There is so much going on in the industry, how do you know where to begin reading the news and know exactly what to take on board? Here are some of the news from this past month which I found interesting and what I wanted to share with you. (This does not mean the posts I didn’t mention were not interesting – I just can’t write them all down). I am planning on writing a summary of some of the most interesting news in search monthly, so if there is something I have missed, please let me know.
I particularly liked RustyBrick’s post earlier this month about Penguin. In the post it featured one webmaster who thought he had been hit by Penguin 2.0, as he had a sudden drop in traffic and therefore he wrote to Google. Google responded to the webmaster and they said it was just normal fluctuations even though it was not usual for the webmaster to see these changes in traffic.
Summary: Google are as clear as mud about their updates.
Barry Schwartz wrote a great post about rankings and the potential drop if a site goes offline for more than 24 hours.
Matt Cutts even filmed a nice video explaining the fact that a site may become delisted from Google’s search result (temporarily).
Therefore if your client is moving to a new site, please tell them to not take the site down. If they do not listen to you, they may listen to Google who will send out an email to those who are registered with Google Webmaster Tools a notification that there site is offline. These messages normally say something to the effect that GoogleBot is not able to access the site. These notifications can help you ensure your site is up by informing the webmaster of any down time. Pingdom offers a free website monitoring and alert system to notify you when your site is not accessible.
My favourite was the question all those in SEO are very familiar with, “Why is a site with fewer links and worse targeting and poor content ranking better than mine?” This was answered by Rand Fishkin in one of the WhiteBoard Friday sessions.
Rand said that as SEOs we are trained to look at the data and when we don’t see one of the patterns we are not accustomed to, then do not understand why that site is “outranking” our own.
Here are a few things we should look at:
- Do I have a poor listing or poor snippet?
- Brand/domain – it is hard to tell people they do not like your brand biased is one of the strongest signals
- User experience/design – quality of user experience can affect your online visibility – Google see users go to your site and then go back to the search results – tells Google you are not the right match.
- Social shares and mentions
- Quality – coming from high quality sites?
- Variety – need links from different sites, eg news, blogs Need a broad sentiment
- Acceleration rate – the growth rate of in bound links is taken into account
– Content quality and usefulness
- Does it address the customer’s intent? Maybe they are looking at education or news based research instead?
- Does the content provide unique value?
- Ask about mobile biasing, Google will discount or not rank you as well if your site does not perform quickly, has responsive designs or does well on mobile devices
Summary: Rand said we should ask ourselves when we are being outranked “where do we have weaknesses where the others have strengths?”
There was an interesting article by Marie Haynes on guest blogging about the fact that high quality guest posts can get you penalised. Google said it is ok to do guest post if it is not written for the sole purpose of receiving a link and guest posting is not a way to get links on a large scale.
Marie said “I still maintain that I have worked with clients who have been penalized because of overuse of what would be called high quality guest posting. I think that if you are able to get an article published on an authoritative site and you are able to link back to yourself this can be ok. But, if you are able to do that hundreds of times then Google can see that as a linking scheme, especially if your site is manually reviewed.”
I really liked RustyBrick’s post which summarised that guest blogging has been subject to abuse. Guest blogging should have no follow links otherwise that site may be open to a possible penalty. It is important to make sure links are built naturally, this means sites cannot have hundreds of links through guest posting without Google finding out.
Summary: do not just implement hundreds of guest posts, diversify your guest blogging strategy.
Another great post from earlier this month about link building was by Eric Enge who interviewed Matt Cutts. Matt said that not all link building is bad and the philosophy that they have always had and what they have told us is content compelling then it would be much easier to get people to write about it and to link to it.
What Matt Cutts said is that many people approach it from a direction that’s backwards. He said “They try to get the links first and then they want to be grandfathered in or think they will be a successful website as a result.”
The goal of all webmasters should be to make a “fantastic website that people love and tell their friends about and link to and want to experience. As a result, your website starts to become stronger and stronger in the rankings.”
Matt said that people should have a diversified way of reaching their audience. So if you rely only on Google, that might not be as strong of an approach compared to having a wide variety of different avenues by which you can reach people and drive them to your website or whatever your objective is.
Summary: Create great content and links will follow
SEO is not dead
My last post I really liked from this month was by Martin MacDonald in response to Guardian’s post about SEO is Dead. I am not even going to bother linking to such a poor article.
Martin argued and quite rightly so, that search traffic is highly qualified, you are able to target people at very specific parts of the consumer buying cycle which social does not do.
Martin stated that “Social traffic is awesome, for product discovery. Its not awesome at targeting people at the point in which they want to make a purchase.Social therefore is great at getting your message out there, but when you actually want to transact, not having a presence on search engines is online marketing’s #1 deadly sin.”
I could not agree more with Martin. If you do not have a presence within the search engines, that is the biggest failure you can make with your website.
Summary: SEO is not dead, nor will it ever be. Social is just playing a bigger role in the search market.