Coding SEO

Troubleshooting a massive link reclamation project

Now that the weekend is here, it’s time for some more development posts. My goals for the this weekend are:

  • Create a site taking advantage of SimplePie.
  • Get a decent Magento eCommerce store running without bugs
  • Continue learning Corona SDK.
  • Make my first attempt at learning SASS to style my <ul> and <ol> tags.

I’ll be learning how to use the SimplePie PHP library because I’ve recently begun preparing a massive link reclamation campaign for one of my biggest clients. Link reclamation is supposed to be one of the easiest link building tactics to scale, but so far it’s given me a headache.

According to everything I’ve read about preparing link reclamation campaigns, it’s as easy as setting up some Google Alerts. I’ve only gotten a bit further and I’ve started to run into three interesting issues. This is why you should never trust SEO blogs.

preparing a massive link reclamation with google alerts

Millions of Potential Keywords to Monitor

The first thing I realized is that to merely cover every single brand associated to my client, I would have to create over 100 Google Alerts if I only wanted to track brand mentions. If this sounds scary to you, learn how to use ReMouse. Any repetitive task can be done while you eat lunch if you use your brains and ReMouse.

In any case, the over abundance of potential exact brand mentions was a warning sign that I might have to deal with very dirty Google Alerts, but I decided to see what happens. In other words, I’m lazy.

Combine RSS Feeds or Use a Reader?

Next step was simplifying my life by combining the RSS feeds together. I didn’t want to have to check each individual one for quality sites. In addition, I wanted to be able to use the Copy All Links Firefox plugin to simplify checking SEO stats and scraping emails.

I knew I could use an RSS reader, but I wanted to see some alternatives first.


First service I found was RSS Mix. It’s free and simple to use. However, I didn’t want a public RSS feed. I also didn’t feel like I should waste my time seeing if the tactic bellow was doable with RSS Mix.

combining rss feeds

Yahoo Pipes

The next tool I tested was Yahoo Pipes. The main advantage of Yahoo Pipes over RSS Mix was the ability to add filters to the feed. I’d be able to remove duplicate posts and YouTube videos. While Yahoo Pipes is really powerful, it seemed to be suited for smaller tasks.

If you take a look at the image below, you can see that the filer can only take one pipe. Sure, I can merge up to 50 RSS feeds using the union filter, but it doesn’t leave much leeway for changes such as adding RSS feeds, removing RSS feeds, and identifying what RSS feeds are providing too much dirty data.

merging rss for link reclamation using Yahoo Pipes

Even though, I really want to learn how to use Yahoo Pipes in the future. I decided it was not right for the task at hand for the reasons stated above.

Digg Reader

In the end, it looked like a reader would be the fastest way to combine the RSS feeds so that I could start evaluating the data. Setting up Digg Reader was fast, but it still didn’t feel quite right. The reader does not allow you to filter the feeds nor is it optimized for Copy All Links.


I decided it might be best to use some personal time to get comfortable using SimplePie. Not only will make it easy to merge the RSS feeds, I’ll also be able to filter it and display it to my exact specifications.

This is why I was happy that the weekend was coming up. At work, I don’t have the time nor the billable hours to waste on trying to make an idea a reality using a PHP library like SimplePie. In fact, I don’t even really get to code anything. I’m not sure how far I will get this weekend, but I’ll do my best to document my efforts with SimplePie and setting up massive link reclamation campaigns in a future post.

Abundance of Irrelevant Data

My intuitions about dirty data were confirmed after getting the data using Digg Reader. I was getting alerted of a lot of brand mentions that would never lead to links.


The current setup created dirty data for three reasons:

  1. Ignored advanced search operators.
  2. Selected to receive all results instead of the best.
  3. Did not segment queries using Google Blog nor Google News alerts.

In any case, making my queries a bit more specific and using SimplePie to remove duplicates and alerts from sources that I have deemed useless for link building should hopefully solve all my problems.

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