Articles written in February, 2013

February 27 2013

MoreVisibility Update: Do 301 Redirects Pass PageRank?


Matt Cutts, Distinguished Engineer from Google posted a video update on Tuesday (2/25/13) on the topic of “What Percentage of PageRank is Lost Through a 301 Redirect?”

What Matt Cutts clarified yesterday is that no extra PageRank is lost when using a single 301 redirect.

In the video he says “the amount of PageRank that dissipates through a 301 is currently identical to the amount of PageRank that dissipates through a link.” It has been common knowledge for a long time that when web page A links to web page B, although minimal, some amount of PageRank is lost. However, it was believed that more PageRank would be lost if a 301 redirect is used.

With a 301 redirect, web page A is linking to web page B that 301 redirects to web page C. Due to past comments by Google; it was believed that a slight amount more of PageRank was lost when a 301 redirect was used to connect web page A to web page C when compared to a direct link. This is certainly not the case. According to Google, a single 301 redirect does not pass any less PageRank to the destination page when compared to a direct link.

However; it is also important to note that he says:

  • “use whatever is best for your purposes”
  • “we don’t promise that it will be that way for all time and eternity”

As always, it is important to be cautious and look at all of the factors before implementing any 301 redirects, such as:

  • While the amount of inbound link value may be equal; that may not be the most important factor when considering the use of a 301 redirect.
  • 301 redirects are intended to be used as a permanent signal that the old page will not be returning.
  • 301 redirects are intended to be used to deliver the user to a new and equally relevant page: 301 redirecting a lot of pages to non-relevant pages is not a best practice.
  • Using a 301 redirect can, and often does have an impact on how the new and old pages are indexed; such as the amount of time it takes for search engines to reflect the change in their search engine results pages.
  • If not done properly, using 301 redirects can have a negative affect.
  • If you chain multiple 301 redirects together, the PageRank and overall link value may dissipate more rapidly, and search engines may eventually stop following the redirects.

It is important to ensure that you take an in-depth look at the reasons to and possible outcomes of implementing redirects. You can find the video from Matt Cutts here:

February 19 2013

Was it a Google Algorithm Update or Penalty that Affected your Site?


Lately there has been a lot of confusion surrounding Google’s search engine updates and how they are affecting the traffic and rankings of the websites that they deliver in their search engine results pages (SERPs). Throughout all of these updates, it is easy for a website to slowly or rapidly begin to lose traffic and/or rankings without knowing the root cause. Often times, the true cause of the lost traffic or rankings is incorrectly assumed to be a penalty.

The good news is that penalties or “manual actions” by Google are actually rarer than people think. Let’s take a look at the main differences between a Google penalty and an algorithm update.

Penalties or “manual actions” are when Google determines that a website has blatantly gone against their guidelines in an attempt to manipulate their ranking within Google’s SERPs. Let’s take a look at what makes up a penalty:

  • How to Know — Check your analytics. The website likely would have lost a large amount of traffic from Google specifically, and for most pages across the site, as well as lost rankings for most all of your keyphrases including branded terms.
  • A Sure Sign — Make sure that your website is verified with Google’s Webmaster tools. Google has begun sending out notifications to Webmaster tools accounts for sites that have been penalized, and many times they will include an example of the reason for the penalization. If you receive one of these notices, it is a sure sign that your site has been penalized.
  • What’s Next — Fix all of the issues that could be causing the penalty, especially any issues that Google has notified you about via Webmaster tools. Then submit a reconsideration request.

Algorithm updateson the other hand are not manual actions. These are changes to Google’s algorithm that decides how they evaluate a website. It is much more likely that a website was affected by a Google algorithm update than a penalty. Let’s take a look at what makes up an algorithm update:

  • Why — There are many reasons that a website could be affected by the different algorithm updates and we have covered some of them in blog posts before. Here are some of the more common causes that websites lose traffic or rankings from recent algorithm updates:
  • Very little on page textual content
  • Issues with duplicate content
  • Technical issues such as slow page load speed
  • Unnatural inbound links
  • How to know — This is one of the more difficult tasks when identifying the issue with lost rankings of a website. There are so many factors that could cause a loss in rankings or traffic due to algorithm updates that we recommend researching our other blog posts and consulting a professional to help identify the root cause.
  • What’s Next — The best option is to perform a full detailed SEO analysis of your website to identify any weak areas. As you fix those issues, it is important to be patient. There are a few things to keep in mind after your website has been affected by a Google algorithm update:
  • Filing a reconsideration request is not likely to help. Reconsideration requests will provide more detailed information about manual actions only.
  • Even after fixing any issues, there will still need to be another algorithm update for your website’s rankings and traffic to return to more normal levels.

The best way to avoid being negatively affected by either a Google penalty or algorithm update is to stay informed about Google SEO ranking criteria, perform routine SEO audits of your website, create new and engaging content, and offer your customers or clients the resources that they want online and with the best possible experience.

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