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2011 Review: 12 Months of Google
Monday, December 19, 2011
Wow 2011 saw a very active Google.  From Panda Sightings to more acquisitions and SERP updates, Google.  We saw more significant Google algorithm updates in 2011 than in any other year, and while Google maintains that they have always made numerous algorithm updates, the ones made in 2011 seemed more regular and more significant.

Let's look at a monthly breakdown of some of Google's updates in 2011.  Special thanks to Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Roundtable for his excellent coverage of the Google Panda updates over the past 9-12 months.

Google 2011:  The Year of Google Panda (and Other Algorithm Updates

January 2011
  • the start of the year saw Google release what was dubbed the "Farmer Update" in an attempt to address the issue of content farms.  This algorithm update was a precursor to Google Panda which would roll out less than a month later. 
  • January 26th saw the first major algorithm update of the year from Google http://www.seroundtable.com/google-content-spam-rollout-12872.html
February 2011
  • February 1st saw confirmation of an algorithm update directed at scraped content as opposed to solely at content farms.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-scraper-algorithm-12889.html
  • February 7th - Google warns of big changes to come.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-changes-coming-12919.html
  • February 24th - Google Panda rolls out and changes Google results forever.  In fact Google suggests that as much of 12% of their search results would be impacted by this update.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-content-farm-13013.html
March 2011
  • many Webmasters and SEOs are experienced one of Google's largest algorithm updates ever.  Still being referred to as the "Farmer Update", Google hints that there are more changes to come.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-content-farm-tweak-13031.html
  • March 4th ish - The birth of Google Panda?  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-13068.html
  • March 8/9th - Google warns Webmasters to remove low value content from their sites as a first step in addressing Panda issues.  In an ongoing Google Webmaster Help thread, Googler Wysz suggests "...if you were hit, review your content and any content you think Google would classify as "low quality" get rid of by deleting it or moving it to a new domain..."  Reports continue to pour in from innocent site owners claiming they were unfairly hit by Google Panda.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-farmer-advice-13090.html.  We followed this up with a list of 7 items to address post Panda update.
  • March 11 - 40-50% of SEOs polled say that Panda has impacted sites that they work or have worked on.  Reports continue to come in suggesting that some sites have lost as much as 70-80% of their traffic.  http://www.seroundtable.com/poll-results-google-update-13102.html
  • March 21 - 28 - early reports suggest that the Panda Update was spotted in Google UK results although not confirmed by Google as this point.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-status-13181.html.  Still massive complaints about the "negative impact" from Panda and no stories about many sites recovering.  Questions continue to mount wondering if we are better off with the Panda Update?
April 2011
  • April 11th. Google announces that the Panda Update has been rolled out worldwide.  Many Webmasters claim devastating results are challenging their businesses.  Google goes on to state that "The impact of these new signals is smaller in scope than the original change: about 2% of U.S. queries are affected by a reasonable amount, compared with almost 12% of U.S. queries for the original change."  People are still questioning whether or not Google's results have improved.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-worldwide-13259.html
  • April 14th - some Webmasters (very few mind you) are stating that they have finally seen some improved results since the original launch of Panda.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-improvements-13271.html
May 2011
  • May 6th - Google attempts to offer some advice for sites hit by Panda with a definite focus on improving the quality of content. 
  • May 9th - reports suggest that Google Panda 3.0 is underway, this update is later confirmed as Google Panda rollout 2.1.
  • A site known as Pandalized http://pandalized.com/ is launched with examples of sites that have been negatively impacted by the Panda Updates.
June 2011
  • June 7th Google Panda 2.2 takes place http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-22-13532.html still 85% of sites polled say that have not recupurated from the original Panda launch.    Google's Matt Cutts confirms that another Panda Update has been approved but not yet rolled out.
  • June 16th ish - Google Panda 2.2 is officially launched.  Still very little feedback from sites that have recovered from the original launch in February.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-22-hits-13586.html
July 2011
  • July 12 - ex-Googler Vanessa Fox shares some of her additional thoughts on Google Panda in an interview with Eric Enge.  Fox states that "Panda is updated on a periodic basis, as opposed to in real time. This is similar to updates to the PageRank displayed on the Google Toolbar, except it is a whole lot more important!"  Shes goes on to say "It’s important to look and see what other sites are ranking for. What are you offering that is better than other sites? If you don’t have anything new or valuable to say then take a look at your current content game plan."
  • July 14 - reports begin to surface that some sites have seen a Panda recovery by using subdomains to remove low quality content from the main site. 
  • July 22 - Google 2.3 confirmed by Google http://www.seroundtable.com/panda-23-13766.html.  some webmasters begin claiming some recoveries after this rollout of Panda.
August 2011
  • August 12 sees Google confirm the roll out of Google Panda 2.4 signifying the roll out in different languages.

September 2011
  • September 28 - Google Panda 2.5 is launched
  • September 29 - Search Engine Roundtable releases a poll of the types of sites most impacted by Panda.
October 2011
  • October 5 - Google's Matt Cutts reports to expect a "weather change" with tweaks to Google Panda in upcoming weeks.  Google 2.5.2 is released on October 13th
  • October 18th - more complaints about Google's latest Panda update.  Perception arises that Google downplayed this most recent update.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-252-level-14182.html
  • October 19/20th another minor Panda Update?
November 2011
  • November 1 - Google hints/confirms that recent Panda Updates incorporate Google Vince algorithm (brand bias) changes.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-vince-2-14233.html
  • November 4th - Google Freshness algorithm update is announced.  Separate from Panda.
  • November 18 - another minor Panda Update, later confirmed by Google.
  • November 21 - another refresh Google Panda Update said to have impacted less than 1% of results.
December 2011
  • December 6 - a Webmaster World thread explains how one site appeared to have recovered from Google Panda by simply shifting their content.
  • December 14 - Google tweeted that there would be no more Panda updates until after the holidays with the last official update occurring on November 18th.  Could that mean that the next update. post holidays will be a major one?  I have a feeling that it might be significant.

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posted by Jody @ 4:27 PM   0 comments
12 Things to Think About for SEO in 2012
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Wow 2011 has been quite a year in Search.  You might say that it has been the year of the Panda.  In November 2010 at PubCon Las Vegas, Google's Matt Cutts warned us that big things were coming from Google in terms of dealing with webspam.  Look for more of that to come in 2012. 

Still lots of "SEO is dead" commentary out there.  However SEO is not dead, it has just evolved, just as all digital marketing has evolved in recent years.  So where does that leave use for 2012?  We have compiled a Top 12 for '12 to help get you on track as you end 2011 and approach 2012.

Digital Marketing in 2012:  Twelve Things to Think About

From an SEO perspective, here are some items that should be on your radar (if they aren't already):

  1. Content Enhancement - establish a process for ensuring that your content is of the highest quality possible.  Avoid things like those lame articles that you have been polluting the Web with.  Any time you create a piece of content for your audience, it should be of high value.  Work on enhancing your content in 2012.  You won't be sorry.
  2. Site Engagement - as part of your digital marketing strategy you should be monitoring the engagement on your site.  I have yet to come across the perfect site.  Usability has a direct impact on how people engage with your site.  Make your site experience a pleasant one.  Test out new features and content pieces.  While you cannot please eveeryone all of the time, focus on the masses and improving the engagement factor of your site.
  3. Content Promotion - creating great content is one thing.  Getting it out there to the masses is another thing.  Work on getting your content to your potential prospects.  Leverage social media and social bookmarking options to allow people to promote your content for you.  Content promotion should be big on your to do list for 2012.
  4. Monitoring of Page Performance - by now, you should be running some clean code on your web properties.  While Google has communicated that they actually use things like page speed as part of their algorithms, I continue to see numerous sites who fail to address their site's performance from a coding perspective.  Monitoring of page performance should be a regular occurence with your monthly maintenance activities.
  5. Microdata - with the launch of Schema.org in June 2011, we can see how important richer coding and microdata will be.  Leveraging rich snippets in the search results can mean occupying more of the results page real estate making it more enticing to attract that click.  Who wouldn't want to leverage this?
  6. Mobile - we have been talking about mobile for a few years now.  Still surprsing to see the number of sites who have not yet tapped into the mobile arena.  Whether it is setting up a mobile friendly site or creating a mobile App, mobile traffic is only going to increase.  Time to pony up and establish your mobile strategy.
  7. Social Engagement - look for social signals to play an increasingly important role in what the major engines decide to show in their search results. 
  8. Revisit the fundamentals - it may be time to revisit some of the fundamental optimization of your site.  Things like page titles, meta descriptions, and other on-page elements.
  9. Keyword Trending - your keyword research should be ongoing.  In 2012, you will want to revisit some of the keyword trends that present opportunities for driving residual traffic to your site.
  10. Take a deeper look at analytics - yes I know we can get the numbers to pretty much tell any story we want, but it mat be time to revisit your KPIs to ensure that you are really monitoring what is the most important to your bottom line.  Keep it simple, you really do not have to get too complicated.
  11. Learn how the algorithms work - while we do not know exactly how Google's algorithms work, it does benefit to understand key factors as to how they crawl, index and rank a webpage.  Pay attention to algorithm updates, even if your site has not been impacted, monitor how other sites that have been impacted are reacting to the updates.  Why have the sites that have improved in rankings done so?  Why have sites that have been hit in a negative manner been impacted the way that they have?  Be aware of the timing of algorithm updates and be proactive with the optimization of your site.
  12. Take inventory of your site pages - 2012 is as good as time as any to gain an understanding of just how many pages your site consists of?  Which pages are performing well?  Which ones are not driving qualified traffic?  Take inventory of your site's pages to identify areas of strength and areas of opportunity.
I expect 2012 to be a big one in the Search industry.  Bing is continuing to gain traction and Google is contining to deliver the best results that they can.  Look for continued focus on things such as webspam, duplicate content and page performance to be key areas of focus for the search engines specifically Google.  Mobile and social will continue to grow and searchers will continue to become more savvy.  Approach 2012 with these items in mind and you will be much better off.  Fail to address these issues and well you know the drill... linger in sesarch purgatory.

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posted by Jody @ 8:09 PM   1 comments
Why Can't Google Solve My Traffic Woes?
Monday, November 21, 2011
So I am stuck in traffic due to a new overpass that has started to collapse. I live in West Kelowna, BC which means that I am required to cross the William Bennet Bridge to get to the office each day. The commute to work is fine, it's the return home that is the frustrating part. And for the record, this is my first ever blog post via my iPhone.

So typically I might use Google Maps or something to find an alternate route. Kelowna is not large enough to warrant such cause for action as there is really only one way into and out of town... But wouldn't it be cool if Google had some cool realtime traffic report functionality for your Geo? That way if need be you could plan an alternate path to your destination? I know, I know there are GPS units and such but a realtime traffic report search would be pretty cool, and not just for commuters but for emergency dispatchers and the like.

Wouldn't help me with my current traffic issues but realtime traffic search would still be cool. For now I will just have to be content with listening to a little Chickenfoot on my extended ride home.

You will have to excuse the typos as I am blogging from my iPhone, a new experience for me.

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posted by Jody @ 3:50 PM   0 comments
Google Freshness Algorithm Update
Friday, November 04, 2011
October tends to be a busy month for Google and their algorithm updates. So as we enter November, it was interesting to see Google announce their latest algorithm update that focuses on freshness.  The premise behind this latest algorithm can be summed up from Amit Singhal from Google when he states:
Given the incredibly fast pace at which information moves in today’s world, the most recent information can be from the last week, day or even minute, and depending on the search terms, the algorithm needs to be able to figure out if a result from a week ago about a TV show is recent, or if a result from a week ago about breaking news is too old.
So is this Google taking another shot at real-time search?  No I don't think so, especially in light that Google is no longer incorporating Tweets into the results.  Tweets are pretty timely pieces of information... as real-time as you can get on the Web.  At the end of the day, I think that Google simply wants to deliver what they feel are the best results based on the query.  Timeliness does play a roll here.

An obvious question becomes how does one ensure that their content is picked by by the freshness piece of the algorithm?  Well you can bet that site owners, SEOs and webmasters will be trying a number of different things to "manipulate" the freshness factor (re-saving pages anyone?) but it is important to note that a fresh piece of information does not always mean that it is the most relevant piece of information.   I mean if you type in an event with a date, chances are you may be looking for some "legacy" information and not some tweet from a kid doing a report on the topic.  Over at Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan touched on some of the query types or search types that may be impacted:
Recent events or hot topics. For recent events or hot topics that begin trending on the web, you want to find the latest information immediately. Now when you search for current events like [occupy oakland protest], or for the latest news about the [nba lockout], you’ll see more high-quality pages that might only be minutes old
Regularly recurring events. Some events take place on a regularly recurring basis, such as annual conferences like [ICALP] or an event like the [presidential election]. Without specifying with your keywords, it’s implied that you expect to see the most recent event, and not one from 50 years ago. There are also things that recur more frequently, so now when you’re searching for the latest [NFL scores], [dancing with the stars] results or [exxon earnings], you’ll see the latest information.

Frequent updates. There are also searches for information that changes often, but isn’t really a hot topic or a recurring event. For example, if you’re researching the [best slr cameras], or you’re in the market for a new car and want [subaru impreza reviews], you probably want the most up to date information.
These make sense, but it remains to be seen how other queries will be impacted by this.  35% of all searches is a lot of searches.  (Keep in mind that we are talking searches not keywords).

Did Google just make their results more relevant?  Hard to say.  Totally depends on the searcher, the search query used and the associated semantics.  It will be interesting to see how this evolves and to see if certain types of content see a lift in Google SERPs.

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posted by Jody @ 3:15 PM   1 comments
5 Years of Marketing Jive
Monday, October 31, 2011
In October of 2006, I started a blog in hopes really of learning more about blogging and some SEO issues that I wanted to test from time to time. I like to write, but as anyone with a blog or two knows, starting a blog can be a time consuming endeavour. 

It has been five years since I started a little blog called "SEO-Space".  I started the blog in part because I wanted to share some thoughts about my SEO experiences and offer some tips for others to leverage.  There are a lot of SEO resources out there, I wanted to create one that was a good resource, one that was:
  • a useful resource
  • simple to read and follow
  • offered great tips
  • shared some industry news
  • provided the odd opinion here and there
Twelve hundred posts later and here we are.  I have covered a lot of different topics most centering around search and online marketing.  Over the past five years, Marketing Jive has seen hundreds of thousands of visitors from all corners of the world visit.  While it might not seem that impressive to you, you have to remember that Marketing Jive is pretty much a one man show.  While we have had guest bloggers, pretty much 99% of the post have been by yours truly.

We have covered a diverse set of topics from SEO best practices, content strategies, marketing buzzwords, keyword research and the like.  It has been fun to see just which posts have generated the most traffic over the years.

Marketing Jive's Top Posts

Here is a look at some of our most popular posts from the past five years.
  1. Business Benefits of Using Facebook - from September 2007
  2. Top Marketing Buzzwords 2009 edition - January 2009
  3. Chrysler Dodge Caliber is a Piece of Junk - a little rant from March 2008 where I expressed my dissatisfaction with my wife's car at the time.  I received a lot of comments on this one.
  4. 14 Best Practices and Tips for Video Optimization - September 2007
  5. How Much is Your NHL Team Worth? - from October 2008... my other passion... hockey.
  6. 5 Ways to Reduce Bounce Rate - from February 2009
  7. Top Marketing Buzzwords - 2010 edition - January 2010
 Marketing Jive's Top SEO Posts
  1. Website Re-Design: A 21 Step SEO Checklist for Planning a Website Re-Design - from April 2008
  2. 37 Things To Keep in Mind When Writing Web Content - March 2007
  3. 15 Business Benefits of Using Twitter - July 2009
  4. Content Development: 11 Must Reads from Marketing Jive - June 2010
  5. Mobile SEO Tips: The Ultimate Guide to Mobile Search Optimization - March 2010
  6. Competitive Analysis: 12 Free Competitive Intelligence Tools - February 2009
  7. Online Reputation Management - Series - August 2007
Marketing Jive's Top Google Related Posts

We have had fun with various posts about Google over the years.
  1. 10 Years of Google Part Five: Top 100 Google Moments Part IV - September 2008
  2. What Makes Google Tick? Hundreds of Items Used in their Search Algorithm - April 2010
  3. Top 20 Google Blogs for Use in 2009 - September 2009
  4. Google's Best Practices for Product Search - from June 2009
  5. Top 10 Google Updates of All Time - August 2011
  6. Google MayDay Update: Definitive List of Resources - May 2010
  7. What If There Was No Google? - February 2007
Marketing Jive's Top Non-SEO Related Posts
  1. NHL Team Worth 2010: List of NHL Team Worth - October 2010
  2. Top 100 Rock Albums of the Decade: 2000-2009 - December 2009
  3. Mark Messier Greatest Leader in the History of Sports - February 2007
  4. CFL: 95th Annual Grey Cup: Roughriders vs. Blue Bombers - November 2007
  5. Happy Birthday Chuck Berry! Chuck Berry Turns 81 - October 2007
  6. Canadian Guitar God Jeff Healy Passes Away - March 2008
  7. Barack Obama Teams Up with Spiderman - January 2009
 I am working on my list of top posts which I hope to have ready for later this week.

Thanks for all of the folks that have visited Marketing Jive over the years.  A special thanks to our regular readers.  As some of you may have noticed, the frequency of my posts has slowed.  This is in part a result of me wanting to spend more time with my little guy Elias and my family.  In fact, for those interested,  I will be looking at selling my Marketing Jive blog so that I can focus my efforts with some new initiatives.  Feel free to for more details.

It has been a great five years.

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posted by Jody @ 11:34 AM   0 comments
Cool Infographic: Why Content for SEO?
Monday, October 17, 2011
For those of you who know me, you know that I think that infographics are passe and have really been abused for all of the wrong reasons. However from time to time I find a useful one (even if it contains some elementary information.

If you want to perform well in the search engines, there is no question that you need to feature quality and engaging content on your web properties.

Check out this infographic from Brafton on why content is important for SEO.

Brafton's Infographic: Why Content for SEO?

Download the full infographic here.

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posted by Jody @ 2:56 PM   0 comments
40 Content Marketing Tips You Can't Afford to Ignore
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Content marketing is a tool that any business can use (large or small) to reach their audience.  When performed and executed properly, any business can leverage content marketing to converse with their customers, prospects, partners and even competitors.  The fact is you do not even require a large budget to be successful with content marketing.  You just need to understand what you want to communicate, when and to whom. 

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is the process of creating and promoting relevant content to an audience that is searching for information.  It can be used to simply convey a process, describe a product, share an opinion or communicate some new information.  Content marketing can even be used to remind an audience about a product, service or experience.

It is important to remember that content marketing is not just the creation of the relevant content, but the promotion of this content to your desired audience. In addition content marketing is not effective when used as a sole strategy.  An effective content marketing strategy should leverage search and social marketing as well.  In essence, while you can create some remarkable content, you still need people to find it, to engage with it ans to share it.

Content marketing is really an ongoing process that involves a series of actions.  In fact, a typical content marketing process would go through the following steps:
  1. Establishing the overall content development strategy
  2. Researching what information your target market is actively consuming (and where).  This would also include researching which keywords that you should be focusing on.
  3. Content creation
  4. Content Optimization
  5. Launching the content
  6. Content Promotion
  7. Content Distribution
  8. Content engagement (which may include obtaining quality inbound links, and social shares)
  9. Measuring progress
  10. Revisiting any of the previous steps to ensure that your content marketing efforts are effective.
Content marketing at times can be trial and error, after all your target audience is ever changing as is the means by which they consume information.   Using the following content marketing tips can help ensure that your content marketing efforts are not going to waste.

40 Content Marketing Tips You Cannot Afford to Ignore
  1. Always have a plan
  2. Make sure you create an editorial calendar - even if you do not have a content team, an editorial calendar is a must to keep you on track.
  3. Understand that people consume information in different manners
  4. Understand that people in the digital age use online to:
    • learn
    • socialize
    • express opinions
    • to shop
    • for entertainment
    • to promote their business
  5.  Everyone is social (either online or offline)
  6. Be unique - understand what content already exists out there and do not try to rehash what is already available.
  7. Leverage testimonials (good and bad)
  8. Incorporate images with your content
  9. Consider leveraging rich media such as video to share information
  10. Remember, every page on your website should be somewhat unique and be an authority on a given topic.
  11. Learn how the search engines engage with your content.
  12. Leverage an HTML sitemap
  13. Leverage an XML sitemap
  14. Leverage microformats for information that can offer more information about your business, products or services (think:  addresses, menus, events etc.)
  15. Evaluate what is working for your competitors
  16. Pay attention to trending topics
  17. Learn how to "optimize" for search engines and social networks
  18. Become a master at keyword research
  19. Develop an on-going keyword research process
  20. Establish content goals from a traffic perspective
  21. Establish content goals from an engagement perspective
  22. Don't be afraid to experiment
  23. Tell a story when necessary
  24. See #6
  25. Take inventory of your existing content
  26. Try to optimize your pages for a single topic
  27. Do not use somebody else's content on your web properties
  28. Repurpose (or remove old/outdated) content - focus on quality.
  29. Remember it is not about the number of pages your site has, it is about the quality of those pages.
  30. Leverage blogging for the purposes of sharing content quickly and in a timely manner
  31. Take a stand - a little controversy can be a good thing
  32. Be creative - don't use infographics because everyone else is using them.  Think outside of the box when it comes to sharing content and how you will display it on your web properties.
  33. Be consistent with your offline content - oh boy, how many times have you seen a brand with confusing messaging on their website when compared to another form of advertising medium that they have used?  Strive to have you offline and online content compliment each other.
  34. Perform periodic reviews of your content - to ensure that users are engaging with it.
  35. Update your content regularly
  36. Monitor your top performing content and more importantly your poorest performing content via analytics.  Look for patterns and trends to ensure more consistent optimization across your website.
  37. Do not over optimize or over-SEO your content
  38. Facebook is not going away, use it.
  39. Monitor the links to your content to get an idea of which pages are more popular than others.
  40. Make your content available - do not hide it behind a login.
If you leverage the majority of these tips, you should experience success with your content marketing strategy.  Just how much success is up to you.  If you are in the business of being a directory, your days might just be numbered and you really are going to need to take a long hard look at your business model or at least at you content model to see if you are truly the authority you think you are.  For scrapers, article spammers and syndicators you too might want to revisit your approach with content marketing.  Quality content will always be more engaging with the user and with the search engine crawlers.  Developing a plan for your content marketing efforts may just help you engage with your customers like never before.  In this digital age, we are all publishers and as marketers we cannot afford to ignore the importance of content marketing.

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posted by Jody @ 2:15 PM   1 comments
Steve Jobs: A True Visionary
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Steve Jobs left us today. He was a true inspiration. Apple will never be the same. The world feels a lot emptier right now.

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posted by Jody @ 6:46 PM   0 comments
More Reaction to the Latest Google Panda Update
Monday, October 03, 2011
Last week, Google rolled out their latest Google Panda Update and it appears the reaction is similar to what many had when the original Google Panda update took place back in late February.  Searchmetrics shared some of the winners and losers of the most recent update.  It's no surprise to see content rich sites such as Zappos and the WSJ experiencing great success with the latest roll out of Panda, but what about the little guy?  What about the less popular brands with great content and great site experiences?

I am seeing more and more people become increasingly frustrated with Google's search results and this is not just site owners, but searchers alike.  It makes you wonder if Bing will continue to gain market share from Google?  Bing is no Google killer, but then again searchers need a decent alternative to Google whether that is Twitter, Facebook, or Bing.  So what are people saying about Google Panda 2.5?  Initially there seems to be suggestions that Google Panda 2.5 benefited video sites.  More on that here.

Response to Google 2.5

Here are a sample of responses from people on Google Panda 2.5:

Comments from  the Searchmetrics post from above:
  • Forget Google, they don’t know what the heck they’re doing anymore because they have an extremely fragmented approach to search. How many changes a year? (2-3 day average) and how many different “groups or teams” pushing updates? (too many).  Bing. Clean. Simple. Effective. All things Google USED to be. - John Davies
  • Fox news is up? Well there’s definitely something amiss with Google’s ‘quality’-meter.. - Jane
  • ... This is an update that favors Adwords spenders. Something commonly pointed out by Aaron Wall of SEO book. The bigger the spend the better the rankings.
    This update seems to validate the gov’t antitrust issues going on right now, and for once I agree with Capital Hill. Google seems to cook the results. They even remove sites manually because they object to them or feel they are spamming them which is not always the case its their “opinion”, yet they will allow large companies like JC Penny to publicly spam and get away with a 60 day penalty, while they take much heavier hands to other sites and penalize them for years and sometimes multiple occasions because of jealous competitors unjustified and sometimes cooked complaints.

    Google results are by far the worst they are today. You would think wikipedia and amazon own Google. They are a popularity search engine NOT a relative content search engine. Your site must be popular or it simply will not rank for relative content alone... - Google Antitrust
  • For those that think this is some evil-Google effort to benefit itself and big media, I think that’s off-base. They really are trying to get people the best results, but some types of content win and others lose out in the process... The pattern I’m seeing is that sites with a lot of video greatly improved and sites without much video focus got hit pretty hard. IGN, GameTrailers, G4TV and of course YouTube, TV.com, and metacafe.com are all sites with lots of video (or video-focused sites) that did well. GamePro.com and 1UP.com have much less video focus and took a big hit.- Norris Boothe

Response from Twitter:
  • @Elbst23 Google Panda strikes yet again. Late last week, Google Panda 2.5 made Waves across the web. Winners were big brands and video sites...
  • @mk03 Google Panda 2.5 update is now LIVE. Google has conformed, Panda 2.5 iteration is part of providing high quality site to Google user.
  • @WebProNews Google Panda Update: Google on Why Google Sites Did Well - su.pr/2MVG7y
  • @btabke Google Panda Update Content Farms vs Youtube Video Farm - YouTube youtube.com/watch?v=DmWPja…
  • @HesDave How many people are now un-employed due to PANDA? - Webmaster Central Help
  • @tedulle: New #Panda demoted Today Show & Motor Trend bit.ly/rekTjO The word "amok" comes to mind
  • The End Of The Road For Content Farms? About.Com Fires 15 Of 22 Editorial Staff - http://ow.ly/6Had1 
Other opinions:

Rand Fishkin - SEOmoz: Google Panda & SEO Tips From SEOmoz
Chris Crum WebProNews: WebProNews - DaniWeb Loses Over Half of Traffic: The Panda is Back.
Google panda update posterchild gets hit again after full recovery.

Can you believe all of this outrage over a little Panda?  Look for future Panda updates coming to a Google near you.

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    posted by Jody @ 7:49 PM   1 comments
    A Couple of Must Read Posts...
    Thursday, September 29, 2011
    Hi folks, sorry about the lengthily wait in between posts, time has been elusive over the past couple of weeks and we hope to get rolling again with some regular posts. For now we would like to share some really great posts from the last week.

    Should Rick Santorum’s “Google Problem” Be Fixed? - Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land - I, like many, have been a little critical of Google's results ever since the launch of Caffeine.  I am obviously not the only one who has been questioning the results.  This is a great article to show that problem may not solely rest with Google, Danny breaks down an interesting example of how Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum has been quite vocal about the issues with Google's search results.  I appreciate this article because indirectly it illustrates just how the over-emphasis on link popularity by the engines can result in less relevant search results being presented (depending on the search query of course).  I'm not saying that some of these results should not appear, I'm just saying that they probably should not appear regularly on the first page.  As Danny states,
    It is poor relevance from both Google and Bing that his campaign site is ranking behind Spreading Santorum. From a relevancy standpoint, for most people, I’d say it should be first. It’s what most people doing that search are likely trying to find — except for the search voyeurs who heard about the odd ranking.
    It is a great read.  http://searchengineland.com/should-rick-santorums-google-problem-be-fixed-93570

    5 Ways Guest Blog Posts Can Help Your SEO - Daily SEO Tip - many of us realize that blogs are great mechanisms for getting content out on the Web in a hurry and they are even more important if you are a respected blogger and produce great content.  Of course if you have a blog, there are some great SEO benefits as well.  This post highlights some ways in which guest blogging can help yourSEO strategy.  Some really cool tips here.  http://dailyseotip.com/5-ways-guest-blog-posts-can-help-your-seo/1882

    A Revamped Delicious Increases Imagery & Adds “Stacks” - Greg Finn, SE Land.  Over the past couple of years I have really become a fan of Delicious.  It is with good reason that Delicious is touted as the world's leading social bookmarking service.  This week Delicious launched a new look and some new features including their "Stack" functionality.  Greg's article is great review of the newly revamped Delicious.  If you have not yet tried Delicious, now might be the time to start.  It is a great tool for housing knowledge transferring knowledge, sharing knowledge or for simply storing your most important and relevant resources that you can refer back to as needed.  http://searchengineland.com/a-revamped-delicious-increases-imagery-adds-stacks-94621

    There has been a number of great posts about SEO, search and digital marketing this week.  The three that we mentioned here are just a sample of such.  Enjoy!

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    posted by Jody @ 6:22 AM   0 comments
    Content Promotion: The Other Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy
    Tuesday, September 13, 2011
    I have written about content development strategies and about writing for the Web on numerous occasions and we all know just how important content is for your website, but for some, one thing that sometimes gets overlooked as part of a content development strategy is the actual promotion of your content.  You can have the greatest team of writers in the world, but if no one can find your content their efforts may simply be wasted.  It is no longer enough to simply produce awesome content, the need to promote your content has become nearly as important as content creation itself.

    There are a number of great resources out there on content marketing and if you have attended any of the major search conferences over the past couple of years, you have most likely heard great folks such as Lee Odden discuss the importance of content marketing.  I have read a number of great books on content marketing and content strategies and there is definitely no shortage of quality resources out there.  So for this post I won't really go into too much detail about the importance of content marketing, but I will suggest that if you have not established a content development strategy for your web properties as of yet, you have some catching up to do as content marketing is really finding its legs here in 2011.  Recently algorithm updates such as Google Panda further illustrate the need for high quality content, but again creating this awesome content is really the beginning of your overall content marketing strategy.

    I equate content creation to the good old days of the music industry when an artist created a record or CD that featured ten or twelve songs on it.  (Of course this is before the digital era, so some of you younger folks may not be able to relate...)  For those of us who used to have to purchase music from a record or music store, how many times did you purchase an album that had a couple of good songs only to have the remainder of the album be filled with fillers?  It was rare to have a really solid album with ten solid tracks.  Depending on your genre interest there may have been a few artists who actually had a solid release from start to finish.  I myself, like good old rock n roll.  My guilty pleasure was a lot of the hair band stuff that came out in the 80's and 90's.  So with all of the "hair-bands" and later grunge bands out there you usually had artists that had albums with a couple of decent songs and the rest were fillers.  Of course there were exceptions with bands like Van Halen and Def Leppard which usually featured some great tunes that were very polished and produced, but for the most part a lot of these artists were one hit wonders.  At the time they were dominating the music charts.  While some of the hair band music gets a bad rap, there were some solid efforts that simply did not get the exposure that resulted in modest or limited success in terms of album sales.  Slaughter's "Stick it to Ya" from 1990 and Warrant's 1992 release "Dog Eat Dog" are notable examples. These were two solid albums with no filler material yet they simply did not get the promotion to do either of them justice.  They each experienced moderate success reaching double platinum and gold status respectively.  Yet while the songs were solid the albums did not see the promotion of other acts at the time.  Before I digress too much, the point that I am trying to make is that great content is nothing without proper promotion.

    Content Promotion:  The Other Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy

    The Internet is a hyper-competitive environment.  Think about how many p[ages search engines such as Google have indexed.  Reports suggest that they have indexed over a trillion pages.  Knowing this how does one promote their content to be featured in the prime real estate of the search engines?  Well without going into great detail, a well established content strategy can help you get there.  A key part of this strategy is the promotion of your content. 

    Content can be promoted a number of ways but there are a handful of ways that can be used to promote your content effectively, efficiently and successfully.
    1. Content Syndication
    2. Social Sharing/Bookmarking
    3. Social Media
    4. Via Links (aka linkbait)
    5. Guest Blogging
    6. Email Marketing
    While I won't go into great detail for each of these methods, it is worth discussing a couple of them further.

    Promoting Content via Syndication

    Syndication is a great way to get your content out to the masses fairly quickly.  There are a number of ways to syndicate your content:
    • Promotion via Feeds - things such as RSS allow you to syndicate content automatically
    • Leveraging multiple web properties
    • Leveraging news sites (Google News, DIGG, etc)
    The problem with content syndication is that while you want to get your content out there, you do not want to simply create duplicate entries.  Ideally you will want to avoid creating noise and duplicate content on the Web.

    Promoting Content via Social Sharing or Social Bookmarking

    What is easier than having your readers promote your content for you?  Leveraging social bookmarking and social sharing options is a great way to make it easy for others to share your content.  Tools such as ADD This http://www.addthis.com/ make it extremely easy to populate social sharing functionality on your web properties.

    Content Promotion via Social Media

    Marketing your content is no longer simply a matter of SEO and SEM.  Social media marketing is a must if you want to engage with your desired audience.  Environments such as Twitter, Facebook and even MySpace or YouTube content.  Leveraging social is simply not a wait and see tactic.  Chances are that if you are not currently leveraging social media to promote your content, there is a good chance that your competitors and more importantly your audience is using these social channels.  Social media is a relatively easy way for publishers to promote their content.  Whether it is in the form of 140 characters or a video or a status update, the Web has become and will continue to get more social.  Currently 30% (or more) of the world's population is on the Internet, many of them are visiting some form of social environment.  Folks, this one is a no-brainer.

    While I have only scratched the surface here with regards to content promotion, you must realize by now that it truly is not enough to simply create content and while "content is king" the promotion of this content is what will help you engage with your audience and will provide signals to the search engines just how authoritative your site is about insert topic here.

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    posted by Jody @ 9:00 PM   2 comments
    SEO Quick Tips: Preparing for a Website Redesign
    Thursday, September 08, 2011
    It seems like all site owners go through a website redesign at some point or another. Previously, we have posted tips for planning a site redesign, but we thought at the very minimum there are a few items that are sometimes overlooked when planning a site redesign.  As a result we have compiled a Quick Tips list of five things that will help you prepare for your redesign.

    SEO Quick Tips for Planning a Website Redesign
    1. Take inventory of your site's pages - this is so important yet is often overlooked due to the inability to compile and keep an inventory of your site pages.  Understanding not only how many pages your site consists of but knowing what those pages are is critical for moving forward with your redesign.  I know, I know some of you e-commerce site owners are thinking, "...but we have millions of pages...".  The fact is if you do not even know what your site consists of how can you possibly ensure that your site is fully optimized?  This topic warrants a post unto itself but  for now it makes our list of quick tips for planning a redesign.  Some site owners are able to perform an internal crawl of their pages to take inventory, other may require the use of tools.  Depending on the size of your site, tools such as XENU and Screaming Frog may work well for your needs.
    2. Take inventory of your links - at least gain an general understanding of who is linking to your pages, and have an idea of which pages currently have great inbound link inventories.  The same can be done with regards to your internal links.
    3. Prepare checklists - when planning a site redesign, working from a checklist or checklists will make your life more easy and will help ensure that you do not overlook any key elements of the redesign.
    4. Pick a realistic launch date - by doing this you can provide ample time to plan, test, transition, launch and monitor your site, through the redesign process.  This also gives you something to work towards.  While launch dates frequently change, having a realistic launch date in place should mean that changes to the launch date should happen less if at all.
    5. Understand your keyword rankings - many folks say that rankings don't matter.  That is total BS.  Everyone monitors their rankings.  If you are at all interested in how your site is performing in search you need to monitor your rankings in conjunction with traffic data and such.  Prior to proceeding with your redesign take the time to know where you rank for your important key phrase, in particular your non-branded phrases.  Anytime your perform a redesign or make major site changes you run the risk of losing rankings and traffic as a result.  Mitigate this risk with a knowledge of where you stand in the search engines.
    There you have it, five fairly easy things that you can do to help prep for your website redesign.  Trust me levering these items can save you some grief, time and money.

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    posted by Jody @ 6:45 AM   1 comments
    Google's List Snippets
    Wednesday, August 31, 2011
    Last week Google released what they refer to a list snippets. We had been seeing some of these snippets leading up to the official announcement from Google so we thought that we would mention them as we can expect to see more snippets with Google's search results in weeks and months to come.

    Google List Snippets

    Who:  Google
    What:  Displaying list information in description area of search results.
    Where:  Google Search Results Pages
    When:  Launched August 2011 (Official announcement August 26,2011)
    Why:  To better reflect the content of Google search results, making it easier for searchers to find the most relevant results


    Example of List Snippet
    A search for “pizza restaurants in Montreal” returns this result for Yellowpages.ca:

    Here is a list snippet for hotels.com that appears when searching for "hotels in Las Vegas":

    SEO Implications

    Of course webmasters and site owners will want to know how this impacts their SEO efforts.  Well that remains to be seen, but there are a couple of questions that come to mind:
    1. How will this impact CTRs?
    2. Does this devalue the use of the meta description tag?
    Let’s examine these questions in a little more detail.

    How will this Impact CTR?

    Depending on what is being displayed in the list snippet, these snippets might either:

    a) encourage the click through by displaying related information that the searcher is looking for thereby enticing the searcher to click through to the site
    b) prevent the click if the user is finding information that they are seeking (such as a phone number or address) – a potential solution to this would be to control what is displayed in these list snippets. 
    • To prevent Google from displaying snippets (and Instant Preview for your page) you can place the following tag in the <HEAD> section of your page: <meta name="googlebot" content="nosnippet">
    • This tag will prevent previews from appearing in regular search results, but will not affect previews on ads. http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35304

    Does this devalue the use of the meta description tag?

    It is important to remember what meta data is and that is meta data is really data about data.  Currently search engines such as Google used meta descriptions to learn more about the topicality of a page.  Quite often, Google will display the meta description in their search results.  While this may change over time with rich snippets and list snippets showing up, it is still recommended to include unique meta description tags on your site pages.  Follow best practice and do not spam or abuse the meta description tag and you should be fine.
    Google continues to attempt to improve their search results.  Some of the enhancements that they test and try may work and become widely accepted.  Others may not.  I am in favor of rich snippets, depending on what information is being displayed.  However at the end of the day if the snippet displayed helps me find what I am looking for then I'm happy.   

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    posted by Jody @ 2:45 AM   0 comments
    Why Social & Site Engagement Ranking Metrics are Important
    Tuesday, August 30, 2011
    Can you imagine if Google was more of a complacent company, one who did not look to regularly improve the search experience for users? What would Google look like? Would it be reminiscent of Yahoo or perhaps more like ASK? While many site owners and webmasters do not always agree with the results displayed by Google in their SERPs, you have to respect the mighty G for continuing to work on refining their results in hope of delivering the best results possible for a given search query.

    Take some of their recent algorithm updates for example. Google Panda rocked what we saw in Google search results. For better or worse we saw a lot of sites that lost rankings replaced by at times other sites that were questionable based on the query performed. I have been critical of Google results for the past twelve to eighteen months (oddly enough around the time when Google began rolling out Caffeine) but I can understand what their end goal is... to provide the best search results possible. This is not an easy job people, and Google understands that. Perhaps that is why they are asking help to identify scraped content.

    The fact is that if Google did not care about the user, they would not worry about trying to improve the search results as regularly as they do. Google has a series of search teams from engineers, to quality managers, they take their search results very seriously. If they didn’t why would they:
    • rollout a major infrastructure change (Google Caffeine)
    • place more emphasis on big brands (Google Vince Update)
    • improve the size of their Index (Google Caffeine)
    • increase focus on local search (Google Places)
    • assist users with search queries (Google Instant)
    • focus on webspam (Google Farmer Update)
    • focus on low quality content/duplicate content (Google Panda Update)
    • release a Google Chrome site blocking extension
    • launch Google +1
    • be looking to identify scraper sites and duplicated content
    It might be a fair comment to say that post Caffeine Google is broken. However a broken Google is still better than some of the alternatives out there when it comes to finding information. (Think of all of the endless low quality directories or autoblogs out there).

    Google’s ranking algorithms consist of hundreds of factors but what we are seeing is that the weight of some of these factors is shifting. While link popularity continues to be a key ranking factor, you have to think that with the ability to artificially inflate a site’s link inventory Google is modifying the weighting of this factor. It is no coincidence that Google has been communicating the importance of social and site engagement over the past couple of years. It is with these types of metrics where I see Google going and there is evidence that Google is going this route with their ranking algorithms.

    Why Social & Site Engagement Ranking Metrics are Important

    Google has often communicated the importance of site stickiness citing metrics such as bounce rate or time spent as being key metrics in monitoring the engagement success of a site. Factor in the social element and all of a sudden we can see just how important social and site metrics become. Google has been watching what has been going on in the online space with regards to social activity. It is no secret that Google has at one time or another tried to acquire or form partnerships with social sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It is no secret that engagement metrics are big on Google's list of ranking factors. That alone should be reason enough to pay attention to social engagement. Google is and will continue to use social engagement metrics as a ranking signal. Look for this to carry more weight moving forward. Social, unlike link popularity cannot be as easily gamed. This also makes it appealing to Google as a ranking factor.

    How important is social to Google? CEO Larry Page reportedly sent out an internal memo to all employees informing them that 25 percent of their bonus will be tied to the success or failure of Google's social products. How people interact with a site either positively or negatively can impact what Google will display in their search results. Google’s launch of their +1 button suggests just how important social and site engagement has become for Google. http://www.google.com/+1/button/.

    Derek Gordon over at MediaPost’s Search Insider shared a story where a recent meeting between Forbes reporters and Google sales representatives took place in which the Google resource “suggested a strong correlation between search results and publishers putting the Google "+1" button on their pages. The article goes on to suggest that:

    Google is encouraging web publishers to start adding +1 buttons to their pages, and the message in this meeting was clear, 'Put a Plus One button on your pages or your search traffic will suffer.'

    The fact that the Google +1 button impacts your site’s visibility in the search results is reason enough to place it on your site pages. Keep in mind that this is one ranking signal of many used by Google, but it is a social/site engagement metrics that is a new ranking factor that previously did not exist. If Google’s search results become richer based on the factoring in of social and site engagement metrics, you can expect the weightings of these metrics to increase. At the end of the day we are seeing what could be a monumental shift in how Google ranks a particular webpage. While there are still hundreds of factors used in Google ranking algorithms, expect Google to give more weight to engagement metrics and less to link popularity metrics.

    Additional Readings on Social Engagement

    Google’s Focus on Quality and the PostRank Acquisition

    Official: Google Analytics Gets Social Engagement Reporting

    Google’s addiction to speed, and how engagement metrics will shape the web.

    Does Google use data from social sites in ranking? (Matt Cutts Video)

    What is driving engagement on Google+?

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    posted by Jody @ 6:35 AM   2 comments
    Ever Wonder How Google Comes Up with Ideas for Algorithm Updates?
    Monday, August 29, 2011
    Continuing with our theme on Google algorithm updates, we came across a nice post from the folks at Google as to how they come up with their algorithm updates. Ever wonder how Google decide upon an algorithm update? This post might shed some light into how Google works to ensure that their search engine continues to provide the best results possible.

    It features a brief video with snippets from key Google engineers including Amit Singhal, Scott Huffman and other Google engineers and analysts.  Some key points that you may or may not have known:
    • Google made over 500 changes to their search algorithms last year, as Amit Signhal suggests that equates to nearly two per day. - how many other search engines do you know of that have this level of commitment to their search results?
    • Scott Huffman states that each potential change is analyzed very deeply to try and ensure that it is the right things for users
    • the first step with improving their algorithm always starts with an idea which may be based on a set "motivating searches" which are searches that are not performing as well as Google would like.
      • key ranking engineers then look at what signals or data could be integrated into their algorithm to address these issues
      • all ideas are tested through scientific testing
      • they have "raters" which are external people that have been trained to judge whether one ranking is more relevant or higher quality than another by looking at side-by-side sets of results
      • they use the "Google Sandbox" to test this out on live users as well. 
      • all of the data is rolled up and further looked at by a search analyst
    • in 2010, Google ran over 20,000 different experiments
    • Google conducts launch decision meetings where the leadership of the search team further evaluates the data and makes a decision
    • Google focuses on whether these changes will help users just in the US or based in other various GEOs
    Amit Singhal:  "...when you align Google's interests with users interests as we have aligned, good things happen..."

    Great  video on an interesting topic.  It is easy to see how Google remains the premier leader in the Search space.

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    posted by Jody @ 6:35 AM   1 comments
    The Top 10 Google Updates of All Time
    Monday, August 22, 2011
    For anyone involved in SEO and online marketing you will no doubt be familiar with terms like "Google Dance", "Florida", "Vince", "Big Daddy" and more recently Panda. These are all terms that describe the ever changing landscape of the Google SERP. Many of these terms are reflective of something that many site owners and webmasters have come to expect, the Google algorithm update.

    Google make updates to their algorithms all of the time. Depending on who you talk to they make anywhere from 400-500 changes a year. Perhaps that is why they are still the dominant search engine in North America and throughout other markets across the globe.

    Even though Google is the dominant player in Search, they are in danger of losing market share if their results continue to suffer. Over the past twelve to eighteen months we have seen a number of large algorithm changes that have dramatically altered the results that we see in Google. For better or worse Google continues to make regular updates to their algorithms.

    We thought we would compile our list of the top ten Google algorithm updates of all time. This is our opinion so you can agree or disagree, but these updates are the ones that we feel have had the greatest impact on Google search results and on Search in general.  Algorithm updates can be great for some sites and not so great for others.  We have discussed tools to diagnose the impact of Google Algorithm updates, but sometimes you really need to ride out the storm when it comes to algorithmic changes.  For many impatient webmaster or site owners they simply cannot understand this.  Algorithm updates have to run their course.  Your tactical manipulation to try and rank number one for (insert key phrase here) will often fail miserably.  The fact is you shouldn't be trying to game Google and you shouldn't be entirely reliant on traffic from Google 65% market share or not.  However being smart about your online strategy means that being present in Google should be a definite part of your online initiatives.

    Make no mistake Google will continue to make algorithm updates and changes.  They have a difficult task ahead of them in trying to sort the World's information.  If you are doing things correctly, your site make not be impacted by an algorithm update, but if you are employing questionable tactics you might be in for some hard times. 

    Top 10 Google Algorithm Updates of All-Time

    #10.  Google's Jagger Update - October 2005 - Google continued to make a series of algorithm updates surrounding link farms, low quality links, reciprocal links and the ever discussion-worthy paid links.  The Jagger Update also looked at some canonical issues and according to SEJ, the Jagger Update consisted of three elements: "The first was to deal with manipulative link-network schemes, sites generated with scraped content and other forms of SE-Spam. The second was to allow and account for the inclusion a greater number of spiderable documents and file types. The third was to allow and account for new methods of site acquisition beyond the use of the spider Googlebot."

    #9.  Google Austin Update - January 2004 - in the aftermath of the Florida Update, Google's subsequent algorithm update "Austin" continued to focus on spam tactics such as link farms, white on white/invisible text, and over optimization of meta tags (keyword stuffing).  Again a number of sites were impacted, but in the end Google took a huge step to cleaning up its index.

    #8.  Google Brandy Update - February 2004 - Ever notice how Google tends to have a lot of updates in the months of February and October?  This particular update focused on Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), increased focus on anchor text relevance and link neighborhoods.  This update also placed less emphasis on tag optimization.

    #7.  Google Vince Update - February 2009 - this update could easily rank higher as I think that this update had a profound impact on what we now see in Google's search results.   While Google downplayed this as a minor update, many others did not feel the same ways as big brands were seeing favorable results.  In October 2010 this became even more evident as brands continued to see further preferential treatment.  Where "pizza hut" previously had two rankings for a branded search, they now owned the SERP with as many as eight listings.  Again Google attempted to downplay the update suggesting that this was not a brand push.  This has had a dramatic impact on directory-type sites that previously enjoyed rankings for various branded terms.

    #6.  Google's Big Daddy Update - December 2005/January 2006 - more of an infrastructure update, Google's Big Daddy may have been one of the first major algorithm updates to look at duplicate content issues as a large part of this update focused on redirects (301/302's) and URL canonicalization.  Google's Matt Cutts touched on Big Daddy here.

    #5.  Google Universal Search Update - May 2007 - this was a Google update that I really liked as it meant that we would be experiencing a rich search results page with things such as news, images and video populating Google's search results.  Gone were the ten blue links (for now).  Other engines followed and blended search was born.  Danny Sullivan dubbed this Google 2.0, but the results page would begin a series of changes that would make it a so-called richer experience.

    #4.  Google MayDay - April / May 2010 - this update focused on long-tail keyword traffic as many webmaster noticed a drop in their long-tail rankings and associated traffic.  This update would be the preview to what we would see with the Google Panda Update.  There were a lot of sites hit by MayDay and there was certainly a lot of discussion about the Google MayDay Update, but MayDay was only a sample of what was yet to come.  MayDay began Google's quest for higher quality sites to display in their search results.   Google told Vanessa Fox that "that it was a rankings change, not a crawling or indexing change, which seems to imply that sites getting less traffic still have their pages indexed, but some of those pages are no longer ranking as highly as before.."

    #3.  Google Caffeine - June 2010 - what Google began testing in August 2009 became a live update in June 2010.  Caffeine was an infrastructure change that would allow Google to crawl the Web more efficiently resulting in their index growing from billions of pages to billions possibly even trillions more.  We are still experiencing the ramifications of Caffeine as Google continues to clean up their index.  As SEOmoz suggests, "Caffeine not only boosted Google's raw speed, but integrated crawling and indexation much more tightly, resulting in (according to Google) a 50% fresher index."  Google called Caffeine a more robust foundation that would allow them to provide a richer search index.  Hmm well perhaps richer and more spammed if you ask many in the industry.

    #2.  Florida Update - November 2003 - this was a big one.  I remember being asked my thoughts on the Florida Update as I was starting my career at Enquiro.  I remember thinking that this was going to be huge, I just wasn't sure how much of an impact it would have on the Search industry and on how websites would be performing in the search results.  This was a good update as tactics such as keyword stuffing were no longer acceptable and as a result many sites dropped off of the face of the search landscape.  The Florida Update caused millions of pages and sites to be dropped from Google’s results.  Danny Sullivan had a good review of the Florida Update only weeks after it occurred.  Looking back it was an obvious effort to improve relevancy for the sites that were being listed.  Or was it?  A number of commercial sites suffered.  These are sites that you would expect to see when doing generic "head-type" keyword searches.  In the end however, the Florida Update was necessary for the progress of the Google Search Engine.

    #1.  Google Panda Update - February 2011 - ongoing - We have written numerous times about the Google Panda Update.  This one made the top of our list based on the sheer volume of search results (and sites) that were impacted.  When initially released Google stated that this update would impact nearly 12% of Google's search results.  Twelve per cent?  Are you kidding me and that was just the first phase of Panda.  The Panda Update stems from a lot of the poor quality results that were showing up in Google really as a result of Google's infrastructure update Caffeine.  Google's index grew exponentially and as a result, I'm not sure if Google was prepared for all of the spam results that would now be part of their index.  With all of the low quality content, syndicated and duplicated content out there, it was only a matter of time before Google cracked down on the quality of their search results.

    I was in Las Vegas attending PubCon in November 2010 listening to Matt Cutts touch on webspam and that Google will be tacking measures to deal with a renewed interest in spam.  Little over a month later the algorithm updates began... starting with the "Farmer Update" and then leading into Panda.  Google's search results will never be the same again.  The thing with Panda was the high number of "innocent" sites that were caught in the crossfire.  There were a lot of complaints, in fact people are still complaining of the devastation that their sites and businesses have suffered as a result of Panda.

    So what is the best way to deal with an Google algorithm update?  Sometimes it simply means waiting and riding out the storm.

    Related Resources

    • SEOmoz Google Algorithm Changes - http://www.seomoz.org/google-algorithm-change 
    • Barry Scwartz Major Google Updates Documented - http://searchengineland.com/major-google-updates-documented-89031

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    posted by Jody @ 9:02 PM   1 comments
    Google Sitelinks Update
    Wednesday, August 17, 2011
    Just a quick note to touch on the fact that Google has updated their sitelinks algorithm.  I think that this is a pretty cool feature providing that Google is displaying the sitelinks that are most important to your site.  At this time we still have no direct way of controlling which sitelinks appear but we can control this slightly by blocking sitelinks that we do not want to show up via Google Webmaster Tools. (Google refers to this as "demoting" a sitelink.

    Sitelinks are links to other pages on your site that may appear under the search result for your site. Google generates these links automatically, and it should be noted that not all sites have sitelinks.
    Sitelinks are often triggered by a branded search query.  Sitelinks are displayed for results when Google feels that they will be useful to the user.  However, there are a couple of reasons why Google may not display sitelinks for your site:
    • poor site architecture
    • if sitelinks for your site are not relevant for the user's query
    Here is how the new sitelinks appear for Marketing Jive.

    3 Tips for Controlling Sitelinks
    1. Ensure that you use anchor text  that's informative, compact, and avoids repetition.
    2. Do the same for alt text
    3. Demote irrelevant sitelinks via GWT.  Demoting a URL for a sitelink tells Google that you don't consider this URL a good sitelink candidate for a specific page on your site.  Google won't guarantee that these URLs will not appear as a sitelink, but in my experience they tend to be replaced with other URLs.  You can demote up to 100 URLs, and demotions are effective for 90 days from your most recent visit to the Sitelinks page in Webmaster Tools.
    As a user and depending on my search query, I like the new and improved sitelinks.  Especially if they help me access the information that I am looking for faster.  According to Google:

    "... we have made “a significant improvement to our algorithms by combining sitelink ranking with regular result ranking to yield a higher-quality list of links...this reduces link duplication and creates a better organized search results page.”

    Sounds good to me.

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    posted by Jody @ 6:39 AM   0 comments
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