Showing posts with label google updates. Show all posts
Showing posts with label google updates. Show all posts

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Google’s Penguin Update How Impacts Keywords

On April 24, Google released an updated algorithm with the codename Penguin. The purposes of this update are to reward websites with quality content aimed at good user experiences and penalize sites practicing black hat tactics with nefarious link profiles. Since the release of Penguin, several articles about the impacts of Google’s changes have circulated the Internet. Many website owners fear that their rankings will drop, but the key to success remains the same: providing unique, quality content for users.

Throughout the history of SEO, business owners have placed a high emphasis on keyword density and placement. The importance of these factors has changed with the new updates because Google is trying to eliminate sites with keyword stuffing and link spamming from search results. It is still beneficial to place your main keyword in the titles and beginning of articles, but keyword diversity is also important. Modifications of keywords and related phrases are good to use throughout content because they sound more natural while promoting high quality articles. Crawlers still search sites for keywords, but an over-abundance of repeated phrases will raise a red flag to Google and cause those pages’ rankings to drop.

The weighing of anchor text works in a similar fashion. The main focus of Penguin is to determine the relevance and quality of websites based on their link profiles, and the anchor text plays a large role in the algorithm’s methods. Google crawls through the displayed text of hyperlinks in order to gauge the relevance of linked pages. Before Penguin, some businesses took advantage of this algorithm by spamming links on blogs, forums and comment pages to improve their rankings. Google hopes to discourage this tactic and improve search results for users by penalizing websites that use matching keywords for multiple links. The majority of websites affected by the update maintained the same keywords for their anchor text in at least 65 percent of their inbound links.

The changes to the way Google analyzes anchor text do not limit a website’s potential for link building. The best post-Penguin method is to build a natural backlink profile with diversity in the anchor text. Using keyword variations in your anchor text will yield better results. When commenting on other sites and blogs, make sure that your keywords are relevant to the content while linking to high-quality pages. Google places negative weight on websites engaging in practices that resemble link spam, so it is best to attract natural links by producing informative content that is worth sharing.

Google’s focus has always been on providing high quality and relevant results for search engine users, and Penguin aims to penalize sites that take advantage of the algorithm’s loopholes. Websites that satisfy desires for informative and helpful content will be rewarded through higher rankings on organic search results. Keywords are good in moderation, and the bottom line is unique content that meets or exceeds expectations.
Written By: CitrineFox Source:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

2 Important Post on Google's Penguin Update by SEOmoz

5 Penguin-Friendly Link Building Tips

Since Google launched their Penguin update on April 24th, millions of websites have been falling down the rankings like losing soldiers in the battlefield! Google has been cracking down on "spammy" websites like never before.

This update has indeed been very effective at knocking down spam sites, but many believe that some legit sites have also wrongfully been hit and have voiced their opinions on Google's forums and social media outlets. Google's Search Quality team listened and has set up a form that webmasters can use to notify Google that the Penguin has been unfair to them.
If you have used any unnatural SEO techniques in the past and your website is still proudly standing on the first page, it doesn't mean you're safe. In fact, Google said that the updates will be gradually deployed throughout the next few weeks. Expect a lot of movement in the SERPs!

If you are feeling bad while reading this because you do remember using some slightly shady link building techniques in the past, don't worry, it's never too late to repent.

Now is the time to "whiten your hat" and re-think your SEO strategy. Here are some valuable link building tips that will help you not only survive the Penguin update, but safely improve your rankings for the long term...

Tip #1 - Get More Social, Leverage Your Fanbase

In 2012, social signals are more important than ever. When you post fresh content on your site or blog, make sure you share it on ALL your social pages. In fact, this should be almost like a reflex. For the lazies out there, there are tons of plugins and tools that can help you automate this process. Twitterfeed is one of them.

I have seen too many companies posting new blog posts weekly, but not sharing them on their Google+, Facebook fan page, or on Twitter. What's the point of having all these fans, friends and followers if you're NOT showing them your content? When you share useful content, you will get likes, retweets, and +1's. This not only gives you bonus points in terms of SEO, but it also helps virally spread your content far beyond the confines of your fanbase. A win-win!

Tip #2 - Link Your Inner-Pages

When link building, a lot of SEO's are still making the rookie mistake of always linking to their homepage. I understand that your homepage is the most important page of your site, but you can be guaranteed that Google will raise a red flag if a large majority of your backlinks point to your homepage and very few of them are linking to your blog posts and inner pages. It simply doesn't make logical sense for Googlebot. After all, inner pages are where the real content is at! When you look at a website that acquires tons of links naturally like SEOMOZ, you'll notice that most of the natural links they get are to their inner content pages (blog posts, videos, SEO guides, etc...)

Also, remember that it's not just about external links. Internal links are also highly important. Take some time to improve your internal site's structure by making sure the right keywords are linking to the right pages internally. This will make it easy and intuitive for both Google and your visitors to crawl your site. If you're lazy and you happen to be using WordPress, consider using a plugin like SEO Smart Links that can automate the whole process.

Tip #3 - Diversify Your Anchor Texts

Another element that Google has been cracking down on this year is over-optimization (both on-site and off-site). There's nothing Google hates more than feeling like you're trying to force it to rank you for a specific keyword. For instance, if you are targeting the keyword "New York Condos For Sale" and you're asking all your link partners to link to you using that exact keyword, Google will think it's highly suspicious.
It simply doesn't make sense for Google that all these websites would naturally want to link to you using that exact keyphrase, which also happens to be in your website's title bar and all over your homepage. *ahem ahem*

Think about it, if people were to link to you naturally, wouldn't they all be using different keywords? You bet they would, so try to vary your anchor links in a natural way. This will show Google that you're not trying to force it to rank you for any specific keywords, rather you're just trying to point visitors in the right direction. :)

Remember that Google is now smart enough to figure out which keyword relates best to your content. I also highly recommend using editorial keywords as anchor texts, such as: "click here," "read more," "learn more," etc... as these look way more natural. Again, diversity is key here.

Tip #4 - Focus on Quality, not Quantity

This has been said over and over, but it is more important this year than ever before. The game has drastically changed, folks! Google will penalize your website if you have a large amount of backlinks from untrustworthy sites. (Authority Link Network anyone?)

If you are doing guest posting, I can guarantee you that one high quality blog post from a reputable site is better than 100 posts from low quality ones. I have seen clients in competitive niches enter the first page with less than 30 quality links, while most of their competitors had hundreds/thousands of them.

Also, do yourself a favor and forget about shady link building techniques like mass directory submissions or any automated type of link. If you know someone that has reached the first page using these "spammy" techniques, you should feel bad for them. Google will eventually hit them and hit them hard. If not today, maybe tomorrow, or next month. These guys are definitely on Penguin's hit list. You don't want to be in their shoes. Going to bed every night wondering if your website will still be in the SERPs tomorrow is not a good feeling.

Tip #5 - Make Your Content Link-Worthy

Last but not least, make sure you are producing link-worthy content. Outsourcing your article writing for $5 a piece won't get you very far. If your visitors don't like your content, they will leave your site. High bounce rates = bad user experience. Bad user experience = lower Google rankings. It's really that simple. If you provide content that has value, people will stay longer on your site and possibly hit the like or tweet buttons on one of your articles. This enhanced user experience will pay off SEO-wise.
Always remember that content is (and will always be) king. That is the rule of thumb in white hat SEO. Do you think websites like SEOMOZ or Search Engine Journal need to do any link building in order to rank high in search engines? Probably not, they simply focus on delivering high quality content that people constantly link to from their websites and their social profiles.
This is the safest, most natural, and most efficient form of SEO.
Written By: AnimeR Source:

Penguins, Pandas, and Panic at the Zoo

Google’s war on lovable critters escalated on April 24th with the release of the “Penguin” update (originally dubbed the “webspam update” by Google). While every major algorithm update causes some protest, post-Penguin panic seems to be at near record levels, worsened by weeks of speculation about an “over-optimization” penalty. Webmasters and SEOs are understandably worried, and many have legitimately lost traffic and revenue. Before you go out and burn your website to the ground for fear of a penguin in the pantry, I want to offer some advice on how to handle life after an algorithm update.

1. What We Know
First, let’s review what we know. I’m going to break the rules of blogging and recommend that you stop and read this level-headed Penguin post by Danny Sullivan. It covers some of the basics and is the most speculation-free post I’ve read on the subject so far. Glenn Gabe also had a good post on potential Penguin factors.  There’s still a lot of speculation, but likely culprits include:
  • Aggressive exact-match anchor text
  • Overuse of exact-match domains
  • Low-quality article marketing & blog spam
  • Keyword stuffing in internal/outbound links
Many people have suggested low-quality link profiles in general, but analysis of Panda has been complicated by Google’s recent attack on link networks, which seems to have been manual and has probably been going on for weeks. The overlap has made analysis difficult, so let’s take a quick look at the timeline.

What’s the Timeline?

The official roll-out date for Penguin was April 24th, and it seems to have rolled out, for the most part, in a single day. Unfortunately, it came on the heels of other events. On April 19th, Panda 3.5 rolled out (most likely a data update). On April 16th, a data glitch caused a number of sites to be mistakenly tagged as parked domains. Throughout April (and weeks before Penguin), Google started sending out a large number of unnatural link notices via Google Webmaster Tools. Sadly, it seems that April really was the cruelest month.

How Bad Was It?

Google officially claimed that Penguin impacted about 3.1% of English queries, compared to Panda 1.0’s 12%. Since rankings change daily – even hourly – even with no updates, these numbers are nearly impossible to confirm, but it does appear that the impact of Penguin was immediate and substantial. This is an internal SEOmoz graph of Top 10 ranking changes around April 24th (please note that the Y-axis is scaled to accentuate changes):

Graph of Top 10 changes (Penguin vs. Panda 3.5)

Pardon the slightly cryptic nature of this graph – it’s for an upcoming project – but the core point is that the impact of Penguin dwarfed either Panda 3.5 or Google’s 4/16 glitch.

Is It Going Away?

In a word: no. Penguin wasn’t accidental, and Google is clearly serious about combatting spam tactics that have been lingering for too long. As you can see from the graph, it doesn’t appear that there were any major reversals in the few days since Penguin rolled out. Does that mean Google won’t make ANY adjustments? Of course not – it’s entirely likely that they’ll continue to tweak Penguin.
For comparison’s sake, remember that Panda 3.5 came 14 months after the initial launch of Panda 1.0. We’ve come a long way since the monthly “Google Dances” of 2003. Keep in mind, though, that Panda was somewhat unique – we believe that it feeds multiple variables into a single ranking factor that gets updated outside of the real-time index. There’s currently no compelling evidence to suggest that Penguin works in the same way. The Penguin update appears to be integrated directly into the main algorithm, like a more traditional Google update.

2. What to Do

Given the overlapping timelines, this advice applies to any Google update, and not just Penguin. The algorithm is changing constantly (Google reported 516 changes in 2010, and that rate seems to be accelerating), and I want to give you the tools to survive not just Penguin, but Zebra, Skunk, Orca, and any other black-and-white animals Google can ruin…

DO Take a Deep Breath

I’m not trying to be condescending or to minimize any losses you may have suffered. Over 17 years of working with clients, I’ve learned that panic almost never makes things better. No matter how hard Penguin hit you, you need to stop, take a breath, and assess the damage. Dig into your analytics and find out exactly where you sustained losses. Segment your data (by channel, engine, keyword, and page) as much as possible. It’s not enough to know that you lost traffic – you need to be an expert on exactly which traffic you lost.

DO Check the Timeline

Even though the overlapping timelines make analyzing the core Penguin factors difficult, the actual timeline when Penguin rolled out is clear. If you saw major traffic losses between Tuesday, April 24th and Wednesday, April 25th, odds are good that Penguin is at least part of the problem.

DO Double-check IT Issues

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been involved in a Q&A or consulting situation where a website owner was 100% sure they had been hit by an algorithm update, only to have their 17th message to me go something like this:
Oh, by the way, our site was down for 3 days a couple of weeks ago, right before our rankings dropped. I’m sure this wasn’t the problem, but I just thought I’d let you know.
Um, erp, what?! I’ve died a little inside so many times from messages like this that I’m not sure that I’m technically still human. Especially if your losses weren’t sudden or don’t match the algorithm timeline precisely, make absolutely sure that nothing happened to your site or changed that could impact Google’s crawlers. One of the worst things you can do in SEO is to spend a small fortune solving the wrong problem.

DO Quickly Audit Your SEO

Likewise, make sure that you know exactly what SEO efforts are underway, not just within your own team but across any 3rd-party contractors. I’ve had clients swear up and down that everything they did was completely white-hat only to find out weeks later that they hired an outside link-building firm and let them loose with no accountability. Make absolutely sure you know what every agent under your control did in the weeks leading up to the algorithm update.

3. What Not to Do

Panic leads to drastic action, and while I don’t think you should sit on your hands, bad choices made under uninformed hysteria can make a bad situation much, much worse. I’m not speaking hypothetically – I’ve seen businesses destroyed by overreacting to an algorithm change. Here are a few words of advice, once you’ve taken that deep breath (don’t forget to start breathing again)…

DON’T Take a Hatchet to Your Links

It’s unclear how Penguin may have penalized links, or if recent reports of link-related issues are tied to other April changes, but regardless of the cause, the worst thing you can do is to start simply hacking at your back-links. Even low-quality back-links can, in theory, help you, and if you start cutting links that aren’t causing you problems, you could see your rankings drop even farther.
I highly recommend this recent interview with Jim Boykin, because Jim has freely admitted to dabbling in the gray arts and he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to risky link-building. Tackling your problem links is incredibly tough, but start with the worst culprits:
  • Known, obvious paid links
  • Links in networks Google has recently delisted
  • Footer links with exact-match anchor text
  • Other site-wide links with exact-match anchors
Whenever possible, deal with low-authority links first. If a link is passing very little authority AND it’s suspicious, it’s a no-brainer. Cutting links is tough (see my tips on removing bad links) – if you don’t have control over a link, you may have to let it go and focus on positive link-building going forward.

DON’T “De-optimize” Without a Plan

One complaint I hear a lot in Q&A is that the “wrong” page is ranking for a term. So, to get the “right” page to rank, the well-meaning SEO starts de-optimizing the page that’s currently ranking. This usually means turning a decent TITLE tag into a mess and cutting out keywords to leave behind Swiss-cheese copy. Sometimes, the “right” page starts ranking again. Other times, they lose both pages and their traffic.
“Over-optimize” is a terrible phrase, and that alone has people in a panic. There’s nothing “optimal” about jamming a keyword 87 times into 500 words of copy and linking it to the same affiliate site. “Over-gaming” would be a better word. You think you figured out the rules of the game, so you pounded on them until there was nothing but a pile of dust on the board.
If you think you’ve played the game too aggressively, step back and look at the big picture. Does your content serve a purpose? Does your anchor text match the intent of the target? Do your pages exist because they need to or only to target one more long-tail variations of a term? Don’t de-optimize your on-page SEO – re-optimize it into something better.

DON’T Submit a Reconsideration Request

While I don’t think reconsideration will doom you, Penguin is an algorithmic change, not a manual penalty, and reconsideration is not an appropriate avenue. If you think you were impacted by the recent crackdown on link networks, IF you have removed those links, and IF you aren’t engaged in other suspicious link-building, you might consider requesting reconsideration. Just make sure your house is in order first.
Google has created a form for sites unfairly hit by Penguin, but it’s unclear at this point whether that form will result in manual action, or if Google is just collecting broad quality data. If you sincerely believe that you’re an accidental victim, then feel free to fill the form out, but don’t base your entire recovery strategy on clicking [Submit].
Fix What You Can Fix
Recently, I had a long debate with a client about whether or not they had been hit by a specific algorithm update. In the end, it was a pointless debate (for both of us), because we had two clear facts: (1) organic traffic had fallen precipitously, and (2) there were clear, solvable problems with the site. From a diagnostic standpoint, it definitely helps to know whether you were hit by Penguin or another update, but after that, you have to fix what's in your power to fix. Don't spend weeks trying to prove to management that this was all Google's fault. Isolate the damage, find the problems you can fix, and get to work fixing them.
Written By: Dr. Pete Source:

Imrpoving Your SEO Strategies after Panda & Penguin updates by Google

For the past few months, I have been practically living in an analytics dashboard, constantly monitoring my clients’ organic search data for even the smallest hint of a Google slap. If you haven’t noticed, Google has been busy updating their search products (see: NovDecJan, Feb, Mar).

On top of those changes that they have publicly documented, we are also seeing additional SEO-specific updates by Google. We’ve had a “page layout algorithm” update, Panda updates and even a bug in Google’s system that caused sites to accidentally be delisted.

Now, there’s a Penguin in the mix. Pandas, Penguins and bugs – Oh my! It’s like I’m at the zoo. And a zoo is pretty much what the SEO world feels like right now.

Also in the mix was the Matt Cutts announcement about a penalty for overly-optimized sites. And then a few weeks later, we started hearing more and more about ‘negative SEO’, which is essentially the process of sabotaging someone’s organic search rankings by generating tens of thousands of “bad” links to their website.

That is really sad, but apparently, there is evidence that it can work (although some people predict it will only work in specific situations, such as sites that already have suspicious link profiles). Yeah. Let that sink in. SEOs targeting SEOs. It makes me sick.

If you remember the good old days, you remember when Google would make one big change every once in a while. Rarely was it several major changes at once, and algorithm updates that had massive SEO implications were even more rare. The infrequency of major algorithm updates made it much easier to identify and measure the impact to rankings and all other metrics.
The best SEOs would figure out which factors changed and/or which factors had received more or less weight and then adjust their sites accordingly. This is not the case today. Lately, SEO is more like an gun fight where the dust never settles.

All Is Fair In The Land Of SEO?

Do you see that? Is Matt Cutts launching another algo update?
Do you see that? Is Matt Cutts launching another algo update?

As I mentioned earlier, SEOs are now living in a zoo, where every day feels like an adventure in controlled chaos. And with ‘negative SEO’, we’ve got a situation where SEOs are basically trying to eat each other. So instead of a zoo, maybe it’s more like Jurassic Park.

With Google’s Panda and Penguin updates affecting so many sites, I’m paranoid that my sites might be next.
One moment, I’m seeing a minor fluctuation in my traffic, and it’s like I’m hearing the footsteps while staring at the water rippling in the cup on the dashboard. Then, I feel like I’m riding in the jeep with Jeff Goldblum as we try to outrun the tyrannosaurus rex. And I’m a white hat! I’m the good guy!
I’m building fresh, quality content. I’m spending hours and hours researching market trends and creating value for my site’s visitors. I’m *not* buying thousands of links on private blog networks. Rather, I’m spending time contacting webmasters of websites related to my niche to advertise and build contextual links that make sense for my site.

I’m active on the social media front. I’ve invested in usability, information architecture and landing page optimization. But none of that matters because lately it seems like Google is targeting blackhat SEOs, but in the process they are affecting whitehats and blackhats alike.

I can’t help but think that there have been quite a few false positives related to Panda and Penguin. In fact, it must be a high number, as Google created a form to complain that your site was unfairly targeted.
Google may be targeting spammers and blackhats, but they are also inadvertently chasing people who actually care about their websites’ value, content, and overall marketing campaign. Google shows no sign of slowing down.

In that classic scene from Jurassic Park, the T-rex chases the jeep for awhile and then gives up. I can only hope that Google does the same. At least give us a chance to catch our breath.

Don't move! He can't see us if we don't move.
Don't move! He can't see us if we don't move.

So we’re living with Panda, Penguin, and all the other updates going live every week. Sometimes I think I’d feel safer if I just didn’t move. Maybe Google won’t see me if I don’t do anything at all. But I can’t do that. I’m not going to live like that. But I will be smarter about everything that I do and recommend.
So where do we go from here? Below are some tips for moving forward and getting settled on your piece of land in the SEO zoo.

Link Building

If you are managing SEO and link building for a big brand, I recommend ceasing all paid link building campaigns. I’m sure I’ll take some heat for that recommendation, but I just can’t recommend paid link building to big brands right now. It’s just too risky at this point in time.
If you have a knowledgeable, experienced link builder working for you and you haven’t been slapped by Google in any of the recent updates, then you are probably okay.
However, it’s still a big risk, especially when you consider what you are risking. But if you’ve got money burning a hole in your pocket and if you must insist on maintaining some form of paid link building, here is my advice:
  • Stop building exact match anchor links.
According to pretty much everyone, this is the biggest red flag in the land of links. If all of your links say ‘blue widget’ because you want to rank for ‘blue widget’, then Google will eventually punish you. It’s just not natural to have all of your links be exact match anchor text. You should be diversifying the anchor text, focusing more on links that mention your brand and less on links that mention non-branded keywords.
Don’t balk at links that say Read More, Here, or Having these types of links will make your link graph look more organic (pun intended).
  • Make your link building consistently inconsistent.
For example, if you have a budget of $2,000/month, then you are probably building a set amount of links each week or each month. And when Google looks at your link growth, what they’ll notice is that your link count is growing by the same number each month.
This type of is link velocity is unnatural, especially if you’re buying all the links from one network. It’s easy for Google to notice this type of paid link growth because Google is smart. So be more like a MLB pitcher: throw some fast balls and some change-ups. Don’t make it easy for Google to find a pattern in your link growth.
  • Diversify the quality (read: PageRank) of the sites you are buying links from.
If you are only buying links on sites with PR1 and higher, it is easy for Google to detect because that is unnatural. Obviously, you want to get links from sites with PR here and there, but don’t strictly focus on that factor.
Be very selective in your paid link placement. Diversify your paid link portfolio. Go for a range of sites that are big, small, popular, unpopular, no PR, higher PR, etc. Also, don’t be afraid to buy nofollow links. Don’t ignore potential links from social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. However, as you get more selective, be ready to spend more on links.
  • Buy a site/blog instead of buying links on a site/blog.
Buying a blog can be a much more effective use of your money in the long run. You’ll get a lot more value than just the links, and you won’t run the risks of being penalized for buying paid links.
  • Find all the free links that you already have.
Get familiar with your 404 reports, log files, and broken internal links. Check Webmaster Tools. Look for any indication of internal and/or inbound links pointing to inactive URLs. Look for links that are being 302 redirected to a final URL. Also look for URLs that are going through multiple redirects. Make sure all links are finding their ways to your active pages without passing through 302 redirects or some sort of redirect chain.
When I’m beginning a new SEO campaign, it never ceases to amaze me how many broken links I find in Webmaster Tools accounts. Sometimes the numbers is in the thousands. These are free links! These are free links that you earned! Make sure they are 301 redirected to active URLs!

Creating Content

Because paid links are a little too risky for me right now, I’d recommend moving the majority of any paid link budgets over to the budget for content creation. And when it comes to content creation, here are some of the ways you can spend money to add unique content and value to your site:
  • Write how-to guides
  • Develop infographics
  • Dust off the old corporate blog and start publishing new content on a daily basis
  • Build microsites
  • Build new landing pages
  • Create a buying guide for your most popular product categories
  • Write weekly press releases
  • Create video reviews of your products
The thing about great content is that it will generate links. But more importantly, great content will add more value to your site’s visitors. Just be sure to promote your new content. Encourage your visitors and customers to share your content and products.

In the end, you may be surprised that you get more bang for your buck with rankings via content creation than paid link campaigns. Also, the lessons you learn with content are priceless. It can really help to educate entire businesses about what their website visitors are looking for, enjoy, dislike, prefer, etc. You can use that information to make your site better overall.

Obviously, I could also include an entire section in here about the importance of being active on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. But I’ll leave that to the social media folks.

I could also write a how-to guide outlining the importance of AgentRank and setting up the rel=author and rel=me tags for all your authors and contributers, as a recent study reported that 17% of SERPs are showing author integrations. But this post is already getting too long. So maybe I can write about that next time.

"That's right, Sam Neill. I would make an awesome SEO." - Jeff Goldblum
"That's right, Sam Neill. I would make an awesome SEO." - Jeff Goldblum

In the meantime, hang in there. Be smart. Be cautious. If you can, wait for some of the dust to settle before you make any moves that could in any way risk your search rankings.

As Jeff Goldblum puts it in the movie: “I’m simply saying that life, uh, finds a way.
As an SEO living in the days of Pandas and Penguins, I, too, will find a way.
Remember that in the end, Jeff Goldblum makes it out of Jurassic Park alive.
So if you’re stuck and needing help making a decision about your SEO campaign, just ask yourself: What would Jeff Goldblum do?
Written By: Kerry Dean Sources: