Q and A: Why Do I Need Regional Search Engines for Link Building?

QuestionDear Kalena

You’ve mentioned on your blog about the importance of using resources to locate regional search engines for link building purposes. Could you explain a little further how one would use a regional search engine, and could you give a concrete example of finding one?

Thanks a lot.

Terry

Hello Terry

The reasons you might want to locate regional search engines include:

1) Your / your client’s web site contains information limited to a particular region / country.
2) Your / your client’s business owns multiple web sites with different TLD e.g. widgets.com, widgets.com.au, widgets.co.nz.
3) Your / your client has multiple country target markets they wish to reach via search engines.

The situations above mean that you need to have the web sites listed in the relevant regional search engines so they can be found by the specific target markets. This is all part of the vital link building process – having your site listed in as many relevant locations on the web as possible. This is especially important now with Google placing more emphasis on local search.

Some regional search engines may find your site automatically using their crawler (e.g. Google.com.au, etc.) but others, such as niche search engines and hand-edited directories, may require you to submit the site/s manually. This is why you need to have a list of regional sites handy so you can check them all for the existence of your site/s and submit them if needed.

A couple of sources you can use to find regional search engines worldwide include:

These sites list different sub categories of search engines for various countries and regions. So, for example, if you were looking for a list of search engines and directories specific to Australia, you would click on the relevant country category and be taken to the Australian list. You could also simply type a search into Google for *list of Australian search engines* and find other lists.

You should do this for every country market that your / your client web site targets.

Kalena

Leverage Your Google Places Listing With Business Photos

googleHere’s a bit of exciting news for those of you with Google Places listings in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Google is inviting businesses to apply to have a Business Photo Shoot – where photographs of your business will be taken by Google Streetview staff (the guys that drive around photographing all the roads for Google Maps).

Apart from being a free service, the advantage here is that the photos of your business will appear on your Google Places listing, giving you not only another channel to impress potential customers, but also building up trust about your business in the eyes of Google.

At the SMX Melbourne conference last week, one of the speakers suggested that companies taking part in the Business Photo Shoot may well be given a slight boost in their Google Places rankings because Google has endorsed them and verified their legitimacy. While Google obviously hasn’t made any announcement to this effect, it makes sense that businesses known to Google might be given some type of advantage over businesses Google hasn’t verified.

So I would highly recommend you apply to participate in the scheme! At this stage, only businesses in the US, Australia, New Zealand and Japan are eligible to participate and only select cities in those countries. Apply here for your Business Photo Shoot.

Q and A: How do I fix Ranking Penalties?

Question

Hi Kalena,

I love your blog… you have a lot of useful internet marketing content. I was wondering if you could do a blog post about the situation I’m currently having.

My site, [URL Provided], was recently penalized in Google. I got one of those -50 penalties where I go down to page 5 or 6 for all of my search terms (including site name). It has been like this for nearly 2 months… since September 24, 2010. I used to be ranking #1 for the term ‘auto insurance quotes’ and also on page one for ‘auto insurance’.

Now, they say that incoming links cannot hurt your site, but that is the only explanation I can think of for my situation. There are a lot of blog comments pointing to my URL. Most of these comments, as well as many of the links pointing to my site, are links that I personally never created. I have never purchased links nor have done any automated link building… The domain is 11 years old and I have devoted the past few years of my life to it.

James.

Hi James,

A sudden drop in search rankings is one of the worst nightmares for most website owners, and can be a very scary thing – particularly if your site relies heavily on organic rankings for traffic and sales.

I’ve had a look at your rankings, and can confirm that it looks very much like a ranking penalty has been applied by Google (although your rankings seem fine under Bing). Your site appears in position 47 on google.com for a query of your business name, with many other sites that simply mention your name outranking you.

Unfortunately it’s not possible within the scope of this Q and A to undertake a detailed analysis of your specific circumstances. However, I’ve outlined below some of the general steps that should be taken, and suggest that you contact a professional SEO for further advice.

It is unlikely that dodgy backlinks, or even duplicate content would result in a ranking penalty – the problem is much more likely to be caused by something on your site.

Identifying a Ranking Penalty

If you are monitoring your sites rankings, you should notice a ranking penalty very quickly, as you will see a sudden and dramatic drop in your rankings for all keywords and pages,  If you arte not checking rankings reguilarly, you may not realise there is a problem until you notice significant drop offs in traffic (via analytics) – or, worst case scenario, in your sales or enquiries.

Identifying the Problem

If you are using Google webmaster tools (and you should be), Google will often (but not always) notify you when a penalty is applied – and will also usually indicate what the problem is.  You should also very closely review Googles Webmaster Guidelines and check if there is anything on your site that may contravene Googles “rules”.

A ranking penalty may not necessarily be applied as a result of a recent change on your site.  The problem may have existed for some time, but have been triggered by a new crawl, a change in the ranking algorithm, or could also be caused by a combination of relatively minor problems with your site, which , taken in total, reach a trigger threshold.

Fixing the Problem

Once you identified the problem/s it is important to fix the issue completely as soon as possible.  It’s also a good idea to also fix any other “iffy” or questionable practices, as your site is likely to be submitted to closer scrutiny than normal before the penalty can be lifted.

Submitting a Reinclusion Request

Once you are satisfied that the problem with your site has been completely resolved, you need to submit a reinclusion request. Google calls these a “request for reconsideration”, and provide some good tips for how to go about doing this (along with a video from the Google Search Quality team) on their Requesting reconsideration of your site help page.

In your reinclusion request you need to be very clear about what action you have taken to resolve the issue and ensure that it will noit happen again.

Once a reinclusion request has been submitted, the Google search quality team will undertake a manual review of your site, and (as long as the site does now conform to their guidelines), will, probably reinstate your rankings.  Be aware though that this review process can take days or weeks.

If you’d like to find out more about the Ranking Penalty and Reinclusion Request, I blogged about it a couple of years ago, and the process is still pretty much the same  – “My Google Rankings have dropped and I think I’ve been penalised – What can I do?

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting SEO (Australia)

SMX Melbourne 2010 : All About Mobile Search

mobileapps2This is an excerpt from my live blogging of a SMX Melbourne presentation by Gillian Muessig, President of SEOmoz.

Mobile is here to stay. If you haven’t already investigated how to use mobile marketing, you are already way behind.

Why do you want a community platform? Social commerce is a subset of electronic commerce. Gillian mentioned LivingSocial.com – already in Sydney, very big in the US. It’s a way to get deals / coupons for things in your community. Also Groupon.com is a similar thing. These ideas are similar to @square, which is a way to pay for things using your cell phone, popular in the US and hopefully coming to Australia and New Zealand soon.

You can make your own QR code at www.qrcode.kaywa.com – download the QR code to your mobile for coupon / discount / offer / invitations / news. Mobile coupons are about levels of offers therefore all about social status.

You can also play games with QR codes. Send hints / clues / instructions etc. Data has come full circle and now gone offline. You can get your codes offline now, from billboards, physical stores etc.

Should you or shouldn’t you jump on the .mobi bandwagon? Gillian says no. It was always a stop gap measure. But DO create mobile-friendly pages. Search engines will use transcoding to auto show your page on mobile devices. Make sure your pages provide value and are designed for mobile and put them in folders on your site.

Cindy Krum is a mobile marketing evangelist and the world’s foremost authority on the subject. Gillian suggests looking at Cindy’s mobile directory list.

If you can blog, you can build an app. You don’t need a huge audience, you can make a mobile app just for your biz or your few customers.

For application building, try AppBreeder. Also, Hunch.com launches tonight – it’s a mobile community builder that allows you to build your own mobile local app on the fly. It’s a brand new service that Gillian thinks will take off after launch.

Mobile is easy, it’s out there and now is your chance to grab the opportunities in mobile marketing before your competitors do.

Q and A: How do I increase my site PageRank?

Question

Dear Kalena…

How do I increase my site PageRank?

Abi

Hi Abi,

I’m sorry – but you are probably asking the wrong question…. Even though questions like – How do I improve my PageRank? and How do I improve my Rankings? are probably the most common questions that most Search Engine Optimizers are asked, they are invariably not the question that should be asked.

When potential clients ask me questions like this, it is usually a pretty good indication that they have realized that their website needs to be more than just a great site – it also needs to be easy to find via search engines.

But questions like these are usually the wrong questions, as they also suggest that the site owner has not fully thought through what they actually want their website to achieve. Goals like, better PageRank, higher rankings, more traffic, or even higher conversion rates are all a means to an end.  The primary aim for most websites should simply be to maximize sales or enquiries.

So the correct question that website owners should be asking is actually “How do I improve my online sales/enquiries?” The answer to this question will vary, depending on the niche, the target market, and the current status of the website.  The “answer” may be any (or all) of :

  • Basic SEO – to improve the sites crawlability or increase the number of pages indexed
  • Content Creation – to improve the authority (and rankings) of the site for relevant keyword phrases
  • Link Building – to improve the sites PageRank
  • Conversion Optimisation – If the site is already getting good traffic volumes, but has poor conversion rates
  • Local Search -  to improve visibility for locality based search queries
  • Pay per Click – to quickly boost traffic volumes
  • or many other options..

There are a plethora of activities and strategies covered under the banner of Search Engine Marketing or Search Engine Optimisation and whilst there are some general principles that apply, there is rarely a “One Size Fits All” solution to optimising a website.  There are many different factors that must be taken into consideration when defining an SEO strategy, but fundamentally they should come back to the primary goal of your website.

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting (Brisbane SEO)