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Robin Good's insight:
The Google Penalty Checker is a free web-based tool which allows you to instantly verify whether your web site has been penalized by one of the Google Panda or Google Penguin algorithm updates in the last two years.
The key characterizing feature of this service is that it provides a statistically significant result that highlights exactly which update impacted your website and if it was a positive or negative impact.
Free to use.
If you want to monitor more than two websites, there's a PRO version. Pricing it's here: http://fruition.net/gpc-pricing/
Try it out now: http://fruition.net/sem/user/login
FAQ (very useful): http://fruition.net/seo/google-penalty-faq/
On the morning of June 26th, MozCast registered a record high temperature of 113 degrees. This is an initial investigation into the possible algorithm update, and a potential partial-match domain (PMD) connection.
Robin Good's insight:
Google has updated its algorithms again yesterday, and by looking at the amount of changes in the SERPs this does not look like something minor.
According to the research and analysis done by Dr Pete on the MOZ blog, the web sites that have been most affected are those that utilize in their domain name some of the keywords for which they are being searched for.
These are called PDM (partial domain matches) and data shows that these have all been strongly affected.
So, if you own a web site that utilizes some of your niche keywords in its name and have seen a sudden drop in traffic or earnings since yesterday, check out the thorough analysis that Dr. Pete has done and see for yourself what is really happening.
From the article intro: "If you follow our MozCast Google "weather" tracker, you may have noticed something unusual this morning – a record algorithm flux temperature of 113.3°F (the previous high was 102.2°, set on December 13, 2012). While the weather has been a bit stormy off and on since Penguin 2.0 and the announcement of 10-day rolling Panda updates, this one was still off the charts: "
Informative. Useful data. 8/10
Robin Good: If you have been submitting your blog, web site or RSS feed indiscriminately to tens of web directories, you may want to give a serious read to this report from SEOMoz.
According to the research done, Goolge has started banning and penalizing many web directories as many of these offer next to no value at all to final readers, and have been created mostly with the purpose of providing a promotional/visibility/linkback resource.
It looks like Google has decided to stop allowing these sites to pass "juice" to its listed member sites by penalizing them and in the worst cases (tens of them) to completely ban the directory from the SERPs.
From the SEOMoz original article: "...Google deindexed several directories a few weeks ago.
This event left us wondering if there was a rhyme to their reason. So we decided to do some intensive data collection of our own and try to figure out what was really going on.
We gathered a total of 2,678 directories from lists like Val Web Design, SEOTIPSY.com, SEOmoz's own directory list (just the web directories were used), and a few others, the search for clues began.
Out of the 2,678 directories, only 94 were banned – not too shabby.
However, there were 417 additional directories that had avoided being banned, but had been penalized."
Very useful data. 8/10
From the article intro: "There some discussion going on in the webmaster/SEO community that Google may have de-indexed some free web directories.
Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable points to a WebmasterWorld forum thread on the subject.
The thread begins with a post from user Sunnyujjawal, who says:
"While checking some sites links I found 50% free submission directories are out of G now.
Will Google count such links in negative SEO or unnatural linking?
Schwartz concurs that about 50% of the ones he searched for did not have listings."
Robin Good: If you are curious to see which sites have been badly hit by the new Penguin Google filtering algorithm, here is interesting information.
"The official goal was “to take care” over-optimized websites, containing too many unnatural links, automated content (spinning), keyword stuffing etc. Google tries to kill webspam altogether.
The impact on all keywords queries is about 3.1%, which compared to Panda (with around 12%) is much less.
But Google said more short-head/visible keywords should be affected."
Interestingly web sites that were most negatively impacted, included above all three specific categories:
"a) Database-driven websites – they mainly aggregate information and use large database systems to create as many pages as possible. Sites such as songlyrics.com, great-quotes.com, cubestat.com or lotsofjokes.com fall into this pattern.
b) Press portals and feed aggregators such as pressabout.us, newsalloy.com and bloglines.com were also affected, which makes sense from a Google point of view since these are the website types that are very often created by very aggressive (possibly overly aggressive) SEOs and often contain similar content.
c) A couple of heavily template-based websites were also affected – ticketnetwork.com/ticketcity.com, hotelscombined.com and customerservicenumbers.com fit Google’s anti-SEO bill perfectly when it comes automatically (possibly also spun) content.
d) Furthermore, a lot of sites that copy or rehash other peoples’ content (or are used by their users to do that) were demoted – examples include mayor sites such as digg.com, folkd.com and pastebin.com."
Must read. 8/10
Robin Good: This is an excellent and thorough guide on how to find out whether you have been hot by Panda and on how to fix Google's most feared automatic penalization algorithm to date, based on the Panda fighting experience at SEOgadget in 2011.
From the article:
"Panda is about dealing with bad content, not bad links. Bad content comes in different flavours: duplicate, weak, thin and template.
Large sites that have many pages, templated content and lots of sub-categories are the most at risk.
If you haven’t been monitoring and fixing your accessibility issues, as highlighted in Google Webmaster Tools, you are at risk."
Three key takeaways:
"1) The world is not as it once was.
Crap websites trying to masquerade as decent websites are being hunted down and sunk below the quality line.
2) Google owes you nothing.
Tactics to just barely raise your quality enough to recover your rankings are unlikely to pay dividends. You may well find yourself a loser again the next time the quality bar is raised.
3) Google is judging you.
Google is going to continue to raise the quality bar with future updates. When your competitors improve their websites, you will be weakest and in line for the chop at the next quality update."
Highly recommended. 9/10
Robin Good: If you are looking to understand more about Google penalizations, whether "algorithmic" (like Google Panda) or "manual", here is a great guide by David Harry to dive into.
Key sections in this guide include:
From the article: "Similar to how last year’s Panda Update works, Google is examining sites it finds and effectively tagging them as being too ad-heavy or not.
If you’re tagged that way, you get a ranking decrease attached to your entire site (not just particular pages) as part of today’s launch.
If you reduce ads above-the-fold, the penalty doesn’t instantly disappear. Instead, Google will make note of it when it next visits your site. But it can take several weeks until Google’s “push” or “update” until the new changes it has found are integrated into its overall ranking system, effectively removing penalties from sites that have changed and adding them to new ones that have been caught."
From Google’s post on its Inside Search blog yesterday:
"We’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience.
Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away.
Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.
Google also posted the same information to its Google Webmaster Central blog."
While a lot of the specifics of the Google Penguin 2.0 update are still shaking out, a great deal of information has already emerged. Here's a look at what we know, how Penguin 2.0 is affecting sites, and what to do if your site has been impacted.
Robin Good's insight:
If you are new to the Google Penguin algorithm and want to get the full story on it as well as specific, practical advice on how to counter it, Jayson DeMers on SearchEngineWatch has a good review that includes everything you need to know.
In essence, the Google Penguin algo focuses on is unnatural, manipulative inbound link profiles.
What makes a bad link profile? Google believes that these are the link factors that can get you in a bad situation:
The article covers the Google Penguin history, its focus, and a roadmap of steps to take to avoid being caught by it.
Useful. Good summary. 7/10
On August 15, 2012, our agency's website (which was in the middle of a complete redesign) was hit with a manual penalty by our friends over at Google.
Robin Good's insight:
Here is a detailed report by founder Lewis Sellers, of how his web agency in the UK, Pinpoint Designs, got hit by a Google penalty without having consciously done anything tricky, and how it gradually found a way to get this penalization revoked.
But there is a lot more useful stuff in the article, including all the steps taken, tools used and what to do if Google says no to your Reconsideration Request.
"Penguin has now been reverse engineered. The results are shared including what is likely wrong and what you can do to fix it.
This is totally different than what most of the SEO world is telling you to do these days."
Josh Bachynski reports in this video that the biggest surprise for most people will be the fact that Penguin has NOTHING to do with your backlinks, as it only targets on-page factors.
Key take-aways from the video:
1) You need to fix on-page issues as the top priority
2) Penguin-based negative SEO is not possible
3) No need to delete links - Google is already taking care of that by devaluing those
4) Add quality links to your key content in ways that make them look "natural" to Google (30% exact match query, 30% partial match, 30% url-based, 10% generic/other stuff)
5) Do not overoptimize - Google knows what your page is about - don't overdo it with keywords. Check with Google Webmaster Tools and see what Google thinks your page is about.
6) Try always to look and be as "natural" as you can be.
Must see. 9/10
Watch the video for a complete explanation: http://vimeo.com/42939368
(Thanks to Nicoleta Leon for pointing me to this)
"It’s been about two weeks since Google launched its Penguin Update. Google’s happy the new spam-fighting algorithm is improving things as intended."
From the original article by Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land some key points I extracted:
"...Penguin, like Panda, is a filter that gets refreshed from time-to-time. Penguin is not constantly running but rather is used to tag things as spam above-and-beyond Google’s regular spam filtering on a periodic basis.
...To further confuse matters, some who lost traffic because of Penguin might not be victims of a penalty at all. Rather, Google may have stopped allowing some links to pass credit, if they were deemed to be part of some attempt to just manipulate rankings. If sites were heavily dependent on these artificial links, they’d see a drop just because the link credit was pulled, not because they were hit with a penalty.
...if you know that you were hit by Penguin (because your traffic dropped on April 24):
-> Clean up on-page spam you know you’ve done
-> Clean up bad links you know you’re been involved with, as best you can
-> Wait for news of a future Penguin Update and see if you recover after it happens
-> If it doesn’t, try further cleaning or consider starting over with a fresh site
-> If you really believe you were a false positive, file a report as explained here
Just in, by the way, a list of WordPress plug-ins that apparently insert hidden links. If you use some of these, and they have inserted hidden links, that could have caused a penalty."
(Suggested by Giuseppe Mauriello)
From the original article: "Understanding the way that search engines like Google and Bing crawl your sites for duplicate content is not always easy to follow.
Google Panda evaluates the quantity and quality of the content housed on your site and assigns a value to your website or section of your website.
It’s important to note that just because you’ve updated your content, changes will not necessarily be reflected by Google until they update your Panda rank."
Informative. Useful. 8/10
"Google has confirmed reports of a Panda update with us.
[Google] told us they have done a data refresh of the Google Panda algorithm about a week ago, and added that there were no additional signals or algorithm changes. This was only a data refresh.
I saw reports over the past week or so of webmasters commenting about their rankings. Most were complaining that they lost rankings, but some said sites that were originally hit by Panda regained their traffic levels pre-Panda. This would explain the data refresh, where Google ran the algorithm and updated the sites that should or should not have been touched by Panda."
Read the full article: http://searchengineland.com/google-panda-3-2-update-confirmed-109321
(thanks to Giuseppe Mauriello)
Danny Sullivan writes on Search Engine land:
Aaron Wall wrote about the campaign today at SEO Book, spotting how a search for “This post is sponsored by Google” brings back over 400 pages written apparently as part of a Google marketing campaign...
The campaign is odd in two major ways. For one, it potentially violates Google’s guidelines against paid links.
The head of Google’s web spam team, Matt Cutts, has been quite vocal that sponsored posts shouldn’t be a way for people to gain links in response for payment, that any links in such posts should use the nofollow attribute to prevent them from passing credit to Google’s ranking algorithm.
And yet here, we see one of Google’s sponsored post doing exactly that..."
Read the full article: http://searchengineland.com/googles-jaw-dropping-sponsored-post-campaign-for-chrome-106348
See the follow-up story, Google: Yes, Sponsored Post Campaign Was Ours But Not What We Signed-Up For.