Sneaky Footer Links and Other Footer Abuses That Google Dislikes

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in Google News, Latest News, SEO News, test

In my 18 SEO Killers article from the end of last year, I mentioned footer links as a potential SEO problem. I know this confused many people because I didn’t explain what I meant by them. I didn’t mean that it’s bad to have any links in the footer of your website. But there are many specific types of footer links that Google’s Panda/Penguin filters do seem to have a problem with. In fact, it’s not always just links in the footer that can cause problems, but abuse of the footer area in general.

Let’s face it, most of your site visitors are never going to see stuff that is way, way, way down. Especially when there’s some visual indication that the page has ended. When a reasonable person sees your company address, copyright notice, and phone number at the bottom, they assume that’s all there is.

Is It for People or Search Engines?

If your pages still have a bunch of stuffed content or links below the normal viewing area, there’s a good chance you (or someone on your behalf) placed them there just for search engines. In fact, you probably don’t want the visitors to notice what’s down there. And who could blame you – most of the time it looks like crap! In fact, back in the old days you probably would have done it invisibly by making the text or links the same color as the background.

But today we all know that blatantly hidden content or links is just asking for trouble. So why don’t we think the same way about links and/or text that are so far down the page where most people won’t see them? Their specific placement at the bottom is not much different from actually making them invisible. Surely the intent is the same.

I’ve run across at least 5 footer abuse issues:

  • Content well below the fold.
  • Keyword phrases placed in the footer.
  • Lists of keyword-stuffed links in the footer.
  • Footer links that use different anchor text from the main navigation.
  • Links from other sites’ footers.

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

Content Well Below the Fold

This is an old technique usually implemented because the website designer or perhaps the CEO simply doesn’t like text on the page. They believe that web pages look more aesthetically pleasing when they’re visual. Yet they know search engines need content to provide some context as to what the page is all about so they compromise by putting some way below the fold.

And for many years this seemed to work perfectly fine. The search engines got content and the designers got their fancy-schmancy look. Well, guess what? People like content, too! And Google knows this just as well as you do. So they finally cracked down on pages where the text content was placed where the average person was unlikely to see it. Most of the time when I see this technique being used, the footer content is fairly keyword stuffed. But I believe it may still get discounted because it’s way down below the fold, even if it’s the best written, most relevant content in the world.

Recommendation: If you’ve been doing something like this on your site for whatever reason, I’d highly recommend removing the content altogether if it’s keyword stuffed and spammy sounding. If it’s professionally written, then redesign the page itself so that there’s an area where people can read it. They really do want to know what your site is all about! In many cases, you don’t need 250 words (or any particular amount). Just a few sentences at the top of your pages is often plenty to ‘provide context for both people and search engines.

Lists of Keyword Phrases Placed in the Footer

I’ve seen these range from just one keyword phrase…

…to an entire list of keyword phrases. Some are even so bold as to explain to both people and search engines that what they’re listing is just keywords:

There’s obviously no reason other than search engines to do stuff like this on your website. And again, like most techniques that got Pandalized/Penguinized, they may have worked at one point, but Google got smarter.

Recommendation: If you’re doing this, STOP! If those words are important to explain what the page is all about, then they should be featured in the page content itself. If they’re not relevant, then that particular page of your site shouldn’t show up in Google for those keywords anyway because it’s a bad user experience.

Keyword-Stuffed Links in the Footer

This can range from just a few extra footer links to hundreds of them. Many times they’re just on the home page, but sometimes they’re on every page. The theory behind this technique is that people mistakenly believe that the home page of a site has some special power to pass extra link popularity to the pages linked from it. So they try to increase the rankings of some pages that would otherwise be buried by linking to them in the footer.

In some cases, the pages they link to are simply doorway pages and not even a real part of the site (yes, in 2013 even!) with the only link to them in the footer. Often they link to auto-generated, keyword-stuffed junk pages that don’t even make sense. The scary thing is, I’ve seen reputable companies do this as a way to pick up additional keyword traffic that they wouldn’t otherwise get. The problem is that today’s Google may not just ignore or penalize the bad pages, but could potentially penalize the entire site. Even if you’re linking to the real pages of your site in the footer, if they’re not a duplicate of what you’re linking to in your main global navigation they could be suspected of being there for search engines only – especially if they’re keyword stuffed.

Recommendation: Of course it’s fine to simply repeat what’s in your top navigation down in your footer so that people don’t have to scroll all the way to the top to get around. It’s only when you’ve got a lot more going on downstairs than upstairs that it may cause Google problems. Obviously, if you’re linking in your footer to auto-generated pages, you need to remove those links (and their resulting pages) ASAP. If you’re linking to actual pages of your site that aren’t already contained within your global navigation – WHY? If they’re truly important pages, you should be linking to them from the global navigation. If you’re just trying to push some extra internal link popularity to them, you may be doing the exact opposite. By linking to so-o-o-o many pages of your site, you’re giving every page of your site less link popularity because you’re spreading it too thinly. And if you feel it’s a great way to get new pages crawled and indexed, you’d be much better served by submitting an auto-generated XML sitemap to Google using your Webmaster Tools account.

Footer Links That Use Different Anchor Text From the Main Navigation

We all know that in the past Google has given lots of weight to anchor text (the words in the clickable part of a link). Therefore, some people duplicate the links contained within their top global navigation in their footer, but with different anchor text. I can’t say for sure if this is a problem in and of itself, but chances are it could set off some red flags with Google. Even more so if the anchor text is repetitive or keyword stuffed from link to link. The fact that those particular keywords are being used where fewer people will see could certainly look suspicious.

Recommendation: Keep the anchor text fairly similar to what’s in the global navigation, if not totally the same.

Links From Other Sites’ Footers

This type of footer link isn’t on your own site, but on someone else’s. Many sites will sell links, but they don’t want them to be prominently featured because they don’t want their users clicking away to someone else’s site. So they stick them way down in their footer, usually in a fairly light text and/or small font. In other cases, the business owners own lots of different sites, so they link to them all in the footer. Many of the latter sites seem to exist only in order to cross-link to other sites. Again, while this may have worked like a charm in the past, it’s most likely going to cause you grief today.

Recommendation: Of course it’s fine to link to your own sites where it makes sense within your other sites, so don’t worry about that. But if you don’t want to link prominently to them, it’s likely not a link that Google will want to count for anything. And of course if you’ve paid for links from other websites’ footers, you’d be better off having them removed at this point. There’s rarely a good explanation for a tiny link in someone’s footer other than strictly for fake link popularity purposes.

In general, I like to think that my advice on footer links and footer content is common sense. However, I was consulting with someone the other day who told me that there were two schools of thought about it. She had spoken with another SEO firm who told her it was a good thing! Rest assured that there are not two legitimate schools of thought on this topic. Anytime you’re doing something on your site that you hope real people don’t
actually see, it’s “web spam” plain and simple. Thankfully, Google has finally figured out how to combat most of it.

If you’ve lost a good percentage of your targeted Google traffic, review the footer area of your site to ensure that you’re not abusing it.

Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings, an SEO Consulting company in the Boston, MA area
since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen. If you learned from this article, be sure to invite your colleagues to sign up for the High Rankings Advisor SEO Newsletter so they can receive similar articles in the future!

Post from: SiteProNews: Webmaster News & Resources

Sneaky Footer Links and Other Footer Abuses That Google Dislikes

The Changing Face of Campaign Management

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in Blogging News, Latest News, SEO News, Social Media News, test

Few aspects of running a successful business have changed more drastically in the last few years than campaign management. More specifically, the content included in campaign management has shifted from a traditional distribution platform and into the world of mobile marketing.

Content marketing has always been a process filled with trial and error. That is truer today than ever, especially with new trends that have recently emerged and additional strategies on the horizon for 2013. Those people who can identify these trends and learn from them have a great opportunity to position themselves for success. Those who cannot identify the trends and fail to learn from their mistakes are doomed to be left behind.

The changing landscape

In the past, campaign management was much more broadly focused than it has become. The goal was to get your brand in front of as many people as possible. With the landscape transitioning toward not just a mobile environment but a social one, these methods are no longer able to guarantee the same type of success. The message itself — that your brand or product is the solution to a customer’s problem or needs — has not necessarily changed. The delivery method, on the other hand, has changed drastically.

Campaign management has focused on a variety of different areas. Promotion through social networks like Facebook and Twitter allows users to share information about a product more easily than they’ve been able to in the past. Likewise, targeted e-mails designed for mobile devices allows those customers to carry your message with them wherever they go.

One of the key components to successful campaign management in a mobile environment is the identification of unique buyer personas. Accurate customer analysis can help you more easily identify why a specific type of person is more likely to be interested in your brand over that of a competitor’s and vice versa. It can help you identify why your brand is most likely to be important to a particular segment of the population and how your product can help make their lives better.

New trends for a New Year

The continued use of social media marks one of the biggest continuing trends throughout the campaign management landscape. Ten years ago, it was common for every brand, product or service to have its own website. Now, many brands focus primarily on Facebook pages and dedicated Twitter profiles to spread their message. Companies will continue to focus on building loyalty-based relationship with customers. As in all relationships, however, those companies must realize a relationship is a two-way street. The customer needs to have the ability to opt out of any aspect of a relationship they don’t like, enjoy or actively agree with, including campaign delivery methods like e-mails and SMS text messages.

The face of campaign management has always evolved naturally over time, but it has never evolved as quickly or as drastically as it has in the past few years. To succeed in the ever-changing landscape, you and your company need to identify not only where the industry is, but where it is going. Failure to do so will result in your brand being left behind as customers flock to those who are more accurately able to meet their needs and desires in a new, mobile world.

Joseph Baker has worked in the business world for more than 10 years, specifically in management. He has led development and management teams, and implemented budget reductions both professionally and as an independent contractor. He is also an avid blogger and inbound marketer, with published topics ranging from social media trends to search media metrics and algorithmic trends.

Post from: SiteProNews: Webmaster News & Resources

The Changing Face of Campaign Management

Facebook Graph Search Not a Google Killer

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in Google News, Latest News, SEO News, test

Recently, Facebook unveiled Graph Search, its new search engine. The early beta application does not work in the same way that Google works – but Foursquare and Yelp might have cause for concern.

Full disclaimer first: I was not one of the lucky ones who actually got to try Graph Search. When I finally got the Graph Search page to work, after multiple attempts, the button I got at the bottom of the page was for joining the waiting list. Instead, I sifted through a lot of commentary and reviews that demonstrated how the search worked and speculated on its future. I concluded that, in principle at least, Graph Search is neither better nor worse overall than Google; it’s simply different.

So how does it work? Facebook Graph Search taps into the various “likes” and other data that users have entered into the social network, and then returns answers based on what it knows about you and your friends, and what information has been made public. So if you typed in “friends who live in San Francisco,” for instance, you’d get a list of all of your Facebook friends who live in that city. That’s great if you’re planning a visit to the area.

Where the search shines, however, is with all of the modifiers you can attach to it. This reminds me ever so slightly of the search engine Blekko, which uses hash tags to modify its searches. Facebook Graph Search seems to use natural language, however, and seems to be trying to reach a different market.

So how would Graph Search work in a real life situation? I live in the Orlando area, but later this month I’m going to see the musical “Wicked,” which is playing in Tampa. I don’t get out to Tampa very often, but I do have a number of friends on Facebook who live there. I could use Graph Search to look for the restaurants in Tampa that my Tampa friends liked, so I can get a nice dinner before the show. Similarly, in a video posted on TechCrunch, Josh Constine demonstrated that one could use Graph Search to find dentists liked by your friends. That’s genuinely valuable information – much better than you can get from Google.

You can also use Graph Search to look for photos, posted by your friends or publicly available. You don’t have to limit yourself to recent photos, either. Remember that awesome Grand Canyon trip one of your beer buddies took five years ago that he keeps talking about? Search for photos taken at the Grand Canyon before 2008 and you just might find his pictures. Or perhaps you’d like to see pictures that are even older? Believe it or not, you can find those, too. The article I linked to recommends somewhat whimsical searches such as “photos of me taken before 1990” or “photos of my parents between 1970 and 1979” (if you’re wondering what they looked like when they were “cool”).

You can also search based on interests. So if you want to form a local bicycle club, say, you can search for people in your area who like bicycling. Or if you’re a big Star Wars fan, you can search for friends who share that interest. You can even combine interests, to search for friends who enjoy both Star Wars and costuming (to invade your next science fiction convention in group costumes, perhaps?).

And of course, you can search for places. This is why I said that Foursquare should be worried. You can search for places your friends have been. You can search for photos of places, as I’ve noted above. You can even just search for places by city.

But what if your filtered Facebook Graph Search doesn’t yield any results? The social network has negotiated a deal with Bing . Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that he would love to work with Google, but the search giant wasn’t quite flexible enough to protect Facebook’s members’ privacy. To do that, according to Zuckerberg, you need the infrastructure in place to quickly take down photos and such when users change their privacy settings. Apparently Bing offered that, and Google didn’t. (If any of this sounds more than a little fishy or laughable to you, well, you’re not alone).

Just how well will Graph Search work? Steve Cheney points out one of the social network’s stumbling blocks: dirty “Likes.” How many times have you wanted to compete in a contest or get a free sample from a company, but you could only do it if you “liked” the firm’s Facebook page? I’m pretty conservative about that myself, and I know I’ve done it a number of times. But those aren’t real “likes,” if you know what I mean. What kind of answers will Graph Search return when it’s full of dirty data like this? Not very good ones, I’m sure…which is one reason I said that it’s not a Google killer.

On the other hand, advertisers will no doubt appreciate Graph Search, once Facebook figures out how to monetize it. Right now, though, I’d look at it as one search method among many for finding the kind of information you need. Cheney said it best: “Offline we consult different places, people, and resources, and you will do the same with social networks and web services online.”

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