Google Unleashes Panda 4.2

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Over the last 10 months, whenever anything happened on Google, it was speculated that it was the effect of the long-awaited Panda update. However, it wasn’t until last week that Google officially unleashed the newest update.

The launch of Panda 4.2 is slowly rolling-out and has reportedly affected about 2-3% of English-speaking queries. This update means anyone affected by Panda in the last update has a chance to re-emerge, if they have made the appropriate changes. This also means another opportunity to be penalized if you’re still not following the rules. Since Panda 4.2 is rolling out slowly, no drastic changes will be seen, but rather a gradual change in the listings.

The original Panda algorithm update launched in February 2011 in an effort to remove low-quality content from top listings on the Search Engine Result Pages and affected nearly 12% of English-speaking sites. There have been several updates to Panda over the years—some have been announced, and some have not. Have you seen any changes in your rankings since the new update?

Is Link Building bad?

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Link building is a popular strategy used for Search Engine Optimization. Having a link on another website—especially a high ranking website— that opens a door back to your website will help your SEO, in turn, assisting your rankings on Google. There are a few ways Webmasters can build links; some are Google approved, and some aren’t.

Search engines view links as votes for popularity and importance in the ongoing opinion poll of the Web and have since the late 1990s, so when Google Webmaster Trends analyst John Mueller said he tries to avoid it, the world of webmasters came to a halt. Several articles were posted shortly after that statement, including one by a Portuguese Webmaster stating “…to ensure that you are not violating Google’s guidelines: do not buy, sell, exchange, or ask for links.”

Does this mean link building is bad? Not quite. After that post implied that it was, Google responded with some clarification—sort of. Google stated that you cannot “buy, sell, or ask for links that may violate our linking Webmaster guidelines.” To specify on what that vague statement means, link building is good, unless you participate in link building schemes, including, but not limited to, excessive link exchanges, buying or selling links, or keyword-rich anchor text. So, if you follow the rules, link building, in addition to other SEO tactics, can assist in improving your search engine rankings.

If you are interesting in applying proper SEO tactics to your website, your Savannah web company, Robmark Web, is there to assist you! Call (912)-921-1040 to start the discussion today.

Further reading:

https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo/growing-popularity-and-links

http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/opinion/2412546/why-i-shall-no-longer-use-the-term-link-building

Google Spam Traffic

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If you’re paying any attention to your website traffic, you have probably seen a nice upswing in traffic over the last few months; however, it’s not as good as it sounds. Once you dig a little deeper, you will unfortunately find that this traffic is probably coming from sources like Social-Buttons.com, Best-SEO-Offer.com, Semalt.com or Buttons-For-Your-Website.com—spam bots.

A spam bot is an automated computer program designed to send spam and, in this case, artificially inflate your website traffic numbers. This increase in spam traffic is causing Google Analytics to provide skewed data, and it is particularly concerning for small businesses; a few extra hundred visits can truly make a difference. On top of the skewed data, these bots could also cause a server load issue due to the increase in website visits, which would cause slow load times for real visitors, increasing the bounce rate and consequently lowering the websites ranking. Any way you look at it, it’s not good.

Now that we have established what they are and what they are doing, let’s talk about how to fix it! Google Analytics has taken the first step by creating a spam blocker within the platform. This is a good first step; however, the blocker will only catch the most popular bots, and there are new ones appearing daily. In addition to Google’s spam blocker, you can block spam bots from hitting your site by altering your .htaccess files in the root directory of your domain. Tips on how to alter the .htaccess file can be found here.

These two levels of security will decrease the spam traffic; however, it most likely won’t solve all of your issues. The final layer of security suggested to protect your website from spam bots is adding analytic filters. The spam your website is receiving will determine the filters you should create. For example, if you are a local Savannah business that doesn’t do much business outside of Chatham County and you are receiving a lot of traffic from Russia or Cambodia, you should add an analytic filter that filters out those countries. This article on Moz will give you step-by-step instructions on how to create a filter.

However, if you choose not to mess with it, you can have your web company handle it for you, if they have not done so already. And if you don’t have a web company, call us! Robmark Web is a Savannah web design company that specializes in website design, website maintenance, digital advertising, SEO and social media.

Further Reading:

http://www.jeffalytics.com/google-analytics-data-quality-issue/

http://www.optimizesmart.com/geek-guide-removing-referrer-spam-google-analytics/

http://www.analyticsedge.com/2014/12/removing-referral-spam-google-analytics/

Mobilegedd-non: The apocalypse that wasn’t

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Over the last several months Google has been pushing their mobile-friendly update, urging webmasters to make sure their websites were mobile-friendly to avoid seeing “a significant impact” in the search results. The buzz became apocalypse-esque once the mainstream media picked it up and was soon coined “mobilegeddon.” D-day was April 21, and webmasters and SEO specialists were scrambling to ensure their sites did not drop in the rankings. Well, that date has come and gone, and little impact occurred. It has now been a month since Google’s supposed cut-off date, and Mark Munroe of Marketing Land reports that mobilegeddon has barely made a difference in search results. He notes that there was a minuscule dip in results and that most of the impact was seen on the second and third of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). So what happened?

Though there are a handful of theories as to why there was a lack of severity, one thing is for sure: Google has a sense of control over businesses, big and small. Google says, “jump,” and we ask, “how high?” Because of past algorithm changes that truly did change the face of the SERPs—Panda and Penguin, specifically—businesses don’t want to take any chances. So when Google warned “significant impact,” it’s no wonder we all reacted in an apocalyptic manner.

This is similar to an algorithm update they announced in 2014. Last year, Google announced HTTPS—a safer version of HTTP—would help with a website’s ranking. Following that announcement, scores of websites rapidly adapted to be more secure in fear of dropping in rankings. Yet, after the change, no shift in rankings occurred. Though no drastic changes occurred with either of these updates, a mobile-friendly Web presence and a safer website are not bad things. They are improving the Web experience for everyone, which is an obvious goal of Google.

Though the “punishment” was not as severe as promised, it is still heavily urged to have a mobile-friendly, responsive website. If you are interested in revamping your business’ web presence and creating a better user experience, call us at 912-921-1040. Robmark Web is proficient in creating responsive websites that work well and look great on any type of device, including mobile phones and tablets.

Google Map Listings Benefit Local Businesses

In spite of initiatives on the part of Google, only 37% of businesses have claimed their local business listing. That is a shockingly low percentage for how beneficial these listings are.

We have mentioned the importance of Google reviews when it comes to benefiting your local business but we have yet discuss map listings, which are just as important. According to Google, businesses with complete online listings are twice as likely to be considered as a reputable business. It is also proven that customers are 38% more likely to visit the business and 29% more likely to make a purchase from the business.

Businesses that are online grow 40% faster than those that aren’t, and with 4 out 5 people using search engines to find local information, such as directions or hours of operation, it’s important for businesses to be where potential customers are. If your business isn’t online, or your existing online listings are not fully optimized, you’re missing possible business opportunities. That is where we come in.

As part of our Web and SEO services, we ensure all of our clients not only have a properly optimized website, but also a fully optimized Google Maps listing. We know the importance of being visible to clients and as your local Savannah web development company we are here to assist you. Call us at 912-921-1040 to discuss how we can get you on the map.

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No More Separation Between Paid and Organic on Google

Now that Google has been around for nearly twenty years, people know its layout and understand that the first few listings are often paid results, not organic. Through growth and development, Google often tests user interface changes. One interface change they have recently made is removing the line between the paid and organic listings. Have you noticed a difference? Do you think this could cause confusion? We’d love to hear from you!

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