SEO Review: April 30, 2012

It should be noted that Google rolled out a big update last week.  The aim of it was to devalue sites using tricks to increase their ranking.  Basically they’re trying to make sure that relevant sites rank higher than sites that are trying to rank high for other reasons, which I think mainly has to do with websites trying to surreptitiously sell things or ones where the main goal is to click ad links.

There’s been a lot of backlash.  Though it’s been fixed now, there was one website that ranked on page 1 of the Google search engine results for something like “make money online” that had literally no content on the page.  From reading responses to Google’s announcement, it appears that a good number of legitimate websites have also taken huge hits.

While I have seen that a couple of the sites we’re working on had a few search phrases that had big drops, overall there were positive gains made with just about every campaign this week.  Most of my clients are at a level where one of the main things we do is build links to their websites.  It’s no secret as it’s specifically stated on our SEO page.  However, I think that with Google’s emphasis on de-emphasizing sites whose main goal is to make you click ads or affiliate links, informational sites have been pushed up.  Since all the sites we optimize are legitimate businesses with legitimate content, I think it seems to have helped out.

In light of all this, I’m going to mention the net gain for each site this week.  That is, I’ll tell you how many spots a site moved up total.  Keep in mind that several of them already have search phrases ranked #1, meaning they have no chance of moving up anyway.

Joe’s SEO Campaign

Nine #1’a and 24 in the top 10, which is one less than last week.  However, we do have a phrase that moved up to #2 and another that moved up to #3.  The net gain this week was only +2, but again, we’ve got a lot of terms at the top.

Eric’s SEO Campaign

Eric’s campaign’s net gain this week is +193.  Yes, the total of forward and backward movement in the search engines this week was a total of 193 spots forward.  This site seems to be a big beneficiary of Google’s changes.

These gains came primarily on the backs of three search phrases which shot up 41 and 51 spots to move a couple of them to page one and one that went up 61 spots to land on page two.  I do remain skeptical of these results though, as these three phrases in particular have done a lot of Google dancing in and out of being in the top 100 for a couple months.

Still, with those two moving up so well along with a couple others, we’ve gone from three #1’s and fifteen top 10’s last week to three #1’s and 18 in the top ten.  There are also phrases ranked #11, #12 (from the middle of page three last week), #13 (unranked last week) and #14 right behind them.

Josh’s SEO Campaign

Josh’s site posted a net gain of +71 this week.  A few phrases that have tended to dance in and out of the top 100 were included in this though, so I used 100 as a baseline counter.  That means if it entered at #70 I counted it as +30.  If it dropped from #70 I counted it as -30.

Josh’s two main search phrases remain high, one at #1 and one at #3, both of them showing a #3 ranking in Google Places results as well.

Nilesh’s SEO Campaign

Nilesh’s site has had mixed results from the Google update, which is a bit of a surprise to me.  The one-page optimized domain actually suffered, thought it had been doing better than the company name domain.  This in spite of the fact that some people were complaining in the comments section of the Google article that an unfair emphasis seemed to have been placed on keyword-specific domain names.

The business name site posted a net +13, though this is an example of a campaign where all the terms are ranking decently well already, and there are only ten search phrases.  This domain has one #1, five #5’s and two #6’s.  Every phrase went up except the #1 (of course), one of the #6’s and a #11.  There’s a little bit of wiggle from day to day with these search phrases, but no major Google dancing, making me believe these will remain pretty steady.

The keyword domain was the only campaign I’m tracking that had a net loss at -79.  That sounds bad, but one phrase dropped 35 spots and another one 21, and neither of these phrases are primary goals.  In fact, one of them doesn’t even appear on the site at all, so the fact that it shows up at all has always been considered a plus to me.

Outside of those two search phrases, all the rest are still in the top 10, with one being ranked #1.  So like I said, the net -79 sounds bad, but in actuality it really isn’t a major blow.

I also think that the issue with the ranking might be the fact that it’s duplicate content.  The keyword domain is parked on a page in the business domain, so they’re both the exact same.  It appears that Google has decided the business domain is the more important one and is giving it priority moving forward.

Bryce’s SEO Campaign

Hmm, I realize now that I just lied.  Bryce’s campaign also showed a net loss at -3.  One phrase dropped one spot to #14 and another dropped two to #30.  That said, all the rest remain unchanged: five are ranked at #1 and three are ranked at #2.  Not a whole lot of room for gain with the majority of the terms, which is a good thing in this case.

Chad’s SEO Campaign

Consistency.  The rankings for this campaign are still looking for it.  Last week we had two phrases drop out of the top 100, but one emerged in it.  This week we had two drop out and two return.  The good news is that the two that dropped were in the 70’s and 80’s, and the two that came back in are both in the 50’s.  These results are dancing like a Whirling Dervish.

The good thing is that the one phrase that has consistently ranked well, which is the one I think has the  best chance of being monetized (as this is for an ecommerce website) has reached its top ranking to date at #10.  Yes, we’ve achieved page one status for one phrase in less than a month.  Aside from an initial drop when I had to change the meta tags a little, this site has been pretty consistent, so I think this term will continue to do well.

Larry’s SEO Campaign

Welcome Larry to the SEO Review.  Larry is a client of my former boss, who does strictly on-site SEO and consultation.  He was wanting to know what sort of off-site help he could get, so my old boss referred him to me.  As most of the on-site work I would do is already being done by the old boss, I cut Larry a deal, since I don’t have to do as much.  I did go ahead and set up the rank tracking though, because I wanted to easily see for myself how things were going from day to day while we work on his site.

In addition to working on links for Larry, I also optimized all of his YouTube videos.  They all contain (non-working text) links back to his site as well as a mention of his company in the description and tags.  I’ll be interested to see how that affects traffic, since I don’t know if it’ll do much to specifically help with his rankings.

At the moment Larry is at -25 from when we started.  GASP!  Calm down just a minute.  22 of those points come from a phrase that was ranked #68 and sits at #90 today and has been bouncing a little.  In fact, almost all of Larry’s search phrases have been bouncing a bit.  I think they’ll all settle and start moving up though.  He’s got a decent keyword domain and good domain age and the site was rebuilt with good, clean code a few months ago, so I think Google will recognize these things and move it up after it settles into being linked to. A bit of initial bouncing (most of the phrases went up or down a spot or two during the week) is, as you’ve seen if you’ve been tracking this blog for a while, not unexpected.

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