Google’s Over-Optimization Penalty a 3% Step

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “Google’s Over-Optimization Penalty an Evolution, Not Revolution.”

Google’s much discussed over-optimization penalty turned out to be a moderate evolutionary step in Google’s site quality crusade. Launched April 24, Google wrote in a blog post of its update, “The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s quality guidelines. This algorithm represents another step in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content.” I addressed the over-optimization penalty on Practical eCommerce last month at “Google Plans SEO Over-Optimization Penalty,” and expressed optimism for the impact here at “Cautiously Psyched For Google’s Planned Over-Optimization Penalty.” But it seems the impact will be less than I had hoped. Only time will tell.

According to the Google blog post, an estimated 3.1 percent of U.S. search results will be affected by the algorithm update, while sites in countries like Poland that are more prone to produce webspam could see as high as 5 percent change in rankings. The algorithm will more aggressively penalize webspam tactics like keyword stuffing and irrelevant linking from sites that “spin” content with barely readable content. “Spinning” refers to the practice of scraping content from other sites and then manually or mechanically rearranging the words to create a “new” piece of content.

Read the article, as well as how to determine if your site was hit, in full at Practical eCommerce »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

10 SEO Geotargeting Tips Plus a Webinar

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog: “10 Tips for Sending International SEO Signals.”


Search engine optimization for multinational sites isn’t all that different than SEO for a single U.S. site. It all boils down to the same three pillars: getting indexed, being relevant by using the most popular keywords and being popular by acquiring links and social mentions. That said, the specifics of those three pillars are different for multinational sites versus a single U.S. site.

Each country has its own language, languages or even dialects within a language. Each country has a different mix of search engines that are popular among its citizens. China has Baidu, Japan still clings to Yahoo and most of the Americas, Europe and Africa prefer Google. In addition, international SEO multiplies the challenge of optimizing a single site by the number of countries targeted. A site for a single country with a host of SEO issues will likely have 10 times the issues or more when multiplied across 10 countries and languages. International SEO is an incredibly complex challenge, but these 10 geotargeting tips will get you started.

1.    Site Structure: Where to host each country’s content is the first critical question. The best option for SEO is a subdirectory such as and Hosting content on a single domain enables each country to benefit from the links acquired by the other countries and the domain as a whole. Register the ccTLD—the top-level domain for each country—as a defensive measure and for promotion, and redirect that ccTLD to the content at the subdirectory. For example,,uk would redirect to Country content can also be hosted at the ccTLD or a subdomain, but each comes with its own drawbacks.

Nine more geotargeting signals to come! Read the article in full at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog »

International SEO WebinarIf you’d like to see a webinar on this topic, head on over to Practical eCommerce for my recent presentaton on International Search Engine Optimization. The archived presentation is free, but you’ll need to log in to Practical eCommerce (also free) to view it. Enjoy!

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Link Building Shortcuts for SEO

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Avoid Link Building Shortcuts.”

There are no safe link building shortcuts. Instead I want to warn marketers about deceptive search marketers and the dangers of using “easy” link building tactics. In the latest instance, the search engine optimization community is abuzz with news that Home Depot’s SEO team has attempted to increase its link portfolio by potentially shady means. Last year, J.C. Penney and even Google’s own Chrome browser marketing site were reportedly penalized by Google Search for violating linking guidelines.

The temptation to manipulate rankings by acquiring links through unethical means is easy to understand: Links are the lifeblood of the Internet and a major factor in every major search engine’s ranking algorithms. In theory, more links means better rankings. In reality, the engines compile data across hundreds of factors algorithmically to determine rankings, and links are just one part. We’ll look at some link building tactics as examples of what not to do.

Read the article in full at “SEO: Avoid Link Building Shortcuts.” »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Build Links? Build Relationships.

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Build Relationships, Not Links.”

Once upon a time when the Internet was new, interesting and relevant websites were difficult to find. Link building was easy in those days. It was often just a matter of letting webmasters know that your site existed and they could link to it. Things have changed in the last couple of decades.

Webmasters today are jaded. They’re bombarded with requests for links, offers to receive hundreds of links for one low price, and comment spam, among other things. Approaching a blogger or site owner today out of the blue with a request for a link is akin to this guy walking up to you on the street and asking for $50. Chances are you’ll run away faster than he can flash his 100 watt smile.

In this new social era of Internet marketing, to get a link you’ll need to build a relationship. Relationship building as part of search engine optimization is a difficult concept for ecommerce sites to understand. Imagine bragging your weekly status report about a Facebook thread that included three back-and-forth replies from a relevant and influential blogger. Ten years ago your boss probably would have told you to go do some real work. If your primary goal is building links, building that relationship on is “real work,” and that Facebook thread is relationship gold.

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Is It Duplicate Content or Just Undifferentiated?

More on one of my favorite topics: duplicate content. Finding it, finding its source, fixing it — it’s like a big geeky puzzle.

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog: “Duplicate Content: Destroy or Differentiate.”

Duplicate content is an often misunderstood part of search engine optimization. Most digital marketers know it’s bad, but why? Duplicate content (two or more pages with different URLs that display the same content) makes it harder for a site to rank and drive traffic and conversions.


If 20 URLs each display the same page of content for red shoes, then all the links pointing to that page across a site are split across 20 different URLs. The page would have much more ranking power if all those links were pointing to a single URL. And that’s just internal links; consider the impact of splitting more valuable links from other sites across multiple URLs for the same page. Then add on the Facebook Likes, tweets, +1s, blog links and other actions that signal popularity to search engines, all split across 20 different URLs for that single page of content. In addition, duplicate content burns crawl equity, slowing a search engine’s progress as it crawls through a site to discover fresh new content.

But sometimes, content only looks like it’s duplicate. This is a common issue with ecommerce platforms that offer filtering options for better usability. The filters tend to create new slices of category content that look the same to search engines as the original default category page. For example, a category page of red shoes might have a filter for shoe style that includes tennis shoes, slip-on shoes, flats, high heels, etc. These are valuable pages to shoppers and searchers alike. But search engines can only determine the differences between each of the filters if the page sends differentiating signals in its title tag, headings and other textual content on the page.

Read more to find out how to tell if content is duplicate of merely needs differentiating: “Duplicate Content: Destroy or Differentiate.”

Read the article in full at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.