Tag Archives: Google

For years, ardamis.com has had a Google rankings nemesis in ardamis.gr. For much of the time that I’ve spent watching the results for the search phrase ‘ardamis’, ardamis.com has consistently ranked #1, and ardamis.gr typically landed in second or third place. But at some point in 2011, and my recollection is that this was occurring pre-Panda, ardamis.gr moved to the top spot and has stayed there since.

Google search results for ardamis on March 15, 2012

Google search results for ardamis on March 15, 2012

The top 10 results returned for ‘ardamis’ as of March 15, 2012, while not signed in to Google, connecting from Chicago, IL, using IE9:

  1. http://www.ardamis.gr/
  2. http://www.ardamis.gr/index.php?lang=en
  3. //ardamis.com/
  4. //ardamis.com/2005/08/11/xampp-apache-namevirtualhost/
  5. https://twitter.com/#!/ardamis
  6. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g285708-d274279-Reviews-Ardamis_Hotel-Monemvasia_Peloponnese.html
  7. https://github.com/ardamis
  8. http://www.greeka.com/peloponnese/monemvasia/hotels/monemvasia-ardamis/index.html
  9. http://www.linkedin.com/company/ardamis
  10. http://www.facebook.com/pages/ardamis/90788288272

I can’t really explain why a post from 2005 on configuring a setting in Apache would be the second best page on the site, but I guess I’ll take it. My properties do pretty well, for what isn’t a highly competitive phrase. Items related either to ardamis.com or me personally appear in positions 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10.

I’ve done some comparing of these two domains, and I am still unsure why Google is currently favoring ardamis.gr.


I felt pretty confident that geography and Google’s focus on local search would mean that North American users would be returned results that favored ardamis.com, so long as they were not obviously searching for travel information about Greece. But this isn’t proving to be a safe assumption. Even more strange is that it’s the Greek language version of the page that Google is ranking first, even before the English language version. This promotion of a foreign-language page is very odd.


Google Toolbar Page Rank (I know, I know, but it’s one of many metrics I’ll use) shows ardamis.com getting a 5 and ardamis.gr getting a 3. I won’t make too much of this, but I wanted to point out that the toolbar PR is not equal.

I ran the list of URLs on the first page of Google through the Open Site Explorer to get a better sense of how strong the pages and domains were, and ardamis.com comes out on top.

URL Page Authority Domain Authority Links
www.ardamis.gr/ 45.29 34.3 433
www.ardamis.gr/index.php?lang=en 23.65 34.3 33
www.ardamis.com/ 74.06 69.38 149621
www.ardamis.com/2005/08/11/xampp-apache-namevirtualhost/ 42.18 69.38 29

As the table shows, the home page at ardamis.com has significantly more Page Authority than the home page at ardamis.gr, the ardamis.com domain has more Domain Authority than ardamis.gr, and ardamis.com has 300 times the number of inbound links. (Although, the vast majority of inbound links come from footer links in the various WordPress and Plogger themes I’ve designed. See below.)

Author attribution

The pages on ardamis.com all contain verified authorship markup linking them to my Google Plus profile, and I get my profile picture next to my pages in the results.

I don’t detect any author markup on ardamis.gr.

Structured markup

The pages on ardamis.com contain structured markup (HTML5 microdata as described at schema.org and hCard microformat). The Rich Snippets Testing Tool returns no warnings for ardamis.com. Rich snippets from the pages at ardamis.com are displayed as part of the page data in Google’s results.

The page at ardamis.gr does not contain authorship or rich snippet markup.

Site links

In July of 2009, ardamis.com had a Toolbar Page Rank of 6 and 3 one-line sitelinks, before later disappearing. Then, in October of 2010, the sitelinks returned for awhile before disppearing again. I last noticed the sitelinks in January of 2011.

(I would point out that the site still shows sitelinks when searching for my name.)

Inbound links

I’ve developed and released a WordPress theme and a few Plogger themes, and put links back to ardamis.com and the theme’s post in the footer. These links have helped the home page gain nearly 2 million inbound links, with the Apricot WordPress theme’s page gaining nearly 1.5 million and the most popular Plogger theme’s page gaining just over 70,000. That’s a lot of links.

Page Speed

Google’s Page Speed Online tool awards ardamis.com a Page Speed Score of 96 (out of 100), while ardamis.gr gets a score of 68 (out of 100).

I have put quite a bit of effort into optimizing the performance, and I’m pretty happy with a 96.


Post-Panda, I combed through ardamis.com and weeded out the posts that I was unsure about.

Other domains

I also own ardamis.net and ardamis.org, and have one-page placeholders at these domains with links back to ardamis.com


At this point, I wonder if ardamis.com is suffering a penalty somewhere. Maybe all of those footer links are actually hurting the site.

Or maybe the combination of a country code top-level domain and a real geographic location is just incredibly powerful when compared to a random word attached to a .com domain.

BrandYourself is a site with a very good idea – helping people gain a bit of control over the pages that their names rank for in Google. I first read about it in an article explaining why such a service may be useful at TechCrunch, which caught my eye due to my interest in SEO.

I have my own site (you’re on it), and I feel I know enough about SEO to have some influence over what shows up in a Google search for my name, but I was curious about what they were doing and wanted to see if they had any tricks I could learn. I created a profile and a links page to help promote my resume (2nd page on Google) and my GitHub profile (3rd page). After viewing the source code, I’ve determined that BrandYourself isn’t doing anything wrong, but I feel the execution misses a few things. It’s obviously designed for people who have a limited number of web presences, and probably no presences that they completely control (ie, they don’t have their own sites), but do have one or two accounts on sites like Facebook or YouTube where they can post information.

The main idea of the site is to create additional pages, and/or promote existing pages, that rank highly for your name. It is an opportunity to add another page to Google’s index, but one that is designed to rank well for a single phrase – your name.

While BrandYourself claims to have a deep understanding of SEO, many of their techniques are very beginner – url, title tags, h1 tags, etc. Using a phrase in these places is a safe and proven way to rank for that phrase, although there is no guarantee that a page that does this will outrank a page that does not. Using a phrase in various places on a web page are among the ‘on-page factors’ that Google looks for when determining the relative importance of a page. They claim that 3-5% keyword density (the amount of text on a page that is comprised of keyword phrases) is the target, but at first glance a not-very-completely filled-out profile page seems to easily exceed that density for my name. The links page in particular looks rather sparse and spammy.

Other factors contribute to rank as well. ‘Off-page factors’ are mainly links to that page from other pages, and these links carry significant weight. BrandYourself doesn’t seem to be doing any linking internally from profile to profile, or from profile to school/career/location hub. At the very least, I feel they should be using the person’s name as the link text in the single link pointing from the links page to the profile page. They encourage users to create inbound links (also called backlinks) to their page on BrandYourself, but don’t appear to link out from it, other than to a Links page that contains the links to your other profiles (ex. Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.).

Each account is given a URL that is a subdomain of brandyourself.com. My page is oliverbaty.brandyourself.com. That’s not bad, but I’m curious to see what happens when two people with the same name sign up. It’ll also be interesting to see if the brandyourself.com profiles for people with more common names can rise to the first page of the SERPs. The external pages you choose to promote, including your other social profiles, are displayed on a separate page on your personalized subdomain.

Interestingly, each subdomain has a robots.txt file, but not a sitemap.xml file. It does have its own 404 page (that sends a 404 HTTP status header), and the page will echo back the path part of the URL you pass it (url encoded, of course).

The interface is pretty slick, with lots of nice Ajax effects that one would expect from a startup today. There’s a little bit of badge-earning, but no big deal.

I already rank pretty well for my name, but there is always room for improvement. When I Google myself, about half of the results on the first page are profiles that I have some control over.

Oliver Baty | LinkedIn
(my profile)

(my site)

Oliver Baty | Facebook
(my profile)

Oliver Baty (@ardamis) on Twitter
(my profile)

Oliver Baty - Google+
(my profile)

Oliver Baty (1862 - 1941) - Ancestry.com
(not me)

Oliver Baty in Oak Park, IL | Miami University Of Ohio | Profile at ...
(about me)

Internet Archive Search: creator:"Oliver Baty Cunningham Memorial ...
(not me)

Oliver Baty Cunningham Memorial Publication Fund [WorldCat ...
(not me)

Oliver Baty Cunningham Memorial Pu Fund - Barnes & Noble
(not me)

Maybe it will take off later. The TechCrunch article states that BrandYourself had nearly 6,000 sign-ups between March 8 and March 17, so that’s pretty good. A Google search on March 20 for site:brandyourself.com returns “about 8,760 results.”

As of March 20, a Google search for site:brandyourself.com oliver baty returns no results. Two days later, my profile page and my links page were both in Google’s index. This was probably helped along by the links to those pages at the beginning of this article. As of March 22, a Google search for my name, without being signed in to Google, shows my BrandYourself profile page as the 10th result.

Google, what is up with your Google+ profile badges and your Google +1 buttons being different sizes?

There is a neat wizard for creating the code snippet for a Google+ profile badge. We get to pick an image size from one of four options, if we want the image to be hosted on Google’s server. (And why wouldn’t we?)

Small (16px)
Standard (32px)
Medium (44px)
Tall (64px)

OK, those are pretty acceptable, I guess, but I would really like to see something in the 20 to 24 pixel range.

What about the wizard for the Google +1 button?

Small (15px)
Standard (24px)
Medium (20px)
Tall (60px)

Wait, what?!? You’re using the same labeling, but the sizes are totally different. Not only that, but none of the sizes are shared between the two buttons. The Standard profile button is 75% larger than the +1 button. Grrr.

The Google +1 button wizard has more options, including a field where you may specify the path to an image, and the button itself is more dynamic. The profile button wizard is very basic, but it is easy to edit the HTML output to use any image. If forced to make my own image and host it, coming up with a custom profile button is clearly less involved.

As a third option, the configuration tool for the Google+ brand page badge makes it possible to essentially combine the functions of both buttons. While the badge takes up a large chunk of real estate, it is probably the best choice, as it looks good, has some bold colors, and adds some extra Google+ stuff (thumbnail images, a counter) that you can’t get from the basic generator.

My Google Reader feed is primarily Mashable, SEOmoz, and Smashing Magazine, with a few other sources that tend to come and go. Ideally, I’d like to come up with a way of displaying my starred items on a dedicated page here at ardamis.com, but until then, I guess I’ll just have to do it the old fashioned way.

Here are a few SEO articles that really are worth reading.

seomoz.org: Find Your Site’s Biggest Technical Flaws in 60 Minutes is a collection of tools and methods suitable for the non-technical site owner who wants to be a little more self-sufficient when it comes to identifying crawling, indexing and potential Panda-threatening issues.

seomoz.org: A New Way of Looking at Ranking Factors includes the really neat Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors and some explanation of the thought process behind it, and a short video on SEO basics.

searchengineland.com: The Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors is the original table, at full size.

seomoz.org: Set It and Forget It SEO: Chasing the Elusive Passive SEO Dream is a terrific article, both funny and technical, with two scripts to improve your tracking of inbound links and your site’s handling of requests that would normally 404.

seomoz.org: 12 Creative Design Elements Inspiring the Next Generation of UX is a randfish article with some really neat design examples.

sem-group.net: How To Optimize 7 Popular Social Media Profiles For SEO would be a good article to share with someone responsible for setting up profiles, but who doesn’t have a great deal of familiarity with things like H1 tags and nofollow links and their importance.

www.distilled.net: 7 Technical SEO Wins for Web Developers identifies areas where the developer, rather than the designer or content writer, can make improvements to a page’s SEO potential.

smashingmagazine.com: Clear Indications That It’s Time To Redesign isn’t really an SEO article at all, but it could be helpful when making an argument to change the site with the intention of improving bounce rate or other things related to visitor satisfaction.

smashingmagazine.com: Introduction To URL Rewriting does a good job of explaining what URL rewriting is and why you might want to do it.

Just a few weeks behind schedule, but a long time in the works, I’ve finally pushed the new WordPress theme for Ardamis live. Basic and elegant (I’m trying to establish a trend here), the theme also should outperform its predecessors in both page load times and SEO-potential. The index and archive pages should appear more consistent, and all pages should provide more complete structured data markup (schema.org as well as microformats.org). The comment form has been outfitted with an improved approach to reducing comment spam.

The new theme is pretty light on the graphics, due to increased browser support for and subsequently greater use of CSS3 goodness for box shadows and gradients. I’ve reduced the number of image files to two: a background and a sprites file.

Only half-implemented in the previous theme, the new look, “Joy”, makes much better use of structured data markup, or microdata. Google is absolutely looking for ways to display your pages’ semantic markup in its results, so you may as well get on board.

The frequency of spam comments increased dramatically over the past two months, according to my Akismet stats, so I’ve gone back to the drawing board and developed a better front-line defense against them. The new method should be more opaque to bots that parse JavaScript while still being invisible to human visitors leaving legitimate comments.

In sum, I think Ardamis should be leaner, faster, and smarter (and maybe prettier) in 2012 than ever before.

I have an Android 2.2.1 device, and I keep noticing what may be a glitch in the scrolling. This happens in all applications in which scrolling occurs, but most frequently in Twitter. I’ll be slowly scrolling along, swipe… swipe… swipe… trying to catch up with dozens of tweets, when all of a sudden the scrolling takes off lightning fast.

When it takes off, it goes much faster than I’m ever able to make it go, which leaves me with the impression that I’m invoking a feature. But I can’t purposefully recreate this accidental fast scrolling. The closest I could come was when I lifted my finger at the end of the swipe, and my finger was near the top of the application. But I can’t swear that this is where my finger is each time it happens.

Others before me have wondered whether this is a bug or a feature.

The thing is, I’m not even trying to go fast, I’m actually doing slow, short swipes while trying to scan a screen’s worth of content at a time, so when it starts scrolling quickly, I have to mash my finger down to put on the brakes, then scroll back to wherever I was.

Update 08.27.11: Could the fast scrolling happen when I scroll at the same time extra data is being lazy-loaded by the browser or app? So, I scroll a little bit, and the page starts loading some images, and before it’s done rendering, I scroll again. The page then finishes loading the images and processes the scroll event, but due to some glitch, goes berserk.

Q: Just how quickly does Googlebot visit a page after it is linked to from a post on blogspot.com?
A: Pretty darn quickly.

I am curious about just what data is being passed to pages by user-agents. To try to gather some of this data, I created a test page at Aleph Studios. This page records the keys and values of the $_GET, $_POST, and $_COOKIE arrays, along with the values that belong to the keys starting with HTTP_ from the $_SERVER array, and the value of $_SERVER[‘REQUEST_TIME’]. It bundles all this up into an email and sends it to me each time the page is accessed.

In order to get this page into Google, I posted a link to it on my throwaway blog at Aleph Studios on Blogger. The timestamp of that post is 9:13 pm. The email from the page as triggered by Googlebot is timestamped 9:14 pm. That’s pretty slick.

The HTTP headers sent by Googlebot and recorded by the page are:

HTTP_FROM = googlebot(at)googlebot.com
HTTP_HOST = alephstudios.com
HTTP_USER_AGENT = Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)

The page’s filename, title tag, and H1 tag are all “WvVdWfwgMcmypDqv7t”, so it’ll be easy to find in Google later. As I’ve observed in the past, within 20 minutes, the page on blogspot.com containing the string shows up in Google for a search on the string.

New pages don’t really take twenty minutes to show up in Google, but I don’t check Google very quickly after hitting the Publish button. The fastest I’ve personally witnessed a new page on ardamis.com appearing in Google was under 4 minutes.

As of April, 2011, the home page of ardamis.com has over two million inbound links, with over 2,800,000 total inbound links to all pages on the site.

This is an increase of 1,200,000 inbound links to the home page alone since July, 2010. I calculate that the home page is gained an average of 150,000 inbound links a month during the last eight months. That’s pretty amazing.

April 2011 Inbound Links

But I continue to be disappointed in the Site Performance area of Webmaster Tools. Try as I might, Google still thinks my site is crushingly slow, with average load times of 2.9 seconds, even though my independent tests suggest that the site consistently returns pages in less than two seconds.

April 2011 Site Performance

I’ll keep at it.

The sitelinks on ardamis.com seem to come and go. I noticed that they were back again a few days ago.

Google sitelinks for "ardamis"

But this time around, a search for “Oliver Baty” also returns sitelinks.

Google sitelinks for "oliver baty"

This is the first time I’ve noticed that a search for other than the domain name has returned sitelinks for ardamis.com, so I figured it was worth recording for posterity.

As of early October, Ardamis.com has its Google sitelinks back. I first noticed them back in July of 2009, when Ardamis had a toolbar PageRank of 6. Changes to Google’s algorithm later cost the site the sitelinks and reduced the PR to 5, which is how the site has appeared for the last year or so. Three months ago, in July of 2010 and one year after the sitelinks appeared, I noticed that all of the pages combined had over one million inbound links.

This is what a Google search for ardamis returns:

Ardamis' Google sitelinks

Ardamis' Google sitelinks

The second result returned, Final Fantasy XIII freezing on Xbox 360, is among my longest posts, has 91 comments, and enjoys some of the best inbound links of any page on the site, including from the forums at Xbox.com, Kotaku and GamesRadar.

The third result is my primary competition for the term ardamis, which briefly held the number one ranking a few months ago. That site has some one-line site links.

The actual mechanics of obtaining sitelinks remains a mystery, but there are plenty of people who are willing to speculate (and a few brave enough to promise they can deliver them for a price).

I’ve been posting more frequently, the site uses the WP-Paginate plugin and according to Google’s Webmaster Tools, the home page alone now has well over one million inbound links, but otherwise it’s been business as usual here.

Ardamis home page one million links

Over one million inbound links to the home page of Ardamis.com

I’m not going to speculate about how to get sitelinks or whether one or more of the changes in the last year was the catalyst, but Google does say to use descriptive and non-repetitive anchor and alt text in a site’s internal links and to keep important pages within a few clicks of the home page. These are very basic, fundamental things that any site should do, but it bears repeating.