Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Archive for the Google Category

Avoid Doorway Pages

Doorway pages will get you in trouble with Google.I thought the practice of creating doorway pages was a thing of the past. We’ve discouraged this practice since 2005 and  reported back in 2006 about doorway pages getting the German language websites for Ricoh and BMW completely banned from Google for six months. After that, I thought the practice had fallen into disuse. Apparently not.

Google just came out with a warning that they’re increasing the ranking penalty applied for this black hat SEO technique. Here’s what they wrote a few weeks go in the Google Webmaster Central Blog (emphasis is mine):

We have a long-standing view that doorway pages that are created solely for search engines can harm the quality of the user’s search experience.

For example, searchers might get a list of results that all go to the same site. So if a user clicks on one result, doesn’t like it, and then tries the next result in the search results page and is taken to that same site that they didn’t like, that’s a really frustrating experience.

Over time, we’ve seen sites try to maximize their “search footprint” without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.

Google has a list of things you can check to assess your vulnerability to this new Google slap-down. I encourage you to check them out and make sure you’re safe from this newest Google algorithm change.

Share your experiences with local listings in the comments below.

Find this helpful? Please share with the social buttons above and below.

Mopocalypse April 21

ready

Whether you call it Mopocalypse or Mobilegeddon, April 21 is when lots of websites will suffer significantly in Google mobile search rankings. There’s just one week left.

That’s the date Google is rolling out an algorithm change designed to promote mobile-friendly websites in mobile search. Google has taken the unusual step of actually sending emails to many website owners warning them about this, so we’re anticipating major negative impacts on sites that aren’t mobile friendly. We have more details on this in our post about it last month.

If you’re not sure whether your site is mobile friendly just check it out in Google’s new Mobile Friendly Test page. If you fail the test, we encourage you to get your site mobile friendly as soon as possible. Your webmaster can make it “responsive”, meaning the site will adjust its formatting in response to the nature of the device looking at it. Or you can create a mobile version with a product like Dudamobile and redirect to the mobile version if the user is on a phone.

If you’re using a different approach, please let us know in the comments below how you’re doing it and how well it’s working.

Find this helpful? Please spread the word via the social links above and below.

Need better visibility on the web? Rank Magic can help.

Your Small Business Website Needs To Be Mobile-Friendly

Why Should I Care?

US smartphone penetration is up to 75% as of the end of 2014. Late last year, mobile traffic exceeded desktop traffic for the first time. And according to Nielsen, 87% of mobile users used their mobile device for shopping activities like searching for a product or service, pricing comparisons, or brick & mortar address search.

not mobile-friendlyAccording to Google:

Appearing on smartphones is critical for local businesses. 94% of smartphone users look for local information on their phone and 84% take action as a result, such as making a purchase or contacting the business.

Google has also been focusing more recently on the user experience of websites, preferring those that provide a good user experience because web users like those sites better. And a website that’s not mobile-friendly provides a poor user experience for smartphone users.

Google has previously announced that whether a site is mobile-friendly is a positive ranking factor. As a hint that it might be due for increased weight in Google rankings, early this year Google started issuing warnings to webmasters if their site isn’t mobile-friendly. Then as recently as last week, Google wrote “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” Google has already begun a rollout of alerts for users indicating which sites in it’s search results are mobile-friendly. It’s not universal yet, but seems to be increasing in coverage.

What makes a site mobile-friendly?

mobile-friendly websiteThere are four main things that distinguish a mobile-friendly site:

  • It avoids use of software that doesn’t work on phones (like Flash).
  • It makes links and buttons large enough and far enough apart to be easily clicked with a finger.
  • It uses text that can be easily read without zooming.
  • It sizes content so there’s no horizontal scrolling needed and no zooming required.

Check your site

There are two easy ways to check to see whether your site is mobile-friendly or not.

  1. Use the Google Mobile-Friendly Tool to see if Google thinks you’re mobile-friendly.
  2. The acid test: look up your site on a phone yourself and judge.

What if you fail the test?

If you fail the test, you have three options.

  1. You can talk with your web designer about a site redesign to make your site “responsive”. Responsive means your website changes how it looks depending on what kind of device is used to view it.
  2. Without a website redesign, you can use a tool like DudaMobile to create a mobile version of your site. Typically it replaces the “www.” prefix with a “m.” prefix and does a lot of the redesign work for you. You will still need to spend time tweaking it to look the way you want, and there’s an annual fee for the service.
  3. Do nothing and take your chances with your Google rankings.

Not being mobile-friendly is not yet a major ranking signal at Google, but it will be increasing in importance over time as smartphones and tablets continue to displace laptops and desktops as the platform of choice. The next big jump in its importance as a ranking signal is scheduled for April 21 of this year.

If you’re not currently mobile-friendly, now is the time to fix that.

Find the article helpful? Then please share it with your friends and colleagues with the buttons above and give it a +1 below.

Need help showing up min Google, Yahoo & Bing? Rank Magic can fix that.

Tell us about your own mobile-friendly experience in the comments below.

 

Should You Avoid Hidden Content?

hidden-contentA Hidden Danger

A common web design technique may now be dangerous to your rankings.

A Common Technique

A lot of blogs don’t display entire blog posts on the blog’s home page. It’s common to see a teaser or perhaps the first paragraph of the blog post followed by a “read more” link to open the entire blog post. That’s probably okay, as the blog post itself usually includes all the content of the blog.

I’m seeing this technique becoming more popular on non-blog pages, too, as a way to attract viewers who may be intimidated by too dense text content. Insofar as it works kind of like a bullet list where a reader can skim down and click on the one or two sections they want to read more about, it works. But it may present a hidden danger to your rankings on Google.

May Be a Bad Idea

A page that has a “read more” or “click to expand” link typically doesn’t link to a new page with its own URL. Instead, it opens the hidden content right there. And that hidden content may just be more hidden than you want it to be. It may be hidden from Google completely.

All the way back in 2012, Google wrote: “we’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience.” Google went on to talk about content that’s not visible above the fold or that’s buried beneath ads and such. However, Search Engine Journal is now reporting that Google may be extending that practice by not be indexing the hidden content that’s only revealed by clicking on one of those “read more” links.

It hasn’t been 100% confirmed that Google is ignoring this kind of hidden content, so if revealing all of that content would be a major undertaking on your site it may be premature to do that. But if this is a technique you use on your site only occasionally and it would be easy to remove the hidden nature of that copy, you might give it a try and watch to see if your rankings change.

If you make a change like this, please let us know whether it affected your rankings in the comments below.

Did you find this helpful? If so, please share with the buttons above or below.

Don’t Try to Cheat on Google

Fooling Google.

It happens with regularity: somebody comes up with a new scheme to fool Google into ranking your website higher than it deserves. Often those “Black Hat” techniques work quite well at first. But then when Google discovers your chicanery, you get a well earned slap-down. And you may be totally banned from Google for many months, if not longer.

The latest scheme is an online tool that purports to rewrite a web page so as to avoid Google’s “duplicate content” filter. With this you can, supposedly, steal someone else’s work and make it look like you didn’t plagiarize it. Or you can adjust duplicate pages of your own copy so that (you hope) they will all show up in search results without Google realizing they all say the same thing.

The product is called Article Rewriter, and I’m mentioning it here not as an endorsement, but as a warning. Completely apart from the fact that it’s despicably unethical, this product clearly doesn’t work well.

I’m suspicious.

Their website nicely offers to let you test their product. Paste in your own copy and it will rewrite it for you, claiming the result will not trigger Google’s duplicate content filter.

Not so fast!

I entered the copy from my blog post dated October 9 of this year about Google’s rollout of the Panda 4.1 algorithm update. You can check the original content there, and then compare it with what this new tool produced:

Google Panda four.1 Rolls Out

Google has extended a replacement version of the Panda algorithmic rule, and it’s believed to have an effect on 3-5% of internet sites. which will sound sort of a tiny variety, however as Google algorithmic rule changes go, it’s a fairly massive one.

Google’s state capital so much proclaimed the update on his Google+ page fortnight past. He explained that it’s not a straightforward update as a result of it truly adds some additional signals to assist Panda establish inferiority websites higher. assumptive your web {site} isn’t an occasional quality site, this could add your favor. In fact, he says this update leads to a”greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher”.

There’s a pleasant Panda summary and guide to Panda four.1 over at The Huffington Post.

The rollout may be a slow one, not touching all Google knowledge centers at an equivalent time. It wasn’t expected to continue into on, however in line with Moz it absolutely was still rolling out as of 3 days past. square measure saying} “fluctuations and ranking changes you’re seeing are doubtless associated with that.”

There ar a series of queries you’ll raise and answer concerning any given website that ought to offer you an inspiration of whether or not Panda can am passionate about it (improve its rankings) or not (potentially drop its rankings). The Moz web log of 2 days past goes through that for a few representative sites that were helped by Panda four.1 and a few that were hurt. There are links there to some places wherever you’ll get a page evaluated … however the simplest one (PandaRisk) prices concerning $100 to judge a couple of pages for you.

How ar you doing beneath the new (and improved?) Panda algorithm? Please allow us to apprehend within the comments below.

Egad.

If you know anyone who might be taken in by this, please share this post on the social media platform of your choice.

And if you need assistance with ethical SEO or recovery from damage done by less scrupulous SEO companies, Rank Magic can help.