Weekly SEO news: 21 January 2014
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

In an online discussion, a webmaster complained that his site was no longer listed on Google for one of his most important keywords. The backlinks of the website didn't look suspicious and the other factors also looked okay. Why did the rankings of the website drop?

In the news: guest blogging is dead, webmasters are threatened with negative SEO, hijacking local listings seems to be easy, keyword rich domains won't improve your rankings, rich snippets spam, and more.

Table of contents:

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Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Google: Here's the reason why you no longer rank for your keyword
In an online discussion, a webmaster complained that his site was no longer listed on Google for one of his most important keywords. The backlinks of the website didn't look suspicious and the other factors also looked okay. Why did the rankings of the website drop?

What exactly happened?

The webmaster of www.mamajeanius.co.uk wondered why his site was no longer listed for the keyword "materity jeans". Another forum member analyzed the site and found nothing unusual:
  • The backlinks looked okay to the other forum member. At first glance, he didn't find any spammy backlinks.
  • About 417 pages of the website were indexed on Google.
Why did Google delist the website for that keyword?

Google's John Mueller joined the discussion to explain why Google did not show the website for the keyword:

"It looks like your SEO (or previous SEO) may have tried to promote your site in a way that's in violation of our Webmaster Guidelines. Specifically, I see a lot of unnatural links in low-quality articles as well as blog comments left by someone called 'Maternity Jeans.'

Stopping these practices, cleaning up unnatural links like these, and using the disavow links tool in cases where you can't clean them up, would be a good step in the right direction.

Over time (and this process can take months), as our algorithms recrawl the affected URLs, reprocess the links found on the web, and update their data, they'll be able to take the new state into account."

In other words, the rankings dropped because the website was spamming Google with artificial links.

What does this mean for your website?

Google is serious about removing spam from the search results. If you want to get high rankings on Google, you should know that:
  • Artificial backlinks (blog comment spam, low quality articles, forum spam, etc.) will get your website in trouble.
  • It can take months until your website recovers from bad backlinks (see John's answer above).
Use white-hat SEO methods to promote your website. It takes longer to get high rankings with these methods but it's also much safer. If you use white-hat methods to promote your site, your web pages will get high rankings that last.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week
Matt CuttsGoogle’s Matt Cutts: guest blogging is dead

"In a new post in his personal blog, Google’s Matt Cutts made it clear that guest blogging is dead. If you plan to use guest posts to increase the number of links to your website, you should reconsider your strategy."

Discussion: webmasters are threatened with negative SEO

"I had a client phone me today and say he had a call from a guy with an Indian accent who told him that he will destroy his website rankings if he doesn't pay him £10 per month to NOT do this. What the hell...

What can I do since I can't suggest going to the police if the guys in India! Is this even possible?"

GoogleGoogle bulk upload: verified listings or just another data feed?
"Does a Google Bulk upload create a verified listing or is it in reality just another data feed? Unfortunately it is the latter.

Danny Sullivan and Greg Sterling have been covering the recent multi listing hijacking of hotel pages at Google. The hijackers essentially were able to take control of numerous hotel listings and insert an affiliate booking site URL"

Bing: keyword rich domain names won’t improve your rankings

"The thinking is, basically, that having a keyword-rich domain makes that domain more relevant to the topic. That merely having a popular keyword in the domain will help that site, regardless of content, rank on the high volume keyword."

GoogleDecember 2013 U.S. search engine rankings - all time high for Bing

"Google Sites led the U.S. explicit core search market in December with 67.3 percent market share (up 0.6 percentage points), followed by Microsoft Sites with 18.2 percent (up 0.1 percentage points) and Yahoo Sites with 10.8 percent. Ask Network accounted for 2.5 percent of explicit core searches, followed by AOL, Inc. with 1.3 percent. [...]

In December, 68.6 percent of searches carried organic search results from Google (up 0.4 percentage points), while 27.1 percent of searches were powered by Bing."

Google: your rich snippet spam is not the reason for the ranking drop

In an online discussion, a Google employee has told a webmaster that his rich snippet spam did not affect the rankings of his site:

"The way your reviews are implemented on your page is indeed wrong, and does not comply with our Rich Snippets quality guidelines: your reviews are considered hidden because you're showing a different content to your users and to Googlebot.
You'd want to change that and make sure that search engines and your users are served the same content.

Regarding your traffic drop, it is probably not due to how your structured data are marked up."

Search engine newslets
  • Product ads help Google spend growth remain steady; mobile spend climbs even as smartphone CPCs fall.
  • What if Google was a guy (video).
  • Russian search engine Yandex announces deal with Facebook.
  • EU says needs more concessions from Google within weeks in anti-trust probe.
  • What’s old is new again – spam in the Google Local results.
  • Google ads sparked by web surfing on health sites violate privacy rights, investigation finds.
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4. Previous articles
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