Archives for December 2013 | Aqueous Digital

Archive for “December, 2013”

Making a Splash

Welcome to our New Aqueous Digital Website

The new Aqueous site has arrived with a splash!

Digital marketing and SEO have changed drastically over the past few years and in the process so to have we, and with the New Year round the corner and our recent ‘evolution’ we decided it was about time our website had a makeover too.

We wanted the design to reflect the way our company has grown and evolved over the past few years, and decided an overhaul to a brand new design would be the best course of action. Everything has been completely refreshed including a shiny new logo, layout and site content, updating everything including our image.

Another essential point is the site is now better configured for all devices, with a fully responsive design, as more and more people now use mobile devices and tablets to browse the internet.

Our aim was to make the digital site the core of our brand, clearly focused around the four key areas of our business: SEO, PPC, Marketing and Local. All whilst ensuring the site is visually appealing, responsive in design for compatibility with all devices and reflective of our evolving business.

Feel free to browse around our site and let us know what you think? We will be adding more content throughout the year and will aim to keep you abreast of all the latest developments in Digital Marketing and SEO. If you want to keep up to date then follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ by clicking on the logos below.

Hit by Google but unsure why?

Virtually every day we hear another story of a website that has been suddenly hit by Google and thrown out of the index, or demoted from their previously stable position on page one to page three or below. Sometimes the tale is one of slow decline but on occasions it happens overnight; you wake up one morning to find your entire business model in tatters.

In the majority of cases the reasons for this are quite straightforward and at Aqueous we have helped a number of businesses recover from being hit by Google, but the bit which confuses most people is what type of penalty they have been hit by.

In simple terms there are two types; the type that gets you a warning message from Google in Webmaster Tools and the more sinister sudden and unannounced drop in rankings.

The first type is generally easier to deal with as you can be clear on what Google doesn’t like about your site (mostly your backlink profile) and that can be dealt with. It takes time but you can get past it.

The second type is harder to deal with as you are left guessing what Google doesn’t like about your site; it could be something on your site, on one of your pages or it could be the type of links that you have to your site. In certain cases it can even be where you are hosted. The point is that this type of penalty takes a lot longer to figure out and to deal with.

In fact Google themselves don’t consider that they have applied a penalty, as far as they are concerned it is ‘business as usual’ and the algorithm that ranks pages and sites has decided that there are other more worthy candidates to rank above you.

To try and help you figure out what has happened to your site we’ve produced the following infographic – take a look and see if you can figure out what has caused your problem?

“This blog first appeared on www.aqueous-seo.co.uk

Is Hummingbird still counting disavowed links?

Sherlock Holmes once said that ‘once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth’ and that neatly sums up where we find ourselves today.

Since the introduction of Hummingbird webmasters across the world have been reporting sharp drops in keyword positions and in some cases a complete loss of rankings for their site.

We have been working closely with two of our clients; one who had previously suffered a manual penalty and the other an algorithmic penalty. In both cases we had managed to help them recover from these but since Hummingbird both appear to have been hit again.

In both cases we have completely rebuilt their sites from scratch, making sure that all the on page and on site issues are eliminated. Technically correct and with great fresh content; in fact we have gone out of our way to ensure that the content is clearly better than anything else out there, both sites now stand as examples of ‘good’ websites. So if the on page and on site elements are completely in line with Google’s Webmaster guidelines then that only leaves the backlink profile.

In the case of the site that was manually penalised, we managed to get the penalty lifted by removing as many of the toxic links as we could and disavowing the rest. This was before the introduction of Hummingbird and at first we saw that the client began to rank again for all their keywords. Since Hummingbird however they cannot get in the top 100 for the two core keywords which best describe their business. In fact these two keywords drive almost 75% of all their business on PPC. All the long tail keywords don’t seem to be a problem and the site ranks well for lots of them, but not the two that drive the most business. As this client is one of the longest established players in their industry and have a good name and reputation this is highly unusual and their ranking in the SERPS does not reflect where they should rank and had ranked previously.

Looking at their backlink profile we can see the problem – far too many legacy links with over optimised anchor text from poor domains. But here’s the rub; when we did the clean-up with this site the client started with over 60,000 links all pointing to their home page with over optimised anchor text. By the time we finished there were just 4,600 left and of those we disavowed just over 4,000.

Now it could be possible that with so few good links left that the site simply doesn’t have enough clout to rank for these core keywords however when the penalty was removed it started to rank for them, so at one point it was clearly good enough. Also when you look at positions 60-100 in the SERPS the majority of these sites don’t actually do what our client does and rank by virtue of mentioning one word of the two word keyword; a bit like a site ranking at number 70 for ‘car hire’ with the words ‘linen hire’ on the page. Furthermore the majority of the pages in this range have virtually no links which could help them rank.

With our other client who previously suffered with an algorithmic penalty, again we used a combination of removal and disavow to free them but once again since Hummingbird they have been relegated to page three for all the words that make them money.

In both cases therefore we have been able to meet Google’s requirements by disavowing a great many long standing ‘legacy’ links and in both cases the sites recovered. But now they are both back in the doldrums and having eliminated the obvious by rebuilding both sites we are back to how Hummingbird now reads their site.

Part of the issue here is that no one knows how the algorithm is currently treating backlinks to a website. We know that they are still the most important element to ranking but what are the rules? Does it consider that more than 10% of links from directory sites are a sign of link building? How about anchor text – must it be less than 24% of all links to the site? Is it critical that the majority of links are against the brand name? The numbers here are all made up and not part of any guidelines, but the point is that no one, except a handful in Google, actually knows. And here’s another question – it your site breaches any of the ‘numbers’ assigned to these things does that place a negative weighting on you for those keywords?

Whatever the answers to these questions it seems clear that the new algorithm has changed the landscape. Sites which shouldn’t rank clearly do across a range of keywords and in a number of cases the entire top ten has been replaced. Take a look at ‘payday loans’ and ‘debt management’ and see how many actual providers you can find in the top ten and how any of the sites now ranking are news or information sites. Whilst it is clear that Google wants to be the ‘answers engine’ instead of the ‘search engine’ someone who types in ‘payday loans’ or ‘debt management’ is probably looking for a loan, not to read stories about them. Just ask the guys who are buying the PPC and they will tell you that these are the only phrases that really pays in their business.

Perhaps this is part of a plan by Google to gradually monetise as much of the traffic as it can by removing providers of these services from the SERPS and including stories and articles, which can’t provide the service whilst leaving PPC as the only way to find these companies? It might be a slightly cynical view but there are plenty of stories online of people running businesses who feel this way.

Whatever the ultimate goal of Google, right now we know that having eliminated the impossible, whatever is left, in this case that Hummingbird now reads ALL your backlinks and counts the all irrespective of whether you have disavowed them, could well be the truth.

“This blog first appeared on www.aqueous-seo.co.uk