Google’s Penalties

It never fails to astound me how people constantly opt for the cheapest deal. Cheap search engine optimization is a misnomer, if you want the best SEO you have to pay for it. If it was cheap and simple, then for £50 or £100 per month everyone would be Page 1.

I’ve worked on many campaigns at SEO Liverpool but up until about 4 months ago I was only aware of two real Google penalties. The outright ban, where a site will be completely removed from the Google index and the minus 40-60 penalty.

About 9 months ago I started talking to a local company about helping them with their SEO efforts. As usual, we sounded each other out and it looked like we could move forward. Typically, we had no contact for a few months, then unexpectedly, my contact called me up and said that all of his Google rankings had disappeared. He explained that the only thing his site was ranking for was its name. The site came up no.1 for his two word company name and no.1 for the domain. However all of the other positions the site had with the homepage, albeit not good ones had disappeared. I had a little play around and even when I tried searching for some unique text off the homepage (in quotes) it didn’t come up.

So I asked this guy a couple of questions, you know – have you made any changes recently that could have caused this to happen? After about 5 minutes, he confessed to talking to a guy he knew, who’d gave him some help… he was cheap… etc. His sage advice was to place lots of area names at the bottom of the homepage, which he did… in tiny text so that nobody could see!

I told him in 5 seconds “The site has been penalised, you put hidden text in and attempted to deceive Google”. We got rid of the hidden text, I told him what to say to Google on the reinstatement request and his site was back to where it was previously within a week.

The point of this little story is that SEO evolves at an incredible rate. If you’ve missed ‘Panda 2.0′ and probably the most devastating ‘Search plus your world’, then you might as well not bother calling yourself an SEO. Remember, if you pay peanuts you get monkeys. A search engine will penalise you! Use a respected SEO company, and understand that your nephew, his mate or the fella down the pub doesn’t have a clue.

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More Viral Marketing Tips

At Summit Online Marketing we want to give our readers tips, we know that some business don’t need to pay for SEO Packages, they just need a little helping hand. On that basis some information in a recent survey from Nielson shows that recommendations from consumers are most powerful. On the web, this translates into thousands of people.

As a Google SEO have a look at this frankly salient advice

Case Study – Starbucks announced closure of stores. Stock price dipped. At the same time there was a huge spike in the blogosphere regarding Starbucks.

More Stats. 7/10 Brits use the net for news. If your in that space, you have a huge opportunity. 97% of journalists go online to find stories on the web. 79% find stories on the news wires.

Budget – How many people have a viral marketing budget? Not too many. This is a definite issue.

Myth – Web and viral marketing costs a fortune. If you’re writing a white paper get an interview in the Times and other industry related magazines. This approach can take time, but their isn’t much cost involved.

Basic Elements – Free is really good, like a white paper, if you give away your expertise you will reap the rewards.

Make it easy for your content to spread and share

  • Make sure it scales easily from small to large. Don’t crash your server! Use Youtube to host your content if need be.
  • Social media takes advantage of common motivations and behaviours. People are generally social.
  • Utilise existing communication networks like the news wires such as PR Web. Can you put news or podcast or video on there. Take advantage of these resources.
  • The key is great quality content! There many different strategies. Great tip is adding an RSS feed.
  • To blog or not to blog? Need a strategy. Who is going to say it? How often? You really need a plan. Don’t start a “me too” blog.
  • Basic techniques: Forward to friend, bookmark features, etc. “Addthis.com” is a great tool to enable sharing.
  • Youtube – Setup your own branded channel – create simple videos that are fun and quirky. Tell your clients and friends. Optimise your channel. Link from your website. Get a Flip Video Camera!
  • Tubemogul is a free service that distributes your videos across the major channels. Can check the stats and pull reports.

Measuring success – Links – We know that links are gold for organic rankings. In our early days, we had a page on our website with lots of new free emoticons. From this we generated over 2,000 links within a couple of weeks

The best SEO advice is to make sure you have a plan to create the right connections.

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Adwords Quality Score Help Part 4

Cheap search engine optimization is as subjective as the best SEO.

SEO SEM and Web design companies have a habit of boldly claiming they offer both and are all things to all men.

This final part of our look at quality score takes search back to the basics, back to the fundamentals. Providing the user direct access to finding the content they want at the time they want it.

5 basic steps:

Keywords.
Organisation & Structure.
Match Type.
Creatives.
Landing Pages.

Keyword building: Most people bucket them and go off on the long tail. You should have several different groups and categories of brands. It will really improve your quality score. They are not necessarily tail terms, they are product specific. Don’t chase every keyword, chase the right keyword. If you can build out your campaign you can really lower your CPC – if your keyword is profitable, make it more profitable.

Structure: Don’t build thousands of useless keywords. Be organised when you put this together. Some limit you to 10,000 ad groups. If you have not reached that limit you are not working hard enough!

Match types: Every keyword you run should be on every single match type. Every keyword should be running on exact. When you break it out, you will start to see a decline in your phrase match spend. Put in your negatives.

Creatives: Go down to the specifics where you are not even using Dynamic Keyword Insertion any more. Be so specific. We use colour type, size, etc in every creative that we do. Let the user find the exact creative that they are looking for. It will increase your Quality Score and lower your CPC.

Landing pages: In some networks your ad could/will be disapproved if you do not have great landing pages. Everything in your landing pages should be in your ad copy and everything in your ad copy should be in your landing pages.

Simple

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404 or 301 Your Old Pages? Which is Best For SEO?

We’ve had a bit of a discussion at SEO Liverpool about getting did of multiple subpages & not get penalised. The discussion is around the topics of using different techniques when removing or redirecting pages.

Which is better to do for SEO? Do you want to 301, redirect a page, or 404, return a not found status, a page?

I can tell you that the best SEO companies think about this fairly frequently. At Summit we take different approaches for different sites. I try, try hard, to not think only about SEO and think what would also benefit the user.

Here is my guide:

301 redirect everything you possibly can, when it makes sense. If you have a page about big blue pineapple chairs on the old site and you are moving it to the new site, 100% use a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one. However, sometimes it is not that easy.

Sometimes you have a site with hundreds, if not thousands of pages, if not more. Manually redirecting each page is a huge chore. When we can, we set up logic based 301 redirects, to redirect the old URL to the new URL dynamically. That can result in thousands of redirects, but Google should handle those fine over time.

For all the pages that do not match that pattern or logic AND for sites where there is no logic (large, old, non-database driven sites), you want to manually redirect the most important pages. So make sure you have analytics installed on the previous site, way before launching the new site – this way you have the 301 redirects in place, on the most important pages, when you launch.

Then, all other pages, I typically set up a 404 page, returning a valid 404 status code, plus it is set up as a custom 404, so users who land on it, have an avenue to find the right page.

Some people have suggested that sometimes you should think about setting up what is called a “soft” 404 page. Basically, a soft 404 page, is a page that looks like a page not found page, but returns a server status of 200, meaning, the page is valid and active and should not be deleted. The only issue I see with that, is that the URL of the page will be different but the content of the page will be very similar, if not exact, to the other soft 404 pages you set up. Of course, if you are a smart coder, you can look at the Google referrer or the old page’s data and serve up contextual relevant product or content on that page, which would make the page’s content more unique.

So, like I said, it totally depends on the situation and your search engine marketing experience.

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Domain Strategies for Search Engine Optimisation

You’re optimising your Web site. You’re working on building links to your Web site. The best SEO will ask you ‘are you paying attention to your domain name strategy?’ Yes, your domain name strategy.

Although you have one main domain name, every small business SEO knows it’s important to take a look at your domain strategy as a whole and check for things that may help — or hurt — your search engine rankings.

Redirect Domains to Main Web Site

If your main Web site is www.maindomain.com, then you’ll want to 301 permanent redirect all the domain names you own that aren’t in use to www.maindomain.com. There are several reasons for this, such as stopping mirror sites from appearing, making sure your main domain name gets credit for links to other domains you own, and making sure your main domain name gets the PageRank credit for links to other domain names you own.

This brings up another issue: the links pointing to other domain names. By doing some domain name research, you can find domain names that were previously on the same topic that might have traffic, backlinks, and PageRank. You can benefit by finding the right domains, buying the right domains, and redirecting them to your Web site with a 301 permanent redirect.

Choose the right domain name and you may benefit from better search engine rankings. If you were to find a domain name that was formerly on the same topic of your main Web site and you’re able to buy that domain name and redirect it, it could mean additional traffic and additional sales.

Depending on how the search engines deal with that domain name, it could mean getting credit for additional backlinks and more Google PageRank to your site. And, if your domain is new to the Internet, there could be benefits to gaining some quick “authority” through domain purchasing/redirecting.

No Guarantees

Buying domain names and redirecting them won’t necessarily bring more traffic, backlink credit, or Google PageRank to your main Web site. There are many factors that might prevent this.

Whenever you buy a domain name, you don’t know if traffic is already going to that domain name until you take ownership of it and point it to some place where you can look at the traffic (you could point it to your Web site, set up separate Web hosting for it, or use a domain parking service).

There are many factors that can influence whether you get backlink and PageRank credit, including whether the search engines give you that credit. Some search engines, such as Google, have been rumored to “zero out” PageRank and backlink credit when a domain name changes owner; they’ve also been rumored to “zero out” PageRank and backlink credit for other reasons, as well.

There are many checks you can perform before you buy a domain name, and that’s probably best covered in a separate Google SEO discussion. Those include going to the search engine and typing the domain name to see what comes up — and searching for it in quotes to research it. You can also look at the domain name in the Wayback Machine to see its history.

Domain Auctions

There are several ways to find domain names, including searching at the expired domain name auctions such as Go Daddy’s TDNAM.com auctions, Sedo auctions, and eBay. There are other domain auctions at NameJet, SnapNames, Pool.com, and TUCOWS Auctions. Most of these are covered all at FreshDrop.net, a domain research service that allows you to search those auctions for domain names. You can also sort the results using several helpful factors, including sorting by domain age, PageRank, and number of backlinks.

By doing some domain name research, you may be able to find domains you can buy that were on your site’s topic that might bring some additional traffic to your site. And backlinks and PageRank might just come along with that on the side, as well.

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