At the start of every month, I write an in depth post about important internet marketing news and interesting developments in my business. This month I’ve discussed Google Penguin (the fallout and the recovery), and also taken a closer look at a neglected area of on page SEO that massively impacts how many visitors your website gets.
I encourage you to leave a comment at the bottom of this article (I personally read them all and will publish them!), and if you find this article useful, help me spread the word by clicking the Facebook Like and Google +1 buttons 🙂
In my April Internet Marketing Update I told you about a friend of mine, Sam, whose income dropped from about $12,000/month to $6,000/month as a result of Google Penguin.
Sam was obviously pretty devastated by his loss of income, but he wasn’t the only one.
In the past month I’ve spoken to Sam about Google Penguin to get his thoughts on exactly why he lost his rankings.
I’ve also spoken to a range of other informed internet marketers including Steven Clayton and Tim Godfrey, Brian G Johnson, the Linking Made Easy team (who manage link building campaigns for 1000’s of websites) and numerous other successful internet marketers.
I’ve also personally analyzed and tracked the results of my own websites and those of my 1 on 1 student’s websites.
I’ve looked at a huge amount of “Google Penguin data” over the last 30 days and it’s pretty clear exactly why some people have lost their rankings, and others haven’t.
It all boils down to 2 main things:
- Anchor Text Optimization
- Link Relevancy
Anchor Text Optimization
Virtually everyone who suffered a loss in rankings from Google Penguin had heavily optimized their anchor text usage in their link building.
In other words, they were using their target keywords (the keywords they wanted to get rankings for) FAR too often in their anchor text (upwards of 40%).
Using the same anchor text (or just a couple of basic modifications) time and time again, just isn’t natural and Google calls it “Webspam”. It’s vitally important that you get plenty of anchor text variation in your links – failure to vary your anchor text WILL result in a loss of rankings.
The other reason people have lost rankings is because they don’t have enough related links. In other words, they don’t have enough links on other webpages related to their niche.
From discussions I’ve had with the SEO experts mentioned earlier in this post, we all agree that if you don’t have enough relevant links, it’ll count against you and you won’t be able to achieve the rankings you want.
From all the analysis I’ve done, it looks like you need to hit a certain threshold, a certain percentage of your links need to come from related webpages. Failure to get enough related links, and you won’t get rankings.
So what is the percentage of related links you need?
I’m not going to pretend I know the answer to this, I doubt anyone does, but an educated guess would say that around 15% of your links should come from related pages or related websites.
Google Penguin Recovery
In the past month, I’ve seen websites drop their rankings as a result of Google Penguin and recover them again.
Here’s a graph showing how one site has done just that:
WPMU.org was able to fix its link profile by balancing the ratio of related links and non-related links. It also balanced out the number of links that used targeted anchor text to those that don’t.
Once it’d done this, like clockwork, its rankings and traffic returned.
Two Big Lessons
If you take just one thing away from this blog post, I want you to remember the following:
- USE YOUR TARGET ANCHOR TEXT A MAXIMUM OF 40% OF THE TIME.
- GET AT LEAST 15% OF YOUR LINKS ON RELATED WEBSITES.
What If You Outsource Link Building?
As you may already know, I outsource about 99% of my link building to LinkingMadeEasy.com. I’ve worked closely with the Linking Made Easy team for several years now, and I’ve always been impressed with how they’ve stayed up to date with SEO methods.
Yesterday LinkingMadeEasy.com released a new link plan designed to increase the level of variation and relevancy you get from your links.
In addition to this, they’ve also rolled out a “Social” plan (very good value for money) designed to get you a steady stream of Facebook Likes, Google +1’s, Twitter Tweets and Pinterest Pins on a month-by-month basis.
Outsourcing the Facebook Likes and Google +1’s needs to be done responsibly.
Go to Fiverr.com and you’ll see a huge number of people offering to build you 100’s of Facebook Likes for $5.
This is SPAM.
It’s a complete waste of time paying $5 for a hundreds of Facebook Likes. It needs to be done slowly by people who have real Facebook account’s, this is what impresses me most about the new Linking Made Easy plan.
Learn more about Linking Made Easy at www.linkingmadeeasy.com
I now want to completely change the topic and talk about a simple error that I keep seeing over and over again in my students websites.
I’m talking about poor use of the Meta Title and Meta Description…
One Influential On-Page Factor That Everyone Neglects…
The Title and Description you give your webpages is one of the most important on-page SEO factors.
I’m not talking about the need to include your keyword in the title and description though, I’m talking about using these two spots to persuade searchers to click on your site over someone elses.
What many people seem to forget, is that people DO read website titles and descriptions and people DO click on the one that is most relevant/appealing to them. If you’re not doing so already, you need to start using your titles and descriptions as an opportunity to convince searchers that your site is the best match for what they’re looking for.
Time and time again, I see low quality titles and descriptions that are un-enticing and surely resulting in a poor CTR (click through rate) from the Google SERPs (search engine results pages).
A bad CTR means fewer visitors, and actually has a detrimental effect on your rankings as well.
Google uses your CTR as an indicator of how relevant your site is. If your CTR is low when compared to other sites with similar rankings, there’s a good your ranking could suffer.
If on the other hand you’ve got an above average CTR, your ranking will likely increase.
Let’s take a look at some examples of good and bad titles and descriptions for websites that are shown for the search term “new york city tours”:
Bad Title / Bad Description
The page title for this website, “NEWYORKCITY-TOURS.com”, gives the searcher absolutely no reason at all to click on it. The domain name does NOT look authoritative, it’s not particularly memorable, and doesn’t include any of the keywords that I’m actually searching for.
This title lacks authority and offers me no reason to keep reading the description. If I was searching for “New York City Tours” and saw this site, I’d ignore it and move on to the next option regardless of where it was ranking or what the description said.
Here’s an example of a good title, but a bad description:
Good Title / Bad Description
The title of this webpage is actually pretty good. It mentions what I’m looking for (New York City Tours) and also mentions other keywords that’ll most likely catch my attention (attractions, discounts etc).
The title isn’t perfect however, as it’s longer than 65 characters in length and as a result, it gets cut off.
The description of the webpage shown above is far from ideal.
It offers no real benefits or reason for me to click on it (remember, I’m looking for information about “New York City Tours”).
Let’s now take a look at an example of a bad title, and a good description.
Bad Title / Good Description
A website with a domain name like NewYork.com has a lot of automatic authority and instant appeal to searchers. The title could be a lot better however.
Here’s what the complete title looks like:
- NewYork.com | New York Tours and New York Attractions | New York Tour Reservations
In total, the above title is 69 characters long, more than Google’s maximum of 65 characters. Because of this, it’s been shortened by Google to:
- NewYork.com | New York Tours and New York Attractions | New …
The title would have been much better, more authoritative and enticing, if it’d been the following:
- NewYork.com | New York Tours and New York Attractions
A simple title like this would result in a higher click through rate which means more visitors and more sales to the NewYork.com website. On top of this, the high CTR would probably help newyork.com move up the rankings for this keyword.
What Are The Essentials of a Captivating Title & Description?
Let’s start with the title.
The title needs to instantly relate to what the searcher wants to find. If you’re only targeting 1 main keyword on each page on your website, this is pretty easy to do.
I like to include my main keyword first in the title and give each word a capital letter.
Sometimes, depending on the length of my keyword, I’ll add a few other descriptive, attention grabbing words to complete the title.
Let’s look at a few title examples for the keyword “athletes foot treatment”:
Athletes Foot Treatment – End Athletes Foot Problems Today
This title catches the searchers eye by using the exact keyword at the beginning of the title, and then emphasizes that the visitor will find out how to end athletes foot problems on the website.
Athletes Foot Treatment – Expert Advice & Recommendations
Like option 1, this title catches the searchers attention by using the exact keyword at the beginning of the title. The title then uses the word “Expert” to increase the perception of authority, another way to get a higher CTR.
Athletes Foot Treatment | FootProblems.com
The 3rd option again uses the exact match keyword at the beginning of the title, and then uses the authoritative domain name to increase the perception of authority. I only recommend putting your domain name in the title if you have an extremely authoritative sounding domain name (for example NewYork.com).
Any of the three title options above work extremely well.
Note: The title needs to be a maximum of 65 characters in length.
Now let’s take a look at possible descriptions for a webpage about athletes foot:
Athletes Foot Treatment: Discover a range of quick & easy treatment methods for Athletes Foot & find out how to prevent future fungal infections…
This description leads with the main keyword (further emphasis that the page is related to what the searcher wants) and then immediately highlights 2 big benefits the searcher will find on the webpage, “quick and easy treatment”. The description finishes with a 3rd reason to visit the site, how to prevent future fungal infections.
This description is well written and hammers home 3 big reasons why the searcher should choose to visit this website over others.
Discover a range of fast & effective Athletes Foot treatment options here today & learn 3 simple steps to prevent future fungal infection outbreaks.
The second example doesn’t lead with the main keyword, but does include it in the description. This description highlights “fast and effective treatments” as the main benefit, but also adds intrigue by telling the visitor they’ll discover “3 simple steps to prevent future infection”.
The use of numbers in a description can often make a big difference on the CTR, partly because they draw more attention, and partly because they offer an exact value of something that’ll be delivered.
Athletes Foot Treatment methods vary depending on the severity of the infection. Get expert advice about the treatment right for you here today…
The 3rd example description is a little different from the first two as it highlights “expert advice” and “the right treatment” as the main benefits to the searcher. This kind of description will work best for a keyword where it’s absolutely vital that the right advice is given and where the searcher places more importance on expert advice.
In the case of a keyword such as “athletes foot treatment”, I’d choose option 1 or 2 from the above examples.
A few things to remember about descriptions:
- Always include your target keyword.
- Always include at least 1-2 big reasons why the searcher should choose to visit your site (benefits of visiting).
- Always deliver on what you promise in your description.
Just as important as the Title and Description is the website domain name. If you choose a good, authoritative sounding domain name (such as “FootProblems.com”), you gain instant credibility.
Internet users are becoming smarter and smarter all the time, and domain names such as “HowToTreatAthletesFoot.com” (too long) or “Atheletes-Foot-Treatment.net” (looks unprofessional) just aren’t good enough these days.
Avoid long domain names, stick to a “.com” where possible, and make sure it sounds and looks authoritative.
Finally, if you’re not yet leveraging a Google Authorship image – it’s time to take action and use it – if you’re already in the top 10 for your keyword, you’ll get an immediate boost in traffic!
Thanks for reading, I look forward to sharing more soon!