Here’s How You Get Penalised By Google

We’ve been hearing news that a huge Penguin update on its way!  Alongside the expected Panda update, we’re heading for an important month in SEO.

For those people new to our SEO Liverpool blog, who don’t have a clue about what I’m talking about, here’s a little info…

From time to time, Google likes to update its algorithm (the process Google uses to rank websites). As more people report web-spam (websites/organisations that try to artificially fool Google), the responsible team at Google look at the common factors and alter the algorithm accordingly. It’s all about updating to improve search quality.

Penguin Updates

These updates target websites that use keyword stuffing, cloaking and most importantly Link schemes.

Panda Updates

This update has traditionally been about measures of quality, including design, trustworthiness, speed. Google’s new Panda machine-learning algorithm will look for similarities between websites people found to be high quality and low quality. It’s also thought to have a human side, meaning actual people rating aspects of websites.

Although you’d think this wouldn’t be a problem, sometime you can receive a penalty without trying to artificially game the system.

Here are some thoughts and questionable techniques that will/could earn you a penalty.

Thousands of rubbish Links

It really doesn’t take a genius to work out, if you go from zero to five thousand links in a week, you’re spamming (or you’re a viral genius). The simplest play for Google, is to look for unnatural link profiles, this leads to large scale link exchanges that will incur a penalty. If you’ve been in correspondence with an Indian web company who for $40 can get you ten thousand links (not only should you no better) you deserve to be penalised.

Hidden Links in Templates

We think that web companies who hide links in their clients websites, could soon be hit on this one. Time may also be up for the hidden link, one that isn’t seen and hides inside the template. If you’ve commissioned a website that has a link back to their site on each every page, could also see some sort of penalty. We think that the same tidy anchor text, saying Web Design Liverpool in the Root of 200, 30 page sites, will also cause you a headache.

Unrelated Languages

If you’ve got links from sites in foreign languages and their isn’t a reasonable explanation, you’ll be on the naughty list.

Not enough external links

If you don’t have enough external links, you no-follow or try to sculpt your PageRank, could mean you’re in trouble. The simplest explanation is, make the site look natural. One hundred links from PageRank Seven websites and not one from a zero or a one… smells funny. You’ll get hit with a penalty eventually.

Content that is low quality.

Poor text, do you have virtually the same page 30 times? Is their only a sentence on each page?. It’s simple, if a user wouldn’t find it useful, why would a search engine!

Site Adverts

Too many, not a good indicator of quality, especially if they’re just full of links to worthless affiliated websites. Google really, really wants to get rid of these sites from the top pages of its index.

These are just my thoughts on the next update….Good luck.

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The Law Of Diminishing Returns

90% Is Good Enough

I discussed this with a variety of SEO Liverpool clients, and in the past I’ve devoted entire talks on this topic. The focus is usually in relation to link-building vs. on-page SEO, but the message is the same.

What we’re discussing in this post is the need to get everything absolutely perfect and concentrating your efforts on a tactic that just isn’t worth the fuss of hitting 100%.  People naturally get comfortable with one aspect of the search marketing mix (link-building, on-page, social, etc.) and then want to ‘perfect’ it, but at best they hit diminishing returns fast.

Why focus your resources on attaining the last 10%, when you’ll get a much higher return by concentrating those efforts on other tactics that will provide much more SEO benefit.

I’ve seen sites with spotless on-page SEO that have been stuck for months suddenly leap through the rankings because they’ve acquired a few good links. On the flip-side, I’ve seen sites that were a total mess but had solid link profiles miraculously improve when their on-page problems were fixed.

We understand the perceived value that optimising each aspect of your SEO to 100% efficient, but often, you focus a vast proportion of your time on just one aspect. If the focus was to shift to another related to the central pillars of SEO, the rewards would be much greater.

Be Tough and Patient

Our SEO Agency Liverpool can only stress patience. This could be the toughest skill any good SEO eventually has to learn. There are times when you’ll need to react quickly to a problem, especially a technical problem (like a bad redirect or site outage). There’s a fine line between reacting and over-reacting, though.

The common technical SEO mistake we see is when organisations and SEO’s make a change, if it doesn’t immediately improve their rankings 24 hours later, and so they revert it or make another change on top of it. Even if it doesn’t make the problem worse (and it usually does), you’ll never be able to measure which change worked. Make sure your changes went live, that Google has acknowledged them (i.e. crawled and cached), and that you can measure the impact or lack of impact. Don’t change your strategy overnight based on bad information (or no information).

 

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Google Updates & Help

Anybody involved in the SEO industry will know that the recent ever-present updates to the Google Algorithm have been thrown at us with ever increasing regularity.

Today we’re going to discuss two updates that I feel small white hat SEO’s may have had some trouble with.

We’re not taking about the very recent Penguin #3 — October 5, 2012 or the Panda #20 — September 27, 2012. We feel these have been sufficiently covered by the majority of blogs.

Today at SEO Liverpool we’re discussing;

Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update — September 27, 2012

Officially this relates to ‘a change in the way it was handling exact-match domains (EMDs). This led to large-scale devaluation, reducing the presence of EMDs by over 10%. Official word is that this change impacted 0.6% of queries (by volume)‘.

So if you’re domain name is the same as the major keywords you’ve been trying to rank for.

e.g. if your domain is ‘www.low-cost-insurance.com‘ and you wish to rank for ‘low cost insurance’… then you’ll lose some value. Not a huge amount but enough to lose a position or two dependent on the keywords competition.

Should I panic

Absolutely not, all these algorithm changes are not set in stone, quite often Google tweaks the algorithm or even totally reverses it. So please don’t try and change your domain name. You’ll lose the value of domain age and possibly the value of incoming links if not properly managed.

I’ve seen this happen!

What Should I Do

The answer is nothing. Any attempt to change will, without doubt cause you more harm than good. It’s swings and roundabouts with updates. The next could catapult you back to your previous positions. The best course of action is to concentrate on the fundamentals – More unique content, more links (Good Value) and Social. Think of the Google Algorithm as a score next to each individual aspect related to a webpage. That devaluation will, more often than not be pushed to another aspect or shared out amongst a group of others.

If you concentrate you’re efforts in content, social and links, then you’ll claw it back. If you choose these particular aspects then it is unlikely you’ll receive any penalties or devaluation in the near future. As I’ve stated above, this change could be reversed and then your hard work will certainly pay off.

Page Layout #2 — October 9, 2012

If you have been penalised with this one then you’re in trouble… ‘Google announced an update to its original page layout algorithm change back in January, which targeted pages with too many ads above the fold. It’s unclear whether this was an algorithm change or a Panda-style data refresh.’

If you understand the implications then it’s easy to understand the solution.

Why Have I Been Penalised?

Google generates the majority of its revenue in search via Pay-Per-Click. In order to generate PPC monies it’s search needs to be trusted. If organically your website ranks high and doesn’t show a good amount of useful content above the fold or a even small area e.g. http://browsersize.googlelabs.com/ then you’re not that useful. This is irrespective of what your site is about. Importantly if any website has sponsored links or even worse Ad-sense all over the valuable real-estate above the fold on the website… from the search engines perspective, you’re not useful.

What Can I Do

Personally, and I can only answer this personally, you need a website update. Get rid of ad-sense… I mean unless you’ve got a serious amount of traffic you can only be making pennies! Reorganise the site so you’ve good content in the key areas and look sensibly from a UX point of view at your offer. You can still keep them but place them down the page or on separate pages.

I don’t think Google will reverse this one, so make the changes quickly. 100% of nothing is still nothing, so if you reduce your advertising by 50% and get those top positions back you’ll still generate revenue.

Hope this helps

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