As if the last few weeks haven’t been tumultuous enough for businesses SEO with Google changes, there is more on the way. Matt Cutts released a video (below) today announcing what to expect in the next few months from Google. It’s going to upset a lot of people but there are some wins if you think you have been hit unfairly by Panda updates. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Penguin 2.0 is coming.
I’ve been saying this since late April and we thought the changes we saw recently were related to a new Penguin. We’re still not sure. What we are sure of now is that is imminent. Matt has said it is going to be more comprehensive than Penguin 1.0 and that had a massive effect on rankings, so hold onto your collective hats.
2. Panda Gets Fixed
Matt has admitted (kind of) that the Panda update went to far. They will be adjusting it to un-punish sites that were caught up unfairly in this update. Too bad if your revenue went through the floor in the last six months because of Panda and you thought you were doing all the right things.
He also said they will be rewarding content that has “authority” . Authorship is my guess. If your site has some of the most reputable authors on your site your content is now going to rank higher. This could be the much talked about AuthorRankupdate.
4. Spammy Backlinks
Generally if you are doing spammy backlinking on sites it’s going to be bad for you. This will hit a lot of affiliate sites that engage in this practice as well as sites that have backlinks from poor content that may have previously helped their ranking.
Here’s Matt’s video.
The massive Google update we saw last week is still evolving but here’s what you need to know so far. We don’t even have a name for this update yet so I can’t try to rank for it About a month ago I said Penguin 2.0 was coming it feels different to Penguin though.
1. Broad category searches are location dependent
Google Places results still seem to be jumping all over the place and of course vary from city to city as they always have. Now we are seeing that with organic results as well. Last week it was possible for you to rank nationally for a broad category even if you only had an address in one city. This no longer seems to be the case. If you want to rank in a city for a broad category you’d better have an address in that city. Also make sure your address page is using structured data.
2. Ecommerce SEO Is Unaffected If Structured Properly
If you have your ecommerce product data structured properly you should be able to rank in any city in a country for a given product. See the structured data link above. Product related SERPs do not change much from city to city. However all the ecommerce sites we have looked at so far that rank for individual products have good structured data. The same would apply to event related sites. We are now checking all our ecommerce clients SEO and tweaking where necessary. Of course make sure your ecommerce site is not making these seo mistakes.
3. Focus on the longtail for searches outside your city
If you are an ecommerce site you should be focussing more on the longtail and not on the broad search phrases for users outside of your city.
What is your experience with this change? What are you seeing that I have missed? Love to hear your experience.
Google are usually pretty coy and vague when they talk about keyword specifics. You may remember last year I did a post and video on Michael Jones of Google and how he basically said don’t worry about your keywords. Earlier this year Google hinted at this again in the SEO Cheat Sheet where they said be “descriptive” with your filenames, headings and URLs. They forgot to tell you to use your keywords in these descriptions. Well Matt Cutts just released a video where he talks about being VERY specific about your keywords. I’ll drop it in at the end of this post. As much as Google has got better about understanding the relationships between words by looking at their context, you still need to have the keywords you want to rank for on the page. A simple concept right? You would think so but I have been talking about keyword research for a long time and I’m constantly surprised by businesses who don’t want the keywords they want to rank for on their page.
Press Releases.. really?
Mat also said, as did Michael last year, that press releases are a good way to expose users to your content. I guess they mean backlinks. Some of the press releases from SEO companies I see though are disastrously spun nonsensical twaddle. I sure hope Google is not rewarding rubbish content like this that I found in Google News.
An example of SEO Press Releases that proliferate on Google News
Sometimes it can be difficult to work a phrase into an article so it sounds natural. For instance if I wanted to rank for “Advertising Company Melbourne” it’s kind of hard to make it sound natural. For services, people will often use a geographic qualifier to get more relevant results. Gone are the days where you would have an article that read like “So if you are looking for an Advertising company Melbourne..” although I am sure there are a few on this site scattered about over the last 8 years:) However you could say “We are the best advertising company Melbourne has to offer”. Slightly messes up the meaning of the search but you get the idea.
In his video Matt also talked about using more content. For years a lot of us have been talking about publishing content as essential for SEO. That was one of the reasons I started doing these videos back in 2006 and published my first one to Youtube in 2007. Today this concept is called “Content Marketing” and we’re finding that sites are being rewarded more than ever now if they have a blog and update it regularly. In today’s video I take a look at a great opportunity that is coming up at the end of this month with Darren Rowse also known as Problogger. If you want to take the next step with your business into the world of blogging (and you should) you can’t go wrong with Darren and this masterclass he is doing as part of PESA. This man taught me a lot.
Proof of blogging & SEO
We created a report 12 months ago on power company websites and their ranking and then repeated it again this year. We found that all the companies that had added blogs in that time now ranked higher than they did last year. If I can work out how to remove the commercially sensitive data so it still makes sense I’ll publish some of the findings here.
Back in 2008 or 2009 when Google Maps was trasitioning into Google Places a lot of us SEOs tried to be too clever for our own good. We put our keywords in our business name, stuffed them into every nook & cranny we could find in the places dashboard. I even setup a PO Box in the centre of Melbourne so I could have a CBD address. The latter plan did not work. Subsequently we had a a couple of places accounts suspended. Places has always been a bit of a basket case though. One time I saw my places account combined with another Melbourne SEO company. Google had merged our names at our address. Being an SEO I have a healthy paranoia and contacted the other SEO Company. They were just as bewildered as us. Eventually I just decided to play ball with Google. On the weekly video back then I said if you like the show leave a review on our Places account. Within 24 hours we had 20 to 30 reviews. Then BOOM! Our account got shut down. When I was talking to a couple of Melbourne based Google employees they told me it would have triggered the algorithm because I had so many reviews in such a short space of time.
What a dumb algorithm
I wasn’t gaming the system, paying for reviews, all the reviews were from legitimate people who watched the show. Discerning, intelligent folk like yourself no doubt. We all know there are plenty of fake reviews out there that are spaced out over time on places accounts so as not to trigger the algorithm but they are fake! Ours were real. If this trigger still exists there are plenty of businesses that could be hurt from it as Google+Local or Places for Business provides a great source of traffic for many local businesses. There are legitimate reasons why it could occur if a business is running an event that people love and they all leave a review within a short space of time.
What an easy way though, for your competitors to destroy your places rank. Simply get some school kids to go and leave reviews on your competitors places account in a short space of time and BOOM they’re gone. That’s how it used to be anyway. Has it changed? Maybe with the stronger verification of Google users through Google profiles it has but there are still plenty of reviews out there from anonymous “Google users”
Google Places STill Broken
As I demonstrate in today’s show Google Places is still broken with faulty listings, duplicate listings, impossible verifications for national businesses and many other flaws. I’d love to hear your experiences with Places.
Let’s find out if Negative SEO is possible
I’d like to know if this “review frequency” trigger still exists. A simple mind like mine can come up with plenty of ways to verify a review so why can’t Google? IP address, geo-location, time zone, Google profiles etc etc all present tools that Google could use. To test if it is still in use I’d like YOU to leave a review on our Google Places account IF you like the weekly videos. In turn I will give you nothing, no quid pro quo, no free beer or anything like that because that would be breaking Google’s terms of service. You can leave a review here https://plus.google.com/102157136147219937337/about?hl=en
. People have already started to review and nothing seems to have broken yet… maybe you’ll be the one that does it . Love to hear your stories about Google Places.
In this week’s SEO video I take a look at Google’s Search Cheat Sheet. This is Google’s latest publication on best practice to search friendly pages. It’s interesting for two reasons. The things they reveal and the things they don’t.
In the last ten years of doing SEO only one thing has changed, the algorithm. The simple principles of making a document relevant for certain phrases have not and Google has confirmed this with their latest publication. They discuss 4 fundamental concepts for SEO that we have been implementing for years and I have been banging on for in 350 SEO videos or more. Here they are laid out for you by Google.
EMD for SEO
We all knew it. EMDs have always been the one element that can give you the extra ranking “leg up”. Last year when they released their EMD update a lot of people said that is the end of EMDs. Sure that’s true if you don’t add any other value. In last week’s cheat sheet Google said
Google Cheat Sheet - what they say about exact match domains
Mmm. What they didn’t say is to get your keywords in the domain. It makes sense though. For a machine to understand what the content is about you need to give it clues. Or as Sir Tim Berners Lee points out “the semantic web”. What is this content about? Tell the machine. Google goes on to say this also applies to individual pages. Let us know what the content is about by labelling it appropriately.
Google cheat sheet - search engine friendly URLs
. Pretty simple right? Are you doing it?
SEO Your Images
Another thing I’ve also believed in is not only having keywords in your alt tags but get them in your filenames. Google has reaffirmed this as well. Most web developers will give them some gobbledygook filename that has no information on what the image is really about.
Google Cheat Sheet - SEO for images
It would be easy to discard this information but there it is in black and white. Once agin they talk about “descriptions” but substitute that for “keywords” and you get the idea. The curious thing for me was the reference to captions. Notice anything different about this post
Hints from Google
So what are the things Google isn’t telling us directly with this cheat sheet.
1. Use your keywords in the above examples
2. Use your keywords in your link structures
3. Setup Webmaster tools
SEO Things To Try At Home
Analyse what I have done above. Run your own tests. Play with the concepts. We would love to know your results.
Google launched a a presentation last week on how search works. The most fascinating part was how Google fights spam, not because of the techniques but because they give you samples of pages they are rejecting in almost real time. Watch the video for the details. We regularly speak to customers whose sites have dropped [...]
Interflora found out last week that paid backlinks help get your ranked and then condemn you to search oblivion when Google detects what you’re doing. Interflora in the UK bought a series of advertorials across a bunch of news outlets to help get ranked in the lead up to Valentines day. The best analysis I’ve [...]
We’re planning a new site for one of our services and I had to go trough the planning exercise of what I wanted it to rank for and how our team would achieve those rankings. Here’s our 3 must dos 1. Build in WordPress As Matt Cutts has said in the past WordPress does SEO [...]
This week we’re back to doing site reviews. Over the years we’ve done thousands of these and today I wanted to share the steps with you. In order to get to Melbourne, you need to know where you are now right? You can’t just hop in the car and say “take me to Melbourne”, well [...]
I had the honour last night of meeting and listening to, Sir Tim Berners Lee. What a great Knight! One of the things he is passionate about is the Semantic Web. Google loves it too that’s why they publish rich snippets in the SERPs now. Special thanks to @joshrowe and @piawaugh We implement structured data [...]
As if the last few weeks haven’t been tumultuous enough for businesses SEO with Google changes, there is more on the way. Matt Cutts released a video (below) today announcing what to expect in the next few months from Google. It’s going to upset a lot of people but there are some wins if you [...]
The massive Google update we saw last week is still evolving but here’s what you need to know so far. We don’t even have a name for this update yet so I can’t try to rank for it About a month ago I said Penguin 2.0 was coming it feels different to Penguin though. 1. [...]