Thursday, August 20th, 2009

How to Identify a Google Penalty

Last week I wrote a story called “How a Google Penalty Can Make Your Site Stronger” and since then I have received a lot of inquiries about how to identify if a site has been penalized. Instead of answering every email individually, which I could never find the time to do, I figured I had better create a quick list of the most obvious indicators of a Google penalty which I could refer people to and build on when I have more time.

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Monday, August 17th, 2009

Google Leads in Mobile Search

In today’s daily chart from the Silicon Insider we get to see how well the top search properties are doing on PCs in contrast to Mobile. It probably won’t come as much of a surprise that Google has the lead in Mobile just as it does on PCs. It was interesting to note, however, that Yahoo is farther behind Google on Mobile than on PCs despite its highly touted mobile portal and tools.

Search engine marketshare by PC and Mobile

It seems Google’s Caffeine update includes some significant alterations in their local search organic ranking algorithm.

I whipped up this screenshot side-by-side comparison for you to see the differences between the Caffeine Sandbox on the term “Vancouver car sales” and the current live Google results for the same term. Please note that if you click on the image you will be taken to a MUCH larger version without the mark-up so you can see the results more clearly. Read more…

On Monday Google did something out of character by announcing a pre-release viewing of a major update to their algorithm they nicknamed Caffeine:

For the last several months, a large team of Googlers has been working on a secret project: a next-generation architecture for Google’s web search. It’s the first step in a process that will let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions. The new infrastructure sits “under the hood” of Google’s search engine, which means that most users won’t notice a difference in search results. But web developers and power searchers might notice a few differences, so we’re opening up a web developer preview to collect feedback.

The sandbox URL for the new update is – Check it out and see if you notice any difference with your rankings. Please post any interesting findings as a comment on this article. Read more…

Over the past 12 years consulting on web marketing  I have answered countless questions but one question I receive often stands out from all; how to remove a Google penalty. The following is an example of a question I received in the past from a person named Patrick:

PLEASE HELP! For the last 8 years we were #1 for a ton of search terms but then my site got penalized by Google because we had overused some keywords. We fixed the issue months ago but my top rankings are all still over the place. Sometimes we get back into the top 10 and we all breathe a sigh of relief, then just a few hours later we are on page 5. What is going on and how can I correct this? We are beyond frustrated!

First, Some Research

In order to answer Patrick’s question I needed to find out a couple of things about his website to make my answer more accurate:

  • His site has excellent content right now and when I looked at past versions of the site I see the content was still great but definitely had keyword stuffing problems.

    Key finding: his site is really well done so I can see why it had top rankings before.

  • I took a look at competitors found in the top 10 under several keyword searches that were obviously main targets for his website. After reviewing the backlinks (definition) for each competitor’s sites I could see they were all very well entrenched but their content was not up to par with Patrick’s site. I reviewed Patrick’s backlinks and was surprised to find that he had very few.  Key finding:his competitors have a lot of backlinks than Patrick’s site does.

    An SEO Tool Note: I use Yahoo Site Explorer for cursory examination of backlinks for my clients and their competitors. For more in-depth research I use OptiLink by Winrose Software (that is an affiliate link) which provides excellent statistics that are very useful for analyzing the quality of backlinks among other things. Here are more recommended web marketing tools.

  • I checked the server headers for their home page and other key pages to make sure nothing was outwardly wrong with their server configuration; everything was fine.
  • I took some time to surf through Patrick’s website and discovered that not all of the keyword stuffing had been removed.

    Key Finding: Google may still feel his site deserves a penalty because it is not 100% clean.

Read more…

This morning Yahoo gave up the ghost on search and signed a 10 year deal adopting Microsoft’s Bing search platform as its primary search technology. In the agreement, Microsoft will be the leading search provider for all of Yahoo’s search properties (over 100 sites) while Yahoo focuses on surviving… err I meant, “allowing Yahoo to focus on what we do best, and that is to be the center of peoples’ lives online” (Yahoo CEO, Carol Bartz).

The following is Carol Bartz’s speech (note: this link and image on this page opens a windows media file) with several key sections bolded for your convenience: Read more…

Today AdAge reported that there is some big news expected from Yahoo and Microsoft tomorrow.

Yahoo and Bing are expected to tie the knot tomorrow - YaBING!The gossip has been here and there but AdAge has lent some credibility to it all – Yahoo is going to partner with Microsoft to use Bing as its main search engine. The look of Yahoo, in terms of branding, is not expected to change; after all this is not a buyout but a partnership.

For more information check out the AdAge article I sourced this news from and I look forward to giving you more to chew on tomorrow.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Web Marketing Inc.
Follow Ross Dunn and StepForth on Twitter!

To Tweet or Not To Tweet - an article written by Ross Dunn for the Fall 2008 edition of the Search Marketing StandardLate last year I interviewed several of Twitter’s Twitterati  (Barry Schwartz – @rustybrick, Darren Rowse – @problogger, Justine Ezarik – @ijustine, Steve Rubel – @steverubel) for an article in the Fall print edition of the Search Marketing Standard (update: shutdown as of 2013) to get their impressions on microblogging.

The feedback was, as you might imagine, excellent, and with a big thanks to the brass at the Search Marketing Standard I am now able to share the article I wrote with you in PDF format. I hope you enjoy it. Download “To Tweet or Not to Tweet” from our dropbox account.

If you would like to see more articles like this one, please subscribe to Website Magazine which is by-far the best print magazine in the industry now.

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Posterous Questions Answered

On Today’s SEO 101 Internet radio show on WebmasterRadio.FM my co-host John Carcutt and I discussed how SEO relates to social media optimization (SMO). Near the end of the show I brought up Posterous and how much I like it (see “Posterous is an Intelligent Social Media Posting Tool“). Amidst the conversation I noted an e-mail discussion I had with some Posterous representatives. In the discussion I asked questions that I felt were very important in determining whether to use Posterous as a core blogging platform for a business.

A questions and answers StepForth post for Posterous.comQuestion 1) Is it possible to use a subdomain for my Posterous account? I know a domain is possible but not so sure about a sub-domain. I thought would be great.

Answer: “ works great”

My Take: A short but very sweet answer. I am not always a proponent of using a sub-domain for a blog but the fact that Posterous offers that capability makes it all the more alluring.

Question 2) When will it be possible to use my own URL shortener? I would really rather not use yours so that I can keep all of my tracking in one place. Read more…

The Posterous LogoI recently wrote a half-teasing post about a branding issue Posterous appears to be having but I also noted that it is looking like another emerging winner in online social media and the reason is simple; it makes posting to a myriad of social media profiles as simple as writing a single email or clicking on a share button in your browser. I thought of a variety of different ways to explain how it works but I found a video that did all of the work for me. The video below from NBC’s Tech Now does an excellent job of illustrating how easy Posterous is to use and how it might help you manage your online social media persona. Read more…