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Google Takes Another Bite Out of SEO: First Links and Now Keywords

spn_exclusive1For search engine marketers — and the companies who depend on them — things just got a little tougher. SEO companies, most still reeling from the impact of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, aren’t going to like what the CEO of LinkSmart reported in Forbes on Jan. 22.

It’s not just links that are taking a hit from Google — now keywords are in trouble too, according to Pete Sheinbaum, who was the CEO of Daily Candy before taking the helm at LinkSmart. Google put an end to the easy acquisition of links, which for more than a decade had been essential to search engine rankings.

Links remain important, but their overall value has diminished. Worse for SEO specialists, quality links have to be earned. Google stripped sites of many links they deemed forced, purchased or otherwise tainted and now makes it harder for sites to gain links. Content marketing and social media marketing are usurping SEO’s dominance in link-building as Google now rates links based on perceived value — a link from an article published in a high-authority magazine or shared on Twitter — gets more Google love than links from ezines and directories.

Google Shields Search Results Data

And now, Sheinbaum says in Forbes, keywords are also losing their importance in marketing.

Google isn’t discounting keywords as it did links. But it’s making it harder for websites and advertisers to know what keywords drive traffic. Google is keeping much of that information to itself and may become increasingly stingy about releasing it in the future, Sheinbaum says.

If, for example, your marketing strategy revolves around keywords such as “how to make money online,” you may be paying a search engine company to put those keywords in anchor text and spending money on pay-per-click advertising based on the phrase “how to make money online.”

Google is not stopping you from spending money this way, but the company is making it harder to track results. You may not know if someone visited your site because of the keywords or because of some random reason.

What happened? Google used to freely pass along reports about keywords. But for any site that uses Google analytics — and about 57 percent do, according to study by Optify — Google keeps this information private. This is good for Google — it acquires information for its own advertising purposes — but bad for other companies who sell advertising based on traffic and keywords.

This means that marketers and advertisers are going to have a harder time analyzing traffic on their websites — and justifying their rates to website owners. Owners who want to get the most out of their marketing dollars — and SEO companies who want to keep earning their fees — will have to look beyond raw data and try to look deeper into the meaning of traffic rises and dips.

If traffic rises on a Tuesday, falls two days later and picks up five days after that, simple data will no longer provide the reason. It will be necessary to examine what changed on Tuesday — content was published on a high-authority site or a new ad campaign launch — what happened in the four days of slower traffic and on the fifth when traffic picked up.

New Strategies Needed

Todd Mumford , CEO of SEO Visions, says the information in the Forbes article should not alarm search engine specialists. For one thing, he says, Google started shielding keyword information months ago and savvy online marketers and company owners are already employing new strategies to test the strength of campaigns.

Mumford, interviewed for this article, cited three key ways to analyze traffic data despite Google’s attempts to keep the information to itself:

1. Google Webmaster Tools

These tools allow website owners to see statistics on daily average traffic, prominent search queries, ranking position and other statistics.

These tools do not, however, always provide accurate results. Google webmaster tools reports, for example that DavidAndersonWealth.com ranks at position 81 in the US, but it has rested in position 33 to 38 for several weeks.

2. Site Search

This tool helps owners and markets understand keywords relevant to a customer buy cycle — you can find out what keywords customers click on (or ignore) when they’re on your site and adjust accordingly. Mumford says websites can synchronize site search with Google to help synch up their data with Google’s.

3. Site Surveys

Mumford says site surveys can be a very effective way to collect data provided your website has a decent amount of daily traffic. Such surveys can be more valuable than Google analytics, he says, because they do a better job of capturing user intent. Questions, ratings and comments on your site tell you more about your customers — and how to market to them — than the keywords they click on.

When you understand your customers, you can match keywords to their intent without Google’s help. If, for example, your site visitors click more frequently on words such as “lose weight now” than “get healthy,” you can build your content and marketing accordingly.

Bottom Line

Traffic analysis requires more nuance — and more guessing — and companies may make more missteps than they’re used to until their tracking skills become better refined.

Google is growing up and forcing website owners and online marketers to grow up, too.


David Anderson is an entrepreneur, business guru, mentor and author. Based on 30+ years of experience from the UK, USA Europe and Canada, David and his team have shared their “secret sauce” that has worked time and time again and helped “ordinary people achieve extraordinary things”. Visit David Anderson Wealth.

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David Anderson

David Anderson is an entrepreneur, business guru, mentor and author. Based on 30+ years of experience from the UK, USA Europe and Canada, David and his team have shared their "secret sauce" that has worked time and time again and helped "ordinary people achieve extraordinary things". Visit David Anderson Wealth.

152 Comments

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    • That is a very valid point. You simply have to do the research and think hard about what you are providing in terms of value to the consumer.

    • Oh please guys its all about the money

      they are favoring pay per clickers on there natural listings and anyone going against amazon, wal-mart etal are toast. Google does not have anything but the best interest of their investors at heart

    • Hi Craigmn3,

      “Oh please guys its all about the money”

      It might be, but you have some choices to make.

      1. Play the game and understand it and use it to your advantage

      2. Don’t

      🙂

      Best,
      Todd

    • Do you think that re-drafting the old content which already exists in the site will retain my site keywords back to the original position? But i was having the same content when my site was created and it has been more than 5 years. And i am ranking for the same content in top for years. Why Google has put my site keywords down?

  • google always Persuade us to Grow up!
    so this will grow Google simple strategy. . .
    Google takes data from us. select according to its Algos, rules, reject that does not suits to Standards thats it

    • I think in many ways Google is trying to persuade the whole of the Internet to grow up. Google are in a very powerful position to try and establish global standards that they would like to see for the average Internet browser.

  • Really? Google is making it easier to find products and content? No it isn’t. I’m a seller and I’m a shopper – and these changes have made it ridiculous trying to find products. I’ll use Google to try and find something and all I get are Facebook pages that go to Amazon, spam pages that go to Amazon and so on. How is this making it easier for shoppers? Google is making it easier for shoppers to continuously buy from Amazon and thats about it. I either have to dig deep into Google, going 3, 4, 5 or more pages in to find something, or go try Bing. Google isn’t making it easier to find content. They are just making money.

    • To a great extent you are right. Certainly in some cases it has become less easy to find certain content and products. But you have to look at this as a short-term issue. Google are in this for the long term, and regardless of what any of us do or say, to maximize the benefits of Google we have to play by their rules.

    • I agree with you. When i started using the net about 15 years ago, it was easy to find the information you needed.
      But now all I sem to find is Amazon listings over and over. And actually finding info on a product or a product review is almost impossible now.

  • Hi David,

    Thanks for sharing this exclusive news. Looks like the SEO niche is getting more and more complicated to get involved in. And I think it might be a good development for the SEO specialist as it means that it is harder for non-SEO specialist to understand the ins and outs of SEO and thus more hiring of SEO specialists!

    Thanks.

    • There’s nothing complicated about SEO at all when you stick to pure white hat.

      Through all of G’s algorithm changes, my clients rankings didn’t budge at all.

  • I don’t understand why Google making too many changes after Panda And Penguin it’s more harder to do SEO activities and get some good results and now again another new update from Google i think we must learn on Regular Basis to get complete understanding of Google algorithm and get maximum results in SERP.

    • It’s difficult to know, but they are tackling issues which have been a problem as far as delivering quality information to their users. You are right that if you want to be in the space you simply must keep up-to-date with all regular changes within Google and learn to understand what their long term goal is and how you can use that to the maximum benefit.

    • Don’t go behind quantity, go behind quality. If your content provides sufficient information as well as your back links on relative sites and discussion, there will be no effect even thousands update my one of my site still in top 3 with specific keywords because I did very well on-page as well as off- page.

  • Looks like it is time, for webmasters and all online folks to give other search engines, a try. If this is done concertedly, google could slide in terms of importance.

    • You should always try and ensure that you have more than one source of traffic for your business.

  • Hello mate,
    Its really a superb post.. Came to understand about the tools to find the traffic and about the keyword.
    Thanks for sharing this post. Its very useful.

  • Hello.
    I came to know that meta keywords are still use full…
    Can I use meta keywords in my web page if yes how many keywords I have to use

    Please help..

    Thank you

    • @Ravi, I don’t know if someone else already replied, but here’s the answer to your question.

      The school of thought is to optimize a page for one keyword phrase.
      But in our business that is not necessarily the case.

      A lot of people said that
      Using a small number of strong keywords, relevant to each unique page,
      will help your website to rank well with search engines.

      Me personally I have about 4 keywords that my site is optimized for.
      Reason for this is that most people will link to your main page, so the link juice will be for that.

      What you want to do is make sure your title has the phrases based on value.
      Then natural mix in those phrases into your content but make sure it is visitor friendly
      content and not just keyword stuffing.

      Too many keywords?
      In practice, however, using a large number of keywords is not practical and could actually
      end up harming the website

      ‘Keyword stuffing’
      Overuse of similar keywords or repeating a keyword very often will be picked up by the search engines.
      They may even flag your website as a spam site.

      The search engines build their reputation on delivering relevant, good quality sites to their customers,
      and so sites that appear to be of very poor quality and are overusing keywords will be penalized.

      Keeping it simple.
      Note: keep it all natural and legit. The only short cut in SEO is to the Penalty Box.

  • The is nothing so constant as change. As the Google dance returns marketeers need to educate their clients (for many of you there are just not enough hours in the day to keep tweeting etc.) I fully understand that many people really do not like the idea of having to become involved in the fairly new “social media” world. It’s a game changer!

    • Yes indeed, it is all in fact about education. To market online in today’s world you must be aware of what is going on around you, and to be ready to exploit every opportunity available to drive your business forward.

  • Purely depending on Search Engine for traffic is very risky as the business can be wipe out overnight if they change its algorithm. I still feel writing good relevant content with the reader in mind and natural back links from relevant websites is still the way to long term benefits.

    I will always make sure that there is several methods so that my business will not be wipe out even if search engine change their algorithm.

    • The only reason you should be worried is if you have shady practices. Original useful content will not suffer from any changes the big G has in mind. (organic search results ),however Google shopping is a different animal i’m still trying to wrap my head around. Good Luck!

    • Hi Jason,

      In general, although websites can be wiped out overnight, this is less common than it used to be. Google is being more proactive about providing messaging to the business in terms of potential issues with unnatural links and low quality content which are the two cornerstones of Penguin and Panda, respectively.

      I suggest to businesses that they audit their backlinks with a professional to ensure that low quality links are removed. Additionally, low or thin content pages that do not provide ‘unique value’ should be removed.

      And in their place, high quality content development should lead the way in adding more value and attracting more high quality inbound links.

    • Don’t look at it as a problem, look at it as an opportunity. If you are able to stay ahead of the curve you will outperform your competition.

  • Well, What google is doing simply is telling you. DON’T BE A TROLL! pay attention to your customers/visitors. and that’s exactly what every company should do. busnisses are money oriented not client oriented. and there is a consciousness that’s changing world wide towards a more personal client care.

    • Absolutely right and well said. Business has always changed and evolved. This is just another part of it’s evolution. if you’re not prepared to change with it, you will end up like the dinosaurs!

  • I can see why they are doing it as they don’t like the SERPS being manipulated but they are becoming draconian about things – a bit like the kid that storms off the pitch proclaiming “it’s my football” just because they don’t get their own way.

    Truth be told people just find other ways – Facebook, Bing, Amazon, eBay etc. Google has forgotten that it is their users that promoted them in the first place and we can quite easily use other companies for promoting products.

    Personally I feel search engines are going to be surpassed anyway by video. Let’s face it would you rather read a review of a product or watch a video about the product? I know what gets my vote.

    I’ve long got passed the stage of worrying about rankings in Google. You just need to accept the fact that they are constantly changing the way their text based index works and they are out to make as much money as possible from Adwords. Once you accept that then you just move on to other ways of promoting your products – try word of mouth with “Tell a friend and get x% off your next purchase” etc. Works just as well.

    • Actually, despite what most think, not everyone prefers video. Personally, I prefer written reviews and articles to video.

    • Some good points Alan. Every business should be using multiple ways to bring in sales, Google should just be one of them. have to say though I do agree with Deb’s comment above. in a recent research we did with their own customer base over 90% currently prefer written text over video.

    • Hi Alan,definitely some good points here. Thanks for your input.

      The benefit of looking at business development in a holistic way, like you have, is that you tend to build for your consumer, and place less emphasis on developing traffic from one source- which as you mentioned can really be detrimental long term if that source changes its rules or the way they play the game.

      Ensuring that you are consistently looking at all areas also helps you to drastically improve your business from the inside out, and redefine the problem you are trying to solve for the consumer.

  • So effectively Google won’t be as helpful with keyword tracking for webmasters and other ways will have to be found to track keywords.

    • SEO is losing its power, certainly, but it’s too soon to give up on it entirely. Great content trumps keywords, but it’s still vital to get the content noticed. And SEO continues to play a role there.

    • Hi Ritu

      Thanks for commenting.

      SEO isn’t losing its power. Traditional SEO changing. SEO is being re-shaped and redefined daily. And as mobile and other large areas of search come into play, the changes happen at a faster and faster rate.

      Staying on top of changes as best as possible is crucial for any business that wants to stay competitive in the marketplace and retain and grow customers.

  • Great article.

    It’s hard to blame Google for making website owners properly take ownership of having to develop relevant content. I see this as a further move towards pure ‘content SEO’ where we get away from all the tweaks (such as link titles etc) in favour of websites with good, relevant and regular content.

    In so many ways, it helps those with a blog/content strategy for their web marketing.

    Cheers,
    Karl
    Business Blog Writer

    • Hi Karl, yep I think you’re right, content is always been King, and whereas in the short term it will ruffle feathers, in the longer term for those that stick with it it will have huge benefits.

    • Hi Karl – I totally agree.

      Raising the bar for Google means reducing the impact on SERPs that less unique and less organized businesses have in terms of prominence. Which is a good thing, because it means that more results will display high quality, organized companies that have potentially spent more time considering consumer needs and addressing them.

      This is why consumers love big brands so much.

  • I love this:

    “Worse for SEO specialists, quality links have to be earned.”

    To see how bad this sounds, let’s shift the situation at bit to say:

    “Worse for college students, good grades have to be earned” or “Worse for employees, paychecks, bonuses and promotions have to be earned.”

    Yep. Too bad for SEO specialists, business owners really, they have actually work to earn those links. Work. What’s the world coming to . . .

    • Work… amazing concept. I have worked tirelessly to build a brand that had no web presence for over a year. I followed all the “new” rules then – now all that organic work for keywords is basically a waste if I can’t see the traffic as it is. Why does Google need to keep my website traffic private from me? So they can sell my keywords to people who will pay them? I will not pay for ranking – why? Organic should have been the highest and best way to rank – after all, that’s what Google said they wanted before. Organic should have allowed us to track the keywords and the resultant traffic or lack of. So, does this mean that in order to actually measure traffic we have to resort to only social media? And, if this becomes the case, will the next big “change” from Google block out (or significantly reduce) the ability to measure traffic and keywords via social media channels without paying?

      Everything I do is organic which means it takes me tons of time and months to increase ranking. If I put in the time to do the work, I should darned well have the ability to fully measure every aspect of the work I did and determine trending traffic, keywords etc. without having to pay GOOGLE for the keywords I determined.

    • Hi Christopher, I think because the Internet is such a fast moving medium, a lot of people expect that everything can be done in a very short time. whereas through is some truth to this, as far as future work with Google is concerned it is certainly not true. we all go have to work at it, and if not work harder,, and certainly work smarter.

    • Yes. It is very bad for the people like us who are working for the client projects. Since i was working hard and ranking for the targeted keywords which brings business to clients and suddenly if these keywords dropped and not bring business client will definitely question us. What we must do to solve this issues.

      I have been already sent request under GWT for re-considering my site, but they replied that there is no manual spam present in your site content and they are not clearly mentioning what happened. I do not receive any message from GWT till now.

      It is a very big problem on how to satisfy those clients. It is very very tough to let them know what happened actually by the Google algorithm. Hope this article would serve people like us to show as a reference article for Google sudden SERP algorithms.

  • We always tried the Google Webmaster Tools so far & it did give a pretty decent insight. Now we would have to look at the other two options that you stated. Let’s see how that goes.

  • Thank you for the regular updates on whats Google up to. Its becoming harder and harder to market online and one has to be very careful o SEO not to be penalized. Thank you once again.

  • Been thinking for ages that Google is just out for itself and pushing people to PPC for their own gain.

    • Well Google is a business after all, but if they were just after PPC they would lift the restrictions that does not allow certain businesses and industries to advertise with them.

  • They are hiding the data only from the free marketers (SEO) by moving all the new browsers to a secured search protocol while using Google.
    But if you are a paying marketer you can still enjoy all the information you need with Google adwords and analyze it as you wish…

  • The more you keep feeding Google the more powerful it becomes. The solution; I don’t use Google anymore. There is an old saying the way to win the game is not to play the game at all. By this we mean as long as you keep playing Google’s way there is no way you will defeat this animal other than by staving it; and to do that you have got to use an alternative way of promotion other than Google.

    • Hi Dave, I can understand your frustration with Google, trust me are not alone. The problem is of course, that certainly in the foreseeable future Google are going to continue to feast on the banquet. So the question is, are you coming to the party or will you stay at home until it’s over?

  • i agree with you ”Dave Roche ” i guess as publishers we just have to resort to social traffic. Google is making the game so difficult, they want us to pay for advertisement in their search engine. SEO experts are killing them, because once you rank on a strong keyword, traffic will pop in and you will find no need on spending money on Google’s Adwords campaigns. PLAN B is needed now.. i wish Bing was that strong.

    • Hi Philip, interesting points. I get very little traffic from Bing, I’ve also tried Bing PPC with pretty poor results compared with Google. I have had some really good results from Facebook PPC if that’s any help?

  • I read the article in Forbes, It makes interesting reading but its a known fact that Google will not give anyone in depth keyword or search data as they make money using this.
    Webmasters should use what ever tools they can to analyse data and not rely purely on Google’s tools, but they do provide some very useful information.
    Sometimes we get obsessive with keywords and SEO and blame the big G for our woes, but they do provide 66% of the worlds search traffic so they can and will do what they like, at the end of the day only websites that are well compiled with fresh useful information are going to make it.

  • “Google is growing up and forcing website owners and online marketers to grow up, to”

    That’s a pretty insulting closing comment. Web masters and marketers are only using the tools Google gave them, which in turned help Google rocket to the top. Now they are pulling the rug out from under them.

    Just like Google did in 2000, it’s time for another search technology to make it’s arrival on the scene.

    ..if we’re lucky, Google will join Yahoo in the “we were once great, until we go greedy” club.

    • I agree with Stig, that is very insulting.

      Not sure why all stats are shared unless they are being manipulated in some way and they do not what that found out.

      Oh yea, what happen to open source.

    • Insulting? Do you think so Stig? I can totally appreciate the way you feel, however that it simply doesn’t alter the facts. Google is changing, and you have the opportunity to change with them or not at all. And Keith, you could be right, I don’t know, or I can do is encourage you to accept what’s happening because it’s happening, and hopefully try and point you in the right direction to make the best of it.

  • Google is giant, it can do whatever it wants. But if it shows power (authority)too much, users and all webmasters will find less demand, and later will say good bye GG.

  • What I have understood from the last one year changes that high ranking for any site now more or less depends on humanized branding and promotion tactics. The days for link building and submissions have gone and the link farms are harming you much than ever before. So it is high time that SEO masters who are really concerned for their clients should focus on humanized and natural brand and reputation management. This might increase the cost and the resources required but I think that Google is fair in doing this.

    • Good point Max, the link farms have their fun, and helped a lot of businesses become far more popular than they ever deserved. Anyone could see that there was going to be some kind of backlash from Google at some point, and the link farms instigated it. The result is harsh, and in fact possibly much harsher than perhaps necessary, but at least is out there in the open. We are all being guided, some pushed and shoved, others even screaming towards a better quality search engine which will eventually produce better and more relevant searches in the future.

  • It is a sure thing that Google has to rely on keywords and the simple fact that this has been going on for some time now should not be alarming to anyone doing SEO. The not provided data has been part of the impact since early last year.

    If you are unaware of the mechanics and how it works, you are behind the curve by a long shot. Of course as said above, you could always just start using other search engines. Blekko has made some significant gains and so has DuckDuckGo. No matter what the outcome, I bet is boils down to the mulah no matter what company you use for searching.

  • Does this mean that in analytics paid Google keywords will be trackable but organic ones won’t? I noticed recently that this seemed to be the case but didn’t know if this was deliberate or not. Now I guess I know why…

  • This is a real pain as I am just starting to learn SEO and it seems that on site text is becoming more and more crucial. If anyone has any ideas about increasing the ranking of my mates website please let me know. Its http://www.kentgasco.co.uk – Hes a plumber

    • Hi Kent,

      Although it is frustrating to see data which we believe is helpful taken away, that shouldn’t necessary affect the strategy that your friend uses in promoting what he does online.

      He should focus on offering a clear, concise solution to his consumers (and convey this on the website)

      One way to demonstrate this by developing high quality content that his target audience (consumer) can relate to and potentially engage with.

  • Personally I think this is tool much for webmasters. Google should reveal information or inform the public of such changes instead of keeping them to themselves. Google allowed the webmasters to make these ‘MISTAKES’ and now that they have improved in their perception, they should help the webmasters improve and eliminate these errors.

  • This is just more of the same for Google. Everything they do seems to be focused in driving site owners to rely more and more upon their PPC license to print money. This is a long term strategy that started way before Universal Search began. Of course Google will say that all of this is to improve their search engine results but just how much can you trust Google these days? All of these changes are just other ways for them to get around their claim that Google won’t charge for placement. Wake up people the emperor has no new clothes on he is naked!

  • All this is doing is reminding us to always stick to the basics. Other search engines will still pick you up, however now the prices will be driven up by SEO companies as this is now 10 times harder to get a client the results you need. This has already taken affect as if you search high traffic keywords Social Networks Dominate them. Google it trying to dominate the Social Network Community this was all started a while back. Google offers perks to large companies if they are using Google products. They have already conned the giants. Twitter create an uprising against Google+ because of unfair rating and now Google has responded. Take the hint from Twitter and follow in their foot steps if enough people and companies stand up you WILL see results. http://www.globetek.us

  • All these changes and breath of multiple diciplines is only making long term SEO’s more valuable to a company. Understanding a businesses entire presence on the web and past, present, and future stats are becoming critical to continued viability of a business. As google hides more data, understanding the total picture that only an in house SEO professional can deliver is more important now and will only become more so. Knowing when to jump and when not to jump every time google does something comes from experience and knowing your clients online presence. This is assuming good quality SEO practises have been applied through the years to all websites and detailing in higher quality content what a business has to offer for all groups of people is what marketing has always been. “Say it in more ways than one and keep saying it often”.

  • Why is everyone so concerned. Just write quality unique content, diversify your anchor text and link portfolio, acquire high quality relevant links, and have proper on sight optimization (Don’t over optimize). That’s it. Google is just cracking down on worthless spammy content. So don’t spam and make your linking portfolio look as natural as possible. Link building will continue to work as long as you provide useful unique content for users.

    • Dan, you are absolutely right. so many people are focusing on the negatives that they’re not looking at the positives. I think you’ve summed it all up in your comment above.

  • Here we go again. After the Panda and the Penguin, I took some time to read what authority sites like this had to say about them.

    My opinion is that Google gathers data to its own benefit under the curtain of “User experience”. When I use Google to search for some info or want to find a product to buy I come up with videos, amazon etc. Unfortunately my country has no Amazon and we can not shop there.

    Google favours its partners. I would too but why don’t they just come out and say it.

    • Hi Reuben, thanks for commenting.

      All of the above might absolutely be true, but it shouldn’t stop businesses from wanting to be on top of the newest changes, and developing alternatives so that they can be proactive about their business and growing it.

      In a lot of ways, the takeaway I see from this article is to always be moving, growing, testing and developing alternative ways to put your website in front or your target audience and present something to solve unique problems your audience bring. The site survey is a perfect example of this (and is commonly under-utilized for online businesses)

  • I think Google is just venting it’s power, and devising more ways to make money, as one person said above, he goes to do a search for a product and all he get is Amazon or some other spammy site. Where is the diversity in that?

  • I still think Google has forgot how and why they made it to number one in the first place. They almost ALWAYS gave users good results for a search. The web masters who employed SEO specialists did so for the most part knowing that their website’s were relevant to the search terms they were coming up for. Why would someone spend thousands of dollars on SEO if the terms they were optimising for weren’t releveant to their site??? In other words SEO companies and savvy web masters were doing much of Googles work for them. Now it seems that Google has adopted the attitude that “Google knows what’s best” and are changing the rules on a weekly basis. And who are the big winners out of all this??? A quick look at the latest Bing / Yahoo figures shows their share of the search market on a steady growth curve.

  • Google is a monopoly, sooner or later, they will be dealt with. In the meantime diversity is really important. Use all the social media you can to build your brand/business.Google has wiped me out twice with their updates, exact match domains… Still, I persevere, use Google as much as possible and all other forms of marketing. Most important of all, “Build your email lists”. That takes the power away from any external organization, and gives you the control you deserve for your efforts

    • Great comment Timothy, build your email lists, they are a solid ongoing asset that is almost 100% in your control. Email is the most cost-effective way of doing business if it’s done properly.

  • I thank you for giving us the skinny on this new development. For many of us old timers this will mean having to learn a new trick.

  • For the past 2 years one of my client site keywords are in top 5 position in Google.com and as well as in google.com.au. But after the google update on 17th january slowly my keywords move to 3rd page and some keywords even not showing in google. I did not stop my work. I continued working for more than a month very hard to retain the keywords back to the same position. But i can’t even find one keyword comes up. Rather than i goes beyond. For example one of my client site keyword (Recruitment Services) which is ranking in 4th position is thrown away in both google.com and google.com.au

    What i have to do in order to retain my site keywords. I felt bad on this particular Google update. Almost 70% of the people were affected by this update. I also tried in sending request to GWT. But it shows there is no manual spam detected by our spam team.

    How could i solve this problem.

    • Hi Recruitment,

      Sorry to hear about the drops in positioning for you.

      Pandas and Penguins are able site quality (content) and inbound links pointed to your domain.

      If there are low quality pages or low quality links, this can affect the overall authority score the domain is given, which can ultimately mean lost positions in Google.

      Additionally, building links in an unnatural way can also trigger flags which can cause drops.

      I recommend auditing your website for content quality, writing higher quality content where needed, replacing thin or marginal content and ensuring grammar is strong.

      I would also use one of the more popular inbound link tools to determine the types and quality of links pointed at your website, for starter.

      I am a big supporter of the SEOMOZ.org Q+A section and would encourage you to consider posting questions there. There are many expects there including Rand Fishkin himself.

      Hope this helps!

      -Todd

  • I wish the changes Google launches daily is to help website owners and webmasters to “grow up” and not enrich itself.
    The bottom line why Google is hiding keywords used in searches is to force people to use the adword and nothing more

    • Yes you are correct, but too many people just rely on one source of traffic. Everyone should have a digital marketing strategy that includes at least five sources of traffic.

    • Hi Sumit, that is a seriously positive attitude, I wish you all the very best in your future skill developments 🙂

  • Just don’t point any risky backlinks to your websites (blog comments, forums, social bookmarks etc… Be smart about what’s happening and adjust to the times. 10 strong backlinks can outrank 1000 crappy backlinks, keep that in mind 🙂 Today it’s not about quantity it’s about quality. Don’t over optimize your anchor text. Throw more brand and random keyword in your backlinking such as read more, click here, official page etc. Use the 60/40 rule for backlinking. So don’t build (blog comments, forums, social bookmarks etc…) directly to your money site only build them to your tier 1 buffer sites. IM is a lot more complicated since things have evolved, but there are many things that still work and will for years to come if you do things properly.

    • Excellent advice, just keep everything clean and above board as in Computerz101’s post above.

  • SEO is getting tougher day by day.We need to find some tools to know how much traffic a keyword can bring in.Also,as a SEO specialist,I guess we need to emphasise more on Social presence.

  • In reference to Todd’s comment “I suggest to businesses that they audit their backlinks with a professional to ensure that low quality links are removed. Additionally, low or thin content pages that do not provide ‘unique value’ should be removed…”

    You can do this by using Google’s (disavow links) webmaster tool. Thanks from a dedicated Google slave 🙂

    • Thanks for that comment Richard, using Google’s “disavowal links” is a very good point. luckily I’ve not had to use it since it was introduced, however, I sure could have used it 12 months ago!

  • I don’t think SEO is getting any tougher as I have managed to get my website actually on the first page of Google just by thinking about it in another way and it works, currently my website is still there for 2 very strong keywords. I thought maybe 2nd or 3rd page, not the 1st page.

    SEO these days, one has to think outside the SEO box. The website well you have to find its high ranking.

    • Well done and congrats on page 1 ranking James! You’re right about thinking outside the box, especially if you’re in a specific niche market.

    • Great job James,

      Definitely, SEO is only one facet of building an audience and succeeding online.

      One big part people need to understand is that SEO is a means to an end – to get your value proposition in front of your target audience.

      If what you offer isn’t interesting and doesn’t address a pain point it might not fare well.

  • For me the “game” of SEO is being eliminated which is a good thing. Google is after quality, relevant content and there are just too many websites who played the SEO game without focusing on the other.

    It was inevitable for it to happen and I think it actually improves things on the web and spreads a fair chance to more honest and trustworthy sites who haven’t only focused on only getting into the SERPs.

    So you want SEO? My guess is focus on what people want and this in turn will be what Google wants.

    • Hi Dustin, great points.

      The changes in Google will accelerate the gap between businesses that are slow to make the move to content marketing and don’ consistently analyze the relationship between them and their audience.

      Great content for your audience builds links. That same great content will never be construed as thin or not valuable.

      So, changing the overall strategy entirely to focus on developing fantastic content – for most businesses – will be a requirement, not simply an option.

  • Nicely said Dustin. In the short-term Google are going to continue to ruffle feathers and some sites that have been doing well will suffer. But it simply could not continue as it was, it was unsustainable in the long term, and quality suffered. I think your last comment “focus on what people want and this in turn will be what Google wants” absolutely hits an hour on the head 🙂

  • I’ve read the article and all the comments. Thanks for the info and I, too, agree that Google will continue to try to remove spam while making their paid search bigger and look more enticing. I also agree that you should have at least 5 sources of traffic like @David said. I recently read elsewhere that you should be doing thing to drive traffic to your site, and to not even build links unless they are in a good enough spot to actually bring you traffic.

  • Thanks David, great new insight in to potential changes to be seen in 2013.
    And in my opinion, as long as there is organic results, there will always be search engine optimization tactics to raise up in that first page for a particular search term. Let’s imagine Google shifting into being a fully paid search engine; if they do, then within very short time, their entire business model would collapse.
    If we take a look at Google INC 2012 Financial Tables. Then we clearly can say “that sort of move (no organic results)” would be the biggest mistake the World has ever seen as far as running a business is concerned. All the foundations are there for Google (we just have to look at their state of the art data-centers) and because they have to make more and more money, they are being a little aggressive (especially in the smart phone search market, where most people actually (without being fully aware) are presented with Ads by Google.
    These are my opinions, and regardless of the changes Google can bring to the internet table, we as seo experts, will simply witness it and use what we witness to our advantage.

    • Yep, I absolutely agree with you. The entire Google business is based on free searches. Take that away and you hand the search business over to Bing!

  • I felt that the site which have been worked on January month were affected and the keywords went back. But the sites which i have not touched the work is the keyword remains the same. Since the site i have worked all keywords went back and if i do some daily SEO work on that site thinking that i could retain the keywords back, but still the keywords again going back.

    I don’t know what happened in Google’s algorithm. Few of my sites which i have worked this month showing keyword down and which i not worked showing keywords in same position.

    Do any one practice the same thing what i have experienced.?

    • Hi Recruitment Services,

      Google released an algorithm in August of 2012 that creates a random effect for some changes in websites, based on how authority your website is. In general, the more authority, trusted your website is, with better content, the more it becomes immune to updates because the updates are designed to remove or reduce the significance of low quality sites.

      Here is the link. It’s a long read, but worth digesting.

      Here is a great reference to that piece from Bill Slawski over at SEO By the Sea

      Google Patent Review

      What does this mean to you?

      Work on developing high quality content and developing high quality links, and be leery about making too many changes to old content (or too many SEO changes at once / overall)

      Also, be patient with changes that you make. This patent describes how Google can essentially ‘test’ SEO changes you make, moving your rankings potentially backwards even if the changes are positive ones that help the user.

      Over the long run, if you develop sound content for your audience, research keywords well, implement strong informative titles, and link naturally in your internal content while building good links you will do well.

      Hope this helps

  • Interesting to hear opinions where others feel Google is making SEO harder when others see the other side of the coin.

  • When I first read the news about the Google PENPAN update, there are some website that came to mind that I know will never be affected by the new Rules. And when I did a search for them separately, they are still where they were on the search engine in there respective niche.
    Google introduced the PANPEN rule because it is fed up all the rubbish SEO strategies many websites are using to gain prominence on SERP.
    Google is for humans and not Robots no matter what.
    If you happen to own Google, would you not want make that clear?

  • […] depending on Google searches to generate web traffic, read up on the most recent updates to the Panda and Penguin algorithms. Join a forum that discusses various aspects of search engine optimization and ethical techniques […]

  • Google has gone cray.I dont understand whats the logic behind this.I have seen many useless site ranking for very high volume keywords.Really this is just stupid.

  • I dont know but if this is the case then may SEO provider will find it tough to get them self going.Keyword is the major aspect of SEO,many SEO provider invest 2-3 days in searching for a good keyword.

  • I also agree don’t just focus on Google… Make sure your efforts work for all the primary Search Engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and more. Don’t forget about talking to people, contacting people the old school way for links, passing out business cards, flyers etc…The more ways you have to make yourself visible the better never rely on a single source. Thanks for the great advice David!

  • This is somewhat correct that Google is taking another bite of SEO with the spam messages and other things.

  • Google used to say that the keyword relevancy matters for not? But will suggest that the power of keyword will remain the same. you should have the different result but after all keyword is the only language which he understand and want from the user.

  • dear sir, I’m new SEOer , thanks for you sharing, it’s very useful for me. I read all comment in your post and and have a question.
    How to disavow links? Thanks

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