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June 28, 2012

Penguin Update: An Interview with Pierre Zarokian of Submit Express

Pierre Zarokian is the CEO of Submit Express, a search engine marketing company. I have met him several times in industry trade shows and they also sponsor our blog. His company serves over 200 SEO clients, so I thought it would be a good idea to get his input on the Penguin update. Below is an interview I did with him about this subject.

Many people have already heard about the latest Google update Penguin. I wanted to see what you have learned so far about it.
Google actually had 2 updates. One was on April 17th, called Panda 3.5 and the other was on April 24th called the Penguin update.
The Panda update is more of a content related update, targeting sites with duplicate content and targeting spammers who scrape content. The first one was over a year ago and Google has had several updates to it since then.
The Penguin update was actually announced by Google about a month prior to its launch and they labeled it as an over optimization update. From the looks of it, it appears to be looking at many factors such as low quality links.

What specifically do you think is the Penguin update targeting?
It is too early to tell. I have been analyzing a few of our clients that were effected and also reading online blogs and forums about it. No one has a concrete answer and obviously Google does not disclose exactly what they did.
From what I can see, I think that this algo is looking at the overall back links and if it finds the majority of your back links are low quality or spam looking you might be effected.
I say this because we had some clients at the low end that had only directory type and link exchange type back links which were effected and then we had some clients at the high end who also practiced link buying, who were affected.
However, it seems that there are many sites that have these kinds of low quality links that are not affected. So Google must be looking at your overall percentage of low quality links as a factor. If you have many natural looking links in the mix and a few low quality links, then you are probably not affected.
Another thing they may be looking at is the link anchor text and if the specific keyword in the link anchor text is being used to many times vs. other keywords on your website or your company name.

What have you seen in specific to your clients that you think might be a factor in Penguin?
We had about 6 clients that were affected so far out of over 200 that we serve. This is not that bad for us given the scale of this update. I am glad that the SEO techniques that we use have not been considered spam.
One of our clients had too many doorway pages with city/state pages that got affected. These were done prior to them signing with us. We think these doorway pages may have affected his ranking. They never wanted to remove them before, because they were bringing a lot of traffic to them, until now. We have not recommended to them to place NOINDEX tags on them.
Another client was selling links on his own website on the footer. We think this may have caused his site to be affected.
A different client had some duplicate content issues from his affiliates who copied his content.
The rest of the clients had a variety of different type of back links, which need to be analyzed so we can figure out if the backlinks are the problem or not.
As I said it is still too early to tell the exact causes.

What specific factors do you think Google is looking at to find low quality links?
– Too many exact match keyword links in anchor texts
– Any footer links
– Any links from unrelated sites
– Any sponsored links that have the words “sponsored” or “advertisers” or something similar posted before it. Note that if this is stated in an image, Google will not be able to detect it.
– Any consecutive sponsored links, with no text descriptions in between the different links
– Site wide links
– Links coming from same IP’s or similar C class IP’s
– The ratio of what appear to be low quality links vs. what appear to be natural links. I.e. if you have more low quality links than natural links, then you may be in trouble

What do you suggest people that have been affected do?
If people are doing their own SEO, then they probably have an idea of what links are low quality, so they can proceed with removing a few at a time and wait a few days to see if rankings come back.
They should also review their keyword links in anchor texts and see if they have too many links for any specific keyword. Normally a company name or the domain should have the most links pointing back to their site, so if there are keywords that are pointing back more than the company name, this needs to be changed. I would recommend not to use any keyword more than 10 to 20% of your overall keyword links.
If the site effected has hired an SEO firm to do this, they should make sure to ask for a detailed link report to see what exactly the SEO firm has done. There are many SEO companies that keep their clients in the dark and never send link reports. You need to make sure the companies you are hiring discloses what they do and that they do not engage in tactics that Google may not like.

If anyone would like to contact you, how would they get in touch with you?
They can visit our site at http://www.submitexpress.com/ (which is our search marketing site) or http://www.iclimber.com/ (which is our social marketing site). They can contact me at my Linkedin profile www.linkedin.com/in/submitexpress

Filed under Google, Search Engine Marketing by on .

October 3, 2010

Search Engine News from this week

Here are some of the search engine related articles and posts we have found interesting this week.

Can Google Detect an Affiliate Website?

Graywolf: The answer to that is slightly nuanced but, for simplicity’s sake, they don’t hate affiliate websites. Nor have I seen any evidence that shows affiliate sites are penalized.

Google New Shows You What’s New With Google Products

Google Tutor: Google New is a service launched by Google recently to help a Google fan stay abreast of all the new things and developments happening in the world of Google products, all at one page.

How To Find Public Domain Works with Google

What are public domain works, and how can you find them on the Web? (Wendy Boswell)

girl with music playerKindle Secret Exposed: Popular Highlights Reveal Content That Clicks

Search Engine People: Readers can highlight passages on the Amazon Kindle. When your highlights sync with your Amazon Kindle account they get shared with Amazon. Amazon aggregates those highlights into Popular Highlights.

Bing Social now with added recommendations.

P Bradley: Bing Social Search is supposed to help by providing suggestions for people that you can follow, based on the searches that you run

47 sites you can use instead of Wikipedia

Wendy Boswell: Wikipedia is perhaps the most popular reference site online, with millions of high quality articles available on virtually any topic. However, there are limits to what Wikipedia can offer.

Microsoft’s Bing, bold bets face payoff testSteve Ballmer

Seattle Times interviews Steve Ballmer of Microsoft and Bing: “Our maps are better, our images our better, our picture is different. And Google keeps responding. In a sense, because we have lower share, it’s almost easier for us to try new things. They have to sort of stay conservative, they gotta make a lot of money.”

For Google, Open Is the New Closed

Google Watch: “Google CEO Eric Schmidt wowed (and scared) the crowd at TechCrunch Disrupt Sept. 28 when he talked about autonomous search and serendipity engines, but he also piqued curiosity by framing Google as open and Apple as closed. If you really think about it, Google’s open strategy can be limited by companies taking open-source platforms and adapting them for their own benefit. ”

Facebook Jumps Yahoo; Second Largest Video Site in U.S.

SE Watch: According to comScore Video Metrix, 178 million U.S. Internet users watched online video content in August for an average of 14.3 hours per viewer

Google, Facebook Tout Serendipity Engines, Personalized Media

eweek: One day after Google CEO Eric Schmidt touted autonomous search as a serendipity engine where information comes to users instead of tracking them down, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said the future of media will be personalized.

Recapping Google’s new two-factor authentication

Google’s Matt Cutts: Two-factor authentication is something you have (e.g. a phone) and something you know (e.g. a password). It’s a Big Deal because if your account or business has two-factor authentication, those accounts are immediately less likely to be phished, hijacked, or otherwise abused. There’s a neat Google Authenticator application that runs on Android, iPhone, and Blackberry.

Microsoft Launches A New Loyalty Program: Bing Rewards

Search Engine Land: Prior Microsoft search loyalty programs, SearchPerks and Cashback, were retired. But maybe the third time’s the charm: today Microsoft is rolling out Bing Rewards Preview (beta). It’s a credit card or airline-style loyalty program that offers users credits that can be redeemed for products, gift cards or charitable donations.

Twitter leap-frogs MySpace in US web rankings

techradar: Twitter makes it into the top 50 web properties.

Propeller.com Spinning to a Stop

SE Watch: Propeller was the new name for NetScape’s social news experiment, a project which first emerged out of AOL as the killer app for the Netscape portal and originally led by Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc.

Google Instant Hasn’t Really Changes Traffic Referrals

SE Roundtable: As you know, Google Instant has changed how people search. But does that make a difference on how your pages are ranked, how people search and ultimately how people click on your Google listing to view your web site.

Google’s Bringing “Sexy” Back to Display Ads

Google believes that in 2015, 75 percent of ads on the web will be “social” in nature—across dozens of formats, sites and social communities. 50 percent of ad campaigns will include video ads bought on a cost-per-view basis (that means that the user will choose whether to watch the ad or not, and the advertiser will only pay if the user watches).

AOL Acquires TechCrunch and Mike Arrington is Really Excited About It

SE Journal: Arrington explains that nothing is going to change on the blog, they will continue to write and run it as they always have, and that is precisely what AOL wants them to do.

Official: Bing xRank Is Dead

SE Land: Launched in 2007, xRank was essentially Bing’s version of Google Trends, but with a number of additional features.

Google CEO Schmidt Pitches Autonomous Search, Flirts with AI

eweek: Google CEO Eric Schmidt said at TechCrunch Disrupt that the search engine’s next step is “autonomous search,” bringing information to users instead of making them seek it… This means Google will conduct searches for users without them having to manually conduct searches. As an example, Schmidt said he could be walking down the streets of San Francisco and receive information about the places around him on his mobile phone without having to click any buttons.

Filed under Search Engine Marketing, Search Engines by on . Comment.