Yesterday it was a flurry of activity in the office. In the morning I was off at the ATSA2014 conference on behalf of MYOB & The Savvy Accountant podcast series which I host. When I got back into my car to head back to the office my phone was buzzing with messages. Google had announced a Penguin update. Unfortunately for us it also coincided with our cloud based ranking tool failing to update. This meant we were in the dark about the Penguin effects until yesterday afternoon at 3pm when it started to update. We had checked a few keywords manually and the signs were good but as we currently monitor nearly 5000 keywords we did not have a very good snapshot until the updates were finished around 4pm.
Love A Penguin Update
We saw the usual effects of a Google Penguin update for SEO. A lot of the spammers got hit. There were some interesting exceptions though of sites that nothing happened to even though when you look at their backlink profile it is obviously spammy. What was nice to see was a lot of sites that we had disavowed for previously jumped up in the rankings. Typically if you have been hit by a Penguin update and you disavow your spammy backlinks you won’t see an upswing until another Penguin update.
A Panda Too.
Google Panda not Penguin client results today
Something else we saw yesterday though which was a little odd though was that the sites that had the biggest jumps had all undergone Panda treatments for duplicate content. Google did announce a Panda update around the start of the month but we had not seen any reall effects of it until yesterday. I’m talking massive jumps too, like in the case of one client, a 30 spot jump to no.1 or a 229 spot jump to no.6. Pretty extraordinary as there was no Penguin effect involved at all. Love to know what you are seeing and don’t forget to book for our webinar which is next week https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6070785589126366721
Bigcommerce made some SEO “improvements” back in June. Problem is they actually had some very negative SEO impacts. Thanks to “Dylan” who saw one of my posts on Twitter. He forwarded me their newsletter from June where they discuss their improvements and also have a free SEO eBook. For an ecommerce platform, their SEO ebook lacks some key advice such as using structured data for all your products as well as a bunch of other basic stuff. Maybe I’m being too harsh but the ebook is very basic and sadly some of the things that are omitted, like using structured data for addresses (Google my business) is not possible on their CMS.
Bigcommerce SEO email
This video though is a last ditch attempt to get BigCommerce SEO to use robots.txt on mybigcommerce.com . This is a change they made in June. Basically they are duplicating all their clients sites at subdomains. If you use bigcommerce, do a search like this. site:mybigcommerce.com “brand name” you will then see your site in the results. As I point out in the video, they do use rel=”canonical” but they are using it from one domain to another. Now whilst Google will tell you that you can canonicalize across domains if you really have to, it doesn’t work. That is our experience anyway.
SEO & Canonical across domains
Over the years after working on thousands of sites we have found it a good idea not to use rel=”canonical” across domains, even though Google has a whole page telling you how to do it. The reason we don’t is that Google still crawls and indexes content even though it as the canonical tag AND Google webmaster tools sees it as a backlink. Wait, what? Yep, if you canonical from one domain to another Google will see that as a backlink from another domain.
Bigcommerce is the biggest backlinker
Bigcommerce Inconsistent Canonicals
So digging a bit further since I made the video I can see that there is some real inconsistency in the way Bigcommerce applies the canonical tags to their sites. For instance the site below has it’s content indexed at both the sub domain and their real domain. In this case the sub domain is canonicaled to itself.
Bigcommerce inconsistent canonicals affecting SEO
Whilst it’s lovely to have an intellectual discussion on whether canonicals should work like this, here’s what we know;
- The sub domains are getting crawled and their pages indexed even though they are canonicalled
- Google sees these canonical URLs as backlinks from the subdomain to the main domain (spammy much?)
- Bigcommerce application of this technique seems inconsistent.
If you need these sub domains just BLOCK THEM FROM GOOGLE so we can all get on with our lives!!
Last Wednesday it was reported that long time SEO “ranking” or “awards” company was absolutely smashed by Google and removed from the index. According to the story over at Searchengineland Top SEOs has being using a couple of domains since their deindexing by Google including topseosglobal.com and topseos-global.com. As you will see from today’s video they have since moved on from those domains and are now employing a sub domain strategy.
What was Top SEOs
I use the past tense as it looks like their business model has just been ended by Google. Top SEOs has been around since 2002 according to a media kit I have from 2010. In that they claim the following;
Top SEOs Research Claims
We regularly were “awarded” Top SEOs gongs or rankings and I can tell you that none of the above happened. In fact in 2009 we were awarded the “Best Link Popularity” firm. I don’t even know what that means. Below is part of the email notification we received at the time.
Top SEOs award from 2009
In that notification they claim to have contacted our clients and they list 3 “clients”. Only one of those listed was a client the other two were sites that belonged to mates. The reason they assumed they were clients is that I was linking to them. It was at that point it was confirmed for me that the “awards” were questionable to say the least. Mind you over the years a lot of people have put a lot of stock in them. So what was their business model? Advertising essentially. From the same 2010 media kit they offer different levels of membership for $1000, $2500 or $3500 per month. Amongst other things the membership includes a backlink from a PR5 page. Or as you and I would call it; a paid backlink.
Top SEO Paid Links
In addition to that you can also sign up for their “lead generation” plan for an additional $10,000/year. A quick search of Google news reveals that SEO companies, including Australian ones are still touting their Top SEOs awards as recently as Saturday AFTER they had been removed from Google.
SO why has Google smashed them now? Surely they have known for years they were selling backlinks. Who did TopSEOs piss off at Google? This is no algorithm adjustment, this is TopSEOs been hunted down and obliterated. It’s only taken Google 12 years to work out what the rest of us have known for years.
Even though you are not using three of them. Several weeks back we brought you the story of setting up HTTPS for a ranking boost. In that video and accompanyingblog post I take you through the steps. This week Google has started sending messages in webmaster tools about setting up all the different versions of your site in webmaster tools and setting up the preferred domain as well. What Google does not tell you is that you should redirect (301) three of those sites to one version.
SEO Messages in Webmaster Tools
Google never used to be this explicit. Now it’s telling you to setup all four versions of the domain and to setup the preferred version to appear in search results. You can do this under “Site settings”. Google won’t let you do this though unless you have previously setup the www version as well.
Setup preferred domain for SEO
Good for SEO
So why is this good for SEO? It ensures you have only one domain that should appear in search (providing you redirect the others). This is interesting as “setting the preferred domain” has never been a big deal before. As far as I was concerned it was more aesthetic than functional. For instance I have never set it up for this site but because I had everything redirected properly Google has never shown the www version of the site.
Finally today I’ll be doing an SEO webinar on the 30th of October at 11AM AEST (GMT+11) https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6070785589126366721 PLaces will be limited so don’t forget to book.
Content duplication – do a site: search look for any results that should not be there and remove them
Broken links – crawl your site with a link checker and make sure it’s not full of busted links.
Unique Content Ratio – Make sure you don’t have lots of pages with only a couple of words of unique content. Typically these would be seen as low quality pages
Last Friday Pierre Far of Google announced on G+ that there had been a Panda update to the algorithm. For those playing along at home this would be update 4.1 . Whilst I have seen some reports of ranking devastation for the most part I have not seen anything like this in Australian results. Some local SEOs are saying the exact opposite and are claiming that it has adversely affected directory sites, I’m not seeing any evidence of that though. In fact I’d even go as far to say that it has not been rolled out in AU yet. John Mueller is saying that it is a global update but it will affect different countries in different ways.
If you think you have been affected by this update then please let me know. From what I’ve read of sites that have been affected in other countries, it’s what you would expect lots of advertising above the fold. However there are a lot of quality issues in addition to too many ads on a page that we have seen sites get penalised for. They include;
Don’t forget to let me know if you have been hit.