Revised Google SEO Guide 2012 Edition: Big Changes in Algorithm

Posted in News, Web Design2 years ago • Written by 34 Comments

Everybody is buzzing all around now, how latest changes Google did affected their search traffic greatly! Chances are if you monitor your own properties on Google Analytics, you will see significant drop in your traffic in March!

1WD was seriously affected as well from March 20! Besides Google Panda release, there were 2 rounds of changes Google did, hurting almost every site search traffic:

• Panda 3.3 - Search quality highlights: 40 changes for February
• Panda 3.4 on March 23 - Search quality highlights: 50 changes for March

So what exactly do these changes mean? Do you need to be worried and what can you do to be prepared and be more likable in Google’s eyes?

In this Google SEO guide I will show you the behind the scenes on how 1WD was affected, explain how to monitor your traffic better and how to be more prepared in the future. A lot of websites were hit hard, even high authority websites. We always have been focusing on high quality content here, never used spammy link building techniques and we believe our social presence is very strong as well.

So what the hell is happening here?

Which sites were affected, which were not?

After asking around, I found out that mostly new websites ~1 year weren’t affected, but a lot of sites which had some very high-ranking keywords, felt a big decrease there.

It seems if you have average links, new website and haven’t done spammy SEO promotion, you are doing great. However if you have something to lose as old, stable top keyword rankings, you got hit.

I compared several top web design websites on Alexa and here are results for the last month March 15 to April 15:

  • 1WD – 6% drop (it was more like 15% drop in reality for me, which means everybody was hit much harder as Alexa shows)
  • SmashingMagazine – 6.5% drop
  • Sixrevisions – 2% drop
  • WebDesignerDepot – 5% drop
  • Css-Tricks – 4% raise
  • Designm.ag – 12% drop
  • TutPlus sites – 3.7% drop
  • SpeckyBoy – 4% drop
  • SpyreStudios – 7% drop
  • Hongkiat – 9% drop
  • UxBooth – 5% drop
  • WebDesignerWall – 3% drop

You can check Copyblogger with 15% drop  and Quicksprout 16% drop in other niches! Crazy right? And those are just Alexa’s inaccurate stats, if I compare with 1WD Analytics, then I believe all of these sites in reality got 10-20% drop in traffic!

All of these blogs are very popular and always focus on high quality articles. This really doesn’t make sense and it shows how we need to rethink what we are doing online, what we are writing and how we need to promote our websites.

The most visible and buzzed topics about Google changes were:

  • Big link networks taken down
  • Duplicate page content
  • Over Optimization
  • Too many ads above the fold
  • Social signal importance

What mistakes should you avoid doing? And how to fix them?

Its time to list down the most popular mistakes we all probably have done before, but should avoid now! Interesting that a lot of these mistakes aren’t new, but before all of those techniques were really working. Most mistakes are easily found because they do not look real and Google has raised his eyebrows to search everything unnatural.

1. Obsessing about exact-match anchor text

Everybody who has done link building anywhere has been working to target perfect term for their website. Wherever you could, you try to include your term, for example: web design blog.

You can include this term while:

  • Commenting on other blogs
  • Writing guest posts
  • Getting paid links, advertising
  • Writing your forum comment, Yahoo Answers, Quora, including term in signature
  • Using link building tools, blog networks

Previously this technique was really working even if there were people warning about over working, but there weren’t so many drawbacks. Until now.

Such obsessing do not look natural for Google and it’s easy to spot it!

How to fix this mistake?

Do your keyword research again and choose 5-10 terms you would like to rank for and mix them in wherever you can. Change your signatures to be different. Instead of working for one term, when guest posting for example, include related article you have on your blog, not your home address anchor text.

While working on your brand awareness be as helpful as possible, don’t just link back to your site, link to others, link to very specific posts if you have, which are related. The same is about comments – if your comment is valuable and you have high quality article written about the same issue, include it, but don’t obsess about always mentioning your brand!

Good practice is also to check how others relate to your brand! Usually if they will want to share your website to others, they won’t tell – check out this web design blog. Instead they will tell to check out 1stWebDesigner (it helps to have related keywords in your domain, of course as we have – web designer).

2. Ads Above The Fold

Google has announced that pages with too many ads above the fold are now penalized by Google’s page layout algorithm. Strangely Google itself is not following their praised best practices.

Ads above fold google

These news completely make sense in order to ensure the best reading experience, however it’s hard for blogs who want to earn some income to remove those top ads, without loosing money.

We are doing bad work on 1WD ourselves, but we are working on removing those ads slowly and once our own Labzip product will be ready, we plan on having just one banner ad on sidebar for better experience.

How to fix this problem?

Easy answer – just remove those ads! Every blog owner knows it’s not so easy to do that, as it removes any income! What you can do instead is to move some of those ads below the first page, put them on the middle or bottom of sidebar or at the end of the blog post.

Great solution is responsive websites, where on smaller screens you remove those ads completely or leave just few of them. On Codrops website, you will see ads following to the bottom of page in that way cleaning up above the fold section (scale that site resolution down, to see effect in real life).

Very good example is SmashingMagazine website:

This is the screenshot from website on 1000px width:

Smashingmag ads

This is the screenshot with 1024×768 resolution:

Smashingmag 1024 resolution ads

As you can see on the first image, you can see just 2 ads, while in second one there are 8 ads above the fold. Even then though SmashingMag also saw decrease in search traffic. My guess would be that too many people on 1024×768 still see those ads, but the trending is right. A lot more people are using tablet devices and mobile phones to browse internet and they will see little ads there.

The same is true about big resolutions, I have Macbook Pro with 1680×1050 resolution, and while browsing SmashingMag on full screen those sidebar ads do not seem to be hurting readability.

Suggestion – create a responsive website and remove as many ads as possible on smaller screen sizes. In dream world, people with 1024×768 and less shouldn’t need to see sidebar ads.

Summary: going responsive and removing some of the top ads and a lot of links from top could definitely help improve readers experience and also will make Google like you more. Removing clutter from top navigation is top recommended while planning your design.

3. Duplicate page content

This is a very popular technique used by spammers, who just copy other site content and publish it as unique. Don’t do that. Ok, I bet if you are reading this blog you aren’t doing it anyway, but also check your site for bad code, which makes your site content to be duplicated. For example I checked my SeoMoz pro and saw I have a lot of page duplicates, where on WordPress writers use images, but don’t remove default link from them. For my layout it created one more page with that image, which was taken as duplicated content for Google.

Be sure you don’t make such silly mistakes, which can hurt your rankings and make experience for your visitors worse.

If you want to read more about duplicated content and check if you aren’t making any mistakes visit those links:

  • Virante - This tool diagnoses common causes and effects of duplicate content penalties;
  • Check your Google Webmaster tools to improve your site;
  • 7 Ways to Tame Duplicate Content – read this old, but still relevant post from SEOMoz.

1wd duplicated content

Here you can check more common SEO mistakes from official Google Webmaster Central blog, check this video ( created on March 19,2012):

What should you do now to improve your search rankings?

Okay, you heard about a lot of mistakes, but what exactly do you need to do now to be friends with Google, to improve your traffic and brand?

A lot of fundamentals have never changed, Google’s changes just encourage you to work on best content, real relationships, best user reading experience and be quick to change and improve.

1. Don’t chase the algorithm, create content for users

You might be hearing top SEO advice all the time, people talking how to help you promote your content, get easy way to huge traffic and high-ranking. The truth is even if some of these spammy techniques work, they won’t work in short future. Blackhat SEO guys, make it their job to search for the holes and change all the time, but it’s a hell of the work and they must be very careful. Just very few guys are so smart, so experience that they can really work on gaming the system.

I would suggest to work on long-term white hat techniques, which will do a lot of good for you in long run. With online business it’s important to feel safe about it and know that you will earn approx the same or more money each month.

2. Track everything

Use Google Analytics, KissInsights, Kissmetrics, Seomoz Pro, Webmaster Tools to be able to keep up with trends, get information about your visitors and make sure your site follow the best techniques, check if links are working.

3. Be aggressive and quick on changes

  • If you are interested on being friends with Google, you need to be friends with your visitors. If all the sites are going mobile and on tablets, you need to create your website to be accessible on those new devices.
  • If everybody is implementing HTML5, CSS3 then use it  so your code becomes cleaner and shorter.
  • If browsers are stopping to support Flash, then you better start focusing on new techniques.
  • Responsive designs help for site to be supported on all those different resolutions, use it!

4. Social network importance

Google is pushing its social network Google+, Facebook is working together with Bing search engine, Twitter search results appear real-time. The future is in social networks, Google are getting better and better on indexing such information very quickly, they listen to social signals.

Actually those are great news because before Twitter, Facebook was completely different traffic sources, now they complement each other by showing up in search results as priority. If you want to work on search engine optimization, work on social networks! We have quite a lot of them, I didn’t mention Pinterest and LinkedIn even yet!

5. Update Your Old Content

This can take a lot of time if you have a lot of articles, pages, like we have on 1WD, but encouraged to do. If you have old posts which rank very good, its worth updating them, checking for broken links, up to date information. You will get huge benefits from that like more social signals, new comments and your posts will be kept ranking very well.

If you have written very poor content in past, then consider editing it, don’t delete those posts, but invest in quality.

6. Implement SEO basics and good on-site strategies

The most important thing is to use very simple and clean code, validate HTML and CSS to prevent any crawl errors. If you will keep your code clean, pages will load faster – load speed also affects search rankings!

While working on your website design, remember to keep your top navigation simple and short ( something we are not doing!) We were thinking that detailed navigation will help users to browse around, but in fact it’s only creating clutter, as people just want to read the latest, then most popular posts and if they want to find something they use search anyway.

7. Work on good link building techniques

These include writing guest posts, working on real relationships with influencers, with your peers where you can help each other by linking on relevant posts, writing comments and leveraging from those relationships.

Actually the same way you need to work on social relationships with goal to get more social signals, the same way you work on link building indirectly just working together with people helping each other. For example, if you would own 1WD, you would connect with similar web design blogs, interact with blog owners, link to their sites – they will return the favor one way or another just because they will consider you friend.

Tools to use for better SEO on your own site:

WordPress SEO by Yoast (free)

In past I have always been using All In One SEO, but now transferring to Yoast plugin, because it is very complete, everything in one place, easily explained and once you setup it, you can forget about it, just add what’s required to new posts and enjoy the best SEO practices.

If you invest time in researching all of this plugin features, it will be enough for you on-site SEO efforts!

Some of the popular features include:

  • Post titles and meta descriptions
  • Robots Meta configuration
  • Google webmaster tool verification, Bing webmaster tools
  • XML sitemap
  • RSS enhancements
  • Edit your robots.txt

WordPress SEO Plugin  Search Engine Optimization Plugin  Yoast

SEO Smart Links (79$ for 3 months)

SEO Smart Links – Premium Edition enhances your search engine rankings by automatically inter-linking your posts. In this way you are working on link building magically while writing new posts, which is very useful as each links also counts as vote for search engines. Start with your own site!

This is premium plugin created by Vladimir Prelovac, there are some free plugins around like this, but I cannot vouch for them.

Some of the features:

  • Enhanced content parsing algorithm
  • Advanced automatic interlinking options
  • Advanced custom keywords options
  • Advanced control over number of created links
  • Support for link redirection/link cloaking

SEO Friendly Images (free)

This plugin will come really handy for your image optimization, also created by Vladimir Prelovac.

SEO Friendly Images is a WordPress SEO plugin which automatically updates all images with proper ALT and TITLE attributes for SEO purposes. If your images do not have ALT and TITLE already set, SEO Friendly Images will add them according the options you set. Additionally this makes the post W3C/xHTML valid as well.

Seo friendly images

CommentLuv Premium (free to 67$)

Comment section is where you should spend a lot of time as blog owner, if you work on regular content then you must encourage comments. Your visitors are actually helping you to add more good content to the post by leaving valuable comments. But in order for them to do that, you need to encourage them by rewarding your visitors. How about the link back to their recent post?

Some of the best features:

  • 10 post incentives – if visitor share post on G+, Twitter or like, he can choose which post to include there
  • Control over do follow, nofollow attributes
  • Built in tracking system
  • Beautiful anti spam plugin GASP built-in, to eliminate spam. Actually a lot of options to take care of spammers wanting to just get their links.


If you want to read more benefits of using this plugin, check this awesome plugin review made by Ana, her blog posts usually get from 20 to 100 comments. Only thing missing in this plugin is beautiful design, but planning to take care of that by manually redesigning it.

Google WebMaster Tools

Must use tool where Google will directly inform and help you know what sections of your site needs to be improved, what problems it may get or is getting.

Google webmasters tool

SEOMoz Pro (99$ per month)

SEOMoz is a proven tool created by SEOMoz experts, their expertise and great blog leaves no doubt they know what they are talking about. I am using their software to get detailed analysis what kind of most common errors and warnings I have on my site, manage keywords, keep eye on search traffic where data is driven from your Google Analytics account ( ah, you should have Google Analytics installed of course).

It is quite expensive, but I really feel it is helping me to simplify SEO and social monitoring on my own website. If you take SEO seriously and want to make your life easier, consider getting this tool.

Remember they have a big team and they are regularly improving, crawling your site each week, notifying you about issues that might impact your performance.

Seomoz pro seo optimization

Xenu Link Sleuth & Screaming Frog SEO Spider (free)

This tool is helpful for checking web sites for broken links, analyze all of the SEO basics, store information locally and then if any problem arise you can check on history to help you diagnose which changes may have affected that problem.

Link verification is done on “normal” links, images, frames, plug-ins, backgrounds, local image maps, style sheets, scripts and java applets. You can download this software for Windows, Mac and Ubuntu.

Additional features:

  • Simple, no-frills user-interface
  • Can re-check broken links (useful for temporary network errors)
  • Simple report format, can also be e-mailed
  • Executable file smaller than 1MB
  • Site map

Xenu link sleuth checker

Sites to read to check on further Google SEO changes and discoveries:

Here are the blogs, video channels and articles to read to check on what’s happening behind the scenes on Google and to find further proven explanations and solutions for problems you may have.

Google Webmaster Central

This is the official YouTube channel for Google Webmaster Central, your one-stop shop for webmaster resources that will help you with your crawling and indexing questions, introduce you to offerings that can enhance and increase traffic to your site, and connect you with your visitors.

Google webmaster central youtube

Seomoz Blog

Seomoz product founders happen to own one of the best SEO blogs out there. It is a great community where you can ask questions in Q&A forum, official blog and then user submitted post blog, where you can get even more great advice and practices.

Favorite posts on Google topics:

Seomoz blog

SearchEngineLand

One more top SEO blog and while doing research on current SEO changes, I found a lot of relevant and up to date articles about this. That’s one big reason to remember checking out this site on regular basis.

Some valuable posts you should read there:

Search engine land

MySEO Community

This is an amazing website curating information about SEO, they work seriously on quality, so if you need one stop place about SEO, don’t go further.

Here is their own description about their site - MySEOCommunity isn’t a run of the mill online community. Because of the increasing popularity of search engine marketing and social media, there is a lot of content written about these subjects on a daily basis. Unfortunately, trying to manually keep up with the best content that’s being written is next to impossible to do.

MySEOCommunity blogs read

Check which links can harm your site rankings:

If you did over optimize before on your site, you should be very worried, so here are some useful articles to read about how to recover from those bad links. Check also which links can be harming your site and remove them.

Is your site affected by Google algorithm changes and how you are solving them? Would love to hear your stories and solutions.

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Dainis is 25 years young man, who struggled for 3 years while studying in design academy and working for local design agency, because of ignorant teachers and agency boss. He couldn't believe this is all life could offer to him! And then he discovered true Internet possibilities, he was lucky to find his passion early in life and take advantage of this beautiful Information (Internet) Age! Now he is committed to help others succeed, to help others take charge of their life and follow their passion! His goal is to open Your eyes and help unveil Your true potential!

34 Comments Best Comments First
  • Adrian

    Thursday, April 19th, 2012 11:34

    1

    Strange, why you have problem with this, and other blogs too. For example DesignModo grow the traffic, and i don’t make any work to optimize site for Panda.

    http://traffic.alexa.com/graph?w=400&h=220&o=f&c=1&y=t&b=ffffff&n=666666&r=6m&u=designmodo.com&

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Thursday, April 19th, 2012 15:19

      2

      Hello Adrian,
      I think Desigmodo still falls in category as very new blog, I checked domain age which is 1 year 8 months and I see first post where done on February 1, 2011.

      I mentioned this in post, where I monitored a lot of newer blogs and they weren’t affected, the reason would be that you don’t have so much very high ranking keywords in Google. On 1WD I noticed decrease in traffic to all top ~100 ranking posts which bring in the most traffic.

      But for you changes are good thing, exactly because of new blog, for older sites it is good thing as well, because I finally understood I need to react on those Google Panda changes. In past, I didn’t see any reason why Google would not like high quality content.

      0
      • Adrian

        Thursday, April 19th, 2012 15:59

        3

        ok, now i understand, good luck to reanimate the blog and make more friendly for Panda.

        0
        • Dainis Graveris

          Monday, April 23rd, 2012 06:38

          26

          Thanks Adrian for thumbs up! Best luck to you too, visiting your blog more and more often lately :) Good stuff!

          0
  • Luis

    Friday, April 20th, 2012 06:11

    12

    I think this comment will be deleted like yesterday commen was on another post. I don’t spam and rarely leave comments and even didn’t use any keyword term. (you can remove this part if by any chance this comment gets approved)

    But one of the reasons I think is too many ads like you mentioned.

    One thing that I am surprised is you saying and I quote

    “Strangely Google itself is not following their praised best practices.”

    Google never does anything they say on their websites. I don’t get why so many webmasters (I’m old at this :) ) still say that type of things.

    Google wants/needs traffic and that’s why everyday they create more content and add more links to their content.

    I think responsive web design is a way to go but do not rush too much with this. Take your time and do things on your time. Sometimes reacting too soon is also a big mistake.

    Luis

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Friday, April 20th, 2012 06:40

      16

      Hello Luis, and do you know why yesterday’s comment wasn’t approved? Because you don’t even respect this site enough to input your real name, you are doing perfect link building right hire, ironically – on this post. You would like to approve comment from guy named Cheap Link Building or Graphic Design and Development blog?

      That quote was more like fun, showing how these all changes do not hurt big guys, and Google haha, of course, they do whatever the hell they want. But they are pushing buttons a lot, to check how far they can go. We’ll see.

      Why do you think responsive design is too soon? I feel like it’s the right time if you want your site to look good on different resolution screens, phones, ipads.

      0
      • Luis

        Friday, April 20th, 2012 06:51

        17

        You are right there. :)

        I created Gravatar account with DevGarage and saved on firefox settings and keep posting with them. Need to update that but like I said I post so little that I don’t even think of that as link building. And my keyword is not that good ;)

        Ok regarding quote. Google has same business model as 1stwebdesigner has. And that I also have. And that’s why they are pushing it. :)

        When I was creating websites for clients many years ago (I created first site on 1995) they were all responsive. We had to worry about lots of different monitor resolutions and I was one of those that worked hard at that. Always keeping with standards and so on. :)

        Don’t know exactly when I started but decided to give up and started creating sites like many others.

        I only said about not rushing it out of the door. To tell the truth I think designs should always be responsive but before it would give much more work to accomplish it.

        0
        • Dainis Graveris

          Monday, April 23rd, 2012 06:34

          22

          Oh, glad to see you back, Luis :) Glad you fixed it, and then I am even more grateful for you taking time to leave comment!

          Yes, it’s not that good, if you do it, then do it hardcore hah :D Kidding!

          Hm, that’s really good point, a lot of great new tools are coming out now to help create responsive designs, you’re totally right. Get the best outcome from optimal time, indeed :) But those first game changers get all the spotlight you know? Like SM did.

          0
  • Daniel

    Friday, April 20th, 2012 04:49

    11

    It is horrible to see how google is controlling the Internet and is pushing sites where they are part of.

    Greetz Danny

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Monday, April 23rd, 2012 06:35

      23

      Actually that’s also good thing that Google actually filters out those bad sites, just sad to see good sites are pushed as well.

      0
  • Oliur Rahman

    Thursday, April 19th, 2012 16:05

    4

    This is messed up. I find it amazing how Google can de-rank high quality sites.

    Like with my site, UltraLinx, it’s a tech/design site where most of our content is very niche. But you should see my top search results for some random posts I do sometimes – UltraLinx Search Terms

    I don’t understand how Google works… =/

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Thursday, April 19th, 2012 16:08

      5

      Hello Oliur, this is very, very strange indeed, can you give me exactly where you are getting such crazy results? It seems like Google is doing something right, but it also seriously messed some parts up.

      0
      • Oliur Rahman

        Thursday, April 19th, 2012 16:19

        6

        Well I just have one category where we post “ultimate collection” galleries on models. But it’s only ONE post on ONE model. And there are under 20 posts, out of the nearly 2000 we have.

        http://theultralinx.com/category/recent/art-design/photography/girls-photography

        It’s very strange how Google is leading such broad and huge search terms to our site. I mean like it’s great for traffic but it’s not our target market. Think I’m going to have change the direction of the site, call it “UltraLinx – Stylish Tech & Beautiful Women” LOL.

        0
        • Dainis Graveris

          Thursday, April 19th, 2012 16:35

          7

          heh, I hope they will correct these new mistakes so you start getting targeted traffic. But indeed strange, first time I am hearing of such problem.

          0
    • syed nayab

      Friday, April 20th, 2012 02:07

      10

      same thing happend with me ..i was using a domain for experimentation purpose ..it was cz.cc domain. but google blocked all the free domains,

      even though Google blocked them, i could see 200 visits for the keywords like
      Jokes, and related stuff,
      i never had any kind of such keyword on my website, it was Joomla defult theme.

      0
      • Dainis Graveris

        Friday, April 20th, 2012 06:33

        15

        Syed, that’s crazy, Google is just giving you all those cheap keywords, hope they will fix this madness.

        0
  • Greg

    Friday, April 20th, 2012 01:01

    8

    So, I really hate to disagree with people when posting a comment, but I have to call you out on this post. Above the fold, your blog is at best 20% content. This blog is the perfect example of a design that SHOULD be hit by the change. The penalty isn’t just about advertisements above the fold (of which you have 4) it’s also about non-content space. Design blogs are in a tough space because design *is* your content. But, Google doesn’t see it that way.

    Your header? Not content. Your nav? Not Content. Your g+ box? Not content. Although Google may give you a pass for that one. If I had to guess at one thing that got you nailed? It’s the orange advertisement bar you placed ABOVE the website. Why do I guess that?

    I have many sites. Only one of my websites was affected by this change. The blog was 65% content above the fold. 25% ads. 10% nav/cruft. Why was it hit? It was a photography blog and the site had no header. There was a menu on the left, but the ad was butted right up to the top of the screen, because there was no header.

    The bad news? I lost half my traffic to the site… and I wasn’t making much on the ads anyway. What did I do? I removed ALL advertisements from the site. The site is now 90% content, 10% nav. The result?

    No Change. I lost half my traffic and it never came back.

    0
    • Greg

      Friday, April 20th, 2012 01:06

      9

      Forgive my poor Photoshopping, but here’s a Red/Blue image of your current design:

      http://www.gregboggs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/penalty.jpg

      To be on the safe side, for new sites, I make sure they are all 50% blue.

      0
      • Dainis Graveris

        Friday, April 20th, 2012 06:32

        14

        Looks terrible if it’s put like that..well, will need to put a loooot of thinking about header in next design we are planning..

        0
        • Salman Siddiqui

          Friday, April 20th, 2012 16:08

          18

          Check Washington Post
          http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/apple-says-4g-labeling-is-legit/2012/04/20/gIQATk4WVT_story.html

          They have even lesser content in first fold. It is NOT just the percentage of content. It is lot more. The menu, the links and such other stuff do matter too. We need to find the balance I guess. May be remove the drop down menus and put some famous articles kind of thing their with thumbnails. They look more like content. :P

          0
          • Dainis Graveris

            Monday, April 23rd, 2012 06:36

            24

            I guess you’re right, thinking about pushing whole top navigation to the footer, pages to sidebar, that could help to clean up above the fold section and give better reading experience.

            0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Friday, April 20th, 2012 06:31

      13

      Hello Greg, very interesting, but you only compare your sites from ads point of view, what about other parts? How old other sites where, how highly they ranked, social impact, site speed, link building, seo?

      I don’t think it is as easy as that, why you say even navigation counts as ads? Because those are just links? I was wondering about this, but check css-tricks for example, they dont have many ads, but they don’t have so much content above the fold either, but they saw even rise, no decrease.

      But I would love to know for sure what made Google change its mind, and will see clearly soon enough.. Traffic will come back, just need to keep working on quality content.

      0
      • Greg

        Saturday, April 21st, 2012 00:36

        19

        I say navigation counts as “not content” because it’s duplicated content that doesn’t change on every page.

        Think like a programmer. How can you tell something is “content” vs not .

        1. Does this text appear on many other pages? Yes? Not content.
        2. Is this text unique to Only this page and not loaded by JavaScript? That’s content.

        There are some great resources that I could link to providing more information about navigation, headers, and whitespace not being content, but I’m lazy.

        As for the details on my sites…

        Hrm… Well, I have analytics for a a lot of websites. Some are mine, many are clients. The *only* site that was hit hard on the 20th was the only site with no header. The advertisement was touching the top of the screen.

        Why did I have an add at the top?

        Because I was lazy. The WordPress theme had no header, and I was too lazy to drop the advertisement into the content. So I just did a float:left and called it good.

        0
        • Dainis Graveris

          Monday, April 23rd, 2012 06:38

          25

          You’re right, Greg – Google sees code, I guess if top section is cluttered with links, it doesn’t help.

          Thanks for insights, I am seriously thinking of putting that main navigation on the footer now or figuring out how to remove it completely.

          0
  • 1upem

    Wednesday, July 4th, 2012 13:10

    34

    Great post, I noticed you used to be loyal to all in one seo, sounds just like myself haha. All in one seo doesn’t do the job as efficiently now a days. I haven’t been up to date on my seo the past year, I’ll be sure to book mark ya. I’ll be checking out that yoast and smartlinks plugin, I’ve heard of yoast but never had the time to give it a chance. Thanks.

    0
  • Bojan Živković

    Sunday, April 29th, 2012 23:45

    29

    I have 300% less visits on my blog (Blogger) in last few days without any logic reason, it is new blog, i do not linking to my network blogs and so on. What I realized is that one of my most popular posts with absolute free InDesign templates and scripts (not fake like free for personal use or free for 5$) have dissapeared from search results and was highest ranked and on top of search results because i listed 6 quality and really free resources. Now when searching for free indesign templates you can find lot of links with individual collections of free (and fake free) templates without my post to appear anywhere. Whatever they have done to make search results better they missed something and from my experience results wont be better, in opposite we will have worse search results because i created that post to save peoples time and protect them from creative commons licences with backlinks required and other funny terms of use with end up to be dropped out from search results.

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Monday, April 30th, 2012 04:07

      30

      It’s hurting to see results like this, Bojan! Similar thing happened with a lot of my top keywords too, they didn’t loose all traffic, but at least half for sure. I think Google still needs to figure out how to penalize just bad guys, but well – one thing learned, do not rely on google traffic, try to get everybody on mailing list! In that way even if you loose whole business, whole traffic, you will still have mailing list where you can notify everybody, reach out and build new site.

      0
  • Reza ALi

    Saturday, May 12th, 2012 11:44

    31

    I’m having a nightmare with my search ranking since I redid my website without the www prefix. I’m not an SEO expert and rely on the instructions from the wordpress plugins I use (like Yoast WordPress SEO). I just have one question. I use a lot of images on my website to link to specific pages on my website. Would this be counted as an ad and therefore be subject to penalties by Google? I just did it to make the navigation easier for my readers.

    Great article. I’ve literally read tons of material over the last 3 days and this is one of the top ones that makes sense (i.e. I learnt something new). Thanks for the effort.

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Saturday, May 12th, 2012 16:53

      32

      Hello Reza, I know I am receiving warnings at SEOMoz because with roundups we are linking out too much on other sites.

      About images, it depends how much you do that, remember to think if real user will enjoy such navigation. If you will give too much choices it will leave visitor confused. I would just suggest not to overdo it. Like we have related posts under articles, we wouldn’t post 20 related posts there, but 3-4 for easy choice. I think Google works the same way as they are trying to improve visitor reading experience with all those ad and link penalties.

      And thank you, I did the same when I saw big changes on 1WD itself.

      0
  • career coaching certification

    Wednesday, July 4th, 2012 08:00

    33

    This place is magical, men!

    0
  • Waheed Akhtar

    Saturday, April 21st, 2012 17:17

    20

    Great read Dainis. I saw drop in search traffic even on my blog (www.boostinspiration.com) which is not that old. I think we need to act immediately. One thing I still didn’t understand about duplicate content >> If one article is posted in 2 different categories, is that considered as duplicate content? I read many articles, even on SEOMoz, but different people have different opinion about this. What do you say about this?
    Thanks again for this guide. Am thinking seriously now about removing those ads above the fold.

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 04:25

      28

      Hello Waheed, and thanks for kind comments!

      I also have some posts published in different categories sometimes, but I am monitoring Seomoz Pro for duplicates and really do not see that such posts are considered as duplicates. Duplicates where when images (with default img url on them) shared on post lead to separate page, that was duplicate content.

      But I cannot tell 100% unfortunately, I am still fixing those duplicates, 404, 301 – will tell if I see those posts as being penalized for that.

      0
  • Deliseo

    Sunday, April 22nd, 2012 18:42

    21

    Brilliant article, Black Hat techniques are less powerful and more dangerous.
    Clean techniques, social media optimization and linkbaiting is the future of SEO.

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Monday, April 23rd, 2012 06:48

      27

      Thank you, Deliseo! Heh, of course black hat techniques won’t disappear anywhere ever, but those need to be used carefully, overdo and you’ll get busted easily.

      -1
  • 1upem

    Wednesday, July 4th, 2012 13:10

    34

    Great post, I noticed you used to be loyal to all in one seo, sounds just like myself haha. All in one seo doesn’t do the job as efficiently now a days. I haven’t been up to date on my seo the past year, I’ll be sure to book mark ya. I’ll be checking out that yoast and smartlinks plugin, I’ve heard of yoast but never had the time to give it a chance. Thanks.

    0
  • career coaching certification

    Wednesday, July 4th, 2012 08:00

    33

    This place is magical, men!

    0
  • Reza ALi

    Saturday, May 12th, 2012 11:44

    31

    I’m having a nightmare with my search ranking since I redid my website without the www prefix. I’m not an SEO expert and rely on the instructions from the wordpress plugins I use (like Yoast WordPress SEO). I just have one question. I use a lot of images on my website to link to specific pages on my website. Would this be counted as an ad and therefore be subject to penalties by Google? I just did it to make the navigation easier for my readers.

    Great article. I’ve literally read tons of material over the last 3 days and this is one of the top ones that makes sense (i.e. I learnt something new). Thanks for the effort.

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Saturday, May 12th, 2012 16:53

      32

      Hello Reza, I know I am receiving warnings at SEOMoz because with roundups we are linking out too much on other sites.

      About images, it depends how much you do that, remember to think if real user will enjoy such navigation. If you will give too much choices it will leave visitor confused. I would just suggest not to overdo it. Like we have related posts under articles, we wouldn’t post 20 related posts there, but 3-4 for easy choice. I think Google works the same way as they are trying to improve visitor reading experience with all those ad and link penalties.

      And thank you, I did the same when I saw big changes on 1WD itself.

      0
  • Bojan Živković

    Sunday, April 29th, 2012 23:45

    29

    I have 300% less visits on my blog (Blogger) in last few days without any logic reason, it is new blog, i do not linking to my network blogs and so on. What I realized is that one of my most popular posts with absolute free InDesign templates and scripts (not fake like free for personal use or free for 5$) have dissapeared from search results and was highest ranked and on top of search results because i listed 6 quality and really free resources. Now when searching for free indesign templates you can find lot of links with individual collections of free (and fake free) templates without my post to appear anywhere. Whatever they have done to make search results better they missed something and from my experience results wont be better, in opposite we will have worse search results because i created that post to save peoples time and protect them from creative commons licences with backlinks required and other funny terms of use with end up to be dropped out from search results.

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Monday, April 30th, 2012 04:07

      30

      It’s hurting to see results like this, Bojan! Similar thing happened with a lot of my top keywords too, they didn’t loose all traffic, but at least half for sure. I think Google still needs to figure out how to penalize just bad guys, but well – one thing learned, do not rely on google traffic, try to get everybody on mailing list! In that way even if you loose whole business, whole traffic, you will still have mailing list where you can notify everybody, reach out and build new site.

      0
  • Deliseo

    Sunday, April 22nd, 2012 18:42

    21

    Brilliant article, Black Hat techniques are less powerful and more dangerous.
    Clean techniques, social media optimization and linkbaiting is the future of SEO.

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Monday, April 23rd, 2012 06:48

      27

      Thank you, Deliseo! Heh, of course black hat techniques won’t disappear anywhere ever, but those need to be used carefully, overdo and you’ll get busted easily.

      -1
  • Waheed Akhtar

    Saturday, April 21st, 2012 17:17

    20

    Great read Dainis. I saw drop in search traffic even on my blog (www.boostinspiration.com) which is not that old. I think we need to act immediately. One thing I still didn’t understand about duplicate content >> If one article is posted in 2 different categories, is that considered as duplicate content? I read many articles, even on SEOMoz, but different people have different opinion about this. What do you say about this?
    Thanks again for this guide. Am thinking seriously now about removing those ads above the fold.

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 04:25

      28

      Hello Waheed, and thanks for kind comments!

      I also have some posts published in different categories sometimes, but I am monitoring Seomoz Pro for duplicates and really do not see that such posts are considered as duplicates. Duplicates where when images (with default img url on them) shared on post lead to separate page, that was duplicate content.

      But I cannot tell 100% unfortunately, I am still fixing those duplicates, 404, 301 – will tell if I see those posts as being penalized for that.

      0
  • Luis

    Friday, April 20th, 2012 06:11

    12

    I think this comment will be deleted like yesterday commen was on another post. I don’t spam and rarely leave comments and even didn’t use any keyword term. (you can remove this part if by any chance this comment gets approved)

    But one of the reasons I think is too many ads like you mentioned.

    One thing that I am surprised is you saying and I quote

    “Strangely Google itself is not following their praised best practices.”

    Google never does anything they say on their websites. I don’t get why so many webmasters (I’m old at this :) ) still say that type of things.

    Google wants/needs traffic and that’s why everyday they create more content and add more links to their content.

    I think responsive web design is a way to go but do not rush too much with this. Take your time and do things on your time. Sometimes reacting too soon is also a big mistake.

    Luis

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Friday, April 20th, 2012 06:40

      16

      Hello Luis, and do you know why yesterday’s comment wasn’t approved? Because you don’t even respect this site enough to input your real name, you are doing perfect link building right hire, ironically – on this post. You would like to approve comment from guy named Cheap Link Building or Graphic Design and Development blog?

      That quote was more like fun, showing how these all changes do not hurt big guys, and Google haha, of course, they do whatever the hell they want. But they are pushing buttons a lot, to check how far they can go. We’ll see.

      Why do you think responsive design is too soon? I feel like it’s the right time if you want your site to look good on different resolution screens, phones, ipads.

      0
      • Luis

        Friday, April 20th, 2012 06:51

        17

        You are right there. :)

        I created Gravatar account with DevGarage and saved on firefox settings and keep posting with them. Need to update that but like I said I post so little that I don’t even think of that as link building. And my keyword is not that good ;)

        Ok regarding quote. Google has same business model as 1stwebdesigner has. And that I also have. And that’s why they are pushing it. :)

        When I was creating websites for clients many years ago (I created first site on 1995) they were all responsive. We had to worry about lots of different monitor resolutions and I was one of those that worked hard at that. Always keeping with standards and so on. :)

        Don’t know exactly when I started but decided to give up and started creating sites like many others.

        I only said about not rushing it out of the door. To tell the truth I think designs should always be responsive but before it would give much more work to accomplish it.

        0
        • Dainis Graveris

          Monday, April 23rd, 2012 06:34

          22

          Oh, glad to see you back, Luis :) Glad you fixed it, and then I am even more grateful for you taking time to leave comment!

          Yes, it’s not that good, if you do it, then do it hardcore hah :D Kidding!

          Hm, that’s really good point, a lot of great new tools are coming out now to help create responsive designs, you’re totally right. Get the best outcome from optimal time, indeed :) But those first game changers get all the spotlight you know? Like SM did.

          0
  • Daniel

    Friday, April 20th, 2012 04:49

    11

    It is horrible to see how google is controlling the Internet and is pushing sites where they are part of.

    Greetz Danny

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Monday, April 23rd, 2012 06:35

      23

      Actually that’s also good thing that Google actually filters out those bad sites, just sad to see good sites are pushed as well.

      0
  • Greg

    Friday, April 20th, 2012 01:01

    8

    So, I really hate to disagree with people when posting a comment, but I have to call you out on this post. Above the fold, your blog is at best 20% content. This blog is the perfect example of a design that SHOULD be hit by the change. The penalty isn’t just about advertisements above the fold (of which you have 4) it’s also about non-content space. Design blogs are in a tough space because design *is* your content. But, Google doesn’t see it that way.

    Your header? Not content. Your nav? Not Content. Your g+ box? Not content. Although Google may give you a pass for that one. If I had to guess at one thing that got you nailed? It’s the orange advertisement bar you placed ABOVE the website. Why do I guess that?

    I have many sites. Only one of my websites was affected by this change. The blog was 65% content above the fold. 25% ads. 10% nav/cruft. Why was it hit? It was a photography blog and the site had no header. There was a menu on the left, but the ad was butted right up to the top of the screen, because there was no header.

    The bad news? I lost half my traffic to the site… and I wasn’t making much on the ads anyway. What did I do? I removed ALL advertisements from the site. The site is now 90% content, 10% nav. The result?

    No Change. I lost half my traffic and it never came back.

    0
    • Greg

      Friday, April 20th, 2012 01:06

      9

      Forgive my poor Photoshopping, but here’s a Red/Blue image of your current design:

      http://www.gregboggs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/penalty.jpg

      To be on the safe side, for new sites, I make sure they are all 50% blue.

      0
      • Dainis Graveris

        Friday, April 20th, 2012 06:32

        14

        Looks terrible if it’s put like that..well, will need to put a loooot of thinking about header in next design we are planning..

        0
        • Salman Siddiqui

          Friday, April 20th, 2012 16:08

          18

          Check Washington Post
          http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/apple-says-4g-labeling-is-legit/2012/04/20/gIQATk4WVT_story.html

          They have even lesser content in first fold. It is NOT just the percentage of content. It is lot more. The menu, the links and such other stuff do matter too. We need to find the balance I guess. May be remove the drop down menus and put some famous articles kind of thing their with thumbnails. They look more like content. :P

          0
          • Dainis Graveris

            Monday, April 23rd, 2012 06:36

            24

            I guess you’re right, thinking about pushing whole top navigation to the footer, pages to sidebar, that could help to clean up above the fold section and give better reading experience.

            0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Friday, April 20th, 2012 06:31

      13

      Hello Greg, very interesting, but you only compare your sites from ads point of view, what about other parts? How old other sites where, how highly they ranked, social impact, site speed, link building, seo?

      I don’t think it is as easy as that, why you say even navigation counts as ads? Because those are just links? I was wondering about this, but check css-tricks for example, they dont have many ads, but they don’t have so much content above the fold either, but they saw even rise, no decrease.

      But I would love to know for sure what made Google change its mind, and will see clearly soon enough.. Traffic will come back, just need to keep working on quality content.

      0
      • Greg

        Saturday, April 21st, 2012 00:36

        19

        I say navigation counts as “not content” because it’s duplicated content that doesn’t change on every page.

        Think like a programmer. How can you tell something is “content” vs not .

        1. Does this text appear on many other pages? Yes? Not content.
        2. Is this text unique to Only this page and not loaded by JavaScript? That’s content.

        There are some great resources that I could link to providing more information about navigation, headers, and whitespace not being content, but I’m lazy.

        As for the details on my sites…

        Hrm… Well, I have analytics for a a lot of websites. Some are mine, many are clients. The *only* site that was hit hard on the 20th was the only site with no header. The advertisement was touching the top of the screen.

        Why did I have an add at the top?

        Because I was lazy. The WordPress theme had no header, and I was too lazy to drop the advertisement into the content. So I just did a float:left and called it good.

        0
        • Dainis Graveris

          Monday, April 23rd, 2012 06:38

          25

          You’re right, Greg – Google sees code, I guess if top section is cluttered with links, it doesn’t help.

          Thanks for insights, I am seriously thinking of putting that main navigation on the footer now or figuring out how to remove it completely.

          0
  • Oliur Rahman

    Thursday, April 19th, 2012 16:05

    4

    This is messed up. I find it amazing how Google can de-rank high quality sites.

    Like with my site, UltraLinx, it’s a tech/design site where most of our content is very niche. But you should see my top search results for some random posts I do sometimes – UltraLinx Search Terms

    I don’t understand how Google works… =/

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Thursday, April 19th, 2012 16:08

      5

      Hello Oliur, this is very, very strange indeed, can you give me exactly where you are getting such crazy results? It seems like Google is doing something right, but it also seriously messed some parts up.

      0
      • Oliur Rahman

        Thursday, April 19th, 2012 16:19

        6

        Well I just have one category where we post “ultimate collection” galleries on models. But it’s only ONE post on ONE model. And there are under 20 posts, out of the nearly 2000 we have.

        http://theultralinx.com/category/recent/art-design/photography/girls-photography

        It’s very strange how Google is leading such broad and huge search terms to our site. I mean like it’s great for traffic but it’s not our target market. Think I’m going to have change the direction of the site, call it “UltraLinx – Stylish Tech & Beautiful Women” LOL.

        0
        • Dainis Graveris

          Thursday, April 19th, 2012 16:35

          7

          heh, I hope they will correct these new mistakes so you start getting targeted traffic. But indeed strange, first time I am hearing of such problem.

          0
    • syed nayab

      Friday, April 20th, 2012 02:07

      10

      same thing happend with me ..i was using a domain for experimentation purpose ..it was cz.cc domain. but google blocked all the free domains,

      even though Google blocked them, i could see 200 visits for the keywords like
      Jokes, and related stuff,
      i never had any kind of such keyword on my website, it was Joomla defult theme.

      0
      • Dainis Graveris

        Friday, April 20th, 2012 06:33

        15

        Syed, that’s crazy, Google is just giving you all those cheap keywords, hope they will fix this madness.

        0
  • Adrian

    Thursday, April 19th, 2012 11:34

    1

    Strange, why you have problem with this, and other blogs too. For example DesignModo grow the traffic, and i don’t make any work to optimize site for Panda.

    http://traffic.alexa.com/graph?w=400&h=220&o=f&c=1&y=t&b=ffffff&n=666666&r=6m&u=designmodo.com&

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Thursday, April 19th, 2012 15:19

      2

      Hello Adrian,
      I think Desigmodo still falls in category as very new blog, I checked domain age which is 1 year 8 months and I see first post where done on February 1, 2011.

      I mentioned this in post, where I monitored a lot of newer blogs and they weren’t affected, the reason would be that you don’t have so much very high ranking keywords in Google. On 1WD I noticed decrease in traffic to all top ~100 ranking posts which bring in the most traffic.

      But for you changes are good thing, exactly because of new blog, for older sites it is good thing as well, because I finally understood I need to react on those Google Panda changes. In past, I didn’t see any reason why Google would not like high quality content.

      0
      • Adrian

        Thursday, April 19th, 2012 15:59

        3

        ok, now i understand, good luck to reanimate the blog and make more friendly for Panda.

        0
        • Dainis Graveris

          Monday, April 23rd, 2012 06:38

          26

          Thanks Adrian for thumbs up! Best luck to you too, visiting your blog more and more often lately :) Good stuff!

          0

Comments are closed.

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