Archive for April, 2012

This Penguin Is Pure Evil

On 24th April, 2012 Google rolled out a new update called ‘Penguin’ which was intended to target webspam in Google’s search results. This update will supposedly target websites which spam the SERPs by indulging in tactics which violate Google’s quality guidelines.

The update will target about 3% of search queries.  According to Google Webmaster Central blog:

In the next few days, we’re launching an important algorithm change targeted at webspam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.

The intentions were noble. For last 1 year we have seen Google take many measures through which it claims to clean up the search results. Panda updates, paid link messages etc. were all part of Google grand scheme of things to curb the menace. But did they really succeed?

Google Penguin - As evil as the comic one?

Panda was targeted at content farms. While many small publishers were punished and they never really recovered, we saw big time publishers regain almost everything. We still see results from content farms. Maybe tad less from pre-panda times but still significant.

The initial reactions to Penguin update have been thoroughly negative. If the outcome was to weed out spam, we still have to see it. Many genuine sites have been caught in this update. Their crime? No one quite exactly knows.

At Enovabiz Solutions, we analyzed top twenty sites for a niche to see the losers and gainers. All the sites had same kind of link profile. Link exchanges, article directories, web directories, Press releases and some of them even had paid links. But the Penguin update affected one of the most established sites. Even the new sites with blatant paid links were rewarded.

So where did the Google go wrong? One thing is for sure that Google has made a huge mistake with this update.

The question is will it own up the mistake and rectify it?

The jury is still out on this one. Till that time losers can just wait for some time to see if any more updates will restore their rankings.

Oh yes, one more thing if you really trust Google and think that your site was unfairly penalized  then you can fill up this Feedback Form on Google’s recent algorithm update (“Penguin”) and hope for any positive reply.

Good Luck!

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Funnyman John Stewart cracks jokes on Instagram and rightly so!

John Stewart captured everyone’s surprise and shock at Instagram’s acqusition by Facebook. He was totally nonplussed at the news. Were we all not? He also makes fun of Google Glasses which I admit looks very futuristic but still so confusing for non techies out there. Check out the video

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WTF!!! Instagram Bought by Facebook for $ 1 Billion

Only in the crazy world of technology can a startup like Facebook acquire an infant startup like Instagram for an astounding figure of $1 billion. The even more curious point in this curious purchase is the fact that Instagram hasn’t made a single penny till now.

So has Facebook made an expensive mistake? What are its plans for Instagram?

Everyone knows that if there is any company has challenged mighty Google, it’s Facebook. With just one product it has managed to keep millions of its users loyal. Google tried with its all its might to make a dent on Facebook’s social media domination but so far Google + has been at best a mediocre success with now chances of overtaking Facebook anytime soon.

The tech world is agog with rumors that Facebook will be coming up with a much improved search engine which can have the potential to rival Google search engine usage. With such a search engine, Facebook will be able to provide an efficient ecosystem with this Facebook universe where its users can make a better use of Facebook’s vast social data.

With Instagram’s acquisition, Facebook will be adding another arrow in its quiver. In must be hoping that with this popular photo sharing app, Facebook users will be able to seamlessly share photos on their mobile. This will help it retain its loyal users.

But the moot point remains if this is a good purchase. One is sure that we will see results very in the fast moving world of social media.

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Is This the End of Paid Links?

It was great while it lasted. Since, Google wanted websites to have a great link profile, for any webmaster, links from blogs came in handy. Webmasters paid few dollars to the blog owner for link with a specific keyword rich anchor text and everyone was happy.  The webmaster’s site got link juice, the blog owner made some income and Google got what it asked from websites.

The Beginning

It continued for many years before it all went downhill. The system started getting exploited. I am not even sure if it can be called that. I will touch upon this subject later. Millions of blogs sprouted which had just one goal – To pass link juice to other websites. These blog were fed on spun articles and junk content. These blogs were often a part of huge blog networks and were meant only for Google. Google may say that it cares for good content but the problem was that it didn’t simply follow that or was not capable of. Its search algorithm just cared for content on these blogs and rewarded them with good Google PageRank. This PR was then used to judge the value of a link from that webpage.

Soon, this method was followed by every SEO company – big or small. SEO companies started acquiring links for their clients in hundreds and thousands depending on the paying capacity and the competition. The situation deteriorated when websites started dominating the Google search results on the basis of just paid blog links. This kind of SEO became the de facto standard for almost entire SEO industry. Clients wanted quick results and paid links ensured that. Google did nothing except deindexing few sites which it thought violated its webmaster guidelines.

Last year, Google received bad publicity by the sheer amount of spammy sites in their search results. Google acted by rapping J.C. Penney on knuckles and introducing a series of Panda updates to weed out content farms and spammy sites. But it did little to curb the influence of paid links.

How Google Responded

In 2012, situation started changing or at least looks so. Google started deindexing sites which sell paid links with a great fervor. Axe fell on major blog public networks such as BMR. If this was not enough, it started sending messages on Google webmaster accounts regarding unnatural links.

Dear site owner or webmaster of ….

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

And thus, panic ensued. Google has been saying that websites are not been manually penalized. As per Google’s instructions webmasters have started removing all paid links.

Is this the End of paid Links?

So the question is – Is this the end of paid links? Will the webmasters stop acquiring paid links?

I think not. What will end for sure is indiscriminate and obvious buying of links with specific keywords as anchor texts. Maybe, webmasters will have to use a variety of anchor text which look more natural and in context.

SEO companies will not stop buying links altogether. For now, many will stop on their tracks and evaluate the situation. But as soon as the hysteria and mass panic will die down, link buying in a different avatar will start. After all, the essence of internet is sharing of links. If there are no links then internet will die. Rel attribute is still not used by all and won’t be ever be. Link buyers will get smarter. To differentiate a normal link from a paid link is almost impossible if patterns are avoided. Other ways are when either the buyer or selling openly proclaims that they are indulging in it or if Google actually conducts a sting operation to out the blog networks.

Websites with only paid links in their link profile will obviously suffer and there will be a temporary cleanup of Google SERPs. I say temporary because all SEO efforts essentially needs lot of manpower and money to run. While earlier also, big companies spent big bucks on link buying they will divert their efforts on other SEO tactics. All we all know that just because a website belongs to a billion dollar corporation it doesn’t naturally follow that it’s most relevant or even useful for a searcher.

Essentially what has happened is that Google is responding to the allegations that people can manipulate their SERPs so easily.

Will Google Succeed?

Will they succeed? The answer is No. Because, by bringing in Google + and social signals in to SERPs, Google has introduced new elements which can just as easily be exploited and much harder to detect.

To summarize, paid links are not going anywhere too soon. Mindless link buying will stop and in its place will start smarter ways to include paid links. 

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