Everspark’s What’s New In the World of Google meeting last Wednesday (12/11/2013) brought in a great crowd of professionals all hungry to learn more about Google’s latest updates, tips and tricks. Continuing their passion for educating not only their staff, but also the local community, Everspark throws open its doors every Wednesday from 8-9:30am. Basically, if you’ve ever found yourself asking the simple question, “How does Google work,” then this is the place for you.
When asked why did Everspark start hosting these weekly meetups, co-founder Jason Hennessey stated, “Studying Google has been my personal passion since 2001. While I originally envisioned this meet-up as an ESI staffers brainstorming session, I realized that by opening up this forum to other like minded individuals, Everspark could indirectly contribute to the success of their businesses – which is important to us. However, we could also benefit from their knowledge and participation.”
You can join next week’s meeting on Wednesday, December 18th 2013 by RSVP’ing on the Meetup.com link below. Can’t make the meeting? No problem. ESI will be providing catch up notes should you need to take a raincheck.
The meetup takes place at the EverSpark Interactive offices located at:
6 Concourse Parkway, Suite 900
Atlanta, GA 30328
RSVP here – http://www.meetup.com/Whats-New-In-the-World-of-Google-Everspark-Interactive/
Last Week’s Recap:
Google’s Search Quality Team & The Return of The Humans
Google is an ever-changing animal, and releases updates so regularly it can be difficult to keep up with the changes. When Google was in its infancy and the “dark arts” of SEO were new, getting to the top of the search pile was mostly about three elements: keyword stuffing, meta tags and anchor texts. Though they were effective, they were also being abused, and Google then needed to look at a new way in which to ensure their search results were not full of overly-spammy, useless links.
That’s where the humans came in. Google Guru, Matt Cutts, leads the Webspam team at Google, and works with the search quality team on search engine optimization issues did a very informative video on how humans factor into search.
What Does Google Actually Look For?
While the video is very informative, even more interesting is having a read through the leaked 2013 Google General Guidelines document. You can click below to have a read through the document, and Jason will be fielding questions regarding it at the next ESI meet-up.
Download the document here:
What About Hummingbird?
Google’s new Hummingbird release has placed greater emphasis on social media and the signals your site is sending out. In short, it would appear that Google previously had some large limitations when trying to factor in social signals as part of a ranking factor. For example, a recent study done on SearchEngineLand.com showed that using the “share” button for Google+ did not actually impact rankings whatsoever. However, during a discussion with the site’s Danny Sullivan, it was hinted that this is not far off from being a reality, and Hummingbird is just the first part of that.
The Importance of Unique Content
One of the most important factors for websites looking to move up in the Google search engine stakes is providing unique, quality content. “The main point,” says Jason, “is to add new pages of content often, showing that you care about your site. If your site isn’t regularly updated with good content, then Google will assume you’re not taking it seriously. So why should they take you seriously?” The key here is unique. While it may seem the easiest solution to simply re-purpose articles from other sites, putting in links and quotes to the originals, this may find you being accused of “stitching,” which can lead to a very dark downfall on both rankings and even your site being blacklisted for flagrant abuse.
Matt Cutts explores the issue of stitching and combining content in his video clip, saying that this kind of practice will have you “headed for heartbreak.”
Getting Penalties and Using Disavow
Seeing as Google is giving a heavy focus to relevant, fresh content, these days they’re more likely to take stronger actions for what it views as repeated violations. Sadly this can also happen to perfectly legitimate companies who are unknowingly engaging in stitching content. So what’s a site to do when they find themselves in this situation? One of the first things a site can do is to use what is known as the “disavow tool” to start removing spamming links or bad content. This can be found under Google Webmaster Tools, and can go a long way to help a site recover.
Matt Cutts discusses some of the in’s and out’s of using this tool in this Google Webmaster Help Video.
Timeframes for recovery can vary tremendously, and can take anywhere from days to even months depending on the strength and continued use of the violation. If you do get a penalty, getting your cleanup done becomes key. Be sure to document everything so you are able to engage with Google and work with them towards removing it. If Google feels like you are stringing them along, it will only get worse.
In addition we also watched the following videos:
What’s On Next Weeks Agenda?
In next week’s meeting, we’ll be exploring the Google General Guidelines 2013 document, so be sure to come armed with questions. Additionally, Jason will be giving a tutorial on how to scrape Google’s massive auto-complete database to find long tail keyword opportunities. We’d also like to hear from you about specific topics you might be interested in that you’d like covered. We look forward to seeing you there!