Panda Update | One Year After The Google Bomb! [Infographic]

It has been a year now since the infamous Google Panda update was covertly rolled out.

Now is probably a good time to do a bit of analysis on whether it has achieved what it set out to do.

Panda Update on Google

How has Panda altered the way people approach search engine optimization?

Did it succeed with what Google set out to achieve?

First of all…

What exactly is the Google Panda Update?

The Panda Update could be described as a clip-on rather than a change in the Google algorithm. The algorithm itself is one of the most closely guarded secrets in the world and it is amended and updated more than 500 times a year.

The Panda Update is run periodically to improve the quality of a searcher’s experience by providing search results that are as relevant as possible. It does this by penalising sites that appear to have thin or low value content.

The Update has been run ten times that we are aware of – the most recent one on January 18th of this year!

Who was the Panda Update targeting?

There had been a major build-up of poor quality content over the last few years. A huge number of Internet marketing programs were and still are being sold to new online marketers. The potential to make a ton of money by teaching people how to manipulate search engine results in order to make sales of products, businesses or services is just too attractive to resist for some people.

And the organic results were free!

A couple of years ago you could research a keyword, write an article, create a press release, make a video, post on a Web 2.0 site and publish a blog with almost identical content and you would end up with 5 or more positions in the search results on Page One for the keyword!

Wow!
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A Stupidly Simple Secret To Power Up Your Inbound Marketing!

Got your attention?

Good!

There is ONE single factor in your inbound marketing efforts which, if you get it wrong you can forget about success for your website or business in the Internet world.

Inbound marketing strategies

A quick explanation first:

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is a phrase originally used by Hubspot (Love Hubspot!) to describe a range of integrated online strategies. Hubspot describes inbound marketing as “Any marketing tactic that relies on earning people’s interest instead of buying it”.

So forget about email blasts, forget about advertising, PPC, or cold-calling – these are all outbound marketing strategies.

Think instead about social media, blogs, search engine optimization (the natural or organic results, not the paid ads). These all generate visitors to your site from content you have posted online and these are people who are already interested in you through relationship building or because they are already looking for whatever you are selling.

That’s the quick definition done – now to the really important bit…

What is the crucial “win or lose” facet of your inbound marketing strategy?…

Drum roll please…

Your Titles!

Yes it’s that simple and here I am going to take you through a range of ways to gain high impact and great click-through for:

  • Your website and onsite content – eye food for scanners
  • Your Blogs – rise above the competition
  • Your Twitter efforts – get noticed, get visitors and get retweeted
  • SEO – the powerful Title Tag and why you must master this

 

What should you be aiming for in a title if you want to get the sort of results I am talking about?

Well, it would have to be compelling, interesting, wacky, different, thought provoking, unusual, irresistable, controversial, intriguing…

You get the idea!

Here we go…
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The War Against Blog Comment Spam And How To Gain The Upper Hand

Blog comment spam… What exactly is it?

How do you know whether you have become an easy target?

How do you stay ahead of the comment spammers?

Spam in blogsI decided to put this guide together for two reasons which I will outline below but first let’s look at what blog comment spam is and why it has become such a major issue.

Blog comment spam is sometimes called spamdexing, comment spam, spam in blogs and a number of other variations on the same theme.

The reason why it exists is purely because of the value of links in SEO. One of the most important aspects of gaining good results in the search engine results pages is having a large number of back-links pointing at your website. These are seen as votes for your site by Google and the other search engines and are therefore counted as a powerful factor when allocating positions.

So, obviously the more links you can get the better your site will do (I have used an over-simplification here to avoid a full search engine optimisation explanation – you can read a fairly comprehensive explanation here)

Unfortunately when it comes to working online many people prefer to find ways to circumvent the safeguards which have been put in place to protect the integrity of the search results. By using “black hat techniques” many marketers break most of the compliance regulations in order to avoid the large amount of manual work and the patience required in implementation of “white hat SEO” techniques.

By sending massive amounts of automated spam out across the web with the attitude that some of it will “stick” these cowboys become the nuisance that we all have all grown to seriously dislike…

Google made a major change way back in 2005 to address this issue. By adding a nofollow attribute to links from comments and trackbacks the theory was that this would discourage automated blog comment spam as there would no longer be any SEO benefit from the comments. Google’s post is here:  Preventing Comment Spam.

Unfortunately there are millions of blogs which do not have the nofollow attribute (we voluntarily set our comments as dofollow in order to reward real comments but understand that we need to be more vigilant about spam because of this decision).

Blog spam software launches millions of comments per day at the web and the main problem is with the number of blogs where the owner auto-approves any comment. It is not unusual to find a blog of very low quality which has thousands of spam junk comments per post… Uggh!

Fortunately Google seeks out websites which have a disproportionate number of these low quality comment based links and penalises or even bans the websites which are using these techniques. Frustratingly though, it can take a while for them to identify some of the perpetrators and so ethically SEO’d websites can be relegated below the cowboys for periods of time.

The two reasons why I have created this guide?
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Oh No! SEO Fail Causes Search Engine Ranking Disaster in Australia!

It seems a large number of New Zealand and Australian businesses are seeking answers to search engine ranking difficulties between the two countries.

In a previous post “The Great Geographic Divide – Google Splits New Zealand And Australia” I talked about geographic modifiers and how many businesses are unaware of how important location is to search engine results.

Search Engine Ranking in Australia and New ZealandI also discussed how tough it can be to get traction in Google in the other country and how it seems to be easier to get US placement than Australian placement if you are a New Zealand business.

This post is based on my research into the poor performance of a local company who also has representation across the Tasman and who felt like they had tried everything without success to improve their Australian search engine ranking.

Here is how the websites are set up.

There are two sites on two different ccTLDs (country code top level domain). So one is website.co.nz and the other is website.com.au. The New Zealand site is hosted here in NZ and the Australian site is hosted in Australia.

So far, so good.

The sites are both optimised for a range of keywords and each page of the site has unique meta data. Yes, good as well.

I am afraid that is the end of the good news though.

The New Zealand site performs reasonably well on Google for most of the keywords on several of the site pages. Traffic figures for the main keywords in New Zealand I would describe as average. However, when I use Google Australia ( http://www.google.com.au/webhp) to search for the same keywords the Aussie site is nowhere to be found.

So, what is going on here?
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The Great Geographic Divide – Google Splits New Zealand And Australia!

This could rattle a few cages out there!

I am about to give away a little secret which many local SEO exponents would probably rather I didn’t…

But here goes!

When you type in your business keyword into Google you are only seeing what someone in your immediate location will see. This can be as precise as your town or city.

So, you were given those amazing global search volume figures for your keyword but after a search engine optimization campaign you were left wondering where the thousands of new customers were…

I have a bit of bad news for you!

If you are based in New Zealand, you are more than likely only ranking in New Zealand. And if you are in Auckland you are possibly only showing front page in Auckland results. Even the websites you have visited have an impact on what shows up on your front page Google results…

but that is for a separate post!

If you are based in Australia, you are more than likely not showing anywhere else in the world… just Google Australia!

Why?

Geographic modifiers are a major influencer in search. If you are based in a particular country then it is way more likely that you will be trusted by people in your own market, culture, ethnicity than some one who is across the ocean.
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Is Your Business Website Struggling Without Search Engine Optimization?

Let’s first of all clarify what SEO services are all about – here is a definition from Wikipedia

“Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.

In general, the earlier (or higher on the page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.  SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search, news search and industry-specific vertical search engines. This gives a website web presence.”

SEO Search Engine OptimisationThis sounds like a foreign language if you have never ventured into the world of online marketing. If you are a business owner who is considering having a website built – read on…

You have thrown the idea around about getting a website for some time now and you’re a bit skeptical and possibly a little nervous about it.  However, you are reluctantly coming to the realisation that you need to have a website.  So you ask around and see what it will cost you.   Anything from $3,000 – $10,000 (and often more) is what you hear.  That’s a lot of money to invest!

Here’s what usually happens.

You contact a website development company and immediately enter a strange world where people speak a different language.  After much discussion with the website developer and a lot of “techie” talk that makes you feel uncomfortable and completely out of your depth, you take the plunge and commission your website and hope like hell that the developer knows what he or she is doing.  The $7,500 you have just spent seems ludicrous and irrational, but you tell yourself “I have to have it – all my competitors have – and it will really grow my sales!”.
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On Search Engine Optimization, Rogue Web Designers And Integrity

Following on from my recent post called “Guess What! Google Hates Your New Business Website And Will Never Rank It!” there have been some further developments to the story.

If you haven’t read it I expressed my dismay – no not dismay, disgust! – about a New Zealand web design company which approached me about the 2,000 plus websites they had developed for NZ businesses.

As a search engine optimization consultant I let them know what I thought about their pretty but useless for SEO  Flash based websites and their claim that for an extra $100 the business could have the top Google result for the keyword of their choice!

Totally dishonest claims and I let them know in a reply to their email.

Anyway I received a follow-up phone call a couple of days ago and I think you will be blown away by the sheer mind-boggling audacity of this company!

“Hi Mike, just checking to see if you had looked at our website designs and to see if you are interested in perhaps purchasing a new website…”

Wow!

I asked whether the caller had received my email reply and was told that the company director had probably got that one.

So I explained what I thought about a business which had built over 2,000 Flash based websites with the promise of being found in the top search results and how I considered this to be dishonest and misleading.

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Guess What! Google Hates Your New Business Website And Will Never Rank It!

Great!

I get a phone call today from a telemarketer who asks me first if I am a representative of High Profile Enterprises!

This will be interesting I think…

“Do you have a website Sir?”

I tell him “We would be a pretty unusual search engine optimization and social media management company if we didn’t – don’t you think?”

Anyway this is not intended to knock telemarketers at all – we employ them to reach businesses that are not online.

search engine optimization liesApparently the company he represents has built 2,000 websites for businesses…

“Cool, send me your portfolio – we are always looking for talented web designers to recommend”

Email arrives…

Damn I think! Flash based websites!

Reply:

Hi Sam,

Thanks for this information!

As I said we are a search engine optimization and social media management company and I was interested to see what your design work is like. I often get asked for web design referrals!

What I see are Flash based websites… tell me that isn’t so?

Flash is virtually invisible in the search engines – look at your page source – there is very little the search engine spiders can read!

I was also interested to read that you value keyword research and SEO to get your site to the top of 40 search engines including Google at $100.

I almost fell off my chair!

If you ever need any SEO advice don’t hesitate to contact me. Mind you we don’t promise to get flash based sites to the top of the search engines for your chosen keyword for $100! 🙂

All the best

Mike

……

So, in essence what we have here is a company which is selling fully search engine optimized websites for $799 promising top Google placement for a keyword of your choice, and they have lots of nice little audio touches and lots of cool visuals where things move and look amazing…

And the websites are almost invisible to the search engines!

Is this criminal?

No, but it should be!

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Wake-Up Call for Brick and Mortar Businesses – Social Media Marketing Does Work!

Brick and mortar businesses need a wake-up call – for their own sake!  Many are taking a long time to figure out that marketing has taken a giant leap into a completely new social arena which has not only transformed the way we live our lives but also the way we conduct our businesses.

And for those of you who think social media is just for the young ones, think again.

Social media for businessesUsers in the category “aged 55 and over” are increasingly connecting with companies through social media.

Agreed, it has taken mature web users a few years to embrace social networking, but they are now becoming the fastest growing segment of users on Facebook and Twitter.  The interesting fact is that they are also developing social media habits that have previously been the domain of younger adults and that is – connecting with brands.   Statistics show that in November 2010, the mature audience (over 50’s) had actually begun to close the gap – and by April 2011 up to nearly half of them were connecting with brands.
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Did Google’s Panda Update Smash Article Marketing?

There has been much wringing of hands and much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth about the latest and greatest Google algorithm update.

First of all if you were not aware of what the Panda Update was and what it was meant to do, here is a quick summary.

Panda update for SEOThe Panda update (sometimes called the Farmer Update) had a specific target in mind. When Matt Cutts (head of Google webspam) and his team of “spammer hunters and destroyers” formulated these changes they were going after some pretty common pests.

We know SEO has been packaged and sold to every online spammer and frantic marketing zealot out there –

“No wait, don’t leave this page! You can now get the front page of Google in 27 seconds for… no, not $697, not even $67, yes – you have just 14 seconds to buy at an amazing $27…

…oh, and a monthly fee of just $99… and in 14 seconds we will be taking down this offer foreeevvveeerrr!!!”

Yes, we have seen these so many times!
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Social Media and SEO – NZ Businesses in Growth Mode Using These Strategies

How Social Media combined with SEO creates opportunity for New Zealand business

With social media and SEO – NZ Businesses have the most incredible tool at their fingertips to propel their business into another orbit!

If you are using this powerful combination to generate more web traffic for your business, then you are definitely on the right track and you already appreciate the massive potential of these two methods of Internet marketing.

What other marketing tools give you access to a massive audience of potential customers either globally or locally targeted?  And what other communication tool can turn inter-active dialogue into sales?  For effective conversion nothing else comes close!

If you still think that social media is where you post your holiday snaps and talk to family – think again…

Social Media for business growth

Let’s dig a little deeper and look at some facts.

  • Social networking now accounts for 22% of all time spent online in the United States and this is growing every month!
  • Twitter averages almost 40 million tweets per day and has over 200 million users.
  • Facebook has over 500 million registered users.
  • Social media usage in New Zealand is skyrocketing!

Most businesses here are now getting new profiles on Facebook and Twitter – mind you the execution of many accounts is woefully inadequate.  To avoid making big mistakes that can affect your online business persona, make sure you are listening to the right advice.

Why is it so powerful?
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