Google Penguin & The Disavow Tool

broken linkIn April Google released it’s Penguin update. This was aimed at weeding out poor quality links and websites that have over optimised anchor text on the links. This has had far reaching affects both to the owners of the websites that have lost substantial traffic and the SEO industry in general.

We posted a blog in June about how to recover from the Penguin update and one of the most obvious things to do is to remove these poor links but that is easier said than done as by the very nature of these poor links you are unlikely to receive a response to any request to remove these links from the offending sites. So Google have release the disavow tool which can be found in Google Webmaster Tools and allows you to upload a list of URL’s so that any links from there will be discounted in Google’s ranking algorithm.

Good news you may say….. well yes hopefully but we can see immediately how this tool may be open to abuse.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

Google are constantly updating their algorithms with the intention of providing their customers with the best search results possible. But for every tweak they make someone will find a way of exploiting this. Years agoNewtons Cradle when blogs first started to appear Google saw a link from a blog as being very powerful as they were seen as links coming from a site which was somebody’s personal opinion and therefore very relevant. The result of this was that a cottage industry set up with sites where you could go and buy blog posts with a link for specific anchor text on blogs with a Page Rank of your choosing – the higher the Page Rank the higher the cost of the link.

The value of a lot of these sort of links have long been discounted by Google but the Penguin update has pushed things to the next level by ensuring that these links actually poison your site. One of the main concerns about this action by Google is that it opens the door for people to negatively affect the rankings of their competitors by creating sites and creating over optimised links to their competitors sites.

The problem with the disavow tool

So Google have released a tool to help us get rid of those pesky links surely that is a good thing isn’t it? Well apart from the fact that by using this tool it could be seen as an admission of guilt by Google there are a number of other concerns within the industry. Yes you can only use the tool within Webmaster Tools where you are the verified owner of the domain so that prevents other from using the tool to discount your links but it opens the floodgates for sites that have made it easy to get back links to be penalised, web 2.0 sites, forums, blogs with open comments etc and if those sites have been penalised that bad ‘link juice’ with flow through to any sites that have links from them even if they were genuine comments, forum threads etc. It also allows for competitors to build links to their site from a site that you have links from and then disavow them and negatively affect your rankings.Google Disavow Tool

So what should I do?

In terms of your competitors using this tool and the penguin update to negatively affect your site that isn’t something you have a lot of control over and it is Googles lookout to ensure that this issue is kept to a minimum. But if you’ve received bad links warnings, been denied reconsideration or been penguinised then this tool gives you the opportunity to get things back on track, but be careful, use conservatively and only use as a last resort after the normal channels of communication to try and get the links removed have been exhausted.

If you don’t have a Webmaster Tools account which is imperative to running a healthy site, or you would like any help with any of the issues discussed here or  then give us a ring on 0115 896 7715

How to recover from Google’s Penguin and Panda Updates

Has your website been pecked by Penguin or pawed by Panda? Here are a few tips on how to get your websites listings back on track. First off, what is Google Penguin and Panda? These are two new algorithms that were introduced in April 2012, and have caused a lot of problems for websites all over the Web.These algorithms put tighter guidelines on the optimization of websites and tweaked a number of methods used for web spam, including keyword stuffing, cloaking, unnatural links and content spinning.

google panda penguin 300x213 How to recover from Googles Penguin and Panda Updates

Contrary to what many of us think (and what it feels like), Google’s aim isn’t to run amuck with algorithm updates and discipline every site until they are the only ones left on the internet. They just yearn for the web to be a better place, and want to provide their users with the best websites for their desired search and they do this by pushing sites who do things right and by the book to the top of the SERPS.

To ensure that your website is not penalized by future algorithms, here is what you can do to help, and what you should avoid:

1. Build up your content

Add a blog that you can update regularly. Have a news section so you can tell your clients what’s new and what’s changing. Any of these ideas are useful and if you can think of any more ways to boost your content, then go for it! Good, rich content will always keep you in Googles good books, but a word of warning, don’t plagarise, it must be unique

2. Make use of Google Analytics and Webmaster tools

These two applications give us an insight into where our websites do best. From which search results give us the most traffic, to the bounce rate of the visitors that arrive on our websites. This is like a look into the belly of the beast, and with Webmaster tools assisting you with your errors; you’ll be well on your way. If you need help setting up analytics or webmaster tools or require some training then please give us a ring on 0115 896 7715.

3. Keep an eye on your keywords

Too much optimisation can definitely be a bad thing. Having too much repetition of a keyword is is counted as spam, so here are a few tweaks you can make to ensure you’re keeping your keywords relevant and organic;

Use relevant pictures on your website, and make sure you’ve filled in their ALT tags. By using relevant images, the ALT tags should include your keywords.

Know what keywords you want to use and incorporate them into your content, not the other way around. This can make your content look suspicious and could result in penalization.

4. Expand your link construction

Back in the day, as soon as everybody found out that using keywords in the anchor text of links and back links reaped huge dividends in where you ranked, they soon rushed to stuff their links with keywords. Stopping keywords stuffing and link spamming is exactly what these two algorithms are designed to do, so try to think of different ways to get your keywords into your links. Why not try using Non-descriptive links? Having links like: “Click here!” “Visit us here!” using an image but with a relevant alt tag are great ways to include your keywords whilst keeping your layout looking natural.

5. Definitely avoid Spamming, Spinning and Cloaking

Cloaking is creating a different version of your website and submitting it to search engines and clients in order to improve rankings. Content spinning is taking one of your already live blog articles, copying it, making a few slight changes and submitting it. This isn’t posting new content and therefore qualifies as trying to play Google’s ranking systems.

If you need help recovering from any of Google recent updates or would like a days training on Search Engine Optimisation/inbound marketing to help increase your business visibility on the web then ring us on 0115 896 7715, email us on hello@landingnet.co.uk or fill out out contact form

10 Top Tips to optimise your Google/Bing local listing

1. Make sure that you have created/claimed your business on Google Places

Picture1 10 Top Tips to optimise your Google/Bing local listing

This may seem like a no-brainer, but its importance is more than meets the eye. As well as a places listing giving your customers a push in the right direction on your whereabouts, it also helps with your rank in local searches too. Google emphasises it’s places listings in local searches and are often located at the top of the search page, which is the first place people look.

When it comes to Bing, creating a listing is a bit more complicated, but still relatively easy. Go to ‘http://marketlocation.my118information.co.uk/home.aspxand click on ‘Get started’ you will have to search for your business before you can create your own, just to check you aren’t adding a duplicate listing. They should then tell you that they will call you within one working day to confirm your listing, and there you have it! For Google Places go to http://www.google.com/places and click ‘Get started now’ to create your listing. To claim your business, find its Google places listing and click ‘Manage this page’. When you have done either of these options, you will then have to verify your business location by receiving a verification code that will be sent to your business address.

2. Ensure all information about your business is complete

A completed listing is a valuable one. Google and Bing will use the listings that have the most information about their company on the front page. By completing your information, not only are you helping your customers know more about your businesses, but you are also helping to boost your listing to that coveted first page spot.

3. Create a keyword rich description

When completing your information, you should make sure to include a lot of keywords that you want your business to be associated with in your business description. Be reasonably subtle though – Google often blacklists businesses that they think are trying to play the search engine systems. Ensure to lace your desired keywords into your description smoothly and accurately and you’re well on your way.

4. Make sure not to use any keywords in your business name

If ‘web design’ or ‘garden services’ is not part of your business name do not include it in your business name on your places listing. The genius’ at Google and Bing are always looking out for people trying to play their system, for example, if we put LandingNet Website Design instead of LandingNet Ltd Google may actually push our listing down in relevancy or even blacklist it.

5. Add images and videos to your listing

Adding geo-tagged and alt-tagged images and videos to your listing increases the way that potential customers reach your listing. The images appear on Google and Bing image search and to upload videos, you need to upload them to YouTube. This means when users search for your field of work, not only will they see your places listing at the top, they will also see your videos (which appears at the top) and your images (which also appears on the top!)

6. Make regular updates and changes to your listing

Treat your listing as you would your website, keep the content fresh. This will certainly boost your rankings within Google and Bing, and will also keep your customers happy too. Some ideas are adding images, videos and even just updating your description. Active listings are greatly beneficial to Google as it shows a more legitimate business.

7. Check your listings analytics page regularly (Google Place Listings only)

Your analytics hold the key information to how your customers and potential customers find your listing. Finding out the queries that lead your customers to your listing will help you lace in the right keywords for your description, and optimise it even further.

8. Ensure you have no duplicate listings

Duplicate listings can really effect where your original listing ranks. Deleting old or unused duplicates of your listing will greatly enhance how legitimate your business listing appears to Google, and duplicates can be a huge liability and even get your original (along with the duplicates) blacklisted. On Bing, however, it does not allow you create duplicate listings, so they’ve already covered your back with this one!

9. Get your business listed in suitable online business directories

Getting your business listed in business directories can greatly boost your places listing. Pages such as www.yellowpages.co.uk, your cities chamber of commerce etc, are highly viewed by Google and Bing and will help make your business come across more legitimate, and will heighten your rank. It is also another portal for prospective customers to reach you from.

10. Encourage your customers to leave feedback on your listing

Feedback can make or break a business, and good feedback will greatly boost your listings rank. Google’s policy states that you are not to give your customers reasons to leave you a positive comment, but if they think you’ve genuinely done a good job, then they should be willing to help and leave you a review.  The process is a little different with Bing, to allow your customers to leave reviews about your business, you are required to add your listing to websites such as www.yelp.com and www.citysearch.com and the reviews from these listings will be integrated into your businesses Bing local listing.