It’s easy to fall foul of Google’s rules says founder of digital marketing software and service company
New York - January 30, 2014 - With Google cranking up its war on web spam in recent years, Searchmetrics, which operates an enterprise SEO platform, is warning that website owners – including many top online brands – may not be doing enough to guard against the risk of a Google penalty which could drastically reduce their organic search rankings, traffic and company value.
The company’s software and analysis recently indicated that travel website Expedia.com may have been impacted by a Google penalty which saw its organic search visibility drop by around 25%. Not only is this likely to have caused a drop in traffic and revenue, but it also affected the company stock price and value.
According to Searchmetrics’ evaluation, Expedia.com, may have been penalized for a variety of alleged ‘unnatural’ links to its domain and other important URLs. Many of the links in question were analyzed by Searchmetrics as a probable legacy from an older link building strategy, although they have affected the business today.
It is very easy for website owners and their marketing and SEO teams to fall foul of Google’s rules since it intensified its war against web spam according to Marcus Tober, CTO and founder of Searchmetrics:
“Google is becoming smarter every day, and many SEO 'tricks' that helped sites achieve high search rankings in the past are now seen as signals of spam and are outlawed. If you have been using these tricks in the past and have done nothing to remedy the situation, you could be walking a dangerous line.”
Google is fighting against sites that attempt to game their way to the top of search results using techniques that infringe its webmaster guidelines. These techniques are considered bad for search because they can mean relevant websites get buried in search results, and make sites from legitimate website owners harder to find.
Google's algorithms detect many spam techniques and automatically demote the sites that use them. It also employs teams who manually review sites for spam activity.
Tober advises companies to keep three important questions in mind:
- Do you know if your SEO strategy is violating Google’s guidelines?
- Are you aware of the impact a penalty can have on your sales and revenue?
- Are you aware of what your SEO team may have done in the past that could affect you in the future?
The final question is extremely important because Google is continually evolving its algorithms, making it difficult to know which activities are being targeted.
“Even the excessive use of guest blogging in order to increase the number of in-bound links to your web pages and so improve your search rankings seems to be an issue that Google is clamping down on now,” explains Tober.
And some time ago he says it was very common in the SEO industry to incorporate many keyword links into the footer of company sites. But now such measures may well be counterproductive, since Google is getting better at identifying this kind of ’link optimization’.
It is important that companies who think they may have old links that Google might view as infringements do not just remove all the links at once, notes Tober. The best way to reduce risk is to remove the bad links slowly and substitute them with good new links in order to try and maintain the domain’s search rankings.
“Of course, a single stealth does not automatically lead to a punishment by Google, but the interplay of a variety of infringements increases the likelihood of a penalty if companies do not monitor and adjust their SEO strategy regularly," Tober concludes.
Searchmetrics is urging website owners to use SEO software such as its own Searchmetrics Suite to learn what aspects of their sites they might need to address in order to ensure they are within Google’s guidelines. More information is available at: http://www.searchmetrics.com/en/seo-visibility-drop/
Search visibility is an approximate measure of how prominent a domain is within search results. Searchmetrics tracks search visibility using its SEO Visibility score, an index score based on analysis of the search results for millions of keywords which the company studies every week. The index score is based on:
- The number of times a domain appears in the search engine results pages (SERPs) across the keyword set
- Its prominence within those SERPs (a higher ranking equates to a higher visibility score)
- The competitiveness of the keyword (higher search volumes equate to a higher visibility score)