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Gaming Google In The Gaming Industry
Bob Sakayama
2013-03-23 18:27:43
2012 SEO Disasters | Solutions
Bob Sakayama
2012-12-16 14:03:29
Google May Be Quietly Acknowledging Negative SEO
Bob Sakayama
2012-08-30 15:29:12
Unnatural Links Warning
Bob Sakayama
2012-07-25 17:05:11
Penguin Inadvertently Makes Paid Links More Valuable
Bob Sakayama
2012-04-29 14:01:46
Occupy Google
Bob Sakayama
2011-11-04 12:57:49
Google Has Lost The War Against Paid Links
Bob Sakayama
2011-05-07 16:33:19
Google Penalties Now Called Manual Actions
Bob Sakayama
2011-04-23 16:27:14
Google Bomb Today
Ryan Urban
2011-04-11 17:05:11
Penalized Site Seeks Help:
Valmir Fernandes
2011-03-17 17:56:06
Did The Hammer Come Down On Content Aggregators
Bob Sakayama
2011-03-02 22:22:24
Enterprise Search Manipulation
Bob Sakayama
2011-02-19 19:12:08
Google Has A Huge Cloaking Problem
Bob Sakayama
2011-01-21 20:33:20
A Sorry Tale of a Google Penalty in Action
Dr. Marc Pinter-Krainer
2010-12-13 11:46:50
A New Google Penalty
Bob Sakayama
2010-11-28 21:49:40
The Archive Link Magnet
Bob Sakayama
2010-08-12 20:39:05
Coping With The Loss of Link Metrics
Bob Sakayama
2010-07-25 03:10:26 Penalized
2010-07-22 15:19:42
Automating Compliance Via CMS
Rev Sale
2010-07-15 22:43:15
Caffeine May Have A Hidden Cost
Bob Sakayama
2010-07-08 11:35:34
Google Penalties And Nuked Domains
Bob Sakayama
2009-11-28 21:09:30
When Google Doesn't Like Your Business Model
2009-11-09 12:41:20
Search Compliance For Subdomains
2009-11-09 11:51:10
Google Penalty Solutions - An Example Unwind
Bob Sakayama
2009-11-04 21:21:01
Maintaining Search Compliance via CMS
2009-11-03 22:35:15
Still Reeling From The Affiliate Slap
2009-11-02 22:47:01
Most Popular Penalties
Bob Sakayama
2009-11-01 22:06:52
Link Obfuscation Necessary On New Sites
Rev Sale
2009-11-01 21:46:56
By: Bob Sakayama
2012-12-16 14:03:29
The 2012 Disasters

2012 was a truly disastrous year for sites penalized in Google. The length of time sites remained in penalties jumped from 1-6 months to a scary undetermined time frame. The majority of medium to large sites (10,000+ urls) that were harmed by Penguin are still penalized, and those that have seen their ranks return have not fully recovered. Many of these sites watched as repeated updates to both Penguin and Panda continued to tank their ranks even as efforts to correct the problems were underway. Smaller sites fared better, but only because the smaller number of links meant that their link profiles were easier to cleanse.

SEOs Are The Problem

From my vantage point, seos were always the primary cause of the penalties, and this was no different in 2012. More than 90% of the penalties we see are triggered by the "experts" and those experts have paid a price. Depending on the news source, between 60-75% of seo agencies were forced to close their doors in 2012 as clients abandoned these contractors who crashed and burned their ranks. Those that survived have had to dramatically alter their claims and strategies, especially link building services.

Outsourcing SEO : Caveat Emptor

2012 was also a disaster for most sites that relied on outsourced seo. And of the 90% mentioned above, almost all were hiring offshore services to do the bulk of the work. As a result, using cheap, offshore workers to guide the optimization of a site is now a deprecated strategy. Unfortunately the agencies and individuals that triggered the penalties are still advertising their services, and we can see that they have not really addressed the problems, only the sales messages. This is most likely because they don't fully understand what caused the problems for their clients in the first place. But also because site owners, intent on saving money, continue to look for cheap, outsourced seo, and continue to hire based on price. Clueless business owners will continue to suffer the consequences of focusing on the low cost providers - and they are abundant. A search for outsourced seo services reveals a huge number of companies and individuals making claims of seo competence that do not line up with the specific services they list.

Negative SEO

The disasters of 2012 would be incomplete without mention of negative seo, the use of strategies aimed at destroying ranks of a competitor. The door was opened to this evil by the indiscriminate enforcement actions of Google. Since no one can know who posted the unnatural links that Penguin flags, the same outsourced work that once pushed your ranks could now be used to harm your competition. Once denied as possible, the evidence is in and victims have finally been heard. The numbers of naysayers have collapsed - negative seo IS possible.

Harsher Enforcement Triggers More Significant Google Penalties

One of the most value pieces of information that I am privy to comes in the responses to reconsideration requests. Google will sometimes (when you've filed many recons and can show progress with each) send you some examples of your unnatural links. This is where we can see the changes occurring in the way Google perceives these problem links. For example, we assumed that links from certain kinds of very widespread listings were probably being discounted. We were surprised to learn that links in directories or on reciprocal links pages, if on valuable anchors, are considered unnatural. Many of the directories charged listing fees which makes the links considered paid, so that one is completely understandable, but the harmful reciprocal link examples were a stunner - because at one time Google encouraged reciprocal links. Imagine, if you took that suggestion in 2001, worked it, and did nothing else, your site could be penalized in Google right now. These recent penalties are the harshest ever, but by observing the changes in enforcement, we have important clues as to how Google now views links.

Solution: Centrally Manage Your SEO Strategy

The starting point for managing the risk associated with search is to recognize and accept the fact that SEOs are at the root of the problem. Examine the way your enterprise views optimization. If your business is search dependent, optimization is EVERYTHING, so handing over the responsibility for ranking a site to someone offshore is probably the riskiest thing you can do. The decision makers need to bring accountability for optimization to rest WITHIN the organization. The smart way to exploit cheap labor is not to hand them the keys and walk away, but to limit the work executed by that labor to specific, measurable tasks that originate from a central seo authority within the enterprise. This will increase costs & workload, and may require the hiring of a high level expert you can trust to oversee and be held accountable for the work. That will definitely require more resources, but this change in approach will also decrease risk, which has become one of the new mandates for any work done on a website.

Solution: More Transparency From Google

2012 saw a significant increase in messaging from Google, via Webmaster Tools. For the past 2 years, those messages have included warnings of doorway detection and unnatural links, in addition to technical warnings of server issues. But the most valuable messages are now sent via email from WMT, something you won't even see unless you connect an email address to your WMT account and request email notification. These emails often carry significant details specific to your case. We discussed above how these messages contribute to our understanding of what are now the new standards for a search compliant environment. We applaud Google for any new effort toward transparency, but feel there is huge need for much more transparency - for all manual actions, and especially for long penalized sites.

Solution: The New Google Link Disavow Tool

The disavow tool is an intended solution, potentially critical. Although Google claims the tool is to address bad seo, I see it as also an attempt by Google to address & downplay the outcry caused by the proliferation of negative seo as a consequence of Penguin. We don't believe it's fully implemented as yet - still waiting for evidence of efficacy.

But there's a catch. Nowhere on the disavow tool is there any messaging about a requirement to first attempt to remove links as suggested by Cutts in the video (url below). But information from responses to recon requests confirms that disavows will not be honored until you make an effort to remove the links first. The money paragraph:

"Once you have updated your site, reply to this email noting the specific changes you made. Only after there has been a significant decrease in unnatural linking will we consider reviewing your reconsideration request again. If there are links to your site that cannot be removed, you can use the disavow links tool. Please note that simply disavowing links will not be enough to make a reconsideration request successful; we will also need to see good-faith efforts to get inorganic links removed from the web wherever possible. For more information on the disavow links tool, see this blog post:"


2012 was a dreadful year to suffer a Google penalty, because those penalties are now harsher, and as a result more enduring and difficult to unwind. But very important markers have been laid out by Google, signaling that new rules are now in play, not all of which are known. This makes the risk of inadvertently crossing one of those invisible red lines significantly greater. Robust, technical search knowledge has always been an advantage, but now, even more than ever, competing in the search requires risk management as a first step. Internal accountability is key. Can you say for certain who is the one person within your organization responsible for the search performance of your enterprise? If you're managing the risk properly, you can answer this question.

Blog_id: 38 | Posted: 2012-12-16 14:03:29 | Views (12,549) | Comments (3)  
Comment By: lauren
re: 2012 SEO Disasters | Solutions
(posted 2012-12-16 20:53:09)

This post has more meat than most blogs have in 10 posts. Kudos, Bob!

Comment By: kundi
re: 2012 SEO Disasters | Solutions
(posted 2012-12-17 06:37:57)

"simply disavowing links will not be enough to make a reconsideration request successful; we will also need to see good-faith efforts to get inorganic links removed from the web wherever possible"

So, what does it matter to google in terms of the
inorganic liks out there??? Gogle has already discounted the value of these links (and can do so even without manual action) so why of why do we have to show good faith!! Are we dealing with a "not for profit", charity or a religious institution that we have to show faith, espically when their software can deal and discount these links?

I'm seriously thinking of a public uprising against google/paid adwords and not business like (God) behaviour. Look how such action changed Starbucks and its tax situation in the UK..

Comment By: Mike
re: 2012 SEO Disasters | Solutions
(posted 2012-12-17 15:26:39)

Our site is under a negative seo attack, but we can't use the disavow tool without first removing the links that WE DID NOT POST? WTF

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