Major Manual Actions: Big Sites That Have Been Hit with Google Penalties

In the past year, Google has made an almost accelerated effort to refine their quality guidelines and link schemes; from Penguin 2.1 to Hummingbird, and everything in between, there are several practices within the search community that have made the journey from tried and trusted tactic to old and obsolete. By refining these quality guidelines, Google’s search results have generally improved, though some sites have been left in the dust. Instead of talking about how to get in Google’s good graces, today we’re taking a look at four major sites who took some minor missteps and ended up with penalties from the search giant.

Interflora

Perhaps among the most famous, the Interflora penalty and subsequent algorithm update that followed was incurred after Google identified that this UK-based flower delivery company was using paid advertorials to acquire links and manipulate PageRank. The site made little effort to disguise its efforts, effectively bribing journalists and websites for links so that the site would rank well for its target keywords during Valentine’s Day. When Google found out, their search quality team made a statement indicating that Interflora, along with the sites that sold and published the paid advertorial space, would be penalized. The PageRank for the site fell to a zero, and they were completely removed from the SERPs–even for branded keyword searches.

BBC News

In the same way that Interflora got penalized for buying links to promote their site, not long after, BBC News received an unnatural links warning in Google  Webmaster Tools. It was shocking to see a news site with such authority fall victim to an unnatural links notification from Google. With the amount of readers and affiliates the BBC has from all over the world, it’s also too difficult to pinpoint which links would be identified as potentially problematic. The site was quick to act, with one source suggesting that RSS feed scrapers were what caused the notification to appear in Google Webmaster Tools. However, the proximity to Interflora suggests that BBC News could have fallen victim to the same unnatural links that other UK news outlets were dramatically penalized for. Google later came out with a statement to identify that one article in particular had a large amount of potentially unnatural links, which is what incurred the penalty. In typical fashion, Google remained tight-lipped over which article had been penalized, and remains an unsolved mystery.

Rap Genius

A high-profile site on this side of the Atlantic, Rap Genius is a pretty amazing site for lyrics that offers a great user experience and an interface that allows people to interpret the poetry and verse that goes into each song, enriching the lyrics with interpretations and meaning, as well as discussion and more. This even sparked a Moz post about different SEO strategies that could be used to help the site grow! However, not long ago, the site was hit with a Google penalty after someone published a blog post on the site’s less-than subtle link building tactics, and Google decided to take action. On Christmas, Google hit Rap Genius with a manual action forcing them to remove all of the links that they acquired by promising link exchanges, special promotion and incentives to sites that used keyword-rich anchor text to link to them. The site’s profile within the search community prompted several articles about the whole ordeal, including an in-depth explanation from Rap Genius about where they went wrong. Google forgave them.

Expedia

Expedia is the latest in a list of big companies who have run afoul of Google’s quality guidelines, and appear to have got hit with a major penalty, losing a huge amount of traffic and rankings nearly overnight. Expedia got singled out by a blog that indicated that the bulk of the content it was creating were paid pieces with overly-optimized anchor text, both which generally send red flags to Google Headquarters. Google seems to have taken swift action:

Again, in typically tight-lipped fashion, Google has declined to comment. A pretty brash way to handle someone who spends nearly $30 million in AdWords each year!

There are countless of other stories as well; JC Penney and Overstock.com have both tried to acquire links through methods that directly violate Google’s guidelines. In an industry that changes so quickly, and with a company that revises their quality guidelines with increasing frequency, even big corporations run the risk of running afoul of Google. So where does this leave SEO?

Links are still a healthy part of any site and a substantial part of the algorithm for both Google and Bing. However, links need to be acquired in a way that is organic, relevant, and natural, without payment or incentive–otherwise, sites may find themselves sitting in Google’s penalty box with a major misconduct.

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6 Steps To Choosing An SEO Agency

Congrats! You have a website – or maybe you aren’t even that far yet – but how in the world wide web are you supposed to get any search traffic and generate conversions? With over 60 trillion pages online, showing up anywhere near the top of search results is no small task. Having a web presence is essential for almost every business, but it is an investment just like any other part of your marketing, and you need to be able to see return. Enter SEO.

Search engine optimization – a main aspect of search engine marketing – in a nutshell “is the act of optimizing a website through key words and website development to boost natural search engine listings.” It might sound simple enough, but SEO incorporates dozens and dozens of factors, and it’s evolving daily. So what’s a person to do? Whether you run a small business, head up a massive organization, or just want your organic search traffic to get a boost, here are some key topics you should go over before selecting an SEO company.

Choosing An SEO Company

1. Flee From Guarantees

A guarantee is a guaranteed way to get involved with trouble. I guarantee it. In all seriousness, if an SEO agency claims that it can absolutely, without-a-doubt get you on page one fast, then you’ll probably want to steer clear as the company is either using black hat tactics or won’t be able to deliver on the promise. Instead, look for a proven track record. Many companies honestly boast very high success rates, but a guarantee is a red flag.

2. Look For Testimonials

Many SEO companies will provide testimonials and case studies on their site. Those are great, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg. Just as you would before doing business with anyone, take a few moments to do your research. Dig a little bit and find reviews that aren’t just promoted on the agency’s site. Remember, whoever you choose to move forward with will be an extension – or in some cases, your entire – marketing department. You want them to represent you in the same way you want your employees to.

3. Check The Price Point

An SEO agency that has rates through the roof does not necessarily provide more value. On the flip side, be wary of services that come at a too-good-to-be-true price. If something seems off, ask about it. Do your research and settle on a price that meets your budget and seems reasonable for what they offer.  And on that note…

4. What Do They Offer?

SEO has dozens of aspects, so the company you choose can’t be a one-trick pony. Don’t be afraid to ask about their process and how things are done. If there’s a possibility that you will need to employ social media, email marketing, or PPC strategies down the road, be sure you know what they can offer. Do they have a content writer? Who handles programming? Set expectations early regarding deliverables, reporting, and any other concerns you have.

5. Get In For The Long Haul

I’ve seen ads to pay a one-time fee to get onto page one of Google and never again deal with your SEO company. And I cringe. You want to bring on an SEO expert that values relationships, someone that will learn about your business and industry. Avoid any quick fixes. Again, you are looking for an extension of your own company. Their business is keeping you in business after all.

6. Trust Your Gut

You can never underestimate the importance of a gut feeling. Sure, it can be off time to time especially around lunchtime, but if you aren’t getting good vibes, take a moment to rethink and reassess before you make any big decisions. You need to be able to trust your SEO agency and have confidence in their work. This is someone you may be working with for years to come, and you want to have the right pick on your team.

And there you have it: 6 steps to choosing the right SEO agency for you. What are some other things that you recommend? Share your thoughts below!

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Using #Hashtags as a Networking Tool

Do you remember filling out your Myspace profile, with something like this?

myspace seo

I recall most people would say they were there for: dating, friends, or serious relationships. Rarely, you would see someone put “networking.” Myspace kind of knew what was going on, and was definitely a segway into the importance of social media.

Being engulfed in the world of SEO, we sometimes have to remember to remove ourselves from only looking at link and content strategies. Social media is becoming increasingly important to supplement your SEO campaigns through networking, branding, and building your online community. It’s said that Social Media budgets will double in the next 5 years. You can read about it here.

I would say it’s time to take advantage of the FREE networking on the web, if you’re not already doing so. Here’s your chance to outreach to people that share the same interests because they already love what you do. Brian’s blog post from last year touches on the actual platforms, but I wanted to go into further detail and talk about how to increase your social media, without having to increase your budget.

How to start your following:
- Request likes from your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, G+, and other social sites
- Share your social pages on your personal page
- Add your social media buttons to your email signature
- Make sure your social media buttons appear on your website
- Request likes/follows to people in your industry
- Use #hashtags!

Hashtagging is a newer feature on FaceBook (read more about it here), but has been around since Twitter started the craze in March of 2006. People often use them to be comedic, but at this point it’s used as the way to search within social media. There are 2 ways that #hashtags should be used for business. The 1st is to find relevant followers in your industry, and the 2nd is for people to find you.

How to use #hashtagging to find your followers:
- Say you own a vintage furniture store online, you can find relevant pages under #vintagefurniture #midcenturyfurniture #antiquefurniture #consignmentstores #cityyoulivein, etc. Just type those tags into the search bar of your social page.
- You will likely find other business related to yours. You want to then go to their followers, and try to get likes from them. That’s where you’ll get the best followers!

How to use #hashtagging on your own posts:
- You can use those same hashtags listed above for people to find you.
- Once you gain more of a following, you should tag your business name.
- Make sure there are no spaces, symbols, or punctuation in the phrase you want to use as this will break the tag.
- Use around 2-3 relevant tags per post.

I know it sounds daunting at first if you’re newer at this, but once you get around to finding those followers, your community will build on it’s own. You will find that more people will find your without your outreach. Just make sure you post interesting updates for your audience a couple times a week, which takes just a few minutes. Happy #hashtagging!

Uyen Ochsner is an Account Manager at SEOhaus. If you would like to stay up-to-date on all of the latest SEO industry news and tips, you can subscribe to our blog here. Thanks for reading the SEOhaus blog!

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HTML Improvements with Google Webmaster Tools

It’s no secret that Google Webmaster Tools is something that SEO firms talk about A LOT. And it’s for good reason–GWT offers invaluable insight into the performance of your website, allowing you to assess and fix crawl errors, investigate backlinks to your site and can even tell you if your site has been manually penalized by Google. It gives us a rare glimpse into how the often secretive Google views your website.

Although it’s not exactly hidden in GWT, an oft overlooked feature is HTML Improvements. This feature can be found under “Search Appearance” in your GWT dashboard. If this section appears blank and says “No data available” it may be because you have not submitted a sitemap.xml to GWT, which should you do, like, now. On the flipside, you may see a message that says, “We didn’t detect any issues”, in which case you’re good! However, more often than not, you’ll see something that looks akin to this:

html seo improvements

As you can see, it’s pretty self-explanatory. But for the sake of this blog, I’ll run through each item.

  • Duplicate Meta Descriptions/Duplicate Title Tags – Title Tags and Meta Descriptions should be unique for each page. For more information on how duplicate content can “kill” your rankings, read our blog on the subject by SEOhaus’ own Elisa Houghtelin.
  • Long/Short Meta Descriptions/Title Tags – Best practice is a maximum of 150 characters including spaces for Meta Descriptions and a maximum of 70 characters including spaces for Title Tags. In most cases, people get overzealous and try to cram too much information in their tags but the opposite can also be true and your tags may need to be longer.
  • Missing Title Tags – Pretty obvious but this section lists all pages without Title Tags. Even if you’re not actively trying to increase the search presence for a particular landing page, you should still have a descriptive Title Tag in place.
  • Non-Informative Title Tags – An example of a “non-informative title tag” can be seen below, with the Title Tag “Untitled Document.” This tag tells users nothing about what’s on that particular page, which is not going to help users navigate to that page via SERPs.

non informative title tags

 

  • Non-indexable content – This shows you issues with pages containing non-indexable content, such as some rich media files, video, or images.

OK, now that you’ve found areas for HTML improvements on your site, I recommend using the “Download Table” feature which exports everything into a handy CSV doc. Then it’s as easy (and tedious) as revising your tags so they are unique, descriptive of that particular page and within the allotted character count. Although fixing duplicate tags may be a “small win” in SEO, everything counts and this tool certainly makes the process easier.

Brian Carver is an Account Manager at SEOhaus. If you would like to stay up-to-date on all of the latest SEO industry news and tips, you can subscribe to our blog here.

Posted in Advice, Google Webmasters Tools, Onpage Optimization, SEO, SEO Advice, SEO tips, Web Marketing Tools | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Search Gets Social

The tech world is abuzz this week as social media and search engine’s continue to collide with the official release of Jelly. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and partner Ben Finkel recently launched the app with the intentions of not reinventing current search engines but coming up with “a new way to search”.

So what makes it different? In a nutshell, Jelly allows you to use the knowledge of everyone in your social network to answer a query by simply snapping a photo and asking a question. Friends (and friends of friends) can then respond if they know the answer. Interactive and personal, with answers based on knowledge rather than information, make this search app stand out from what’s already out there.  Kind of what Siri aspires to be.

Reviews of the app have been mixed, with complaints about the organization of answers, over use of notifications, and for myself personally, I don’t really want to have to take a photo interpretation of my question every time I want to post something. But to be fair, this is version 1.0 and the general idea behind is quite interesting, as well as a telling sign of things to come in search.

With this launch fresh of the heels of the Hummingbird update, it seems that searches are becoming less generic and more personal. I don’t foresee Jelly becoming the next Google, nor does that seem to be the goal, but it does seem to be tackling the personal side of search that Google’s algorithm can’t quite put a code on. While Google will probably always remain the first place you go to look for a specific location of a restaurant or where to buy plane tickets to Maui, Jelly theoretically will allow you to ask your own personal demographic on “the best restaurant in San Diego” and “things to do in Maui”. Instead of getting filtered Yelp reviews or sponsored blog posts, you will have unbiased opinions from familiar people.

It is too early to tell what this new app means for businesses and what correlation (if any) Jelly will play with rankings but it is one worth checking out and keeping an eye on it’s development. If user experience continues to play a large part in your online presence, Jelly has all the makings of being a contributor.

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Google Webmaster Tools: Exact Search Query Data Revealed for 2014

Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries Update

Yesterday morning, Google announced a new update to Google Webmaster Tools, which allows users to access the exact numbers to their websites’ search query data. The new update, which was activated at the end of December, will continue to roll out in the coming days and will be an universal update present in all Google Webmaster Tools accounts.

Prior to this update, all search query data was rounded or “bucketed” to a smooth number (e.g. 1,500 instead of 1,348) in order to “simplify the user interface.” (Although bucketing was a great source of annoyance for many users, Google stressed that bucketing had in no way posed a cap on potential traffic or affected rankings.)

Before

Before

After

After the update

The full and unadulterated data set has allowed webmasters a more thorough understanding of the sort of impressions and clicks being generated by different search queries, as well as how users are responding and engaging with their site. This change has received an especially warm welcome particularly in light of other changes in the past year, such as the (not provided)/SSL fiasco earlier in 2013 which generated no shortage of hysteria.

Users have been asking for non-bucketed data for years, and it looks like Google has been paying attention. This update has served as a great beacon for what’s to come from Google for 2014; with this single update, Google has addressed concerns that resources for Webmaster Tools has waned, as well as concerns that Google is becoming increasingly opaque with its users.

Summary and final notes:

  • The new search query data is located in the Google Webmaster Tools’ Search Queries report.
  • The information provided is taken from data over the last 3 months (90 days).
  • Besides notating the number of clicks and impressions, the data also shows the change in impressions/clicks.
  • Users have noted that past values such as “<10” have disappeared with the new update.
  • The update isn’t at 100% as some users may experience slow loading times, error messages, or timing out. This is normal and expected to subside over the next week.
  • No word yet on whether or not these changes will be mirrored in Google Analytics or not.

Belinda Hu is the Link Strategist at SEOhaus. If you would like to stay up-to-date on all of the latest SEO industry news and tips, you can subscribe to our blog here.

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2014 SEO Goals – On Site

With the holiday season of 2013 quickly coming to a close, we are now entering the period where reflection of the past year meets what you want to change in the new. While I am not a big fan of resolutions, I’m a huge believer in setting goals for the upcoming year. While they may seem like one in the same, I believe resolutions a) set you up for disappointment as they rarely come with a plan of action and b) tend to focus on more negative aspects. Goals on the other hand inherently give you something to aim for. Goals can also be daunting as you have to know what you want, and at least the beginning steps to get there. While I can’t technically help you run that half marathon in 2014, I can help set yourself up for internet marketing success in the New Year.

First things first, let’s start with the bare bone basics. Take a good hard look at your conversions, rankings and your site itself, in that order. If you’re ranking well or at least have a good organic base, and more importantly your site is converting, then you most likely need to look goals that focuses on maintenance discussed a bit later. If your site is not converting and/or your rankings are less than ideal it may be time for a website refresh or in some cases a complete makeover. Your first goal should be a complete website audit in which you are completely honest about how your site is performing, past tactics, and what you will be able to feasibly change.

One of the major trends for 2013 was quality both on and off site and that does not seem to be changing. Sites that may have worked well even just a few years ago could be now the biggest thing holding you back. Check your content, link structure and the visitor usability. Is your site mobile friendly? How does it look compared to the competition? Pull a couple of sites and ask a good (but honest) friend to compare yours to theirs. A second, unbiased, pair of eyes will most likely tell you major items you need to fix without even knowing anything about SEO. Remember Google is looking to please the everyday user, so what they have to say is exactly what you need to hear.

As you start to gather items that should be addressed, begin to separate them into items you can tackle and items you simply don’t have time for or would feel more comfortable having someone else take care of. Content seem to be an issue? If too much (and more importantly) unnatural content seem to be issue, this may just be a matter of paying attention to keyword density and some simple editing. Not enough? This task may be best to leave to a freelance content writer who specializes in SEO. Perhaps your optimization just needs a refresh? You may feel comfortable completing this task or elicited the help of a seasoned SEO. Broken links or menus that just don’t make sense? A programmer should be able to easily take care of those for you if you can’t. Now is the time to clean house and it’s ok to ask for help to make sure it’s done correctly.

Is your list a little bit longer than you had originally thought? Did you good (but honest) friend say the site looks a little dated? It may be time for a website re-design. Before you start to panic, there are few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, your website is an investment. It is there to ideally bring you back something in return, so treat it as such. Secondly, there are affordable options out there. Redesigning your site does not have to cost a fortune. Research your options and take the time for find a designer and a company that fits your vision. And plan ahead. If you know you a slow time of year, plan to launch the site when you can afford a dip in rankings and can address any technical issues that can occur during launch without upsetting too many customers.

As we move into the New Year, we will continue to look at back end as well as off-site goals in addition to items for those of you who are doing it right.

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World Wide Website Marketing War

Unwavering in the task at hand, the Head of Webspam studies the newest intelligence reports. Enemies approach from multiple directions. Some adversaries are bold, while others work in the shadows. Fearlessly, the leader of Google’s special operative forces employs new strategies to seek out and destroy enemy threats. Analyzing the data, he calculates his next counter strike. He must make an example of this website marketing fiend.

Classic MADtv for Throwback Thursday.

Classic MADtv for Throwback Thursday.

It’s the classic good versus bad, white hat against black hat. Google has established itself as the go-to search engine and just about all things web-related (even if it isn’t quite sentient yet as far as we know). It’s their turf, so you ought to play by their rules or you just might find yourself on the receiving end of Matt Cutts’ blade. Even though Cutts and company have repeatedly shut down black hat rings, spam sites just keep coming back and things are heating up.

 

 

Last Friday the 13 was an unlucky day for BackLinks.com. The Friday before, Cutts’ led his anti-spam forces to victory by destroying AngloRank whose leader escaped and is rebuilding his war machine. What might this Friday bring?

We know Matt Cutts plays hardball with Google law breakers, and he’s made it clear he wants to “break their spirits” (skip ahead to the 1 hour 25 minute mark). Launch an attack, and he’ll strike right back twice as hard. It’s been a common trend over the last year or so, and don’t expect Google to go soft in 2014. The Head of Webspam is now hanging heads as trophies for everyone to see. So what’s a guy or gal to do?

If you are a business owner or seeking website marketing services, take a moment to double check how legit your SEO company is because they may utilize black hat strategy without you knowing. It’s a rough-and-tumble, dog-eat-dog world out there, and plenty of people are looking for a quick buck – yours. Someone may promise you quick results to land on page one – and may even deliver – but black hat tactics could get your site banned. Don’t give into the temptation to go to the dark side because Cutts’ retribution will be swift and painful. Instead, choose a proven search engine marketing company that has a track record of success while adhering to the Google law.

For those of us providing SEO services, it’s simple: stick to the rulebook. Google is clear about what they expect from SEO agencies and what the no-no techniques are. Although SEO best practices are fluid, your job is to keep on top of industry news. An acceptable method a few years ago might be frowned upon nowadays, so ensure that you and your team are up-to-date in knowledge and practice. Google’s goal is to provide the best user experience possible, so spam sites are dealt with seriously by Captain Cutts.

Now, I’m especially fascinated by World War II, so perhaps my mental image of Matt Cutts wearing a formal military uniform (and a white hat, of course) may be a little strange, but let’s face it: a website marketing war is raging.

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Predictions for Google in 2014

Suffice to say, this has been a wild year for SEO. Google unveiled no less than 13 official algorithm updates. I think we can all assume that Google will take it easy in 2014 with minimal changes to give everyone time to catch their breath, right? Hello?

Is anyone there?

Is anyone there?

In all seriousness, it’s safe to assume that there will be more big changes from Google in 2014. I’m reminded of a lecture series I attended years ago in Brooklyn where a Columbia University Computer Science grad gave a presentation on how Google’s search algorithm is starting to border on artificial intelligence in how it anticipates and predicts how users search.

terminator

2014. The year Google becomes self-aware.

Now mind you, this was nearly 10 years ago and Google’s algorithm was not nearly as sophisticated as it is now. While I don’t believe Google is anywhere near becoming sentient, one thing has stuck with me from that lecture years ago and that is Google’s dedication toward becoming the perfect search engine and providing the ultimate user experience. Taking that into consideration, here are my Google predictions for 2014:

Content

King Content will continue to reign supreme. I predict that Google’s algorithm updates will continue to target poor-quality content that doesn’t provide a quality user experience. Strategic content created solely to influence rankings will continue to be devalued.

Authorship/Google+

This ties in with content. One of the key ways that Google will judge the relevancy of content will be on whether that content is linked to an author’s Google+ profile. However, it will not just be enough to link your profile; Google will factor in the level of activity and interaction on your G+ account. The more people you have in your G+ circles and the more interaction you have, the more value Google will give to your content.

Structured Data Mark-up

Authorship is considered a type of structured data mark-up but there are other types out there that help Google and in turn, Google users, understand your website better. So far, structured data mark-ups can be used to create rich snippets that display events, reviews, products and more in your Google search listing. I predict that Google will expand and refine structured data mark-ups and sites that do not utilize them will look antiquated on SERPs.

While my predictions may seem like safe bets for 2014, these are three areas that are often under-explored in search engine marketing campaigns because the perceived impact on SEO is less noticeable than say, on-site optimization or link building. “Quality Content” is a much more nebulous concept to define and the results aren’t necessarily as quantifiable or measurable. Tools like Authorship and Structured Data Mark-up are Google’s way of nudging webmasters to create more quality content. This enables Google to create a more sophisticated product, which at the time of this writing is (thankfully) not sentient.

Crisis averted...FOR NOW

Crisis averted…FOR NOW

Brian Carver is an Account Manager at SEOhaus. If you would like to stay up-to-date on all of the latest SEO industry news and tips, you can subscribe to our blog here.

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SEO through 2013 – Q. What’s New? A. Everything!

2013 was a turbulent year in the world of search to put it mildly. According to Moz’s tally there have been 13 officially acknowledged updates to Google’s algorithms alone and who knows how many more that have happened behind Google’s increasingly closed doors. There was widespread speculation of 2 other unnamed updates in late-July and mid-November after sudden spikes in search result fluctuation but if anyone knows what caused it they’re not telling. Panda and Penguin were joined by Hummingbird while Google announced back in March that they would no longer be officially announcing updates to Panda but would be pushing them out gradually going forward while Penguin got a major upgrade to Penguin 2.0.

my final form

2013 was a big win for Bing with its share of US search engine traffic growing to almost 18% at the last tally while Google remained riding high with a steady 67% with most of Bing’s gains coming at the expense of Yahoo, Ask and other smaller search engines. Bing scored another big win outside of direct internet searches when Facebook made the decision to bring Bing on-board for social search integration in the largest social media in the world. Like Uyen and Elisa both said last week, Google may still be the king but Microsoft seems up for a fight and they should figure in everyone’s SEO plans. Whatever happens, we’ll be keeping a beady eye on these two titans in 2014.

Outside of algorithm updates Google made several notable changes to their online toolkits that dramatically effected the online search landscape. Perhaps the most notable of these was when they disabled the much beloved keyword tool and replaced it with the Adwords Keyword Planner, possibly in an attempt to stop the confusion that the data discrepancies between the two caused. There has been widespread speculation in the SEO industry that this was an attempt to try and drive sign ups to adwords itself. Regardless of the real reasons this happened at around about the same time as webmasters all around the world started to see an increasing percentage of organic keyword search data in Google Analytics being sequestered behind the screen of (not provided). At the start of the year it was not uncommon for (not provided) to account for only 10% – 20% of total organic data, a volume that was steadily on the rise all year until late August and early September when it rose to its current norm of over 80%.

This has happened as Google pushes more and more searchers through their automatically SSL encrypted search page which strips away much of the data that came along for the ride when searchers clicked through to a website. This has been great for privacy and user security but not so great for webmasters who used this data to refine their online campaigns. Though there are alternatives in Bing’s analytics and Google Webmaster Tools data neither quiet match the data provisions that we saw in early 2013 from Google Analytics. There does not seem yet to be any easy way to get this data back and though the rate seems to have remained stable for the last few weeks webmasters the world over are watching with baited breath in case Google closes this door like they did the Keyword Tool. As for the future, if Google knows what’s next for the ubiquitous (not provided) they’re not telling.

matt-cutts

All of this has added up to a challenging year for SEO particularly alongside Google and Microsoft’s well publicized take-downs of several major spam and link networks. The end goal for everyone is a cleaner, higher quality, more honest web but that’s small comfort for webmasters caught in the cross-fire. In the end, while specific SEO tactics fall in and out of favor the best SEO advice remains what it has always been. Have a website with good quality content that offers a user experience worthy of page 1 and you’ll stand a much better chance of actually being there.

Posted in Facebook, Google, Google Analytics, Google Hummingbird, Google Keyword Planner, Google Keyword Tool, Google Panda, Google Penguin, Google Webmasters Tools, Link Building, SEO | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment