Is The Penguin Scratching Under Its Feathers?

Google keeps putting out posts and guidelines and talk about “quality” (however that is defined – quality in this case is subjective and how one ever create a logarithm that can precisely define it is beyond me), but I know quality, at least to me, when I see it.

I also know junk when I see it. And from continuing to use Google for search, I can see that for me, and I’m sure for an awful lot of other humans, the machines at Google are producing low quality, junky search results in many instances.

The sad part right now is that there are so many so-called “experts” who are claiming they know the answer to getting your site ranked again if it tanked with Google’s latest update called “Penguin.” If you want, you can read a bunch of different opinions, and what is funny, you’ll often find the exact opposite opinions as to why or what caused your site to drop, or what you should be doing to help revive the rankings.

Almost everyone that has an interest in SEO knows that when Penguin hit, the search results for the term:

[viagra]

were totally bizarre, as were some other competitive search terms. The corporate website for Viagra, viagra.com, appeared to have been penalized! This has since been fixed, but this evening, I did a search on the term, and again see totally irrelevant results on Page 1. Page 1, #10 is a link to this page: http://pinto.scripts.mit.edu/Research/Monster16GPU

It’s a page about a 16-GPU Monster computer and there is no mention of viagra anywhere on it, including in the HTML source code.

This is junk. This is not quality. Mat Cutts might be a really nice guy, but he also comes across as this guy that is kind of like Forrest Gump, but with a side that he’s out “to get over SEO’d” sites – which is fine – and he’s also admitted that Google makes mistakes – which is great.

But come on! There is a huge mistake that is still going on with the Penguin! It’s getting close to offering up an apology and instead of smugly suggesting they’ve caught bad SEO practices, they need to fix their mistakes which are so glaringly obvious. They have ruined some great sites that I used to find in search results – sites that I never bookmarked, assuming I’d find them again when I searched on Google.  And they seem pretty smug about it, and confident – I wonder if any of the spam team search engineers have done a search on commonly searched on words and phrases?

Something, or some things, in this latest update has introduced some pretty big fleas under the Penguin’s feathers. Now the question is, are the engineers just scratching the Penguin’s feathers to relieve the itch, or are they going to get rid of the fleas that have been introduced?

With such crappy results for so many searches, one wonders why Google did not revert back to its algorithm pre Penguin. Most companies, upon seeing such a lousy result, would do so. But perhaps Google as a corporate entity has now grown so smug about itself, it has forgotten what made it a great search engine in the first place. While it tries to rule the world with all it’s “services” and get everyone hooked in, perhaps they think they are now “King” and so crappy doesn’t matter anymore.

In all seriousness, and I never thought I’d see the day when I would say this, but Bing provides far better and more relevant results for many searches than Google does. So does http://duckduckgo.com which also guarantees privacy.

Here’s another interesting thing I’m seeing – after the Penguin update, on those sites I have Analytics installed on, those who found those sites via Bing or Yahoo have a much lower bounce rate than those who arrived via a Google search.

What does that tell you? Bing and Yahoo are providing results that are actually more relevant to the searcher’s intent than Google is.

Quit scratching, Google. Penguins are cute, but I’m sure a penguin with fleas is not a sorry sight, and it’s time to take this Penguin to the veterinarian.

 

Has Google Jumped The Shark?

This morning, April 25, 2012, many of us woke to some really strange and poor search results in Google. Yesterday, I wrote about some experiences that I was seeing throughout the day here and here, but overnight it just got worse.

At least one of my sites which I know has good quality content (my visitors tell me so, not a search engine bot) seems to have taken a major dive in search engine results at Google. I’m still seeing some pretty weird results – and even seeing Ezine articles now ranking again for some search queries. Another property which seems to have gained is Squidoo.

But Google has really messed up on some things. And it is has affected webmasters around the world. Domains that have no content whatsoever are ranking for the #1 spot for some search queries. Google has also ranked sites for search queries that have no relevance whatsoever.

It’s quite bizarre obviously the quality of search in Google has decreased considerably. Having a bit of a headache today, I searched for

headache remedies

and up comes a very spammy website; the type that Google claims it is trying to eliminate: tons of ads above the fold and the content, and ads all around the content.

Thus far in my observations, Google’s “success” in dealing with ranking for EMD’s (exact match domains) is spotty. I’ve seen very good sites get demoted, brands that are not ranking at all, and poorly crafted sites with an EMD promoted.

It just doesn’t make sense. Surely Google staff realize just how poor of a job this latest update, which reminds me of Altavista results over a decade ago, is.

What are your thoughts?  Are you considering switching to DuckDuckGo (DDG) or Bing? I have to admit I am seeing results I like much better on those two engines, and I like the fact that DDG has a much better privacy policy than Google does. Would that also be something that is important to you?

Building A Site Around Youtube Videos?

Recently, I came across a product for sale with some interesting sales copy, promising all sorts of benefits to someone who wanted to create a website and monetize it.  Part of the “feature” of this product was the ability to use keywords, and populate a website with lists of Youtube videos including the descriptions that were provided by the Youtube video uploader.

While there is nothing wrong with embedding a youtube video in a blog post or website article, you most definitely could get into some bad books with Google if you have a big part of your website that simply “scrapes” or “harvests” Youtube videos. The particular product sales copy that I saw referred to it as “harvesting.”

It’s unfortunate that so many people get taken advantage of with such products, especially when they are marketed in such a way as to make the reader believe that creating a website with lots of good content that will get picked up by the search engines, and then rank highly. It is simply not true. Life – and search engines – don’t work that way.  And Google especially does not like you “scraping” content from other places, and using that as a big part of your site. It’s not original, it adds no new value, and you simply will not maintain any great search engine rankings with this kind of endeavor.

Indeed, it is quite possible that Google and other search engines will de-list you from their index if you engage in such a thing.  I’d highly recommend that if you’ve bought a product that teaches you to build a website in this manner, that you request a refund asap.

Be careful what you buy. Be careful about believing hyped up sales copy letters (or hyped up sales videos) that seem to promise you the moon with the click of a button. You are absolutely not going to get high rankings from google with a few clicks of a website creation product or software. It just does not happen that way.

Hopefully, if you’ve hired an SEO firm, this is not something they’ve recommended that you do for your on-site search engine optimization!

There is so much confusion and utter nonsense out in the SEO world about video and how it will help your website’s search engine rankings – most of the information is completely and utterly false. Don’t get me wrong; video can be helpful in driving traffic to your website – but sticking up a few videos on Youtube probably won’t have much effect on your website’s search engine rankings, if that is all you are doing.

And definitely, there is no “one click” solution that will suddenly see you ranking on Page 1 – especially not any “solution” where the major component is scraping or harvesting content from other sites. That will just see you waste time and money.

 

 

SEO Courses – Are They What They Claim To Be?

I had meant to post this several days ago, but in my part of the world, there is a nasty virus going around, and I managed to catch it!  It has not been pleasant sipping Neo Citran and hoping there is some truth to claims that Oil of Oregano helps to drive away cold and flu viruses. If there is any truth to it, this must be one powerful virus!

From time to time, I’ll pick up the odd “course” on SEO that someone is offering, just to see if there are any nuggets of information or interesting experimental data that I can use.

Some days ago, an email arrived in my inbox with a link to a course that promised to teach me how to find thousands of free back links that were easy and would propel any website I owned to the first page of Google.

The price was cheap, so I thought I’d see if there was anything new to be learned and bought it.

All I can say is that I feel sorry for business and website owners that buy into these programs, believing they are getting value, and that their time studying these courses – and then putting what the course says into practice, will actually get them crushing their competitors.

The course was simply a rehash of what a few others have claimed, and included ideas that are actually against the terms and services of some websites! I really doubt the authors of this course had even tried out their own methods and tested them.  As well, their idea for using free press release services for getting back links was laughable – just about all the free press release services they provided as a resource do NOT give you the ability to provide backlinks in the press release!

It really bewilders me at times to come across these so called “courses” and see what they are teaching, and realize that there are people out there who are hanging their hopes on learning something, willing to pay for the education, believe they are being taught by an “expert” – and I know for a fact, they are going to be bitterly disappointed.

I’ve often thought about putting together a course or book myself. SEO that actually works. No hype. No crap. No theory. Just stuff that works. The fact of the matter is you need a holistic approach to SEO. There is no one method that is going to get you ongoing high search engine rankings. In some cases, you need to combine what works for local search with what works for organic search, in order to rank well in both.

The problem with writing a book or putting together a course is that I’d rather do the stuff than teach it!

But I’m still thinking about it. We’ll see.

Link Exchanges And Reciprocal Links – Important?

Every day, I get emails from someone or other, in regard to any one of the web properties I have or that I manage for clients, asking me for a “link exchange.”

In the “good old days” .. as in way way back.. think 1997…1998… yes, link exchanges were pretty popular. That was what the internet was all about.. I will link to you, you will link to me, and internet surfers might click on and discover the great information we have for them!  Sounds good, right?

Not so much today. Link building through link exchanges or reciprocal links pretty much means nothing. There are just so many websites out there, and going to a page with tons of outbound links on it..will you be clicking on everyone of them?  I doubt you’d click on more than a few. And if you don’t find what you are looking for, you’re going back to Google or whatever other search engine you were using in the first place, to try to find some webpage that answers whatever question you have.

Yet today, I still get emails from so called “link builders” asking me for a reciprocal link to their website. They promise me that if I link to them, and they link back to me, that this will be helpful to me in the search engines. This might fool some people that don’t know anything about SEO, but it doesn’t fool me. If you get an email asking you for a reciprocal link exchange, you should probably just ignore it.

Often, these promises of a link back to your site are pretty deceptive too. In their email, the person requesting the reciprocal link from you will provide you with a url to a page on their website where your link to your site will appear. Except, the url is not linked anywhere from their site. It’s just a “lost” page on their site that is unlikely to be found by anyone. Even worse, they may also have that page marked as ‘noindex, nofollow’ which tells the search engines to basically ignore it. So, they get the “link juice” from your website, and give nothing back in return to you.

Although there is nothing wrong with reciprocal link exchanges where there really is value for visitors to your website (and the website you are linking to to provide their visitors with a link to your site) in some circumstances, what you should be trying to obtain are one way back links without the condition of your site linking back. One way back links are far more valuable to you than a reciprocal link exchange, especially with regard to the sneaky methods some employ, as discussed above, to “trick” you into thinking it’s reciprocal.