Q and A: Why doesn’t Google index my entire sitemap?

QuestionHello Kalena

I’ve submitted my sitemap to Google several times, and it doesn’t spider more than 57 pages even when I add more pages. I can’t figure out why and would really appreciate your help!

My website is [URL withheld]. The sitemap I submit to google is called sitemap.xml. I’m working on the site currently, and I want google to find the changes and new pages.

Thanks!
Greg

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Hi Greg

I’ve had a look at your sitemap and your site and I’ve worked out the problem. I think you’re going to laugh :-)

Yes, you have created a XML sitemap containing all your site URLs. Yes, you have uploaded it via your Webmaster Tools account. However, the robots.txt file on your site contains disallow rules that contradict your sitemap.

There are over 30 URLs in your robots.txt with a disallow instruction for Googlebot.  Essentially, you are giving Google a list of your pages and then instructing the search giant not to go near them! Have you re-designed your site lately? Maybe your site programmers made the change during a large site edit or testing phase and forgot to remove the URLs after completion?

All you need to do is edit your robots.txt file to remove the URLs being disallowed and then resubmit your XML sitemap.

All the best.

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Q and A: Is it legal for my competitor to use my business name in AdWords ads?

QuestionHi Kalena

I took your Google Analytics 1 day course last year through the Institute of IT Professionals (and loved it)!

I’ve been getting a few curly questions from our members (physiotherapist business owners) that I don’t know the answer to so I was seeking your help. Here’s one that I had from one of our members, just on the off chance that it’s a super easy one to answer! If not I will continue on my googling quest to find the answer.

He says “I’m a physio business owner and a competitor is using my actual business name in their Adwords – not in the keyword search terms but the actual ad. IS this illegal and can I make them take it down?”

Kalena, from my research through Adwords policies it looks as if the answer is no, this is not illegal. Using a trademarked term “Gmail” in your ads is illegal – but I couldn’t find any mention of just using a business name.

Appreciate any insight you might have! And will hopefully see you at another course this year.

Thanks
Claire

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Hi Claire

I do remember you, lovely to hear from you.

It just so happens that I researched this very topic not too long ago :-)  It all started with a question submitted to my blog: Can competitors use my company name in their AdWords ads?

After some more research, I ended up writing a more detailed article about it for SiteProNews: Making Sense of Trademarks in AdWords.

The short answer is that it depends on the region of the advertiser. Google may also have changed their policy since publication of that article, so make sure you check for the latest policy wording.

Hope this helps!

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Q and A: What is the Best Keyword Approach for Google AdWords?

QuestionHi Kalena

I’ve seen two totally different approaches to AdWords keywords this week and I was wondering if I could get your opinion on them?

Both account mangers target roughly a million residents in their target markets and have the same type of business.

The first manger prefers to focus on 32 keywords providing about 64 ads.  Over the past 30 days, 10 of those keywords have no impressions and therefore no clicks (20 ads).

The second manager prefers to focus on 340 keywords providing 600+ ads.  Over the past 30 days, 239 of those keywords have no impressions (478 ads).

I side with the first manager, but I didn’t want to second guess the other.

Does having that many no impression keywords have any negative affect on how AdWords views the account?

Which keyword management system would you prefer?

Thanks a lot,

Brendan

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Hi Brendan

There are too many variables to that scenario to be able to give you a fair opinion on either approach. Numbers don’t really matter as much as parameters. Firstly, are the two approaches for the exact same campaign and campaign settings? Having the same type of business is not enough information to compare the two fairly.

Secondly, are these brand new AdWords accounts – are they in the testing phase where they are both testing new keywords? This is crucial. If yes, then I strongly recommend the second approach – the *spray and stick* approach where you basically try as many keyword combinations as you can in a set period and see which ones build the most impressions and/or clicks. In terms of number of keywords and ads per AdGroup, there really is no magic number. It all depends on how tightly you theme your AdGroups. Some AdGroups may target very few keywords, but others may still have a tight theme, but many similar keyword combinations that all need targeting.

It also depends on your chosen match type. If you have mostly chosen Broad Match targeting, you will have fewer keywords, because Broad Match will automatically trigger your ads for more keyword combinations without you needing to specifically target all the possible combinations. Target [Exact Match] and you will likely have a lot more keywords in your AdGroups. It really is relative to the products/services you are advertising and the way you have structured your campaigns.

As for how Google views the account – I’m assuming you are talking about Quality Score here? See this article about how Google determines Quality Score. If keywords have zero impressions, it simply means people aren’t searching for those keywords. This shouldn’t affect your Quality Score for those particular keywords, but having non-performing keywords within your account may impact the overall quality of your account. You should pause any non-performing keywords – or better still, delete them – to ensure they don’t impact your entire account.

However, if you get impressions but no clicks, then THAT will affect your Quality Score. Please note that landing pages and ad text can have much more of an impact on your Quality Score than you may realize. So in my opinion, you’d be better off making sure your ad text and landing pages reflect the keywords you ARE targeting than worrying about a specific number of keywords or how many impressions those keywords attract.

My tried and tested approach to AdWords (and Bing Ads for that matter) is to make sure every single AdGroup is constructed tightly around a particular theme or topic, so that I can allocate only the most relevant keywords to each AdGroup and build my ad copy around that specific theme. Sometimes that means having hundreds of AdGroups in a single campaign.

Once campaigns are beyond the testing phase, I review each AdGroup every 30 to 60 days and delete all keywords and ads that have received zero impressions and zero clicks, pause all keywords and ads that have received clicks but zero conversions and add all new keywords suggested by AdWords. Then I take a close look at the keywords/ads I paused to see if I can improve the Quality Scores by tweaking them. Then I un-pause them and let them run another 30-60 days before starting the cycle again.

Try this approach and see how much better your campaign performs.

Good luck!

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Q and A: How Can I Get Rid of Malicious Spam Content on Google?

QuestionHi Kalena

My friend is being harassed by someone who is manipulating SEO on Google.  What should I do?

Someone is using a story to back link and I believe it is web spammed via Google. The story was politically motivated and used to destroy my friend’s character.  I am not sure if there is anything that can be done to stop this person from page ranking this story to the top of the Google page, especially if they are using possible black hat techniques and other methods to rank this at the top.

Is there anyway Google would remove the story if they are participating in such acts? My friend sent a request for removal and complained to google about the back linking and abuse of page rank, but to date, nothing has been done in removing the story that is over a year old and is at the top of the Google site. Can you help and let us know what we may be able to do to have this story taken down?

Crystal

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Hi Crystal

Sorry to hear that. I believe there are quite a few people who find themselves the target of malicious spam campaigns like this. I personally can’t assist as I don’t work for Google and don’t have any contacts there who would be able to assist. However, the correct place to start the process is to complete this Request to Remove Objectionable Content form.

The other step I would recommend is for your friend to have a lawyer write a *cease and desist* letter to the owner of the web site hosting the objectionable content. Sometimes, the threat of legal action is enough to make them remove it.

My final piece of advice would be to create some positive content and optimize it well for your friend’s name so that it out-ranks the objectionable content to push the spam further down the search results.

Best of luck!

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Q and A: Can a List of Client Sites Be Seen as Link Spamming?

QuestionHi Kalena

I recently finished up helping my dad remake and SEO his site. His company has been around for a long time, and his site hadn’t been updated in a very long time, so it was time for a total remake. The URL stayed the same, but we updated the content/graphics/general design of the site.

So my first question is about a page on the site for “Who Uses Our Service”. On the page there is at least 200 companies listed, and most had links to their sites included. Would Google consider this some type of link spamming to have that many links on a page? Or do they really only care about links pointing TO your site, rather than FROM it? For now we have added a nofollow thing to the robots.txt so Google won’t index that page, but if it wouldn’t impact us negatively, then it would be nice to have it indexed.

My final question is regarding SEO in general. Pretty much I’m wondering how long it takes for SEO to start taking affect, and any reasons why an updated/new site (but with a link that has been around for a long time), that is keyworded on every page for our target keywords, and has some backlinks (not sure of the quantity or quality because this was done a long time ago, not by me), would still not show up within the first 5-10 pages of Google?

We submitted the sitemap to google about 10 days ago, how long would it take for the SEO to really start affecting it’s place in results? The weird thing is it is still top 3 or so in Bing and Yahoo, but had pretty much entirely dropped off the search results in Google, which is part of the reason we remade it. But it still isn’t showing up anywhere, so maybe it just hasn’t been long enough for things to start kicking in?

Sorry for the very long post, but needed to give the details. Thanks for any help!

Chris

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Hi Chris

A double whammy! Ok, let’s see if I can answer both questions in one post:

1) Google recommends a max of 100 outgoing links on any page. Any more links than that and Googlebot may not follow them or index remaining page code. To combat this, I would recommend that you break up that page listing all client sites into several smaller pages, perhaps by category? So law firms on one page, govt agencies on another etc.

In addition, if you are concerned about the page being mistaken for a link farm or directory, I would advise you to use the rel=nofollow tag on all those outgoing links. Unless you specifically want to pass PageRank to those sites, that is the best option for you. It instructs Google that you are not passing on any link juice and so Google is more likely to treat those page/s as genuine content, which is what they are.

2) New sites can take anywhere from 3 to 30 days to show up in Google. To determine if the site has been indexed, you need to do a search for your domain e.g. site:http://[yourdomain].com. If it is showing pages for your domain, then Google has indexed it. If it is showing some pages but not others, you need to investigate any indexing issues using Google Webmaster Tools and compare your site map with the pages indexed to see what could be going on. Webmaster Tools will tell you exactly how often Googlebot is indexing the site and which pages it is indexing.

Also make sure you check your robots.txt file against your XML sitemap to ensure you aren’t giving Google conflicting indexing permissions. I’ve seen many a client blame Google for a baffling indexing issue that was caused by their own instructions to Googlebot in their robots.txt file.

If there are still pages from the old site listed in Google, you need to make sure you use 301 redirects on those old URLs to point them to the new pages. This will signal to Google to update any old content listings. If you spot any dodgy backlinks pointing to the site from previous link partners, you should request they be removed, and/or you can also use the disavow backlinks tool in Webmaster Tools to make sure Google no longer takes those links into account.

If the new pages are listed, but just aren’t ranking as well as you like, it may be that they are under-optimized or over-optimized for your target keywords, OR, the keywords you are trying to rank for are simply too competitive. Keep tweaking the page and testing until you hit the sweet spot that sees the page ranking in the first page or two of search results for logical, realistic keyword phrases.

I would also recommend doing some more in-depth keyword research using some of the tools and methods I’ve previously recommended to make sure you find every possible keyword combination that your potential audience is using when conducting searches. You’ll find that targeting long-tail keywords (search terms with more words and/or that are more specific) will give you the edge over competitors when it comes to ranking. You may not draw as much traffic from them, but the traffic you do attract will be more qualified to purchase/sign up.

It may also be that competing sites have a much stronger backlink profile and so Google is naturally positioning them ahead of you in the search results. If this is the case, conduct a link audit and kick off a consistent link building campaign. In particular, you’ll need to determine how your competitor’s backlink profile compares to yours so you know how much work you need to do in order to out-rank them. My recent post about link audits should help you through this process.

Best of luck!

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