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Hotel SEO – Google Penguin Video
(The slides begin about 9 minutes in).
Hotel SEO – Google Penguin Slideshow Presentation
Hotel SEO – Google Penguin Webinar Questions
Q. Are blog feeds that publish to Facebook considered duplicate content?
A. Not for your blog or property. There are many websites that publish blog RSS feeds, and you’re website won’t get penalized for ‘duplicate content’ because of them. Google is very good at discovering which website is the original author of the content. See our other article on consistent content.
Q. My association website hosted elsewhere was once the 1st result on Google but is now the 24th. I have removed anything Google might consider manipulative. When will Google send the bots to re-crawl my website?
A. It could be a day, or a month. I suggest you contact Google directly about the issue using this form.
Q. How do I see my backlinks?
A. There are a number of great tools out there! Here are a few I use:
Q. I’ve heard that Google doesn’t like it when you link back to a website that links to you. Is this true?
A. Yes and no. The back-link will be worth more to you if you don’t link back to them. However, it is often seen as polite to link back to real people who link to you, especially if they are a local business you know and trust. Google only penalizes websites that constantly link to each other if they think the websites are part of a link network designed to manipulate Google results.
Q. How much should I worry about ‘exact-match’ anchor text?
A. I’d avoid it when possible. Google only penalizes you for using exact-match anchor text if they detect that you are manipulating your linkscape to rank well for a specific keyword. If 50-60% of your back-links have exact-match anchor text, then this is a red flag to Google, and they may penalize you. If only 20% or so of your back-links have exact-match anchor text, then I wouldn’t worry too much.
Hotel SEO – Google Penguin Webinar Transcript
Brandon: Welcome, ladies and gentleman, to this week’s buuteeq webinar. I am Brandon Dennis. I’m the marketing manager here at buuteeq. I’m accompanied by Patricia.
Patricia: Hi everybody. This is my very first webinar. I am very, very excited to be here and teach all you about Penguin and Panda’s new releases.
Brandon: I’m excited about it, but, part of me is wishing I was outside because it is fairly nice outside today, isn’t it?
Patricia: Yeah. We actually had weather in the 70′s this weekend for Mother’s Day. That was definitely a nice time for us in Seattle. We’re not used to this weather.
Brandon: Seventies in Seattle is just ridiculous but awesome. I can’t complain. We’ve got a lot here on the webinar today. A lot of really interesting things in the SEO world have been going on in April. People have been freaking out, frankly. We’re not fans of freaking-out. We’re fans of keeping cool and level heads. We’re trying to gather all of the information about Google’s recent Penguin update and their two Panda updates; Panda 3.5 and Panda 3.6.
We’re going to take all of that information and sort of condense it for this nice little hour-long webinar and present you with everything you need to know for your hotel. By the way, feel free to ask a question. We’re going to be interjecting with answers to your questions as we do this webinar. We will be sure to answer all of your questions we don’t get to during the webinar afterwards, when we publish this video to the blog. That’s something we do.
We are recording this webinar we will publish it to our blog, so if you don’t get through the whole thing or if you want to re-watch it just follow us on Facebook and Twitter where I will announce the link once it’s been published.
Let’s start by talking a little bit about Penguin and Panda. The joke that Google is playing here, is they’re starting to take animals that are both black and white. The reason for that is that a lot of SEO people will talk about as the industry as either black hat SEO or white hat SEO.
White hat SEO consists of SEO techniques that you can use for your website that Google thinks are OK. They’re not going to penalize you for them. Black hat SEO is when you use a bunch of techniques that Google does not think are okay. Therefore, if you do use them, they’re going to try and penalize you with them.
What they did, they released Google Penguin and Google Panda which are black and white animals to kind of make a joke about black and white SEO. Now, Panda was released last year and every few months or so, they do an update to Panda. Panda was designed at improving Google’s search algorithm.
Penguin on the other hand was specifically designed to punish people that they think are spamming their search results.
What happened is they released this new algorithm, they called it Penguin, and all of the websites in the world that are on Google search that were using many of the techniques that Google thought were black hat or that Google did not approve of, they suddenly saw that they had lost search engine results rankings. They used to be, like, the first result on Goggle. Now, they’re on the eighth page of Google.
As you can see this is a very scary… It’s potentially a very scary update for people who have been practicing black or grey hat SEO.
Let me just give you a little quote that I saw on SEO Moz, a while ago. It just sort of demonstrates how people are responding to it.
This is a quote from Carlos. He says “All Google ever does is feed an ever growing exacerbated community of SEO’s and Webmaster’s. They are constantly are chasing their tails. While the biggest losers are the small businesses, just scratch their heads and wonder why the phone isn’t ringing.”
Now, this is from a guy who owns an SEO agency. Small businesses pay him to do SEO work for their business. The small businesses think that by paying this SEO agency, the agency is going to get them into a very prominent spot in Google search result rankings.
This entire philosophy is what Google wants to avoid. Google Penguin was designed to make it apparent that you can’t game the system, that you can’t have the proper anchor text. You can’t have the proper on-page keyword density. You can’t have insert SEO technique here that’s going to somehow manipulate the Google search engine rankings to get yourself to the top spot. That’s the entire point.
This really brings into question the purpose of agencies, right? We’re told by SEO agencies that if we give them $2,000 a month to do SEO for their hotel that they’re going to skyrocket us to the first page of Google. And, that as long as we keep paying them, we’re going to become the third spot, then the second spot, and then the first spot. Low and behold, we’ve hit the goldmine. When in reality that is not the case as it once used to be. Google is constantly changing their algorithm to prevent that kind of gaming the system.
Patricia: Brandon, as I understand, don’t they look at the tactics that people have been using that in the past have been considered a good thing. Such as, matching keywords for your URL, things like that are what they’re going in and changing, right?
Brandon: Exactly. There have been techniques that SEO professionals have suggested to their clients and some of them include having exact match anchor text for back-links. Some of them include having exact match domain name. These are never things that Google upright forbid, but, they are sort of manipulative. The only reason you’re going to have an exact match domain name is because you’re trying to rank well for those keywords.
Google doesn’t want you to be thinking about it that way. That don’t want you to be thinking about your website in terms of how you can rank. They want you to be thinking about your website in terms of, how can you produce great content? That’s why they released the Penguin update. They don’t want us to sit down and think of all the different ways we can game the system so that we can get onto the first page of Google. They want to reward those people who have a website that is easy to scan by their robots, but is primarily created for human eyes to read.
If we can understand what ways we can work on our websites to make them more palatable for humans, then that’s probably going to be the best way Google will reward us. We’ll get into some specific things in just a little bit.
This obviously can bring some concern. People are probably going to go, “Well, wait was I hit by Penguin?” My website has been online for a very long time. Or, “I hired an SEO agency five years ago and what happened?” We’ll go over this a little bit. I wouldn’t freak out to much about it. Let’s keep calm heads and take a look at our analytics.
If you are running an analytic program, whether it’s Google analytic or some other service, log into your Google analytic and there’s an easy way to see whether or not your website was hit.
In this example we will be using buuteeq’s 360 analytics, which you can access from back office, just go to buuteeq.com, log into your account, log into your back office, and you will see 360 analytics in front of you.
What you want to do is you want to select the entire month of April. This will make it really easy for you to see whether or not you were hit. Go to the date range area and just April 1st/April 30th. Go down to the website section. We’re going to use the website to see whether or not our properties were hit.
Then take a look at the unique visits. They’re going to appear in the daily visits box on the right. Again, this is for buuteeq’s 360 analytics, which was designed specifically for Hotel properties and Inn’s.
What you wanna take a look at is the 19th of April and the 24th of April. On April 19th Google released Panda 3.5. That was just an update to the ongoing Panda update which was designed specifically to promote high quality content. It wasn’t designed specifically to combat web spammers.
But, on the 24th, they officially rolled out Google Penguin, which was specifically designed to combat Google spammers. If your web traffic took a dive on the 24th, then that means that you were affected by Google Penguin. Now, the nice thing about this is that all of the changes that Google released with Penguin were according to an algorithm. There was no Google employee who went to your website saw that you’re using a bunch of techniques and just checked a box and suddenly you’re off the Google search results. That’s not how it happened.
What happened is they sent a robot to your website. According to that robot’s algorithm it decided whether or not you were using manipulative techniques. Then it penalized you or left you alone based on its findings. Now, the nice thing about this is that all you have to do is remove those things and the next time the robot goes to your website the penalty will be removed.
It’s not like you have to submit it to a new indexation or do all sorts of crazy things or start from scratch. Really, it just means remove the things that Google doesn’t want and they will re-index you or they will bring you to the top, or, they will replace where you were previously, or, they’ll re-rank you in a good spot.
One more thing I do want to say about the date range of this is many people in the industry are noticing that, yes on the 24th Google Penguin was officially released, but, that many people were experiencing Penguin-like results in the week leading up to the 24th. It could be that your site started to lose rankings before the 24th, a few weeks before. Also, one of the nice things about Penguin is Google is rewarding who are not using manipulative techniques. It’s possible that you will see an uptake in your unique visitors because Google has ranked you higher based on Penguin.
Patricia: Brandon, I have a question. Could you explain briefly why it’s more important to look at your website visits verses just trying to Google for your hotel and see if your rankings have changed?
Brandon: I’m sorry. Please repeat the question.
Patricia: I’m wondering why it’s more important to look at the actual visits to your site verses just trying to open up Google and search for your hotel and see if something’s change. I wanted to search for my Seattle Bed & Breakfast to see if my rankings have dropped that way.
Brandon: Yes. That’s one way to do it. If you’re wanting to check out your organic search results, you’ll want to do so from an incognito window in Google Chrome or a private browsing window in another browser. The reason for that is Google gives you specific results based on your past browsing history and based on your interaction on Google Plus. You might not always be able to trust the search engine ranking result that appears on a search engine results page unless you use an incognito window.
Many people in the chat are asking questions have said they have been unable to see my slides up until now, which is a little bit distressing to me so I apologize. I’m going to go back a little bit. These slides were just me talking about what I was talking about. This is where I was talking about Google’s 360 analytic. This is where you would go to select the date range in 360 analytic. Once you select the date range, scroll down to this website selection, select website, and then you’ll see your daily visits over here in this box. Sorry that I wasn’t showing these previously. Thanks for letting me know. I’ll be able to continue.
This is where you are going to see how your web traffic was affected by Penguin or Panda. This left arrow is pointing to the 19th which is when Panda 3.5 was releases. The second arrow is pointing to 24th which is when Penguin was released. Then they also did another small change on the 26th, I think it was, which was Panda 3.6, but that was a very small change so I wouldn’t worry too much about that.
Patricia: We actually have another question. Colby’s asking that “They’ve read that Google does not like a website were the links on the site link, so sites link back to them, because this sets up a system where I can make a deal with the company where I link to them if they link to me. Is this true?”
Brandon: Great question Colby. That is true. It’s true and false. Basically, what Colby is saying is, look, if I find that somebody is linking to me should I link back to them to say thank you? The answer is both yes and no. The reason that Google can sometimes frown upon websites that are constantly linking back to other websites that link to them is, because in the past people have been creating what are called link farms were they would create 50 of their own websites. All of those 50 websites would link to each other.
Since Google ranks websites based on the number and quality of links that link to those websites, since one person owned all 50 of those websites and linked to each other naturally you would get a lot of links and naturally, they would raise in the rankings. Google has since penalized people that are constantly linking to the same websites. One of the ways they do that is by seeing if the website you link to links back to you. The issue with this is.
Let’s say that a tour guide in your area is offering your hotel a nice tour package and you want to say thank you to them by linking back to them. But, they also link to you. Should you remove your links to this website? No. I wouldn’t say so. Really, that kind of penalty is only for people who are aggressively manipulating and abusing the system, creating 50 or 60 link-farm websites that are all interlinked. If you want to link to somebody who is linking to you, I would say, go ahead. Don’t worry about it too much.
One of the things I wanted to share is. One of the reasons we’re showing off were you can log into you analytic software and find out how you’re ranking is so that you can see whether or not you’ve taken a dive based on Penguin, or, you’ve actually gotten better based on Penguin.
So, I wanted to share some of our results so I took a look at our website buuteeq.com. I’m in charge of the SEO work that goes on for our website, buuteeq.com. We also compared it with the states from many of our clients and we thankfully discovered that none of our clients were hit negatively by Penguin or Panda. This is a topic that I covered in more depth on the blog. There’s a link to it in this deck which I’ll share on our blog later. To my knowledge none of our clients were negatively affected by Penguin or Panda and neither was our website because we have for a very long time been talking about how we do not believe in manipulative techniques.
We have a philosophy for buuteeq in terms of SEO. Was, for a very long time, we didn’t want to get to the business of trying to manipulate Google and trying to force ourselves onto Google. Our philosophy has always quality content hand written by you, not somebody else, and back links that are generated organically those are the safest things because we predicted something like this would happen. Sure enough, a year later, Google comes out with Google Penguin and they’re penalizing people who have been practicing, sort of, the common knowledge SEO techniques that agencies have been telling them to do for a very long time.
Let’s talk about the specifics. We know that Penguin is designed to combat spammers. And, we know that there are many techniques that we used to be told that we should be doing often that are no longer positive. What are those techniques? What should we be worried about? What should we remove from our website?
Avoid exact-match anchor text. Now, exact-match anchor text is the text that you click on a website to go to a new page. When you’re creating a link on your website you type in a bunch of text that is home to that link. That’s called anchor text. Now what people have been doing is they have been soliciting other websites to link back to their website with exact match anchor text.
In this example, let’s say that I’m owning a website called “Custom Red Widgets” and I want to rank highly on Google for the keywords “Custom Red Widgets”. Whenever somebody goes to Google and types in “Custom Red Widgets,” I want my website to be the number one result. A grey hat, sort of, black hat technique up until today, has been to go out to a whole bunch of websites were you can place links back to your website and create links with anchor text that say “Custom Red Widgets”. That’s exact-match anchor text.
Now, Google is becoming incredibly savvy and with the Penguin update. They have decided that if over 60% of your back links have exact-match anchor text, they realize that you’re using a manipulative SEO technique to try and gain the system. They’re going to try and penalize you for this.
There was a study done by a company who is an SEO agency and they were really trying to discover what the specific thing was Google did in Penguin. They took a look at all of the clients that were negatively affected by it and they discovered that of the clients that lost their ranking due to Penguin 100% of them had between 50% and 60% exact-match anchor text in their back links. That begs the question: What’s good anchor text?
Well, good anchor text is maybe your brands name. If your hotel is called “Brandon’s Awesome Bed and Breakfast,” maybe, get back links that say, “Visit Brandon’s Awesome Bed and Breakfast,” or simply the word, “Here”. You know on many websites when you see it, a link, and it says “Please click here”. Google has said that the word “here” is fine because many people use that practice. They’re not going to negatively impact you for that. Avoid exact-match anchor text which is going against the grain of common SEO knowledge. Instead try and get some more generic anchor text like your brand name for example.
Next, Google looks out for back links from non-related websites. And, I’m using a silly example here. If you have a website about your hotel “Brandon’s Awesome Bed and Breakfast,” and yet, you get a back link from “FluffyPandaPower.com,” that doesn’t really make much sense. Why a website about fluffy pandas linking to you? It’s not really relevant. It’s a non-niche website. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have back links from websites that don’t relate to your business at all, because you honestly can’t control it, who links to you. What if somebody out there read an article about your hotel they thought it was great and they linked to you from their business in Taiwan that creates automotive parts or something?
Obviously that’s not in your niche and you can’t control that but there’s probably going to be a limited number of back links. What Google is looking out for is huge trends. If you have a website and 90% of your back links are completely unrelated to what your website is about. That is a red flag. Google is going to see that and say, “Hmm, he is probably purchasing back links. He is probably soliciting people to link to him. They’re reasoning goes, the majority of people that are going to link to this website are probably in that industry, if you’re encouraging people to link to you, that’s great.
Having a lot of back links is wonderful, just try to find people in your industry, in your community, in your local area that are talking about the same things that you’re talking about to give you back links. Let’s take a question here.
Patricia: All right. So let’s see. We’ve got one question. It says “With regard to exact-match, does that apply to your blog as well?”
Brandon: Absolutely. There are two different things, and I think I need to be a little bit more specific. Sometimes I forget that not everybody has been reading the things that I have been reading.
There are outbound links and inbound links. An inbound link is a link anywhere in the world that leads to your website. You can’t control inbound links. Anyone in the world can create a link to your website and put it on their website. That’s an inbound link you can’t control it.
When we’re talking about anchor text, we’re talking about the text that is on inbound links. Somebody goes to their blog and they write an article about your hotel and in the article they link to your website. That’s an inbound link you can’t really control it.
An outbound link is when you’re on your website or on your blog and you’re writing an article, and you create a link outside of your website to another website. When you’re writing text and you select that text and you link it to another website you just selected the anchor text that you are passing on to that website. You are giving a website-credibility from the page rank of your website, number one.
Number two, you are telling Google what you think their website is about when you write the anchor text. So, yes, your blog is a website, just as much as website is a website. When people are linking to your website you want to make sure that people from your niche are linking to your website.
Soliciting links from comics in blogs are really low quality, that’s not going to help you a whole lot. Soliciting links from forms or content farms are not going to help you a whole lot. You may not get penalized from them immediately, but, they’re definitely not going to help you a whole lot.
Let’s move on to the next one, and then we’ll answer some more questions. Avoid exact-match domains. This is something that really shook up the SEO world. Because for years people were buying “seattlebedandbreakfast.com”, or, “venzulahotel.com”. Something that they knew people were searching for and they would create a website based on that domain. That has never been a black hat technique until now. It’s always, sort of, been white hat bordering on grey hat, it wasn’t really bad, but, it was kind of manipulative. Google is definitely taking a stand now and saying, “We don’t want you doing that”.
A lot of people who have been doing some internal studies to discover why their websites were penalized found out that when they had exact-match domain names they were more likely to be penalized. And, I cover this at the end of the document, but, I don’t want people to be too scared now. It takes a combination of all of these things for Google Penguin to penalize you. If you have one but you’re doing great on all the others, I wouldn’t worry too much.
If you’ve got a domain name that says “parisfrancehotel.com,” if that’s your domain name and you’ve had it for ten years and your running a wonderful website and it’s got lots of great, quality content, you’ve got a blog, you’ve got wonderful pictures and videos, you’ve got a lot of good traffic, and a high page rank and the only issue is that you have a domain name that’s exact match that says, “parisfrancehotel” or something like that, I wouldn’t change my domain name.
I wouldn’t worry about it all that much because that’s still a fairly legitimate domain name. Again, it’s a combination of all of these things that Google is looking for when their trying to find who people who are spamming them or manipulating them. Avoid exact-match domains if you’re choosing a new domain in the future, for example. But, if you already have one, I wouldn’t recommend changing it. Let’s take a look at some more questions.
Patricia: All right. Let’s see here. One that pertains to what Brandon just talked about. The question is: “What if you are legitimately an exact match?”
Brandon: Great. Yes. That’s a great question. I’m glad I answered it when I did. If you are legitimately an exact-match, I really wouldn’t worry about it too much. Again, Google has to create an algorithm that services not only properties and the hospitality niche, but, every kind of business out there. In my previous example, “Custom Red Widgets,” what if that guy got “customredwidgets.com” and then all of the links that point to his website are “custom wed widgets,” and the keyword density on his homepage is, like, 40% of all of the words are “Custom Red Widgets”. It’s a combination of all of these things that Google will say, “Wait a minute, this doesn’t sound organic to me. This doesn’t sound interesting. I think these guys are using manipulative tactics to try and game the system”.
Let’s take a look at some more of these questions here. I see one from Sharon, she says, “How do I see my back links?”
Great question. There are a number of wonderful resources that you can use to see your back links. I’ll go ahead and when I create the blog post, I’ll link to them so that you can use them. One is called Open Site Explorer. It’s run by the guys at SEO Moz. They’re a fantastic service. Open Site Explorer is free for, like, the first 50 back links or so. They also have a paid service that you can use. I use that service for all the SEO work I do for buuteeq. Another one that’s really great is called, Ahrefs. That’s another website you could you can use to get your back links.
Patricia: Okay. I’m actually reading over Stacy’s question here. It’s a rather long one but it looks like her association got a new website on the 19th and they were in their usual spot but then on the 24th, it looks like they disappeared and are not even on page 22. I’m impressed that you went through page 22, Google. The URL is 14 years old. It’s the city’s name with bed and breakfast association following it. Looks like, they’re now on page 24. It’s been an exact match domain for about 14 years. The webmaster has gone through and can’t identify any manipulative techniques but they’re still on page 22. How long before the robots come back through and re-index the page?
Brandon: Great question. That is a tragic example. I’m so sorry for you. I know that the Google search is the bread-and-butter for many businesses. To see stuff like this it just breaks your heart, especially when people are just trying to make a business. They’re not really trying to manipulate Google. They’re not trying to do anything bad, they’re trying to play the game as they think Google wants it played.
This has been a frustration is the SEO community for many years. They’re just trying to do what Google wants them to do and then, Google will change an algorithm, right, and then we suffer like this. I feel your pain. I really do. I’ve got a few more things in this list that I’ll go through to give you guys on advice on what you can check-out to make sure that you’re not doing anything Google is going to find manipulative.
Basically, what you need to do is need you to go through your hotel and see if you’re doing anything that Google is going to find manipulative. Remove all of those things and then, you should create a Google webmaster account and you should submit a site map and you should have them re-index your site map. There’s also a forum were Google has said, “Look, if any of you feel like you have been de-indexed or penalized improperly please give us your domain name, and we’ll do a review of your website to see whether or not you have been de-indexed improperly”. I’ll include all this information with links to all of these services in the blog post that I write after this.
Another that Google is looking out for which they have been penalizing people for a very long time is low quality content. One of the major techniques people will use is called “spun content”. I know that nobody here has done that because this is sort of a really manipulative thing. What some black hat SEO people is they’ll download programs that are designed to create huge bodies of text that read like English to a robot but are really easy to produce.
The way these programs work is they’ll take a database of all connecting words and, the, through, you know, all sorts of words like that and then nouns and verbs and they’ll craft something that looks legitimate to search engines but reads really horribly to you and I. Google has since become much more savvy to this. It’s called spun content and Google does not like spun content and can detect it now.
Additionally one of the huge things that they look out for is spelling and grammatical errors actually. A lot of people who engage in black hat SEO techniques don’t take the time to spell check their documents because they’re really concerned just getting their text online, getting it published so Google can scan it. One of the tests that Google will do to decided whether or not your content is worthy of indexing, they’ll spell check it for you.
If there are a lot of mistakes they’ll probably think that this is not very high quality content. Because, the goal of Panda, remember, was to produce high quality content. The combination of Panda and Penguin together there really going to be looking over all of your content to make sure that it’s spelled correctly and it has good grammar.
Additionally, if you’re constantly repeating the same phrases over and over again, just so that you can have a lot of on page text, or if it doesn’t read naturally it’s also going to be giant red flag it.
Beware who you link to. This goes back to the previous question we had. I really don’t want to give you guys too much cause to alarm. You should feel free to link to someone that you think is legitimate. Like, if you have a legitimate partnership, link to that person. Don’t be too afraid. One of the things Google does look at is who you are linking to.
If you’re linking to a really low quality website that’s full of spammy, spun text that looks like a link farm and it’s just not a good website then they distrust your judgment. The reason you have to worry about who you link is that if everybody you’re linking to on your website, you’re taking your authority and you’re giving them a little piece of it.
You’re saying, “I, at Brandonsfinehotel.com, I am giving the thumbs-up approval to all of these websites that I am linking to from my website”. Google will take your reputation and say, “Oh, because brandonsfinehotel.com has a great reputation I’m going to convey some of that reputation onto all the websites he’s linking to”. If they discover that some of the websites that you’re linking to are bad low quality websites, then they’re going to reconsider well maybe Brandon really doesn’t have a good reputation. Maybe we should think about that a little bit.
Then finally, don’t fret too much. I put a picture of a frowny clown because I don’t want any of us to be frowny clowns. Remember it takes a combination of many, if not, all of these before Google will penalize you. Google is not going to come out of the woodwork and penalize you for doing one of these manipulative things, or, probably not. It’s really going to have to be a combination of all. Remember they want people to be using their search. They want people to have awesome websites and if your website is awesome they want to be able to deliver you website to people who go to Google to find high quality content.
It’s within their best interest for them to rank highly websites that have great content. If your website has beautiful photography, well-written articles, awesome videos, and it’s a repository of fascinating knowledge about your hotel and your location and everything the traveler needs to know when he visits your area, that’s going to be great content that Google wants to rank highly.
That is the take away message from this. It’s to create good content. Here’s a list of resources for further reading. I don’t expect you to jot all of these down right now. I understand that that’s a huge body of links. What I’m going to do is I’m going to publish this document that you’re seeing right now, to our blog. You’ll be able to click on these links from within the document later. Let’s go through a few more questions before we end.
Patricia: All right. Let’s see here. Johanna is asking, “If I’m writing about my hotel and link to myself as a Boston Bed and Breakfast, for example, should I not do that?”
Brandon: Repeat the question for me.
Patricia: That’s okay. She says, “If I am writing about my hotel and link to myself, as a Boston Bed and Breakfast, for example. Should I not do that?”
Brandon: Great question. You’re concerned about the anchor text. I would say if you’re wanting to rank highly for the keyword “Boston Bed and Breakfast,” yes, using that as your anchor text will help you. Remember, Google is looking at your entire link profile. If 50% to 60% of all of your back links say “Boston Bed and Breakfast,” then that’s a red flag and they’re going to say, “Okay, these people have manipulative back linking techniques. If, however, you know 20% of your back links have anchor text that say “Boston Bed and Breakfast” and the other 80% of your back links are natural when they say “yourdomain.com,” or, your brand name, or, the word “here”, or, “Check out this great website,” or, something like that. Then they’re not going to think that that’s a big deal.
In that instance having exact-match anchor text might help you a little bit, only because you’re using it in moderation. You’re not using it a whole lot, you’re using a very little amount.
Liz says, “You have a spelling mistake in your document”. Yes. Okay. I type fast. One of the nice things about this document is that it’s not being indexed by Google right now. So, I don’t have to worry about it too much. But, I will, of course, go through, with a fine tooth comb and change any spelling mistakes that I happen to have. Do you see any other questions I can answer before you move on?
Patricia: No. It looks like that’s about it.
Brandon: All right ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for coming to this webinar. The goal was not to get anyone scared or frustrated. I just know that this was a big change on Google’s part and properties have suffered. I wanted to give some advice and some encouragement to those who are concerned and who might have suffered.
The key take-aways are, just don’t try to manipulate Google. If an SEO agency is coming to you and saying, “Do X, Y, and Z and you’ll become the top result on Google”. Don’t pay attention to that nonsense. That’s the old way of doing SEO. It’s definitely not the new way of doing it.
Patricia: All right. It looks like we actually have a couple more questions before we end here. One is, “Is there a spell check feature in the works with buuteeq?” Great question.
Brandon. That is a great question. Do we not have a spell check feature in our article builder?
Patricia: I think it depends on what browser you’re using.
Brandon: That’s correct. If you’re using Firefox or Chrome, both of those browsers automatically spell check your document as you’re writing. When you’re writing a document within buuteeq’s back office, and you happen to do a misspelling, it will be underlined in red. If this feature is not turned on in your browser you won’t be able to see this. I actually recommend that you write your documents in a word processing program, like Microsoft Word or Open Office or something like that so that you can check all the spelling and use all of those programs’ really awesome tools first. Once you have a great written document you can then copy it and put it directly into your buuteeq-powered website.
Patricia: That is a good thing that we could put in as a feature though, since we are constantly making changes and updates. So, Peter’s got a last minute question here. He’s asking, “If I load the location page on my site full of good information will that help?”
Brandon: If he adds lots of local establishments, restaurants, bars, etc. is that information worthwhile? Absolutely. Talking about the people in your area, the people in your community, that is all wonderful information that Google loves. This is also a great opportunity to get back links. When it comes to back links, Google wants to see that your getting back links from you own industry and from the people around you, especially when it comes to a location-based thing like a Bed and Breakfast, an Inn, or a hotel.
Let’s say that you want to promote a bunch of restaurants or pubs or movie theaters or other entertainment establishments in your area. You can go to your locations page, you can write up a little review about each establishment with a link back to your website, then, you can go to those establishments and say, “Hey, I’m a Bed and Breakfast in your area. I really love what you do. In fact I love you guys so much, I gave you a link to your website, feel free to return that favor and link back to my website.
Now, again, I did mention that cross-linking is probably not a good thing to do too much but, really, only if your creating content forums. If you’re doing something really natural and organic, like, simply rewarding people in your community and encouraging people to give due credit when you do that. That’s really not a manipulative technique and it could help you really well.
Patricia: Let’s see. I think we’ve got one last question that I think Brandon has a lot of knowledge about and would love to go over really quickly. Stacy is asking, “Duplicate content question, blog auto-feeds to the Facebook. Is that considered duplicate content?”
Brandon: No. That’s what I would like to call consistent content and there’s been a lot of hoopla in the SEO as of late about the whole duplicate content thing. The answer is that Google really doesn’t have a duplicate content penalty. Yes, if you’ve got duplicate content on your website what Google is going to do is they’re going to choose the one that they think is best.
If you’ve got 15 pages on your website and they’re all saying the best thing Google is just going to pick one. Say okay, this is the authority, this is the first one published, this one has the fewest spelling mistakes, whatever, I think this is the one that should really be published. So, let’s say for example, you’ve got your RSS feed from your blog and every time you do a blog post you’ve got it set-up, if, then, this, that or you’ve got some other servers to automatically post to your Facebook page or to your Twitter page or to your Google Plus page. That is completely fine.
That is not going to harm your website. It’s not going to harm your blog. It’s not even going to harm any of your social channels. You’re simply disseminating news. You’re telling people in your community, people who are following you, “Guess what, I just posted a new blog post about this topic, it’s really amazing. You guys should check it out”. That’s not going to harm you.
All right ladies and gentlemen there have been a lot of great comments that we couldn’t get to today. I will be sure to answer them on the blog post.
Again, I am recording this. You will be able to go through the replay later in the future. I’m going to have a lot of links to other information that should be beneficial to all of you. In the meantime, there are already a great number of blog posts I have written about this topic, Google Panda and Penguin, on consistent content and over-optimization that are currently on the blog.
In the mean time, if you want, you can go to buuteeq.com/blog and read those documents while I’m working on this.
As always we’re happy to hear back from you. If you would like to learn about 360 analytic, which is a great tool for checking your traffic, in case you want to figure out whether or not you’ve been hit my Penguin or Panda, feel free to email us at email@example.com or give us a call.
Our phone number is on the website and I believe located here on this document. We would be happy to talk to you personally one-on-one. Thank you again, ladies and gentlemen. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, where we will announce our next webinar.
Patricia: See you guys next time.
Brandon’s Q&A Transcript
Hi. My name is Brandon, and I’m the marketing manager here at buuteeq, and I figured we’d start a new section of the blog called Questions with Brandon. I haven’t decided exactly what I want to call it yet. Maybe it’s Friday’s Questions, Questions and Answers, I don’t know. You guys can give me good tips for a new name if you want. Basically, it’s questions that you have about digital marketing, search engine optimization, social media, anything in general. I’m happy to do the research and provide the answers to you. For this episode, we’re going to go over the questions that were asked during the webinar earlier this week. The webinar was on Google Penguin, which was a recent addition by Google. Google released a search algorithm updatecalled Penguin. Where they’re trying to combat spammers, people who are deliberately trying to manipulate Google and their search algorithm. Many people are concerned about it so I figured I would host a webinar and answer your questions based on what we’ve learned about Google Penguin today.
The first question is a good one, and it says, “Are blog feeds that published to Facebook considered duplicate content?” This is a great question. Many people are concerned about duplicate content because they think that Google is going to de-index their site or penalize them if someone steals their content and publishes it somewhere else. That is patently false, that doesn’t happen. Google has on a number of occasions said that there is no duplicate content penalty. The reason for this is because you can’t control it. No website in the world can control who copies their content or who publishes their content. One of the reasons this isn’t a big issue is that many blogs have RSS feeds. That’s what we’re talking about in this question. An RSS feed is a feed that someone can subscribe to, they can publish it in Google Reader or whatever they’re using to read RSS feeds, or they can even publish it on blogs. In this instance, they’re wanting to publish their blog to their Facebook profile. It’s not going to hurt your website’s SEO in any way. Google is really good at seeing who is the first person to publish the content. They know when you first published your blog, when you first published your feed, and they’re going to give you full credit on it. They don’t penalize you. What happens is they try and see who was the first one to publish it, and they simply raise that one in the search results. So if you have fifteen different pieces of content that are exactly the same, Google is going to find the one that was published first or has the highest authority, and they’ll simply put that one higher in the search results. They’re not going to penalize all of them, they’ll just give precedence to one.
The next question is about Penguin specifically. This individual actually was penalized by Google during the Penguin update. They were first for their selected keywords on the search engine before Penguin, and then after Penguin they began the 22nd to 24th listing. This is really tragic to hear. Nobody wants to see that. What happened is, and I don’t know their specific story on this. But many people who have contracted SEO agencies in the past got results that were fairly dubious in nature. What many people thought were white-hat techniques ended up being gray-hat techniques, close to black-hat techniques, which Google may penalize you for. This includes exact match anchor text, exact match domains, keyword stuffing in anchor text, a whole bunch of things. I’ve got a whole list of things to watch out for on the blog. buuteeq.com/blog/english if you want to check it out there. But her question is how does she get back into the first page of Google results for her selected keywords? The answer is that you can’t. There is no way that you can forcibly get yourself back to the position where you were. It’s up to Google. It’s their product, they can decide who is ranking for whatever keywords that they choose. What you can do, is you can change everything about your site that Google may be penalizing you for, in terms of the Penguin update. So go through your backlink profile. If there are low-quality sites that are linking to you, or link farms, or comment blog farms, contact them and say, “Please remove any links you’ve got to me.” If there are too many people linking to you, using exact match anchor text, which we’re going to cover in a bit, ask them to change the anchor text a bit. There are a number of things you can do, again those are on the blogs. Once you do all of those things, there is a form that Google has released allowing you to submit your website for review. They’ll review it and if they think you are no longer doing those grey-hat techniques, they may restore your previous listing or give you a new listing based on the current SEO structure of your website.
How do I see my backlinks? That’s a great question. There’s a fantastic tool that I like to use. It’s called Opensite Explorer. I’ll show it to you real quick, over here. It’s run by the fine folks at SEOmoz, here in Seattle. You can see 50 or so of your backlinks for free. There is a paid version, which is what I use, but there are other tools you can use, which I’ve linked from the blog post. One is called Ahrefs, and then if you are synced with Google Webmaster Tools, you can actually see your entire backlink profile from Google Webmaster Tools, and that’s completely free. So whatever tool you want to use, there are a number of ways that you can check the backlinks that currently point to your website.
The next question is, I’ve heard that Google doesn’t like it when you link to a website that links to you. Is this true? The answer is yes, kind of, and no, kind of. The reasoning behind this, I’ll explain how Google tends to look at backlinks in general. What Google does is, they see a website pointing to you. They think that you, the original source and author of htat content must have produced something so amazing and so compelling that these people were in awe of your content, so they linked to it because they found it so fascinating. So we are going to take the authority of this website and convey it onto you, because they’re linking to you. So you’ve got the authority from that backlink. But if you link back to them, you now have two links pointing at each other. Google’s going to think maybe you’re friends or know each other or did some sort of backlink exchange deal. That’s still a backlink, that’s still great, but they’re not going to give as much authority to either of you, because of that backlink. The reason for that is because they want to combat spam. One of the things that black hat SEO people have done in the past, is they’ve created networks of 50-60 websites that are all linking to each other. They’re hoping that by doing so, all of these hundreds of thousands of backlinks will push all of those websites up in Google ranking, and thereby they’ll snag the first position. But Google has caught on to this. They’re incredibly intelligent, they combat this stuff every day. When they find people cross-linking to each other in hundreds and thousands of cases, they will not rank those highly. Now that that’s said, that doesn’t mean that you can’t link to someone who links to you. If you’re doing it on a small basis, or if you’re just trying to give credit to someone who has done credit to you, that’s a good and healthy thing. Let’s say there’s a tour agency in your local area that provides riverboat rafting tours and you’ve created a promotion with them at your property. You link to them because they’re doing the tour, they link to you because they’re sending people to stay at your property. That’s organic, that’s natural, it’s not going to hurt you. Really the only time cross-linking like that is going to hurt you in any way, or devalue your link exchange, is if you’re doing it in hundreds of thousands of links, if you’re really doing a whole lot of them. So I wouldn’t worry about it that much.
The last one is, exactly how much should I worry about exact match anchor text? You need to worry about it a little bit, but not too much. The way it worked is that Google has decided to rank a website according to the anchor text that is pointing to that website. Their reasoning goes like this: If I create a website about red widgets, and then somebody who owns a website I can’t control links to my website using anchor text that says “red widgets”, Google makes the conection that people unrelated to this website are still saying that they are an authority on red widgets. So we’re going to rank them for the keywords ‘red widgets’. That’s why people in the SEO community have been saying that if you’re going to be soliciting backlinks, try to get backlinks that exactly match what you do. This has been common knowledge and good SEO wisdom for a long time, and because of that, many people, even people thinking that they have been doing white-hat SEO have been telling their clients to get as many links as they can with exact-match anchor text for your targeted keywords. Whether it’s seattlebedandbreakfast.com, or philadelphiainnsandsuites, whatever your money keyword is, they’re saying that should be the exact match anchor text. Now that Penguin has been released, Google is on to it, and they’re no longer allowing you to do that. Not that you can’t do that, of course, because it’s your website and you can do whatever you want. Google can’t say what you can or cannot do. But the way that they have built their search engine is, they’re going to penalize or give preference to people who go by their rules. So that leads us back to the question, exactly how many of my backlinks should or should not have exact-match anchor text?” Many people in the SEO community don’t know the exact numbers or the algorithm that Google has come up with. But they say that if 60% or more of your backlink profile is exact match anchor text, Google is going to see that 60% of everybody in the world that is linked to your website is using the exact same keyword that you’re hoping to rank for, and that’s kind of a big flag, a bit suspicious, and maybe they won’t rank you as highly for that keyword as you were hoping. If, however, you only have 15-20% or 25% of your profile is exact match and everything else is something safe, like your brand name, your domain name, the word “here” because many people will say “click here to see”, those are all pretty safe. They’re innocuous. If only 20-25% of your backlink profile is exact match, then Google’s going to see that people are pointing to you, there are a lot of other people pointing for other words as well, so these are pretty safe words they can rank you for. That’s probably how many people are thinking that Google, now that Penguin has been released, is using exact-match anchor text. Should you worry about it? A little bit. It’s not the end of the world. Your job is not to find a ton of backlinks in the world. Your job is to rank naturally on Google if as a hotel marketer this is your goal for SEO. The best way you can do that is just form relationships, contact people, make real life friendships. Don’t just try and find a one trick pony that gets you thousands of backlinks. That’s not going to help anymore now that Google is on to everybody for this. Form real relationships, guest blog, give them good content so that they link to you. These are great natural ways to get organic backlinks. So that’s it for this week’s episode of Questions for Brandon. Feel free to send me any questions you’d like answered at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my very best to answer them in next week’s video.