Google hasn’t killed off SEO

My answer to an SEO colleague who basically asked me a version of the “Is SEO really dead this time?” question.

Google hasn’t killed SEO. They’ve just killed off some of SEO’s illegitimate children, namely link building of most kinds and article marketing. Personally I’m not sorry to see either of those go away.

The only recent link building I’ve seen that is apparently still working, is:

    Registering a site with a few of the top directories, slowly, over time. And really, only a few of these kinds of links are needed.,,, and are the minimum that would make a difference (as far as I can tell).

Regular on-page SEO is still very important. But it has morphed a lot over the last couple of years. It is no longer all about stuffing keywords in every available slot on a page. Now it is about making sure that the content sounds natural, that the keywords are addressed, and that one does NOT use the same two or three-word phrase over and over on the page.

Siloing (aka “page rank sculpting”) is still very important for SEO of large sites. We have sites ranking very well for a bunch of search terms (some of them very high volume) because of siloing.

Great content (RELEVANT TEXT!) is important for SEO.

The User Interface (UI) is important for SEO. What does the site DO with its visitors? If they bounce back to Google because the content doesn’t grab them, or the UI is confusing because there is more than one thing to choose, for example, or if the site is obviously NOT optimized for mobile users, then that page isn’t going to do as well in the rankings at Google.

Authorship is important for SEO.

Micro Formats ( is important for SEO.

Social Media marketing (getting likes and shares) is worthwhile for SEO. I’m not sure HOW Google is using those kinds of connections, but they apparently are using it, despite Matt Cutt’s protestations to the contrary.

Freshness of content is a factor in SEO, but so is having lots of older content. I assume that Google just wants to see that the site is still being worked on and hasn’t been abandoned.

Using WordPress or Joomla as content management systems no longer gives a site any edge at all in the rankings at Google, if it ever did.

Careful monitoring of all outbound links is important to SEO. Most of them should have the rel=”nofollow” attribute.

In my experience, if a site has:

1. Good content

2. At least a few links incoming

3. A few links outgoing, so it is not a dead end

4. Some social media mentions on a regular basis (likes, shares, etc)

5. Proper siloing

6. Proper search term indexing ( = lack of keyword stuffing)

7. Proper user interface, including good mobile layout, not confusing

8. Authorship (meaning a page at Google Plus about the author, that links back to the site, and then a byline on the page where authorship is desired, which byline links to the Google Plus page)

9. (or open graph) micro formats on relevant data such as locations, events, and so on

10. A lack of other technical problems (broken links, slow load time, unavailability to Googlebot, bad sitemaps, proper canonicalization, no unnatural linking, not new domain, no site-wide links out to another site, not cloaking, no duplicate content, headers as they should be, no 302 redirects, etc. — all the standard SEO technical things)

Then it has a good chance of ranking very well at Google, as many of my client sites do.

I can only use my own clients and anecdotal evidence to prove this, because that is all Google gives us any more. I don’t believe half of the info coming out of Jon Mueller and Matt Cutts, and I take all data from various SEO celebrities with a large dose of salt.

I’ve been quietly doing my own thing in SEO for 18 years now, and my clients are doing well, in terms of the traffic they are getting from Google. We also do very well managing Google AdWords advertising for our clients.


Jere Matlock

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Cold walks and an ice garden

The walks I am taking in the morning now require that I bundle up to stay warm. It was 18 degrees (F) when I went out a couple of days ago. It requires long johns and insulated pants and shoes and gloves and hat, and even with all that it is a struggle to keep my fingers warm enough.

Our pond is partly frozen. There’s a buried pipe, where runoff water from a spring above splashes into the pond year-round, and the splashes from that little waterfall have frozen into a chaotic ice sculpture. Every blade of grass and leaf is coated with ice. It’s lovely:

ice on pond

ice on pond

(Click to see larger image)

We lost our household water supply to frozen pipes for a couple of days, but everything thawed out yesterday and we are now back to having water again.

We soaked up as much sun as we could today — it was a very simple pleasure.

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Fall colors

This maple tree clings to the top of a large rock on the side of its hill. I see it every morning when I walk out Charlie Rock Road, and it is currently bright yellow with its fall foliage. Click to see larger image.

maple tree in fall colors

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Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from the Chandler Ranch.

spider web - happy halloween

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Walking through fog

As I write this, it is foggy here on the Chandler Ranch in southwest Oregon. My dog and I walked up the hill to the 8.5 mile marker, which is a mile from the house and about 400 feet higher, so it is pretty well uphill all the way. The fog lasted only until we were at Hell’s Half Acre, our oak savannah, which is above the landing where the radios that connect us to the internet are located. Above that, we were in the clear. With the sun coming up through the top of the fog layer at Hell’s Half Acre, I took this photo of one of our madrone trees with rays of light coming through it. Five minutes later, the fog had burned off there.

Walking two miles a day no longer seems exhausting — it is invigorating. I look forward to it.

Fog, sun rays, madrone

(Click image for larger image)

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Walking every day

As part of my cardiac rehab (see previous post about being happy to be alive), I have been walking every day since my open heart surgery. For about the first 8 weeks, I could not do much more than walk on my driveway, which is fairly flat. The idea of walking uphill was overwhelming, in part due to anemia, which results in shortness of breath. Now, at eleven weeks since the surgery (nearly 3 months) I am happy to report I am walking about a mile every morning, and half of that is up a pretty steep hill. I am walking up to the “landing” behind our house, where we have our internet relay station that we built a couple of years ago.

I bring a camera with me: sometimes the view is spectacular from the landing. Click image for a bigger view – it’s worth it.

Fall on Chandler Ranch, 2013

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Happy to be Alive

On a personal note: on July 24th 2013, I went to the Emergency Room of our local hospital in Coquille, Oregon, with some moderate and strange chest pain. It turns out I was dying and didn’t know it. I was in the middle of experiencing an “aortic disection”, where the inner lining of the main descending aorta separates from the outer wall. That “disection” also affected the big valve at the top of the heart that keeps the blood flowing in one direction into that aorta. That heart valve was kind of hanging down out of place and not functioning well. So, after some miraculous medical diagnostic work on the part of the radiologist who caught what was happening, a dramatic (and expensive) “life flight” to Sacred Heart hospital in Eugene, and some awesome work on the part of Dr. Koh, a very nice heart surgeon, early on July 25th I went under the knife for open heart surgery. They replaced the problematic valve with a mechanical valve, and did some work to shore up the inside of the aorta where it attaches to the heart. (Duct tape?)

Open Heart Surgery is not an experience I would recommend for anyone, but it is better than the alternative, which would be attending one’s own funeral. Without it, I would have been dead on 26 July.

The kindness and professionalism of the EMTs, nurses and doctors and physician’s assistants and all the administrative personnel at Coquille Valley Hospital and the Life Flight crew, and at Sacred Heart/Peace Health in Eugene has been overwhelming and unexpected.

I spent the next week after surgery recuperating in hospital, then they kicked me out and sent me home, back to the ranch on August 1st.

It’s now been 7 weeks since the surgery, and I am recuperating well, attending weekly cardio rehab sessions in Coos Bay, monitoring my blood closely for things I never cared about before, and taking all kinds of drugs for blood pressure, clotting factors, etc.

The moral of my story is: Don’t ignore warnings about high blood pressure. If I’d been taking the blood pressure drugs I should have been taking for the last 20 years, and hadn’t been smoking cigars for that whole period, and hadn’t had a genetic predisposition toward an aortic disection and a faulty heart valve, then I’d have possibly avoided this open heart surgery. But maybe not; it’s quite possible that despite taking blood pressure meds and not smoking for 20 years, I’d have had this happen anyway. The surgeon couldn’t really say that I could have done anything different to avoid having this happen.

So, having survived a near brush with death, and been given another chance at life, I am happy to be alive and very thankful to my family for “circling the wagons” and helping me get through this.

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SEM PDX – take-aways from an SEO conference

I made a lot of notes while attending the SEM PDX conference, held 2/22/2013 at the Governor Hotel in downtown Portland.

I confirmed again that we are already using SEO best practices, but we do need to implement some things to continue in the vanguard of effective white-hat SEO.

The main take-aways from SEM-PDX, for SEO professionals (at least for me) were:

  • Need to change the coding of the many websites for which I am responsible, from HTML 4.01 transitional (the easiest to code) and XHTML1, over to HTML 5 and CSS 3.
  • Use the open graph meta information on sites—which apparently only really works well on HTML 5 sites, hence the previous item
  • Start implementing the “breadcrumb” coding on sites that already have breadcrumbs in them.
  • Use the “organization” and “address” tags from wherever there is an address in one of the sites. (Have to go back and put this in on all sites – it’s simple but time-consuming)
  • Don’t use the “micro formats”—instead, use the coding.
  • Make sure the “author” tags are in place for all sites, tying it in to the G+ author bio pages. The “Publisher” tag doesn’t work the same way, so don’t use it.
  • Implement “twitter cards” on all sites that are active socially.
  • Implement the “video” tags from on all sites that have videos on them.

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Murder Pills

The Sandy Hook murders in Newtown Connecticut have been the trigger for an onslaught of anti-gun legislation. I’ve lost track of the number of bills–last count was about a dozen. I won’t glorify this legislation with the title “gun control”, because the real purpose of most of this legislation is to get rid of guns that those in power do not want us to have. The Second Amendment to the US Constitution is pretty clear about not infringing on our rights in this area: “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

What’s missing from all this is an investigation into the real cause of the violence in our schools. For hundreds of years we’ve had a country with many schools, where weapons were abundant and we didn’t have any shootings like this. Now it seems as if there is a new school shooting every few months. Why?

Here’s what one psychiatrist, Dr. David Healy, says about it. Now, if you’re at all like me, you probably think psychiatrists are about as loopy as they come, and that psychiatry bears the same relationship to medicine that astrology bears to astronomy. Even so, this one seems to have his head partially screwed on right.

Dr. David Healy on psychiatric drugs

See also his website to report the side effects of drugs at

CCHR has been saying that psychiatric drugs were responsible for this increase in violence for about 20 years. So have I, but then I’ve been a member of CCHR since 1972.

There’s an interesting new internet “meme” about “mass murder pills” based on the many requests out there for an investigation into the relationship between psychiatric drugs and violence. Do a Google search for that term and see what’s popping up now.

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Back from purgatory!

I have recently finished a fairly big project moving over to WordPress.

It was an interesting project, but it took a long time to do. WordPress is not my favorite kind of platform for an ecommerce site (this particular site sells advertising) and it used to rank very highly for the search term “Christmas gifts” at Google. It ranked #1 for years, helped by EMD (Exact Match Domain name) and by having thousands of links to it from websites linking to the free Christmas Clipart and free Christmas music there. Several attempts to re-optimize the old site (which I built in php and mySql originally in 2003, I think) were made over the last couple of years, to no avail. Suddenly the thousands of links to the site looked like an “unnatural link profile”, although they were completely natural!

So we have completely changed the way the site works and looks, with a very nice new graphic design in the WordPress theme created by Matteo Galbiati of He also found and modified some plugins so they work for our purposes. We used the Simple Ad Manager, which is kind of clunky but seems to work okay.

Matteo was a joy to work with – very responsive and he always had a solution for some fairly difficult technical issues within WordPress.

The new site is much better for shoppers now because it shows actual products and prices. It works better from an SEO perspective because visitors are not being send off to other sites through ads — they click on products and can purchase them right away. The site continues to offer great advice on what Christmas gifts to give to various kinds of people, but now you can SHOP! which is a much better user experience.

We’ve done yet another request for reconsideration at Google, and are looking forward to being back on page one of the search results for our search terms once again.

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