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Google Penguin UpdateMonday, May 7, 2012
24th April 2012 saw the release of the latest algorithmic update from Google, this time code-named the ‘Google Penguin Update‘.
Thousands of website owners across the world have witnessed a huge shift in their rankings since the update, indicating that this is in fact another large-scale movement by Google, and not one of their smaller ‘Google Dances’ that happens every so often. If further evidence was required, Google themselves have confirmed the update.
So, here’s what you as local business owners need to know about Google’s Penguin.
What was Google Penguin?
In short, Penguin was an attempt by Google to either remove, or certainly de-credit, web-pages that had been using dodgy techniques such as keyword stuffing, over-optimisation and cloaking in an attempt to ‘beat the system’ and steal a gain on the rankings.
Has My Site Been Affected?
As a general rule, unless you have been doing anything which violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, then the chances are, you’ll not have been affected.
However, there are a few ways to check whether your site has been affected:
Check your Google Webmaster Tools account for any messages from Google.
In the cases of the worst offenders, Google have sent notifications regarding spamming offences to website owners via the Google Webmaster Tools console.
If you don’t have a Google Webmaster Tools account in place, you really should do. Usually it takes less than 5 minutes to set up and provides you with a direct insight to how Google sees and indexes your website. Let me know if you’d like a hand setting this up – it’s a worthy exercise.
Check your traffic stats since 24th April 2012 in Google Analytics.
Have you seen any major drops in traffic for any particular pages or keywords in the days/weeks directly after this date? If so, chances are that you’ve been hit in some way by Google Penguin.
Not all sites affected of course have been detrimental, with thousands of websites falling down the rankings this presents an enormous opportunity for sites that have been playing by the rules to take their place, so there is every chance that your website may see in increase in traffic since Penguin.
Do I Really Need Links for My Website?Tuesday, March 27, 2012
This is a question I’m asked an awful lot when speaking to new clients about SEO. The short answer to this is always YES.
Links are a vital part of how Google and the other search engines gauge the authority, relevant and importance of a website. Google themselves make this clear in their Webmaster Guidelines documentation, and I quote:
Google Webmaster Guidelines: “Your site’s ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to you. The quantity, quality, and relevance of links count towards your rating. The sites that link to you can provide context about the subject matter of your site, and can indicate its quality and popularity.”
You can read the rest of this article for yourself here:
Building up a portfolio of good quality links from external sites that are relevant to your own site is a key trigger to Google about your site’s trustworthiness. Links count as votes, or recommendations if you like, and are very, very valuable.
If you’d like a hand with your link building, feel free to give me a call or drop me an email – I’ll be more than happy to advise, and the first consultation is always free.
Adding a User to Google AnalyticsSaturday, February 18, 2012
Step by step guide to adding a user to your existing Google Analytics account to allow them to view your data.
These instructions refer to the new version of Google Analytics.
Log into your Google Analytics account (www.google.com/analytics/) and find your website’s profile.
From here, click the Settings icon (shaped like a cog, see below)
Now click on ‘Users’ (see below)
Now click ‘+ New User’ (see below)
On the next screen, add the following details:
1- Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 – Role: User or Administrator (depending on the level of access you wish to grant)
3 – Click ‘Create User’
Note – you can remove a user’s access to your analytics account at any time by removing them from this same screen.
Need some help with Google Analytics?
Get in touch, I’ll be happy to help.
The Results Speak for Themself…Monday, February 13, 2012
This doesn’t happen every month (much as my customers would like it to), but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to show off a bit.
Looking over my Google Analytics account for the month of January, every single one of the website’s I look after saw an increase in visitors.
…every single one…
Clearly, I can’t show specific details, but the image below is a screen shot straight from my Google Analytics account.
Ok, so some of these are brand new sites, so clearly ANY traffic will show as an increase. However, most of them are well established sites that’ve had a bit of a kick up the backside and helped on their way a bit.
More Traffic & More Sales
The keen eyed amongst you might have spotted one site in particular there that’s seen not only a 100%+ increase in traffic, but also a conversion count well into four figures.
To put that into a bit of context, not only did we doubling their visitors, but we also over 1000 of these people bought something whilst they were there.
I Could Help You Too…
Fancy giving your site the same treatment?
Drop me an email - I’d love to hear from you.
Search Engine Optimisation GuideTuesday, January 17, 2012
A very brief and basic guide to search engines, websites and generally helping the two to get along nicely.
Search engines such as Google will always try to serve up what is the most relevant website or page to a particular search term. So, for example, somebody searching online for ‘Rugby Union Fixtures’ it’s not surprising that the following sites rank highly:
There are a number of factors that contribute to getting a website or particular web page to perform well in the search engines, to name a few:
How easily or quickly a site be easily scanned and read by the search engines?
To help illustrate this, click here to see how a search engine, such as Google sees a well optimised website. You’ll notice that all the frills and images are completely stripped out, leaving only the text. However, it is still easy to see that this web page is specifically about Gardening.
Flash based websites = Bad SEO
Compare this to a site built using Flash, such as ‘Get the Glass’.
Sites built in Flash are very difficult for search engines to read and decipher what information they hold, and more importantly, when to show these pages to someone searching for a particular word or phrase.
Support for Flash based sites is (thankfully) on the decline, helped in no small part by the popularity of Apple’s iPhone and iPad, neither of which support Flash.
In short – the easier you make it for search engines to access the content of your website, the greater the chances are of it being found by the right people.
How relevant is a particular web page to the theme or topic it is trying to be found for? Using the Rugby example above, part of the reason that Google decides to show those particular sites to people searching for ‘Rugby Union Fixtures’ is because they’re all very relevant to that particular term.
Inbound links coming in from other sites to your site all count as votes and help push it up the rankings. Generally speaking, the more votes (links) a site has the more trusted and correct it’s content is seen to be by the search engines. In turn, a vote (or link) from a strong, trusted site counts for more than that from a small, unknown site.
The better quality the site that links to you, the more valuable the link.
How to Remove a Page From Google’s IndexWednesday, November 9, 2011
Most sites will have pages that their owners would rather were kept out of the public domain, e.g. expired or seasonal offers, obsolete products, pages under construction etc.
So, what do you do if you discover just such a page showing up in Google, that you’d really rather wasn’t there? Fortunately, the answer’s easy – but it requires a Google Webmaster Tools account.
Log into your Google Webmaster Tools account and navigate to:
Site Configuration >> Crawler Access >> Remove URL
Now click the grey ‘new removal request’ button, and enter the exact URL of the page you want to remove from Google’s index, then click ‘continue’.
Now you will have a drop-down with 3 options:
- Remove page from search results and cache
- Remove page from cache only
- Remove directory
Watch Google’s Matt Cutts explain a bit more on this subject.
My Site’s Vanished from Google!?Tuesday, October 11, 2011
After launching an all new, redesigned eCommerce site for JBA Seed Potatoes at the end of last week I received the call that every SEO dreads…
“My site’s disappeared from Google?!”
More specifically, it was only the homepage that had vanished since the relaunch. Cue a Friday night, 8pm panic Skype meeting between Client (JBA), SEO (me), Lead Designer (Kit @ Kit Allen) and Lead Developer (Nick @ LinkCentre). After sifting through all the code we spotted a load of notes left by Paul (aka Yabba), the previous, twisted genius of a programmer who tragically and very sadly passed away half-way through the development.
Within his notes we found a load of ranting and swearing (all at himself whilst he was working his way through building the site!) and made the assumption that Google must have crawled the page, found all this, assumed the page had been hacked and dropped it from the search results.
After tidying up the source code and resubmitting the page to Google (along with a very grovelling re-submission request) we all left it at that.
Roll forward a couple of days and we all decided to take a fresh look at it – just in case there was anything else it might possibly be, and BANG – there it was.
Eight lines into the source and as clear as day:
<meta name=”robots” content=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW” />
Or, to put it another way – that’s a message to Google/Yahoo/Bing (and all the other search engines out there) along the lines of:
“Go away, don’t read me, don’t index me and don’t bother checking out any of the links I’ve got either. Go on, off you trot!”
30 seconds later and we’re now just waiting for Google to re-crawl the site, re-index the home page and (with any luck) sit it back on top of the results for ‘Seed Potatoes’ again.
If ever there was a stern reminder of just how powerful Robots.txt can be (and why it should be treated with extreme caution!), this is it.
Checklist for New Website OwnersWednesday, September 7, 2011
Setting up a new website? Here’s an ever growing list of essential online tools that will make your life much, much easier:
Who are your users? How did they find your website? What pages did they visit? Did they buy from you? The answers are all available in Google Analytics, and better yet… it’s completely free!
Seeing your website from Google’s perspective helps you to quickly identify any errors, broken links, missing Meta tags and more, and yet again… it’s free!
Do you offer a local service? If so, make sure your company and site is listed with Google Places.
Shoot The HippoTuesday, June 21, 2011
Is Your Company’s Hippo Holding You Back?
Unlike almost any other form of advertising media, internet marketing provides the evidence of what’s working, and what’s not – everything that happens is backed up with facts. There is no more guessing required about how many people saw, or clicked onto your ad, or what percentage of people that clicked, your ad, then went on to convert / buy from you. Yet, it still appears to be the case that, all-too-often, fact is over-ruled by the opinion of the highest paid person that’s involved with the website project. Whilst most director or senior manager will (usually) have a wealth of knowledge and experience regarding their products, markets, customers and trends, when dealing with data, analytics and decision making – these otherwise vital traits, count for nothing.
In most cases, these ‘Highest Paid Person’s Opinions‘ (lovingly dubbed ‘HIPPO’s‘ for short), are costing their company a fortune, every week/month/year in both wasted advertising spend and missed opportunity – purely because they make strategic changes and decisions about their website based on nothing other than their own thoughts or ideas.
These decisions are often backed up with words like “gut feeling”, “seat of the pants”, “I think” and “I just feel…”. In many cases, research is either not carried out, or in the worst cases, ignored completely.
Anyone that bases a strategic decision regarding their website on the basis of “I just feel…” will hold back the progress of that site’s success for as long as they ignore what is right under their nose. Data, and facts.
Spend time testing, not guessing
Your website’s analytics data will tell you ‘exactly’ what pages, products or services are performing well, or not, on your site. Once you’ve identified a need for change (poorly performing pages or keywords being a good place to start looking for changes), the next stage is to test different things, until you find the one that works best.
You can test almost anything using a standard A/B split test – different prices, colours, offers, messages and calls to action, shapes sizes, fonts, you name it.
The most important thing isn’t so much ‘what’ you test, but ‘that’ you test.
Making decisions based on guesswork, gut instinct or “I just feel…” (you may have noticed I suffer from a fairly substantial phobia of that particular phrase, “I just feel…”), is as effective as pulling the name of a racehorse out of a hat and then betting your monthly advertising budget on it. It’s a complete stab in the dark, which more times than not will end up in failure.
Learning how to get the best out of your web analytics will empower you to make strong, informed decisions based on data, facts and evidence – surely that’s the way forward?
Are your keywords even worth ranking for?Thursday, June 9, 2011
A new client that I’ve recently begun working with happened to show me their latest SEO report that’d just arrived from the web design/developers that have been looking after their online marketing for the past 18 months or so (since their site was launched).
The report was a typical ‘here’s a list of 10 keywords that we’re getting you to rank for, and here’s where they’re ranking amongst all these other gazillions of competing pages’.
Great, nothing out of the ordinary so far.
However, a quick bit of digging showed that from this list of 10 keywords, there was a total of 91 estimated UK monthly searches *. A situation made even worse by the fact that of those 91 est. searches – all of them were for a single term – the company’s own brand name.
“Why would you effectively pay good money, on a regular basis, to advertise your brand in a magazine with zero readers..?“
This is one of those unfortunate scenarios that comes up time and time again when a website is investigated.
Make sure that your website is targeting the right keywords – contact us at the Avalanche for a free consultation and get on board.