google algorithm

Penguin 2.0 And Beyond In 2013

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May 14  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

Here’s the latest video from Matt Cutts talking about what to expect in regards to how Google will treat links in the coming months. The war on link spammers rages on and Google at this point in time is still heavily gamed and the results for any money making keyword is full of junk.

Pay close attention to what he says as this is an unusually long video for this series and it is full of insight. He covers not only Penguin 2.0, but all the other link changes coming to the table including;

  • What Penguin 2.0 will go after
  • How Google will handle hacked sites
  • How Google will go after tiered link building
  • How Google will better choose authorities in a niche..AuthorRank anyone?

I’m not too worried about these updates as we never target anchor text, nor do we actually build links for clients apposed to earning them. It’s a different world but if you’re wanting to run a real brand, you cannot be out there chasing junk links just to pick off those coveted keywords.

Here’s a transcript of the video for those who cannot watch it:

Opening and Disclaimers

Hey everybody, today’s webmaster video is answering the question: “What should we expect in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google?” Okay, so, first off, we’re taping this video in early May of 2013, so I’ll give you a little bit of an idea about what to expect as far as what Google’s working on in terms of the webspam team. In terms of what you should be working on, we try to make sure that is pretty constant and uniform. Try to make sure you make a great site that users love, that they’ll want to tell their friends about, bookmark, come back to, visit over and over again, ya know, all the things that make a site compelling. We try to make sure that if that’s your goal, we’re aligned with that goal, and therefore, as long as you’re working hard for users, we’re working hard to try to show your high quality content to users as well. But at the same time, people are always curious about, OK, what should we expect coming down the pipe in terms of what kinds of things Google’s working on. One of the reasons that we don’t usually talk that much about the kinds of things we’re working on is that the plans can change. Ya know, the timing can change, when we launch things can change. So take this with a grain of salt. This is, as of today, the things that look like they’ve gotten some approval or they look pretty promising. Okay, with all those kinds of disclaimers, let’s talk a little bit about the sort of stuff that we’re working on.

Intro to Penguin 2.0

We’re relatively close to deploying the next generation of Penguin. Internally, we call it “Penguin 2.0″. And again, Penguin is a webspam change that’s dedicated to try to find blackhat webspam and try to target and address that. So this one is a little more comprehensive than Penguin 1.0 and we expect it to go a little bit deeper and have a little bit more of an impact than the original version of Penguin.

Paid Ads/Coverage/Links

We’ve also been looking at advertorials that is sort of native advertising and those sorts of things that violate our quality guidelines. So again, if someone pays for coverage or pays for an ad or something like that, those ads should not flow PageRank. We’ve seen a few sites in the US and around the world that take money and then do link to websites and pass PageRank. So we’ll be looking at some efforts to be a little bit stronger on our enforcement as far as advertorials that violate our quality guidelines. Now there’s nothing wrong inherently with advertorials or native advertising, but they should not flow PageRank and there should be clear and conspicuous disclosure so that users realize that something is paid, not organic or editorial.

Examples of Specific Niches to Be Targeted

It’s kind of interesting. We get a lot of great feedback from outside of Google. For example, there were people complaining about searches like “payday loans” on So we have two different changes that try to tackle those kinds of queries in a couple different ways. We can’t get into too much detail about exactly how they work, but I’m kind of excited that we’re going from having just general queries be a little more cleaned to going to some of these areas that have traditionally been a little more spammy including, for example, some more pornographic queries. And some of these changes might have a little bit more of an impact in those kinds of areas that are a little more contested by various spammers and that sort of thing.

Going Upstream and More Sophisticated Link Analysis

We’re also looking at some ways to go upstream to deny the value to link spammers–some people who spam links in various ways. We’ve got some nice ideas on trying to make sure that that becomes less effective and so we expect that that will roll out over the next few months as well. And in fact, we’re working on a completely different system that does more sophisticated link analysis. We’re still in the early days for that, but it’s pretty exciting. We’ve got some data now that we’re ready to start munging and see how good it looks and we’ll see whether that bears fruit or not.

Hacked Sites

We also continue to work on hacked sites in a couple different ways, number one trying to detect them better, we hope in the next few months to roll out a next generation of hacked sites detection that is even more comprehensive, and also try to communicate better to webmasters, because sometimes they/we see confusion between hacked sites and sites that serve up malware, and ideally you have a one stop shop where once someone realizes that they have been hacked, they can go to webmaster tools and have some single spot they can go where they get a lot more info to sort of point them in the right way to hopefully clean up those hacked sites.

Shout out to the Spam Lords

So if you’re doing high quality content whenever you’re doing SEO this shouldn’t be some big surprise you shouldn’t have to worry about a lot of different changes. If you’ve been hanging out on a lot black hat forums and trading different types of spamming package tips and that sort of stuff then it might be a more eventful summer for you.

Authority Sites

But we have also been working on a lot of ways to help regular webmasters. We’re doing a better job of detecting when someone is sort of an authority in a specific space, could be medical or could be travel or whatever, and trying to make sure that those rank a little more highly if you’re some sort of authority or a site that according to the algorithms we think might be a little more appropriate for users.

“Borderline Quality” Sites… Possibly Good for Sites that Were Pandalized

We’ve also been looking at Panda and seeing if we can find some additional signals and we think we’ve got some to help refine things for the sites that are kinda in the borderzone/in the grey area a little bit. So if we can soften the effect a little bit for those sites that we believe have some additional signals of quality that will help sites that might have previously been effected to some degree by Panda.

Ranking Multiple Pages of Same Domain for the Same Query

We’ve also heard a lot of feedback from some people about that if I go down three pages deep I’ll see a cluster of several results all from one domain. We’ve actually made things better that you’re less likely to see that on the first page and more likely to see that on the following pages. And we’re looking at a change which might deploy which would basically say that once you’ve seen a cluster of results from one site then you’d be less likely to see more results from that site as you go deeper into the next pages of Google search results. And that has been good feedback that people have been sending us. We continue to refine host clustering and host crowding and all those sorts of the things. But we’ll continue to listen to feedback and see what we can do even better.

Back to Hacked Sites

And then we’re going to keep try figuring out how to get more information to webmasters. I mentioned more information for sites that are hacked and ways they might be able to do things, we’re also going to be looking for ways we can provide more concrete details, more example URLs that webmasters can use to figure out where to go diagnose their site.


That’s just a rough snapshot of how things look right now, things can absolutely change and be in flux we might see new attacks, we might need to move our resources around, but that’s a little about bit of what to expect
over the next few months in the summer of 2013.
I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m really excited about a lot of these changes
because we do see really good improvements in terms of people who are link spamming or doing various black hat spam would be less likely to show up I think by the end of the summer. And at the same time we’ve got a lot of nice changes queued up that hopefully will help small/medium businesses and regular webmasters as well. So that’s just a very quick idea about what to expect in terms of SEO for the next few months as far as Google.

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Why You Should Follow Rand Fishkin On Twitter

May 12  |  News  |   Ryan Clark

Ok, strange title I know. While it makes me look like the world’s biggest ass kisser, I do have a good reason for the post title. I was just finishing up the friggin amazing article by Richard from SEOGadget on building high quality sites to kill it in the SERP’s Post panda, and then came the comments. So what does Rand have to do with this? Well I missed this amongst the millions of Tweets in my feed, but this is just on of a thousand good reasons to follow him on Twitter. This one will just make all the panda haters rage hard;

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Google Panda & Your Link Profile

May 4  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

While not much has been said publicly about your backlinks and the Google Panda/Farmer update, I thought we could get something going. We’ve been helping and discussing problems with many sites via Google Webmaster Central, and we started seeing a pattern. While the majority of issues with the Panda update have been due to thin/scrapped/junk content, we have seen a lot of sites that got hit have paid links among other types. While we cannot disclose the sites we’ve looked at and dealt with, you can see dozens of examples on Google’s Webmaster Central. There are literally dozens every day coming forth with issues!

Photo Courtesy: Brad Beamana

Panda Food For Thought:

We all know by know that content is king, and now if it’s not you’re getting put in the dungeon. So what about all the sites getting effected that have unique quality content that’s quite abundant on their website? Well this was something we were seeing quite a bit, which you can imagine has left a lot of businesses stumped and in the dark. Matt Cutts has talked a lot about what they’ve changed, but not once have I ever heard links get brought up.

It is absolutely true when I say paid links and anchor text abuse is still a plague, and dominating any big SERP in Google. It is actually rare for a site to rank top 3 for a tough keyword without tons of paid links. Don’t believe me? Then prove me wrong!  This is why our team, and others have been speculating that the next big algorithm change will be focused on this very topic.

Now onto the issue of whether or not links were a factor within the Panda update. From what we’re seeing we have a deep down burning feeling that they most definitely took part. Like with paid/spam links, you don’t always see every or even many sites get hit, but sometimes you get stung. From the 4 dozen sites we’ve spoken with on GWC, the ones that had excellent content, social media participation and great designs were still hurt.

What was a common factor in just about all of them? Paid links and very obvious link schemes! A lot of the businesses were very large ecommerce websites that had been around and ranking well 10 years or more. This is a life changing punishment for a lot of people and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst of enemies.

What stuns us the most is how they didn’t expect to ever feel the sting with a majority of these types of links? Even looking at their competitor’s who either stayed ranked or moved up still had paid/spammy links. The difference? They also had a really good mix of other types of links, anchor text diversity and a healthy follow/nofollow ratio.

The Solution?

If you have no idea where to start, then consider getting a link audit from us to identify the problems. If you have looked at your links and have finally realized you got an issue, then it’s time to start cleaning it up! This isn’t a fun process and it will take time in both the clean up process, and the Google healing time…and that’s if you ever recover.

Removing the offending links from low quality sites is the first step, secondly stop worrying about anchor text links. Go into the future with a sound on page setup that’s for the user, and not the search engines. There are hundreds of quality ways to attract links, so start getting smart about your link building tactics.

If you’re having issues and you think it’s link related, post up in the comments. I’ll leave this as an open forum for discussion if you so choose, and we’ll do our best to answer your questions. For those needing private help, we’re just a phone call away so do get in touch for a free consultation.

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Google Panda Recovery Help

May 2  |  News  |   Ryan Clark

If your company needs help recovering from a Google Panda issue then you’ll be glad to know we’re now offering help. We’ve been constantly helping websites via Google’s Webmaster Central, and now it’s time to offer a helping hand to those in dire need. There has been no clear signal from Google as to what has caused it for your site, nor how to fix it easily. There is a lot of information on recover, but where to start and how to go about it? We were happy to report that none of our clients got hit, nor did any of our own websites. That is something definitely we can take and learn from.

We’ve always made sure our clients had the right content, the right links and of course the right amount of social media marketing in place. Since the Panda update, we’ve had so many inquiries for help that we’ve hired on new team member just to handle the this problem.

From all the companies coming to us for help, there has definitely been a lot of things in common. First of all, a lot of in-house teams were to blind with rage that they weren’t seeing the big picture.  It’s hard to admit sometimes that your website isn’t perfect, and believe you me, we’ll give you a tough and honest audit. Our team will be offering on the house audits to big brands and established companies needing serious help.

If you like what we have to say, then perhaps our panda solutions are the right choice for your company. All it takes is to get in touch with us via our contact form and you’ll here from us within 24 hours.


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Google Algorithm Change January 26th Confirmed

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January 28  |  News  |   Ryan Clark

The cat is out of the bag and a major algorithm change has been launched within Google. Matt Cutts has come out and stated the news on his blog which you can read here. This is definitely a post everyone should be reading but to do a slight bit of dupe content myself, this is what their focusing on:

This was a pretty targeted launch: slightly over 2% of queries change in some way, but less than half a percent of search results change enough that someone might really notice. The net effect is that searchers are more likely to see the sites that wrote the original content rather than a site that scraped or copied the original site’s content.

While I’ve been ranting about our problem with content scrapers, but this week we’ve been seeing a huge improvement of the scrapers not even registering. I’m hoping this is the start of a cleaner search result, and a rise in revenue for everyone, including Google.

There is a huge amount of web chatter going on in the forums, on the blogs and Twitter so I’ll do my best to round it up here for your reading pleasure. Google and Matt are not always crystal clear on the entirety of a algorithm change, so the best course of action is to of course read up and view results for yourself. Take note of any problems your site is having and keep detailed notes of a more positive, or negative SERP result experience. Here is all I could find talking about the change, but feel free to drop some links that I missed in the comments.

January 2011 Algorithm Change Resources:

Confirmed: Google’s Content Farm Algorithm Live! Sites Are Dropping! via Search Engine Roundtable
Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO via Matt Cutts
Matt Cutts: Google Algorithm Change Launched via Webmaster World
Google algorithm change launched via Hacker News
Google’s War on Spam Begins: New Algorithm Live via SEW Blog
Google Launches Algorithm To Fight Content Spam via Search Engine Journal

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Google Targets Content Farms and Low Quality

January 26  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

There has been a lot of talk about Matt Cutts recent remarks regarding the amount of content farms and low-quality (spun and other) content that dominates the SERPs. We saw in the Mayday update how Ecommerce sites with manufacturer content descriptions started taking a dive. This was also seen throughout the real estate industry because of IDX and MLS listing system spread across tens of thousands of Realtor sites.

There definitely is a reason why SEO’s keep talking about content being king, so be ready for that adage to be more real than ever. By the sounds of Matt’s post, I’m suspecting another major algorithm update in the very near future…are you ready? I’m hoping these coming changes play well into our new series of blog posts entitled “Google vs Bing“. I was recently searching for a serious dental product and got quickly frustrated with Google’s results…I was getting hit after hit of the same ripped content ranking nearly for 8 out of the 10 spots. This is what prompted the new series of posts, and I look forward to checking that search term again later for a blog post update.

One misconception that we’ve seen in the last few weeks is the idea that Google doesn’t take as strong action on spammy content in our index if those sites are serving Google ads

This statement I find tricky because sites like Mahalo for example has not stopped growing. That site has taken our content, taken my personal sites content and it is so thin on good material it makes me wonder. I know that site is making Google millions a month, as well other useless sites…so the question I still have in my brain is, would they put a stop to that? If I were a major shareholder I certainly wouldn’t want to see any of that happen…sadly I’m not a share holder.

While it’s not fair to pick on Mahalo as they’ve been attacked enough, I imagine Matt is more after sites like I had a problem with my BenQ projector and that site dominated the SERPs for just about every result I looked at. This site rarely, if ever had an answer to the problem. It also had one line of text and the rest of the site was saturated with Google Ads and internal links…I couldn’t make out what was going on. By the looks of it, they just input long tail questions taken from other sites, and perhaps tools like Word Tracker. You can see what I mean here;

So basically if you spam a bunch of H1’s and not have any real content then you’ll rank anyway. The Fixya Alexa ranking certainly shows that Google thinks this is currently great. I imagine they’re making Google a mint so we’ll see if the lose some of their traffic due to ultra low quality pages. They have about 50 million indexed pages, and I imagine half are the kind of junk I showed you above. There are already enough Q/A sites as well so it makes me wonder how many of these sites are going to be able to grow like this.

I’ve seen other content farm sites in their infancy, making me frustrated about doing a site in a legit manor. Never the less, I can give you a perfect example of a site that show up huge in the rankings but eventually got the boot. is a site that was basically pulled RSS feeds and it saw some serious growth for a period of a few months. This was the first time I had looked at their Alexa graph in a while and it does look like Google figured them out and put the kibosh on that.

I really like what Matt has to say in the very recent video. We here at Linkbuildr always push for this type of content to our clients, especially in this day and age of getting social media followers. You’re not going to grow that area of your business well just tweeting about product prices and weights. Facebook fans are not going to stick around if you’re just posting pictures of your products…well, unless you’re selling bikinis or lingerie I take that back!

In closing, I highly highly recommend following this Webmaster World thread on the subject, don’t fully listen to me of course and keep a watch on the SERPs. If you’re a little worried about the quality if your content then I’d start looking for a writer, contacting us or getting out Notepad and get to work. I’m excited for a cleaner search result page, and it only backs up the people following the rules as well not expecting to dominate in a month. Good content, relationships and brand images take time to build up so make sure you do it right!

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Google’s Note This Feature And Its Future In The Algorithm

November 15  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

I haven’t seen too much banter lately on the Google “Note This” feature within the search listings so I thought I’d see what you guys had to say. I’ve been noting my stuff and other sites for the past 6 months, unfortunately there really isn’t a way to tell if it has had any effect. I have no doubt in my mind this data will be used within Google’s ranking algorithm, just when is the question. How many of you have been using the Note This feature?

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