Last Updated on September 9, 2020
New Video. Old Message. Evergreen Advice.
As an online marketer I routinely review SEO trends. Google’s Matt Cutts released a video in August but it was recently picked up by the Search Engine Journal on October 16. This is a case where I can honestly say “we told you so.” In this post I’ll explain why this not-so-new video is actually SEO newsworthy, how it’s really an old message, and what evergreen strategies a business should follow.
New Video About Reputation Management
What’s new in this video is the amount of detail Google is now providing a Webmaster in the event of a “Manual Spam Action” notification. White Hat SEOs have inferred by the information available in a variety of forums — quality guidelines, other Webmaster videos, blog posts, etc. We’ve pieced together the factors that are blatant targets for an SEO penalty. If you have 9 minutes, I really recommend watching this Webmaster Help video especially if you are responsible for the health and care/feeding of a website.
Getting Granular About A Manual Spam Action
Hopefully you aren’t familiar with the term Manual Spam Action. That means your site hasn’t been the target of a Google spanking. So what would make your website prey to this dreaded notification? Here’s a simplified list:
- a history of link spam, proof that you’ve collected unnatural links for a long time
- deliberate spammy tactics
- evidence that it’s widespread across your website (multiple pages and posts)
- anything from paid links to blog comment spam, spamming forums to excessive link exchanges
- basically trying to manipulate rankings by fooling the algorithm
In the past a manual spam action was taken against an entire site. It was a decisive blow from Google; it banishes a website to near invisibility. A colleague of ours called it being “JC Penney’d.” This is a reference to the 2011 scandal where the retail giant was hit hard by a manual spam action.
Ok, what’s the good news, Massimo? Google has evolved so their manual spam action notifications now contain a bit more information. Perhaps only a percentage of your links are unnatural. In the notification you’ll receive more detail on why the SEO penalty was applied. Is it across the entire site or to just the offending spammy pieces? If you have more intel, you can then create a strategy to correct the problems.
If you aren’t sure what hat your SEO agency is wearing, find out. Ignorance is not a defense in the case of a manual spam action. Here are some telltale signs:
- Link building is monthly activity. Anything more than 1 or 2 links a month is an indication that your agency is going for quantity and not quality. Links should be related to your business and industry. They should drive business to your website. Ask your agency to run a Webmaster Tools report on your links and download into a spreadsheet. Do a spot check or commission an audit from a reputable firm (like ours 😉
- Blog Commenting. This is an activity — typically outsourced to an individual living in a developing country — where comments with a link are posted to another blog unusually unrelated to your industry or business. This is an old Grey Hat SEO technique. By the way, these links are now no-follow and offending ones are marked as spam by knowledgeable Webmasters.
- Article Marketing on spammy forums. Are you reviewing content that’s generated on your behalf? Take a look. If you would be embarrassed to have it on your website, it has NO business representing your brand on someone else’s website.
If you’re still not sure about your online marketing agency, perhaps it’s time for a review. Use these seven questions to dig in and get more detailed information.
At the moment we’re helping a client dig out from the damage created by a Grey Hat firm. We think this video is good news. What do you think?