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Is there any consensus on what Google likes?
dickbaker




msg:4604810
 3:47 pm on Aug 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

My site was one that got really trashed on 2/24/11 and never recovered, despite efforts on my part.

I've spent the last several months working on a new site. It should be live soon.

I've stayed away from the Google forum, but I don't know why. Maybe because I'm bitter, and just didn't want to hear about Google's antics.

I'm half tempted to just say "screw you" to Google, but I know I can't do that.

Aside from building a quality site with good navigation and content (ecommerce, so I won't be writing NY Times columns), I'm wondering if there are steps that MUST be taken to assure that Google doesn't punish a brand new site.

I'm giving serious consideration to not installing Analytics, Webmaster Tools or other Google doo-dads on the site, but just using advertising and promotions to draw traffic. In my niche many of the top-ranking sites don't seem to be optimized for Google at all, at least not that I can tell. I just looked at the source of one of the top-ranking sites, and there's no Analytics or Adwords code.

At any rate, I welcome any comments about what a new site owner should or should not do.

 

Totalx




msg:4604814
 4:16 pm on Aug 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

They are making their paid advertising a very attractive alternative if you need their platform. At this point, I think it better to be a adwords expert than search.

Planet13




msg:4604821
 6:22 pm on Aug 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

You know, one really strange observation that I don't know if it is related or not.

In my (pretty small) niche, one of the sites that leapfrogged a LOT of other sites has what could be called a pretty nominal internet presence.

For instance, they:

- aren't optimized
- use an old version of the shopping cart software that is missing some common features
- have bulky code
- don't really do social
- don't have a bunch of links

They HAVE been around for 25 years doing CATALOG sales, and their shopping cart kind of reflects that; it is hardly more than a web version of their cart.

What they do online in terms of promoting also reflects what they did OFFLINE; advertising - and they are advertising in the online versions of traditionally offline magazines.

Anyway, if there was some sort of secret, I would say that aybe advertising in really relevant sites helps out with authority.

bubba1986




msg:4604835
 8:32 pm on Aug 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

Is there any consensus on what Google likes?

MONEY. They want you to advertise. Especially commercial sites are constantly losing Google organic traffic little by little, so you have no choice but to ignore Google. My Bing traffic is now 4-5 times that of Google

The bitter truth is that the screws are tightening, quarter by quarter. Whoever ignores this deserve what they get.

turbocharged




msg:4604850
 11:35 pm on Aug 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

I've stayed away from the Google forum

A wise move in my opinion. Their forum offers more bashing then help. Google should hire some moderators and truly make it a help forum. Until that happens, don't expect to get much help from that place.

I'm half tempted to just say "screw you" to Google, but I know I can't do that.

Although you may not be able to do that, you should be focusing on efforts that will allow your site to gain in popularity on its own merits. This is hard to do, I know. But everyone needs to be ready for the day that organics are completely removed from Google's first page search results. For many keywords, we are already halfway there.

I'm wondering if there are steps that MUST be taken to assure that Google doesn't punish a brand new site.

This can be challenging. I've seen some people in less than desirable forums scraping content on new and penalized sites. They reportedly can steal entire sites and rank them on more powerful domains. I would block scrapers and also block proxies - especially Google Apps proxies.

I'm giving serious consideration to not installing Analytics, Webmaster Tools or other Google doo-dads on the site

I've had clients request this and did not notice any up or down movement. Since Google is not transparent in how they use the data they collect from installed services on our sites, it's probably smart to avoid them until they do.

At any rate, I welcome any comments about what a new site owner should or should not do.

First, you should lower your expectations. Second, I would try to build out in such a way that lessens your dependence on Google for traffic. Because for many, even with extremely high quality websites, their Google traffic is quite limited.

robzilla




msg:4604851
 11:39 pm on Aug 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

It's always an interesting question, but if you're looking for ranking factors on which people agree they're important today, you'll probably find that they're much the same ones that have been deemed important for many years. Nothing has fundamentally changed, in my opinion; Google's algorithms are just becoming more intelligent.

There's undoubtedly some collateral damage with every algorithmic update, but frankly I have yet to see a site that did not deserve to get hit. In most cases I've come across, the site owners got greedy (primarily with Adsense); in others, they were lazily enjoying the ride and forgot they had to keep up with the times -- then suddenly had to scramble as they saw their traffic fall sharply, plugging some small holes here and there but failing to see the bigger picture, and never recovering. In still others, the sites were just plain bad (the owner always thinks otherwise!). I'm speaking generally here, so I'm not saying this is what happened to you or your site; I just feel all this bitterness we see today requires a counterweight because it's not fair to be blaming a search engine (or worse, the company as a whole) for trying to improve their search results.

Google's mantra of "Focus on the user, and all else will follow" is no guarantee for success, but it is indicative of what they're after, and what you, in part, should be after, too, if you want to rank. Do some user testing, have people compare your site to those of your competitors, and then improve (and keep improving!) the user experience on your site; get more authorative links; create exceptional content (good is not good enough, everyone makes "good" content); go the extra mile; don't go social if it does not make sense for your site or business (a bit of a pet peeve of mine, this one); find other ways to bring in targeted visitors (Planet13's post provides a clue) -- get your creative juices flowing. This will all be a lot easier if you are passionate about your business or site's topic, because there's no room for mediocreness.

Disclaimer: I haven't launched a site in about a year or so. I'm about to, in a few more weeks, and I'm more excited than ever. Worked on it for about six months. Three serious competitors, but they've all fallen into the trap of passiveness, so my hopes are high, as is my list of features I still want to add to it. If it fails to rank, though, despite my conviction that it's the best site of the four, it'd still be my failure, not some search engine's.

MONEY. They want you to advertise.

Please read this [webmasterworld.com] before responding. It's pinned to the top of the forum for good reason.

frankleeceo




msg:4604857
 1:05 am on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Speed
Relevance
Focused
Social
Stickiness
Loyalty
Trust
Uniqueness
Better than Competitors

Whitey




msg:4604889
 6:36 am on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

At any rate, I welcome any comments about what a new site owner should or should not do.

Perhaps receiving some specific inputs for your site would give you something to bite on, rather than throwing out a line which is too general to assist. Why don't you put your site up for review and let others provide granular suggestions on how to get out of your penalties and critique it ? [webmasterworld.com...]

Zivush




msg:4604918
 9:44 am on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

If you want to please Google, never focus on it.
When building your site ask yourself: "What will make someone leave my website?" and work on avoiding these mistakes such as, Poor/boring content, bad navigation, too many ads, bad content structure, slow website etc.
Then ask yourself: "What will make people stay" and work hard on bringing these features, such as: "Rich content, Source of information on every topic you cover and engaging content.
Never get saturated - It's better having less pages.

superclown2




msg:4604923
 10:20 am on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

There's undoubtedly some collateral damage with every algorithmic update, but frankly I have yet to see a site that did not deserve to get hit. In most cases I've come across, the site owners got greedy (primarily with Adsense); in others, they were lazily enjoying the ride and forgot they had to keep up with the times -- then suddenly had to scramble as they saw their traffic fall sharply, plugging some small holes here and there but failing to see the bigger picture, and never recovering. In still others, the sites were just plain bad (the owner always thinks otherwise!).


This is oversimplistic. In many verticals the top places for any search term worth it's salt will automatically be shared out between a small number of megabrands who just happen to have a page that mentions those terms, or something like them. you, or your competitors, can produce the finest, most authoritative and popular site for those seeking those search terms but you will still only share the crumbs from the table.

Perhaps this isn't palatable but it's a fact we have to live with.

robzilla




msg:4604942
 12:00 pm on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

My observations are simplistic because they describe a general pattern that I've observed across the verticals that I participate in. They may not apply to all verticals, or all sites, but (I repeat) I have yet to see a site that did not deserve it -- so I'm skeptical towards webmasters' claims to the contrary.

a small number of megabrands who just happen to have a page that mentions those terms

That, to me, in turn, is oversimplistic. Search has not worked like that since the early noughties. It has not been my experience as a webmaster, nor as a heavy user. For any competitive keyphrase, there'll be a wealth of data supporting a certain page's top ranking, megabrand or not. Do megabrands have it easier? Of course, and perhaps deservedly so. If you really have "the finest, most authoritative and popular site", but you fail to rank, then apparently the data disagrees with that assessment.

Search is increasingly data-driven; whatever signals quality goes into the mix. I'd say the points given by frankleeceo and Zivush are good starters.

Their forum offers more bashing then help

I think he meant the Google SEO forum here on WebmasterWorld -- but same goes, perhaps ;-)

netmeg




msg:4604947
 12:32 pm on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

First I would make sure my site was as technically sound as it is possible to make it. Any thin or low content pages should never make it into Google; only allow your best stuff in.

I would make sure my site navigation extremely easy for users (and bots for that matter) to figure out; goal for users is no reason to ever hit a back button.

I would make sure my site was *useful* to my users - if I can't come up with unique information that's not available anywhere else, then I would try to present it differently. And I would make sure it was easily shareable. Even if you think your users won't share it.

I would set up authorship in Google, and I would use Google Analytics and GWT.

And I would make sure my site (and my business plan) provided users a reason to want to come back, and come back often.

I would find out where my users hang out, and I would make sure I'm there, whether it's advertising on websites they frequent, or participating in forums they participate in, or print ads - wherever it is.

And I would not launch till I had an email signup form on every single page of the site, because once you have your list, Google can be an afterthought. Save your best updates for your mailing list, and give them a reason to want to sign up, and it'll take a LOT of the pressure off.

dickbaker




msg:4604968
 3:09 pm on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the replies. I should mention that this is a 100% ecommerce site, so content is going to be "it is what it is" until I can re-write thousands and thousands of pages. I can't no-index most of my site because Google doesn't like the content.

About the only thing I can do is start with my best-performing products, write fresh copy, take care of titles, <h_> tags, etc and then work my way down.

I've submitted the site for review here on WebmasterWorld.

I'll grudgingly pay Adwords, but I'm going to hold their feet to the fire as to performance. It's performed very poorly in the past, with the costs usually being equal to or slightly higher than the profit made from the items sold through Adwords.

diberry




msg:4604976
 4:25 pm on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

I believe Google wants sites that are trying to build a brand through traditional marketing methods, social media, advertising (but not necessarily Adwords), etc. If you're doing all that, then you are clearly NOT just building a site to take advantage of Google's algorithm, so you're all right. How they think they are detecting this, however, is the real question (assuming I'm right at all). They can pick up some social media links, but not others (but are they aware of them all the same?). They can't detect that you sent out flyers in the mail, but they can detect people typing your name or URL into the search bar.

So think of the sort of activities that would convey to them, "Hey, there's a site people are really interested in! Do we know it? Have we crawled it? We'd better get on that!"

As others have mentioned, you'll also need code that's compliant, clean and not overflowing with junk, so the bots can read it and really understand why it is people are coming to your site.

For a new site, this is a tall order - things definitely aren't as easy as they were a few years ago. Social media can be a free or cheap way to get going, especially if you pair it with coupons, giveaways, rewards or other traditional marketing approaches to drive excited converts to your business.

FranticFish




msg:4605000
 8:24 pm on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

content is going to be "it is what it is" until I can re-write thousands and thousands of pages

I would not launch a site with lots of duplicate or near-duplicate content; instead I'd add a 'noindex,follow' toggle and show the pages to Google as and when they are unique.

I have seen traffic to duplicate pages from Google but this is usually negligible and also only where the site is established and has some authority. This won't apply to you when you launch.

IMO there's more benefit to showing Google a smaller number of pages with original content and growing the site at a steady rate; if you combine this with any outreach you do to generate links then in Google's eyes you'll have an interlinked cycle of on-site content creation and off-site citations.

I can't prove that this is seen as 'better' in Google's eyes than what you're proposing, I just have a gut feeling that a smaller number of pages with original content on all of them sends better signals than a larger number of pages with unoriginal content on many or most of them.

netmeg




msg:4605009
 9:03 pm on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Ecommerce? In that case, I'd focus on site architecture first. Go invest in one of those user testing services (it only costs around $30 or $40 per session) where you get a screencap video of someone trying to navigate your site, along with commentary. It *really* helps.

lucy24




msg:4605030
 10:36 pm on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

I would use Google Analytics

Because it's Google or because it's analytics?

netmeg




msg:4605042
 12:28 am on Aug 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

Because it's analytics.

EditorialGuy




msg:4605046
 2:04 am on Aug 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

It's important to remember that "what Google likes" is a moving target. Right now in my sector, for example, Google seems to be in love with EMDs that include place names. This is creating some awful results, but that doesn't mean Google "likes" awful results: It simply means that algorithms aren't perfect.

Whitey




msg:4605059
 4:09 am on Aug 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

I've submitted the site for review here on WebmasterWorld.

@dickbaker - I couldn't see your site at [webmasterworld.com...]

Zivush




msg:4605067
 5:45 am on Aug 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

I would use Google Analytics


I wouldn't, because it's Google. Why to give Google such an access to your performance data when you can find services that provide the same analytic data (such as - statcounter, piwik and awstat)

netmeg




msg:4605131
 12:28 pm on Aug 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

Why to give Google such an access to your performance data when you can find services that provide the same analytic data (such as - statcounter, piwik and awstat)


Of the various things I worry about, that's not high on the list.

CaptainSalad2




msg:4605205
 4:18 pm on Aug 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

I would love to say google likes:
1)Well coded W3C sites.
2)Cross browsers compatible.
3)Cross platform compatible site, mobile responsive.
4)Fast sites with lean code and optimised for speed (compression)
5)User friendly design site architecture and navigation.
6)Use of canonical link
7)Fleshed out pages with a minimum of 300 unique words per page

But the truth is the sites that make it to the top in all of the local serps I personally watch fail on every point above, some donít even have content and use only images with the textural connect written on them rather than in html, some use 100% frames of other domain name, most use free start up what you see is what you get editors, some are even full flash sites.

I believe, sadly, what google says it likes on paper and what it likes in reality is unfortunately not the same, content isnít king, directories are and doing nothing with your site seems to be the best right now, at least in the serps I personally watch!

I think matt cutts said a while back he didnít want people to-do SEO and that he wanted them to work out where a site should ranked? I think based on this just concentrate on building something user friendly and HOPE one day google does deliver on rewarding unique and quality websites? Build for users not for Google!

Zivush




msg:4605233
 5:57 pm on Aug 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

Content isnít king


I'd say reputation is king. Reputation is very hard to achieve without a good content or a stunning website idea.

Build for users not for Google!


This is the best bet, yet I can count dozen of user generated Q/A sites that their traffic went down during the last 3 months of Google updates <snip>.

What does it mean? I don't know.

[edited by: aakk9999 at 6:08 pm (utc) on Aug 27, 2013]
[edit reason] ToS, please no site naming [/edit]

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