Last week, at SMX West San Jose, representatives from both Google and Bing admitted to manually adjusting search results under certain circumstances. This is good information to have if your wholesale merchandise site was penalized with the recent Farmer-Panda update. For years, Google has insisted its rankings are determined algorithmically without manual manipulation. However, partly due to an EU complaint by UK-based vertical search engine Foundem, Google has recently admitted that websites are not 100 percent machine ranked.
Many websites were recently penalized by algorithm changes at Google. Some saw their rankings disappear because of Google’s Farmer-Panda Update, which was implemented to improve the quality of search results. Many so-called content farms were producing low-quality content and ranking highly in search results at the dismay of users and critics. Other sites saw their rankings tank because of issues with Google’s linking policy. There’s been havoc in the SERPs for quite a few sites, and this article is aimed at any wholesale merchandise sites that may have lost rankings for their most important keywords.
Google’s latest update was “designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites.” Google “looked at a variety of signals to detect low quality sites” and also stated, “…it’s important for webmasters to know that low-quality content on part of a site can impact a site’s ranking as a whole.” Google’s advice to webmasters is “…if you believe you’ve been impacted by this change you should evaluate all the content on your site and do your best to improve the overall quality of the pages on your domain. Removing low quality pages or moving them to a different domain could help your rankings for the higher quality content.”
While Google initially said the update affected 12 percent of websites, Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz reported the results of a poll conducted 5 days after the update and found it affected 40 percent of SEOs and webmasters negatively. In case you were one of the sites affected negatively, below are some options to pursue.
If you believe you were unjustly penalized despite the fact that you think your site has unique and quality content, you can go to your Google Webmaster Tools account and do the following.
• Investigate which pages lost significant rankings.
• Read through those pages carefully.
• It may be they were created a long time ago, and the content is not as good or as current as it should be.
• Look for misspellings, broken links or code, check for unique titles relevant to the page content, etc., ensuring that SEO Best Practices are met.
• Ask yourself if the information is current and still important to your audience.
• If the information on the pages in question is not unique and of value to your audience, do as Google suggests and move this content to a different domain.
• Also look at the ads on the page. If there are too many ads relative to the content, you can either remove some ads or move the page to a different domain.
• Google does not like ads to be in the content area, so ensure the ads are placed correctly on the page.
• If you have more ads than content, that could be a problem.
• If you have AdSense, the Google ad team can make suggestions for positioning ads on the page.
Once you’re gone through your site adjusting content, you can Request Reconsideration of Your Site in Google Webmaster Tools. Before you do that, be sure to watch the Google video on why your site may not be appearing in search results and how to get it reconsidered. If all else fails and you still think you were unjustly penalized, ask for a review from Google’s Quality Search Team. Get more information on Matt Cutts’ blog, Gadgets, Google, and SEO.