Everything You Need to Know about iOS 7

Posted by Harshad

Everything You Need to Know about iOS 7

Everything You Need to Know about iOS 7

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 01:56 PM PDT

Apple iOS has gone through 6 versions and now we are getting iOS 7. Announced at the WorldWide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2013, iOS 7 aimed to please with its massive redesign and fancy new features. It’s time to quench those rumors and check out what iOS 7 (beta still) has for iOS users.

While developers play with the beta version of iOS 7, which will be released for iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPad 2nd generation and above, iPad Mini, and the 5th generation iPod touch, let’s check out what made the cut, what got updated, and the juicy details behind this latest update to the world’s most advanced mobile operating system yet.

1. UI Redesign – Flat, Simplicity

iOS has been redesigned, from the app icons and colors to typography, buttons and the general outlook — everything is simple and clean. The homescreen wallpaper uses gyroscope hardware to give the background picture a parallax effect. As you move your device, you can clearly differentiate the homescreen layer from the app icon layers, and this works throughout the system.

Translucent design on the keyboard as well as system-wide (Mail, Messages, Calendar, Game Center) are present throughout the OS; you get a view of what is happening at the back. Swipes form the left edge of the device brings you to the previous menu or back to the previous webpage. Pages for app folders have also been implemented, perfect for your ton of gaming apps.

The Notification Center now works on the lockscreen and also has a new look. You can see today’s notifications, missed notifications or all notifications through the buttons at the top. Calendar events are accessible with a single swipe all the way to the top.

2. One-Swipe Access Control Center

Access settings and options in a heart beat with Control Center. Swipe from the bottom of the screen to access settings like WiFi, Bluetooth and also change brightness and control music playback.

Control Center also allows you quick access to a few apps like the camera and calculator. It also lets you turn on the flashlight, and since Control Center works on the lockscreen, you’ll be able to turn the light on to find things in the dark without the need of finding an app.

3. Smarter Multitasking

Orientation lock and volume slider are also on the Control Center. Multitasking now lets you peek at the apps which are opened. Slide through all the app previews and double tap on a preview to launch the app.

iOS 7 recognizes your app usage patterns, and will allocate more resources for your favorite apps even with other apps open helping you to improve battery life. It’s even intelligent enough to know that you’re going to use Instagram around lunch time and will allocate resources for that behavior.

There’s also Intelligent Scheduling that works with networks where it will only push updates for an app when you have a strong network connection.

4. Safari’s New user Interface

Browsing the Web on Safari now is better with its automatic full screen mode. As you scroll down through content, the address bar that you normally see will be minimized to only show the website name. The buttons at the bottom will also be hidden until you scroll up to reveal the controls.

The address bar doubles as a search bar with new features: typing in part of a word will show you the Top Hit and also shows other Google search suggestions.

You can now open unlimited tabs on Safari. Scrolling through multiple tabs looks like you’re scrolling through a file cabinet, where you can only see the top. Just tap on the website to open it, tap and hold to rearrange the tabs or swipe it to the right to close it.

iCloud Keychain that saves password throughout all your Apple products featured on the new OS X Maverick is also integrated to Safari for iOS. Shared links by your Twitter followers are also convieniently located next to the Reader tab which syncs throughout your other devices.

5. AirDrop Sharing Between iOS Devices

AirDrop is now available for transfers between iOS devices via peer-to-peer WiFI connection. Turning on the Share Sheet on an app, you can find users who are nearby and tap items to share. A notification will appear on their device and when they open it, it will open to the relevent app and show the content that you shared.

Since it uses new hardware, AirDrop only works on the iPhone 5, 4th-gen iPad, iPad mini, 5th-gen iPod Touch.

6. Quick Camera, Geo-sorted Albums

The camera app now comes with 4 features accessible by left or right swipes: Videos, Photos, Photos in a square frame (for instagram) and Panorama pictures. New filters have also been added to the camera app on top of the basic editing features that is already available.

The Photos app also auto organizes your photos into moments based on location and date. It shows the location name and date when you first enter the Photos app. You can then pinch to zoom out and view collections where it sorts by locations only.

Zooming out again then shows you the photos taken, sorted by year. It can roughly tell you highlights of each year like you visiting another country for holiday. You can then tap, hold and swipe your finger across the small pictures for a quick view.

Share pictures on iCloud photo stream of your family. You can also access shared photo streams and view comments on pictures and shared videos through the Share tab that looks like a social network feed.

7. Siri & iOS In The Car

Siri is now smarter with integrated Wikipedia and Bing support built in for your search queries. There’s also Twitter where Siri can check out what your friends are saying. Other than Siri’s new look with the soundwave, it now shows results in a cleaner way.

Siri now also has a male voice, and can speak to you in French or German (more languages coming soon). Voice commands are also available for actions like "play my last voicemail", "turn on Bluetooth" or "increase brightness".

Because of these voice commands that let you change settings on the system, Siri will be integrated into 12 car manufacturers in 2014, which leads to the new feature called iOS In The Car.

With the powerful voice commands, you can easily call someone, play music, get directions with Maps or have messages read to you without you having to look at the car’s center console or iOS device.

8. iTunes Radio & More Music Control

Apple now has its own Radio app similar to services like Pandora. It’s built into the new Music app where you can see featured stations or songs that are trending on Twitter. You can create your own stations based on music genre or your favorite artist and then share it with your friends.

While music is streamed to you, you can choose to "play more songs like this" or "don’t play this song" and it’ll intelligently tweak the playlists further.

It keeps track of all the songs that you listen to on the History tab so you can opt to purchase it later. iTunes Radio is also available on your Mac, PC or Apple TV and is free with ads unless you’re a iTunes Match subscriber.

With the Music app update, you can see all your purchased music, movies and TV shows over iCloud on your device. Landscape mode also shows you all your album covers where you can just tap on a cover to start listening to it.

9. More Features

Here are a few more interesting things that you might want to know about iOS 7.

The App Store has changed where you can look for apps based on age range and view popular apps around you. Apps now also auto-update.

FaceTime will also feature audio only calls together with the ability to block numbers so they can’t reach you over the phone, FaceTime or messages.

Find My iPhone has an update with Activation Lock. Even if someone disables Find My iPhone or wipes the entire device clean, they won’t be able to use it as your iCloud user ID is required to use your device.

Notification syncing is also a new feature where notifcations that you’ve cleared will be gone throughout all your devices.

Tencent Weibo will also see more integration on iPhone.

Also, 1500 new APIs will be released to developers to integrate all the cool new features and looks of iOS 7 to their apps, so expect more features to turn up when iOS 7 comes to your iDevices this fall.


Apple’s WWDC 2013 Keynote: Highlights, Summary & History

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 12:54 PM PDT

So there you have it, the announcement of this year’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2013. This year, Apple gave fair warning for ticket sales and the public responded by giving giving Apple it’s fastest sold out event ever: 2 minutes 71 seconds. Attendees came in from 66 countries and two-thirds of them are first-time attendees.

wwdc logo

Everyone got something from the latest WWDC keynote address. We got a new, cylinder(!) Mac Pro (tell us if you love or hate the new design), and a new OS – OS X Mavericks (they ran out of cats), with higher responsiveness and longer battery life (it’s about time); Maps gets a second chance, users get a new password-management system for iCloud, Finder gets an update and more.

If you missed it, here is a quick recap of the highlights.

1. OS X Mavericks

So because of a dwindling supply of cats, the 10th OS version was named OS X Sea Lion , OS X Mavericks, and it promises to extend battery life and provide better responsiveness, hitting a 1.4x performance improvement over Mountain Lion.


App Nap

App Nap selectively assigns power to the thing that has your immediate attention and runs on OpenGL 4 for super-responsive graphics.

Timer Coalescing

Timer Coalescing lets the CPU power up from idle mode on lower energy needs, reducing CPU memory by 72%. Even Safari has a Power Saver option to help direct power to what is in the centre of your attention.

With shared memory resource cache and power saver, Safari kills the competition, and is said to be run on only one-third of the energy of Firefox.

safari usage

Apart from being able to share links more easily via Linkedin and Twitter, Safari now sports a sidebar bookmark, which actually lets you go through your Reading List as you read.

Finder Tabs

Your Finder is going the way of Tabs, like how it is with major browsers these days. Rather than have so many windows, just open up all your files into multiple tabs.

Open windows can be merged into tabs with just one clicks and files can be transferred from one folder to another just by hovering over the tabs.


Tagging is brought to the Mac. Save a document and give it a tag and have the tags turn up automatically on the sidebar. As tagging can now be done anywhere, including on files on the iCloud, all files with the same tags can be pulled up with a single click.

Users can assign multiple tags to the same document, making all their files easy to search and retrieve.

Multiple Display

Multiple Display support allow you to work on, multiple screens, even though only one device is physically connected, even if it means you are using Apple TV as one of your screens. Full screen spaces can be pulled from one display to the next and the dock and other menus will be displayed on each connected screen as well.

Password Management With KeyChain

Apple is taking it upon themselves to better safeguard and help their users better remember their passwords, account information, Wifi-networks and even credit card numbers with iCloud KeyChain. Safari auto-suggests passwords for you, and even extends this option to your logged-in credit card information.

Yay or nay? Tell us in the comments.

Respond Via Notifications

They hit the jackpot this time with responsive notifications, allowing you to reply to notifications on your Mac, as if you were on the iPhone.

Reply straight to friends who are messaging you over messaging apps, delete emails as they come in (straight on the notification), reply Facetime calls with a text message (although I’m driving now doesn’t work) among others. All notifications are logged in, and will pop up when your machine wakes from sleep.

Smarter Calendar

You can now integrate your calendar with your Facebook calendar, but more importantly, setting up an event like a simple Lunch date, prompts the calendar to suggest places for you to dine in, gives you projected weather forecasts as well as suggestions on travel time (and when you should make a move).

Sounds like Google Now to me but hey, this one lets you send your information to our iPhone when you’ve got to go, so that’s a plus.

Smoother Maps

Apart from sending calendar events and suggestions to your iPhone, you can also send directions on the Map app to the iPhone from your Mac. This will show on your lockscreen and once you are in your phone, you are taken straight to navigation.

The Map app looks smoother and 3D rendering of the Flyover data looks stunning. Just give it a spin and rotate around the Eiffel Tower to have a look.

iBooks on Your Mac

iBooks is now available on the Mac, giving users access to 1.8 million books including interactive textbooks. The table of contents can be found at the bottom of the book title, and finding a page is as easy as scrolling through the pages at bottom of the book.

You can add notes in between, highlight important text and generate study cards from those marked passages for a highly interactive learning experience.

Macbook Air Lasts ‘Full Day’

We’ll keep it brief. Enhanced battery life. 4th generation Intel core processor. Haswell ULT. 40% faster graphics, dual GPU execution units. With all this, your Air can wake up in a second, or stay on standby for 30 days.

The 11” also got an extension in battery life, staying awake now for to 9 hours. 13” goes from 7 hour battery life to 12 hours. Good news for power users on the go. 11′ starts at $999 with 128GB; 13′ starts at $1099. Both start shipping today.

But more importantly…

Mac Pro (Became a cylinder)

When, they innovate, they innovate. The new Mac Pro now only takes up one-eighth of the original volume and packs a power in its relatively tiny frame. Two times faster than the old Mac Pro, this new addition to the family has a ‘central thermal core’ running on 12-core Intel Xeon processor, Flash storage, supports 4K displays and is available only at the end of the year.

Prices yet to be announced. And oh yeah, you can hardly recognize it too.

iOS 7

Oh yes, we got a new mobile OS version and iOS 7 promises new features (Control Center, Airdrop for iOS, smarter multitasking etc) that you shouldn’t miss and new designs as well. Siri gets a new look, we’re getting iTunes Radio, and iOS comes to life in your vehicle.

We’ve devoted another post to just the enhancements done to iOS 7 just so you can get to the nitty-gritty details. So don’t miss out on that.


History of WWDC Announcements [2003 - 2013]

Ever wonder what happened in previous Keynote Addresses? Well, we’ve looked through all the previous keynotes and pulled out some of the more major announcements from each WWDC beginning with 2003. The list is not exhaustive.


  • Safari 1.0 & iApps were introduced
  • Power Mac G5 launched
  • Preview of Mac OS X Panther (10.3)
  • Mac OS X 10.3 pre-released
  • Expose – open multiple apps at once
  • iSight video camera introduced

Attendees: 2900



  • Cinema Display, 23” and 30”
  • iTunes 4.9 was demoed
  • Preview of Mac OS X Tiger (10.4)
  • Spotlight Search
  • Dashboard for Widgets
  • Automator – taskmaker

Attendees: 3500



  • Podcasting in iTunes
  • Transition to Intel processors and x86 platform announced
  • Xcode 2.1 released
  • Carbonized apps
  • Rosetta

Attendees: 3800



  • MacPro announced
  • Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) announced
  • Time Machine – backup everything
  • Spaces – virtual desktops
  • Core Animation
  • Text-to-Speech
  • Web Clip – Web Page turns into Widget
  • Dashcode
  • First Get A Mac Ad, featuring John Hodgman as PC and Justin Long as Mac.

Attendees: 4200



  • Preview of Mac OS X Leopard
  • New Finder
  • Cover Flow introduced
  • Quick Look introduced
  • Safari for Windows
  • iPhone debut

Attendees: 5000



  • iPhone OS 2.0
  • iPhone 3G
  • App Store for iDevices
  • MobileMe (precursor to iCloud)
  • Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) announced

Attendees: 5200
[First sold-out WWDC]



  • New 15” MacBook Pro
  • Handwriting recognition on trackpad
  • Safari 4 for Leopard, Tigers, Windows
  • Release of iPhone OS 3.0
  • Find My iPhone
  • iPhone 3GS

Attendees: 5200
Tickets sold out in 1 month]



  • Netflix for the iPad
  • iPhone 4
  • iPhone OS 4 gets renamed iOS 4
  • iBooks
  • FaceTime for iPhone 4 on WiFi

Attendees: 5200
[Tickets sold out in 10 days]



  • Mac OS X Lion
  • Multi-touch trackpads / multi-touch gestures
  • Mission Control, LaunchPad
  • AirDrop
  • OS Updates from App Store, No more discs.
  • iOS 5
  • Reading list, Tabbed browsing for Safari
  • iMessage
  • Photo Stream
  • iCloud announced

Attendees: 5200
[Tickets sold out in 12 hours]



  • New, thinner, lighter MacBook Pro (0.71 inches thick)
  • New, thinner iMac announced
  • 15-inch MacBook Pro (Retina Display)
  • Mac OS X Mountain Lion
  • iOS 6 announced
  • New iPad

Attendees from over 50 countries : 5000
[Tickets sold out in 1 hour 43 minutes – require Apple ID associated with paid Apple Dev account.]


A look Into: The History Of iOS And Its Features

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 06:01 AM PDT

Editor’s Note: At the point of publication, we are a few hours away from the release of iOS 7 in WWDC 2013. To find out the latest features for iOS 7, stay tuned.

Apple’s iOS (previously known as the iPhone OS) has come a long way – 6 and a half years in the making for 6 generations of iPhones, together with multiple generations of iPads, and iPods. If you’re someone who started out with an iPhone 4 and not know what came before that, then take a trip with us down memory lane to check out the history of Apple’s iOS and the features that were introduced in previous WWDC events.

It might be a long post as Apple has released a lot of updates since the first-generation iPhone. Some might not know how it looked like, but it wasn’t as pretty as the iPhone 5, that’s for sure. We won’t be talking about the design aspects of the device, but rather talk about iOS itself and the improvements significant to the iOS of today.

iOS 1: The Birth Of The iPhone [2007]

iOS, then known as iPhone OS, was unveiled at the Macworld event, early 2007. At the time, features of the iPhone were very limited. There wasn’t an App Store, you couldn’t multitask between the built-in apps, move the app icons on the homescreen (until the 1.1.1 update), copy and paste text, attach files to email, 3G and MMS.

However, while other devices were still using resistive touchscreens, Apple revolutionized its iPhone with capacitive touch capabilities, making the whole experience of a smartphone smooth and swift to users.

iPhone 1

(Image Source: Lusakatimes)

The capacitive touchscreen made multitouch pinch-and-zoom and smooth scrolling a thing of the future as users experienced it when surfing on the Safari web browser, or zooming and scrolling through pictures on their camera roll. Google Maps was also awesome on the iPhone because of the capacitive touch – zooming in and out quickly had most of us excited back then.

iOS 1

At the time, Apple already had a wide customer base on iTunes who bought music for their old school, touch wheel iPods. Apple then excited the crowd as the iPhone was also called a ‘wide screen touch enabled’ iPod, the first of its kind.

iOS 2: App Store [2008]

Remember how the iPhone had no App Store and all you had were the built-in apps by Apple? Me neither. The release of the App Store in 2008 built into the OS meant that users can browse and then download apps directly on the device.

Apple also used the iTunes accounts so people would just have to enter their ID and password in order to start purchasing apps with the same credit card they use to purchase music on their computer.

App Store

(Image Source: DotSauce)

Other features added were Microsoft Exchange support that allowed for push emails, calendars and contacts from other sources and Apple’s MobileMe (already replaced by iCloud). The native Google Maps app also had updates with street view, walking and public transport directions.

iOS 3: iPhone Enhancements [2009]

Compared to iOS 2, iOS 3 was a core update launched together with the iPhone 3GS in 2009. Apple introduced the ability to cut, copy and paste just like how you can do it now, Spotlight search that lets you search for anything system wide, push notifications for 3rd party apps, MMS, voice control, USB and Bluetooth tethering, and the Find My iPhone app. Most of these features introduced then have stayed on the iOS till today.

iPhone 3GS

The native camera app also saw an improvement with video recording and the tap-to-focus feature. Apple also introduced the iTunes app where users could easily purchase and watch content on the phone. This release also allowed developers to create bluetooth and dock accessories through the large amount of APIs released on Apple’s SDK.

iOS 4: Multitasking, Retina & FaceTime [2010]

Recent users probably cannot fathom the idea that iOS could not multitask apps at a point in time. Lucky for them, iOS 4 was when the multitasking bar was born. With this multitasking feature, apps could work in the background allowing users to switch between apps faster, with its previously saved state intact. Other music apps other than the native music app could also work in the background too.

iOS 4

Apple also introduced app folders, custom wallpapers to replace the black background for the homescreen, FaceTime and Retina support for the iPhone 4. Moving from the iPhone 3GS screen to Retina was a big deal as developers had to make apps look good on high-resolution screens.


They also introduced a unified Inbox on the native Mail app for users with multiple email accounts, a less cluttered Inbox with threaded emails, the ability to search text on the Messages app and geotagging photos.

WiFi tethering or Personal Hotspot as we now know was also included in later updates of iOS 4. That together with Game Center, AirPrint and AirPlay were released in the first quarter of 2011.

iOS 5: Notification Center, Siri & More [2011]

iOS 5 was the most impressive update Apple came out with in 2011. The iPhone 4 was already a big hit with its Retina display, that together with the features of iOS 5 blew away any competition. Apple marketed Siri as an iPhone 4S feature.

It was (still) a big hit, bringing voice assistance and information to your fingertips instantly, with voice recognition. iCloud was also released, making backups and setting up new iOS devices easy.


Remember when notifications used to be a mini window right in your face? Well, Apple also released the Notification Center and the sleek notification bar, giving you the choice to interact with the notification while using an app.

The lockscreen also saw improvements with lockscreen notifications where you can quickly swipe the app icon to open the app, and launch the camera app from the lockscreen, like you can do now.

iOS Notification

Other brand new features that were introduced include: Reminders app that synced with iCal and Outlook and featured location-based reminders, iMessage, Newsstand, Twitter integration and multitasking gestures with a split keyboard on the iPad.


Previously, syncing your device to iTunes meant you had to wait for it to finish before being able to use your device again. In iOS 5, Apple got rid of that so users could use the device while syncing. The native camera app also saw an improvement, they added basic editing features and users can use the volume button to snap a picture.

There was also the feature of updating iOS over WiFi, alongside Safari Reader, which takes away all the clutter leaving you with just text to read, and rich text-editing on the Mail app.

iOS 6: Apple Maps & Passbook[2012]

Before iOS 7 is released to users, this is the OS where most of us are right now. iOS 6 was where we saw the release of Apple’s own Maps app with turn-by-turn voice navigation. As they tried to step out from Google’s shadow, they removed the native Google Maps and YouTube app found in previous versions of iOS. However, Apple’s Maps failed on them and many looked to alternatives before Google Maps was re-released on the App Store.

Apple also introduced Passbook, marking entry into the world of digital wallets and payments with a mobile device. New features also include Do Not Disturb mode, Guided Access, panorama photos on the native camera app and Facebook integration allowing users to update status with a button on the notification center.

The bulk of Apples "200 new features" in iOS 6 were more of updates, which included

  • Updates to Siri
  • FaceTime over cellular
  • Photo Stream over iCloud
  • better sharing options throughout iOS
  • remodeling of the App Stores
  • enhanced Safari with iCloud tabs
  • VIP mail on the native Mail app
  • more Emoji
  • new calling features, allowing you to set a reminder to call back or reply with a text message.

How to Recover From Penguin 2.0 Using Only Free Tools

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 03:01 AM PDT

Editor’s note: This article is contributed by Fairuze Shahari. When he’s not furiously downing G&T’s, Fairuze writes for CloudRock.asia, a web design and SEO company with a presence in Singapore and Malaysia.

I spent the second week of May writing an in-depth article on how to prepare for Google’s Penguin 2.0 (also known as Penguin 4) update. Of course, the update had to arrive the moment I finished the article.

Oh well.

Anyways, a better article came to mind – let’s instead look at how you can attempt a Penguin recovery using only free tools.

Most bloggers, web designers and freelancers in general don’t want – nor need – to pay expensive monthly subscriptions for SEO software. That’s not to say that using paid tools would make it that much easier anyway. The Penguin update is notoriously hard to bounce back from.

Many webmasters are still assessing the damage (or windfall) to their Google rankings. We’re in the early days and Google is far from finished. It still has yet to devalue upstream links from link spammers (tiered link builders, take note), which I personally think will be a game changer, especially for competitive niches.

Matt Cutts and the Webspam team are also actively evaluating feedback, so expect more movement in the search engine results page (SERPs) soon. As reports start coming in in the next few months, we will truly see how “jarring and jolting” this update has been (although an early report by the always-insightful Dr Pete of SEOmoz suggests 2.0 had less impact than its predecessor). It is expected to affect 2.3% of English (US) queries to a significant extent.

Why Penguin Was Unleashed

Google’s Penguin first waddled into view in April 2012. Penguin is a filter that sits on top of the regular algorithm and tries to catch webspam or more specifically, link spam. Many people get confused about the differences between the Panda and Penguin updates. Here’s a quick explanation:

  • Panda penalizes you for publishing thin and duplicate content
  • Penguin penalizes you when other websites with thin, duplicate or irrelevant content link to you

For example, Penguin will penalize you if your links come from a page that looks like this:

As you can see, the content has been spun beyond recognition and the anchor text is completely unrelated to the rest of the copy. It is an exaggerated example, but it serves to drive the point home.


At the time of the first coming, Penguin affected around 3.1% of search queries. There have been several refreshes over the past year as Google continues to refine its algorithm.

Here are what sites hit by Penguin 1.0 have in common:

  • Over-optimized anchor text
  • Links to and from ‘bad neighbourhoods’
  • Too many links from irrelevant sites
  • Black or grey hat tactics such as comment spam, links from spun content, guest posts from questionable sites etc

The best ways to determine if you have been affected by any previous Penguin updates is to check your rankings immediately after an update or to correlate any drops of traffic with known release dates (you can use Barracuda’s Panguin Tool).

And Then There Was Penguin 2.0

Penguin 2.0 is more comprehensive and goes much deeper. While Penguin 1.0 only looks at the links to your Home page, Penguin 2.0 will look at links to your internal pages as well.

If what we’re reading all over the Internet is correct, Google is trying to reduce its reliance on anchor text as a relevancy factor. Instead, it seems Google wants to give the relevancy of the content of the site linking to your website more weightage (which is a step forward in our book).

We expect a lot of SERP movement in Malaysia, where the go-to SEO tactics (for companies at least) are directory link building and press release syndication.

Google also released the Penguin spam report form. If you’re seeing spammy websites ranking in your niche, you can send them a report. They seem to be acting on it (and quite quickly) so now is a good time to send one.

What To Do If You Have Been Hit

Like we have said before, it’s early days yet so a lot of it is still speculation. We won’t know for sure until there has been a case study of an actual Penguin 2.0 recovery (and that will probably take months). Even then, it may or may not work for you – Penguin recoveries seem to be few and far between.

But if you have been hit, there are certain steps you can take to try to recover. These are:

  1. Performing a Link Profile Analysis
  2. Removing Suspicious Links
  3. Building Penguin-Safe Links

We have to warn you though, it’s not a quick fix.

1. Performing a Link Analysis

The first step is to conduct a thorough backlink analysis. This involves having a look at all the links pointing to your website, both in its entirety (i.e. your backlink profile) and individually, to determine what might be harming you.

Before you start your analysis, we suggest you create a spreadsheet with the following headers:

  • Website Name
  • Website URL
  • Anchor Text
  • Email
  • Contact Date #1
  • Contact Date #2
  • Contact Date #3
  • Status

As you go along, you can start collecting the contact information for the webmasters you need to contact to remove the links you don’t want. In order to conduct your link analysis, you have to use a backlink analysis tool. While the best ones so far are paid, there are several free tools out there you can use as well.

Here are the tools that we will be using today:

  • Google Webmaster Tools and /or Bing Webmaster Tools (both free)
  • Ahrefs (limited free use and paid)
  • Netpeak Checker (free)

Don’t expect to get comprehensive data with any of these tools, even if you do decide to shell out money for them. Each has its own limitations and will never provide you with the same quality of data that Google has at its fingertips. Your good judgement and experience will come into play as you analyze your links.

Is Your Anchor Text Over-Optimized?

The first thing you’re going to do is to determine if you have been punished for over-optimizing your anchor texts. This means that the majority of the links pointing back to you are using your targeted keywords as the anchor text.

But how much is too much? While there isn’t a global number, it seems that most SEO thought leaders believe 60% of your anchor text should be branded while only 20% should contain the keywords you want to rank for.

  • 60% branded anchor text (e.g. Cloudrock)
  • 20% exact anchor text (e.g. seo)
  • 20% miscellaneous anchor text (e.g. click here)

However, this will differ from one vertical to the next. Examine the links of the top results for your particular niche. What are their percentages of branded keywords and money keywords (the keywords they are targeting)? That’s a good way to find out the threshold for your niche.

Check Anchor Text Over-Optimization (Ahref)

Next, we are going to use ahrefs’ Backlink Checker (the free account) to quickly show you how to do a (limited) backlink analysis. If you like the product, you should consider subscribing for the paid version.

(#1) Go to ahrefs.com.

(#2) Register for a free account. You get more searches if you register.

(#3) Enter your URL.

(#4) You will see the results page below. Take a moment to study your backlinks. Every analysis you do will count towards your daily limit.

(#5) You then click on the ‘Anchors’ tab to have a look at your anchor text distribution.

(#6) Sort your anchor texts in descending order.

This quick analysis will help you determine if you have a problem with your anchor text distribution.

More Tools

There are other backlinks analysis tools you can use of course, such as Link Diagnosis (free) and Majestic SEO (limited free use). The data you get will differ. That’s not a problem for our purposes because we just want to gauge the relative weights of the anchor texts to see if we have a problem.

You can then start removing low-quality links with exact match anchor texts while building higher quality ones with more diverse anchor texts (from a variety of sources, of course).

2. Identifying Harmful Links

Now that you’re done looking at your link profile, it’s time to find out which particular links might be harming you. Here are some warning signs:

  • Is the link coming from an inappropriate website (for example, an adult site)?
  • Is the link coming from a link farm (a site created just for SEO)?
  • Is the link coming from an irrelevant site?
  • Did the link result from your participation in a link scheme or link wheel?
  • Did you pay for the links (for example, advertorials)?
  • Is it a site-wide link (footer or side bar links)?

We will also be looking at the toolbar PageRank (TPR) to gauge if the link is a good one. Just remember that the TPR is updated only once every few months. This means you won’t know if the site has been penalized by Penguin 2.0 until the next PageRank update, expected to be sometime in June.

It’s fine if you have some links coming in from unrelated sites or niches. Just make sure they don’t make up the majority of your backlinks.

Finding Suspicious and Harmful Links

(#1) Download and install Netpeak Checker.

(#2) Go to your Google Webmaster Tools accounts and log in.

(#3) Click on Traffic > Links to Your Site

(#4) Under the ‘Who Links the Most’ section, click on More. Click on Download this Table.

(#5) Now, open up Netpeak Checker and select the options as the screenshot below. We will explain the options in a bit.

(#6) Click Load; copy and paste the domains you downloaded from Google Webmaster Tools into the box that pops up.

(#7) Click Save and then the Start Check button on the bottom left corner.

Netpeak Checker Parameters

Okay, so now about the parameters you chose for Netpeak Checker:

As of this writing, the last Toolbar PageRank update was on 4 February 2013. If a website has a PageRank of 0 and was created after that, it means that it’s a new website and hasn’t had its TPR updated yet. If it has been around for years and still has no PageRank, then that might be a sign that it’s a low quality site.

A solid sign that it’s a bad link is if it has no pages indexed in Google. This means that it has been de-indexed, and you really do not want a de-indexed site pointing back to you (or vice versa). Now, go through each domain and try to determine which links might be harming you. Add those into your spreadsheet.

Let’s say you want to have a look at the exact page on the domain where you link occurs. You can use the following Google operator:

  • site:exampledomain.com link:yourlinkedurl.com/page

Theoretically, you can use the link: operator to find all the sites linking back to you. But it doesn’t work for us. Let us know if it does for you.

3. Removing Suspicious Links

At this point, you have looked at your link profile and identified the links you need to remove. So let’s get them off your website! There’s an easy way, and a hard way.

Contact Webmasters to Remove Unwanted Links

Once you’ve identified the links you think may harm you, your next step would be contacting the respective webmasters and requesting them to remove those links.

  • Create a Gmail account specifically for this link removal
  • Create a canned email template to save time
  • Start contacting the webmasters to remove those links

Some webmasters do not have their contact details on the website. You can look up the domain info using Domain Tools. If that yields no results, well, you could outright guess – webmaster@domain.com is a popular webmaster email address.

Wait a week for a response before you send a reminder. Remember to be polite; there’s no motivation for them to remove the link other than to be helpful (or sympathetic). You might even come across some webmasters who will request you pay a ‘processing fee’ to remove those links.

Never ever pay! Seriously.

You can disavow those links in the next step. And report those webmasters to Google, of course.

Use the Google Disavow Tool as a Last Resort

Google released the Disavow Tool sometime last year after many complaints about the initial Penguin update. What the tool does is to tell Google that you don’t want any of those links counted.

Try to avoid using Google’s Disavow Tool until you have exhausted all other options.

There will be times when you want to use a machete instead of a scalpel i.e. remove all links from an entire domain instead of individually. You can then use the domain: operator.

There are many guides out there that will teach you how to use the Disavow Tool. Here is a great one:

A Note on Footer and Other Site-wide Links

I’m sure there are many web designers here who have placed a site-wide footer links on their clients’ websites. These are a great source of referral traffic. You might have used your company name as the anchor text or you might have used a keyword-rich one such as “Web Design Malaysia”.

As Matt Cutts explains in one of his videos, Google’s algorithm does a good job of discounting such site-wide links. For example, a footer link that appears on every page of a 1,000-page website might be counted as only one link from that website to yours. However, problems might occur if your client’s website is under review and you are using a keyword-rich anchor text.

I would advise you to employ a branded anchor text and use the nofollow tag on such footer links. The nofollow tag tells Google not to pass any PageRank through the link (this is something you HAVE to do for advertorials, by the way). You still get that all-important traffic without the risks. Besides, site-wide links aren’t really much help in getting you better rankings anyway.

4. Building Penguin-Safe Links

Hongkiat.com already has a great beginner’s guide on link building so I won’t go into too much detail here. The important thing to remember about building links in a post-Penguin world is that you have to have a natural (or natural-looking) link profile.

The key to having a natural link profile is diversity.

  • Domain Diversity – Get links from many different domains, preferably with different TLDs, rather than a lot of links from a few domains
  • Link Type Diversity – Get different types of links (Web 2.0s, in-content, blog comments etc)
  • Social Signals – Get social signals back to your site (+1s, Likes, Stumbles etc)

Diversity Wins

Ensure that your anchor texts are also diverse. Use a mix of these types of anchor texts:

  • Branded (Cloudrock)
  • Naked (www.cloudrock.asia)
  • Miscellaneous (visit our website, click here)
  • Mixed (Learn more about SEO at Cloudrock)

Of course, the creation of unique, relevant and useful content should be the foundation of any good link building campaign. But that’s another topic on its own.

So Now, Just Wait…

Alright, you have done all you can do for now. That is, unless you want to send in a reconsideration request as well. However, note that the Penguin penalty is an algorithmic penalty. That means you will only be able to see an improvement when the next Penguin update rolls around.

This is unlike a manual penalty, where sending in a reconsideration request is a must. Here’s the link though if you would like to send one anyway. If you do decide to send one, remember to be as detailed as possible and outline all the steps you have taken.

Will you recover your previous rankings? Probably not. This is because your previous rankings were artificially inflated by those spammy links. But it does give you back your ability to rank again.

Tell Us

In the meantime, let us know in the comments how you’ve done for Penguin 2.0. Did your rankings increase or decrease? Are you seeing spammy or otherwise unworthy sites ranking for your niche? Don’t forget you can submit a Penguin spam report here. It’s still early, so any information you can provide would help all of us understand the implications of this update better.


Why Do Startups Fail? [Infographic]

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 12:02 AM PDT

Want to create a startup and be the next billion-dollar man? While most of us look at the bright side, often saying to ourselves, if they could do it, I could do it too – how hard could it be? Well, as this infographic will tell you, the possibility of a failed startup is a lot higher than one that would make the cover of Times Magazine.

Out of 100 businesses that will start today, how many will last for longer than 5 years? Take a guess. Within 5 years, half of businesses will close shop, and in 15 years, only a quarter will survive. This info comes from Staff.com’s infographic "What’s the chance a startup business will fail?"

Although those stats work for businesses beginning in 1994, survival rates are dropping (albeit slightly) as competition rises. Find out which businesses are dropping like flies and which industries are the best to build a startup in. Share your thoughts!

[via KillerStartup.]



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