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Google recently came out with a good news, bad news announcement for small businesses who have a poor mobile experience on their websites. I’m a bad news first kind of guy, so I’ll start there:

Google is going to update their algorithm again, and if you’re on the wrong side of the law you might lose a lot of traffic.

The good news is that, unlike with other algorithm updates, they’re actually telling you about this one before they roll it out. Time is ticking down on the actual update going live, but you still have some time to get your mobile house in order.

So What Exactly is Happening?

In a nutshell, Google announced on their Webmaster Central blog that “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal” and also announced that they would be using more indexed content from apps in search results (which they’ve already started doing).

There’s a lot more information on the details around the update, and if you’re looking to get a deeper understanding of what’s happening there are already some great resources:

But if you own a small business you’re probably not interested in becoming a mobile SEO expert. The key questions you’re likely asking yourself are:

  1. How will this impact my business?
  2. What should I actually do?
  3. Do I need to get everything done by April 21st?
  4. What is all this going to cost me?

In this post, I’ll unpack these questions to help you evaluate the potential impact of the update for your business and give you a framework to evaluate what changes you should be making to your site and when, based on actual costs and business impact.

Does Your Site Even Have Major Issues to Fix?

The first step in this process is obviously to determine if your site is going to actually be at risk for the April 21 update. In addition to the resources outlined above, Google has offered webmasters a number of tools to help determine how “mobile friendly” their sites are:

  • The mobile friendliness tool, which gives you a mobile friendly or unfriendly thumbs up or thumbs down as well as a quick screenshot of your site as Google sees it, and specific recommendations for areas to fix if you’re “mobile unfriendly”.
  • Google’s Page Speed Insights tool which gives you a sense of your site’s mobile page speed and also offers recommendations on things to fix. Note the two tools report differently, with the mobile friendliness tool looking at the page the way Googlebot would, and the PageSpeed Insights tool fetches a page as a user would.
  • When logged into Webmaster Tools you can navigate to the Mobile Usability Report and see specific issues WMT is showing with specific pages there, as well. Google is also sending out notifications through Webmaster Tools for sites that won’t meet the mobile friendliness requirements, which you might find under your messages in Webmaster Tools if you haven’t seen the notification already (assuming your site isn’t mobile friendly).

So if your site is mobile friendly and loads really quickly on mobile devices, you can probably head out and get some other work done and skip the rest of this post.

But if your site is showing as not mobile friendly or even just showing extremely low mobile page speed scores, you’ll want to answer the question: what specifically should  you do next?

Mobile is Important, but its Impact Isn’t Equal for Everyone

Mobile traffic is growing, and mobile search is growing and this is going to be a major update, so this isn’t something you can ignore. If your site has a poor mobile experience (for smart phones and/or tablets), you could be throwing away conversions, and fixing it could be a massive opportunity for your business.

If your choice is “should my site be mobile friendly right away or mobile unfriendly indefinitely” my expert opinion is that you should make it mobile-friendly right away.

But if you’re a small business, that’s likely not the choice you’re looking at. You’re looking at prioritizing dev resources against other dev initiatives and against other company initiatives. It’s easy for me to tell you that it’s urgent to make your mobile site responsive because more people are searching and visiting your site via mobile devices, but what if your choice is to make your site mobile friendly or hire one all-star employee?

What if you’re weighing a mobile site overhaul against doubling down on a promotion that you know has been profitable for you in the past, but that you don’t quite have enough cash available to push harder on if you are revamping your website?

That all-star employee or profitable promotion might be the difference between you keeping the lights on and not, while a mobile site overhaul might just mean maintaining your status quo or an incremental short-term improvement.

You need to gather some information, and make your own business decision.

The first step is identifying the actual likely impact of the update on your current traffic.

How Much Mobile Traffic Do You Actually Get from Search?

I find that a lot of sites – and particularly busy small business owners – don’t know the answer to this question, but it’s a crucial starting point for understanding how urgent and the degree of impact an update like this will have on your business.

Within Google Analytics, you can quickly get a sense of the overall mobile traffic to your site by navigating to Audience > Mobile > Overview and looking at the breakdown of desktop / mobile / tablet:

An image of how you drill down to get a breakdown of mobile traffic from Google Analytics

You can quickly sense that for this site, mobile traffic alone makes up over 30% of all traffic. You’ll also want to look at goal numbers and value, which should also be present in the right columns of the same report.

Your site’s overall mobile and tablet traffic and goals should absolutely factor into your overall business decision, so note those numbers. But, for the change on the 21st, we’re particularly interested in search traffic, so we’ll need to use an advanced segment to look only at organic traffic.

To do this, click on “All Sessions” from the advanced segments drop down, and click “Organic Traffic” to look at the breakdown (and raw impact) for your organic traffic:

Screenshot of how to drill down to organic traffic only

 

You’ll see the same breakdown as above, but this time applied to organic traffic only.

Now you have a high-level understanding of how much of your organic traffic is coming from mobile search. Next, you want to understand where your mobile traffic is coming from. The mobile update will have a very different impact on your site if most of your mobile traffic is branded traffic coming to your homepage versus location-specific listings for your business that drive a lot of great traffic for individual landing pages that are poorly optimized for mobile.

You can get a more granular idea of what traffic is actually at risk by drilling down to look at the mobile organic traffic coming to your site by page.

You can do this by building a custom report. Click “Customization” in the top nav in Google Analytics, and then click “New Custom Report” and you’ll be taken to an interface where you can fill in your metrics (here you’ll want to select Users> users and Goal Conversions > Goal Completions, and any other key metrics for your site – this could be pageviews if you’re monetizing based on ad revenue, revenue or goal values if you have that data in Analytics, etc.) and your dimensions (in this case behavior > landing page) and save the report:

Screenshot of setting up a Google Analytics custom report for landing pages.

 

From there you want to again check off the advanced segment for organic traffic, and then add a second segment for Device Category by clicking Users > Device Category:

Screenshot of how to drill down to device category within a custom report in Google Analytics

Finally, click on the blue “advanced” link just above the traffic and goal grid and create a filter to show only mobile traffic:

Screenshot of how to configure a mobile only device category filter in a custom landing page report in Google Analytics

 

And you have a report for the pages that are driving your organic traffic from mobile only, as well as all of your key metrics:

Screenshot of mobile traffic by page breakdown in Google Analytics

If you want more information about the specific searches going to each of these pages, you can find information on the specific types of queries each page is ranking for by looking in Webmaster Tools at Search Queries > Search Traffic > Top Pages, then clicking Filter and filtering for mobile traffic:

How to view only mobile pages and search queries in Google Webmaster Tools

From there, Webmaster Tools will show you the top pages for mobile traffic (you can sort by impressions or clicks) and you can click into each page and see the actual search terms the page is showing up for. Note that this report doesn’t show actual conversion metrics, so these pages may be driving impressions and clicks without driving real revenue (which could be an opportunity, but also might mean less short-term revenue risk for those pages), and all of this data is rough estimates and could be subject to lags or outages, but it should give you a better picture of the types of terms searchers are finding various pages on your site for.

You can also use a tool like SEMrush to get more information about what those pages are ranking for (sadly, Google Analytics keyword data isn’t likely to be a lot of help in this case).

So now, you have a pretty strong sense of how much mobile traffic is coming to your site through search. You also know what shape that traffic is taking (is it branded? Where is it coming in through your site? What are the actual queries people are landing on your site with?).

You can make a decision on whether updating your site’s mobile experience by the 21st is a priority or not. If you’re getting 5-10% of a limited amount of organic traffic from mobile search and most of that traffic is branded and directed at your home page, you might want to put a mobile site overhaul on the “nice to have” long term project list.

If you’re getting 30% of your site’s traffic from mobile, it’s driving to various pages on your site, and organic traffic is a key revenue driver for your business you may need to move this up on the company to-do list.

My Site is at Risk: What Do I (and What Don’t I) Need to Fix Right Now?

Once you determine that mobile search traffic is significant enough to warrant addressing mobile issues before the April 21 update, it’s time to figure out which items – specifically – you need to update.

If you have a great developer, shoot them a note and let them know what your constraints and goals are (having checked your traffic, you should have a better sense of the overall business impact of the update, and can better spec out a budget for mobile enhancements) to find out what they can complete is the designated time-frame and whether that will address the issues with your current mobile performance.

If you’re like a lot of small businesses, you may not have a dedicated dev resource. For those folks, I reached out to my colleague Jamie Mazur, the co-founder and CTO at digital marketing agency All Points Digital. Jamie is currently in the process of helping several small to mid-sized businesses determine how to best handle the mobile update from a development perspective, and I asked him:

How should a small business with limited resources think about triaging development in the run-up to April 21st?

He answered:

The “Mobilegeddon” meme is dripping with doom-and-gloom. Before panicking over the Android/iPhone zombie apocalypse, business owners and IT managers need to take a step back and evaluate whether urgency around the April 21st deadline is warranted based on the realities of their business.

Look at the analytics and review the traffic coming from mobile devices. Where possible, analyze what revenue or soft return is attached to those visitors. Armed with this information, make an informed decision on whether a potentially expensive “rush job” or throw-away short-term fix is worth the cost.

Your choices are:

  • Ignore the deadline, and focus on creating a quality mobile-friendly user experience on your own timeline.
  • Enlist whoever you need, regardless of time or cost, to beat the clock while implementing a lasting solution
  • Hack in quick fixes to pass the “mobile-friendly” test to avoid the wrath of The Google

 

For those looking for the quick fix, there are a few basic strategies that we recommend:

  • Attempt a Plug & Play Solution: If your site is built using a basic WordPress theme, check for an update that may make it responsive. If one is not available, take a look at plugins like Wptouch.
  • Force Your Page to Fit: Uses the <meta name=”viewport” width=device-width initial-scale=1> tag appropriately. If you don’t know what this is, Google it or ask your developer.
  • Add Rudimentary Responsive Design to Trouble Spots: Audit your page styling (CSS and HTML) for fixed-positioning, larger fixed-size images, and font sizes. Use media queries to remove or restyle elements that are too large or small for a mobile device.
  • Let Google Be Your Guide: Use the mobile friendly test. Treat the results as your to do list.

For those for whom it matters, there is still time to escape Mobilegeddon. Don’t try to boil the ocean – just grab the low-hanging fruit. It may not be perfect, but you will end up with a better mobile experience than you have today, and you will likely retain your search positioning.

If mobile traffic just does not mean that much to you today, take a few deep breaths. Stop circling April 21st on your calendar, but plan to act soon. You won’t want to be left on the outside looking in at the hordes of web traffickers happily engaging through their devices.

So to recap, if you’re a small business worried about the impending mobile friendliness update, there are some straight-forward next-steps you can take to determine how to prepare:

  • Look at your analytics to get an idea of the actual business impact mobile traffic has on your business currently
  • Use the tools listed above to determine if your site has mobile usability issues.
  • Contact your current development resource (or a new one), and find out what you can get fixed when, and for how much.
  • Take all of that information and determine the best course of action for your business as a whole as you prepare for Google’s mobile friendliness algorithm update.

Regardless of what you decide to do in the next few weeks, keep in mind that your percentage of mobile visitors is likely to rise (possibly very aggressively) in the coming months and years, and you should have a long-term plan for creating a great mobile experience for your prospects – even if getting it perfeclty in place by the 21st isn’t possible, or pragmatic.

Source : searchenginejournal

Categorized in Business Research

Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Just as you plan for other aspects of your business, such as product, operations and inventory, marketing requires some extensive planning as well. Plot your marketing strategies ahead of time and it may drive your business from breaking even to breaking records!

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become-an-internet-research-specialist

If you can’t get your product out there to your customers, there’s really no point in continuing the line of work. So, no matter the size of your business, spend some time to think about your business and craft a robust, killer marketing strategy. There are many factors to consider, but let’s look at what you should focus on.

1. Identify your customer persona

Smart businesses always determine their niche market first. Surveys, focus groups, and website metrics are great ways to get to know your audience that help you develop a detailed customer profile. Stay tuned to your customers’ needs, and make them feel valued with intelligent and relevant content – this helps set the stage for long-term relationships. If you’re bootstrapping, this can be a powerful marketing technique!

2. Know your competition

Entering new markets involves a great deal of research about the market landscape, which includes your competition. Instead of trial and error—which is a rapid path to burnout—look at what your competitors are doing. Pinpoint both their strengths and weaknesses and determine what you can do to edge ahead of the rest. What makes you special to your customers? Why is your product different and better? Always remain differentiated and don’t get lost in advertising clutter and spam. Know who you’re up against, and outsmart them.

3. Set realistic goals

Imagine a desolate desert. You’re wandering aimlessly from one mirage to another. If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you get there? The same goes for marketing. Setting goals are the starting point of any plan. The exact marketing achievements should be realistic and attainable. Depending on the industry and business stage you’re in, each goal should impact the bottom line.

4. It’s all about tactics

Game plans are important. They guide and keep you focused on the key aspects of your business. Spend some time to figure out the exact marketing tasks that can help you achieve your goals. And be specific. For instance, if your goal is to generate online leads, then video content marketing tasks may become part of your key activity list. Dive in deeper with the details. Youtube videos? Webinars? Testimonial videos? Video edms? Get your tactics right, you’ll be well on your way for a home run!

5. Stay ahead of the curve

Technology evolves. Markets change. Algorithms adjust. Users adapt. We live in a dynamic environment, where changes are happening constantly. Take social media for example. Facebook and Instagram, 2 of the major social media platforms that businesses use, constantly change their algorithms. This potentially alters the way marketers maintain their reach and interaction with their customers from the site. Whether we like it or not, change is the only constant. Regularly review your marketing strategy and revise it as necessary. It is really more of a process and not a plan.

Learn from seasoned professionals

Marketing doesn’t have to be rocket science. With the right marketing strategy, it can be your best sales asset.

They say learning is a never-ending process, and you can always do with more knowledge. That’s exactly what Tech in Asia Jakarta’s Marketing Stage aims to do. Glean new insights from experts at Hubspot, LINE, Edelman, and more as they share actionable takeaways on Day 1 of our Jakarta conference on November 16 and 17. Check out our panel of speakers below:

With one pass, get access to all 6 content stages and so much more! Passes are currently going fast, at a 10 percent discount (code: tiajkt10). Promotion ends on October 28 – get your passes today before it’s too late!

Source : telegraph

A practical local SEO guide for business owners. 

Have you ever used Google to find something nearby? Like searching for “sushi”, “locksmith” or “nightclub”? If your business has a physical address such as a storefront, you should consider using local SEO to get new customers.

Local SEO helps you get customers using a location keyword in their search (such as “Irving Park Plumber”) or who simply search from a device with geolocation enabled, such as a smart phone. Local SEO also helps you to rank higher on Google Maps pages.

For example, The Art Studio NY, the top-rated painting school in New York, ranks #1 for local search term “painting classes nyc”:

painting-classes-google-search

The local listing of The Art Studio NY includes NAP (name, address, phone number), Google Map, Google Reviews, hours of operation, website, and directions. This local listing format is very helpful in driving business.

So how can we achieve good local search rankings?

According to Moz.com, the major local search ranking factors are:

moz-search-ranking-factors

According to Moz, on-page signals such as NAP (name, address, phone), optimized meta tags and titles, and domain authority are the most important ranking factors (20.3%) for local SEO.

Here are a few best practices for local SEO:

#1: Verify your Google My Business listing

Google My Business connects your business with customers. Go to Google My Business and claim your Google My Business page, If you haven’t already. Google will send a verification code to your address, and you simply enter that code into Google My Business.

The verification process may take 1-2 weeks.

Once you’ve verified your account, make sure that your NAP (name, address, phone) is correct, choose the right categories for your business, and provide a unique, engaging description. Upload some high-res images, add your hours of operation, and most importantly, ask your customers to write reviews for your business.

Google will display your local business information on the right column as below:

google-my-business

 

#2: Use consistent contact information across your online profiles

Make sure the business name, address, and phone number of each of your staffed locations (aka NAP – Name, Address, Phone) is consistent throughout the site (homepage, contact us page, footer, etc) and on other websites like Google My Business, Yelp and Facebook.

For example, beauty school The Beauty Institute – Allentown location, NAP is set consistent on multiple places (http://allentown.thebeautyinstituteskp.edu/)

Sitewide header (add address and Zip code to the header):

site-wide-header

 Homepage map:

homepage-map

 Sitewide footer:

sitewide-footer

 

#3: Embed a Google Map in your website

Embed a Google Map on your website. You can use the map on Contact page or Footer section. But do not just embed a map that points to your address. You should points to your actual Google Plus local listing.embed-a-map

#4: Include Geo tag to show your location to search engines

Include geo tags if your business is location specific. These tags can be generated via many online tools such as http://www.geo-tag.de/generator/en.html, and is placed on every page of the website. They let the search engines know where you’re based and improve your rankings for local search terms.

<meta name=”geo.position” content=”latitude; longitude”>


<meta name=”geo.placename” content=”Place Name”>


<meta name=”geo.region” content=”Country Subdivision Code”>

#5: Apply business-related rich snippets

You can add schema markups for NAP (name, address, phone), geo coordinates (read more here), and specific business-related snippets, like event snippet, school snippets, and more.

These rich snippets help search engines understand your site content better, and show your local listings to more relevant local searches.

You can look up the schema format at https://schema.org/docs/schemas.html. The schema generator http://www.microdatagenerator.com/ is helpful to quickly generate schema.

To verify the schema and rich snippets are correctly applied, check with Google Testing Tool:https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool.

For painting school The Art Studio NY, the relevant snippets include:

Local Business snippet: (school name, phone, location, hours of operation).business-snippet

 School SnippetShow information about the school.

school-snippet

Event Snippets: Display class schedule. Each event/class will be displayed on SERP (search engine result page) as below:

event-snippet

Person snippet: This snippet is applied for instructor page, to display instructor information

person-snippet

#6: Optimize meta tags and page content for local keywords

Meta title & description tag: Include your city and state in your title tag and your meta descriptiontag. This can boost clickthrough rates for local search results.

<title>New York Art Studio – Art Studio NYC – The Art Studio NY</title>

<meta name=”description” content=”The Art Studio NY provides a variety of art classes and event planning services. From New York art camps to bachelorette parties, we cater all needs.” />

Heading tag: You should include your city in your heading H1 tag.

For example: http://allentown.thebeautyinstituteskp.edu/

heading-tag

Page content: It’s also important, but often overlooked, to include your location within your page’s content. Make sure your website shows your location in as many places as it makes sense.

Logo: The logo of your site should be optimized with local keywords.

For example: With The Beauty Institute, the logo of the main site and logos of each campus site are optimized:

  • Edited logo file name to add local keyword
  • Edited alt tag of logo to add local keyword

<img src=”http://thebeautyinstituteskp.edu/wp-content/themes/toniandguy/images/logo.png” alt=”Beauty School | Cosmetology School | The Beauty Institute – Schwarzkopf Professional”>

inspect-element

Image Alt tags: Your alt text (the text that describes your images) should also include your city.

<img class=”alignnone wp-image-2157″ src=”http://tghairacademy.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/banner2.jpg” alt=”The Beauty Institute | Schwarzkopf Professional – Top beauty school in Pennsylvania” width=”100%” />

#7: Create separate web page for each location

If your business has multiple locations, it’s almost always better to build separate location pages with strong content for each location. For example, The Beauty Institute uses multi-site WordPress to create separate subdomains for each of its schools in different locations: Ambler, Philly, Allentown, and Stroudsburg.

It is important to make content in each location unique, instead of using the same content template and only replace location data. Here are a few ideas to make local content unique:

  • Adding testimonials from customers from each city you service.
  • Differentiate what you do in one location vs. another. Offer city-specific, service-specific, or product-specific specials, schedules, and calendars.
  • Participate in local events, or sponsor local events, and write about those local events to create unique content.
  • Interview experts inside or outside of your company to get city-specific or product-specific content.
  • Build an location-based blog for each location to keep your content fresh. Include your city in the alt tags for images and videos, and consider writing out transcriptions.

#8: Submit your site to local directories to build citations

A citation is an online reference to your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP). Local directories are a useful resource for building citations. These citations are valuable even if they aren’t linked, as long as they’re displaying your NAP consistently.

For multi-location or multi-practitioner businesses, point the link on all citations to the correct corresponding landing page on your website. For example, you should point all Philadelphia citations to your Philadelphia landing page on your site.

You can use tools such as Bright Local or Yext to find any existing citations you have, and then update them all at once to make them consistent. You can also use the tool to check out your competitors’ citations.

Bright Local citation tracker for The Art Studio NY:

citation-check

Also, remember to set up alerts through social listening tools like Mention or Google Alerts to track new mentions of your competitors’ NAP listings.

#9: Ask your customers to write (a lot of) reviews

Customer reviews, especially from credible sources like Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook, have the solid impact on Google local rankings. Just don’t try to get too many reviews at once, because Google might found your activities suspicious.

#10: Put locations in Social Media profiles

Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest are the most popular social media sites you should appear to promote your local business. Always include your contact information where you can, and make sure the contact information are consistent with your website. (Twitter doesn’t allow addresses or phone numbers, though).

Active social channels could be a strong local ranking factors, and indicating you have a credible and healthy business.

Summary

People are searching for lawyers, schools, restaurants and local shops online, especially via mobile devices. If you run a local business, let’s follow the above tactics to optimize your website for local search, and earn your share of new business! 

 Source : searchenginewatch

Categorized in Search Engine

Google Allo was officially launched this month, and many of us in the search community are wondering how it’s going to affect search, as you can use @google to search by command or text question right within your conversations with one or a group of people.

With over 150K downloads so far on Android devices, a 4-star rating, and 48 percent in an Android Authority poll saying that they use and love Allo, it’s time to contemplate how it could affect organic and local search.

Optimize For Local Search With Reviews

Using the Google Assistant right in Allo allows you to search for specific results on things you’re interested in, like your travel plans, news, local businesses, and more.

A Short Guide to Google Allo Search Optimization

Click to enlarge

To get a better chance of being shown in search results for local commands (or where people are looking for service), it looks like reviews and distance to certain businesses are King. Many of my attempts to find local services either near me or my metropolitan area always brought up businesses that have more than 4-star reviews (out of 5).

A Short Guide to Google Allo Optimization

Click to enlarge

This means that local reviews are more important than ever. Be sure to verify all your profiles on sites like Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and other review sites for your industry.

Optimize For Voice Commands

You can also search in the Google Assistant conversation (not in the conversations you have with others, that is only through text commands) with voice, like you do with Google Now. Aleh Barysevich does a good job of summarizing how to properly optimize for voice search in apps like Google Now, Siri, and Cortana.

The main point in Aleh’s article that is still applicable to Google Allo is that people search for things differently in voice than they do when typing into their regular search engine. It is much more conversational, while also more focused on keywords at the same time. For instance, a voice command is much more likely to be “Where is a Chinese restaurant near me?” versus a text search that might just be “Chinese food.” This is why it’s important to use conversational keywords in your website content.

A Short Guide to Google Allo Search Optimization

To elaborate on the Chinese food example, phrases like “Chinese Buffet in Leawood, Kansas” is going likely do better in text over voice search. Additionally, adding more conversational phrases like “China Star serves Chinese food in Leawood, Overland Park, and Shawnee” may better fit voice searchers’ needs.

Use Rich Snippets

To further elaborate on this, it’s crucial to use rich snippets in your Google Allo SEO efforts. Verve Search has a good overall guide on Microdata and Rich Snippets, and Hall Analysis has a good schema creator tool that’s easy to use. While Rich Snippets aren’t a requirement to good SEO (e.g. you aren’t going to get penalized for not using them), they can help your site’s content get better displayed in search results, which may lead to better Google Allo SEO.

To learn more about what rich snippets you can add to your website, check out schema.org. Once you’ve added it to your site, you can use Google’s free markup verification tool to make sure it is correct. Rich snippets allow you to add additional information that can be displayed in search results, such as menus, reviews, location, hours, and more.

Will AMP Get Preference?

With the news that AMP is now part of organic search results, we can only speculate that Google Allo (a mobile messaging app), will give AMP results preference. AMP results are easier to read because they load faster and have a cleaner interface.

I ran a test on Allo and asked a question I knew would generate me search results: “how to plan the perfect birthday party” after I asked about partying in general (hey, Allo suggested that I should!). Google Allo gave me its top result right in the chat window: a Wikipedia article.

A Short Guide to Google Allo Search Optimization

Click to enlarge

When I clicked on the “search results” option as the next action, it took me to a list of search results. The WikiHow article that was shown in the app was also an AMP article:

A Short Guide to Google Allo Search Optimization
 
Click to enlarge

Of course, more testing is needed but from using the app, it does look like Allo usually offers AMP articles at the top of their search results when users use Google Assistant.

Optimizing for Google Allo Search is going to be a long road. More time will tell on whether or not Allo is going to become as mainstream as WhatsApp, but for now, focusing on AMP and local SEO can help you get more visibility in user’s mobile searches, no matter what app they are using.

Source : https://www.searchenginejournal.com

Categorized in Search Engine

Introduction

Finding the appropriate social media management tool for your business can be a challenge. This buyer’s guide provides a framework for deciding if you need and EMMS solution, details the capabilities of the leading platforms, and compares offerings from leading vendors.

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from “Enterprise Social Media Management Software: A Marketer’s Guide“. You can download the report here free.



The Benefits of Using ESMMS Platforms

With hundreds or even thousands of social media accounts to manage and millions of social conversations to monitor, social media marketing has become increasingly complicated and time-consuming. Automating social media marketing with an ESMMS platform can improve efficiency, compliance, and productivity by providing the following benefits:

Better legal and creative compliance across the enterprise. ESMMS platforms offer
a unified interface for the integration of content development and publishing with a controlled user permission hierarchy. The result is greater consistency and compliance with style guides, as well as legal or regulatory guidelines for enterprises – particularly those with global offices or those operating in the financial, insurance, and healthcare fields.

Improved time management. The publishing tools provided by the majority of ESMMS platforms include calendars and scheduling features that automate social content posts, as well as auto-responses to audience posts or questions. By planning ahead and creating weekly or monthly content calendars, marketing staff can better spend their time being proactive and creative, rather than spending their days monitoring social network accounts.

Cross-channel reporting capabilities in near real time. Enterprises are marketing across multiple social networks, making cross-channel reporting in a single interface a “must-have” rather than a “nice-to-have” feature. ESMMS platforms provide sophisticated cross-channel reporting capabilities, many of which are widget- and wizard-driven to make reporting easy and fast for marketers.

Pricing and annual contracts

ESMMS platforms are a significant investment, with typical enterprise customers spending tens of thousands of dollars each month in licensing fees. Many ESMMS platform vendors license their technology on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis; the technology is hosted by the vendor and customers log into a web-based dashboard to utilize the system. Several vendors have moved to the cloud, providing customers with simplified data storage and more plug-in connections with third-party apps and software. Licensing fees can be charged by the number of users or seats; by the volume of social media networks or pages tracked; and by the number of locations, brands, or departments on the system. Some vendors offer monthly licenses, while others require an annual contract. Some licenses include more support features than others, so be sure to clarify what is included in the basic license.

Benefits include:

  • Structured workflow management
  • Permissions and compliance tools that allow customers to monitor and control all social media content and campaigns emanating from the enterprise

Challenges include:

  • Enterprise SMMS platforms can be a significant investment, with larger organizations paying tens of thousands of dollars each month in licensing
  • Certain platforms can require considerable training and integration with existing technology systems and additional premium services to run them

Does Your Company Need Social Media Management Software?

Enterprises deciding whether or not to license a SMMS platform or to upgrade from their existing freemium platform need to first consider the following:

  • Do we have multiple social accounts and utilize multiple social channels, including Facebook, Twitter and blog publishing platforms such as WordPress?
  • Do we operate in a regulated industry, such as insurance or real estate, where a lack of compliance can result in legal or regulatory problems?
  • Do we rely on a sales network of local dealers, agents or franchisees that may be operating hundreds of Facebook pages or Twitter accounts not controlled by the corporate marketing department?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is “yes,” it may be time to consider using a SMMS platform.


 

We did plan on creating our own amazing, in-depth deep web security guide for beginners. But, we found one by Jolly Roger that is better than anything we could put together.

The original guide can be seen on The Hub Forums here:gttp://thehub7dnl5nmcz5.onion/index.php?topic=52.0. All credit goes to Jolly Roger who obviously put in a lot of time creating this fantastic guide.

When looking for sites on the Deep Web then just go and check out our mega Deep Web Links list. It is one of the biggest lists of hidden .onion URL’s on the internet.

Donations

Jolly Roger has put in a lot of work to create this comprehensive deep web security guide for beginners. If you appreciate the work he has done, why not give a small donation…

Tip for Beginners:

Before doing anything on the Dark Web or even learning about it, make sure you are protected with a VPN and Tor. The guide below goes into this, but you should be using a VPN to even read this guide or any other Dark Web related topic.

The Feds are watching everything, so you are better off not letting them know you are even interested in the Dark Web. This site here goes through pretty good VPN’s and they usually have good discounts.https://topvpnsoftware.com

The Guide

  1. INTRODUCTiON TO SECURE COMMUNICATION – TOR, HTTPS, SSL
  2. PGP, TAILS, VIRTUAL BOX
  3. PGP CONTINUED
  4. WHOLE DISK ENCRYPTION AND FILE SHREDDING
  5. JAVASCRIPT VULNERABILITIES AND REMOVING PERSONAL METADATA FROM FILES
  6. GENERAL SECURITY PRECAUTIONS WHEN POSTING ONLINE, LEARN FROM OTHERS’ MISTAKES
  7. EXIF DATA
  8. RETAINING A LAWYER, HOW TO HANDLE GETTING CAUGHT OR INTERROGATED
  9. COMBINING TOR WITH A VPN
  10. COMBINING TOR WITH A VPN CONTINUED
  11. CONNECTING TOR -> VPN FOR WINDOWS USERS
  12. TRACKING COOKIES
  13. LEARNING FROM OTHERS’ MISTAKES. LIBERTAS, DPR, SABU, LULZSEC
  14. HOW FAR WILL LAW ENFORCEMENT GO?
  15. FRAUDULENT PRIVATE MESSAGES
  16. LEARNING FROM OTHERS’ MISTAKES. HOW THEY BUSTED SABU
  17. LEARNING FROM OTHERS’ MISTAKES. SABU BECAME FBI INFORMANT AND BETRAYED JEREMY HAMMOND
  18. WHERE YOU MIGHT CONSIDER RUNNING TO, IF YOU HAD NO OTHER CHOICE
  19. SECURING YOUR ACCOUNT FROM FBI MONITORING
  20. INVINCIBILITY MINDSET, FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BULLYING TACTICS
  21. HOW TO CONNECT TO TOR OVER TOP OF TOR
  22. HOW TO VERIFY YOUR DOWNLOADED FILES ARE AUTHENTIC
  23. VERIFYING SIGNED MESSAGES WITH SIGNATURES AND SIGNING YOUR OWN MESSAGES
  24. AN EXAMPLE OF REALLY BAD OPSEC – SMARTEN UP!
  25. TOR CHAT
  26. OBTAINING, SENDING AND RECEIVING BITCOINS ANONYMOUSLY
  27. CLEARNET VS HIDDEN SERVICES – WHY YOU SHOULD BE CAREFUL
  28. THEY ARE WATCHING YOU – VIRUSES, MALWARE, VULNERABILITIES
  29. MONITORING YOU WITH AN ANTENNA
  30. COOKIES & JAVASCRIPT REVISITED, PLUS FLASH COOKIES AND OTHER BROWSER TRACKING
  31. A FEW RECOMMENDATIONS
  32. COLD BOOT ATTACKS, UNENCRYPTED RAM EXTRACTION
  33. THE STRENGH OF CRYPTOGRAPHY AND ANONYMITY WHEN USED PROPERLY
  34. PGP/GPG Email Addresses
  35. ANOTHER SCAM EMAIL – BEWARE
  36. AN INTRODUCTION TO AN EXPERT ON OPSEC, PLUS MD5 & SHA-1 CHECKSUMS
  37. IT IS OBVIOUS WHEN YOU ARE USING TOR
  38. ARE YOU USING SAFE-MAIL.NET ?
  39. YET ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF HOW STRONG CRYPTOPGRAPHY AND PROPER OPSEC CAN PROTECT EVEN PEDOPHILES
  40. LOCALBITCOINS PART 1 – POLICE ARE WATCHING IT!
  41. LOCALBITCOINS PART 2 – THIEVES, SCAMMERS AND COUNTERFEIT BILLS!
  42. LOCALBITCOINS PART 3 – MORE SCAM STORIES
  43. LOCALBITCOINS PART 4 – SELLERS BUSTED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
  44. HIDING TOR FROM YOUR ISP – PART 1 – BRIDGES AND PLUGGABLE TRANSPORTS
  45. CAPABILITIES OF THE NSA
  46. WHY YOU SHOULD ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR DRIVES, ESPECIALLY ENCRYPTED DRIVES
  47. BITCOIN CLIENTS IN TAILS – BLOCKCHAIN AND ELECTRUM

 

Source : https://darkwebnews.com

Categorized in Deep Web

When creating and implementing a digital marketing campaign, you first need to design your keyword strategy. This strategy is more than just finding keywords that will bring you the highest number of visitors. It’s a top-to-bottom concept that will influence how you design your site, select keywords, optimize your pages and measure the success of your campaign.

Define Your Keyword Goals

Before you can start delving into keywords, search intent, search volume and click-through rate, you have to define what it is you’re trying to accomplish with your SEO. After all, how can you be successful if you don’t even know what you want? There are two basic goals when it comes to SEO campaigns:

  • Conversion: This is the most common campaign goal when it comes to digital marketing. Using a conversion goal means you want your keywords to attract users that wind up converting on your website, whether that be making a purchase, completing a contact form, signing up for an email newsletter or downloading an app. If you go this route, you should focus more on longtail commercial keywords.
  • Branding: This campaign is looking to generate lots of impressions and pageviews and focuses less on conversions that happen on the landing page, if they are even possible. For a branding campaign, ranking highly is its own reward as it establishes your brand as a thought leader and an important player in your niche.

You aren’t constrained to one or the other though. You can use a hybrid keyword strategy by dedicating the majority of your keywords (around 80-90%) to a longtail approach, while reserving the remaining for keywords that will get your brand and content in front of a lot of eyeballs.

How you define success will impact the keywords you choose and how you evaluate their performance.

Measuring Success

Before you begin any marketing campaigns you need to ask yourself, “what does success look like?” Or, what metric will you track to determine if you’re achieving your campaign goal? When talking about an SEO campaign, most people first think of measuring improvements to your site’s ranking, or increasing the number of new visitors. If you’re running a branding campaign, then these are your top metrics to track. However, you should also keep track of important SEO indicators like click through rate (CTR), time spent on site and bounce rate, as these metrics will help you evaluate your landing pages’ relevance to the target keywords and content quality.

If you are measuring your campaign against a conversion goal, determining success by SERP ranking and traffic is overly simple, and can even cause you to waste time and effort optimizing pages for keywords that aren’t achieving your goal. To measure your conversion campaign, use your analytics to evaluate visitor behavior by keyword. Some important metrics to track for conversions:

  • Pages/visit: How many pages are users viewing per visit? This will tell you whether or not your site is engaging users and piquing their interest in your products or services.
  • Bounce rate: A high bounce rate can be a sign of a few different issues with your keyword, your page or both, which we’ll cover in a little bit.
  • Average time on site: Do users leave your page right after arriving? This is often closely related to bounce rate — low time on site and high bounce rate is a sign that your page’s content doesn’t jive with your keywords.

And, finally, the most important metrics to track for conversion campaigns are conversions and conversion rate. The reason you want to track indicators other than just conversions is because that number alone doesn’t give you much context, and you could otherwise be missing opportunities to target keywords that have higher conversion rates.

Google Analytics conversion tracking

How to Choose Keywords

Now that you know what endgame you’re optimizing for, you can start to find keywords to target with your SEO. To get the best list possible, start with your product (or service). Ideally, you know this inside and out. Start by brainstorming keywords that come to mind when you think of your business, or how you would answer the question “What is my website about?” or “What does my business do?”

Since Google’s Hummingbird update, it’s more important than ever to base your keyword strategy around the way humans use and interact with search engine results. Target keywords that will help you answer questions that users would ask in order to learn more about your industry, company and products.

One nice in-house resource you have for this is your very own customer service team. Keep a record of the conversations you have with your customers, or if you’re big enough, have your customer success team keep track of their tickets. Take note of:

  • The most commonly asked questions your CS team handles.
  • Any particular features and/or services people ask about or mention, both positive and negative.
  • Any concerns or comments left by customers.

This exercise will result not only in a better experience for your customers, but a solid list of potential keywords for you as well. If people are contacting you to ask a question or leave a comment, you can bet they’ve already done so online.

If you have a search bar on your site, update the settings in your Google Analytics account to track what your users are searching for. Click on the Admin tab then under View, select View Settings and switch Site search Tracking on. You can then provide the query parameter used in your search URLs to begin tracking. This will help you to understand user intent, as well as highlighting content gaps where no relevant content exists on your site based on the search query used.

Search Intent

Along with understanding how your potential customers are searching for your company and/or product online, you also need to decide what part of the sales process you want to target. Are you looking to start a prospecting campaign that attracts users at the very beginning of the process, and then convert them later via email marketing or retargeting? Or do you want your website to be shown in front of in-market searchers who are looking to buy right away?

Digital marketing conversion funnel

To effectively find your right target audience, you need to understand the search intent behind the keywords. The stage of conversion you want to target will determine what sort of keyword you optimize for:

  • Informational: These keywords represent the very beginning of the conversion process, and are not very likely to convert on the first visit. If you’re running a branding campaign you’ll want to be sure to include informational keywords on your list. If you’ve got a conversion goal, you still can’t afford to ignore these keywords as they make up the majority of searches. Informational keywords often use words/phrases like “how to”, “do I need” and “where to find”. Consider these leads to be converted later via your website or a retargeting campaign.
  • Research: These searchers are further down the funnel than informational searchers. They’ve already decided that they want to buy a product, but they haven’t quite decided which one is best. They’re looking for more information, so product keywords usually include words such as “review”, “top 10”, “comparison”. And while it may look like spam to you, a word like “cheap” can actually help turn researchers into conversions.
  • In-market: These are the “shut up and take my money” searchers. They expect search results to take them directly to the product they’re trying to buy. These keywords typically include words like “deal”, “free shipping”, “discount” and “buy”. They don’t have high search volume, but should more than make up for it with high conversion rates.
  • Freemium: These are people looking to get free versions of products and digital goods (movies, TV shows, music, books, etc.). Unless your product uses a freemium model, avoid these keywords. A person looking for “free Game of Thrones episodes online” is probably never going to buy the box set.

Quantitative Analysis

Part of designing your keyword strategy is making sure you target keywords that will bring in enough traffic to be worth the effort. There’s no minimum number of searches for a keyword — that depends on your niche and your ability to convert visitors into sales. If you’ve got a Pro or Premium WooRank account, use SERP Checker’s new search volume feature to track estimated monthly searches for your keywords, as well as historical ranking data. If you’re already using SERP Checker, the search volume will appear for your keywords automatically. If you haven’t used it yet, just enter your keywords in the tool and you’ll see your data within 24 hours.

WooRank SERP Checker estimated monthly search volume

If you haven’t created an Advanced Review yet, you can use Google AdWords or Bing Ads’ Keyword Planner tools to find search volume for your keywords.

Keyword Planner Search Volume

Note that if you aren’t a big spender on AdWords, your data in Keyword Planner might get throttled. That means you won’t see the actual search volume for your keywords. Instead, the tool will display an estimated range of monthly searches, like this:

AdWords Keyword Planner throttled data

Don’t base your whole strategy on chasing volume though. Pay attention to the competition column in the keyword research tools. Even though these tools use pay-per-click (PPC) data to determine competitiveness and suggested bid, you can still extrapolate this data for organic search. High competition and suggested bid is a strong indication that there’s money to be made off of these keywords, as advertisers generally won’t bid high CPCs on poorly performing keywords.

Of course, don’t go overboard targeting competitive keywords with high suggested bids. They can potentially send you a lot of traffic, or highly qualified traffic, but they’re incredibly hard to rank for. Don’t avoid them entirely, but make sure you have a healthy blend of keywords that are both high and low competition.

Optimizing Landing Pages

Choosing landing pages for your keywords is an important element of your keyword strategy, and can be critical for both your SEO and your user experience. Look at it this way: When you click through to a site that really isn’t relevant to your search, what do you do? You most likely leave that page after a few seconds and likely won’t consider it in the future. So having poorly optimized landing pages can cost you sales. But they’ll also damage your SEO efforts, making it hard to rank.

Google uses bounce rate as a ranking signal, so if visitors are leaving your page without interacting with any other pages, the search engine will see that it’s either not relevant to the keyword, or the content is not very useful. Optimize these elements of your landing pages to show that the page is relevant to the keyword:

  • Title tag: This is one of the most important on page SEO factors. Search engines rely heavily on title tags to determine the topic of a page. Use your most important keyword at the beginning of the title, and keep your titles between 50 and 60 characters. A correct title tag in the <head> of a page looks like:

    <title>This is the title</title>

  • Headings: Search engines look at heading tags as well as title tags to figure out what a page’s content is about. Use keywords in your heading tags, and make sure to maintain your heading hierarchy.

  • Page Content: The days of minimum keyword density are gone. The number of times you use a keyword is really determined by the length of your content. If you are creating unique, quality content your will naturally use your keyword throughout your page. Sprinkle latent semantic keywords throughout your content to strengthen the page’s topical relevance.

  • Images: Even though search engines don’t really see images, you can still use them as part of your keyword strategy. First, make sure they are relevant to your page content, and add to the overall user experience. For search engines, use the alt attribute to help crawlers “see” what an image is about. The alt attribute is a part of the image HTML tag that is used by search engines, text-only browsers and screen readers to “see” an image. Use your keywords in the alt text, but be sure to do so naturally. Stuffing alt attributes full of keywords and synonyms will make your page look like spam and do more harm than good.

Use the search intent of a keyword to help determine what sort of page it should be used on. Informational keywords should be used on pages optimized for a branding campaign with content such as how to guides or product comparison articles. Avoid using these pages to target more specific in-market keywords. Those searchers have no use for a how-to guide or product comparisons. Use those to target your product pages that include specs, reviews, options and, most importantly, price and the “buy now” button. Of course, the “buy now” button could also be the email sign-up page or contact information form, depending on the type of goals you’re targeting.

Wrapping Up

Once you’ve devised your keyword strategy you can move on to more sophisticated on page optimizations like URL canonicalization, creating an XML sitemap and making your website mobile friendly. If you’re new to SEO, do some research to avoid making common mistakes that will hurt your ability to rank and get quality organic traffic.

What keywords are you targeting? Enter your URL to the right to generate a free WooRank SEO audit. Find out how consistently you’re using your keywords and how well your site is optimized for them.

Source : https://www.sitepoint.com/your-guide-to-creating-a-keyword-strategy/

Categorized in Search Engine

Google has multiple named parts of the algorithm that influence search rankings. Google Panda is part of the algo that is specific to the quality of content, Penguin is specific to the quality of links, and Hummingbird is Google’s part of the algo for handling conversational search queries accurately.

Google Panda

Google Panda takes the quality of a site’s content into account when ranking sites in the search results. For sites that have lower quality content, they would likely find themselves negatively impacted by Panda. As a result, this causes higher quality content to surface higher in the search results, meaning higher quality content is often rewarded with higher rankings, while low-quality content drops.

Google Panda

When Panda originally launched, many saw it as a way for Google to target content farms specifically, which were becoming a major problem in the search results with their extremely low-quality content that tended to rank due to sheer volume. These sites were publishing a fantastic amount of low-quality content very quickly on topics with very little knowledge or research, and it was very obvious to a searcher who landed on one of those pages.

Google has now evolved Panda to be part of the core algorithm. Previously, we had a known Panda update date, making it easier to identify when a site was hit or had recovered from Panda. Now it is part of a slow rolling update, lasting months per cycle. As a result, it is hard to know whether a site is negatively impacted by Panda or not, other than doing a content audit and identifying factors that sites hit by Panda tend to have.

User Generated Content

It is important to note that Panda does not target user-generated content specifically, something that many webmasters are surprised to learn. But while Panda can target user-generated content, it tends to impact those sites that are producing very low-quality content – such as spammy guest posts or forums filled with spam.

Do not remove your user-generated content, whether it is forums, blog comments or article contributions, simply because you heard it is “bad” or marketed as a “Panda proof” solution. Look at it from a quality perspective instead. There are many highly ranking sites with user-generated content, such as Stack Overflow, and many sites would lose significant traffic and rankings simply because they removed that type of content. Even comments made on a blog post can cause it to rank and even get a featured snippet.

Word Count

Word count is another aspect of Panda that is often misunderstood by SEOs. Many sites make the mistake that they refuse to publish any content unless it is above a certain word count, with 250 words and 350 words often cited. Instead, Google recommends you think about how many words the content needs to be successful for the user.

For example, there are many pages out there with very little main content, yet Google thinks the page is quality enough that it has earned the featured snippet for the query. In one case, the main content was a mere 63 words, and many would have been hard pressed to write about the topic in a non-spammy way that was 350+ words in length. So you only need enough words to answer the query.

Content Matches the Query

Ensuring your content matches the query is also important. If you see Google is sending traffic to your page for specific queries, ensure that your page is answering the question searchers are looking for when they land there. If it is not, it is often as simple as adding an extra paragraph or two to ensure that this is happening.

As a bonus, these are the types of pages – ones that answer a question or implied question – that Google is not only looking to rank well but is also awarding the featured snippet for the query to.

 

Technical SEO

Technical SEO also does not play any role in Panda. Panda looks just at the content, not things like whether you are using H1 tags or how quickly your page loads for users. That said, technical SEO can be a very important part of SEO and ranking in general, so it should not be ignored. But it does not have any direct impact on Panda specifically.

Determining Quality

If you are struggling to determine whether a particular piece of content is considered quality or not, there is one surefire way to confirm. Look in Search Analytics or your site’s analytics program such as Google Analytics and look at the individual page. If Google is ranking a page and sending it traffic, then clearly it is viewing it as quality enough to show high enough in the search results that people are landing there from those Google’s search results.

However, if a page is not getting traffic from Google, it does not automatically mean it is bad, but the content is worth looking at closer. Is it simply newer and has not received enough ranking signals to rank yet? Do you see areas of improvement you can make by adding a paragraph or two, or changing the title to match the content better? Or is it truly a garbage piece of content that could be dragging the site down the Panda hole?

Also, do not forget that there is traffic outside of Google. You may question a page because Google is not sending it traffic, but perhaps it does amazingly well in Bing, Baidu, or one of the other search engines instead. Diversity in traffic is always a good thing, and if you have pages that Google might not be sending traffic to, but is getting traffic from other search engines or other sites or through social media shares, then removing that content would be the wrong decision to make.

Panda Prevention

How to prevent Google Panda from negatively impacting your site is pretty simple. Create high-quality, unique content that answers the question searchers are asking.

Reading content out loud is a great way to tell if content is high-quality or not. When content is read aloud, suddenly things like over usage of repetitive keywords, grammatical errors, and other signals that the content is less than quality will stand out. Read it out yourself and edit as you go, or ask someone else to read it so you can flag what should be changed.

Google Penguin

Google Penguin

The second major Google algorithm is Penguin. Penguin deals solely with link quality and nothing else. Sites that have purchased links or have acquired low-quality links through places such as low-quality directories, blog spam, or link badges and infographics could find their sites no longer ranking for search terms.

Who Should Worry about Penguin?

Most sites do not need to worry about Penguin unless they have done some sketchy link building in the past or have hired an SEO who might have engaged in those tactics. Even if the site owner was not aware of what an SEO was doing, the owner is still ultimately responsible for those links. That is why site owners should always research an SEO or SEO agency before hiring.

If you have done link building in the past while tactics were accepted, but which are now against Google’s webmaster guidelines, you could be impacted by Penguin. For example, guest blogging was fine years ago, but is not a great way to build links now unless you are choosing your sites well. Likewise, asking site visitors or members to post badges that linked to your site was also fine previously, but will now definitely result in Penguin or a link manual action.

Algorithmic Penguin and Link Manual Actions

Penguin is strictly algorithmic in nature. It cannot be lifted by Google manually, regardless of the reason why those links might be pointing to a website.

Confusing the issue slightly is that there is a separate manual action for low-quality links and that one can be lifted by Google once the links have been cleaned up. This is done with a reconsideration request in Google Search Console. And sites can be impacted by both a linking manual action and Penguin at the same time.

Incoming Links Only

Penguin only deals with a site’s incoming links. Google only looks at the links pointing to the site in question and does not look at the outgoing links at all from that site. It is important to note that there is also a Google manual action related directly to a site’s outgoing links (which is different from the regular linking manual action), so the pages and sites you link to could result in a manual action and the deindexing of a site until those links are cleaned up.

Finding Your Backlinks

If you suspect your site has been negatively impacted by Penguin, you need to do a link audit and remove or disavow the low quality or spammy links. Google Search Console includes a list of backlinks for site owners, but be aware that it also includes links that are already nofollowed. If the link is nofollowed, it will not have any impact on your site, but keep in mind, the site could remove that nofollow in the future without warning.

There are also many third-party tools that will show links to your site, but because some websites block those third-party bots from crawling their site, it will not be able to show you every link pointing at your site. And while some of the sites blocking these bots are high-quality well-known sites not wanting to waste the bandwidth on those bots, it is also being used by some spammy sites to hide their low-quality links from being reported.

Assessing Link Quality

When it comes to assessing the links, this is where many have trouble. Do not assume that because a link comes from an .edu site that it is high-quality. There are plenty of students who sell links from their personal websites on those .edu domains which are extremely spammy and should be disavowed. Likewise, there are plenty of hacked sites within .edu domains that have low-quality links.

 

Do not make judgments strictly based on the type of domain. While you can’t make automatic assumptions on .edu domains, the same applies to all TLDs and ccTLDs. Google has confirmed that just being on a specific TLD it does not help or hurt the search rankings. But you do need to make individual assessments. There is a long running joke about how there’s never been a quality page on a .info domain because so many spammers were using them, but in fact, there are some great quality links coming from that TLD, which shows why individual assessment of links is so important.

Beware of Links from Presumed High-Quality Sites


Do not look at the list of links and automatically consider links from specific websites as being a great quality link, unless you know that very specific link is high quality. Just because you have a link from a major website such as Huffington Post or the BBC does not make that an automatic high-quality link in the eyes of Google – if anything, you should question it more.

Many of those sites are also selling links, albeit some disguised as advertising or done by a rogue contributor selling links within their articles. These types of links from high-quality sites actually being low-quality has been confirmed by many SEOs who have received link manual actions that include links from these sites in Google’s examples. And yes, they could likely be contributing to a Penguin issue.

As advertorial content increases, we are going to see more and more links like these get flagged as low-quality. Always investigate links, especially if you are considering not removing any of them simply based on the site the link is from.

Promotional Links

As with advertorials, you need to think about any links that sites may have pointed to you that could be considered promotional links. Paid links do not always mean money is exchanged for the links.

Examples of promotional links that are technically paid links in Google’s eyes are any links given in exchange for a free product for review or a discount on products. While these types of links were fine years ago, they now need to be nofollowed. You will still get the value of the link, but instead of it helping rankings, it would be through brand awareness and traffic. You may have links out there from a promotional campaign done years ago that are now negatively impacting a site.

For all these reasons, it is vitally important to individually assess every link. You want to remove the poor quality links because they are impacting with Penguin or could cause a future manual action. But you do not want to remove the good links, because those are the links that are helping your rankings in the search results.

Promotional links that are not nofollowed can also trigger the manual action for outgoing links on the site that placed those links.

Editor Note: Removing links and submitting a disavow request is also covered in more detail in the ‘What to Do When Things Go Wrong‘ section of our SEO Guide.

Link Removals

Once you have gone through your backlinks and determined that there are some that should be removed or disavowed, you will need to get these links removed. You should first approach site owners and ask them to remove the links pointing to your site. If removals are unsuccessful, add those URLs to a disavow file, one you will submit to Google.

There are tools that will automate the link removal requests and agencies that will handle the requests as well, but do not feel it is necessary to do this. Many webmasters find contact forms or emails and will do it themselves.

Some site owners will demand a fee to remove a link from a site, but Google recommends not paying for link removals. Just include them in your disavow file instead and move onto the next link removal. Some site owners are using link removals to generate revenue, so the practice is becoming more common.

Creating and Submitting a Disavow File

The next step in cleaning up Penguin issues is to submit a disavow file. The disavow file is a file you submit to Google that tells them to ignore all the links included in the file so that they will not have any impact on your site. The result is that the negative links will no longer cause negative ranking issues with your site, such as with Penguin, but it does also mean that if you erroneously included high-quality links in your disavow file, those links will no longer help your ranking. This is another reason why it is so crucial to check your backlinks well before deciding to remove them.

If you have previously submitted a disavow file to Google, they will replace that file with your new one, not add to it. So it is important to make sure that if you have previously disavowed links, you still include those links in your new disavow file. You can always download a copy of the current disavow file in Google Search Console.

 

Disavowing Individual Links Versus Domains

It is recommended that you choose to disavow links on a domain level instead of disavowing the individual links. There will be some cases where you will want to disavow individually specific links, such as on a major site that has a mix of quality versus paid links. But for the majority of links, you can do a domain based disavow. Then, Google only needs to crawl one page on that site for that link to be discounted on your site.

Doing domain based disavows also means that you are do not have to worry about those links being indexed as www or non-www, as the domain based disavow will take this into account.

What to Include in a Disavow File

You do not need to include any notes in your disavow file, unless they are strictly for your reference. It is fine just to include the links and nothing else. Google does not read any of the notations you have made in your disavow file, as they process it automatically without a human ever reading it. Some find it useful to add internal notations, such as the date a group of URLs was added to the disavow file or comments about their attempts to reach the webmaster about getting a link removed.

Once you have uploaded your disavow file, Google will send you a confirmation. But while Google will process it immediately, it will not immediately discount those links. So you will not instantly recover from submitting the disavow alone. Google still needs to go out and crawl those individual links you included in the disavow file, but unfortunately the disavow file itself will not prompt Google to crawl those pages specifically.

It can take six or more months for all those individual links to be crawled and disavowed. And no, there is no way to determine which links have been discounted and which ones have not been, as Google will still include both in your linking report in Google Search Console.

Speeding Up the Disavow Process

There are ways you can speed up the disavow process. The first is using domain based disavows instead of individual links. And the second is to not waste time include lengthy notations for Google’s benefit so that you can submit your disavow faster. Because reconsideration requests require you to submit more details, some misunderstand and believe the disavow needs more details, too.

 

Lastly, if you have undergone any changes in your domain, such as switching to https or switching to a new domain, you need to remember to upload that disavow file to the new domain property in Google Search Console. This is one step that many forget to do, and they can be impacted by Penguin or the linking manual action again, even though they have cleaned it up previously.

Recovery from Penguin

When you recover from Penguin, do not expect your rankings to go back to where they used to be before Penguin, nor for the return to be immediate. Far too many site owners are under the impression that they will immediately begin ranking at the top for their top search queries once Penguin is lifted.

First, some of the links that you disavowed were likely contributing to an artificially high ranking, so you cannot expect those rankings to be as high as they were before. Second, because many site owners have trouble assessing the quality of the links, some high-quality links inevitably get disavowed in the process, links that were contributing to the higher rankings.

Add to the mix the fact Google is constantly changing their ranking algorithm, so factors that benefited you previously might not have as big of an impact now, and vice versa.

Compensated Links via Badges and More

Also be aware of any link building campaigns you are doing, or legacy ones that could come back to impact your site. This would include things like badges you have given to other site owners to place on their sites or the requirement that someone includes a link to your site to get a directory listing or access something. In simple terms, if the link was placed in exchange for anything, it either needs to be nofollowed or disavowed.

When it comes to disavowing files that people are using to clean up poor quality links, there is a concern that a site could be hurt by competitors placing their URLs into a disavow file uploaded to Google. But Google has confirmed that they do not use the URLs contained within a disavow file for ranking, so even if your site appears in thousands of disavows, it will not hurt. That said, if you are concerned your site is legitimately appearing in thousands of disavows, then your site probably has a quality issue you should fix.

Negative SEO

There is also the negative SEO aspect of linking, where some site owners worry that a competitor could buy spammy links and point them to their site. And many use negative SEO as an excuse when their site gets caught by Google for low-quality links.

If you are worried about this, you can proactively disavow the links as you notice them. But Google has said they are pretty good about recognizing this when it happens, so it is not something most website owners need to worry about.

Real Time Penguin

Google is expected to release a new version of Penguin soon, which will have one very notable change. Instead of site owners needing to wait for a Penguin update or refresh, the new Penguin will be real-time. This is a huge change for those dealing with the impact of spamming links and the weights many have had to endure after cleaning up.

Hummingbird

Hummingbird

Google Hummingbird is part of the main Google search algorithm and was the first major change to their algorithm since 2001. But what is different about Hummingbird is that this one is not specifically a spam targeting algorithm, but instead an algorithm to ensure they are serving the best results for specific queries. Hummingbird is more about being able to understand search queries better, particularly with the rise of conversational search.

 

It is believed that Hummingbird is positively impacting the types of sites that are providing high-quality content that reads well to the searcher and is providing answers to the question the searcher is asking, whether it is implied or not.

Hummingbird also impacts long-tailed search queries, similarly to how Rank Brain is also helping those types of queries. Google wants to ensure that they can provide high-quality results for the longer queries. For example, instead of sending a specific question related to a company to the company’s homepage, Google will try to serve an internal page on the site about that specific topic or issue instead.

Hummingbird cannot be optimized for, outside of optimizing for the rise of conversational search. Longer search queries, such as what we see with voice search, and the types of queries that searchers tend to do on mobile are often highlighted with a conversational search. And optimizing for conversational search is easier than it sounds. Make sure your content is highly readable and can answer those longer tail queries as well as shorter tail ones.

Like Rank Brain, Hummingbird had been released for a period before it was announced, and SEOs did not particularly notice anything different regarding the rankings. It is not known how often Hummingbird is updated or changed by Google.

Source :https://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-guide-panda-penguin-hummingbird/169167/

Categorized in Search Engine
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