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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105 Free SEO Resources

toolkitIf you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of time-saving tools and short cuts that can make life easier for digital marketers.

On a recent trip down the rabbit hole of online marketing blogs, I came across the a tidy collection of SEO resources collated by Amar Hussain of website broking company FE International.

Pitched as the ultimate toolkit for digital marketers, the collection is unique in that all of the resources are free. This is great news for marketers on a budget and ideal for my SEO students, many of whom are still in college or on low incomes.

Each of the resources are categorized along the following themes:

  • A/B Testing
  • Analytics
  • Competitor Analysis
  • Content
  • Diagnostic
  • Email
  • Infographics
  • Keyword Research
  • Link Research  / Link Building
  • Local SEO
  • Resources
  • SERP Tracking
  • Speed
  • Technical
  • Toolbars / Extensions
  • WordPress Plugins

While there are many tools in the list that I know well, I was pleasantly surprised to see a large number that I haven’t seen before and can add to my own toolkit. Of these, Optimizely, WordSmith and Five Second Test were the most exciting finds.

Enjoy.

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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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The 2015 Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Table of SEO Success FactorsEarlier this month, the team over at Search Engine Land updated their brilliant Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors.

Now in it’s 3rd edition, the table is a fantastic SEO resource and one of the few items on my Ubuntu desktop that gets regular eyeball attention. Content is divided between on-page and off-page factors and clearly color-coded to make it visually intuitive, with relevancy weight ranging from -3 to +3.

The new edition references new factors of SEO importance including vertical search, Direct Answers and HTTPS, with mobile friendliness and structured data acquiring a relevancy weight increase in line with recent Google updates.

The idea behind the table is to highlight tasks within the SEO process and to act as a visual reminder about what is most important and what areas to focus on for clients.

Danny Sullivan describes the goal and philosophy of the table:

“Our goal with the Periodic Table Of SEO is to help publishers focus on the fundamentals needed to achieve success with search engine optimization. This means it’s not about trying to list all 200 Google ranking factors or detail Google’s 10,000 sub-factors. It’s not about trying to advise if keywords you want to rank for should go at the beginning of an HTML title tag or the end. It’s not about whether or not Facebook Likes are counted for ranking boosts.

Instead, the table is designed to broadly guide those new to or experienced with SEO into general areas of importance. Title tags are generally important. Think about making sure they’re descriptive. Social sharing is often generally seen as good for SEO. Aim for social shares, without worrying about the specific network.”

While not exactly a cheat-sheet, my SEO students at Search Engine College tell me it is their favorite resource for assignment preparation, so that’s a pretty good endorsement.

The Table can be downloaded as a PDF in large or condensed format, or you can grab the code to embed the infographic directly into your web site.

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