now too. I tell them they will probably never use them, they will probably never get a job or a lead from them, but they look nice and Google wants them because they are playing with fads now.

Thanks !!

1 Million Google Impressions

Affordable web design just hit another new milestone – a Web Design WorkPlace site is generating over 1 million Google impressions a month. is a WordPress site designed by Web Design Consultant Mal Milligan on one of the original Studio Press Themes… when Brian Gardner called his company Revolution Themes. This site has some very impressive SEO stats:

  • over 50,000 unique visitors a year
  • 15% bounce rate – WOW !!
  • 15 GB of bandwidth a month with no video – Whoa !!
  • 95% new visitors
  • 1.2 million impressions in 30 days starting on January 1, 2011. That’s right… 1,200,000 impressions !! Go WordPress !
  • up to 30,000 impressions PER DAY in January
  • almost 1,000 high resolution photos on the site including a 400 image slideshow

This is from the Google WebMaster Tools Dashboard:

Check our Google Analytics Stats for January:

Now everyone must be wondering how much would that be worth in Google Adsense clicks? Actually we have not monetized the site with advertisements of any kind and we are seriously thinking about it now. So we are wondering that same question. The problem is that when I tried to use my all powerful main Google ID to login to Adsense, it would not let me.

Here is what happens trying to login to Google AdSense with my main ID:

So if I try to create a new Google AdSense account with my normal ID this is next:

And the drumroll please… will it work???

No. It sends me back into a never ending vicious circle of denial. It makes me think of Nancy Kerrigan… “Why, why, why”.

Well I used to be a bad boy I guess. Back in the day I made a lot of money with SEO before it was fashionable. Back in 2003 and ’04 and ’05. I eventually got my Google Adsense account suspended for experimenting with who knows what. Now that I have sites cranking out millions of impressions using pure White Hat SEO, I hope someone tells me how to get back in there to do some more experimentation. Good clean fun this time – yeah, like Gregg Allman with a brand new [donated] liver.

Otherwise I think I’ll build a new even bigger and better site and 301-redirect those links to the new site.

I have 10,000 Inbound Links

Thank You Google !!  (For reporting to me in my WebMaster Tools Account that I’ve finally exceeded 10,000 inbound links). I’ve been building websites since before FrontPage 1997 was released and I’ve dabbled with SEO ever since. But this is a very big milestone and I’m super STOKED right now. This is also the 101st blog post from this website. Wow !!

OK – Where’s the money?

Well – it never works out like that for the good guys in SEO.  For the bad guys… that 10,000 inbound links would mean a payday. That’s a huge amount of work, and for White Hat SEO’s the reward is higher PageRank usually. Maybe a bit more TrustRank as well. For the Black Hat SEO’s generating ten thousand inbound links would probably be worth something like $10,000 to $50,000 depending on the site, the genre, and the clicks they were generating. I’m just handing out SEO tips and Web Design ideas so it’s not really a payday for me. But I’m still TOTALLY STOKED !

Thank You Google!! This was nice.

Google used to have a reputation for not reporting all or sometimes even many inbound links it was aware of. The new WebMaster Tools control panel has a lot more information and some of it is supplied by Google Analytics if you have that installed. The bottom line is if you are a webmaster and you want to see stats you MUST have a nicely maintained WebMaster Tools account AND Google Analytics.

Web Design WorkPlace SEO Example

On a handmade WordPress website done as a “work for food” project for a friend of the family, we are still achieving “over the top” results in 2011. For the phrase:

Manhattan Bakery

Our website ranks #2 in the Google main index behind one of the most world famous bakeries in the world – the Magnolia Bakery. Now Magnolia has been on magazine covers for many years since it was featured in a popular T.V. series “Sex in the City”. It’s got almost 1000 user reviews displayed from the busloads of tourists that are dropped off there on a daily basis. The website we promoted is a small Chinese Bakery on Bowery Street between Grand and Hester.

  • there are a dozen world famous bakeries in Manhattan that all rank below the site we built for our friends
  • there are 6,000 web pages that Google reports with the phrase “Manhattan Bakery” in their title
  • we have never paid for a link or solicited any linking scheme ever

How did we outrank all those world famous bakeries in Manhattan?

  • The design is stunning and the high resolution food and architecture photography is the best you will ever see on the internet.
  • This website does 10 to 15 GIGABYTES of bandwith a month
  • We pioneered the website image feature “Click it 3 times to blow it up“. That means you can click any photo you see on the site and expand the high res image to the point where a single chocolate covered strawberry can take up your entire monitor in perfect focus with exquisite detail. You literally cannot stop your mouth from watering when you “Click it 3 times to blow it up” on some of our Web Design WorkPlace food photos.
  • We use WordPress so Google loves the site because of it’s internal linkiness and other technical features.
  • We used On Page SEO to carefully hand tune the search engine optimization
  • We built a website that has over 100 pages with over 1000 photos !
  • Google Images favored the site and promotes the images in their image directory. We get a lot of people to the site from Google Images
  • We have as many as 50,000 unique visitors a year

If you need a beautiful website for a restaurant or any small business and you need it to rank well on Google, Please use the Contact Form to drop us a note and we’ll be happy to discuss your unique situation and what we can do for you.

Cheers !!  Regards everyone – Mal Milligan

Fighting Comment Spam

A week and a half after we described exactly how comment spammers work, one of the example sites has installed comment spam filters ! Bravo !! We wrote to the webmaster actually and whether it had anything to do with them installing the filters we will never know. Or if our article had any impact either. Only 3 to 30 unique visitors go to our site a day. But we are happy to show that it’s easy to stop spammers from tainting your otherwise respectable internet publication.

Cheers and so long spammers.

Web Design Workplace originally allowed comments but there were over 100 spamm comments dropped per day and it was an extra management chore to delete them that we did not have time for. So we went the route of providing interesting and valuable information but not trying to manage comments. Big publications with large staffs encourage commenting becasue they get lots of engaged readers that way. We engage readers with useful information and affordable web design.

Cheers !

Comment Spam

First of all, what is comment spam?

When you see a comment in a blog it could be a spam comment if it meets any of these criteria:

  • a hyperlink in that comment that has no relevance to the blog post,
  • the link is a “dofollow” link
  • the text in the comment appears “spammy” as if the writer did not even read the post and they threw up something totally generic and rather useless

Spam comments are like all forms of internet spam in that they take up valuable space and time and they contribute nothing. They are disingenuous tricks by spammers to increase their Google PageRank or to get more traffic.

There are surprising numbers of remarkably high quality internet publications that allow comment spam… to the detriment of their readers. Here is an excellent example of a top shelf site with a huge PR8 on their homepage that unfortunately allows comment spammers to drop spammy links until other readers flag them. Foreign Policy no less:

And note some of this comment spam garners a massive PR5 link back to the spam target site before other readers flag it. I’ll show you an example of that… a successful PR5 linkback from a spam comment. That is enough to trick Google into giving PR to the target site in many cases. Sometimes the spam is never flagged…

And these links are still passing PR as I write the article…

What does the Spammer get by dropping Spam Comments?

Here is why the “comment spammers” do it. One of the most important factors Google considers in “the Algorithm” for giving your web page “PageRank” is the inbound links to your page. Google looks at their PR (PageRank), their “anchor text”, and their “relevance”. Google only ranks your page based on “DoFollow” links (which pass PR to the target page) as opposed to “NoFollow” links which do not pass PR. So the more inbound links you have with high PR and high relevance, the higher the target page gets pushed in PageRank and in rankings for the key phrases that page are about. Sometimes even when a link is not really relevant, Google still credits the target page with “link juice” and that boosts their PR. So comment spammers just have to find the juicy unregulated spam spots to use Black Hat SEO successfully… although it is usually somewhat short lived it still works for a time.

Want some proof? Check this very successful spammer:

And here’s the goods on this Comment Spammer. They have dozens of PR5 spam comments and believe it or not, even up to PR7 spam comments.

This guy is a really good comment spammer – very prolific.

Now what does all this mean for Affordable Web Design and SEO?

When you hire a firm to work on your SEO, you must keep tabs on exactly what they are doing unfortunately. Some firms and even big box SEO vendors use comment spamming to temporarily boost your PR and they won’t tell you about it because it’s ethically wrong and it goes against the Google Webmaster Guidelines. When you ask them about the inbound links they are generating for your site they frequently respond that it is a “Proprietary Formula that they cannot divulge”. What it really means is that they are ripping you off and telling Google on the long run that you are a comment spammer. Yeah, Google is a little slow to recognize these tricky comment spammers in some cases. That’s why when I catch one competing with one of my clients, I report them using my Google WebMaster Tools account. So when Google verifies that these are non-relevant dofollow links and they follow a pattern of comment spamming, they downgrade the target page to PR0. Yeah !! The moral of the story is “don’t pollute the internet with comment spam”. Affordable web design and SEO are totally legitimate if you go to the right group… like us at