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So Google has come out and said that late last week they pushed out a new update with Panda, and that it really only affected less than 2% of searches in the wild. Considering the millions of searches performed in a day that might seem trivial, but what do you do if you were caught up in the update and “lost” your position? Well, there’s a short, and a long answer to this predicament, we’ll start with the long one.
One of the first things you need to verify when you think you’ve been removed or bumped down in the index is, you need to have a look at your toolset you use. Whether it’s Google’s Webmaster tools, Analytics or any other suite with which you use to monitor your site, get in there and have a look at the warnings or errors section. If a search engine has found any major faults with your site, you’ll often find a report which outlines the discovered errors and some tips about how to rectify the situation.
Another helpful step you can take to make sure nothing naughty has gone on while you weren’t looking, is run a quick backlink check on your site. You should occasionaly have a look at who it is that’s linking too you, as backlinks tell part of your story to the search engines. While the internet is a vast, wild and sometimes reckless place, you can still have some control over who is lending you relevancy. If you’re a shoe sales website you wouldn’t want to have thousands of backlinks from a forum relating to boats as your website and business have nothing to do with boats.
Another big point you need to try and bear in mind, also falls in line with the short answer to the question of what to do if you get bumped or dumped. As shocking as it can be to be dropped from the index, the number one step you can do is wait. If you have a clear conscience and are confident in the work your SEO performs for you, you need to remain calm, correct any major flaws pointed out in your webmaster tools, submit your reconsideration forms to the search engines and wait. The search engines, Google, Bing, Yahoo etc do a great job of keeping people informed and in the dark at the same time. There are hundreds of variables active in the search algorithms, and if you’re found in glaring violation of any of them you could be kicked down or dropped from the index. So remain in contact with your SEO, have a look at your site from time to time and make sure you’re still relevant to your niche, and in time your course will be corrected. The index is like having a jar of water with sand in it. When it’s left long enough, the water clears and the junk filters to the bottom, but every now and then it’s interesting to pick it up and give it a good shake. Make everything muddy for a short time, but in time it will settle out and everything will clear.
In all the ruckus made about the issues of privacy that people keep bringing up, it always comes back to the same question. If you’re so unhappy, why don’t you just stop using it? The real issue with privacy and being online that the vast majority don’t, or won’t realize, is it doesn’t truly exist. If you want your information to be private, never sign anything. Never use the internet, don’t get an email address and move to a mountain side. And even then, even if you lived all alone in a shack on the side of a mountain, if someone sees you and writes a blog about you, sorry, no more privacy. All you can do to maintain control online is to be aware of the sites you use, what their policies are and what they change too if they change. Google didn’t change anything about how they do their work, they simply stream lined it to make it easier for the user, and for them. Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, all massive companies all of which became that way because you’ve used their products and given them your information. Companies don’t grow like trees, they grow with your personal, private information.
In what may yet become a global precedent, a judge in Nevada has passed judgement on nearly 700 domain names tied to counterfeiting Chanel products. Currently there are two bills being pushed to become law, whereby the courts and trademark owners could essentially tell search engines and social media sites what they are and aren’t allowed to index.
This current case has the makings of a SOPA like enforcement all over it, in that the judge didn’t bother to check domain registration locations only deemed that they all need to be turned over to a US GoDaddy registrar and that “all Internet search engines” and “all social media websites” explicitly naming Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Bing, Yahoo, and Google are required to remove the addresses from their indexes.
One law professor was empathetic towards companies trying to force IP protection of their products and was quick to point out that perhaps SOPA is just fake punch against internet pirates. “I’m sympathetic to the ‘whack-a-mole’ problem rights owners face, but this relief is just extraordinarily broad and is on shaky procedural grounds,” he writes. “I’m not sure how this court can direct a registry to change a domain name’s registrar of record or Google to de-list a site, but the court does so anyway. This is probably the most problematic aspect of the court’s orders.” said Venkat Balasubramani. The case with Chanel has shown he says, that IP rightsholders don’t necessarily even need the SOPA bill to pass to get what they want. Total control over their product, intellectual property (IP) and their trademarked name.
If rightsholders can already essentially dictate the terms they want federal judges to enforce, on globally owned website names and properties, much darker days are on the horizon for those who legitimately share ideas online. It shows there’s nothing stopping a we said/they said fight from enforcing the rule of law online.
It’s not a secret that the search engines have to frequently tweak their algorithms in order to shake things up a little on the SERPs. It also isn’t a secret that Google, Bing and Yahoo occasionally like to shuffle those results and sometimes you may find yourself without a positive ranking as you were accustomed too, only to find that a few days later you’re back where you’ve always been. So what point does it serve to remove you from your positioning, only to place you back? It can make you think, do search engines and SEO really make any difference at all if they can change things on a whim? The short answer is yes, the long answer.. well it’s the long answer for a reason.
In keeping with the times, you need to remember the web is everywhere. At home, work, on smartphones and tablets, it’s never been easier to be connected. And with all of that information at their fingertips, 9 out of 10 times people will search. They’ll visit Facebook or Twitter, Google or Yahoo and they’ll search for their answer or ask their friends for an opinion. For some it’s as small as what to have for dinner for any given evening. For others it can be as life defining as what area of a city to buy a new home in.
So yes search engine optimization matters and yes having a website is important. Google and Bing send out their robots and scour the web so that you don’t have too. They arrive on a site, chew through the content as quick as can be and ranks the new site against it’s current list. As a business, having your plumbing business on the top of the maps listings when someones water heater suddenly dies, means hundreds of dollars in difference to not taking the 20 minutes to set it up properly. There’s also the adword side of the search game which works on primarily a bid and auction system, so long as you have the best bid on a keyword you could rank on page 1 number 1 in the ad spaces.
That’s the cookie cutter steps that everyone should be taking or at the very least, be very well aware of that are available. This is where organic SEO comes into play. For what you could spend on an adwords campaign, if you put those resources and time into properly building and working on your website, you can rank in the organic listings for your key terms. This is also where you’ll notice when the search engines are doing their big shuffle when they reindex their results pages. First rule you need to remember about organic listings – if you randomly disappear with no warnings or emails from the search engine, don’t panic. Take a look at your site and ensure you haven’t broken any of the rules. If you’re good on all fronts, just wait at first. Be patient and wait to see what shakes out. Search engine optimization matters, as do search engines and having a proper website, not just a Facebook or Google+ Places page.