PANDA AND PENGUIN - GOOGLE'S RANK ALGORITHMS : 7 May 2012
From time to time Google release new Algorithms which is a fancy word for a slice of maths that ranks every web page on the internet that Google can "see"
Each of the Algorithms cause certain web pages, usually unethically optimised or spammy pages to loose rank, ie they appear further down the Google Results. So that a page which is number one at the top of the search results on Monday can be number 200 on Tuesday for no apparent reason. It simply means that Google sees the page as "spammy" or that it is trying to cheat Google into thinking its better than it really is by adding lots of keywords and buying lots of incoming links.
Each of the Algorithms or Google Updates have an in-house name which can referred to by SEO workers to explain why customers' pages have gone up or down in the SERPS. THe two latest names (over the last couple of years) are Panda and Penguin; both of which are primarily aimed at killing off niche marketing websites that have tried to fake their rank by buying links or adding machine generated links on Blogs and Forums etc. These two Algorithms also are the first to affect the WHOLE website and not just a spammy page.
Panda arrived in February 2011, Penguin April 2012 (amidst much controversy)
GOOGLE PLACES : 9 April 2012
Claim your Profile
Fill out as much detail as you can
Make sure you are listed on the mail "Local" directories eg. Yell.co.uk and that your details are the same on all (Identical) Directories
Answer all criticism on Google Places as soon as possible
Add Pictures to your listings
WHATS YOUR YOUTUBE ADVERTISING BUDGET : 3 FEB 2012
YouTube gets 4 BILLION video views per day (every day). It makes sense then if you are advertising not to forget about the incredible reach of this amazing resource.
There ARE a great many videos out there, the majority of which will never get seen other than by the authors and their families. However its not a lottery of what gets seen and what doesn't. There are several prudent steps you can take:-
Set up a channel and use KEYWORDS in it. When making up titles for videos make sure you are using KEYWORDS in the Title, tags and Descriptions (just like web pages).
Make sure your PLAYLIST CATEGORIES are keyword rich areas. It will also force you to think about structure and content division.
If you want you can place a KEY FRAME that will attract users (bikini girls and action shots are the usual fare here). This is the frame YouTube will use for their listings and its what visitors will see when they make the choice of which video to watch from a whole page of listings..
Keep the videos succinct and brief-ish. This wont help SEO but it WILL give you a reputation of not time-wasting and padding out videos. Visitors with little time and patience will appreciate this and visit your other videos. 2 minutes is a good length.
DONT PUT TOO MUCH IN ONE VIDEO! Spread it out ... That way one subject will allow focused related KEYWORDS.
Remember you are not making a Hollywood movie here, you are doing SEO and marketing your company, so dont forget the top and bottom of the video - call this number - click this link - and thanks for watching ... I'm More-Than Freeman
HTML5 STANDARDS IN SEO : 23 DEC 2011
Normally an SEO blog wouldn't be the best place to discuss HTML5, however one of the main concepts in modern website design is to keep separate CONTENT and STYLE and HTML5 takes this one huge step further by providing a logical framework for the distinct page elements that most if not all pages should contain.
In the past we relied on Heading tags to tell the Search Engines (Google, Bing et al) that the enclosed text is a Heading and therefore there is a good chance that it describes the content of the following paragraphs (enclosed in P tags).
However, as the web has grown and websites become more logical in their layout, other common elements have become apparent such as :- HEADER - NAV - CONTENT - SIDEBAR - FOOTER
as well as arguably less obvious elements like ARTICLE- SECTION - CANVAS - DATALIST - SUMMARY - FIGURE
So from an SEO perspective - you see where this is going .. the new TAGS tell the search engine EXACTLY what it is looking at and how it relates to the whole page.
Its therefore important now, at least if you have a high SEO priority, when designing pages that they fit this framework. That
a) The page contains these elements
b) They contain what is expected.
A quick example of the benefit of HTML5 is the NAV tag. Google will see this as containing the structure of your website and you will probably get an ACCURATE extended listing in Google for your main site entry. In the past Google may choose to list different pages (almost randomly) - now you can state clearly that these are the main pages within the NAV tag.
It also helps with BOILERPLATE repetition. If Google sees a NAV tag, it knows this is a repeated element and wont penalize for duplicate content.
Mobile websites are already designed in HTML5 and at Calco we consider this a boon. We dont have to worry about what standard to use as most smart phones render HTML5 perfectly.
Calco UK now offer HTML5 as the first option for building a customer's new website. It means we can design ONE site for use with phone, tablet, TV and the traditional Desktop Computer.
It makes design layout simple and gives the graphic design people clear guidelines on what they can and cannot do. (note : most graphics people can still do anything creative, however they have to think more carefully about how its implemented - example - they may have to use background graphics).
In he future websites ARE going to be more standards compliant, so do yourself a favour and use HTML5 layouts now and benefit from better listings in Google and Bing.
BEGINNING SEO : 5 DEC 2011
Most clients approach SEO thinking the "web guy" will make their website magically appear at the top of the Google listings; usually I'm pleased to say, by throwing money at the problem. While we are happy to take this approach on the premise that Calco understand up to the moment (internet) market dynamics, but that nobody knows YOUR company like YOU do.
It is therefore our job to get the information YOU have about your company to our people so they can merge this and our internet know-how into a coherent SEO strategy.
You need to know how well or badly you are doing. We now use MATRIX STATS or GOOGLE ANALYTICS to see how many visitors you are getting and where they come from. It also helps for a BASELINE so we know the numbers at the beginning of SEO and at the end; in other words a crude measure of success or failure. More realistically these stats form the basis for phase 2 of the SEO.
WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?
What is it you are trying to achieve by having a website? Although an initial holding page with your company name, address and contact details might be a good start, its not really pro-active. Asking yourself "Why am I doing this?" is a constructive first step towards whether you need a Facebook page or a website or both.
WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO REACH
Are you hitting your existing client base or a new customer group. If so is the website optimised for these groups? Its no use being too broad in your approach. For example if you wanted to just use ACCOMMODATION as a keyword, you would fail. However if you discovered that your accommodation was being used by younger people and you lived near a zoo, you could try: family accommodation near BigTown Zoo. SEO is like putting out BAIT. In this case the bait is KEYWORDS and in order to choose the right bait, you need to understand your quarry.
WHAT HAVE YOU TRIED ALREADY
What worked before. What didn't work. We need to know if someone has gone before us and how successful of destructive their efforts have been. Not all SEO is good and positive in its effect.
WHO ARE THE COMPETITION
Both on-line and off-line you need to know who the players are in your market niche. A basic SWOT analysis can help here. Also if we know which of your competition are doing well on Google, we can copy and improve on their strategy.
USP, Benefits and Propositions
In order to write effectiove copy we need to know what it is about your product that is better than all the others out there of a similar nature. We can then State the Problem. Offer the Solution. Say why our product is better, quicker cheaper etc. All KEYWORD rich areas.
CALL TO ACTION
Once the customer is interested can he or she BUY now. Would you prefer they call? We need to offer a clear path to "conversion". That is ... converting the customers' INTEREST into SALES! You would be amazed how many people respond favourably to a simple call to action like BUY NOW! Your website should funnel customers from focused KEYWORD RICH landing pages to the BUY NOW page, which itself can be optimised for a simple phrase like BUY OURBRAND WIDGETS
Its EIGHT times easier to have an existing customer buy again than find new prospects. SO keep a mailing list and use the list to mail shot your customers SPARINGLY! Encourage feedback and be observant to the LANGUAGE or TERMINOLOGY your customers use describing your products ... frequently used phrases are golden KEYWORDS.
RE-VISITING SEO : 11 NOV 2011
Its tempting to leave a website alone after the initial SEO has been done. However experience tells us that SEO is never completely done and of course Google likes to see pages added and content updated. So here are three ideas that can be easily implemented with little fuss.
NEW IMAGES: When websites are built, financial and time restrictions may force the use of stock graphics. A year or two later your company will probably have better images you could use to replace tired old images and dated looking product. When adding the new images, give them a new name and descriptive ALT tags if they need them. Although replacing old images may not help SEO keywording much, it WILL make your website look more up to date. ADDING extra images to your website will help SEO more directly.
UPDATE PRODUCTS : As your company develops new iterations of product lines, tell the world about this via the website. This is especially true if you already print spec sheets and version update sheets for in-house use or inclusion with products. These spec sheets are rich in relevant KEYWORDS. Content "re-purposing" like this is good for Press Releases, Blogs and Newsletters.
CALL TO ACTION (CTA): Add more direct calls to action on your website in key areas. Highlight the panel with the CTA so that from a visitors perspective the CTA stands out and cant be overlooked. Special Offers always go down well and headings incorporating KEYWORDS will ensure people searching for your product + Special Offer will find these deals on YOUR website.
CYCLIC IMPROVEMENTS : Look through your stats to see which pages attract little interest. Analyse the KEYWORDS to see if any other websites are attracting visitors with these keywords, or if the product niche is defunct. It could be that the trend for Low Energy Light bulb has now been replaced with LED lighting. In which case re-optimise your page for the TRENDING keywords. This also alerts you to areas of your business that are not doing well and need updating.
It should be obvious to the intelligent reader that SEO is an on-going process of analysis, testing and implementation. One shot is never enough, especially as your competitors simply have to copy your existing strategy to draw level with you. Regularly refining this SEO strategy however forces you to re-appraise your company's position within the current market place and will keep Google coming back to your website to re-catalogue and rank your pages.
GOOGLE'S QUALITY RATERS : 3 NOV 2011
Google has leaked details from its internal Quality Rater Handbook. It reveals the criteria on which Google Manual Raters (real Google staff) use to check the Google Automates systems are making a good job of providing useful websites in the correct order or relevance and importance.
Transactional : Eg BUY KINDLE produces sites on where to buy Kindle
Informational : Eg BILL GATES produces information about Bill Gates
Navigational; : Eg MICROSOFT produces www.microsoft.com
Rating can be:-
Primary Grade = VITAL - USEFUL - RELEVANT - SLIGHTLY RELEVANT - OFF TOPIC
Secondary Grade = HIGHLY SATISFYING - AUTHORATATIVE - ENTERTAINING - RECENT
RELEVANCE - SPAM INDICATORS
The 3 levels are : SPAM - MAYBE SPAM - NOT SPAM
Spammy indicators are:-
Parked Domains with a bunch of links
Lack of real content or original content
Re-hashed Scraped Content from other websites
Pages simply contrived for Pay Per Click (PPC) adverts
Affiliate Sites that exist solely to promote a product or products for commission
Keyword Stuffed Websites
Unrelated PPC advertising
Rotating Destination Domains - uses scripting to send viewers to differing websites
Re-Directs and Iframe inside Iframe redirects / content (sneaky stuff!)
Fake Blogs and Drip Feed Blogs
Fake Search Pages with PPC Ads
Copied Message Boards
Hidden Text or Links - this can be through colouring, text size or scripting.
This separates the word PARIS (the city in France) from PARIS (the socialite Paris Hilton) and PARIS (Son of Priam in Greek Mythology). In this example typing in the words Paris Hilton Hotel into Google will resolve to the Hilton Hotel in Paris
VITAL SEARCH DESTINATIONS
These are websites Google deem as MUST come up in search results if the associated KEYWORD is entered in the Google box. An example of this is IBM - the vital result must be www.ibm.com
Didn't Load : This site could not be found on a regular basis or an error occurred.
Foreign Language : The search unexpectedly produced a language foreign to the KEYWORD you entered. ENGLISH is never a foreign language and is considered the exception.
Un-ratable : for some reason the rater could not classify the website.
This is an urgent rating for sites that require immediate Google flagging to warn visitors before they get there.
MARKETING 101 : 19 OCT 2011
There are golden rules for ensuring your web pages (website) does well in the Search Engines however the website must also appeal to your target audience ie people. Here is a checklist key points to watch out for:-
The Website Message must be crystal clear with no distractions.
Must know, should know, could know. The Must Know information ie the essential must be above the fold, Paragraph Headed and synopsised. Should know must also be there as a logical extension with the correct weighting. Could Know can be in a sidebar or way down the page.
The page must be balanced - what do people look at; what draws the eye?
At least one clear Call To Action
Cite the benefits (not the features)
Easily accessible phone number and email (no mobile numbers as primary contact!)
Contact form(s) should be clear and simple (name and email)
The site should be visually pleasing and of good colour design.
The fonts should be easy to read
Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
Paragraphs should not stretch right across the screen - use columns or information boxes.
Navigation menu should be easy to navigate (duh!)
Engage the visitor by involving them - interaction is key
Make the site sticky so they come back for more (like the facebook)
Alternate information-giving methods (podcast, video auto-readers)
Lastly ... in newspapers and magazines a journalist will take the story to the editor and he or she would score through the unnecessary verbiage. The story will be re-written and resubmitted for further chopping . Your website copy should be a similar distillation of information; always!
WHAT IS GOOGLE'S PANDA ALGORITHM : 12 OCT 2011
When google scans your website with a view to placing it in its listings or "SERPS", the process by which it decides why one website is "better" than another is based on an analysis of content, how many people link to the site and how old it is etc.
Google uses a mathematical grading and weighing formula called an algorithm. When they update this algorithm they generally give it a formal name so SEO people (and anyone else) can refer to it by name. The latest Google ranking formula is called the PANDA ALGORITHM.
It is my opinion and that of many other SEO professionals that Panda was released to combat a growing industry of valueless websites which were created by their owners to do nothing other than promote a few products in a highly targeted niche; aka niche marketing.
Niche Marketing works like this:-
You find a product that pays a commission via adwords or directly from the vendors. We will use the well worn example of "weight loss".
First you buy a domain with the words lose weight in it : lose-weight.com
Fill the pages with KEYWORDS about lose weight and weight loss and how to lose weight. Lots of Keywords!
Do SEO on this site and get links to it from all your other websites doing the same thing.
Drop links on high page rank websites (edu and gov) blogs and forums with your website and keywords in the title
Place Adwords advertising in the sidebars and your own commissionable ads elsewhere.
Rinse and repeat!
Even though Adwords, which is owned by Google, would suffer from Panda, Google management decided it was better to have really good quality websites in their listings, rather than these fake websites with no real content other than advertising. Further they conjectured the users of Google would go to Bing or elsewhere if the results only massaged advertising and produced these annoying "spammy" websites.
Google's statement : The change aims to lower the rank of "low-quality sites" in search results and return high-quality sites to Google's users
SO Google Panda was released in the Spring of 2011 and almost immediately affected around 12 percent of all search results!
News and Social Networking websites leapt up the ranks while advertsing only websites dropped; sometimes disappearing completely where previously they were on page one of the SERPs
Sadly, many genuine websites suffered from Panda. Here is a list of the top 25 that fell in the SERPs
Calco UK's Ethical SEO and SEM do well in Panda because
a) We are advertising genuine services and products for the website owners.
b) We analyse competitors' strengths and weaknesses and exploit them fairly.
c) We dont generally place third part advertising on websites unless its appropriate and helpful to the visitos of the website.
You may also like to know that Navneet Panda is a software engineer at Google.
Panda does not work in the same manner as previous algos, it learned its trade from human testers. I'm guessing here, but I personally believe Panda uses heuristic analysis.
USING GOOGLE IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES : 6 OCT 2011
Google.de Google.fr and Google.co.uk - what's the difference and should I submit to all these different country specific Google websites.
The answer is simple.. if YOU have something unique to offer these countries then by all means submit to "their" Google.
If however you have simply translated your web pages into a "foreign" language, then the answer is not as simple, because in essence its simply duplicate content, albeit very helpful duplicate content to someone whose native language differs from yours. I'm fairly certain Google wont penalise as duplicate content for this "service" if you are genuinely making your information available to other nations.
On the other hand .. if you translated your page in Google Translate (or Babelfish) into every known language and submitted them to every Google, then that is something Google will take a DIM VIEW on. Remember Google can do what you did when checking for spam - after all they own Google Translate!
If you are GENUINELY HELPING customers by translating your pages then also do the following to increase your Global market penetration. In this example our target language and country is FRENCH / FRANCE and will be submitting to Google.fr
1) First and foremost : make sure the language of the website is French ... all good quality French
2) Buy a french domain. Google will take you much more seriously - an use keywords in french to construct it.
3) Get hosted on a French Server. Go online and choose one of the many available. Companies with a UK and French presence are ideal because you can see the English version of the site if you don't understand the language well enough. Or ask Calco UK to do it for you.
4) All contacts in the header and footer should be a French address / phone numbers too. Your email will be French if you implemented item 2. This really separates the real from the phoney as its almost impossible to do this honestly unless you actually have premises in France. Google therefore takes it seriously!
FINAL NOTE on translating web pages.
Google is very aware of regionalizations in language such as the spelling color and colour. They also know that if someone is referring to a vacation rather than a holiday the weight of that page is going towards English USA. If the page talks about lifts and multi-storey flats rather than elevators and the projects, its likely your are discussing the UK.
I DO use Google translate when READING foreign language websites as it helps me translate the words I don't know and navigate menu choices better. Don't use auto translators (software) to translate YOUR web pages, use an agency (there are loads of average quality translators out there at a very reasonable price) and I suspect Google catches auto translated pages quite quickly, especially if they were made with Google Translate!
DEALING WITH DUPLICATE CONTENT : 24 SEP 2011
Why should I be worried?
Google say : "Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. Most of the time when we see this, it's unintentional or at least not malicious in origin: forums that generate both regular and stripped-down mobile-targeted pages, store items shown (and -- worse yet -- linked) via multiple distinct URLs, and so on. In some cases, content is duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or garner more traffic via popular or long-tail queries." ref link
SO .. how can you avoid the Duplicate Content wrath of Google? video
1. Dont do it. Make sure all your work is original and if you have to qote, put a reference link to the original.
2. If you are woried for some reason that content may be similar (ie if you are reporting a well publicised event), then use COPYSCAPE to check your work.
3.If you allow others to use your content, make sure they credit your work with a link back. (syndication)
4. Be consistent with linking. Dont use http://www.mywebsite.com/index.html when you have just been using http://mywebsite.com /index.html throughout the website. (with www and without www are TWO different URLs and considered dup content by Google.) ie Normalise your links. CMS can do this without you knowing. Use Canonical to fix things retrospectively if you can't do it at code time.
5. Use a Robots.txt file in the root of your site to tell Google which files to index. If there are Print Versions or Phone Versions that are substantially similar, just refer to the most comprehensive version.
6. If you have links going to with www and without www (as above in item 4) use a 301 redirect on one of them to lead to the other. A 301 is a great "get out of jail free card" with Google. Or state one as canonical.
7. If you use automated publishing systems make sure they dont repeat content on every page. Check Footers especially. CMS like Wordpress and Joomla etc can boilerplate content inadvertantly.
8. For a different languages you wont be penalised, however if your main website is in Engish in the UK, why not use international domains for different language websites and submit to that contry's Google eg www.mywebsite.fr and submit to www.Google.fr
9. If you have a tag line or copyright etc on every page, make it as small as possible. Avoid at all cost the same lengthy (boilerplate) texts about your company on every page. (or make into an image)
10. Webmaster Tools can help with duplicate content.Just guide Google to the authoratative version of your domain with www or without www is a perfect example.
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