All posts tagged SEO and Google

Business owners keeping track of their website rankings in Google this year no doubt noticed some changes. For one, the Penguin update in April targeted websites considered spammy. Subsequent updates to Penguin and Panda targeted duplicate content, keyword stuffing, and links from untrusted or non-valuable sources.

While it’s become easy to blame the search engine for drops in rankings and traffic, it’s a good time for site owners to evaluate their on-page content and the off-page work they’ve done. Since the hits just keep on coming, here are a few tips on how to keep your site in tip-top shape against the march of algorithm updates.

Duplicate Content

Sites with duplicate content took a big hit this year. Even if you’ve combed your site making sure no two sentences are the same, there is still a chance that you’re being hit for duplicate content. One of our clients is meticulous about content and posts a few times a week. This much original content usually helps a website, but their site was heading the other direction in the rankings. After going through the clients Webmaster Tools, we found that the issue was in the blog. While the content was original to their site, some of the paragraphs were being taken from other areas of the web, which confuses search engines as to which content is the real source.  The solution was adding rel canonicals to the pages of the blog to alert the search engines to the source of the content. Since we were dealing with a WordPress site, there is a handy plugin called “Canonical Urls”, free to download, that we installed to fix the issue. Duplicate content is a target for these recent updates, so start with Webmaster Tools and see if your site is at risk for a hit, and take care of it before you get nailed.

Link Sources

A big part of traditional link building over the last few years has been finding the balance between strategic keywords and  the official business name in anchor text in links across the web. These updates have made this balance even more delicate. In fact, an excess of links with keyword anchor texts can actually harm the site now. Sites that have taken a hit are sites that have a ton of links pointed to their homepage exclusively, with link anchor texts containing the keywords they were trying to rank for. So if this was your strategy before, hopefully you’ve already adjusted it. It’s a better practice to have anchor texts read the business name, and as a rule, have links pointing to other pages of the site. Your website will benefit from stronger inner pages.

Of course, the Google algorithm is constantly changing. The SERP looks completely different today from how it looked a year ago. You can learn about each of these changes here. Evolving Interactive does our best to stay ahead of each change by following best SEO practices, which makes these changes less jarring when they happen. If your site needs an SEO makeover, contact an analyst today at 312-454-4550. And stay tuned for more news from the Evolving Interactive blog.

Last week, Google announced that its new Social Network platform, Google Plus, will now effect search results.  The buzz spread like wildfire across the SEO industry. How much of a game changer will this be? Will search engine optimization still matter if search results are now personalized instead of taking the most relevant and trustworthy sites and ranking them accordingly?

It’s no secret that Google’s main goal for the past year has been integrating their new budding social network with their search results. Anyone logged into their Google account with a Google Plus profile will see a different set of results than a searcher not logged in. Google Plus users will have the option of personal or worldwide results. There is an icon at the top right of the SERP that shows a silhouette of a person or a globe, and the Plus user can toggle between the two sets of results.

Clicking on the person icon, the top results for a search will be based on recommendations, or Plus 1’s, that you and the people in your circles have made, or info that others have shared with you. Results with reviews and pluses will have higher ranking then those without. By switching over to the globe, you will see the natural results without these social signals affecting them as directly.

Google has used social signals as a part of their algorithm for years, with personalized results getting a boost.  Twitter follows, Facebook likes and shares, and Yelp reviews have factored in to results; companies have used this buzz to crawl up the rankings. Facebook and Twitter have criticized this change, citing that Google will give preferential treatment to its own social signals, a claim Google has denied.

Other features to Google Plus, like the fact that users must opt-out of the personal search and not opt-in, have led to concerns among users and SEO’s. However, it is easy enough to switch the results back to the global, impersonalized results. There is even a way to permanently remove the personalized results in the search settings. Concerns about privacy are also prevalent, as anyone with access to private information can share it publicly. It is ultimately up to the user who they share info with, but the receiver can post it at their whim, so know your circles. As with anything on the internet, it’s a good rule of thumb that if you wouldn’t want your content on the web, don’t upload it to begin with.

As Google Plus fixes the issues and bugs that are inevitable as it gains in popularity, it will be important to make the most of its features. As the social signals for sites that have “Plus 1’s

I guess it’s a good thing for the industry that the letters S-E-O are seeing an influx in news articles, especially in heavy hitters like the New York Times. In the last few months, I can remember reading several articles about the dark side of our otherwise under-the-radar industry. There was the article about the terribly negative reviews benefiting a sunglasses salesman / customer service pariah. Then there are the articles about link schemes that put the big businesses at the top of every search result, until they got caught.

I guess it’s a better thing that Google also reads these articles, because that seems to be the only time white hat SEO’s see results they’ve been clamoring for.  The most recent article was again posted by The Times, and brought to light Google’s shortcomings in their local search section, a section Google has been actually been placing more value on in recent months. In an effort to keep listings as up to date as possible, Google allows searchers to request that a business’ status be updated to “reported to be closed