SEO Ranking Tools: Google in the News

You’ve probably seen Google in the news a lot lately.

First, J.C. Penney was outed by the New York Times in mid-February for doing extremely well – too well – in organic search results for every phrase from bedding to skinny jeans. The Times enlisted an SEO expert to examine the site and found that thousands of unrelated web sites were linking to J.C. Penney (inbound links can help a site rank higher in search engine results). And each of these unrelated web sites were using descriptive anchor text to link back to the J.C. Penney web site. Tactics like these are known as black hat SEO. While not illegal, black hat SEO practices violate Google webmaster guidelines and the consequences can be devastating to your natural search rankings.

After the article was published, Google’s head of webspam, Matt Cutts, confirmed that the practices used by J.C. Penney violated Google webmaster guidelines. J.C. Penney went from the coveted number one spot to pages five, six, seven or beyond.

J.C. Penney denied knowledge of these practices and fired their SEO Firm, SearchDex.

A few weeks later, Overstock.com was exposed for a linking scheme involving college websites posting links to Overstock.com pages for discount shopping. Links from .edu and .gov sites carry a lot of weight with Google’s algorithm since they are considered trusted and authoritative.  After Google became aware of the problem, Overstock.com went from ranking in the top three results to pages five, six, seven and beyond.

Then, Google announced the long awaited content farm algorithm on Feb. 24th. The algorithm is meant to target sites that scrap content from other sites and publish non-original content with little or no original content.

Google said the change would impact about 12% of its results. While Google makes changes regularly to its algorithm, it usually doesn’t affect such a large percentage of results.

A lot of sites have been hit hard with a large percentage of keyword rankings lost. Wired magazine looked at which sites were hit:

Many well-known sites that pop up in search results despite having little good information, including Associated Content and Mahalo, were downgraded, according to an analysis by independent SEO software firm Sistrix.

Wired also noted that some sites that produce original content also lost rankings:

Cult of Mac, an Apple-focused blog which took a beating — losing nearly all of its Google juice in the change, and causing traffic to the site to fall by one-third to one-half over the weekend.

To see a detailed list, view Search Engine Land’s article: “Number Crunchers: Who Lost in Google’s ‘Farmer’ Algorithm Change?”

Google has promised to fix the problem for good sites that were hurt by the recent update.

Need help with online search marketing? Contact World Synergy to learn more. We can help with both paid search engine marketing and organic SEO.

SEO Ranking Tools — Tips on Evaluating Rankings

The ambiguous world of ranking analysis tools can be overwhelming and a struggle for some online marketing consultants.

There are endless SEO ranking tools and SEO keyword tools that are available and constantly overlooked.

Here are 5 tips to help you effectively evaluate your rankings:

  1. The infinite search engines.
    Ranking No. 5 on Google has a different impact than ranking No. 2 on MSN, so don’t get too excited when you see a higher ranking on a search engine that doesn’t attract many viewers. That doesn’t mean ignore the other search engines, but if you once ranked No. 10 on Google for a keyword then you move to No.1, then that’s something to boast about!
  2. Determine a baseline.
    It’s important you don’t ignore the keywords that drop off the Top 30 list. Even though a web user’s interest drops after the first several search results, you need to keep track of the other words to determine which ones are improving. Yes, even the ones that rank 50! A baseline will help with refining words and strategies.
  3. Testing 1, 2, 3.
    When you go to test keywords on a page, be sure the page is indexed by the search engines. You don’t want to displace terms that are already ranking well for a page.
  4. Q&A with High Rankings.
    You need to keep record and think about all the different tactics and strategies you did in order to accomplish a top ranking on Google. Did you use one or two keyword phrases in the title? Should the META description be revised to include a call to action? Will adding the company name before or after a search term be more effective? Or will it cause the ranking to fall?
  5. Look for Opportunities.
    Always keep your options open and think of other keyword opportunities. Additional strong keywords can help drive traffic to your site and increase rankings. Use web analytics to your advantage when searching for new possible keywords. Look for any unusual phrases people may be using.

For more information, contact World Synergy for your online marketing solutions.

SEO Marketing Tools: What Matters Most

Given the millions of possible results for many search terms, the right combination of factors must be in effect to rank in the top 10.

But the right search engine optimization (SEO)  tactics and emphasis can make a difference. Here’s a quick look at 5:

1. Choose appropriate keywords that are likely to convert.
2. Title tags – be short, relevant.
3. Page headings – focus on text, not graphics.
4. Content – plan on plenty of text and pages.
5. Build links – they influence rankings.

Click here for more SEO marketing tools.