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Did Penguin 3.0 Crash Your Rankings?

Did Penguin 3.0 Crash Your Rankings?

Where did my website go?

Many business owners and webmasters asked themselves this question late last week. On Friday, October 17th, Google issued an update to it’s infamous Penguin ranking algorithm. This update, Penguin 3.0, has caused both ranking gains and losses for websites in Google search results. If your website used to rank on Page 1 and now ranks on Page 8 (or vice versa). You might have been hit by Penguin.

But this begs the question – what is Penguin, and how does it decide which websites to praise and which ones to punish?

What Is Google Penguin?

Google runs on algorithms. These computer programs work together. Using defined sets of rules and criteria, to filter through the millions of websites on the Internet. Google’s many algorithms include Panda, an algorithm designed to exclude poor content from search results; Hummingbird, which lets Google interpret search queries better; and Penguin.

In theory, Penguin is designed to help filter low-quality websites from search results. It operates by looking at a site’s link profile. The links coming from across the web back to that site. If the link profile looks “spammy” to Penguin, it penalizes the site in search results while simultaneously promoting sites with “clean” link profiles. Unfortunately, innocent or older sites can also get caught in the algorithm.

How Many People Were Affected By This?

This update marks the first major change to the Penguin algorithm since October 4, 2013. When Google released a refresh of the algorithm which they called Penguin 2.1. That last refresh affected rankings for somewhere between 1 and 2 percent of all searches on Google. So far, Penguin 3.0 is looking to be broader in scope than previous versions.

Did Penguin Affect Me?

The biggest problem with Penguin, at least to webmasters, is that it doesn’t give websites any warning before it strikes. One day your website is comfortably ranking on the first page for some of your key terms, and the next it’s simply gone. Many website owners don’t realize they’ve been hit by Penguin  until weeks later. Sometimes they never realize at all.

There are a few ways to tell if Penguin has affected your site. The first is simply to check your search rankings. Google’s own Webmaster Tools is a good way to keep track of your average search engine rank, though you should keep in mind that it’s just an average. If your site fluctuates between ranking in position 1 and position 10, your average rank will be 5.

However, if your average rankings and impressions in Webmaster Tools have taken a hit since October 17th, Penguin is probably to blame. As an alternative method, you can also check how much traffic you’re receiving from search engines and compare it to pre-Penguin levels. If your traffic has dropped off significantly, you may have been hit.

What Can I Do to Recover?

Penguin works on a simple principle: if a website has a link profile that looks to be spammy or unnatural – that is, made up mostly of links that were bought instead of earned. That website will be penalized. That means the only real way to gain your rankings back after being hit by Penguin is to clean up your link profile and remove links that Penguin finds suspicious.

What Web Tool Should I Be Using?

There are a few different tools you can use to view the list of sites linking to you. The one tool most website owners should probably use is Webmaster Tools. For a detailed overview of how to clean up your link profile and get your site back on Penguin’s good side, take a look at our blog post on how to clean up your links.

Unfortunately for many webmasters punished by Penguin, cleaning up your links isn’t an instant solution. The Penguin algorithm is updated manually by Google. So the changes in your link profile may not impact your rankings in Google search results until the algorithm updates again. Since Penguin only updates every few months at best, and over a year in this case, it’s very important that you get your links as clean as possible so you aren’t waiting for a long time to recover from negative links.

How Can I Protect Myself from Penguin in the Future?

One thing is for sure: Penguin 3.0 will not be the last Penguin update to shake up the search results. Whether you were hit by this latest update or you simply want to protect your website’s current rankings from future updates. You should do what you can to clean up your link profile and make sure Penguin won’t target you.

Whats Going To Be My Strategy?

Once you’ve cleaned up your link profile, you should think about your strategy for earning links online and getting better rankings. If you’ve ever paid to have your site listed in a directory or placed in a blog post, now is the time to stop those activities. Even if your site didn’t get punished this time. There’s no guarantee it won’t get caught in Penguin’s next iteration.

Paid Links Equal Bad Links

Keep in mind that not every paid link is a bad link. Paid links on high-quality sites or respectable directories for your business can be valuable. A good rule of thumb is, if you’re paying for more links than you’re earning naturally, you should retool your activities. You should never pay for a link with the sole goal of earning rankings. Only use paid links when they offer actual value to your site or the one linking to you.

Get Honest Results

If you are paying money to someone who promises thousands of links in just days or weeks. You should stop immediately. Your link-building strategy should focus on earning high-quality links from other authoritative sites. The best way to do that? Do something on your site that other people want to link to and share it with those people.

Focus On Quality Work

Many small businesses find success in running promotions on their site. While bigger businesses may also get lots of links by releasing white papers or original research about their industry. Whatever your strategy, it should be focused on creating good, high-quality content, not just getting links.

Want to learn more about getting better results and higher rankings for your website? Contact us today at RankMonsters! We’re a local Internet marketing agency, and we specialize in helping business owners get more performance and more revenue out of their websites. Call us today at (405) 605-8218 or check out our Facebook and Twitter pages for more insight and tips!

Why Mobile Search Matters for your Website

Why Mobile Search Matters for your Website

Two-thirds of Americans now own and regularly use smartphones, and nearly three-quarters of those adults search for local information on their phones before visiting local businesses. This data points to a major shift in the way consumers get online and make choices about where to take their business. If you want to be seen online, you must start taking advantage of the opportunities mobile offers.

Are You Mobile Use Friendly?

Unfortunately, many websites aren’t doing just that. If you own or operate a website that doesn’t display properly on mobile. You might actually be penalized in search engine results. Google announced in June of 2014 that it would start adjusting search result rankings based on how well a website handles mobile visitors. For instance, 404 pages, videos that won’t play, improperly-sized images, and hard-to-read text could all negatively affect a site’s rankings.

Have You Thought About Your Icon?

Another telling move is the addition of “not-mobile-friendly” icons to some mobile search results. The icon, showing a smartphone with a slash through it, could potentially discourage mobile searchers from visiting a site. These decisions clearly show Google’s philosophy on the matter of mobile search: If your website can’t handle mobile visitors, Google isn’t going to send them to you.

That means it’s vital for your site to start handling mobile well. If you aren’t set up for mobile yet, how do you get started?

Two Ways to Handle Mobile

Website owners have two real ways to handle mobile visitors: responsive websites, and dedicated mobile sites. Each solution has its advantages and disadvantages. So you’ll need to decide which one is right for you depending on your goals and preferences. We’ll take a look at each type of site to help you make the choice.

Option 1: Responsive Web Design

Many business owners today are solving the mobile question with responsive websites. These sites handle mobile in an interesting way. Rather than directing users to a separate site, they simply resize the entire website to fit the display of the device the visitor is using. That means that a visitor to your site using a laptop would see a “full-size” version of the site. While a mobile visitor would see a version that is optimized to fit their smaller screen.

With a responsive website, the overall design of your website stays the same, but individual elements (such as images, text, and menu bars) change to suit the device. This has a number of advantages over other solutions, but it can also pose some technical challenges.

Advantages of Responsive Web Design:

  • Only One Site – The biggest advantage of a responsive website is that it allows you to keep the same site across all devices. This makes it easier to make changes to your site, keep track of all your content and pages, and ensure a consistent experience for your visitors.
  • Only One URL – Your site’s web address is important for both search engine rankings and for online name recognition. Using a responsive design allows you to keep the same URL across all devices, making it easier for visitors to know where they are online.
  • Protection from Bounces – In web design speak, a page’s “bounce rate” is the percentage of visitors who come to one page on the site and then leave without going anywhere else. Mobile sites often have a high bounce rate, since they offer a “stripped-down” experience with less design and content. A responsive website avoids that problem by offering all users the same content, regardless of platform.
  • Lower Costs – Because you only have to operate a single website, you keep your costs down. One website is cheaper to run than two.

Disadvantages of Responsive Web Design:

  • Responsive Design Doesn’t Always Respond – While the idea of responsive design is to offer a unified, easy-to-use experience for all users, sometimes your site may actually pose challenges you didn’t intend. Sites that are improperly optimized for mobile can drive off mobile users who want a simple, clean experience.
  • Mobile Has Different Needs – Smaller screen sizes and touch-based interfaces mean you may have to put emphasis on different parts of the same page to achieve conversions from both desktop and mobile. This can be complicated unless you’re an experienced web designer.
  • Technical Difficulties – Older computers or browsers may not always render responsive sites correctly. Plus, new phones or browser apps may also have challenges with a mobile site that hasn’t been updated regularly.

Option 2: Dedicated Mobile Site

Responsive web design isn’t for everyone. Many site owners prefer the relative safety of a dedicated mobile site. While there are some difficulties to operating a mobile site alongside a desktop version, mobile sites also offer a number of advantages that site owners appreciate.

The chief draw of mobile sites is that they are designed from the beginning for display on a mobile screen. This ensures the content, interface, and design are consistent and optimized for mobile visitors. Mobile sites also handle slower internet connections better than responsive sites, offering quick load times to visitors on cellular connections. This is important for visitors. Google actually uses load times as a factor in its search engine rankings.

Advantages of Dedicated Mobile Sites:

  • Better User Interface – By offering a site designed specifically for mobile users, you ensure that the interface and design of the site handles mobile well. This is a big advantage over many responsive sites that try to shoehorn a desktop experience onto mobile.
  • Speed – Mobile websites often have less elements (pictures, videos, advertisements) that take time to load over cellular connections. This will make your site load faster on mobile devices, and it will also save your visitors from using all of their data allotment on loading your site.

Disadvantages of Dedicated Mobile Sites:

  • Cost – Since you have to design, implement, and manage two websites, it’s understandable that a dedicated site costs more than a responsive one. However, dedicated sites don’t cost as much as you’d think to develop. So this isn’t a huge negative.
  • Technical Challenges – If users on mobile devices try to visit your desktop page, you’ll need to automatically redirect them to the mobile site. This can present some challenges. Especially if you have a large or complicated site structure.
  • Two Sites to Run – With a responsive website, any change you make is automatically applied to the entire site. Dedicated mobile sites are separate from their desktop counterparts. Meaning any change you make to one, you’ll have to make to the other too.
  • Two URLs – Mobile sites have a different URL than desktop sites. This can make your site a little harder to market. Though with automatic redirects its not as challenging as it used to be.

What About Apps?

Many companies have turned to a third solution to the mobile problem: mobile apps that take the place of the mobile website entirely. Often you’ll be prompted to download and install the mobile app when you visit one of these sites. It’s easy to see why owners and designers like apps. They’re not hard to design. They ensure a consistent mobile experience. They can also collect and send back more customer data than a website can. However, apps aren’t a true mobile site solution.

Is Creating An App The Cure All?

When you create an app for mobile users, the app doesn’t take the place of your website. Mobile users that don’t want to download an app will still use your site, and if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re back to square one. Plus, Google and other search engines don’t look at apps when deciding search engine rankings. They aren’t going to rank content that can only be found in an app. You could design the best app in the world put the best content on it, and you’d still lose out on rankings because your actual website doesn’t handle mobile visitors well.

Do Apps Work On All Devices?

Unfortunately apps don’t all work on all devices. You’ll need to develop separate apps for Apple, Android, and Windows Phone devices – a costly proposition. When you consider the costs of maintaining and updating apps across all platforms and devices (each one with its own software update schedule and conflicting requirements), you can see that apps are not a great solution for the vast majority of business owners.

Will You Be Left Behind?

The Internet is only going to become more and more mobile-centric in the coming years. If you want to perform well online and get business out of your website, you need to take advantage of the mobile space. Otherwise, you’ll be left behind.

To learn more about generating conversions and leads from your website, contact us today at (405) 605-8218. We’re a local Oklahoma City Internet marketing firm. We can help you on the path to online success.

Google’s Penguin Changes SEO – Again

Google’s Penguin Changes SEO – Again

SEO is a constantly changing game whether its google updates or keeping up with mobile use. Google, Bing, and other search engines are always updating the way they find and rank search results, which means that keeping a website consistently ranked high is a never-ending challenge. A perfect example of this is the recent change Google implemented in their search algorithm, Penguin 2.0. Lets see how Google’s Penguin Changes SEO- again. 

 

What Is Google Penguin?

For those unaware, the original Google Penguin was launched in April of 2012. Google Penguin was aimed at reducing the search engine rank of websites that used so-called “black hat” link building techniques like link spamming and keyword stuffing. Today these techniques add no value to a website’s SEO campaign. Spamming and keyword stuffing can easily result in your page being banned from Google’s search results entirely.

How Does Google Penguin 2.0 Change SEO

Penguin 2.0 goes even deer into targeting these black-hat techniques, and many sites have seen resulting dips in their search rankings and traffic. A number of the companies being affected heavily are older web properties with outdated links still pointing to their pages. However, companies with a wide range of “clustered” pages have also seen reduced rankings, as Penguin 2.0 has also reduced the search visibility of clustered URLs.

Content Creation

What does this mean for you, the page owner? In short, quality content creation is more important than ever. Google’s algorithm is doing its best to rank a variety of different websites that it feels have high-quality, user-friendly content. This is great news for the consumers, but it could be difficult for businesses that have websites without much content.

The New SEO Strategy

The best strategy here is to start building out your content pages and making them worth reading. It’s important to have a cohesive content strategy that positions your site as an authority in the field. To create content that is designed around providing a good user experience. Also, if you have a lot of older, unnatural link assets that point back to your website, even deep content pages. It’s worth working to manually remove and/or disavow those links.

How RankMonsters Can Help

At RankMonsters, we’re dedicated to improving your website’s SEO and page rank. Our monsters work as an extension of your team to provide you with high-quality content for your own website and a diverse and healthy link building profile. If you want to know more about what we can do for your website, contact us today.

Mobile Web Use: More Important than Ever

Mobile Web Use: More Important than Ever

Smartphones and mobile internet are one of the biggest forces online today. According to a report by Marketing Land. This report states that almost 40% of all time spent on the internet is spent on a mobile device. Which means that optimizing your site for mobile web use is more important than ever.

 

What The Data Shows 

The report goes on to detail several categories where mobile use is most prevalent. The biggest, unsurprisingly, are maps and weather, 84% and 60% respectively of all time spent on these sites is on mobile devices. Also of note is that, for time spent on retail and shopping sites, 38% of it is from mobile devices.

What Does This Mean For You?

It means that, unless your site is optimized for mobile visitors, you’re giving up conversions and sales. If a mobile user visits your site and has a difficult or frustrating experience, they likely won’t visit you again. Creating a positive experience for visitors on all platforms. This means their phones, tablets, and or computers.

So What Can You Do?

It’s important to have a mobile site ready to go at launch, alongside your regular web-page. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be attractive and simple. Mobile users don’t like to be loaded down with graphics and heavy design. Since it can be clunky and take a long time to load on a mobile data connection. Try to keep your mobile site lean and easy to use on a small touchscreen.

How Can I Get My Site Optimized For Mobile Web Use?

Of course, it’s also important to make sure your mobile site is optimized for searching by Google and other search engines, just like your main site is. For that, RankMonsters can help you out. We’re SEO professionals, and we can help you make sure your site ranks well both on desktop and for mobile web use. If you want to learn more about the ways RankMonsters can help you, contact us today.