Google Penalties: The Diagnosis & The Cure
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Google Penalties: The Diagnosis & The Cure

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At the MnSearch Snippet #13 event held at Spyder Trap in Minneapolis, MN on April 30, 2014, Jake McCormick and Peter Quale presented his slidedeck "Google Penalties: The Diagnosis & The Cure."

At the MnSearch Snippet #13 event held at Spyder Trap in Minneapolis, MN on April 30, 2014, Jake McCormick and Peter Quale presented his slidedeck "Google Penalties: The Diagnosis & The Cure."

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  • 1. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R YNINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y GOOGLE PENALTIES: THE DIAGNOSIS & THE CURE April 30, 2014
  • 2. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y 2 Jake McCormick • Search Marketing Manager • Certified in Google Analytics & BrightEdge • Experience includes B2B, B2C, eCommerce, lead generation, small business, big business, local SEO & journalism
  • 3. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y 3 Peter Quale • SEO Master Practitioner • Aquarius • Likes: Horses, movies, Japane se food • Dislikes: Musicals, tight shoes, counterfeit money • Should message me: If you have any weird stories or questions/thoughts about SEO.
  • 4. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y SO, (MAYBE) YOU’VE BEEN PENALIZED! 4
  • 5. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Organic Traffic Plummets. Rankings Disappear. 5
  • 6. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y 6 Number 1 Rule
  • 7. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Pre-Investigation Caveats • Bad SEO ≠ Penalty – Natural selection through algorithm updates • Search results construction – 7-Pack, Knowledge Graph, One-Box, PLAs, etc. • All penalties are not created equal • Document, document, document everything 7
  • 8. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y 8 Tom Critchlow’s Penalty Diagnosis Flow Chart http://nhale.co/mnsearch1
  • 9. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Where to Start: Google Analytics 9 • How much traffic lost? When? • Timeline of known algorithm updates vs. traffic drops – Mozcast, Algoroo
  • 10. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Where to Start: Webmaster Tools 10
  • 11. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y When is it NOT a Penalty? 11
  • 12. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y OFF-SITE PENALTIES 12
  • 13. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y No Messages, No Problem? 13 • Good, but… – A diagnostic dead end – Manual notifications give you a starting point, direct contact with Google
  • 14. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y BACKLINK AUDITS: Your Penalty Accountabilabuddy 14
  • 15. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Step 1: Backlink Audit Foundation • Historical transparency is crucial – Question 1: Did you pay for links? – Question 2: Are you lying? • Dredge up all link building documents – Outsourced contracts, strategic plans, outreach lists, payment receipts, former employees 15
  • 16. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Step 2: Backlink Compilation • Use multiple indexes, filter duplicate domains/pages – Google Webmaster Tools – Majestic SEO – Link Research Tools – Moz Open Site Explorer – Ahrefs – Xenu Link Sleuth • The more links, the better – A handful of bad links don‟t trigger a penalty 16
  • 17. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Step 3: Evaluate Backlinks • Trends in site type – Industry-related, general directories, Phillipino mommy blogs • Linking patterns – If possible, crawl links (highlights patterns) – Pages being linked – Link networks – Site-wide links – Reciprocal links 17
  • 18. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y COMMON VIOLATIONS 18
  • 19. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Off-Page Violation 1: Exact Match Anchor Text 19 • Ratio of homepage vs. internal pages
  • 20. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Off-Page Violation 2: Links-to-Domain Ratio 20 35-to-1 link to domain ratio
  • 21. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Off-Page Violation 3: Irrelevant Content 21
  • 22. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Off-Page Violation 4: ‘Low Authority’ Sites • Thin word count, exact match anchor text 22 Only content on homepage All external links to same website
  • 23. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y More Link Patterns • Cloaked links • Paid links • Comment, forum links • Who do sites linking to you link to? Who links to them? (What kind of neighbors do you have?) 23
  • 24. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Step 4: Link Segmentation • What “defines” a spam link? – May seem obvious, but not all links are discoverable via crawler tools – When in doubt, treat as spam • Organize into spreadsheet – Linking URL – Linked URL – Anchor text – Contact information 24
  • 25. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Step 5: Request Link Removal • Website contact form • Network Solutions Whois Tool • LinkedIn • Facebook • Tweet at them – #publicshaming Again, document everything. 25
  • 26. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Step 6: Disavow Links Tool
  • 27. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y ON-SITE PENALTIES 27
  • 28. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Google Webmaster Tools 28 • Helps identify: – Duplicate titles/meta descriptions (content) – Keyword patterns – Index problems – Internal link popularity
  • 29. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Screaming Frog Is Your Best Friend 29
  • 30. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Site Crawl • Identifies: – Duplicate content – Keyword stuffing – Broken pages/links – Duplicate meta tags – Click depth – Crawl directives (index, nofollow) 30
  • 31. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Review Every Page on the Site • Even one page of spam, poor quality or thin content can hurt an entire site.
  • 32. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y COMMON VIOLATIONS 32
  • 33. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y On-Page Violation 1: ‘Thin’ Content • Generally < 500 words • No value to users beyond keyword validation • What‟s the „intent‟ of this page? 33 Used to be a link
  • 34. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y On-Page Violation 2: Keyword Stuffing 34
  • 35. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y On-Page Violation 3: Exact Match Internal Anchor Text 35 “Index, follow” footer links + Hard to read text = Fail Exact match link on homepage…pointing to homepage Exact match link on homepage…pointing to homepage
  • 36. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y On-Page Violation 3: Exact Match Internal Anchor Text 36 • What to do with exact match internal anchor text? Get rid of them. All of them. Especially site-wide footer links. – If removal is not an option, then rel=“nofollow”.
  • 37. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y More On-Page Violations • Hidden content • Hidden links • Site-wide footer links • Duplicate content • Anything resembling this: – “Thanks for еvery othеr informative site. Ԝheгe еlse mɑy јust I ɑm gеtting tҺat type of informаtion written іn ѕuch a perfect mеans?” • Sales Training videos in Hindi 37
  • 38. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y PENALTY-PROOFING YOUR SITE 38
  • 39. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Know Your Exact Site Size • Crawl your site regularly – Screaming Frog – Microsoft IIS SEO Toolkit • Compare the results to Google and Bing Indexes
  • 40. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Know Your Exact Site Size • Maintain a highly accurate sitemap.xml file. • Reconcile submitted URLs vs. crawled URLs.
  • 41. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Best Medicine of All • Writing better content! • Never discount the value of a good content strategy guiding excellent writers. • If you need help: – http://www.hemingwayapp.com – Really spruces up lousy copy! – https://readability-score.com – Analyzes text and provides four different test scores 41
  • 42. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Writing for Hummingbird • “How is the searcher asking for something?” • Expand FAQs and support copy to attract inquiry based searches: – Who, what, why, where and how – Conversational search – Siri, Google Now, MS Cortana 42
  • 43. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y PRECAUTIONS 43
  • 44. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Precautions: Protect your IP address 44
  • 45. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Precautions: Require a Host Header! Revenge Domains • CrabbyStewardess.com • AssyAir.com • Plane-Crash-Today.com Spoofed Exact Match Domains • Best-Detroit-Travel-4-Kids.com • Spirit-Airlines-Air-Travel-Planes.com • SpiritSpiritSpiritSpirit.com 45
  • 46. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Precautions: Blog Spam • If you have a blog attached to a big brand, make sure comments are NOT open. Comment spamming is the easiest way to attack a site. • If comments must remain open, moderate them and block IPs from spam offenders. 46
  • 47. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Precautions: Content Scraping • Do occasional exact match searches on your content to make sure it has not been scraped. • Especially important for employment listings, directories and blogs. 47
  • 48. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y Takeaways • The penalty investigation process is time- consuming, critical, and simple • Document, document, document everything • Recovery has no “one size fits all” timetable • Fix your penalties all at once and as quickly as you can 48
  • 49. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y NOW, RELAX. 49 It‟s all going to turn out fine.
  • 50. NINAHALE.COM C O N F I D E N T I A L & P R O P R I E T A R Y 50 QUESTIONS? Thanks to the great people at MnSearch for having us and thank YOU! Jake McCormick – @Jake_BrewHoop Peter Quale – @pbq Art by Danial Ryan - http://danial-ryan.tumblr.com/