Impending Google updates and what your business needs to know

Matt Cutts – head of Google’s search quality team (and as a colleague commented the other day – one of the most powerful people on the planet) has made a new video. This outlines in his usual friendly, noncommittal manner what Google is doing in the next few months as far as the hugely influential search algorithm goes. (Google seldom pre-announces anything!)

In other words…

Things are about to get very rocky in the website sea!

Hold on to your hats everyone!

Google has “pre-announced” a number of areas where they are going to seek out and punish sites that are using “black hat” SEO techniques to artificially push sites up Google’s search results. Again.

The unfortunate thing is that your site might very well fall into this category without you even being aware of it.

We do have sympathy for the cause…

No one likes cheats and no one likes lazy people gaining big returns for very little effort (or if you are Black Hat – being smart enough and entrepreneurial enough and technically brilliant enough to subvert the biggest business in the world to make money)

The problem with black hat is that it is not a long term business proposition. Awesome for quick buck hacks but scary for real businesses and reputations.

To be honest I think it is amusing that these guys think they are smarter than a couple of hundred of the world’s top engineers…

But, back to the impending Google updates.

The importance of the Penguin Update

No one expected the first Penguin update to be as game-changing as it was.

The SEO world shifted on its axis – any manipulative “link building” was suddenly at best almost worthless and at worst a huge detriment to a client website and business.

I won’t go into Penguin 1.0 detail here as it has been very well covered elsewhere.

But the major outcome from our perspective has been the elimination of a huge number of cheap, automated, low quality SEO services offering the world’s riches for tuppence.

And there have been real benefits for great websites that are technically sound, that offer great user experience, that have high quality, well structured content, that have a commitment to fresh, high value information and a social sharing strategy. These benefits can be profound as I documented in this ROI/website visitor growth case study.

And true to his word Penguin 2.0 has just been rolled out. It is too early to make any judgements around whether it has been more effective, more punitive and whether the desired outcome has been achieved.

We will track this closely as the next days and weeks pass.

I am sure there are a lot of very nervous people out there right about now…

Before I digress further let’s get right down to what Mr Cutts is promising in the next few months.

Here’s the video:

And for those of you (like me) who are way to impatient to wait for a video to slowly roll out here is a helpful transcript (thanks Ross Hudgens)

So what are the big takeaways from the announcement?

My first thought is that like an iceberg only a small portion will ever be visible above the surface. Google seldom gives a warning of impending action and if it does you can guarantee it will be big!

Forget the platitudes and forget the cuddly Matt Cutts persona.

This will be a rocky road for many.

Impending Google updates and what you need to do

Penguin 2.0 – Now live

In my opinion this is the biggie. This has been telegraphed as far back as SMX West in early March and it has been built up as an update to be deeply concerned about if you have ever strayed across the line.
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Weekend Wrap 10 – The Google Dance, Content Mistakes, SEO Checklist

In the Weekend Wrap this week we look at one of the big recent Google updates which dictates what content should go where on your pages, a look at the return of the infamous “Google Dance” and what it means to your website, common mistakes people make with their content marketing, some of the most successful companies on Twitter and how they do it and a great post which shows common grammatical and spelling errors online (bet you can find some you make!) .

This week’s photo – had a weekend away at beautiful Ohope Beach and the image comes from the town of  Whakatane which is ten minutes away.  The Lady on the Rock – located at the mouth of  Whakatane’s harbour holds cultural significance as the statue represents Wairaka, the woman who inspired the name Whakatane.

The Lady On The Rock

SEO / Search Engine Optimisation

Google Page Layout Algorithm Update Should Be Easier To Recover From

Google makes it very clear that websites with quality text based content above the fold will pick up extra Google love. So if your designer wants to fill the top of the page with a slideshow you know what to say. What Google wants, Google gets…

Deployment SEO Strategy and Checklist

There are so many potential problem areas in SEO. All someone needs to do is change one piece of code and you find out only when impressions or visitor numbers begin to fall. (we have seen cases where developers have accidentally deleted all metadata from a site!) Here is a useful checklist for ongoing auditing of SEO processes.

From Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land this post looks at the return of the Google Dance. Because Google has been so active this year with Pandas, Penguins, EMDs, Page Layouts, Blog Networks and much more there has been a noticeable return of the sort of monthly search volatility that gained the nickname “the Google Dance”.

 

4 Unmatched Sources To Track Google Algorithm Updates

And while we are all doing the Google Dance it pays to know what tune we are dancing to and what the BPM of the song is. Here are some of the top sources of info on the many changes Google makes on a monthly basis. Check it out.

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Weekend Wrap 9 – Is SEO Dead? Penguin & Panda Updates, Landing Page Infographic

In the Weekend Wrap this week we see how some SEOs grapple with Google’s big recent updates, a humorous infographic that expands on the old cliche that SEO is dead (and what the agenda is for those that are saying this), treating your landing page like a recipe for smart results and some new techniques that show you how to get retweeted more often.

This week’s photo – our two woolly boys – Willie Bobo and Paco waiting to be sheared (shared).

Two male alpacas

SEO / Search Engine Optimisation

Google Penguin Refresh Completes Trilogy of Search Terror for SEOs

Well, what a couple of weeks it has been for Google! First they rolled out the new Exact Match Domain update then a few days later they announced “Oh yeah we ran a major Panda update at the same time…”, then just when everyone was scrambling they rolled out Penguin 3! Hold onto your hats everyone!

Is SEO Dead?  Yes, But Only to Some People…

Love this infographic! Is SEO dead? Has Google’s aggressive update schedule made SEO impossible? Some would have you believe this and this funny post identifies the key protagonists and their errors and agendas. Check it out!

Search quality highlights: 65 changes for August and September

Here is Google’s official version of what changes they have made in the last 2 months – 65 changes mentioned here. It is interesting to note some SEO commentators are finding some quite obvious omissions from this list. Now why would Google not give us the full story? What happened to transparency?

What’s New & Important With Google’s New Webmaster Guidelines

This quick overview of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines changes points out some very interesting additions. One that really stands out is that it is now considered a guidelines breach if you send someone a free product hoping to get a review and a link back to your site. Hang on, isn’t that how PR has worked forever in the offline world?
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Weekend Wrap 8 – Google Slams EMDs, CTA Wisdom, LinkedIn Infographic

In this Weekend Wrap we’ve got more Google changes guaranteed to upset some Webmasters, valued link building  information on how to recover from Panda and Penguin updates, how to run an SEO audit using Google Webmaster Tools and a cool infographic that shows why content marketing is the new branding… and lots more!

Enjoy the posts…

This week’s photo – the magnficient very showy Hippeastrum that graces us with it’s beauty year after year.

Midge's Hippeastrum

SEO / Search Engine Optimisation

Google’s EMD Algo Update – Early Data

Finally… Google addresses the common search engine hack of buying an Exact Match Domain and using it to rank a poor quality website. There will be some pretty angry SEOs and affiliates out there who have been relying on this dubious technique.

How to Make Your Ecommerce Site Link Worthy

How do you get links to an ecommerce site if your products aren’t very exciting? This comprehensive post outlines some mistakes sites are making and gives tips on how to attract those valued links.

Finally: An Easy-to-Understand Link Building Plan to Help You Recover from Penguin and Panda 

Was your website hit by Google’s Panda or Penguin updates? Neil Patel from Kissmetrics and QuickSprout outlines a few valuable strategies to help you recover your ranking and your website traffic..

Technical SEO Audit with Google Webmaster Tools

Very useful post on how to run an SEO site audit using Google Webmaster Tools. This step by step tutorial is worth tucking away for future reference. Comprehensive stuff!
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7 critical SEO blunders agencies are still making

Darren Woolley discussed recently on the TrinityP3 Blog the poor digital efforts of Strategic Marketing Consultants.

And agencies are as guilty as these consultants with their poor online performance.

It never ceases to amaze me when I am creating keyword competitive analysis projects the woeful Search Optimisation execution of many large advertising agencies.

These same agencies are advising on digital strategy for some of the largest brands in the world yet they consistently fail in SEO basics for their own sites.

 

Search engine optimisation is no longer simply a technical exercise. It is definitely not an IT task and Design and Development are usually pretty lost as SEO is much more about marketing than code.

There have been some major shifts in the world of search recently.

Google has been extremely aggressive with a number of major updates to its algorithm in 2012. It is critical that any online strategies take into account the intent of updates such as the Panda Update, which is a monthly refresh, and the Penguin update which has had two roll-outs thus far.

Panda targets a number of content based techniques whereas Penguin is related to link profiles and the quality and natural appearance of back-links.

Without going into too much technical detail, Google is indicating what they see as being their core business value proposition. This is to deliver the best possible search results for their customers by eliminating spam or any borderline manipulative techniques including some strategies which were seen to be compliant in the not too distant past. And the jury is out on whether they have improved results or not.

So how do you achieve high page results without resorting to risky strategies?

  • Create great content – content that will be shared, linked to as a reference, newsworthy content that will inspire discussion and inspire further new content
  • Get social – social signals offer proof of brand authority and popularity and are factored into ranking algorithms. The more active you are socially, the better your SEO results
  • Ensure technical compliance – get familiar with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines or at least ensure your digital team have a comprehensive understanding. Conduct a site SEO audit to eliminate any potential search penalties

There seems to be a lot of talk about the value of search strategy, social media implementation and content marketing yet many of the same agencies which are doing the talking are falling down badly when it comes to their own efforts.
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Is Google Adwords the new snake oil target?

The last couple of months has been a rough ride for many website owners due to the frequent punitive Google Updates and now I am seeing new serious risks appearing for business owners who are not completely up to date with how websites and search engines work. Please use the share buttons above and let your business connections know about this new scam so they can avoid a really costly mistake!

Panda Updates and Penguin Updates

It had to happen really!

Let’s look at the last few months of Google updates and the repercussions felt by a large number of websites both good and bad.

First up, the Panda was tough… and very necessary!

The first Panda update was more than a year ago and I outlined the reasons for it here.

Each of the following Panda updates seemed to be even tougher and there was some serious collateral damage as even a number of high quality sites with tons of great content were punished!

And then came the Penguin… wow!

There will be a large number of web design and development companies who add anchor text based site wide footer links to every client’s site who will be feeling the pain right now (and probably wondering why).

And it seems from the various SEO based forums that SEO companies, web development, bloggers, Internet marketing services and more in the tech services field were hit disproportionately.

But it was not just this field that were hit. Many sites who historically had work done by low cost SEO companies to “boost search ranking on Google” also noticed disturbing trends in their analytics reports after Google’s aggressive targeting of non-compliance.

And because of the close dates of the various Panda and Penguin updates it can be difficult to analyse which particular update has afflicted many sites. Duplication issues, site errors, anchor text repetition, unnatural link profiles, overuse of keywords, over optimisation, comment spam links, thin content, too many links from a particular source, links from unrelated niches? And I could go on.

Google really came out with guns blazing! They hit every possible webspam or manipulative technique they could think of in short succession.

Here is the list of some of the recent Google updates:

April 19, 2012 – Panda 3.5

April 24, 2012 – Penguin

April 27, 2012 – Panda 3.6

May 25, 2012 – Penguin 1.1

June 8, 2012 – Panda 3.7

June 25, 2012 – Panda 3.8

So, Google has decimated webspam. Nice one Google!

Matt Cutts (Head of Google’s webspam team), take a bow.

You have made the Internet a better place…

Or have you?
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