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Rich Snippet Joy for YOU!

Rich Snippets – Rich snippets are the thing to get YOUR SERP listing stand out from the crowd.  What is the rich snippet?  You know how you see people’s faces next to particular Google results listings? Those are snippets in action.

On the downside, recent rumors are making the rounds that Google may start pushing them to the back burner going forward.  Like a lot of things, once people understand how to use (and exploit) them, they’re no longer as useful to Google to determine worthiness of a site. 

We’re personally seeing noticeably fewer images lately appearing next to SERP listings than we did a few months ago.  The smiling faces next to some results have often brought increased attention to those entries – even if they WERE at the bottom of a page, but with minimizing returns on this… Who knows.  Jill Kocher shows a few things on a page that can really bump up the focus on YOUR SERP item!

Our opinion?  Like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play.  Those rich snippets will never appear if you don’t take a few minutes to set them up to begin with!

How to Increase Your Search-Result Click-Throughs – NBC Chicago Mar 27

Jill Kocher is a seasoned SEO professional and all-around technogeek. By day, she manages Resource Interactive’s SEO practice here in Chicago and serves as contributing editor at Practical eCommerce.

Read more …

Penguin Penalty Recovery

No website about SEO is complete without a few examples.  This one is of a Penguin recovery as in “HALP HALP!  I’ve been bitten by the bird!!!”  We’re going to look at some technical facts and points, look at some of the background of the site and add on to this post as we go forward with this site.

Our Target Penguin Recovery Site – we’ll not compound the problem with yet another link just yet…

Site History

Originally a locally focused computer repair website.  Sort of a sniper site with what is called an “exact match domain” (EMD) designed to dominate a particular search term.  It’s a small market so it did reasonably well.  Since the site was not the main source for leads, this was a perfect controlled test site for some ranking tactics.

And from BAD decisions comes GOOD experience.  As mentioned elsewhere on our site, we are always testing things and this was indeed one of those things.  If we’re going to tear something up, we tear our own stuff up and not yours “testing” theories.  A few months after throwing in one of those scripts to automatically add content to the site hands-free, came the now infamous “Google has detected unnatural…”  Well whatever do you MEAN Google?  A computer repair website has “santa fe restaurant reviews”, dental aides, breakfast casserole information and more seems PERFECTLY reasonable to me!  Google didn’t think so.  And rightfully so.

If you have all sorts of unrelated content on your website other than stuff in your certain niche (does not apply to news sites), you need to keep an eye on quality.  In this case, the content that appeared to be using  10 or so outbound links per article.  No idea how long the original articles were, but a good rule of thumb IS about 1 link per 150 words.  This was definitely over the top for 2014.  This content was generated though back in 2012 – and the rules were admittedly different – but this content was still afoul of them even back then.  Additionally, there were a TON of links that were coming into this site linking directly TO those articles.

Action Plan

The nice thing about this site, besides us not needing to specifically keep any of these links alive, is that the link targets are in a specific location.  So what can we do?

  • We are going to delete our ALL of our pages.  This is NOT a tough market or subject to rank.  Let’s start over from scratch with this site.  In a testier version of this – like you need to keep certain legit pages – we would NOT delete everything.    This will immediately break all unnatural links to those specific urls and thus remove our penalty pronto.  Actually we could actually leave our original pages in there and just make sure we had all the content article pages deleted. This one though? GUT IT!
  • Create new content.  Google has a way of reassociating exact content from old pages with new pages – even if it has a different name.  This is a small simple thing, so we’re going to just cobble up some quick content.
  • Persistent backlinks – none of the spam content or subsequent links actually linked to root so we will still have any backlinks that we have legitimately acquired to root giving us some Google love.  We’re not doing an exhaustive bit of research on this one – it’s simple, straighforward, take no prisoners clean up.  If this were a true more complex client site, we would do a bit of research on which pages were targeted, which were linked where, etc. Not needed for this cleanup.
  • We may additionally throw on a 410 code for all deleted pages – this is the signal to the search engines that this page is gone forever so don’t bother looking for it again. Oh yeah, and remove it from your cache list!  This should give us a final and forever cleanup on this mess.

Now, we realize that most Penguin penalties are going to more intricate than this one, but this gives some real life – “Yes, it happens and it’s NOT the end of the world” insight type info.  Doing a full and serious Penguin recovery run can be time consuming and won’t be as easy as this one.  If you have thousands of links, and you very well may, it can take a while to get them removed bit by bit. This is especially true if you need to leave certain pages in place and just remove the unnatural links and leave the good ones there.

UPDATE: April 17, 2014

So, we have killed off all of our pages, let all links find empty targets and replaced the existing computer content with Landscaping material.  Yes, even WITH a computer repair domain name.  So what’s going on?  There has been upward movement on the computer terms.  This is NOT a real competitive niche, but there also is NO computer content.  While it hasn’t shaken the world, there have been increases of about 5-10 spots taking this site up into the 50ish range for a few target terms.  Now, the trick will be to figure out if the whole domain got penalized and if so, how long WILL that penalty live?  Landscaping content seems to be kicking in the 80 range or so.

If this had been a real domain that we were depending on traffic from RIGHT NOW, our steps may well have been to take the content and just move it to another domain. In this case, because of the type of penalty and the reason for the penalty, we would have left it at that. Turned our solid links to the new domain and let the old ones languish and die – along with the domain. Since we’re doing this for testing purposes, if we’re going to ditch this domain as unusable, let’s get all the info out of it that we can!

What Is A Paid Ad?

Google Paid Ad Placements - Adwords

The Yellow boxes indicate Google ads – for now.

There are a few types of paid ads and placements and Google sees them all a bit differently. Let us explain….

Google Ads

The most common and acceptable from Google is the AdWords paid ad. For $x per click, they’ll happily display YOUR ad on top of THEIR search engine results page. Lately, they’ve been toying with the display of these ads so they may blend in a little bit more and not be so obviously an ad area. Pay for placement. Google LIKES these ads. It should – they had total advertising revenues, according to their disclosures, of over 50 BILLION dollars in 2013 with their ads. Yes, that’s with a “B”.

Marketing Ad

Marketing Campaign where you pay to have your advertisement or logo put on a website to drive traffic.  Like advertising your new super duper car cleaner on a car website. Google is also mostly good with this kind of paid ad. Today. These aren’t ideal for SEO, but if they make you money, well, that’s the key, right?  If they can be placed and linked “just so”, they can also provide some additional SEO benefits.  You will see a lot of “affiliate ads” on blogs in many cases. That is THIS kind of ad.  If you have a blog with 10 words and 30 ad blocks, Google WILL look, let us say, LESS favorably on your site.  But generally, they don’t penalize for this kind of “paid” ad – be it your ad on someone else’s site or someone else’s ad on YOUR site.

Paid Backlinks/Ads

Campaign where your ad/link appears on a website primarily for backlinking purposes and SEO improvement of your site. These will usually appear on higher PR sites (strong sites) where you will benefit from some the strength of THAT site passing to YOUR site via that link. Google is NOT good with this kind of ad. At all. Be afraid of sites that offer such ads or links – particularly in big bold letters across the top of their site. Google may not be human per se, but that doesn’t mean it’s stupid.

If you have to pay for those links – which you may or may not realize if you’re working with an agency – Google frowns on them.  It does strike us as a little hypocritical – they’re tickled if you pay THEM to boost your site to the top of a search engine results page, but should you try to go around them to do the same thing based on “free” resources – they’re waiting to ding you – and maybe even delist you.  We have been approached many times about putting these links on some of our sites by larger agencies.  As a rule, we don’t go down that path.  Though it is always interesting to hear what they’re willing to pay for a link on one of our sites :)

There are some sites that are actually making a full-time living by selling links on their pages. (At least they OUGHT to be based on some of the prices that we have seen…).  These would be the sites you run across with the “Your link here for x amount” plastered at the top. They do exist.  A value-giving link on a page can range generally from 20-75 bucks per month depending on the strength.  Sometimes even higher.  Bearing in mind some of these sites are pretty easy going about how many links they put on a page, your mileage on this type of strategy WILL vary.  There’s a big difference between a link on a PR5 site with 10 outbound links and one with 100.  Due to the variability of the value of those types of links, the costs, and the potential downsides, it’s NOT a strategy recommended for beginners.  It’s very easy to spend several hundred dollars per month (or even considerably more) and get no tangible benefits.  As well, this kind of benefit only lasts as long as your bank account.