Weekly SEO news: 19 April 2016
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Table of contents:

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Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Google penalizes websites for unnatural links to other sites

Most people know that Google penalizes websites that have unnatural links from other sites. Last week, many webmasters were surprised because their websites were penalized by Google because of unnatural links to other sites.

outbound link penalty

What exactly has happened?

The webmasters with the unnatural links received this message from Google:

"If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that Google has detected a pattern of unnatural artificial, deceptive, or manipulative outbound links. Buying links or participating in link schemes in order to manipulate PageRank is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to the affected portions of your site. Actions that affect your whole site are listed under Site-wide matches. Actions that affect only part of your site and/or some incoming links to your site are listed under Partial matches."

In other words, the website was penalized because Google did not like the links that were on the penalized pages.

Why did Google penalize these links?

Google's John Mueller explained that this penalty is for blogs that accept payments for reviews and links without nofollowing the links:

"It looks like you're getting some good advice here already (thanks, everyone!). Travler's link is one you should really be going through (in addition to the more general webmaster guidelines).

There's absolutely no need to nofollow every link on your site! However, those that are there because of an exchange (such as a product or service for a review) should have a rel=nofollow on links to the product, to their sales pages, and to any social media profiles that are linked because of the review.

Also, it's always a good idea to clearly label these kinds of posts for your readers too.

Once you've cleaned up links like those, feel free to submit a reconsideration request through Search Console, so that the webspam team can review your changes and remove the manual action."

What does this mean for your own website rankings?

If you have a website that posts reviews for which you accept money, do the following:
  • Use rel=nofollow on all links that are directly related to the payment
  • It is not necessary to nofollow all links on your page
  • Clearly mark paid review as paid reviews
Log in to Google Search Console and view the messages to find out if your website has been penalized. Remove the penalized links from your website (or nofollow them) and then file a reconsideration request.

The website audit tool in SEOprofiler analyzes the link on your pages. The Link Profiler tool in SEOprofiler helps you to analyze the links from other sites that point to your website. If you haven’t done it yet, try SEOprofiler now:

Try SEOprofiler now

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week
Google: when Penguin begins rolling out, we will post an announcement

"Google's John Mueller said this morning in a Google Hangout on Google+ at the 25:20 mark into the video that Google will post an announcement when it goes live, at least, that is the plan.

John said, 'I am pretty sure when we start rolling out [Penguin] we will have a message to kind of post but at the moment I don’t have anything specific to kind of announce.'"


GoogleGoogle: footer content is not penalized but not seen as primary content 

"[Google's John Mueller] describes that having footer or boilerplate content and links should not lead to a penalty, nor is the content or links in that section penalized, it is more that those blocks are not seen as the primary content on the page by Google. [...]

So having links in your footer may not been seen as so important by Google because it is not primary content on the page. The links and content aren't necessarily penalized but they may not be given as much weight."

Google: do not replace mobile / responsive sites with AMP

"[Google's Maile] Ohye was asked whether webmasters should start making a desktop version and an AMP version, rather than using responsive design, and ignoring a mobile version of the site. But she emphatically said no. [...]

Don’t dump your mobile site and replace it with AMP. AMP should supplement those mobile pages, not replace them entirely."

John MuellerGoogle's John Mueller: Google does not look at text to HTML ratio

"We don’t use the text to HTML ratio for anything. [...]

I wouldn’t focus on a metric like that unless there is something of value you can pull out of that for the users. 

Maybe what you could be looking at there is seeing that these pages are bloated HTML and when you serve them to users, especially on mobile, it slows everything down. That's one aspect that could be playing a role there, which is more between you and your users."


Google expands home service ads

"We’re actively preparing to expand the availability of the experience to residents and business owners in Sacramento, California. In addition to the four types of services we’ve added in the past year -- plumbers, locksmiths, home cleaners and plumbers -- we’re also introducing two more highly requested categories of providers: HVAC services and electricians."


Search engine newslets

  • Google local results get additional search filters on mobile.
  • Google is quietly testing trending topics section for mobile search.
  • Apple pursues new search features for a crowded App Store.
  • Google brings back the old weather cards.
3. Recommended resources

SEOprofiler

SEOprofiler helps you to get high rankings on Google and more customers. It offers all the tools that you need:

  • automatic weekly website audits
  • tools for keyword research and analysis
  • competitive intelligence tools
  • automated ranking checks
  • website analytics
  • tools for spam-free link building
  • link disinfection tool
  • social media monitoring
  • white-label reports (web-based and PDF)
  • AdWords Profiler and Ranking Profiler
  • NEW: Domain Finder tool
  • and much more.

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4. Previous articles
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