How To Change Your Profile Pic On A Google+ Local Page

Plus sign imageChanging the profile pic on a Google+ (personal) profile is easy. Changing it on a Google+ Brand page is easy. But changing it on a Google+ Local page? I spent a good while trying to figure out how to do it, and seeing as a Google search on the topic yielded no helpful results (other than an article on Google+ Help, which wasn’t even the 1st result), I thought I’d blog about it.

It’s easy once you know (really easy), but what makes things confusing is the fact that your page may already have a profile pic – via Google Places. But if you actively start using the Google+ element of your Google Places/Google+ Local page (i.e. writing posts in the ‘Posts’ section), that section might have a default blue icon that Google shows when you don’t have an avatar…

So in other words, if you have a profile pic on the Google Places side of things (in the top section) of your listing, but not on the Google+ side of it (bottom half of the ‘Posts’ section, each time you submit a new post), then here’s the fix…

And nope, you can’t click the avatar in the top-right of the screen – that won’t work this time…

Google+ profile vs. Google+ Local screenshot
…Trust me, I tried.

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Social Media , ,

2-3 WordPress Plugins For Reducing Comment Spam (From 100s To <10 Per Day)

Want to know how I reduced WordPress blog comment spam significantly, using just 2-3 plugins, with no need for a CAPTCHA? Then keep reading, friend…

STOP imagePeople who know me well (especially on Twitter) will know that blog comment spam has been a major bugbear of mine for a while. I’ve tried multiple solutions, including CAPTCHAs (such as Animal Captcha, Sweet Captcha, Math Captcha, other more normal CAPTCHAs…) but experienced no joy. I also followed the steps in this guide, downloaded the plugins that were recommended and followed its instructions, but found that it just didn’t have the desired effect…

Unfortunately it’s not simply a case of purging the Spam section in one go without checking it. I get a lot of false positives (genuine comments that get filtered into the Spam section by accident), so I have to trawl through it all. One. By. One. Bearing in mind that I used to get about 100-200 spam comments everyday. Ouch. I also help to manage Cardiff Blogs (also built on WordPress) and while they don’t get as many spam comments as SEOno does, if left unchecked for a few weeks, I’ll have to filter through a few hundred…

Desperate for a solution, I stumbled upon 2 plugins and thought that I’d give them a go. The number of spam comments I receive now has reduced dramatically: from 100-200 per day to about 10. Much more manageable.

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Blogging , , ,

Should You Remove Bad Links? A Twitter & Google+ Debate

So this morning I woke up, opened Tweetbot on my mobile and found out that I’d received 29 @mentions from 3 people…

Earlier in the day yesterday, I left this reply to a tweet by @barriemoran about lifting penalties:

I’ve done a bit of manual action work myself (as Morgan Freeman can tell you!) and I always try to remove as many links as possible as part of the process. However I admire Leeds-based SEO agency Branded3 and @Tim_Grice‘s bold claim that “Branded3 [have] had over 60 manual penalty recoveries without removing a single link” (source). I threw @Branded_3 into the tweet as I was curious if they’d chip in with a response on the topic, which they did (in the form of Tim). Dozens of @mentions later…? Well…

Boxer image
* DING DING! * Ladies and gentlemen, in the red corner, we have Barrie and @ChrisLDyson, arguing that you should definitely try and remove links as part of the process. And in the blue corner (very apt, given their branding!), we have Tim on behalf of Branded3, suggesting that simply disavowing is enough and link removal isn’t necessary (and that they have 60+ success stories to prove it)…

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SEO, Social Media , , , ,

The SEOshank Reconsideration

“Do you feel you’ve been rehabilitated?”

A few months ago, I went through my first penalty removal experience for a client. They had a manual action notification in their Google Webmaster Tools account for having unnatural links pointing at their site, due to poor quality work from their previous SEO agency.

Before delving into filing a reconsideration request, we removed as many links as we could and disavowed the rest using Google’s shiny disavow tool. During the process, I researched reconsideration request best practice and discovered that it can be very hard to succeed on your first try – sometimes it takes multiple attempts. Even so, I wanted to follow the rules properly to maximise our chances of early success.

It took us 4 attempts in the end until we were successful and the manual action was subsequently lifted. With each attempt, given Google’s pettiness (as I will go on to explain), it was difficult not to just have a massive grump at them. In fact, it reminded me of certain scenes from a certain film

Disclaimer: If you haven’t seen The Shawshank Redemption, then be warned that there’s gonna be spoilers…

Reconsideration request #1 = Red’s 20-year parole hearing

When drafting my reconsideration request, I followed Marie Haynes’ excellent guide, which also includes an example draft. I followed the example pretty closely (unfortunately I didn’t save any examples, so I can’t share them in this post), which – as you can see if you click the link – is pretty courteous and friendly but also quite apologetic. It accept responsibility. It asks for forgiveness. It tells Google that we’re rehabilited.

Our “We have worked hard to resolve the quality issues on our site and are completely committed to following the Quality Guidelines from this point on” is Red’s “I can honestly say that I’m a changed man.”

I felt a bit like this:

Red's 1st parole image
…But this happened:

Red's 1st rejection image
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Stick Your Fork Elsewhere… Thoughts On Matt Cutts’ “Guest Blogging Is Done” Statement

Fork imageYesterday, Google’s Head of Webspam Matt Cutts posted a new blog post containing a very strong statement:

“Stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy.”

As expected, the SEO industy went nuts on Twitter (I have to admit that a lot of the responses were actually pretty funny). In the 12-ish hours or so that have passed since the announcement, there have already been some great response posts by SEO greats including Joost de Valk and Ann Smarty (to name just a few). Given that I’m a strong advocate of guest blogging, I wanted to chip in, too.

My immediate thought was this: the statement is intended to scare the spammers. People who spam guest blogging will (hopefully) be put off. But people who do guest blogging properly aren’t (or shouldn’t) suddenly be thinking of stopping everything. That would be crazy.

Here are some other thoughts…

Matt specifically mentions paid guest blogging

In Matt’s post, he complains about some guest blogging outreach that he received, especially the fact that they offered him money if they published it:

“If you ignore the bad spacing and read the parts that I bolded, someone sent me a spam email offering money to get links that pass PageRank. That’s a clear violation of Google’s quality guidelines.”

I’m curious to know if Matt would’ve made such a fuss if they didn’t offer him money. Granted, it was still a lousy outreach attempt (and of all the people to target…!), but it’s true: money shouldn’t be involved in a conversation about guest blogging (more on this below).

Not all guest posting is spammy

My concern is that people will suddenly think: “oh no, guest blogging… eee!” and run for the hills. But Stephen Kenwright makes a cracking point:

YouMoz, man! I challenge anyone to read YouMoz and find one post where someone’s blatantly only done it for the SEO-ness. I’ve had the pleasure of writing for YouMoz 6 times (2 of which were promoted onto the main blog), and not once did I think: “this is gonna boost my SEOz” – if anything, it’s an added bonus.

Click to read more!

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