Google has announced a new change to its webmaster policy – from now on, if your website gets a manual penalty, it may not get a second chance to dominate the listings.
In a change that is designed to hurt black hat SEOs more than the Penguin and Panda updates, Google has stated that it will no longer tolerate those who repeatedly breach Google’s webmaster quality guidelines.
The announcement was made on September 18, 2015, in a blog post on the official Google webmaster central blog: Repeated violations of Webmaster Guidelines. Unlike many of the blog posts that appear on the webmaster central blog, this was written anonymously. Being banned by Google is every webmaster’s worst nightmare and some people take it very personally, so it’s no surprise nobody wished to put their name to the change in policy!
Why the Change Now?
In their blog post, Google says that the change in policy is to further improve the quality of the search results. Google has carried out many major changes over the last five years that have made great progress in improving search quality, but one problem still persists – some people are still gaming the search engine.
Google started cleansing the SERPs with the Panda series of updates. These penalised websites that had low quality, poorly written, duplicate and thin content pages. The old SEO trick of creating a new page for each target keyword and filling it with spammy, keyword stuffed text was over.
Google followed this with a series of updates that tackled the problem of link spam – the now infamous Penguin updates. Suddenly, SEO was no longer about getting more links that the competition. Links now have to be earned, and acquired from very high quality sources. The inner workings of Penguin are still unclear, but it seems that just about every easy-to-get link is now devalued – many are probably totally worthless. Directory links, comment links, blogroll links, forum signatures etc. are now deemed by many to be ineffective for SEO.
However, some SEOs are still doing very well because although Google has improved its search algorithm. With some careful planning and some excellent links, you can still rank well. In short, unnatural links are still working for many people.
Google works hard to identify and manually penalise websites that buy or sell links. Whenever Google has good evidence that somebody has been selling links to pass PageRank, it applies a manual penalty.
However, in these cases, manual penalties are easy to recover from. All you need to do is remove the links (or add a nofollow attribute) and submit a reconsideration request, explaining how very sorry you are and beg to have the penalty lifted. In the past, Google trusted webmasters enough to grant them their wish, and would lift the penalty.
Unfortunately, some webmasters have exploited this and, after having a reconsideration request approved, they would start selling links again or remove the nofollow tags. This is Google’s main bugbear at the moment, and this latest change in policy directly tackles this problem. Google says that it will no longer tolerate webmasters who repeatedly breach its quality guidelines.
Google has not said exactly how harshly it will treat repeat offenders, saying only in its blog that “repeated violations may make a successful reconsideration process more difficult to achieve”. In some cases, Google may still allow a website to recover – but in other cases, there may well be no way back in the SERPs after a repeat offence.
We have already seen some websites, most notably known link sellers, completely drop out of the Google index. We predict that in the future, more sites will suffer a similar fate. If you are not a white hat SEO, take heed – your days may be numbered!
Have you ever missed a client mention or let an SEO project fall through the cracks? We all have, but there are now solutions that make getting organized and staying on top of our complex work lives easier.
While we all know how to set up alerts, receiving them in emails doesn’t make it easy to organize them and share them with clients. Did you know you can pull them all into an All-in-one Cyfe dashboard and track your keyword rankings and backlinks in the same place?
Between that how-to post and the comprehensive instructions Kristi Hines wrote up in this Search Engine Watch managing your SEO clients with Cyfe post, it is possible to monitor everything, pull it into a dashboard, and even export it into good-looking reports for clients.
Monitor Client Brand MentionsKristi wrote that Google no longer allows us to monitor brand mentions using RSS. But she provided a process to do it using Cyfe:
- Use Google blog search
- Search for brand mentions minus the brand site URL. For example, brand name -brand.com
- Scroll to the bottom of the search and copy the search result RSS link
- Use the Cyfe RSS widget to create a latest blog post mentions dashboard
View All Client Gmail Addresses in Cyfe
Do your clients have multiple email addresses (such as info, sales, support, etc.) that you need to monitor? Set up a Cyfe gmail dashboard to review and preview them all in one place.
Running a big promotion? Use Cyfe to count the number of emails coming into an email address set up just for that promotion.
Client SEO Dashboards
Create a dashboard for every client and pull up to 60 metrics from Google Analytics showing traffic sources, audience, conversions, content, ecommerce and events.
Add a Google Webmaster widget and never miss an important notification again. See crawl errors, unread messages, top internal/external keywords and sitemap URLs.
Moz widgets can import a snapshot of domain authority, page authority, MozRank, external links and backlinks, external links for each client website.
Important keyword phrases and URLs can be added as widgets to monitor client SERPs.
Find the Alexa widget and add it, too.
The number of prebuilt widgets available continually grows. If what you want doesn’t already exist (and if it is a major solution it probably does), build a custom widget.
Import BacklinksExport backlinks from your favorite backlink monitor program and import them into Cyfe.
Export One-Off or Regular ReportsNever manually create reports for clients again. Use Cyfe to export any dashboard as a CSV, PDF, JPG or PNG. Set up a regular schedule to automatically email reports, or send them individually at any time manually. Keep your clients, boss or yourself continually up-to-date.
Expand to Social Media Management
Once you’ve automated all your SEO work, why not expand into managing your client’s social media accounts, too. Cyfe makes it easy to stay on top of them.
They provide widgets for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn YouTube, Google+ Search, Pinterest, Instagram, Bit.ly, Klout, AddThis and much more.
Stay on Top of SEO NewsCreate RSS feeds right in Cyfe to aggregate all your favorite SEO blogs in one place. Here are some SEO blogs to add to your list:
- Search Engine Watch (SEW)
- Search Engine Land (SEL)
- Search Engine Roundtable (SER)
Competitor DashboardsOnce you optimize your client dashboards and have them just the way you want them, start adding dashboards for competitors, too. Track their stats, SERPs, and create graphs to compare them to your clients.
Cyfe added 400+ more widgets when they integrated with Zapier. First check to see if there is a pre-built widget. If there isn’t, and you’re not sure how to build your own, it can be easier to “make a zap” than to create one custom.
We all have too much data to keep on top of so why not aggregate it in one place? While it may take some time to get it all pulling correctly, you will be glad when you’re done.
A common question in the SEOChat forums is whether moving your site or changing hosts will affect your SEO rankings and position in the serps.
If everything were exactly the same, moving your site between identical servers should not impact your search engine positions if the move is done correctly. But everything is never exactly the same.
Each hosting company has different hardware, networks, versions of server code, and configurations. How quickly your site loads is important. The faster you can make it, and the more reliable your hosting, the higher you will rank. Factors that impact page load time are:
- Speed of the server
- Demand on the server (how many sites with how much traffic)
- Distance from the end user (the person looking for your site)
Watch Your Downtime
Extended downtime can definitely negatively impact your rankings on Google and other search engines, so choosing a reliable hosting company is essential to your success.
CDNs also provide serious security, which ensure your site is far less likely to get hacked. Lengthy outages recovering from damage hackers do can can largely be avoided.
Be sure to choose a CDN known for security as some focus more on page load speed while others focus on both.
Speed Up Download TimeIf you are serious about getting your site to load faster, start with these tips. And do note the links to additional information at the bottom of that post. There are some simple things every site owner should know. For example:
- Your site should be hosted on a server in the country whose audience you most want to reach. See Server Location as a Local Ranking Factor for details.
- Other sites on a shared server can negatively impact your search engine positions, so choose carefully and know what other sites are on the same server with you. Use this lookup tool to find out.
- Changing servers CAN impact your rankings
- If your site is still identical, the main concern is other poor quality sites on a shared server
- Switching between content management systems (between Drupal or Blogger to WordPress for example) will change your URLs and directories; this can definitely cause major issues if not done correctly
- Be sure to redirect any URLs that change so you don’t lose the value of those incoming links
Use a Test Site When Moving
An expert tech should leave your existing site up and load a duplicate copy of it onto the new server. That new copy should be checked over and tested to ensure it is working fine and has no issues BEFORE you re-point the DNS servers to the new location.
Another useful tip is to shorten the caching time on your existing site well before you start the move. This will reduce the amount of time it takes for all your users to see the site at the new location.
Whether changing hosts affects your search rankings will depend upon the quality of the move. If everything is done correctly, there may be a temporary drop in search rankings, but it will quickly recover.