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Everything You Need to Know about Google’s Mobile-Friendly Update Rolling Out on April 21

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Every year Google makes hundreds of changes to its search algorithm. The motivation is always the same- to deliver the best results possible to users. This year, Google announced a major update that will affect search results in significant ways. The announcement was made on February 26, 2015 on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, an unusual move by the search engine in that most algorithm updates come with little or no warning. For search marketers, knowing the specific details of the change as well as an exact roll out date is helpful to improve search engine optimization.

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About the Algorithmic Update Rolling Out on April 21

In an effort to deliver the best possible results to the increasing number of mobile users, Google is expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor starting April 21. Once rolled out, the algorithmic change is expected to affect mobile queries in all languages and have an impact more significant than both Google Panda and Google Penguin. At the time of the announcement, Google also talked about App Indexing for a better search experience. So the mobile-friendly update by Google will include two important changes to help users find the most relevant and timely mobile-friendly search results:

  • More high quality mobile-friendly websites in search results

  • More relevant content from indexed apps in search results

6 Things You Need to Know about Google’s Upcoming Mobile-Friendly Update

1. The Changes Google is Making on April 21

Recently, we’ve seen Google test out many changes to apps, Google Play and the presentation of mobile-friendly results up the SERPs. We also saw the search engine giant add Mobile Usability Report in Google Webmaster Tools and send warnings to webmasters with non-mobile friendly sites. Clearly these changes were in preparation for the 4/21 update. At core though, Google just wants users to have a great online experience and adapting to the new mobile usage patterns, the search engine seeks to improve mobile online experiences. So just give your users a great experience and Google will reward your efforts.

2. Will the update affect your desktop rankings too?

On a panel at SMX Munich, Zineb Ait Bahajji from Google answered this question with a non-hesitant no. This leads to the rational conclusion that Google will launch a new mobile crawler to parse, index, and evaluate mobile search results without desktop repercussions

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Panda 4.0, Payday Loan 2.0, Pigeon: How Can They Affect Your Sites

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In this article, we are going to talk about some of the updates that Google rolled out recently, viz: Panda 4.0 update, Payday Loan update, and the Pigeon update. This article provides an overview of these latest updates and how they can affect a website’s rankings in search engine results page.

The Panda 4.0 Update

The recent Panda 4.0 update was released in May. It is reported that this algorithm update has already affected about 7.5 percent search queries. This update targets low-quality, thin websites. Although it’s still early to fully confirm its impact on different websites, early results indicate significant disruptions in different industries.

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The sites that have been negatively affected by this new algorithm update include renowned Q&A search engines like Retailmenot.com and Ask.com. Press release websites have also been hit badly. Some reputed sites like PRLog, PR Newswire, and PRWeb are losing around 85 percent of the search rankings. Initially it was assumed that eBay.com took a big hit as well. However, later reports indicated that it experienced 33 percent decrease in search rankings.

According to some SEO analysts, webmasters can avoid penalty from Panda by publishing high-quality content, and getting rid of any low-quality content on their site. If you are affected by the newest Panda update, you must include quality content that is compelling and resonates with your audience. Although the webmaster sites may feel that they are unjustly affected by the update, the Panda update together with other updates always reminds you to keep your website content unique. distinct and high-quality. Recently few questions were raised about the softer side of this Panda update. Therefore, small businesses that were affected previously by the update have the opportunity to recover.

The Payday Loan 2.0 Update

Other than the Panda update, the Payday Loan algorithm also received an update in May, and became Payday Loan 2.0. The original algorithm intended to target highly spammy queries (like payday loans or pornographic searches). That update targeted the sites globally and affected international search results in countries from where spam originated. The Payday Loan 2.0 seems to primarily target the international sites and different languages.

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It has been reported that merely 0.2 percent of the English queries are affected. The same figures in certain countries are significantly higher at 4 percent.

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How to Recover from a Google Penalty (Manual and Algorithmic)

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It can happen to anyone whether you run a relatively discreet business blog or a successful e-commerce website. You push the limits too far with your link building or you knowingly or unknowingly associate with some low quality directories or forums. It worked for a while so you got comfortable with employing some SEO tactics that are neither white nor black but lie somewhere in the grey color palette.

Then one day it happens!

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You get a not-so-pleasant message in your Google Webmaster Tools account that your site has violated their quality guidelines and that manual action has been taken.

Or, equally possible, you find yourself on the bad end of a new Google algorithm update. Google makes hundreds of changes to their search algorithms each year and these algorithms, in turn, employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages, any number of which can affect how your site ranks without a manual action by the Google webspam team.

The Common Reasons Why Google Penalizes Websites

1. Over-optimized anchor text

Too many people linking to you using the same anchor text can raise a red flag and cause your website to get penalized for an unnatural link profile.

2. Spammy links

Spammy links from irrelevant websites might have worked in the past to boost your website rankings up the SERPs but this hasn’t been the case for a very long time now.

3. Building too many links too quickly

Have you noticed that when you build too many links in a relatively short period of time, you tend to lose your rankings in the SERPs, which may or may not come back?

4. Junk content

It’s not about creating a large volume of content anymore! It’s about creating high quality content.

The Dreaded Google Penalty

So you think you’ve been hit! You suspect a Google penalty because your web traffic is plummeting. What next?

Well, for one, you need to determine the cause of the penalty. Then, of course, you need to take steps to recover.

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How to Know if You Have Been Penalized by Google

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Online marketers and Google have been engaged in a treacherous dance for over a decade. The moment Google comes out with a new algorithm, online marketers try to beat it. Google adapts. Online marketers follow, and the cycle repeats.

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In the early days, all you had to do to get ranked highly was get a lot of links pointing to you. That was the very basis of PageRank, the system that used the number of links you had as a determinant of page quality. Marketers learned to game the system. So Google adapted, and started using meta tags to determine page relevance. Marketers figured out that to rank, all you had to do was stuff your pages and your meta-keyword tags with the right keywords. Then, Google adapted again.

Since the early days, Google has come a long way. Google no longer relies on just one or two ranking factors. Instead, Google uses over 200 different factors to determine the quality of your website. Everything from your social media presence, the concentration of ads and your website’s loading speed now plays a role in your search engine rankings.

Yet, in the last few years, Google has really taken things to a new level. They’ve released three game changing updates – Panda, Penguin and Humming Bird – that have seriously changed the game for website owners.

Have you been penalized by one of these updates? That’s what this article will explore. But before we get into that, let’s take a quick look at each of these updates.

The Panda, The Penguin, The Humming Bird

So, what were each of these updates? And what’s the difference between all of them?

Google Panda. The Google Panda update was all about getting rid of low quality websites. A lot of low quality websites were ranking highly in Google, thanks to blackhat ranking techniques. Also, many Google ranking factors – like the “exact keyword in the domain” factor – helped low quality sites get ranked. The Google Panda update penalized and lowered the rankings of these low quality websites.

Google Penguin. While the Panda update targeted low quality websites, the Penguin update targets low quality backlinks. This was known as the anti-spam update. Google actively penalized websites that over-optimized. They also targeted websites that violated the Webmaster Guidelines, as well as websites that used blackhat SEO techniques.

Google Humming Bird. This was the biggest update of all. Instead of changing the old algorithm, which started from the beginning of the Google days, this was a complete overhaul of the algorithm. In other words, Google essentially rewrote its search algorithm from scratch. Instead of being keyword-based, the new algorithm is designed to intelligently understand what a searcher is looking for. It understands sentence structure and conversational questions. This was an especially important update for mobile searches, which are often dictated in the form of a question via voice command.

Those were the three major updates. Each of these updates targeted a very different aspect of SEO. In each of these updates, some websites improved in rankings, while others suffered. How do you know if you’ve been penalized through one of these updates? And what can you do about it?

How to Know if You Were Penalized by Google Panda

A Google Panda slap can take a couple different forms:

1. You notice your traffic spikes and drops erratically. One day you might have normal traffic, then the next it drops back to zero, then the next it bounces back. This means that Google is indexing and deindexing your site repeatedly. This often means there are duplicate content issues, HTML parsing issues or other structural issues with the site. This is less common.

2. The more common way this occurs is a sharp drop directly after a Panda update. To see if your website was caused by a Panda update, check to see if your traffic dropped sharply within a few days of a Panda update. Here’s a complete list of all the Panda update dates.

If you’re getting penalized by Google Panda, the best approach is to work on your content quality. Remove duplicate topic content, even if they’re unique in words. In other words, before the Panda update, “How to Fix a Motor” and “How to Repair a Motor” would be considered unique articles. After Panda, they’re considered duplicate.

Work on creating content that’s quality and gets people to stay on the site longer. Reduce your bounce rate, increase your average pages per visitor. Reduce the number of ads per page. In other words, right now Google considers your website low quality. Work on increasing the quality, rather than on link building techniques. Here’s a video by Matt Cutts that talks about the steps to be taken when hit by a Google Panda update:

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Google’s Hummingbird | Say Hello To The Biggest Google Algorithm Update Since 2001

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The last few weeks, the SERPs have been chaotic. You may have noticed this yourself: Small drops in Page Authority and Domain Authority or big leaps up the SERPs for some previously poorly ranking content.

The reason: Google has secretly rolled out a new algorithm, the biggest update since 2001.

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Unlike Panda and Penguin, Google’s Hummingbird is not merely a major algorithm update or refresh, it is, in fact, a new ranking algorithm altogether. Google remained unusually quiet about the new algorithm until September 26, 2013 when it was confirmed.

Google’s Hummingbird aims to deliver precise and fast results. At this point, specifics are vague but Google has confirmed that the new algorithm focuses on semantic search rather than keyword search based on more intelligent search requests. Put quite simply, Google is getting smarter.

About Google’s Hummingbird

Google is developing semantic search and the announcement of the Hummingbird algorithm update only goes on to indicate the speed at which Google is rolling out user-intent search at a global level. It’s time to sit up and take notice.

Basically Google’s Hummingbird takes semantic search and adds 3 new dimensions to it.

1. Complexity

Semantic search is about more intelligent and naturalistic search requests. The Hummingbird update aims to render Google search capable of processing complex search queries. For example, successive search queries about a specific topic are now analyzed and linked.

2. Comparison

The adjustment of Google’s search algorithm to account for more complex search queries means that Hummingbird can now turn Google into a comparison engine. For example, let’s say you were to compare the Empire State Building to Sears. Before Google’s Hummingbird, you would have had to search each building and then manually compare them. Google’s Hummingbird now does the legwork for you bringing up a comparison chart for the two buildings if you type in “Empire State Building vs. Sears” in Google’s search bar.

Empire State Building vs. Sears

3. Prediction

Complex search queries, once they are intelligently processed and understood provide important data to Google search to widen the search results. This broadens search for a more fulfilling user experience.

The take-away: Google search is getting smarter. Hummingbird will affect 90% of searches worldwide. Google is actively developing semantic search and businesses currently relying on simple keyword strategies will suffer in the near future. In addition to that, Google has now stopped reporting keywords in Google Analytics making it more of a challenge to create a comprehensive SEO strategy without primary keywords.

The Future of Content Marketing and SEO

With Hummingbird, Google is clearly articulating the direction of travel for marketers.

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Why Removing Links after an Unnatural Link Warning Might be a Bad Idea

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As oxygen is to the body, links is to a website. Simply put, the modern search engines’ core algorithm ranks web pages based on a crucial factor – how many other sites are linking to a site and how good those sites are. It suffices to say that the higher the quality of sites that link to you, the better the chances of your site ranking.

However, what about all the bad, supposedly spammy, low-quality links pointing to your site? Should you be worried about them? Can they harm your site and do they have the ability to bring down your rankings? We’d like to think “not” but Google has sent out mixed signals about that recently with their latest Penguin updates.

This fad about removing links has gained momentum in the last few months after Google has been sending out “Unnatural Link Warning” notices. With the most recent set of notices sent, it was surprising to see that even a site like SEOMoz.org got an unnatural links notice. So the question that begs itself, if Google is issuing such notices, should you remove some of those links pointing to your site?

Google Unnatural Link Warning

Well, there are two ways of looking at it:

1.   You could spend hours removing (or at least attempting to remove) as many suspicious links as you can, contact Google informing them of your efforts and hope your site recovers in their next algorithmic update.

2.   You could spend the same amount of time that you would’ve spent in removing links but instead on renewed link building efforts that result in a stream of quality links flowing to your site. The resultant effect of such an effort being that your rankings do eventually recover because of a rebalanced link portfolio and that the penalty effect of the unnatural links wanes over time.

I am of the opinion that the latter might be a more sound strategy because the Penguin update is an algorithmic update after all and not a manual update. So what that means is that when your link profile does start looking stronger and more diverse, your sites’ rankings will automatically come back in the fold.

You could ask, what about the “penalty” effect of those “unnatural” links if you don’t remove them? What if Google is not just ignoring the value of those links but in fact imposing a penalty? I believe that there are two aspects to be looked at here to understand how Google could `possibly be interpreting your links where the Penguin update is concerned:

a)      They’ll look at the quality and diversity of your links in terms of the kind of sites that are linking to you. The basic premise of PageRank remains, the value you get from each link would be determined by the quality of the site. However, if you have one too many links from a very similar profile of sites, then the site could possibly be “Penguined”.

b)      They’ll look at the diversity in your anchor text. If you have a large number of money keywords and little to few branded/domain based keywords or natural linking words, then this could be another possibility of your site being “Penguined”.

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