Countermeasures against negative SEO done via spam backlinks

In today’s age, business and popularity on the Internet depends much on what Google thinks of your website. Being in the search engine’s good books has become the single biggest first step for online businesses. For legit people, it is great to know that the surest step to have an online presence is to target search engines. At the same time, for the blackhat people, it is great to know of the significant place to attack you.

So we have folks who choose to attack a website to take down its organic standing in SERPs.

Such targeted attacks do not come from mindless spammers. These are targeted and customized to bring down your domain’s good standing in the eyes of search engines and are personalized against YOU! It primarily comes from competitors as a form of corporate sabotage or from someone you may have rubbed the wrong way.

Negative SEO comes in many forms, a major one being spam backlinks to your domain. Spam here does not just mean unsolicited, but it means the ones that contain ‘negative’ content, which users (and hence search engines) do not like any bit. Remember search engines are just hyper-vigilant end-users?

So what is the recourse?
1.   Most of the time, one can let Google take care of it. For more reassurance, watch Matt describe Google’s default actions against Negative SEO attempts.

2.1   In some not-so-popular cases, one needs to request a reconsideration and to disavow backlinks. If you don’t want to go through the long article, here’s the summary:

This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you disavow backlinks only if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you. In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most normal or typical sites will not need to use this tool.

2.2   In another extreme case, if it is getting impossible to keep listing hundreds of backlinks targeted at you, consider disavowing entire domain. Though use this option carefully because one may disallow search juice coming from a domain. For example, if your domain gets genuine backlinks from a forum but some miscreants start creating spammy backlinks, then disavowing the complete domain makes you lose the juice the domains was sending your way.


Desk pinup mind map of the popular FrameMaker keyboard shortcuts

Memorize these popular keyboard shortcuts to boost your productivity when authoring in Adobe FrameMaker. Print this PDF and pin it to your workstation to use as a ready reckoner.

FrameMaker keyboard shortcuts reference

For specific keyboard shortcuts for Structured FM, use this desk pinup.
For a complete list of FM shortcuts, see this official help article.

Video demos of the top 5 ways to fix accessibility issues in existing PDF documents

This blog post is a compilation of videos showcasing the top accessibility fixes for PDF documents, using Adobe Acrobat.

Aka How can I improve accessibility in the existing PDF files without re-creating those?

Adobe Acrobat Professional comes in handy if you want to modify/update your existing PDF documents without re-generating it from the source files. While PDF documents are for consumption and are a final output without much scope for large-scale editing, Adobe Acrobat does allow you to do different types of edits, including but not limited to, editing text, editing images, manipulating backgrounds, manipulating watermarks, adding or modifying numbering, and so on. Another set of under-the-hood manipulations allow you to make your PDF documents accessible and help differently abled people consume the content. This also makes your PDF files more search engine friendly.

In the blog post on my team’s blog, I posted my favorite top 5 fixes for PDF documents to boost their accessibility. Click on the image below to access the blog post.

Top 5 accessibility fixes for PDFsIn this blog post I am compiling a few handpicked videos, shared by the fantastic Adobe Acrobat community, to showcase these top 5 enhancements.

Run OCR on a scanned document

The following video is a very quick but silent one. Watch it if you only need to quickly find how to do OCR in Acrobat.

The following video is one of the more detailed one out there, with a nice voice over.

The below video, recorded a few years ago by Tim Plumer Jr., has fantastic lucid narration (hence slightly longer) that showcases OCR using an older version of Acrobat. Watch this video if you are new to the OCR concept. While the UI has changed, the concepts remain exactly the same.

Add Document Properties and metadata

The following videos by Sally Cox, is a hidden gem. It describes in great detail where to find which properties and how to update open settings, metadata, and other Initial View. She also illustrates the change by showing before-after scenario. The 10 minutes are well spent, but view it with a mental state to learn.

For a very quick look at how to update just the metadata of a PDF document, watch the following video.

Set alternative text

Watch the following video to get a very quick look at just how to add alt text to an image.

Tag a PDF document or define flow

The following video talks about enhancing the flow of content in a PDF file. The video describes the issue of lack of flow in detail–very lucid.

The following videos shows tags in a PDF file and how to work with them.

Act on the detailed accessibility report

You can check the accessibility by running a full blown accessibility check on a PDF document. Two videos I think are useful to know how to run the report and act on it are below:


Image source is Wikimedia Commons public domain image.

How to better use the Adobe Connect features and do tweaks for your virtual events

Below is a running list of tips and tricks for getting the most out of your Adobe Connect sessions.

Hosts, presenters, and meeting attendees alike, can better their virtual meetings’, events’, and courses’ experience using these tips. Use the share buttons to help your network increases the mileage they get from Adobe Connect.

Meeting experience

  • For a smooth experience, connect using a wired Internet connection and close unnecessary VPN connections or proxies, WiFi hotspots, etc.
  • To know the quality of your network connection, click on the green button on the upper right corner of the meeting window. (More help.)
  • Use a solid-colored background image in an Adobe Connect room. Use your logo, if any, but do not use an image. Click Meeting > Preferences and then General. (More help.)
  • Avoid awkward silence in the room while you wait for the quorum, by uploading some music in MP3 format to a Share pod. (More help.)
  • Stop mousing around and prevent RSIs by knowing your way in an Adobe Connect meeting room using the keyboard. Click on Help > Keyboard Shortcuts in a meeting room. (More help.)
  • When ending a meeting, you can customize the message that is displayed to the attendees. You can use basic HTML tags in this message to format it. This is specially useful, when you want to leave the participants with a follow up action item, key takeaway, or your contact information after a session.
  • When ending a meeting, enter a URL in the Open This URL For Everyone field. It’ll open in the browsers of all the attendees, as soon as you end the meeting. You can direct participants to a resource page, your social media channel, a page seeking poll or feedback about the session, donation page, etc.


  • Before clearing your chat or Q&A pod history, you can email the contents to your email ID. (More help.)
  • While presenting you can turn off the chat notifications, to do a distraction free presentation. If possible, have a co-presenter monitor the chat or Q&A pod. (More help.)
  • To extend the functionality available in your Adobe Connect sessions you can create extensions or use the existing ones. See a list here.
  • You can delete all types of unused pods in one go. Go to Pods > Manage Pods, click Select Unused, and click Delete. (More help.)
  • Drag and drop a supported type of content on the Share pod to upload and share it quickly. (More help.)
  • If you do not want to have a webcam feed in your meeting room, say to conserve bandwidth, upload a photograph in a Share pod so everyone can see you.
  • If you wish to share some content across multiple meeting rooms, upload it to the Content Library and then share. Content added to a Share Pod is available only that particular meeting room.
  • Change the default color for your messages in the Chat pod. This helps others easily locate your messages from all the chat happening in the pod. (More help.)

For the Presenters

  • To change a layout during an ongoing meeting, use Prepare Mode. The preparation does not impact the live meeting. (More help.)
  • If the design of your slides is supported in Adobe Connect, upload it to a Share pod. If fonts or animations are not supported, then sharing the screen with PowerPoint open. It gives better quality & occupies less bandwidth. (More help.)
  • Presenters can use more than one Chat pod. Use a Chat pod in the Presenter Only Area (POA) to share information only between the Presenters. (More help.)
  • You can unsync you presentations or longer PDF files or quizzes to allow participants to absorb the contents independently, at their own pace.


  • To edit the meeting recordings precisely and place your in and out markers accurately, pause where you want to place the markers and double click the marker. (More help.)
  • To get different chapters in the ‘TOC’ of your recording, use different layouts for logically different parts of your meeting. See the tip about renaming layouts.
  • When you are not sure of your audio set up, say when using UV and telephony, do a test recording of a few seconds before the actual virtual session by logging in from multiple devices and using all possible scenarios like speaking into the microphone, using mobile devices, and from a telephone. Revisit the recording to check for echos and to ensure that all audio streams are present in the recording.

In-meeting audio

  • To ensure clear audio through your microphones, especially when your seating, environment, or hardware changes, use the Audio Setup Wizard from the Meeting menu. It detects background noise and adjusts your audio accordingly. (More help.)
  • To avoid ‘echo’ or feedback, request participants in advance to not use a speaker and a microphone adjacent to each other. For example, a computer speaker and a mobile phone’s microphone or a computer speaker and a headset mic. When the speaker will blare out audio, the mic will pick it up and you’ll have feedback in the meeting room. You can test your own set up by either joining as a participant from a second device or by recording a 10 second meeting and listening to the recording. Also, a host can create a Notes pod in a meeting room that contains just this request for the participants.
  • You can selectively mute one or more attendees, without stopping or muting the audio conference. (More help.)

Courses and curriculum

  • When you add or remove items from a curriculum it impacts learner transcripts. If you really have to change curricula after enrolling learners, let your learners about the changes. Learners must log in to the curriculum to update their status.
  • If you are creating e-learning content using Adobe products, know that Adobe Presenter is best suited for rapid e-learning content based on Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe Captivate is best suited for creating training materials or screencasting demos.
  • If a learner takes a course outside of a curriculum, ask the learner to log in to the curriculum once. The course completion status available in the curriculum is automatically updated.

Share the tips and tricks that you use with the wider community–post a comment below or blog your tips and share a link below.

Why Adobe Connect? or The top 9 cool things you can do in Adobe Connect

Top features of Adobe Connect
Look at all those cool things you can do in Adobe Connect!!!

We all engage online via web conferencing. We all collaborate online via virtual meetings. We all telecommute once in a while.And those amongst ourselves who use Adobe Connect to do so, are in good hands thanks to super-rich features and flexibility of the platform. Here’s a compilation of the cool things you can do and achieve when collaborating online using Adobe Connect.

The embedded videos, links to documentation, and more resources will help you understand the feature and how to use it.

Number 1

Adobe Connect solution has a dazzling mobile client! It only helps that it is available for both, Android and iOS for free.

Host meetings from any device and share screen, use advanced animations, supports audio conferencing from within Connect, video support in widescreen, start recordings, share content from Connect Content Library, personalization and branding, and so much more. Read more at the Connect Mobile page.

Numbers 2 Hosts can easily track engagement of various participants in meetings, events and other virtual sessions, in real-time. Use the Engagement Dashboard to view participants’ attention and interactivity levels.

Gauging engagement levels help hosts and presenters to optimize their sessions further.

Number 3 You can monitor your event campaigns by using campaign IDs in the URLs.

Also, check out how you can generate the Campaign Report, in Adobe Connect 9. See this video for a walkthrough

Number 4 You can record your sessions for later viewing, edit those before sharing, download for offline use, and for conversion to MP4 that can be shared on various devices or uploaded online for mass sharing.

For a comprehensive list of actions around Connect recordings, see this index in the official documentation.

Number 5

In Adobe Connect, you can create rich HTML pages for your online events and webinar. With an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface of Adobe Experience Manager, you can create customized page templates. These include a landing page, speaker information page, registration page, and login page.

Number 6

Adobe Connect allows for various simplified ways for your participants to register and consume the online events and seminars you schedule. They can use their Facebook or Google+ social accounts to register and join events.

Number 7

Besides the out-of-the-box reports, people organizing or administering online events can generate custom reports. Titled user information report, this CSV report allows you to get your webinar data in any Learning Management System (LMS) or a lead generation system of your choice.

See how to create rules to export user profile data from events in this help article.

Number 8The latest Adobe Connect offering integrates well with your Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) setup to integrate your Connect webinars on your AEM webpages. The low-down on this integration is documented in AEM Webinars Integration with Adobe Connect.

Number 9When multiple folks are attending using a webcam and a session has multiple camera feeds, you can view them in a Filmstrip mode. Read about it and about sharing webcam video in this article.

The Filmstrip mode implementation in Adobe Connect allows participants to focus on the main speaker, while allowing hosts and presenters to control the overall experience.

I hope the above helps you in understanding Adobe Connect or even in making a decision in favor of the platform. Let me know what is your tenth reason!

More resources:

Image courtesy dumfstar on Flickr.

Top 5 tweaks you must do to your PDF documents before publishing them

Between the time it takes to create a PDF file and publish it, you may end up earning yourself a bad name. One that lives on forever—in the form of a lame PDF document! While a bit more goes into creating a lean and mean PDF files, by following this blog post you can save yourselves some embarrassing content authoring, document production, and SEO mistakes.

Create a PDF document using PDFMaker

Many applications are supported by PDFMaker. Use the plugin to create a PDF document from a source file. As opposed to say, printing the source document to the PDF print driver or taking a screenshot and creating a PDF from clipboard.

Using PDFMaker ensures that the metadata, the quality settings, and the privacy settings, as set by the document author, are respected and incorporated into the output. Some functionality is only available via this route, like creation of PDF bookmarks.

Acrobat ribbon in MS Word
Acrobat ribbon in MS Word

Set the various options in document properties dialog

Once you PDF document is created, press Ctrl+D (alternatively, click File > Properties) to access the Document Properties dialog.

In the Description tab, mention the Title, Author, Subject, and Keywords. Many of these values are best set as the metadata in the source file. This helps ensure the PDF document contains these options every time a new PDF is generated.

Using the settings in the Initial View tab, you may want to display the document title, instead of the PDF file name, in the title bar of the PDF. You may want to also display the bookmarks or other available options when the PDF opens. From the Initial View tab, you can control the magnification, first page to open, placement on the screen, etc. when the PDF is opened. You can also hide one or more of the menu bar, the tool bar, and the windows controls.

Initial view in Acrobat Document Properties
Initial view in Acrobat Document Properties

Less common options you can set are add more meta information in the Custom tab and set printing mode (DuplexMode field) to ‘Duplex Flip Long Edge’ to save paper when your document is printed.

In the Fonts tab, ensure the uncommon fonts used in the document are embedded. Avoid print and display errors during PDF consumption in different environments. than the one it was created in. Do check the end user license agreement of the font for any possible restrictions on embedding them in a PDF.

Detailed official help is here.

Get your bookmarks in order

First, get bookmarks. Use the optimum styles in your source document and use the settings in the Acrobat plugin to generate PDF bookmarks.

Do not stop at this, else you may end up shipping a PDF document with bookmarks out of order. Decide whether you want only the Level 1 bookmarks to be expanded or even Level 2 (or Level 3) bookmarks expanded. The software supported by PDFMaker, contain some settings to create bookmarks.

Create PDF bookmarks in Adobe FrameMaker
Create PDF bookmarks in Adobe FrameMaker
Create PDF bookmarks in MS Word
Create PDF bookmarks in MS Word

Check my previous blog post, to collapse the PDF bookmarks and retain that state in the PDF.


Accessibility options in Acrobat
Accessibility options in Acrobat tools pane
Accessibility Checker in Acrobat
Accessibility Checker report in Acrobat

Run the accessibility check on your PDF and check for, at least, the obvious things that you can fix. For example, mention the alt text of the images, create a tagged PDF, OCR the scanned content, and so on.
You can quickly do an accessibility audit of your PDF document using the Full Check option from the above screenshot. Accessibility Checker runs a customizable check for up to 32 parameters.

Optimize the PDF for the required use case

You may want to optimize your PDF depending on the use case and target audience. Some common optimizations are to reduce the file size to conserve bandwidth, to flatten the form fields, to remove common fonts to reduce file size, to add uncommon fonts for a smooth experience, enable Fast Web View for byte-serving of large documents, and so on.

Acrobat option to save as an Optimized PDF
Acrobat option to save as an Optimized PDF

Learn all about optimizing PDF files here and in the video below.

Desk pinup of Adobe FrameMaker keyboard shortcuts for typical structured FM tasks

I am sharing the desk pinup that I use to refer to the keyboard shortcuts for authoring in structured FrameMaker. This PDF is print-ready for A4 printers. If you wish to include modify the listed shortcuts, use this spreadsheet to edit and then print.

Common structured FM shortcuts desk pinup

The above file contains a small subset of all the supported shortcuts and includes the shortcuts for the commands I use frequently. I suppose a good number of these commands are popular with other users. Just print it and stick to your desk, to quickly refer to and learn the popular shortcuts.

For shortcuts of broader tasks, including unstructured FM, see my other post titled Desk pinup mind map of the popular FrameMaker keyboard shortcuts.

My Tumblr footprint for thoughts around branding, marketing, and communication

I was recently swept off my feet by the authoring experience on Tumblr and the user-friendliness of setting up and configuring an account.

This twtools blog talks (and will continue to talk) about all things techcomm. I shall reserve my Tumblr post for my observations, prophecies, and practices “around communication, customer experience, content marketing, business, and branding”.

Find me at

How unempowered customer care departments erode brand value

Customer support is the face of any organization.

No, media adverts are not.
No, marketing department is not.
No, retail outlets are not.
People in the retail outlets are, and they are, in principle, a part of customer facing group.

Customer experience business units when not empowered to wow the customers, are helpless in the face of customer interactions/queries/issues. This erodes the brand value like nothing else. As always, no business unit wants to end up doing so. Even though the individuals stick to the script, the textbook, the processes, and the guidance from higher ups, erosion just happens. Almost as if by magic! At times, this is how we customers are left to feel, not wanting to give you our money anymore.

Leaving a person dangling in an obstacle course
Leaving a person dangling in an obstacle course

I shall even claim that in 80% of the cases,

fine print exists because the businesses want to safeguard themselves against whatever they cannot fix for good.

The good news is, simply start by fixing the following frequently heard of ways, some of which are (unintentionally) in vogue in your customer-facing teams.

  • Feedback: Sure I shall take your improvement for feedback and deposit it in the system for implemention AFTER we solve your problem using our traditional methods, against which your feedback is.
  • Protocols: But this is the only process!
  • Terms and conditions: You signed the form yourself. It clearly indicates these surcharges/conditions/noservice clause/etc.
  • Helpless: I realize it is my organizations mistake, but I am sorry, I cannot fix it.
  • Call volume: Due to xyz issue, our call center is flooded with calls right now. Please hold for a long time/call later/call another number/try self-help/etc.
  • Replacement: (Just because you raised a hue and cry on social media) We shall provide a discount/replacement/cash back/special call/vouchers/etc. just this once. Please be happy and don’t give us more bad air through your social channels.
  • Social Media: The organization is so afraid of and naive to anything (negative) on social media that if you raised a issue it has to be resolved. The organization shall divert more resources than requied to provide social support rather than other traditional support methods.
  • Talk offline: Please message your contact details, so we can take it offline. That way the organization does not have to publicly respond on a social media channel.
  • Changes in the deal: This deal and the contract can change any time without notice. The company is not liable to provide this offer once it expires. And customers don’t have a way of knowing when it expires!
  • Process changes: No, it does not work this way anymore. We have shifted to a better process without retaining the classic one for old timers like you. Please join us in following this exciting, super deluxe, certified, and acclaimed way of doing things now. By the way, we did not think your inputs before or your feedback afterwards was necessary. Forget about transition and hand-holding through the change.

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons here.

How techcomm pros can lower the barriers to entry in a support system and improve the overall UX of a support channel

After serving me well for more than five years, today my LG microwave wouldn’t start. It’s unimaginable to spend a day at home with a toddler and a non-working microwave! I went through another unimaginable experience today–how some companies raise the barrier for customers to join their official support system. For example, when one heads over to LG’s support system at, they ask you to log in or register. One has to fill in a long form and specifically provide the serial number and date of purchase of the appliance. While this is mandatory information to keep out non-customers and to ascertain warranty, it is by no means a mandatory information for registering on the site!

LG support registration options
LG support registration options


A better customer experience should be to get as many customers into the fold of formal support system, as easily as possible. Once folks are in with their identity, you have more information and opportunities to customize the experience and gain the trust of this person forever. What a great opportunity to make repeat customers! Support after all is not a cost center, but a profit center (see

You may wonder, what this has to do with techcomm, writing, content creation, and documentation. Anything and everything a customer sees on the Support page or login is content! We writers, editors, and designers can create (content) experiences that are personalized for the person logged in. Of course, it needs a lot of smooth engagements within the organization. It is easier said than done. That’s why it is worth doing!

Marketing and branding using support content and web design

As a content creator, customer advocate, and an end-user, here’s a quick list of suggestions from me (more later):

  • Make us navigate only a tad bit. Target for a maximum depth of 1-2 clicks from your home page. Chances are we are in a rush or frustrated or both. Techcomm pros can use web analytics to find browsing paths and optimize those.
  • Use whitespaces and icons on the support pages a lot. You are not selling anything to us right now (except a good experience). Techcomm pros can QA the design, the content, and the overall UX.
  • Make your icons generic and also usable for color blind people. Techcomm pros can QA/audit these.
  • Make yourself accessible on all social networks. Go where your customers are. I am logged into X network all day long and that is the lowest barrier for us to enter in to a conversation with you. Techcomm pros can be available themselves on the social networks or facilitate the usage of social media.
  • Make login creation an easy process. You can also identify us by our customer IDs, our mobile numbers, or our product serial numbers. Techcomm pros can consult with the engineering/IT teams on the requirements.
  • Allow social media integration to authenticate on your support systems. Do respect the boundaries though! If a customer is looking for help or resolution and you push advertisements to their network in this scenario, be ready to hear profanities. Of the kind, I cannot describe on this blog. YES, you deserve nothing less for such a shameless plug. Techcomm pros can be the eyes and ears of an organization and alert about unwanted/intrusive scenarios.
  • What’s stopping you from making a login on my behalf when you get to know my mail ID? Assign an auto-generated password and mail me the details. Appear generous and don’t insert any other information in this email. Techcomm pros can QA the UX and consult on the customer needs.
  • Promptly publish all methods to contact you, without making us hunt for them. We may want to call you one day but want to ping on a social network another day. See the above point about being present where your customers are present. Techcomm pros can update the content appropriately and can champion social media usage.
  • Find a way to have smart front desk staff members–call centers, receptionists, personal delivery guys, waiters, salesmen, and social media people). We customers judge you all the time. Even after you’ve made the sale. Techcomm pros can help with trainings, case studies, internal QA and audits, and facilitation.
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