Articles in The 'google webmaster tools' Tag


February 19 2013

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

by Matt Crowley

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.

January 11 2013

How to Find out who is Linking to Your Website

by Matt Crowley

It is a well known fact by most of those who own or operate a website that having links to your website on other companies or people’s websites is beneficial for a few reasons:

  • They can provide relevant traffic to your website, if for example a news article is written about your company.
  • They can provide great PR; the more visibility that your company can achieve the better.
  • They can benefit you in regard to Search Engine Optimization, as long as they are high quality.

But many people wonder, “How do I find out who is linking to my website?” Google provides a tool to see when your website has been linked to, what websites are linking to yours, and what pages on your website people linking to.

All of this data and more can be found in your Google Webmaster Tools account. If you are unsure if you have an account, check with your webmaster or IT team in order to verify that you have access. If you do not, it is very simple to set up. Have your webmaster or IT professional visit this link to the help article from Google about how to verify your website with Google’s Webmaster Tools.

Now let’s go over how to find out who is linking to your website. Once you have verified your website with Webmaster Tools, visit www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ to log in to your account dashboard. If you are managing multiple sites, they will all be listed in your home dashboard once you log in.

Next, select the website that you wish to collect your data from and you will see a more detailed dashboard than the previous one. This dashboard is specific to the website that you have just selected.

The next step is to click the option that reads “Traffic” on the top left side navigation of the page. This option will be the third possible choice below “Messages.” A drop down menu will appear that gives you the following 3 options:

  1. Search Queries
  2. Links to Your Site
  3. Internal Links

*Note: They will not be numbered in your webmaster tools account.

Select “Links to Your site” and you will see 4 separate sections of data.

  1. The first is “Total Links” which will be located near the top of the page. This includes the current total number of links that Google has found on other websites that point to yours. Not all links to your site may be listed; however this is the most accurate source available.
  2. The second is “Who Links the Most.” This data includes the list of domains that contain links to your website. It is also sorted in order from domains that contain the most links to your website, to domains that contain the least number of links to your website.
  3. The third is “Your Most Linked Content.” This section displays the specific pages on your website that have the most inbound links pointed toward them.
  4. Finally, the last section is “How Your Data is linked.” This section displays the anchor text found within the inbound links to your website. Put plainly, anchor text is the visible text that a person can see when clicking on a link. For example the proverbial “click here” text.

Lastly, the data for numbers 2, 3, and 4 above can be downloaded to a .CSV or Google Docs file. This is done by clicking the “More »” link beneath any of the sections then selecting “Download this Table” near the top of the page.

You also have the option to:

  • “Download More Sample Links” which will download the data from Google about specific pages on other websites that contain links to your website, and will not sort them in any specific order.

Or

  • “Download Latest Links” which will download the data from Google about what links have been recently found that point to your website along with the date that Google discovered the link.

Now, take this data and make use of it. What pages on your website have been more popular than others? Is everyone only linking to your homepage, and not specific internal pages? Are there websites linking to yours that would make a good partnership?

December 23 2011

Google Webmaster Tools Help: Crawl Errors

by Darren Franks

One of the most useful aspects of Google Webmaster Tools is the ability for webmasters to assess how “crawlable” their site is. In the “Diagnostics” section, one can see the reason Google is unable to crawl and index certain pages of their website. Here are some of the issues Google will report on in this section:

  • “In Sitemaps”: This is where Google will show which URLs are inaccessible from an XML Sitemap that you may have uploaded to Webmaster Tools under Site Configuration>>Sitemaps. Here, Google will display the URL it’s having difficulty with and the associated problem it may be having:

 

Google Webmaster Tools Help: Crawl Errors

 

In the above example, the errors could have been caused because the Sitemap contains older, removed pages and/or the URL contained within the Sitemap has been manually restricted (intentionally) by the webmaster.

  • “Not Found”: If this section appears in the Diagnostics utility in Webmaster Tools, it could mean that Google has detected pages that issue one of the most common header responses: 404 Not Found. These errors can be tricky as they may show up because Google has found links from external websites leading to pages that you have removed from your site. It could also mean that Google has detected links on your website that are “broken” and Google will show the page where this broken link resides so you may update or remove it.
  • “Restricted by robots.txt”: This section displays pages on the site that have been blocked from web spider crawling via the site’s own robots.txt file: www.example.com/robots.txt. A robots.txt file is a simple text file, uploaded to the root directory that tells spiders which sections of the site to skip. This section is a useful way to see if the instructions you’ve entered into the robots.txt file are correct and functional.
  • “Unreachable”: Will include pages from the site that are completely inaccessible to the search engine spiders due to onsite server or network errors. These errors will usually not appear after the webmaster/IT administrator has fixed the webserver in question.

For a more comprehensive list of diagnostic errors found in Webmaster Tools, visit: https://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35120

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