Archive for February, 2011

Title: Overstock.com Hit with Google Penalty

Search Engine News, Search Engine Optimization

Article Source: Link Exchange Service Network

There is an interesting trend of big brand sites getting busted for gaming Google, and gaining mainstream media attention lately. A couple weeks ago, JCPenney was busted for paid links, then Forbes attracted some similar attention.

Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google has penalized overstock.com on somewhat similar, but different grounds. WSJ’s Amir Efrati reports:

Overstock’s pages had recently ranked near the top of results for dozens of common searches, including "vacuum cleaners" and "laptop computers." But links to Overstock on Tuesday dropped to the fifth or sixth pages of Google results for many of those categories, greatly reducing the chances that a user would click on its links.

The incident, according to Overstock, stemmed in part from its practice of encouraging websites of colleges and universities to post links to Overstock pages so that students and faculty could receive discounts on the shopping site. Overstock said it discontinued the program on Feb. 10, before hearing from Google, but said some university webmasters have been slow to remove the links.

Overstock Search Results take a hit in Google

Overstock’s CEO Patrick Byrne is quoted as saying, "Google has made clear they believe these links should not factor into their search algorithm. We understand Google’s position and have made the appropriate changes to remain within Google’s guidelines." Google, of course, would not comment on any specific site. 

It’s quite interesting to see big brands taking a hit from the search giant. Google appears to have a renewed focus on search quality in recent weeks, probably due to the large amount of criticism the company has received lately. A recent algorithm change was implemented to further crack down on spam, and Google has said it is shifting its focus to content farms. 

Google has since released a Chrome extension searchers can use to block certain sites from their own search experience, while sending signals to Google that could be used in its algorithm down the road.

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Title: JCPenney Gets Caught Gaming Google

Search Engine News, Search Engine Optimization

Article Source: Link Exchange Service Network

The New York Times did a little undercover work in the world of search and discovered that JCPenney was benefiting enormously from paid links. They ranked number one or close to it for some very prominent search queries including “skinny jeans,” “home decor,” “comforter sets,” “furniture", “tablecloths” and many other highly searched for terms.

(Note: Tweets regarding this from Google’s Matt Cutts can be viewed below.)

The JCPenney links take consumers directly to the appropriate sections of their site. This lasted for month including the Christmas holidays according to the article.

A spokeswoman for JCPenney, Darcie Brossart, told the New York Times, “JCPenney did not authorize, and we were not involved with or aware of, the posting of the links that you sent to us, as it is against our natural search policies,” She added, “We are working to have the links taken down.” Apparently the actual blackhat SEO work was done by the company’s SEO consultant firm SearchDex which it has since terminated. 

The New York Times secretly contacted Google with their information about JCPenney and also arranged an interview with none other than Google’s Matt Cutts who is famous in the search world and well known to the readers of WebProNews. Cutts told them, “I can confirm that this violates our guidelines". He added, "Am I happy this happened? Absolutely not. Is Google going to take strong corrective action? We absolutely will.”

WebProNewsOnce caught by Google, JCPenney moved from an average search position of 1.3 to a rather low 52. What are your thoughts?30 minutes ago 5 likes Comment

According to the article JCPenney dropped from an average search result position of 1.3 on Feb. 1 to an average postion of 52 on Feb. 10. Unlike what happened to BMW.de a while back, Google did not remove them from their search index but with an average search result position of 52 they might as well have. 

Update: Since this article was published, Matt Cutts posted some tweets as seen below:

@arrington left a comment: I really wish that our algorithms or other processes had caught this much faster–I’m definitely not celebrating.less than a minute ago via webMatt Cutts
mattcutts

@arrington the newer/most recent spate of links happened in the last 3-4 months; not over a year. JCP still ranking on [dresses] on eg Bing.less than a minute ago via webMatt Cutts
mattcutts

Vanessa Fox covers the tech aspect of SEO story in NYT: http://goo.gl/x4XHd A must-read for companies thinking about SEO.less than a minute ago via webMatt Cutts
mattcutts

David Segal of the NYT discusses some blackhat SEO: http://goo.gl/RdnTi Google’s algorithms had started to work; manual action also taken.less than a minute ago via webMatt Cutts
mattcutts

 

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Title: 5 Tips for Making Your Site More Local-Friendly

Search Engine News, Search Engine Optimization

Article Source: Link Exchange Service Network

Search engines have become one of the primary ways that people find products and services right in their hometown. This growing reality significantly increases the need for small local business owners to master this thing called local search.

There are many ways to make your website pages much more localized. This is one of the underlying elements that tell the search engines that yours is indeed a local business.

There are a number of things that website owners can do offsite, such as social media participation, that help them come up when people look for local goods and services, but the first step is to make sure that the content on your own site is local focused.

Below are five ways to make your website more local friendly.

Geo content

Simply adding geographic content to your web pages is one of the fist steps. This can include your physical address, directions with street and town names, maps, suburb names and names of communities or neighborhoods where you do work..

It’s also a great idea to do keyword research with local terms to find the best phrases to localized phrases to add to your pages. Google Keyword Tool or Wordtracker.

Geo meta tags are also something worth investigating. Google continues to ignore them. Bing has admitted they do use them to help determine business location. These tags go in the head section of a page and list the latitude and longitude of a business as well as city, state and country.

The tags for my business are:

meta name=”geo.region” content=”US-MO” /
meta name=”geo.placename” content=”Kansas City” /
meta name=”geo.position” content=”39.040409;-94.598657″ /
meta name=”ICBM” content=”39.040409, -94.598657″ /

Here’s a great Geo Meta Tag tool that will create these for your business address.

Internal Links and External Anchor Text

One of the ways that you can enhance the local nature of your onsite and offsite content is to add local keywords in the internal links on your pages (Links that send people to another pages on within you site). So a remodeling contractor that is showcasing kitchen and bath projects located in San Diego would have links to the project pages that would read San Diego Kitchens and San Diego Baths rather than simply Baths or Kitchens.

You also want to add local keywords to the text used to link back to your site from places like LinkedIn or in article directories. So if you’re an attorney in Texas rather than using your URL or firm name in a link you might use Dallas Texas Bankruptcy Attorney as the words or anchor text for a link to your site.

Rich Snippets

Google is busy creating some of its own HTML coding to help it find and display local content and by using what are known as rich snippets you can help Google find geographic information, information about people in your business and reviews of products and services.

Beyond improving the presentation of your pages in search results, rich snippets also help users find your website when it references a local place. By using structured markup to describe a business or organization mentioned on your page, you not only improve the Web by making it easier to recognize references to specific places but also help Google surface your site in local search results.

Here’s a good tutorial for Rich Snippets and Google’s explanation of Rich Snippets for Local Search.

Community Resource

It’s become an extremely good idea to add a blog or even use blog software to run you entire site. This format gives more flexibility when it comes to adding pages and content.

Many businesses can create tremendous local content by adding features such as an events calendar or coverage of local happenings around town. It’s not too hard to find an angle that is relevant to your business, interests or industry and then use it as a vehicle for producing local content.

If you partner with local non-profits you might consider giving them coverage on your site.

Local Contributors

One great marketing strategy is to develop a team of local strategic partners – other businesses that serve your same market. These partners should be looked at as a great source of potential potent local content.

Invite each member of your team to contribute content to your blog.  Create video interviews with team members and add directory pages with full local descriptions and ask that they link to these pages with local anchor text.

Find relevant local bloggers using a tool like placeblogger to exchange links and content with.

Don’t forget to get your customers in the act too. Create video success stories and describe the local nature of these customers.

Take a little time over each week to knock out one of these tips and in a little over month your local site overhaul will be paying dividends.

* Originally published at Duct Tape Marketing.

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