Google: We Penalizes Egregious Link Manipulation; Otherwise Ignores The Link

As you know, Google treats links from spammy sites vs unnatural links differently. But Google also treats different types of unnatural links differently as well. Unnatural links that are classified as “egregious link manipulation” would likely penalize a site whereas other links that are unnatural are likely just ignored by Google.

Gary Illyes from Google said this on Twitter:

If you have a footer nav with the same links on each page, would Google view this as attempted manipulation & penalize? @methode @JohnMu

@_newsbulletin @JohnMu That depends on the purpose of that link really, but if it’s not a egregious link manipulation scheme, we’re more likely to just ignore them

Google’s new real time Penguin algorithm devalues links and no longer penalizes or demotes links – so this is a similar statement.

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Emoji SEO: Can You Rank For Emoji-Based Searches?

How To Get Started With App Store SEO

If you’re a digital marketing veteran, you already know about search engine optimization (SEO) and how it can attract more traffic to your site—even if you’re not well versed in the specific tactics necessary to get there. However, most people think of SEO in only one dimension—as it applies to Google web search.

For the most part, it makes sense—Google has long been the dominant search engine in the online world, and continues to hold on to its two-thirds majority of searchers. However, if your main goal isn’t directing people to a website, it won’t be enough to help you.

For example, if your main source of revenue is a mobile app, you’ll want as many people as possible to download it—and while Google does offer some search features that allow mobile apps to show up in search engine results pages, the primary way for your app to be discovered will be through app stores, such as those offered by Apple and Google.

App store SEO is the process of making your app rank higher in search results within these app stores for relevant keyword searches, and making sure your app is considered relevant for the right searches.

As you can imagine, it’s a technical and complicated topic, but this article will introduce you to the basics of app store SEO.

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The Big Picture

Let’s start with the big picture. App optimization works very similarly to website optimization, at least from a high-level perspective. App stores want to give users the best possible results for their searches, so they want to accomplish two things:

  • Relevance. When you search for keywords like “time management” or “jogging,” app stores want to give you results that reflect those interests, and will choose apps based on how they’re described to fulfill those needs.
  • Quality. When multiple apps are available, they’ll be ranked according to not only how relevant they are, but how high-quality they appear to be.

Your job as an app optimizer is to improve your app in both these areas, making sure it’s indexed in a way that reflects its main purpose and improving stores’ perceptions of its quality. There are several tactics you can use to achieve these ends.

App Names and Categories

Though Apple and Google stores offer a different technical setup, they both work in similar ways conceptually, so I’ll treat them both the same for the purposes of this article. Your first job is going to be naming your app, as your app name will be one of the strongest signalers of its relevance; for example, if someone searches for “Uber,” that’s a pretty strong indicator they want the “Uber” app.

It may be helpful to include at least one keyword within the name of your app that’s relevant to the function of your app to capitalize on basic keyword searches. For example, a keyword-optimized name for a diet tracker app might be something like “My Diet Tracker” – while it doesn’t have catchy brand name appeal, it’s easy to remember and will instantly have a leg-up on competing apps because of its keyword relevance.

After settling on an app name, you’ll need to choose a category, which will help your app be listed and categorized appropriately. Apple has an awesome guide on this subject.

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A Major Google Update On March 30th? I Don’t Think So.

Late last week, most of the automated tracking tools that monitor the Google search results fluctuation reported huge spikes and changes in the Google rankings. Often that would symbolize that there was an algorithm update at Google but this time, I don’t think so. I should clarify, I do believe some sites may have seen ranking increases or declines but this was not at the level of a Penguin, Panda or Fred or one of those Phantom updates – in my opinion.

What more likely happened was that Google changed something with the features showing up more often and that caused a lot of these tracking tools to light up. I spotted very very minimal webmaster chatter about ranking changes and webmasters complaining and rejoicing about these changes. I did spot some chatter but not significant levels.

Here are the tools that went off late last week:

Mozcast: click for full size

SERP Metrics: click for full size

Algoroo: click for full size

Acuranker: click for full size

RankRanger: click for full size

SEM Rush: click for full size

Pete Meyers from Moz did tweet that there was a huge jump in the knowledge panels showing up. Mozcast features showed a 7 point jump:

click for full size

RankRanger showed a significant jump in those types of results showing up in Google as well:

click for full size

So if I had to guess, that is what set off these tools – or most of them.

I do not think there was a major algorithm change late last week because the community at large is not complaining that much.

The ongoing WebmasterWorld thread has people simply talking about the tools but not any ranking changes. Black Hat forums also have very little chatter of recent updates.

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Google: There Were Other Updates Around The Release Of Fred

When I reported on the Fred update that hit on March 8th and came up with my analysis, I said several times – there were sites that 100% saw a dive in their Google traffic that did not match up with the other sites.

Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed over the weekend that when Fred was released, there were also other algorithms that touched down around the same time. Gary wrote on Twitter ” but there were a number of updates around the date @rustybrick declared Fred a single thing.” He added that each of these “updates” had other tasks and goals they accomplished outside of what Fred targeted.

I said 90%+ of the sites that I saw got hit and I reviewed at this point around 150 sites and Sistrix reviewed 300, all seemed to follow the low value content with ad revenue techniques. But other sites 100% got hit, like I said and those could have been hit because of link issues or other issues.

Gary Illyes confirmed here that if you were hit on March 7th or 8th, it could be Fred or it could be other issues that algorithms addressed. Which one were you hit by? Well, Fred seems fairly obvious and clear to see. So if you think your content is amazing, then maybe it is and maybe you weren’t hit by Fred. But like I said, 90%+ of the sites I reviewed were low-value content.

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Google: Again, We Don’t Use Facebook Likes In Rankings

Google Facebook Likes

Back, just about six years ago, Google told us Facebook likes don’t influence Google rankings and that statement remains true in 2017, just like it did in 2011. Gary Illyes from Google said the same thing yesterday on Twitter.

Truth is, I am surprised the question doesn’t come up more often. Why doesn’t Google use Facebook likes in rankings? Well, because the data can be blocked from Google to access it. Also because it can be easily manipulated. I suspect they tried to see if it would impact search quality at all but decided for probably one of those two reasons not to go forward with it.

Here is Gary’s tweet:

@methode I have way more Facebook likes than the next competitor why no rank higher?

As you see, Gary wrote “we don’t use Facebook likes to rank pages.”

And yes, it is a good topic to cover after six years.

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Google: Phantom Updates Are Core Algorithm Update

Google has been very quiet about what SEOs have been calling the “Phantom update.” The Phantom update has been floating around for the past couple years now, and we’ve covered it multiple times here. In fact, Glenn Gabe has likely done the most analysis of these so called phantom updates.

In any event, Google’s Gary Illyes kind of said on Twitter that these Phantom updates are the same as Google core updates. Meaning, these are basic quality updates to the search algorithm that Google will not confirm.

Roger Montti‎ asked him about it on Twitter and he responded:

Q: Why do SEOs call it the Phantom Update?
A: Because they don’t know WTF it is.
How close am I @methode ?

Interesting admission? Of course, we can’t know for sure if ALL the reported Phantom updates were “core” Google algorithm updates or just some.

Glenn Gabe I believe did name it and he confirmed it:

@martinibuster I named the May 2015 update Phantom because it was mysterious. The name stuck. 🙂 @methode@rustybrick

But yea, we can just speculate what these updates were if Google won’t comment on them. Can you blame us?

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