What is the Google Penguin 2.0 Update?

What on earth is Google’s Penguin Update and why should I be worried? The answer is that you shouldn’t be. As long as you haven’t been involved in any “Black Hat” SEO tactics you have nothing to worry about and you might even find that your site’s rankings improve. However if you, or anyone working on your behalf has built paid links in the past or used any other techniques designed to unfairly manipulative search results you may need to take action fast.

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What Is Google Penguin 2.0?

Google first launched its Penguin Update in April 2012 with the aim of preventing sites from ranking well on the back of activities which go against their Guidelines. Most of the sites targeted had “unnatural” links pointing towards them as a result of unscrupulous SEO companies attempting to boost the rankings of sites by building quick and easy low-quality links. A second major update (following several small tweaks) has just rolled out and we are expecting it to have a big impact.

Those affected can expect to see their rankings fall dramatically for either specific keywords or across the board. This will result in a drop in traffic which will be difficult to recover from. As Penguin is algorithmic you won’t receive a notification via Google Webmaster Tools as you would with a manually applied penalty.

What Are We Doing About It?

Optix have always focused on creating great content rather than trying to push lesser content up the rankings with paid links. As a result most of our clients can rest assured that this update won’t have a negative impact on them. In fact they may find that their rankings improve as their competitors’ fall.

We are monitoring the situation and checking our client’s sites to see if any historical activity could cause a problem. By auditing our client’s backlink profiles we are able to take preventative measures on behalf of any clients whose previous employees or agencies might have been tempted to risk their long term traffic for quick gains.

If you’re worried about your site or want to know more give us a ring on 01392 667766.


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Thomas Haynes joins Optix Digital Marketing Team

This week we’re extremely excited to be welcoming Thomas Haynes to the Optix Digital Marketing stable.

Thomas has been working in the search marketing industry for over six years and the portfolio of companies he’s worked with reads like a who’s who in blue-chip names. Amongst others, Thomas has worked with the likes of HSBC, Disney, M&S, Tesco, Bentley and Oxfam. We’re extremely excited to have Thomas bringing his knowledge to our already exciting and growing digital team. The experience he has in this field will benefit our client’s enormously.

For more information on how our digital marketing team can help your business grow, give them a buzz on 01392 667766

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What to do About Google Shopping?

In May, Google announced that the UK would lose its free shopping channel. While this has angered many users, with some arguing this goes against Google’s previous statements regarding ‘paid inclusion’, the fact remains that policyIS changing, and you need to make an informed decision about what to do next.

“On May 31, we announced a new initiative to improve our shopping experience over time. We designed this initiative to help shoppers better research purchases, compare different products and their features and prices, and then connect with merchants to make their purchase.”

Google Commerce

If you want to continue to appear in the shopping results

If you want to continue to appear in the shopping results you will have to pay.

For the optimistic among us, this can be viewed as an opportunity. Your competitors very well may opt out of paying for Shopping, leaving you in a prime position to pick up more sales; or, you can decide to take the hit on traffic/sales and ramp up on your inbound marketing.

Your options as I see them:

Jump Ship: Let this channel slip

You can simply forget about this once-free channel and move onto other activities to generate sales and visibility. However, you need to know how much you are set to lose. To determine this, look at your stats package and see what sales/traffic you are currently getting from Google merchant/shopping.

Limp In: Spend a penny

Invest a little time and money into trying the the new paid-for system at the minimum cost. Bid 1p on for all your existing items to try to maintain visibility at the minimum cost. This way you can test the waters cheaply and get in on the action early and potentially see benefits over the people who jump ship.

Be bold: Jump in head first

There are people in business who are risk takers, sometimes risks pay off sometimes they don’t. You will find though, that the risk takers who win more often than they lose, are the ones who do there research and testing.

Work out your margins, calculate your customer life-time-value and an acceptable cost of acquisition, and enter the virgin market strong-armed with your data and analysis.

Nothing ventured nothing gained!

Of course this is just advice, and unfortunately we can neither take credit for your success, nor responsibility for any falters. We can however offer you expert advice, so don’t hesitate to contact us.

Further reading:

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3 SEO tactics you should NEVER use

After heavily investing in a website, your next move should be focused on optimising your website so that potential customers can easily find you on the web.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) uses various techniques to increase your website’s visibility on search engines, so that it appears near the top of the results when keywords related to the product or service you sell are entered into the search. Since 75% of users don’t go past the first page of Google search, optimising your website for search is absolutely crucial for its success.

With billions of websites online, chances are your website competes with many others so you need to prove to Google and other search engines that you are better than the rest. Since there are hundreds of factors that Google takes into consideration when ranking your site, applying an SEO technique is not an easy one, which mean many individuals often give up on it when they don’t see instant results.

If you are considering doing SEO yourself, or getting an agency to do it for you, then you need to ensure you both know what you are doing, as poor knowledge of the subject could mean your website is penalised (a.k.a ‘Google slapped’) or even banned by the search engine.

Here are 3 top tips from our Head of Online Marketing Daniel Cave, to tell you what you should avoid when it comes to SEO.

1.) Don’t buy low quality links

Getting back links is important, but creating them in a way which potential customers might consider as ‘spammy’ will not only look bad for your company, but could result in you being penalised and could lead to your site being permanently removed from the search engine.

2.) Don’t use low quality or duplicated content in your pages

Make sure you produce in-depth, original content for your website. Poor quality content is sure to send your user elsewhere, so make sure you write engaging content that will satisfy the needs of your customer.

3.) NEVER EVER consider ‘cloaking’ or any other black hat SEO techniques

Cloaking is where your website has two versions of a page – a content-rich page vs. a page low in content. The search engine only reads the content-rich page and therefore boosts your website up the rankings, but the user sees a different version of the page – the page that is low in content.

This really is a big no-no when it comes to SEO so definitely avoid it (or any other black hat SEO techniques) as it almost guaranteed to get you banned from search engines.

GET FREE ADVICE: If you want to know more on the dos and don’ts of SEO then check out our FREE SEO workshop led by our Head of Online Marketing Dan Cave and Web consultant, Charlie Martin.

The workshop has proven extremely beneficial for those that have already attended, see what Nicola Ward, Kyoo Marketing Services had to say:

“For me the Optix Solutions SEO workshop was extremely valuable. Dan and Charlie had taken on board our various requirements thoughtfully and weaved them effectively into the workshop. I came out with a much better understanding of some of the ways we could really help drive appropriate and relevant traffic to our site, both on our own and also using specialists to support us. It was a relevant and enjoyable session which I really appreciated.”

The next workshop will be held on the 26th September at 2.00 p.m. Please register below – (Hurry there are only 4 spaces for this event!)

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RIP Google Product Search: Hello Google Shopping

Google has recently announced that from Fall 2012 businesses will need to pay the search giant to have their products included in Google Shopping (originally known as Froogle). Since first launching the service it has been completely free and relatively easy for businesses to add their products, allowing the “small guys” to compete on a level playing field based on price, customer reviews and delivery costs.

Hello Google Shopping

More recently, Google introduced PPC ‘product ads’ as a way for advertisers to achieve better click-through rates and greater visibility. The move also allowed Google to earn money on the search results and provide searchers with the ability to find the item they are looking for as quickly and easily as possible.

product ads

Google shopping are changing the way it works to be overtly ‘sponsored’ as opposed to the free model which caused them problems with anti-trust laws.

Following is an example of what these ‘paid inclusion’ product listings could look like in the future:

Going Forward

In the end, Google is shifting to what’s been the industry standard when it comes to shopping search, to have a paid inclusion program. The curious can take a look here at SingleFeed for a rundown on who offers paid plans. Most shopping search engines do. Even Bing, which is listed as being free, also does paid inclusion through a partnership with Shopping.com, saying that doing this will increase visibility.

For searchers, Google’s trying to find the balance between having incredibly comprehensive results and the noise that can harm relevancy when there’s too much junk and not enough signal, it seems. As I said, it remains to see if they’ll get that balance right.

…will Google eventually decide that Google Shopping should make the next logical step and provide transactions, the way that Amazon does? At some point, Google the search engine that is supposed to point to destinations may turn into too much of a destination itself.

http://searchengineland.com/google-product-search-to-become-google-shopping-use-pay-to-play-model-122959

Golden Opportunity or Dead-End for e-commerce?

No doubt when the switchover happens there will be winners and losers, the trick is ensuring that you are among the first to adapt when competition is likely to be down as the majority of website owners and managers scramble to react to the changes you have already prepared for.

If you do decide to get on board the advertising train in this fashion then analysis and tracking will be key for you and making sure Google shopping pulls its weight compared to the rest of the mix will be more important than ever.

Keep an eye on the blog for further updates from myself and the rest of the Online Marketing team here at Optix Solutions. Have a question? Get in touch. We are here to help.

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SEO and “Ads Above the Fold”

We recently helped a friend of the company with some information about one of Google’s Algorithm (Algo) changes/updates. The Advertisements Above the Fold factor.

This is what we had to say:

Any Google update is designed to prevent low quality websites ranking (or rather rank high quality websites first). The “advertisements above the fold” layout Algo is an example of a use of block level analysis which we have known about for a long time. The Algo can see what is a side bar and what is main content so that it can discount useless stuff and rank you for the main content. See below

Block level page anlysis

Now what Google says is that if you have too much space above the fold (a term from newspapers meaning what you can see when the paper is folded) full of adverts or useless items that they are not going to rank you as well.

If you are worried about having too many ads above the fold, put your URL in here and see how much content you can see compared to ads. If you wanted to be ultra careful I would say both 1st party and 3rd party banners/ads should be included in your assessments. So even your own internal ads may be a negative factor should they dominate your page above the fold. http://browsersize.googlelabs.com/

Here is a screen grab of our site in the test:

Consider this: what should YOU have more of on the screen when you open the site? Content? Navigation? Ads? What percentage seems right to you?

As for our customers? We tend not to design a site with ads built into the layout too prominently as a design factor rather than an SEO one, but we do have a few sites that use internal linking banners (or 1st party ads) heavily on their site and we have seen no significant drop in traffic for those sites. However even those ads are designed to sit well below secondary navigation and other side bar features, and we are always beating the drum for original content and quality pages which helps our customers in search engines.

To worry about ‘ads above the fold’ for SEO reasons should be secondary to worrying about why there ads above the fold for user reasons, and taking up valuable site content real estate in the first place. Ask yourself is what you have really what a user wants to see? Is that really how you want your business perceived. If the first thing someone sees when they visit your website is a mass of advertising and banner ads, would you be pleased?

“This algorithmic change does not affect sites who place ads above-the-fold to a normal degree, but affects sites that go much further to load the top of the page with ads to an excessive degree or that make it hard to find the actual original content on the page.”

Google

This page layout update only deals with one out of hundreds of SEO factors which go into determining a page’s rank, if you want to talk SEO we are in Exeter and happy to talk.

Our advice to designers is just keep putting content and users first and you will be fine. Consider moving ads further down the page, and increasing the size of the main content area.

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