Drupal SEO

Google Sandbox, Are we out yet?

A significant Google algo change and update happened over super bowl weekend. As with any update, many optimized sites dropped. However, this time it was a lot of sites, including many who have had top rankings for years. At the same time, many sites came out of the sandbox for the first time to rank well for competitive terms. This update, for the most part, did not affect our SEO clients. Two of our clients came out of the sandbox to get fantastic rankings; both are now in second position for their main keyword. What I find interesting, and has a lot of other SEO experts talking, is that this is the first mass exodus out of the sandbox. Many sites that came out have been waiting since March 2004. What happened to only having to wait six months? Do we really have to wait 11 months to get out? Is there a shortcut to get out sooner? A very interesting article www.socengine.com explores that very topic. The article concludes with six popular theories about how to shortcut the sandbox. Several SEO's claim to have escaped the sandbox quickly. IMO, none have provided adequate proof of a new website ranking well for truly competitive terms. I have seen no evidence of a shortcut out of the sandbox from our client’s sites and other sites we are involved, which represent a wide range of link building and on page optimization levels. To review the dozens of sites we have been involved with since March 2004:
  • Virtually all are registered with 5 to 25 directories when launched.
  • Most have some level of on page optimization that has them ranking well in Yahoo and MSN.
  • All sites launched after July 2004 were W3C HTML compliant, although some clients have made non-W3C compliant changes. Those that aren't 100% compliant still have relatively clean code (compared to a WYSIWYG site builders).
  • None have black hat techniques (unless the someone else has done it to the site) such as stealthing, keyword stuffing, etc.
  • Most sites are fairly static, yet some continuously have content being added or changed.
  • Some are brand new domains; some have been around for many years.
  • Some we host between four different IP blocks, some are hosted elsewere with completely independent IP blocks.
  • A few have steady, continuous link building both from manual link finding and some from natural linking (e.g. people like the site so much they link to it. Note: nFluentMusic.com is a SEO dream, it has people constantly linking to it because they are promoting themselves or just like the tools).
Out of these the only sites that have ranked well in Google in 2004 are those that had long standing domain names with significant link popularity. Our sites cover a broad range of business sites and none experienced a shortcut out. Every time someone claims they have quickly escaped the sandbox, it has turned out to be an urban legend. For now it looks like the new sites and existing sites with low link popularity may have to wait up to a year or longer before ranking well in Google. We should continue to recommend that clients who can benefit from search marketing do AdWords and Overture sponsored PPP ads, moderate link building and on-page optimization with an eye for Yahoo and MSN in the near term.

Google soups up search toolbar

Taken from news.com Google on Wednesday released a fresh version of its Web-searching toolbar with a trio of new utilities. Available free in beta at Toolbar.google.com, the downloadable software lets people search the Web from a static box on the Internet Explorer Web browser and block annoying pop-up ads. Version 3 of the software also lets people automatically check their spelling in Web forms; translate words in English into several languages; and add Web links to certain plain text. For example, an address could be enhanced with a hypertext link to its location on a map, with the click of a button on the toolbar. All these features add up to less cutting and pasting, said Marissa Mayer, Google's director of consumer Web products. The software joins a fleet of new toolbars from mainstream and niche Internet companies alike. Many such companies are trying to ingratiate themselves on consumer desktops for marketing purposes. Google, for example, makes money from sponsored listings that appear after people perform a Web search, whether it's from the desktop, the browser or its own site. Last week, Yahoo introduced a version of its search toolbar for the Firefox Web browser, which has quickly become a contender to Microsoft's dominant IE. Mayer would not comment on whether Google is developing a version for Apple Computer's Safari or Firefox Web browsers, but the search giant in recent months has developed deeper ties with the Mozilla Foundation, the open-source group that created Firefox. Google's newest toolbar will be in beta for two months, Mayer said, and will then be released more widely. Mayer indicated that the application does not follow Google's more limber policy on Web betas, which can last for several years.

Removed From Google Index, and Wondering Why? - Practices to Avoid: SE

Things we know, but would be good information for clients. Info taken from SEOchat.com | Written by: Tiberiu Bazavan It's true that no SEO can guarantee inclusion in the search engine indexes after performing an analysis. That is partly because the search engines themselves are not terribly specific about what practices will cause them to remove a website from their indexes. For example, what exactly is search engine spam? Google offers a short list of practices that fall under that heading, and therefore should be avoided: Hidden text or hidden links. Cloaking or sneaky redirects. Automated queries to Google. Pages loaded with irrelevant words. Multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content. "Doorway" pages created just for search engines, or other "cookie cutter" approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content. Here are some other rules to keep in mind, from Google's site: "Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you'd feel comfortable explaining what you've done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, 'Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?'" "Don't participate in link schemes designed to increase your site's ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or 'bad neighborhoods' on the web as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links." "Google may respond negatively to other misleading practices not listed here, (e.g. tricking users by registering misspellings of well-known web sites). It's not safe to assume that just because a specific deceptive technique isn't included on this page, Google approves of it." For more information, check Google's Webmaster Guidelines at http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html. Yahoo Search is even more restrictive in their definitions of spam and undesirables; however, concentration on detection and removal has not been receiving quite as much focus. It is important to be aware of and conform to Yahoo's restrictions, since Yahoo has no reacceptance policy. Banishment has been, in every case I've heard of, permanent. http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/ysearch/deletions/deletions-05.html