Weekly SEO news: 17 April 2012

Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

During the last few weeks, Google sent many webmaster notification messages about unnatural links. If you have received such a message, here's what you have to do to make sure that your website doesn't get penalized.

In the news: the latest search engine statistics, Google statements about image links and websites without text and more.

Table of contents:

We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and that it helps you to get more out of your website. Please pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Have you received a Google Webmaster notice? Here's what to do.

During the last few weeks, Google sent many webmaster notification messages about unnatural links. If you have received such a message, here's what you have to do to make sure that your website doesn't get penalized.

unnatural links

What is this Google unnatural links message?

Google has sent the following message to many webmasters:

"Dear site owner or webmaster of example.com.

We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.

We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.

If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.

If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.

Sincerely,
Google Search Quality Team"

What will happen when you get such a message?

Webmasters who received such a message observed that many sites were penalized 3-4 weeks after the message. The penalty is for the keywords that are included in the unnatural links.

If most of the links that point to the website are unnatural links then the whole website might be penalized.

What are unnatural links?

There are several backlink types that Google finds unnatural:

  1. Public backlink networks: Google doesn't like fully automated or paid backlink networks. If you participate in a backlink network that can be joined by anyone (even for a fee) then it is very likely that Google has already penalized the network or that the network is a target for the near future.

    If you can find the backlink network, Google's engineers can find it, too.

  2. Private backlink networks: some SEO agencies have private backlink networks. Google probably has the technology to detect these networks without creating accounts.

  3. Paid sidebar links: if your website has too many backlinks from the sidebars of other websites, Google might find them unnatural.

  4. Over-optimized anchor text: if the links to your website all use exactly the same anchor text, it is likely that Google might reconsider the rankings of the linked pages.

  5. Fake forum and social media links: some tools create fake forum and social media site accounts to get backlinks to your website. Chances are that Google can detect that type of link.

What should you do?

If you used one of the methods above to get backlinks to your website, try to get rid of these links as quickly as possible.

The formula to high rankings on Google is very easy:

Good content + good backlinks + no spam = high rankings

Optimize the content of your web pages to make sure that Google and other search engines know what your website is about. Then get good backlinks to show search engines that your website can be trusted.

Google has become more aggressive regarding spammy backlinks. In the past, a website might get high rankings for several months until Google detected the site. Now it seems that the it takes a maximum of 3 months until Google detects the spammers.

Do not fall for SEO solutions that promise quick and easy backlinks. It doesn't make sense to get high rankings for 2-3 months just to get penalized after that time. If you are serious about your business, you have to use strategies that deliver high rankings that will stay, even if it takes longer to get these rankings in the short term.

 

2. Search engine news and articles of the week

StatisticsSearch engine market share statistics

"Google Sites led the U.S. explicit core search market in March with 66.4 percent market share, followed by Microsoft Sites with 15.3 percent and Yahoo! Sites with 13.7 percent. Ask Network accounted for 3.0 percent of explicit core searches, followed by AOL, Inc. with 1.6 percent. [...]

18.4 billion explicit core searches were conducted in March, with Google Sites ranking first with 12.2 billion (up 4 percent). Microsoft Sites ranked second with 2.8 billion searches (up 5 percent), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 2.5 billion (up 4 percent), Ask Network with 555 million (up 4 percent) and AOL, Inc. with 285 million (up 7 percent)."



Alternatives to Google Search: yes, there are some

"If you play the odds as a website owner, you’ll place most of your attention on Google, and then Bing. Invest some effort to make sure your site does as well as possible in both. Remember, search engine optimization is a marathon, not a race — so look to be in it for the long haul."

Editor's note: you can optimize your web pages for both Google and Bing with the Top 10 Optimizer in IBP. The Top 10 Optimizer works with all international versions, for example Google.com, Google.co.uk, Google.de, Google.at, etc.



Google sent 20,000 hacked site notification messages

In addition to the unnatural links notification messages, Google also sends other messages to webmasters. Yesterday, Google's Matt Cutts posted a tweet that they sent a "your site might be hacked" message to 20,000 websites.



Matt CuttsVideo: does PageRank flow through image links?

Google's Matt Cutts answers this question in a very short video: yes, image links do have an influence on the search engine positions of the linked pages.

Editor's note: if you want to find out how many links to your website are image links, analyze your website links here.



Video: my site doesn't have much text. Is that a problem?

A Google representative answers this question in a video: If your website is made of images or Flash elements, than Google might not be able to index your pages correctly. Use descriptive file titles, alternative image texts and add text around the image and Flash elements. Otherwise, Google might not know what your website is about.

Editor's note: if you want to find out which elements exactly Google needs to give a web page high rankings for your keywords, analyze your site with the Top 10 Optimizer in IBP.



Search engine newslets
  • Video: Does Google take manual action on webspam? Answer: yes.
  • WSJ: Google organizational changes cloud the future of apps.
  • Washington Post poll: most people have a favorable view of Google.
  • About half of the top 100 blogs use Wordpress.
  • Centered Google results: bug or test?
  • Bing API no longer free.
  • Microsoft and Yahoo! Search Alliance to enter the last stage of its implementation in UK, France and Ireland.
  • Google's intelligence is more baboon than human.

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3. Recommended resources

Check the backlink profile of your website and much more

SEOprofiler is a full-featured SEO solution that can analyze the backlink profile of your website and much more.

You can also use it to spy on the Google rankings and Google AdWords campaigns of your competitors, it helps you to get new backlinks, it helps you to optimize your web pages, it checks your rankings on search engines and much more.

seoprofiler

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