Google Going Live with ‘Over Optimisation’ Penalties

You may remember in a previous blog post we talked about Google’s web spam chief Matt Cutts’ speech at SXSW, where he revealed the search engine’s plans to penalise sites that were deemed to be “over-optimised.” Well the time has come for the algorithm changes to take effect – going live in the next few days.

Google has since distanced themselves from the “over-optimisation” term and instead are now saying that they plan to target those websites that practices the dark arts of SEO: black-hat techniques. Sites that operate link schemes and continually use keyword stuffing to achieve higher rankings are the ones being targeted by the new changes. The aim is to provide a better web for search engine users. Think of the times you have searched a particular term and clicked on a link that you think has the information you require, only to be hit with a bunch of mumbo-jumbo and the same keywords featured so many times that an article is unreadable. It has happened to us all. Thankfully, Google’s new changes will remove such sites, instead favouring sites with high quality content.

This is excellent news for those of us that practice natural, ‘white-hat’ SEO techniques and put in the hard work to achieve high rankings. However, there is one problem about the latest shift in algorithm, at least initially anyway, and that is the fact that some innocent websites may get swept up in the first sweeps. It happened with Panda and it is to happen again. Although Google will restore rankings in time, once necessary tweaks have been made, it is still worrying to wake up one day and find yourself hit with a penalty. Even a drop in traffic for a day or so can lead to significant loss of income.

If you have checked your analytics and noticed a big drop off, you may have been caught up in a sweep. There are ways to check whether you have been hit with a penalty, and to get your site restored if you have.

Check your Google Webmaster Tools

If you suspect that you have been penalised unnecessarily the first thing to do is check your Webmaster Tools account. Google will generally post a note in your Webmaster Tools providing information on the penalty. Of course, if you have been caught up unintentionally, there may not be any such note.

Check search engine TOS

Although you know, and we know, you’re innocent of any unnatural SEO techniques, it is still worth checking your site against Google’s TOS, just to make sure everything is in accordance. Changes to algorithm may of changed without you be aware, which is always a possibility with Google.

Notify Google

If you’ve found out that you have been stung with a penalty you will need to notify Google immediately and follow the rules for a reconsideration of your site. Google are usually pretty quick to reply to queries and the situation can be rectified rapidly.

While it is hard for us SEO guys to keep up with the constant changes, the fact that Google are weeding out the cheats is great news for all round. I never liked black hats anyway.

Posted in Google | , |

Facebook Benefiting from Higher Ad Rates

Do you advertise on Facebook? It’s good isn’t it? After all, everyone is on Facebook; well, certainly everyone that I know is on there. If you want exposure for your product, where better to advertise than a place where everybody is, all of the time? For those of you that are placing adverts on the social network, or are considering doing so – today I bring forth some bad news, with a little added good news. If however, you are a Mark Zuckerberg employee and you are reading today’s blog unaware of the news – for you it is a good day.

The news is… Facebook advertising rates have shot up by 41 per cent in the last year. That’s not all; click-through rates have also decreased – both bad statements for advertisers.

According to Simon Mansell, the chief executive at TBG Digital, the company who compiled the advertising rate figures, and incidentally one of the social network’s biggest spenders, “”Facebook has seen an increase in pricing at the same time it has grown the number of ads per page to seven, which you would naturally expect to actually deflate prices.” Very true, I counted seven ads just this morning!

TBG Digital’s study found that advertisers have been asked to pay 15% more per thousand views than at this time last year and that the cost of acquiring a fan of your brand has risen, on average, by 43% globally in the last year. In the UK, however, the increase is not in keeping with the global average, and the increase per fan is actually 77%! This comes at a time when click-through rates are down by 6% in the first quarter of this year.

Of course, all of this extra revenue is good news for Facebook’s planned $100 billion stock-market flotation as advertising accounts for 85% of overall revenue. However, if prices continue to increase, marketers are going to be priced out of advertising on the site, especially when click-through rates are not guaranteed. Okay, so the price hike won’t matter much to mega corporations such as Budweiser and McDonalds, but the thousands of smaller companies may begin to look elsewhere, like Google for instance.

Don’t be too gloomy though, it’s not all bad news for UK marketers. The study has revealed that the UK has overtaken Canada to become the second most lucrative market for social network advertising behind the United States.

Rise of the Social Reader

With ad click-through rates down, if you really want to get noticed on Facebook, you might want to ditch the snazzy advertisements, create yourself a news website and advertise on there! Facebook users clicking on news stories have trebled in just three months – an increase of 196%! Social reader technology posts updates to the news feeds of logged in users visiting external “partner” news sites. These partners include, Yahoo, The Independent and the Guardian.

At the moment the social reader is free to news sites, although I wouldn’t expect it to be too long before a way is found to make money from it.

Posted in Facebook | |

The Big Yahoo! Shake Up

Maybe the title of today’s blog has undersold the story somewhat; perhaps “The Big Yahoo! Layoff” would have been more apt, as the search and services company announced this past week that some 2,000 employees are to be axed.

Posted in Yahoo | , |

New Study Reveals Relevance of Twitter and Facebook

You know how on this blog we love a new survey, study or report? Well today we’re in luck, which means you, as the reader, is going to benefit. Yes, yet another has been released with relevance to SEO and internet marketing.

A study has been conducted into British consumers by digital marketing firm ExactTarget and the findings for current and fledging online businesses are very telling. Based on surveys and interviews with 1,404 of ExactTarget’s subscribers the study is one of  a series looking into the behaviour of UK consumers online, specifically across email, Twitter and Facebook.

The study found that a massive 95% of respondents had engaged with a brand or brands online in 2011. Of those 95%, 93% had given permission to one or more companies to allow emails to be sent.

There are other key finding from the study:

  • 46% of consumers have made a purchase after reading an email marketing message.
  • 45% of UK online consumers have ‘liked’ a page on Facebook, with 24% saying that they would be more likely to purchase a product or service after ‘liking’.
  • 7% of UK online consumers have ‘followed’ a company on Twitter and 32% of those people said that they would be more likely to make a purchase from a ‘followed’ company.
  • 21% of consumers would be inclined to make a purchase following a subscription to an email list.

The CMO of ExactTarget, Tim Kopp explained what the results mean for marketers: “UK consumers expect more from brands than ever before as they turn to email, Facebook and Twitter for exclusive content, special offers and unique experiences.”

“Agile marketers who can drive interaction across online channels and build consumer engagement have a clear advantage, and our Subscribers, Fans and Followers research provides the insight they need to understand what consumers expect.”

The Social Profile UK research carried out by ExactTarget is a series of studies to provide marketers with an insight and understanding of how consumers are using social media in relation to brands. Instead of tracking the behaviour of consumers, ExactTarget relied on the actual feedback of internet users and what would entice them into making a purchase

The findings give guidance to online companies and allow them to effectively create a strategy to maximise the potential of their brand.

We are a pretty loyal bunch of consumers in the UK; once we find something we like, we stick with it. As a brand, it will be your job to be liked and clearly, Twitter and Facebook are the way to do this. The two social media giants – to their credit – also understand how important it is for brands to communicate with potential customers and have recently made changes to help businesses. Twitter has recently introduced a self-service system and Facebook’s new ‘Timeline’ open profile design has allowed for easier interaction between fans and their favoured brands.

Posted in Social News | |

The Rise of Inbound Marketing

When you set out to promote and advertise your company, you generally have two marketing options: inbound marketing and outbound marketing.

Posted in Internet Marketing | , , |

New Poll Great News for Marketing

I know in SEO and marketing related blogs such as this one we bang on a lot about how important it is for your business to have a good marketing strategy.

Posted in Social News | , |

Myths of Marketing Could Mean Failure

Over the weekend I was reading a report into new businesses created online, this report basically gave stats related to the number of businesses created and how successful they are in their venture.

Posted in Featured Articles | , , |

Happy Birthday Twitter!

On 21 March 2006, social media as was changed for ever, for that was the day that the first ever tweet was sent.

Posted in Twitter | , , , |

UK SEO Market Worth Over £500 Million

If you were in any doubt as to the state of the SEO industry in the UK, a new report will put such qualms to bed. Digital marketing firm Econsunltancy has published a new SEO Agencies Buyer’s Guide and the findings are very pleasing, suggesting no end to the growth of the industry.

The report estimates that in 2011 the market grew by 18% to an end of year value of £514 million, increasing from £436 million in 2010. The continual growth of the organic search industry puts and to any talk of SEO being a fading process and the figures are made all the more remarkable as they are posted during a time of recession and economic uncertainty.

The valuation takes into account a number of SEO related processes such as SEO PR, social media optimisation for search, payments to agencies and investment by SEO companies in staff. Econsultancy Senior Research Analyst Jake Hird spoke of the report:

“It’s great to see that natural search has developed into a half-billion pound industry in the UK. Marketers are increasingly placing an emphasis on a longer-term online strategy, with SEO seen as a highly effective method of delivering return on investment by successfully driving traffic and increasing sales.”

“This also demonstrates the shifting landscape of the SEO marketplace. Now, search practitioners have to deal with elements such as social, mobile and local search, as well as continuing to optimise for other types of content such as video and images. It’s a complex landscape, but one that marketers are clearly engaging with.”


While reporting on last year’s developments in the industry, the report also focuses on current and future trends as well as predictions for SEO in 2012. Some of the trends are fairly obvious, such as Google’s continuing domination of search engines with over 90% of all search queries in the UK being handled by the internet giant, and the growing importance of Google + . The report also suggests that any operational changes to Google will significantly affect existing SEO strategies.

Other market trends include:

  • The growth of mobile search and the consideration of how internet searches are done differently on mobile devices.
  • Tailoring SEO strategies to the cultural and linguistic nuances of the market. This is likely to be essential when expanding into new markets.
  • The blurring of boundaries in digital discipline. Companies are constantly evolving and offering a more comprehensive service to get ahead of competitors, this means moving away from the purely technical service of SEO and into areas such as marketing and PR.
  • Client demands are driving SEO companies to integrate tools in order to maximise marketing potential.

The growth is excellent news for everyone involved in SEO and internet marketing and shows no signs of stopping. While many traditional companies struggle financially in the current economy, those online continue to prosper. This may mean more businesses going digital, and to be successful in such a venture requires marketing and SEO.

As long as there is internet, there is SEO.

Posted in News | , |

Too Much SEO on your Website? Google Won’t be Happy

Those of us that work in the world of search engine optimisation will be more than used to practices changing. Search engines are like moving targets, constantly altering standards and moving the goalposts on how to achieve a high rank.

Posted in SEO Knowledge | , , , , , |