Google Predictions from SMX East 2012
James: Hi, it’s James Martell here and welcome to another edition of The Affiliate Buzz. It’s great to have you with us. Arlene is away today but I do have a very special guest on the line—Jonathan Goodman from Halyard Consulting—and we’re going to be talking about tips, techniques and Google predictions from Search Engine Marketing Expo 2012 in New York City. Buzz listeners would know we had Jonathan on the show about a month ago just prior to that event—or a couple weeks before that event—and Jonathan was going to be gathering up some tips and tools and nuggets for us and he’s definitely done that. We’ll also be discussing the brand new Disavow Tool Google announced this week at Webmaster World’s Pub Con in Las Vegas—a big development for those of you who may have wandered into the area of the nasty links—the blog networking links, the article directory links, the blog commenting spam. Those types of things—we may have a solution for you to actually be able to clean up that as far as in the eyes of Google.
Now Jonathan was speaking at Search Engine Marketing Expo in New York about Schema in WordPress. We had a chance to talk about that on the recent show as well. Jonathan Goodman started his career over 20 years ago at the dawn of the internet age producing websites for Fortune 500 companies. Jonathan holds an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University, an MS from the College of New Rochelle and a BFA from the Ringling College of Art and Design. Jonathan, welcome back to The Buzz.
Jonathan: Thanks so much, James.
James: Well, we were just talking with Brasco there from Webmaster Radio about all of the recent Google developments. It just doesn’t seem to end, does it?
Jonathan: No, it’s amazing.
James: They seem to be on a terror like I’ve never seen and I’ve been around a while and this seems to be just one thing after the other. And some good news this time around and you actually sent over your notes to me from SMX and I appreciate that and I thought that it would be a good opportunity for us to go through and talk about some of the highlights of the event, some of the tips you picked up, some of the techniques and I know you have a list of Google predictions as well, which I would really like to talk about. So if you wouldn’t mind, set us up. For those listeners who may have not heard the last show, talk a little bit about what SMX is, where it was held, whose conference it is and maybe a little bit of background on that—how it was formatted.
Jonathan: Excellent. So it’s Danny Sullivan and the Search Engine Marketing Expo and his group—I think it’s Third Door Media—is the name of the company that Danny runs and they have SMX East, SMX West, which is actually called SMX Advanced. They go to… In December there is going to be Social Media SMX. It’s going to focus specifically on Twitter, Facebook—social media kind of thing. The way that they set it up is categorized according to what you might be interested in. So there could be a channel for optimization from organic then maybe a PBC channel, an email channel and that way. So you kind of pick and choose the events that you want to go to—the sessions that you want to go to—based on what’s available, also what’s of interest to you.
James: Which hotel did they hold it in?
Jonathan: It was actually at the Jacob Javits Center so it was big enough… There is a lot of people that go and they always have it at the Jacob Javits.
James: Terrific. So let’s dig into some of these developments. I know you sent over your notes here and I know there was a lot of discussion about… Why don’t we start off with Panda and Penguin—our two favorite little characters that have been chasing us for about… one of them for six months and the other one for about a year and a half now. What were the updates from Panda and Penguin?
Jonathan: Yeah, I think that the kind of the clarity moment in listening to people talk about Panda and Penguin was when somebody said, “Panda equals content and Penguin equals links” and that really hit home for me because now you’re really talking about on a website—“What is the valuable content? How are you differentiating your website from everybody else within that industry?” If everybody is competing in an industry you want to have very solid, informative content and from the Penguin side, that’s where we kind of get this Disavow Tool now, right? Because Penguin has tightened up really any kind of bad links that are out there. We have a whole new industry for negative SEO—not that we need another industry within an industry—but now with the Disavow Tool anybody who is trying to do negative SEO on a specific website, this is a way to combat that. So we could kind of talk about the Disavow Tool. I kind of said to you how I feel about that. I think that it’s a very risky tool and if you want to talk about that we could definitely go in that direction.
James: Yeah, let’s… I’d like to leave that just for a bit if we could and the Disavow Tool essentially is for those who—as we kicked off the show—if you’ve been into the article directories and you’ve been out there maybe using some of the blog networks and some of the linking schemes that I know some of you and some of others have had a chance to get into and have a good look at and some that have been affected heavily by it—this is a tool that will help you to possibly clean that up. But let’s hold on that for a bit. Let’s talk about this differentiating of content when it comes to Panda. And I think you’ve really nailed it there because in the early days there wasn’t a lot of websites out there comparative to today and we’re actually in communication with one of my early handbook owners—one of the handbook owners from I think 2004—who has run into some troubles just recently with Panda and Penguin for a variety of reasons. But having a look at his content—it’s really not differentiated from anything. This content that he’s got on his site—although it’s written by him and although it’s well-written, well-researched—it’s pretty much everywhere. It’s kind of common knowledge there now. So talk a little bit more about differentiating your content from your competitors.
Jonathan: Yeah, I think that unique content… It’s so funny. It used to be content is king and I think that what Google is really trying to tell us is “No. Unique content is king.” And if you’re talking about baseball and you’re talking about Rodriguez—an injury—and it’s the same kind of exact information… kind of very dry and just informative and it’s not really adding to the conversation—the overall conversation—Google isn’t really going to find that of interest. And it’s amazing how this algorithm works when you think about it. I mean there aren’t people that are sitting there reading the content but somehow I think what they do is the algorithm kind of looks at the content and understands what the major subject is and then looks for things that are out of the ordinary. Now I don’t want to kind of second guess Google and now all of a sudden everybody who is thinking about this is writing about baseball and is also talking about cooking and somehow they blend that together—because that would be a terrible mistake—but I think that the uniqueness of the information that you’re trying to convey is going to be what’s going to get you to the top now.
James: You also mention in the list here—get non-descriptive links like “Click Here” because it makes it look like there is no SEO behind the effort.
Jonathan: Yeah, that was an interesting… Somebody kind of said that during one of the sessions and you almost kind of step back to ten years ago when nobody really understood what backlinks were or what important content was and we were all linking via “Click Here” or “Click This”—kind of very jargon, generic information. And what they’re kind of saying is if you do have an SEO campaign behind this, if you are highlighting and anchor texting with anchor text specific keywords with backlinks then maybe a portion of that—maybe 10-20% of that effort—should also kind of look like old stuff that nobody really uses anymore—“Click Here” and stuff like that.
James: I know when I’m out working on backlinks it’s always so difficult to do that—to actually take this nice little link that you could craft so beautifully with the perfect anchor text and basically fall back into having to go with something like “Click Here” and although we do it is so hard to do because there seems to be so much more benefit from the perfect trays but it would make sense to me—and thank you for the number 10-20%– that’s probably a very good number to keep in mind because Google of course is not really wanting us—wink, wink, nod, nod, nudge, nudge—out there being developing backlinks. But of course we do.
James: But that’s a very good little tip. Let’s do this. We’ve got a break coming up. After the break why don’t we talk about this Disavow Tool that was announced at Pub Con, talk about reinclusion—what to do if you have run into some trouble—and then also we’ll get into some more of the tips and tidbits from SMX. We’ll do that right after the break.
Arlene is away today but I’m here on the line with Jonathan Goodman from Halyard Consulting and we’re talking about some tips, techniques and Google predictions that Jonathan picked up at SMX East 2012 in New York. Now Jonathan, would you set it up for us? Of course there has been this whole era of article directories, blogging networks and we know—and a variety of other things that some people have been up to that have really run them into trouble with Google, especially lately with Penguin. Set it up, if you would, with the problem that people have run into and then talk about the new Google Disavow Tool.
Jonathan: Yeah, what I like to tell clients who come to me in a panic that they have lost ranking is a little bit of knowledge can really terribly hurt you. You find so many of these small businesses—and it’s understandable—you’re trying to run your business. You think that SEO—you’re just going to listen to a couple of things. In fact, a podcast that you did recently where somebody was listening to you—so much information that they weren’t really even being productive, right? And so sometimes when you get into a small business you think that you have to be the accountant and the marketing person and the content person and the SEO person but the problem with that is then you’re not really focusing on your business. So many of these small businesses wound up hearing little bits and pieces of SEO and they kind of got reeled into article websites, kind of one of those ring backlinks—terrible things that we look at now and we’re like, “Oh my goodness. Of course your site is losing ranking. Look at all these affiliations that you have.”
And so now with this Disavow Tool—again, you have to be really, really careful with this Disavow Tool. Once you disavow a link you can ask for a reinclusion for that link. Let’s say that by accident you say… you had a backlink and you didn’t understand where it was coming from and you put the Disavow in and it wound up to be an affiliate site of CNN and now you’ve lost a tremendous amount of page rank because you’ve now told Google that they should ignore this link. You can do a reinclusion but it took time to get that link out and now it’s going to take even more time to get that link back in. And sometimes… This kind of happened with the code that they used to kind of… When everybody was thinking that you could sculpt page rank—remember that a couple of years ago?
James: I do.
Jonathan: So many websites did it incorrectly and lost so much in the index. This is kind of the same thing. The Disavow—you really have to know what you’re doing. And one of the best ways to do that, I’ve found, is to understand what your backlinks are and then find out what that website’s page rank is for that connection that you have. And obviously if it’s a negative page rank—if it’s a zero page rank—then you can pull that out there. But Matt Cutts was very, very specific. Disavow Tool is not the first place that you want to go. In fact, what you want to do is try to contact that website—the webmaster for that website—and ask for them to take that link off. If you try multiple times over multiple months and you’re still not getting anywhere then you should use the Disavow Tool.
James: So this tool is the new development that has showed up in the Webmaster Tools Dashboard and I think that’s some very good advice. We’ve got to be careful with this. The obvious ones—when we were doing some backlink checking for a client of ours—he had clearly all kinds of websites that were not only PR0s—they were graybar. They were completely delisted out of the index. So…
James: In situations like that are you saying…? Or what would you recommend—that people still go through the process of attempting to contact those webmasters and then when it comes time to put in a reinclusion request what should they do?
Jonathan: So disavow a request, right?
James: Sorry—disavow, yes.
Jonathan: The… Yes, they should definitely try to find either an email for that website, the webmaster’s information, go onto a “Who Is,” find out if you can contact them that way and try to get that link removed naturally. Obviously if it’s something… If it’s a website that has a zero, if it’s then delisted sometimes these things are just kind of… They’ve already been used and abused and they’re left to the side and nobody’s going to respond to you. If that happens over let’s say a month or two… You don’t want to be too impatient with these things, right? You want to kind of give it a benefit of the doubt and then you should really use the Disavow Tool. But you know my feeling about the Webmaster Tools in general is that they should be used by SEO professionals. They should not be used by the average person because there is a lot of damage that you could do in there.
James: Let’s talk after the break. I know you’ve got a number of predictions here and I am looking at the list. I look forward to digging into it. And you also mentioned one little surprise here and you’ve already let me know what it was and I thought it was… It’s kind of funny to even consider that it’s still happening but let’s do this—after the break let’s jump into these predictions that you picked up down at SMX and then I’ll get you to share that one little surprise that you shared with me earlier. We’ll be right back.
Arlene is away today but I’m here with Jonathan Goodman from Halyard Consulting and we’re talking about some tips and techniques and now some predictions—Google predictions—from SMX East 2012. All right, hit it. What have we got here?
Jonathan: Okay. So thin content pages with too many links on the page—so if you only have let’s say 400 words in your article but you have 100 links on the page—that’s going to be something, I think coming out of this conference, you kind of have to read between the lines and what Google is saying and what everybody else is saying but I think that those are going to get hit really bad and realize that when we’re talking about links that includes your navigation, that includes your footer. If you’re looking at a page and you’ve got 100 links on that page and you’ve got 400 or less words I think that’s going to be a really big thing. They are going to pull that out of the index.
A bad PR balance—this was kind of interesting because what they’re saying is… Let’s say you have a total of 1,000 backlinks and 800 of them are PR1s—really, really low—200 of them are PR3s, 50 of them are PR5s, five of them are PR6s but you have no PR7-10? That’s going to be considered by Google—that’s a bad PR balance. So all those companies that are out there—and I know that there are companies out there—that are marketing themselves saying, “We’re going to get you into directories,” when you ask them what level PR they are getting the directories for they’re saying 0-1 and so you’ve got to run away from that.
Another big thing is infographics with no relation to content on the site. So if you have an infographic about search on a soccer site with a link pointing to a Kindle page that’s going to be a big no for them. They’re going to start looking at that infographic and they’re going to say, “Okay, this is an infographic about soccer. Why is the link taking me to Kindle?”
Another big one is going to be low relevance blog posts. So if you’re writing an article about how to make cotton candy—and James, you see this all the time, right? You’ll get somebody who will say, “Oh, I’ve written this article about cotton candy” and they want a backlink to remodeling a kitchen? That’s going to be a really big thing for Google. They’re going to start lowering that search capability and taking that out of the indexes.
Anchor text—if it’s repetitive keywords throughout—and you’re always talking about this—if it’s the same exact keyword that you’ve got the anchor text backlinked to that’s going to be a big thing. And then thin geographic pages—so if you’re trying to rank locally and the title of your page is Seattle Pizza and the body content is “We offer the best pizza in Seattle using only Seattle ingredients” then you’ve got “Seattle Pizza,” “Seattle’s best pizza” and “using Seattle ingredients.” It’s all repetitive and they’re going to look at that stuff even closer now.
James: So it sounds like it really does get back to good old common sense here. And let me just kind of go down the list quickly again. Thin content pages with too many links on the page—you mentioned 400 words with 100 links. So if somebody is up to doing that they should probably have a good look at that because I don’t think they’re bringing… They’re probably not bringing any user value to their visitors anyways. Bad PR balance or bad page rank balance—that makes perfect sense to me too. If all of the links are … I think you said 800 PR1s, 200 PR3s, 50 PR5s, 5 PR6s—so really you could tell that there is some sculpting going on there.
Infographics—this is not something we’ve ever really talked about on The Buzz. I think we’ll kind of put that one aside but again, that makes sense and I think most of us have probably seen those graphics that are out there that are usually very interesting, that will take you step by step through something and again, you’re saying an infographic about search on a soccer site with a link pointing to a Kindle page doesn’t really make—or a page about Kindles—it doesn’t make any sense. So relevance would be completely out there. Low relevance blog posts—how to make cotton candy with a link to a remodeling your kitchen site—that wouldn’t make sense. Anchor text—and you hit on this one—this one is a big one for me and I think a lot of people get into trouble with the overuse of the same anchor text phrase over and over again coming back into the page. Did they give you any percentages on that? Is anybody—and I know of course only Google would know for sure and it probably fluctuates all over the place—but did anybody throw out a number?
Jonathan: No. No. I think it was just… Obviously if you’ve got 100 backlinks with the keyword “sports car” and it’s all pointing to one page and you have no other variation of your anchor text, I think that’s where they’re going to hit you.
James: Yeah, I could definitely see that. Now I do see we are coming up to the bottom of the hour already—hard to believe—great stuff that you’re sharing here and the page of notes just goes on and on and I would love to get you back on. I do know you’re heading off to another conference. You’re going to the third annual Vermont Web Marketing Summit on November 14. Maybe we could get you back after that. Again, you’ll be picking up some tidbits and tell us about that conference.
Jonathan: Yeah, it’s going to be a one-day conference out at the Hilton—the Burlington Hilton—and I was fortunate enough, I worked with them… I spoke to them… As soon as they called and asked me to be involved in it I said, “I’m going to be on this show. There is a couple of other things that I’m doing. Can I promote this and can I get an exclusive discount for anybody who is listening?” and so if you go to my site—HalyardConsulting.com—I’ve got it right up there on the main page. You can click over to register at the third annual Vermont Web Marketing Summit, which is going to happen on Wednesday, November 14th. And if you enter the discount code—my last name, GOODMAN—you’ll get $25 off.
James: I’m actually on their page as well and I can see very nicely priced– $190 per person minus the $25—so we’re talking for a day conference on search and the Hilton Burlington in Vermont, a Vermont Marketing Summit. So very good—yeah. And so when we get you back—when you get back—I’d love to get some more of these… I’d love to talk more about the notes that you sent over. I know you’ve got other things—additional info on socialization, Schema again, that we talked about. I’d love to get you back. Also, before we go what was the surprise? What was the one thing that you picked up that you said that was very, very surprising?
Jonathan: The big surprise that nearly knocked me right off my chair is that Bing is using the keyword metadata again.
James: That is stunning.
James: That is totally stunning. So did they tell you why? Did they…? How could this be?
Jonathan: It’s unbelievable. I think that they’re just at a loss for… They’re so terribly unfocused—and I actually don’t want to dig into them too hard—but they said a couple of other things during the conference that I found really quite remarkable coming from a professional company like Microsoft that really kind of showed an ignorance in their understanding of search.
James: Amazing. And well, I guess that’s why Google is Google and Bing is quite frankly, not even on my radar screen. I haven’t even thought about them. You said “Bing”—I said “Who?”
James: So… Jonathan, I can see we are out of time. Do you have a Twitter address that people could follow you at?
Jonathan: Yes. It’s Halyard Consult.
James: Halyard Consult—terrific. And you guys can follow me at James Martell on Twitter and you can also like us on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/GotBuzzed. New episodes of The Affiliate Buzz can be heard every Thursday at 5:00 pm Eastern and 2:00 pm Pacific. You can access the archives for our shows at WebmasterRadio.fm, JamesMartell.com and on iTunes. Jonathan, thanks so much and to our listeners—thanks for listening to another edition of The Affiliate Buzz.
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