Synopsis: If your website is suffering from some dropped rankings on Google consider checking the geographic targeting in your Google Webmaster Tools site settings and read up on how to make the right selection (or not at all).

A screenshot of the Geographic Target setting in Google Webmaster Tools. In this case it is set to be saved for the USA

Did you know that changing your geographic target in your GWT site settings can have an impact on your rankings? The impact can be positive in one regard and negative in the other: 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…