Sunday 22 July 2012

Google Penguin Recovery Strategies

The World of Google and SEO

Google has created a business economy all of its own. Through developing arguably the best  search engine they have been able to attract a phenomenal amount of interest form computer users an businesses who relay on internet presence of more significantly eCommerce for their business survival. This has in turn created a secondary industry, the SEO companies, who provide services to help business owners get their websites to the search rankings. Google want everything to look natural as if the links to peoples site came from other webmasters thinking that is a great site so I will link to it. The reality of the situation is that only around 2% of links are natural and the rest are created to fool the Google search engines. This means that the SEO companies are constantly fighting for business to see who can create the most natural looking links so businesses can improve their website search positions.

Google Panda and Penguin

Now from 2011 Google have started to introduce new algorithms to target Webspam  which will look at a sites content and the backlinks and make an algorithmic analysis of whether they think the Google guidelines have been violated and whether in fact the website is actually high quality or just made to look good in the eyes of search engines. Panda was primarily focuses om factors like duplicated content and excessive adverts on site and Penguin more on off site issues like the link profile. Here we will just look at Penguin which hit on the 24th April 2012 with a refresh on 25th May 2012 and what strategies can be employed to recover.

Penguin Recover Checklist

1. Check out your backlink profile and remove and non PR ranked links and ones linking back from sites which are obviously set up for SEO purposes.
2. Check your back link anchor text profile at the page level and check to see that you have no more than 50% of the links with exact match keyword anchor text to the keywords that that page optimised for.If you are over 50% then delete the links or better changed the links to branded terms which involves variants of your business name or generic terms link , click here, more info and it is fine to just use page URL's.
3. Accrue some good quality hand written links for decent quality sites which either have manual article checking like Ezine or have a mechanism for user validation like Hubpages.
4. Complement these with some straight text links from sites with good PR and relevant content.
5. Remove site wide links like blog rolls or multiple links from the same domain.

These are the big hitters so now sit back and wait for the next refresh and  monitor your recovery. If nothing happens then you can move the domain to a similar domain, hopefully of a similar age, and then 301 redirect the old pages to the new ones. Then take any good links you have control over and link those to the new site.  This  process has recovered many sites but some then get the penality back after a few weeks when it is passed from the old penalised domain.

.... and if you want some help contact Paul at  Towers IT Professional Services

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Google Adwords- some basic advice

Fast Track to Google Presense
If you have a new site and want to get noticed on Google then AdWords is certainly the fast start option. Within seconds you can be there on the front page of google for your chosen search terms and get some traffic to your site. However there is a price to pay as AdWords is not cheap. Now dependant on the competition for the search term you would typically pay between 20p and £1 per click through. Now this might be very acceptable for an ecommerce site which is selling products at high margin but for the majority of websites this is for sure a large overhead. Here I am not going to provide every answer for each circumstance but simply to provide some guidelines to get started. If you need more details you will need to use an IT Services company or specialist google AdWords consultancy.

The basis steps:-
The first step is to perform some basic keyword research assisted by the google AdWords tool to identify which are the right keywords for your site. The focus here needs to be around relevancy as the prime factor and then go for the keywords with the least competition. The basic principle behind the operation of AdWords is that you bid for places on the right hand side of the google window and then the top 3 places above the natural search listings. In simple terns the more you bid the higher you will appear on the listings.
The next step is to set up your google AdWords account.
From here I will just provide some top tips on things to do so you get value for money.
1. Restrict the hours of use to the periods when your real customers are actually going to be browsing. You do not want someone from the USA to be browsing your site if you only ship products in Europe and this will be costing you money.
2. Set you budget and then adjust your bids for each keyword to get a good usage of that keyword across the day and ideally just finish the day below your budget. Avoid bidding too high as this will mean that you will get a few top listings but consume your budget in an accelerated fashion.
3. Regularly check the keyword traffic and compare the keyword traffic to the eCommerce conversions to check that you are not just getting browsing but actually securing sales.
4. Run your AdWords campaign in tandem with your SEO activities and progressively swap in and out keywords as the natural listing results move higher and lower to ensure that you have the keyword visibility for the right search terms.
5. Keep a close watch on AdWords activity to check where you are getting traffic from with conversions and then dynamically adjust your bids to focus on the search terms right for your site.
So that's the basics so now is the time to give it a go. monitor and continuously improve.

Friday 4 March 2011

SEO Stage 2 - The off-site work

The Rationale behind Off-site SEO

Once the on-site work has been completed, that is, the site is populated with original content and the keyword density, meta tags and descriptions are complete it is time to focus on link popularity. Google takes the view that if lots of sites are linking to your content then it must be good and accordingly will move the site up the search rankings. However, the Google algorithms are far more sophisticated than just looking at how many links. It is all about the quality and the relevance of the links. If you have 1000 links from non-indexed pages from websites that have no correlation to yours then these are verging on being of no value.

Conversely if you have a single link from a website which has a similar theme and the link is from a page with a page rank of 4, then this link will positively help your search position rankings. This link will give you a 2 fold benefit. Firstly it will show that your site is valued and this will give a small boost to any search terms, Secondly and more significantly it will give a tremendous boost to the search term used in the anchor text to the link which means that you need to ensure that the anchor text is matched to your target keywords.

Now that's the basic philosophy behind link popularity but the question is how do you achieve this?

Off-site Linking Campaign

The ideal way to get high quality links is to create great content and this will naturally encourage other sites to link to yours. This is certainly the Google thought plan and there is no doubt about it this certainly will happen. The issue for most webmasters is that this process is normally too slow and it may take years for the website to naturally attract these great links.

Without a shadow of doubt the best way to complement this is to target sites with comparable content and get in touch with the webmasters and look towards enticing them to link to your site potentially with a 3 way reciprocal links plan if you can find 2 potential partners. This ring of links will give a more natural linking than a straight exchange program between 2 websites which google is viewed not to favour as much.

This strategy of linking certainly is optimal but is best boosted by complementary techniques.
The first one of these is to use article sites. Write some original articles to promote your site or products ensuring that you use a keyword density of between 2% and 5% for the keyword you wish to target. Then ensure that you have a link back with this keyword in the anchor text within the article. Articles need to be say 300-600 words in length and of original content. You can then publish to a range of article sites starting with most highly regarded, Ezine Articles and then utilising the vast array of others like Article Dashboard to promote your site. Once the articles are approved and indexed you should see and improvement in the search listing position for the chosen keywords.

The next complementary technique is to create short videos with a link back and publish these to the main video sites like You Tube. Google loves these sites and Will index really fast which will give you a good link back. The other key benefit here is if you create a good video it is also a great advertisement for your site and products.

The next part is to use social bookmarking to find people that have a common interest in your website objectives and then through Twitter, Facebook etc. start to create a community of people have common interests.

Another technique which is used is Profile Pages which are the pages on Web 2,0 sites where you can register. By careful selection of these sites you can then create profile pages with relevant content and linkbacks to your website.

So there we have a brief overview of some of the major techniques which are used by the SEO companies or ones which you can use yourself. Now the success of your plan is all down to the care, thought and dedication that you put into the process and a well devised SEO plan should give lasting results. But make sure that your approach is not spammy or unnatural because you will definitely be penalised for that so if you are unsure then it is probably best to leave it to an expert IT Services company.

Friday 6 August 2010

A Good SEO Approach

If you are going to do your own SEO then you will need to follow a fairly disciplined approach. I will outline the basic steps here which are a simplistic summary of the approach used at Towers IT Professional Services . These can then be adapted based on your specific goals. In this first post I will just cover the first 2 activities of keyword analysis and linking those into page URL's and title and leave the next steps for another day.

Keyword and Market Analysis

The first thing to do is to assess your market and from this decide on which keywords you want to target. It is important to do this work up front and then all the following SEO activities can be clearly focused on these keywords to achieve a tangible goal. It is also important to select a realistic amount of keywords so your optimisation can be concentrated appropriately and not spread too thin. I would suggest starting with around 20 keywords.

There are 2 factors that need considering when selecting keywords. The first one is how accurately do they represent your market area, which is important so you can get good quality traffic to your site. There is no point in having masses of traffic if the quality is poor and in the case of eCommerce, you are not seeing any conversions.
The second consideration is how achievable it is to get a good search listing position with these keywords. It is important to pitch this right so you select keywords which see a good number of google searches but are not too competitive so you can realistically get a page 1 listing.

In order to undertake your market and keyword analysis it is best to use the google tools to assess search volumes and also to identify keyword ideas for your research. Another good practise is to try some searches and if applicable check that they are picking up important aspects like google images.

Page Titles, Page URLS's, Meta Descriptions and Tags

Ideally you should do your keyword research before you have created your site. In this way you can check that page URL's give a good mapping to the keywords. These are probably the most important factor. Often you can change them later but if you do this be sure to delete the old ones from google and do a 301 page redirect from the old to the new page.
The next critical aspect is the page tiles. Try to get your keywords in to these and they should also correlate well with the content on the page so you have a consistent theme and mapping.
From here you can put together some nice succinct meta tag descriptions and tags, but don't just take some of the page content for your meta descriptions, make sure they are original yet representative. These first 2 steps are fundamental and will give you a good basis for the entire SEO activity. One new site I have done recently is Saving Light Bulbs which is based on a fairly optimised family of around 30 keywords. The energy saving light bulb market is fairly competitive with a range of suppliers offering light bulbs of CFL, LED and halogen technology and making the important analogy to the environment. I have chosen in this case to target some fairly competitive terms like 'energy saving light bulbs', 'halogen bulbs', 'LED bulbs' and most importantly 'light bulbs' which whilst being tricky to get good rankings on are fundamental to this market. However the choice is complemented with less competitive terms like 'LED G4 Capsule' which are far easier to get a good search ranking position in the early stages of SEO.

Thursday 10 June 2010

Blogging Tips for SEO

Now once you have made your standalone blog or integrated WordPress into your website so you have an integrated blog you need to get started. Blogging is generally done for different reasons, that is:-

1. To create a community forum stimulating interest and increasing the awareness of the blog as a brand

2. To increase the ranking of a site in the view of search engines to improve positioning in search listings

If your sole objective is the former then you have far more scope in the way you write posts and so long as they are informative and interesting then that is fine.
If your objective is the latter and it is SOE performance that you are looking for then you will need to adhere to some good practice guidelines.
Firstly, make your posts 250-500 words in length and keep them informative and use original content.

Secondly, for an on site link back to pages on your site and ensure that you use link text and title attributes as part of the link. Then check your landing page for your link and ensure that you have relevant content for your link on the landing page. This is important as the search engine will check the relevance of the link and associate value to it accordingly. I demonstrate here by using the phrase IT leadership and transformation which is on the landing page for this link.

Thirdly, in the day in the life of a professional blogger, you will want to make a post a day of original interesting content.

Fourthly, there are the 3 P's. Make it Personal so people know they have the views of a real person. Work in Partnership to other bloggers putting replies on their blogs and in return they should develop an interest in your blog and reciprocate the gesture. And finally, make it passionate to get the interest of people so they are engaged in your views and want to read on.

Saturday 5 June 2010

Blogger or WordPress ?

If you want a free standalone blog then the 2 major contenders are Blogger and Wordpress. Each have there pros and cons but for a standalone blog then the pendulum does swing towards Blogger. Using Blogger template layouts are editable and you can map domain names for free which you need an upgrade for on WordPress. The other advantage on using Blogger is that your posts will be indexed faster. Whether the faster indexing is due to the sheer size of Blogger or because of the fact that it is owner by Google is up for debate, but it certainly seems to be the fact that indexing is faster on Blogger.
However if you want to integrate a Blog into your website then the tides have turned.
Previously then Blogger had an excellent FTP facility which automatically published comments to your own domain but due to excessive resource for support Google have now stopped this!! As an example this blog used to use FTP publishing but the blog has now been migrated to be hosted by Blogger.
Conversely with WordPress you can install WordPress on your domain and integrate it into your site to see an example.
So if you want a Blog integrated with your site I would recommend using Wordpress.

Sunday 25 April 2010

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