The End of Keyword Data: Google Restricts All Searches

Last week, Google made a switch to send all searches through Google SSL search.  Previously, only users signed into their Google account (gmail, youtube, etc.) had their searches passed through a secure search, and encrypted.  Now, all searches will be encrypted, and no keyword data will be shared.

Why does this matter?  Well, I’m sure you have noticed the large portion of traffic from “(not provided)” in your Google Analytics.  Get ready to notice that a lot more, as Google has cut off all keyword data.  This means that Google searches will not pass data through to your website, removing your ability to see what keywords are driving traffic to your website.  Well, other search engines like Yahoo and Bing will still populate Adwords with keyword data, but not from Google.

So it just became a whole lot harder to determine what your site’s major keywords driving traffic are, which keywords are converting to sales, as well as any other keyword-related research you may have enjoyed doing in the past.  I’ll let that sink in…  No more keyword data in Google Analytics. A sad day for keyword data junkies.

Now, luckily, Google is still displaying keyword data in Webmaster Tools for a 90 day history.  However, the data is notoriously inaccurate, especially the average position, but it does at least give you an idea of what search terms are driving people to your website.

In late August, Google also made a change to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, which allowed you to research keywords and gather data on the number of broad and exact searches were made for a particular keyword or set of keywords.  This was an excellent tool to use for keyword research for your niche [...]

By |October 3rd, 2013|eCommerce SEO, Search Marketing, Uncategorized|Comments Off on The End of Keyword Data: Google Restricts All Searches|

How to Analyze Links and Recover from a Penguin 2.0 Penalty

Google’s Penguin 2.0 update was released on May 22nd 2013 and tightened the standards for link building. Links from domains that are irrelevant, low authority (i.e. page rank 0 or N/A), or spam give little to no benefit, and if the problems on a website are egregious, it may receive a penalty. Many websites who have these types of links, even if they were built years ago when spam was more tolerated (or rather, went unnoticed) by Google and other search engines, experienced a drop in keyword rankings as well as overall traffic to their website.

Do I have a Penguin 2.0 Penalty?

If your website experienced a significant drop in keyword rankings and traffic the week of 5/22/13 which continued to drop over the course of the next two or three weeks, you probably received some form of penguin penalty. It could just be that some of your poor quality links are no longer being counted, and therefore your site’s authority and/or keyword rankings dropped which caused the drop in traffic. Or, it could be a more serious issue where Google placed a penalty on your specific website because it believes you were over-optimizing and over-spamming your website with poor quality links from poor quality and irrelevant domains.

I have a Penguin 2.0 penalty… What do I do?

The best thing you can do right away is to analyze your link profile to determine which of your links are low quality and/or spam. The most simple and “dummy proof” way to do this is export your links from your Google Webmaster Tools and review them 1-by-1. First, check the page rank of each domain. Links from any page rank “N/A” domains should be removed immediately. You can [...]

By |July 8th, 2013|eCommerce SEO|Comments Off on How to Analyze Links and Recover from a Penguin 2.0 Penalty|

Content Management: Where and How Should Your Blog Be Set Up?

The question of how and where a website’s blog should be set up is one that we answer very frequently.  Equally as often we run across a website that has a great blog with valuable content that is attracting readers, links, and a lot of attention, but it is not set up properly to contribute to that website’s success.  First, I’ll discuss a little bit of SEO history, then talk about why it’s important for an ecommerce website to have a blog, then explain what the most ideal set up is.

A few short years ago, if you wanted to get top rankings on a set of keywords, all you needed to do was get as many links as possible.  It didn’t even really matter where your links came from – message boards, blog comments, text links, and everything else in between.  To put it very simply, quantity of links was more important than the quality.  Things have slowly been changing as Google and other search engines have changed how they evaluate which websites deserve to rank for keywords.

The Google Panda update in early 2011 (and subsequent updates) changed the way Google looked at written content, and highly emphasized unique and relevant content both on-site as well as in a site’s links.  Websites using duplicate or “spun” content were highly devalued, and websites with unique, relevant, and well written content saw their keyword rankings and website traffic increase significantly.  To put it simply, Google made it so the websites creating valuable content became the “winners,” and websites without any content, or websites with duplicated content became the “losers.”  The lesson learned from Panda is if you want to have a successful website with good organic [...]

By |June 13th, 2013|Content Management|Comments Off on Content Management: Where and How Should Your Blog Be Set Up?|

Google Penguin 2.0 Update Launched in May 2013

Unless you were negatively impacted by Google’s Penguin algorithm update!

The Google Penguin algorithm update was initially launched in April of 2012 and evaluates domains that are linking to a site and evaluates them based on a set of criteria which is basically: 1) Is this site spam? 2) Is this site relevant to the other sites it links to? and 3) Is there over-optimized anchor text or keyword stuffing? Basically, they tightened the noose on all of these standards, which means links from domains Google views as “spam” will be devalued.

Penguin 2.0 is now a part of Google’s regular indexing process, and will not require manual updates like previous versions of Penguin prior to March 2013. This is an overall positive change for a few reasons. The first of which is poor link building practices will no longer be effective in the short-term because previously Penguin had to be manually updated in Google’s index, so you could get a positive boost from bad links between data refreshes at Google. This way there should be no surprises or sudden negative drops in traffic or keyword rankings. Another positive outcome from the Penguin 2.0 update is that more people are realizing black hat SEO is not worth it because it will only get you into trouble with Google and potentially sabotage your keyword rankings and site traffic. Google has effectively made it harder for black hat SEO to succeed, and is enforcing positive SEO practices.

Submit Digital has always embraced White hat SEO and doing what is right for our clients, their businesses, and of course their websites. There is no cheap substitute for quality content writing, meaningful link building, and technical expertise. If you think your [...]

By |June 7th, 2013|eCommerce SEO|Comments Off on Google Penguin 2.0 Update Launched in May 2013|

March 2013 Major Google Penguin Update, Or Not?

Google’s Penguin updates started in February of 2012 and have been deemed the “over-optimization” updates because the expressed goal of Penguin was to stop websites from “over optimizing” in the form of poor quality links from poor quality (and unrelated) websites. The way Penguin basically works is two-fold. First, it looks at a website and even pages on a website to determine if they are being over optimized or are spam – does the site or page have repetitive keywords (keyword stuffing) in the content? Secondly, Penguin checks to see if there are too many inbound (and outbound) links with the same or similar anchor text, which is another spam flag. If penguin determines a page, or worse an entire site, to be an over-optimized spam page, the power of that page is significantly diminished as a “penguin penalty” is placed on it. Penguin has always been a manual update, meaning it is not a part of Google’s indexing algorithm process. That is why Penguin updates have been rolled out periodically and the impact is felt by offending websites immediately after an update.

Google announced a “significant penguin update” in March of 2013. More specifically, that update was set to occur on Friday March 15th or Monday March 18th. It seems that this major update did take place, however Google has not confirmed or denied it yet, other than their original announcement that the update would indeed take place. This Panda 25 update integrated the Penguin algorithm into Google’s normal indexing and algorithm process. So, this means Penguin is effectively functioning all the time now, and will no longer need manual updates to integrate Penguin data into Google’s results.

So, while the SEO community was bracing [...]

By |March 27th, 2013|eCommerce SEO|Comments Off on March 2013 Major Google Penguin Update, Or Not?|

Deleting Bad Links: Link Un-building

After Google’s Penguin update, many common link building practices were made unviable, and even devalued the sites and keywords they once promoted.  Many sites that previously had top rankings for their industry keywords found themselves wiped off the Google map because of poor quality links and/or a Penguin “spam flag.”  If you noticed a sudden drop in rankings on or around April 24th and/or May 25th, you are probably impacted by Penguin.  Google also sent out unnatural link notices around those dates, so if you received one of those, you definitely have a problem.  If you received a notice from Google around July 19th, you can probably ignore it because Google admitted to sending out notices on that date by mistake.

This does not necessarily mean you have to rush out and start trying to remove all of your old links.  Removing links is a time consuming and frustrating process that you may not always have to do.  Certainly prioritizing those efforts to remove the links hurting you the worst is a solid strategy.  Deleting links should be a last resort, and not something you should do right away, and definitely not without doing some research first.

There are three reasons to remove links.  The first is if you received an unnatural link notice from Google.  The second is if you have any de-indexed links as these will hurt the most.  The third is if you received a Penguin spam flag, which as noted above, would come in the form of a drastic reduction in keyword rankings on or around 4/24/12 and 5/25/12. Despite which reason you have for removing links, the same approach should be used.

If you received an unnatural link notice from Google, it [...]

By |August 1st, 2012|eCommerce SEO|Comments Off on Deleting Bad Links: Link Un-building|

Penguin Update Explained

Google’s Penguin update was released in April of this year, and because of what it targets, many have called it the “over optimization” update. Similar to Panda, Penguin checks content on entire websites and specific webpages and determines if certain keywords are being “over optimized” for. Penguin will apply a “spam flag” or penalty to a certain page, and sometimes an entire site if there are major or multiple issues. Penguin targets specific metrics to try and determine if a page is over optimized or spammy. Penguin checks if a page or site has repetitive keywords (keyword stuffing), footer and sidebar keywords, and repetitive anchor text on inbound links. In addition to checking anchor text diversity on inbound links, Penguin also looks at the quality of those links and if many of them are spam flagged as poor quality, the page and site being linked to could also receive a penalty.

Once Penguin spam flags a page, that page will give little (or no) linking power to other pages, and if a webpage has too many spam flagged sites linking to it, that page will also drop, as mentioned above. Many sites saw their keyword rankings drop after the Penguin update, and they found it difficult to determine if the issue was from on-site over optimization, or due to having too many poor quality links that ended up getting spam flagged. The answer was often that both issues were to blame throughout different areas of the website. We’ve seen examples of ecommerce SEO clients where entire sites came away unaffected by Penguin, except for a single page that received a penalty due to keyword stuffing; usually related [...]

By |June 20th, 2012|Search Marketing|Comments Off on Penguin Update Explained|

Effective Link Building

Link building is arguably the most important factor for SEO. However, there’s a right and wrong way to build links, as well as good and bad sources. You could also have great links, and a lot of them, but it won’t do you much good if your site isn’t optimized with proper written content, meta-titles, descriptions, etc. So, while link building is important, it’s still just one piece of the SEO puzzle that needs to be managed.

In the not so distant past, link building was all about quantity regardless of quality. The sites with the most backlinks received the highest keyword rankings and authority. Link exchanges, forum commenting, blog commenting, and other links now viewed as poor quality worked extremely well, and were very cheap to obtain. Many overseas SEO companies popped up in India and other countries which would literally build thousands of links per month, and it worked! The game has certainly changed….

Nowadays, these types of poor quality links will most likely end up hurting your rankings, and lowering your site’s overall authority and recognition from Google. The Panda and Penguin Google algorithm updates made these links obsolete, and dangerous. However, that hasn’t stopped SEO companies from offering them, so be aware!

The best link building opportunities come from relevant websites with relevant content and high page rank. The days of cheap mass-link building on irrelevant sites are over. Google looks at relevance and domain authority of incoming links and attaches much more importance to them. If you’re optimizing for “ripe oranges” you are going to want to build links from websites about oranges, fruit, food, or other relevant factors. [...]

By |June 13th, 2012|eCommerce SEO|Comments Off on Effective Link Building|

On Site Content for Ecommerce SEO

We’ve discussed the importance of on site content in previous blog postings, and I’ll get into some more in this post. Along with external links, social media, and site traffic stats, on site content is one of the key factors in a successful SEO campaign. When we say “on site content” we mean specifically the written content on the homepage as well as category pages.

Written content is critical because Google values it much higher than it ever did previously so it’s important to have proper written content, especially on ecommerce sites which are notorious for being light on written content. Ever since the Panda update in early 2011, written content has become critically important on site, as well as in off-site link opportunities. In order to get the proper recognition and authority from Google, you should have unique relevant content on your homepage, and all category and sub-category pages, and specifically the category pages that you are targeting for SEO.

Another important point to consider with ecommerce on site content is the product descriptions. Very often, the same products are sold on multiple websites with the same manufacturer product descriptions. Google picks up the product descriptions as duplicate content across the different sites which could hurt your rankings and SEO. The best-case scenario for this is to re-write all of your product descriptions so they are sure to be unique across all websites selling the same product. This is of course time and resource intensive, but good things never come without a cost, and if you want to stay ahead of your competition, this is one way to make sure you do.

As part of our [...]

By |May 29th, 2012|eCommerce SEO|Comments Off on On Site Content for Ecommerce SEO|

Search Engine Optimization Overview: What Matters?

Search engine optimization (SEO) has become more widespread, and especially in the last two years as the internet grows by leaps and bounds. More websites means more competition, and web marketing and SEO has become critical to a website’s success whether it’s done in-house or through an outside firm. If you expect to be competitive and successful in the online space, SEO is a must have whether you do it in-house or with an outside SEO firm.

Only a few years ago, the “winners” of SEO and the sites with the best search engine ranking positions were given to the websites with the most links. Off-site links were just about the only thing that was measured. So, if you had a million links coming into your website, you were probably doing extremely well, and it didn’t matter where those links came from. 100,000 links from message board spammers in India? No problem, you still got the SEO juice. More recently, Google and other search engines have taken steps to reduce and eliminate the effectiveness of such linking schemes, and reward the websites with relevant “high value” links. Recent “Panda” and “Penguin” updates from Google have had significant impact on what works and what doesn’t – but more on that later….

There are many pieces of a successful SEO puzzle, and some are more important than others. I’ll briefly explain each part here, and then each separately in more detail in future blogs. There are four main areas of SEO to take into consideration when developing a winning SEO campaign: 1) On-site content and optimization, 2) off site link building opportunities, 3) social media presence and activity, and [...]

By |May 18th, 2012|Search Marketing|Comments Off on Search Engine Optimization Overview: What Matters?|