Q and A: What steps can I take to recover from Google Panda / Penguin?

QuestionHi Kalena

I work for an online retail site and our company was hit really hard by Google Panda and then the ongoing Google Penguin algorithm updates.

We haven’t used any obvious spam tactics and we don’t use link farms, but a lot of our content is auto generated based on our product database and it is also duplicated on the sites belonging to some of our distribution partners. For example, we sell toys and promotional gifts made in China and these categories and product descriptions are replicated on our partner sites.

Two years ago, we hired a SEO firm to optimize our blog and write some articles for us that integrate links to our products. I think all these things have contributed to us getting wiped off Google search results after the Panda and Penguin updates. From what I’ve read, we may be guilty of over-optimization. Is this right?

Our traffic from search engines is down by at least 40 percent and has stayed that way for the past 6 months. What steps can we take to get back in Google’s good books? This is really hurting us.

Thank you in advance,
Tim

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Hello Tim

I started to answer this and then realized that Jill Whalen has already written an excellent article on this very subject. I believe it answers all your questions, including specific problems that have likely contributed to losses of organic Google traffic for many sites in the past year.

Please go have a read of  Jill’s article: 18 SEO Killers You Must Clean Up and Avoid for 2013 and all the best!

Kalena
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Q and A: Is it good SEO practice to cross link related sites in the footer?

QuestionHello Kalena

I took your SEO classes at Search Engine College a while back. I’m hoping you might be able to help me with a question that I really don’t know the answer to.

I now work at an advertising agency and we have various clients…some we work on their SEO and some we don’t.

One of our client’s websites [link removed] has their sister companies listed on the bottom of the site with links pointing to each. All the companies are related and interlinked in the same way. They were told by their “SEO” company that having the companies linked is not a good SEO move.

I would think that since these would be quality links that it is good practice to link them.

Can you please weigh in on this?

Thanks
Lena

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Hi Lena

Actually, I can see where their SEO’s concern lies. All of the sister sites are linked together in the footer, in a kind of feedback loop. This can be misinterpreted by Google to be a mini link farm of sorts.

Please read Google’s guidelines about links and you’ll understand what I mean. They particularly highlight this issue:

“Here are a few common examples of unnatural links that violate our guidelines… Widely distributed links in the footers of various sites…”

By all means link to the sister sites, but use the *rel: no-follow* tag on those links so that no link value is attributed to them. That should prevent Google from misinterpreting the link intention.

Hope this helps!

Kalena
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Q and A: Do women bring a different perspective to SEO?

QuestionHello Kalena

I’ve recently learned very quickly that SEO is a very male dominated industry.

As a female who has just begun in the SEO industry I was wondering if you would be able to tell me how you have dealt with working in a male dominated industry so well for all these years and what kind of challenges/obstacles have come your way? This would be great to know so that other female seo can prepare themselves if they should ever come to terms with them. More importantly how have you dealt with them?

Another question I was wondering – in your expert opinion – what do you feel that women bring to the SEO table? Anything new? Perhaps a different perspective?

Any advice that you could offer on this topic would be awesome and extremely appreciated.

Thanks for your time.

Monica

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Hi Monica

To answer your question, I no longer work in a traditional *office* so I’m no longer exposed to the same male/female office politics that I once was. However, when I was starting out, there was a very obvious male bias in the industry, particularly at search-related conferences I would attend.

We used to see around 5-10% female attendees at such conferences, whereas now it tends to be 35-40% or higher. Not sure if this spread is because SEO is kind of a geeky/programmer industry which has traditionally attracted more males, but it has definitely evolved to become more mainstream and marketing-focused. With that shift has come more females interested in the industry and thriving in the field.

In terms of the female perspective on SEO, I definitely think there are points of difference that females can bring to SEO roles. One in particular is our insight into emotional purchasing and shopping trends. It is well documented that females respond differently to advertisements and also search differently from men in general – with emotional response being key in the decision-making process. Plus women tend to be the key gift purchasers in a large majority of households. These factors can give female SEOs added insight when it comes to keyword research and copywriting for web sites aimed at females in particular.

Same goes for pay per click advertising – ad copy, headlines and images/videos used can influence purchasing decisions so using both male and female SEOs/SEMs in the ad creation process is going to ensure a more successful campaign.

Hope this helps!

Kalena

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Q and A: How do I leverage Social Media to improve my SEO?

QuestionHello Kalena

What do you think is the future of SEO as it relates to Social Media?

I’m really interested in convergence/intersection of Social Media and SEO.  I’d like to select my next set of Search Engine College courses with this in mind.  Do you have any suggestions? For example, I know the importance of blogging etc., but how do you go about creating a network of bloggers that can be used to help increase social media signals?

Toni

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Hi Toni

Social media has been a vital piece of SEO for a couple of years now. The amount of exposure that Social Media Marketing provides can contribute not just to traffic to a web site, but also to a site’s SEO strategy and long term success.

Web sites that are using successful social media strategies will almost always benefit from better visibility in the search engines. Why is this? For a few reasons:

  • Cross promotion of content between various social media channels and a web site usually means more links pointing to that web site. This contributes to a site’s link popularity. Higher link popularity and more relevant incoming links generally increases the *trust rank* of a site and results in higher rankings on the SERPs.
  • Regular posting via a blog or via social media channels consistently creates new content. Search engines LOVE fresh content and will be more inclined to index your site more often if you keep it fresh.
  • New content will attract more visitors and more page views, which in turn will improve your *trustability* with Google and other major search engines.
  • The more people talking about your brand, the better. Social media lends itself to brand discussion and product comparisons. If you make sure to take advantage of that, it can give you insights into new product development and customer satisfaction. Consistent mentions of your brand and/or products should naturally boost your product pages in the SERPs for related search queries.
  • When people are viewing and sharing your content via various social media channels, they are creating yet more links back to your site and this will have a flow-on effect to your link popularity and traffic levels. In effect, they are creating new content for you, without being on your payroll.

So how do you take advantage of all this and leverage your social media networks to boost your SEO strategy? Here’s a short checklist of things you can do when you publish new content on your web site or have something important to share:

  1. Upload it to your web site – This the starting point. Make sure the new content is uploaded here before any of your other marketing channels. This establishes your site as the original source and you can then point your social media posts to this source.
  2. Write a press release about it – If the new content or announcement warrants a press release, create one! Then upload it to press release syndication sites such as PR Web to ensure it gets maximum media coverage.
  3. Blog about it – If you write a regular blog, whether it is on your site or elsewhere, blog about it and link back to the original source on your site. Encourage other bloggers to link to it, blog about it or re-post it on their blogs. You mentioned this in your original question submission and YES, having a network of reliable bloggers either in your employ or in your social network can definitely help spread the word about your new content and contribute to your social signals.
  4. Bookmark it – Make sure your new content is submitted to smaller social sites and bookmarking services like Stumble Upon, Digg, Reddit and Delicious.
  5. Tweet it – Make sure you post a tweet on Twitter about your news, with a link back to the original source on your site and encourage your followers to share with their followers.
  6. Facebook it – As above, post a status update on your company/personal Facebook pages with a link back to the original source. Encourage your Facebook friends/fans to discuss it and share it with their friends.
  7. Pin it – If you have a Pinterest account, you might consider pinning it, particularly if the content is visual in nature.
  8. Google+ it – If you haven’t already set up your Google Plus account, do so quickly. A lot of people are already ditching Facebook and embracing Google+ as their favorite social media hangout. There are also other advantages to using it – if you use AdWords, you can have your ads show up with a little Google+ icon and link to your Google+ page. If you write regular articles/posts, you can also use Google+ for your Google Authorship annotations and track these in Google Webmaster Tools.
  9. Create a video about it – You might consider creating a short YouTube video talking about your news, or create a video version of your blog post. This can work particularly well if your content is a *how to* article or just educational in style.
  10. Create a slide-deck about it – As above, if your content is visual or educational, it would probably make a fantastic slide show. You could create a simple slide-deck about it ready to go for conferences or corporate presentations on the subject at a future date. Be sure to share the slide deck on slide hosting services like SlideShare.
  11. Create an eBook about it – If your content is a white paper or tutorial, you might consider creating an eBook and give that away via your social media channels. eBooks are a great way to solicit permission from people to sign up for your mailing list (in exchange for the free eBook).
  12. Send an email about it – If you publish a regular newsletter or Email broadcast, make sure you link to your new content within your campaign. Encourage people to share the news via their own social media networks.

Want more? Read Marcus Maraih’s article Improve Your Social SEO for more ideas.

Kalena

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Q and A: How do I get a job in the search industry?

QuestionHello Kalena

I am about to complete the last module of my CSEO course at Search Engine College and I am trying to get myself into this industry here in the UK. And although the demand is quite large I am struggling to get a job within the industry.

I was wondering if you have any advice for me in order to get a job in this industry?

Thank you very much for your time
Lonnie

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Hi Lonnie

Glad to hear of your progress with your course – congratulations!

In terms of gaining employment in the search industry, here are some things I recommend:

1) Keep an eye on our Search Engine Marketing Jobs Board. and the other search related employment sites we have listed on Search Engine Wiki.

2) Review my previous blog posts about salaries and jobs in search.

3) Review current SEO / SEM / PPC salaries before you apply for any jobs in the search industry.

4) Consider doing some pro-bono SEO work for a charity or not-for-profit site in your area in exchange for a written recommendation. If it goes well, that can lead to lots of good publicity, which can lead to paid work.

5) Register yourself on freelance project sites such as eLance.com, freelancer.com, odesk.com and guru.com and build up your resume with small projects to show potential employers.

6) Spread the word that you are looking for work! Post your resume and new qualifications online, tell your friends and family, use social networking to get the word out that you are keen to find a job in search.

Best of luck and keep us posted on how you get on.

Kalena

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