Q and A: How long will it take our site to be purged from Google?

QuestionHi Kalena,

It’s Tim here. I’m the developer for a website – [URL removed for privacy reasons] – and as of Thursday or Friday last week, Google has crawled my whole site. It shouldn’t have been able to do this, but it has.

Part of the site is written in PHP and Google has cached all the pages, several of which contain information that shouldn’t really be in the public domain.

I’ve submitted the FQDN to Google asking them to remove the URL which will hopefully prevent any results being shown in a Google search. The request is currently in a ‘pending’ state and I’m wondering how long this would actually take to be purged.

Thanks,

Tim

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Hi Tim

I’ve not personally lodged a take down request with Google, so I’m afraid I’m not speaking from experience, however I’ve had colleagues tell me this can take up to 3 months if a site has already been crawled.

Your email doesn’t make it clear what happened, but it may also depend on how sensitive the content is and why it was indexed in the first place.

A couple of things you can do while you’re waiting:

1) If Google managed to crawl your whole site, you might have conflicting instructions in your robots.txt file, your robots meta tags on those pages or you might be including content you don’t want public in your sitemap.xml file that Google is indexing. Check all those areas so the problem doesn’t re-occur.

2) Ask Google to remove content through the Webmaster Search Console. This is often faster than the formal take down request you submitted via email. It requires you to verify ownership / admin of the site via the Search Console first.

Keep in mind that even after you’ve blocked the pages from being indexed, they can take a while to fall off the Google search results, depending on the number of data-centers that have cached them and where they are serving results from.

Best of luck!

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Q and A: Should we use commas and full stops to separate keywords in the title tag?

QuestionHi Kalena

I’ve read that Google ignores them, but I’ve seen commas as well as full stops (periods) used in title tags as a way to separate keywords for Google and not just visually.

For example:

< title > Acme Company. SEO service in New York, SEO audit New York.< /title >

Here we have two different and distinct keyword phrases: “SEO service in New York” and “SEO audit New York”. It is clear enough.

If Google ignores full stops and commas, there are many more keywords: “SEO service”, “New York”, “SEO in New York”, “SEO New York”, “audit in New York”, “SEO” and so on…

I know that the best practice is to optimize each page for 1 or 2 keywords, certainly not more than 3 keywords. So what is your opinion on the use of commas and full stops to separate keywords in the title tag?

Thank you in advance!

Max

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Hi Max

First up, the impact on search results of using punctuation in title tags is minimal. Google usually ignores commas and separation symbols. You should use punctuation primarily to write grammatically correct titles that make sense to humans.

Commas (,) should be used as commas, not separators. Full stops should be used to end a logical sentence. However, pipes (|) and hyphens (-) can be used as separators. Colons (:) aren’t ignored and imply to search engines that what follows is a subtitle or explanation / elaboration.  Hyphens can also sometimes be interpreted as colons. As a separator, the pipe is usually preferable to use because of its small pixel width.

Having said all that, the best option is to use as little keyword real estate as possible in your title tag, so that means combining your keywords into phrases that cover several individual keywords / phrases and not repeating keywords unnecessarily.

So, for example, if you are targeting the 2 phrases: “SEO service in New York” and “SEO audit New York”, then I would create the title tag as follows:

1) < title > SEO services and audits in New York City | Acme Company < /title >

instead of the longer:

2) < title > Acme Company: SEO service in New York and SEO audit New York < /title >

Notice that my version takes up less space, but now has no keyword repetition and includes the plurals *services* and *audits* as well as the longer *New York City* instead of the shortened version. This means that my title tag is optimized for a wider range of search terms, even though it is shorter in character length. It also includes the company name at the end of the tag, separated by a pipe.

In fact, a better version might be:

< title > Search engine optimization services and SEO audits in New York City | Acme Company < /title >

Although longer, this still falls within the accepted character count for the title and would be a relevant match for search queries by persons using the long form *search engine optimization* as well as the shortened version *SEO*.

Hope this helps.

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Q and A: Should we bid on our own brand name in Google AdWords?

QuestionHey Kalena

Can you please settle an argument we are having in the office?

My boss is suggesting that we should bid on our brand name in AdWords to make sure we come up at the top of Google searches. I don’t think we need to because we are already coming up high in the organic search results for our brand keywords.

Wouldn’t it just be a waste of money to pay for an ad?

thanks
Kate

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Hi Kate

Sorry, but in this case, I agree with your boss 🙂 .  I think it’s good practice to bid on your own brand with pay per click advertising, for a variety of reasons:

1) Studies have shown that brands that rank high in both organic results AND paid ads receive more conversions than brands that just use one or the other, due to the saturation factor and extra brand exposure gained.

2) Unless you use paid search ads, you cannot guarantee that your brand will show up in the top search results for brand or product related searches. Organic search results will look different for everyone, based on their location, search terms used, their search history and personal preferences. The only way to guarantee a top spot is to pay for it. Also, ads will usually gain more clicks than organic results, depending on their location on the page, so you want to make sure you grab that brand click, no matter what prompts it.

3) You cannot control HOW your site will be shown in the search results unless you use paid advertising. Organic results may display the content of your page title, or a random snippet of text from your page, depending on the assumed context and what the search engine deems to be the most relevant. The organic click may also take visitors to a landing page you didn’t expect. Whereas your paid ad will show your brand in exactly the context you choose and take clickers to your preferred landing page.

4) If you have distributors or affiliates for your brand, it is possible that they may out-rank you in the organic search results for your brand-related keywords, therefore grabbing the click and making the sale, resulting in some loss of $ via commission. Making sure your ads out-rank them means you retain the full $ for any conversions.

If you are still sceptical, may I suggest reading Brad Geddes’ excellent article Should You Bid On A Keyword If You Rank Organically For That Term? where he shares the results of several detailed experiments to debunk the myth of PPC cannibalization.

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Q and A: Is it good SEO practice to have navigation menus in both header and footer?

QuestionHello Kalena

May I ask you about navigation menus on a site?

Imagine that a web site has two navigation menu blocks – on the header and on the footer of the site. Some buttons/links are doubled (or even all the links).

On one hand, it’s good for site’s visitors. When they reach the bottom of each page, there is no need to scroll up it to find and click on the necessary navigation button.

On the other hand, we all know that doubled links to the same page are not good. Bots can consider such practice as an attempt to give more additional weight to the page. Moreover, doubled navigation links together with the all other page links may exceed the number of 100.

However, if it stands for usability, site design should give visitors an opportunity to find the necessary buttons in a quick way.

My question is “Is it good to add doubled navigation menu to header and footer of any web site?”

What is your opinion on this topic? I’d highly appreciate your answer.

Thank you in advance!

Maksim

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Hi Maksim

The answer depends on a few factors:

1) Is your main navigation menu built with Javascript (e.g. drop-down menu) or other functionality that search engines may have difficulty indexing? If the answer is yes, then it might be a good idea to include a plain text navigation menu in your footer to ensure that search robots can index the links.

If the answer is no, the main navigation is already search engine friendly, then there is no need to duplicate it, in my opinion. Keep in mind that the more links you have per page, the less PageRank value each link passes to the linked page. So you can dilute the value of each page on your site if you’re not careful. Also, Google recommends you keep the number of links per page to a maximum of 100 or they may not all be indexed.

2) Does the addition of another menu help the usability of the site? i.e. is the page content so complex that visitors may require the second navigation menu to help them navigate around? If yes, then include the extra menu. If no, then… well you know the answer.

I guess the important thing is to make the decision with visitors in mind foremost and search engines as a secondary consideration.

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Q and A: What’s the difference between calls to action and action phrases in Google AdWords?

QuestionHey Kalena

I’m creating my own ads in Google Adwords at the moment.  When reviewing what I’ve learnt in your Pay Per Click lessons, it says under the Appropriate Language section:  “Must not feature call to action phrases (Eg click here, visit this site)”.

Yet, when I visit the Google AdWords Help Centre, it encourages the use of Calls to Action – Under the heading “Empower customers to take action”.

Have I got this twisted? Which is right? Is there a difference between Calls to Action and Action Phrases?

Thanks

Stephanie

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Hi Stephanie

The editorial rules and recommendations for Google AdWords can be confusing at times, with some advice seemingly in direct conflict with recommendations found elsewhere.

In terms of call-to-action phrases – there are very specific rules regarding the use of particular phrases within your AdWords ads. For example, you can’t use “click here” in the ad text, but you are encouraged to use other call-to-action phrases such as “learn more about” or “download your lesson”.

So the advice under the *Appropriate Language* section relates specifically to editorial guidelines, while the advice in the AdWords Help Centre relates to recommended tactics you can use, rather than specific wording.

Hope that makes sense 🙂

I recommend reviewing the more specific editorial guidelines for AdWords ads as well.

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