Pitfalls to Avoid in a Post Penguin & Panda World


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Vice President of Client Services at Vertical Measures, Mike Huber, presented our October webinar focused on internet marketing mistakes to avoid.

Mike walked us through steps to take in order to recover from the changes in Google’s algorithm with the release of Panda & Penguin earlier this year. After this presentation, you’ll be equipped to face the changes happening in the SEO world and be better able to react with tangible steps to recover your website’s ranking.

In this presentation, you’ll learn

--How Google’s Panda & Penguin algorithm changed the internet
--The effects of the changes on your web presence
--Pitfalls to avoid when trying to ‘fix’ everything all at once
--How to create a strategic plan rather than reacting too quickly
--Steps to take to segment your testing and isolate the biggest problems

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  • Good morning everyone! Mike Huber here with the Vertical Measures Webinar: Pitfalls to Avoid in a Post Penguin and Panda World! Today, we are going to cover some practical and tactical tips on how to recover from Panda and/or Penguin. I’ll also talk about some pitfalls to avoid. We’ve learned some things the hard way so hopefully with these tips you can avoid some mistakes and streamline processes to get you back on track. We’ll move pretty fast through the slides and as Quinn mentioned the presentation will be available after the webinar and I’ll take some questions at the end of the presentation.
  • Do you ever feel like you’re playing the old whac a mole game with Google. It seems as webmasters that every time we get something cleaned up, Google changes the algorithm or what they deem acceptable within their Terms of Service and then we all scramble to accommodate the new changes. What worked and was acceptable two years ago and even 2 months ago, no longer holds true. This year, more than ever, there are changes almost every month that need to be addressed. In fact the latest update this week was the 20th for the Panda algorithm. The two latest updates affect exact match domains (EMD) and….You may be one of those over 700,000 webmasters that received the dreaded Google Webmaster Tools ‘You have unnatural links email’.
  • Look familiar? Or, maybe your Google Analytics traffic report looks like this?
  • Yes…. Yikes on this one! We’ve talked with many webmasters that have a traffic graphic similar to this one. Their big question is how do we recover and is that even possible?
  • Whether you’ve been the recipient of the Webmaster Tools email or, maybe you’ve just noticed either a sudden drop in traffic or a slide in traffic over an extended period of time. Whatever the case….don’t panic!We all have a tendency to over act when we notice a drop in traffic. Many webmasters start making changes right away. They target on-site things like over optimized content, over optimized internal links, meta tags or any of the tweaks that could be done on-site. At the same time they start pruning links and attacking their back link portfolio.I suggest that you don’t go this route. You’ll get there eventually but I recommend a more organized and planned out approach that will save you time, trouble and effort. And, that’s what I’ll be talking about today.Let’s look at a pathway or journey to traffic recovery. I’ve broken it down into 7 steps which I’ll be talking about today.
  • Name each and move to next slide.SegueAs you start to do the analysis, you’ll want to consider the following:
  • The first thing you want to do is analyze the situation. As best you can, with your available data, isolate what the problem is. You want to find the root cause. Be careful here as you might find data that correlates to the issue but may not be the cause. Let’s look at this a bit closer.
  • Cause – with cause there is a direct connection to ‘A’ causing ‘B’.Correlation – The best example of this is seasonality in website traffic. There is a correlation between the season of the year and the number of page views on a hotel/destination site. During peak season, the traffic will be higher and in the off or shoulder season the traffic will drop. If you didn’t take a step back and assess this correlation, you might have started making changes to your overall SEO plans without a need to.However, if you noticed ½ your back-links disappeared in the Google Panda update, that would be ‘cause’…and you would know where to start your recovery process. If your traffic dropped on April 24, 2012, then you can be pretty certain you were hit by the Penguin update.Let’s look at the updates and see if there is something that resonates with your traffic drop….and could be the cause.
  • These 2 updates have had a great impact on website traffic and rankings. As you do analysis of your traffic drop, make sure you consider these two. The Panda update is about low quality sites and thin content sites. If you had low quality sites linking to you, chances are the Panadablogpocylpse whacked many of them. So, you could have lost a great deal of link juice. If your own site has thin or poor content, it could have been impacted as well.Penguin is about over optimized anchor text and over optimized content.So knowing what caused your traffic drop in the first place is important. There are three areas where you can look for the cause of your traffic drop:On-SiteOff-SiteCompetition________________________________________________________________________________________________Notes:So how do I determine if Panda or Penguin ‘caused’ my traffic to drop. Try looking at Google analytics. A traffic report should give you a good indication. For example:Penguin…was I hit?...from http://searchengineland.com/penguin-update-recovery-tips-advice-119650It’s easy to run some search, see that your site has gone and assume the worst. While Google does report some spamming offenses through Google Webmaster Central, it tells me there’s no way currently to log-in and know if the Penguin Update hit you.My advice to people worried has been this. The update launched on April 24. Look at your search-related traffic from Google immediately after that date. Do you see a major drop compared with a day or two before? If so, you were probably hit by Penguin. See a rise in traffic? You probably benefited from Penguin. See no change? Then it really had no impact on you.
  • Let’s look at some examples on the next slides.
  • This report shows evidence of a Penguin ‘hit’. Their traffic drops precipitously in April…that coincides with the first Penguin update. You can see the traffic drops off and stays down. The traffic drop is one indication so let’s look at the site back links to see if the anchor text correlates to the drop. And…..yes it does.Check the dates of your sites traffic decline and also look at traffic sources. If your decline correlates to an update rollout and traffic from Google is down, you can be certain that it’s the update that has effected you. The bad news is that you’ve been effected. The good news is that with the date of the drop, you can take steps to fix your problem.
  • This site has over 43% of it’s back links with just one head term of ‘arizona tourism’. Do you think this might be over optimized? This is confirmation that the site was hit by Penguin. For your site, you need to take the same steps and determine the cause of the drop.Some tools that can help you find problems are:
  • Make sure as you are reviewing your site, you are also looking at your top competitors.
  • Remember, we don’t operate in a vacuum. Our traffic drops may not have anything to do with the Google updates. It may be your competition is cranking out great content and building a strong link portfolio.So it’s important to also look at your competition when isolating your own issues. Make sure you compare and contrast the quality of your content against the top performers. Also, how does your link profile compare to the leaders.The good news about the Internet is that it is very transparent. You can do analysis on word count, number of pages and on the quality and quantity of your competitor’s back link portfolio. You can also see through using tools like SEMRush what their ranking trends are and follow their traffic trends as well.A follow-the-leader approach might be just what you need to pull out of your traffic decline.The next slide can help you isolate changes from significant updates so you can associate them with traffic drops.
  • Go through OnsiteGo through OffSiteThe recent updates are Google’s attempt to improve the quality of content on the web. So, if you have poor content, chances are you will see or have seen a drop in traffic. In addition, if you have a spammy back link portfolio, you will have traffic drop issues as well.Once you’ve isolated the problem, you’ll want to create a….
  • So, once you’ve determined the problem, you’ll want to fix everything as once. This is where we recommend creating a plan.One of the pitfalls of Internet Marketing is to try and do everything at once. The key is to identify the problem(s) and then prioritize any changes or actions that need to be taken based on the most leverage you’d get from each. For example, you may discover that you are over optimized with anchor text in your back link profile. If that is the case, you can start there and also identify the links that will have the most impact if they are removed. In our example of Arizona Tourism, they have many site-wide links to their over optimized head term. They should start with these as they will immediately bring down the ratio of that head term.
  • Review the commonality of factors to determine which pages need to be improved. If you have thin content and duplicate content on pages that were hit, you need to go about improving those pages. Also look at over optimized pages as this is one of the areas we find in common on many sites we work with. Once again, this tactic worked in the past and webmasters haven’t caught up with the new challenges and updated content on these pages.The whole purpose of these Google updates is to make sites that have value, move to the top. If your site provides great content and great value, it will certainly help your rankings. Improve the user experience by creating great content. The user will stay on the page (lower bounce rates) and share the content, which are both new factors in ranking results.
  • Once you decide on your strategy, you’ll want to take a practical and tactical approach to resolving the issues you’ve found. We recommend finding issues that you can leverage with minimal resources that have the most impact.Use the following grid or your own variation to help you isolate the issues…then once you do, take the next step. Let’s look at what to do and how to manage the process.
  • Start with columns for analysis and then add columns to your grid to include the new metrics. You’ll want this documentation in order to track success.
  • Next you’ll want to
  • You’ll want to
  • Most websites have a number of problems or areas where they could improve. Your job is to look for high gain activities. That is, what takes fewer resources but would result in a dramatic impact on the issues your site has. For example….(next slide)
  • For example this slide from earlier shows that they have over optimized anchor text. Another way to visualize this is by looking at a spreadsheet of the links.
  • You can see on this spreadsheet breakout, that the client site has multiple links from sites pointing to it…these are all with the same anchor text. The best use of time and leverage for recovery is to prune links from sites that have multiple links. Not only does it get rid of bad sites but also reduces the anchor text ratios immediately.The webmaster can quickly get rid of links like this:
  • This webmaster has been participating in adding links to link grids. Oh for the days when this was a technique that worked. This is why so many webmasters feel like they are playing wac a mole with Google. What was once a great SEO technique, can now cause you a penalty.The key in this example, is leveraging activities that will make a big impact with least amount of effort. They can send just a few emails to their linking partners and fix their over optimization problem very quickly.
  • For documentation purposes, you might want to create a spreadsheet similar to this: (Explain columns)As many sites we’ve seen have back link issues, I included the following slide to help you as you recover and also move forward with new link building activities. If you currently have links in the first column, you’ll want to consider asking to have them removed. The second column is what you want in your link portfolio.
  • As you execute your plan…make sure you are documenting.
  • Which is a very important step…for…
  • You’ll want to document for 2 reasons. You’ll want to track your progress through your tactical plan and you’ll want to also have documentation for reconsideration requests. If you site was hit because you had a questionable back link portfolio, you’ll want to keep the documentation for resubmission, if your plan doesn’t bring you back.
  • Follow through with your complete plan and make sure you are tackling all the issues and documenting along the way.
  • Finally, continue to analyze and tweak your content and links. Another pitfall is to think you’re finished once you’ve gone through your action plan. The market changes continually and your competition isn’t sitting still.Hopefully, this presentation has given you some ideas on how to isolate your problems and some tactical approaches to recovering your traffic.I’ve added a few resources slides for you to peruse at your leisure. Let’s go to some of the questions that have been asked.
  • Please include as a last slide in June’s presentation.
  • Pitfalls to Avoid in a Post Penguin & Panda World

    1. 1. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar"Pitfalls to Avoid in a PostPenguin & Panda World" Presenter: Mike Huber, Vice President of Client Services at Vertical Measures @mjhuber http://www.linkedin.com/in/mikehuber
    2. 2. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar
    3. 3. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinarWebmasters Tools –Unnatural Links
    4. 4. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinarDrop in Traffic
    5. 5. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinarDon’t Panic
    6. 6. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Journey To Traffic RecoveryAnalyze The Situation Prioritize Tactical Steps v Create Strategy Document Make The Changes In Priority Order Go to Tactical Step 2 Rinse and Repeat Document
    7. 7. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Journey To RecoveryAnalyze The Situation v
    8. 8. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Is it Cause or Correlation?• Cause - ‘A’ causes ‘B’• Correlation – a concept that measures the relationship between two things. A positive correlation means that when one thing goes up, the other goes too. Or, when one thing goes down the other goes up.
    9. 9. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar The UpdatesPanda PenguinLow Quality Sites – The ‘blogpocylpse’ Over Optimization UpdateSite-wide penalties - poor or thin content Abnormal linkingContent Farms Over optimized anchor textHigh Bounce Rates Keyword Stuffing Recent and important: EMD – Low quality ‘exact match domains’.
    10. 10. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar What Should I Be Looking For• On-Site – Isolate the drop in traffic • Single Page, Directories, Site-wide – Thin Content – Over Optimized Content – Over Optimized Internal Linking• Off-Site – Back Link Quantity – Back Link Quality – Over Optimization of Anchor Text• Competition – Compare and Contrast
    11. 11. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinarEvidence of Penguin
    12. 12. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinarPenguin – Over Optimization
    13. 13. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Analysis Tools• Google Analytics• Google Webmaster Tools• Open Site Explorer• SEMRush• Link Detective
    14. 14. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Review the Competition• Are your main competitors up or down?• Compare and contrast – On-Page – Off-Page
    15. 15. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Cause For Traffic DropsOn-Site Off-SiteLimited original content Low quality back linksLow visit times on page/site Limited number of back linksHigh % of duplicate content (affiliate site) Site-wide back linksHigh bounce rates on a page/site Back links from spammy sitesBoilerplate or concatenated content Over optimized anchor textUnnatural use of words/phrases (stuffing) Evidence of paid linksOver optimized internal linking Back links with sites ESL
    16. 16. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinarJourney To Recovery vCreate Strategy Document
    17. 17. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Strategy Document• Definition and Clarification of the Problem• The page/pages with biggest traffic drop• Compare/contrast to pages that remain strong• Test updating pages, emulating strong pages• Create working grid to manage changes
    18. 18. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinarJourney To Recovery Prioritize Tactical Steps v
    19. 19. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Example of Process GridPage URL Type Words Quality Duplication Traffic +/-Blue Widgets mysite.com/bluewidgets.html Web Page 150 Low High -50%Red Widgets mysite.com/redwidgets.html Blog Post 600 High None -10%Green Widgets mysite.com/greenwidgets.html Web Page 150 Low High -80%Yellow Widgets mysite.com/yellowidgets.html Web Page 450 High None +5%
    20. 20. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Add Your Action Items To The Grid• Include current column headings• Date updated• New Word Count (did you add photos, video?)• Notes• Traffic update
    21. 21. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinarJourney To Recovery v Make The Changes In Priority Order
    22. 22. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Measured - Logical - Sequential• Determine the ‘high gain’ activities – Where can you leverage the fewest resources to get the most gain
    23. 23. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinarPenguin – Over Optimization
    24. 24. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar
    25. 25. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinarA Closer Look Reveals…
    26. 26. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Link Pruning DocumentationStatus URL Anchor Text Contact Name Contact Email Contacted FU Date FU Date Results Removal DateActive http://www.linkpruning1.com blue widget Adam West adamw@linkpruning1.com 10/10/2012 Removed 10/9/2012Removed http://www.linkpruning2.com red widget John Smith jsmith@linkpruning2.com 10/10/2012 No replyContactedhttp://www.linkpruning3.com blue widget Bill Waters bw@linkpruning3.com 10/11/2012 In ProgressContactedhttp://www.linkpruning4.com blue widget JJ Johnston jjj@linkpruning4.com 10/12/2012Contactedhttp://www.linkpruning5.com red widget Simon Sayers ssayers@linkpruning4.com 10/11/2012Report http://www.linkpruning6.com blue widget Oscar Nots on@linkpruning5.com 10/11/2012
    27. 27. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Link Building Dos and Don’tsDos Don’tsFocus on quality not quantity Use the same anchor textCreate great content – it will get links Link to low quality sitesVary content with text, images and video Focus on low quality directory sitesWrite guest blog posts on relevant sites Use side bar and footer linksReclaim links to pages that have moved Write low quality content for linkingBecome an authority Buy a cheap ‘package’Follow the leader (competition) Expect getting quality links to be easyTarget do-follow links Build links to resource pages or exchangeStrive for relevancy Pay for site-wide links
    28. 28. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Journey To RecoveryCreate Strategy And Create Strategy AndPrioritize Document Prioritize Document Create Strategy And Prioritize Document v Create Strategy And Prioritize Document Create Strategy And Prioritize Document Create Strategy And Document Prioritize Document
    29. 29. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Executing the Plan• You’ve Created A Strategy Document• Tactical plan• Identified the high gain activities• Implemented the changes• Now – Document!
    30. 30. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinarJourney To Recovery v Go to Tactical Step 2
    31. 31. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Journey To Recovery vRinse and Repeat
    32. 32. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Questions?More Traffic. More Leads. More Business. Contact: 888-476-1881 www.VerticalMeasures.com
    33. 33. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar FREE WEBINAR SERIES: Join us November 8th at 11am PST/2pm EST Stop Playing the Google Yo-Yo Game & Win with Real SEO• Presenter: Alan Bleiweiss – Alan has been working in SEO for more than a decade – He will discuss the core concepts that go into truly sustainable SEO based on real world data gathered from sites comprising over 250 million pages indexed at Google. Check out our website at www.verticalmeasures.com/webinars for registration information.
    34. 34. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Resources• A History of Panda Updates – http://www.seomoz.org/google-algorithm-change• Infographic showing Panda Updates – http://searchengineland.com/google-panda-update-112805• Content Marketing Wiki – http://www.contentmarketingwiki.org/• How To Get Back on Track After the Penguin Update – http://www.verticalmeasures.com/search-optimization/how-to-get-back-on-track-after-the-penguin-update/
    35. 35. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinarStay Up-To-Date With Alerts
    36. 36. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Webmaster Content Guidelines• Would you trust the information presented in this article?• Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?• Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?• Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?• Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?• Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?• Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?• Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?• How much quality control is done on content?• Does the article describe both sides of a story? Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?• Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?• Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced? For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?• Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name? Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?• Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?• Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?• Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?• Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?• Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?• Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?• Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
    37. 37. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar On Site Checklist• Does your site have… – Thin Content - 200 words or less – Duplicate or Concatenated Content – Over use of keywords (keyword density) – Content of little/no value – Link grids on every page – Misspelled words or searched words used for SEO
    38. 38. Twitter: @mjhuber #VMWebinar Off Site Checklist• Low quality of back links• Low number of back links• High ratio of anchor text• Low relevance of sites pointing to you• Links from networks or spammy sites• Links in footers, headers, side bars• Link in comparison to competition