Google: Short Articles Won’t Penalize Your Site; Think About Users

by Barry Schwartz and first published on Search Engine Roundtable.

Google’s John Mueller covered lots and lots of myths this past Friday in the Google Hangout on Google+. He said at the 34:37 minute mark that having short articles won’t give you a Google penalty. He also said that even some long articles can be confusing for users. He said that short articles can be great and long articles can be great – it is about your users, not search engines.

The question posed was:

My SEO agency told me that the longer the article I write, the more engaged the user should be or the Google will penalize me for this. I fear writing longer articles with lots of rich media inside because of this, is my SEO agency correct or not?

Back in 2012, Google said short articles can rank well and then again in 2014 said short articles are not low quality. John said in 2016:

So I really wouldn’t focus so much on the length of your article but rather making sure that you’re actually providing something useful and compelling for the user. And sometimes that means a short article is fine, sometimes that means a long article with lots of information is fine.So that’s something that you essentially need to work out between you and your users.

From our point of view we don’t have an algorithm that council words on your page and says, oh everything until a hundred words is bad everything between 200 and 500 is fine and over 500 needs to have five pictures. We don’t look at it like that.

We try to look at the pages overall and make sure that this is really a compelling and relevant search results to users. And if that’s the case then that’s perfectly fine. If that’s long or short or lots of images or not, that’s essentially up to you.

Sometimes I think long articles can be a bit long winding and my might lose people along the way. But sometimes it’s really important to have a long article with all of the detailed information there. That’s really something that maybe it’s worth double checking with your user is doing some a/b testing with them. Maybe getting their feedback in other ways are like sometimes you can put like the stars on the page do you have a review that or use maybe Google consumer surveys to get a quick kind of a sample of how your users are reacting to that content. But that’s really something between you and your users and not between you and and Google search engine from that point of view.

I specifically did the Google Consumer Surveys approach when I was hit by the Panda 4.1 update, which I recovered from on Panda 4.2. I even published my results for all to seeover here and it showed, people, my readers, like my short content.

So it really isn’t about how short, tall, long or detailed you are. As long as the content satisfies the user, Google should be satisfied too.

Here is the video embed:

Google Search Analytics Adds Compare Queries Option

by  and first published on Search Engine Roundtable.

The Google Search Analytics feature in the Google Search Console has added a new feature that let’s you compare two different queries. You can access this by going to the Google Search Console, clicking on Search Analytics and then clicking on the Queries option and selecting “compare queries.”

This was first spotted by Jonathan Jones and posted on Twitter.

This let’s you basically compare two search phrases against each other.

Here is where you find the option:

Then this box pops up:

Then you enter the two phrases you want to compare:

Here is then the output that shows you those two queries:

click for full size

 

Google penalizes sites for unnatural outbound linking

By Barry Schwartz and first published on Search Engine Land.

google-link-warnings-seo

Check your Google Search Console message center. Google sent out outbound link penalties over the weekend.

Over the weekend (April 9-10, 2016), Google issued many manual actions for “unnatural outbound links.” This is a penalty issued by the Google manual actions team, specifically over sites linking out to other sites in an effort to manipulate the Google search results. In this case, it seems Google penalized the site by deciding not to trust any of the links on the website.

The email sent to these webmasters read:

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.

Here is a picture from one of the many complaints about this manual action in the Google support forums:

google-unnatural-links-outbound-1460374556

 

You should log into your Google Search Console account and check your all messages box to see if you have this notification or any others. If you were hit by the outbound link penalties, there are instructions on how to fix them over here.

I have only seen a few inbound link notification penalties this weekend. So it is too early to tell if sites on the other end of this penalty got it. If anything, it seems Google is no longer trusting the links from these sites, which can have a negative ranking impact on the sites receiving these links. But that would not be a direct penalty for inbound links.

Google has not commented about this penalty.

UPDATE 4-12-16: Source: Search Engine Land

The mass Google manual actions for outbound links was related to the warning Google gave a few weeks ago around bloggers giving links in exchange for free products or services.

Yesterday, Search Engine Land reported that Google sent out outbound linking penalties to a mass number of webmasters over the weekend. It turned out that this was directly related to the warning from Google a few weeks ago for bloggers to disclose free product reviews as such and nofollow links in their blog posts over these product reviews.

Google told bloggers to “nofollow the link, if you decide to link to the company’s site, the company’s social media accounts, an online merchant’s page that sells the product, a review service’s page featuring reviews of the product or the company’s mobile app in an app store.”

Well, now that the warning was communicated, a few weeks later, in typical Google style, Google actually sent out manual actions for those who did not comply with those guidelines.

John Mueller from Google commented in a few threads in the Google support forums telling people to look at the warning Google published a few weeks ago named Best practices for bloggers reviewing free products they receive from companies. He added:

In particular, if a post was made because of a free product (or free service, or just paid, etc.), then any links placed there because of that need to have a rel=nofollow attached to them. This includes links to the product itself, any sales pages (such as on Amazon), affiliate links, social media profiles, etc. that are associated with that post. Additionally, I imagine your readers would also appreciate it if those posts were labeled appropriately. It’s fine to keep these kinds of posts up, sometimes there’s a lot of useful information in them! However, the links in those posts specifically need to be modified so that they don’t pass PageRank (by using the rel=nofollow).

Once these links are cleaned up appropriately, feel free to submit a reconsideration request, so that the webspam team can double-check and remove the manual action.

Google says “orchestration” is next big trend in the Internet of Things

By Jennifer Elias, Technology Reporter, Silicon Valley Business Journal – First published in the San Antonia Business Journal.

The Internet of Things has officially advanced past the “hype” stage, according to conference panelists including a Google developer.

At the Bluetooth World conference in Santa Clara, California, Wayne Piekarski, a senior developer advocate for Google, said he believes the next big push in the Internet of Things is “orchestration,” meaning multiple connected devices aware of each other working together.
Google says orchestration the next big trend in Internet of Things.

Photo Credit: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg

“When you walk in your home, the lights come on and coffee machine goes on,” Piekarski said. “People don’t want to control a single light bulb, they’re going to work with multiple devices, which means working with multiple manufacturers.”

Currently, users of connected devices have to buy one product and download its app. But Piekarski said the Mountain View company wants to decouple that “so that some app developer can write the app but the device doesn’t have to be made by the same company.”

According to Piekarski, that’s why the company is working with smart home platforms such as Brillo and Weave.

Google product strategy manager Scott Jenson spoke in a separate panel about Google’s efforts toward “The Physical Web” which is an open-source effort to enable all connected devices to work in unison without the need for separate apps. Jenson said it is one of the company’s most popular projects on open-source collaboration platform Github.
As demand increases for connected devices, consumers will want to add more features such as voice commands, he added. “There’s all these integrations you can do once people get a feel for the Internet of Things.”

Sales of connected devices are climbing but Piekarski said consumers should be wary about some of the products on the market. “There are IoT devices gradually being put out there but they’re not done well,” he said, adding “I think what we’re going to see is a security conflict.”

Piekarski said he expects a security breach before IoT manufacturers start taking security seriously. “Currently, they’re [manufacturers] sending packets over the network un-encrypted and we haven’t had anything bad happen yet but something’s going to happen where someone’s house catches on fire,” he warned.
“People need to trust them and if you’re going to put it [connected device] on a door, it has to work every time and it has to let you into the house every time–it can’t lock you out. The challenge is going to be doing it really well and that’s what we’re trying to do right now–to make it so that people can trust these things.”

Adnan Nishat, another panelist and senior product manager at Silicon Labs, agreed with Piekarski, saying when a high-profile security attack happens, it doesn’t just affect one brand “but it weakens consumer trust which impacts everyone … We need to take a systematic approach to implementing security, not just about turning a feature on and off, but planning holistically end-to-end.”

A Design Workflow Tutorial for Developers: Deliver Better UI/UX On Time

BY LUBOS VOLKOV – LEAD PRODUCT DESIGNER @ TOPTAL

Working with a great designer or design team can be an invaluable asset to any team. With clear communication channels, and free-flowing co-operation, the designer should give you everything you need to speed up the building process and limit questions and confusion as much as possible.

What can you, the UX developer, do to ensure that the product you have built is delivered in a timely manner without sacrificing the quality of the user interface and user experience?

Call up your designer; it’s time to streamline UI design workflow.

My answer: Get your designers involved from day one, and keep them involved throughout the entire UI/UX development process. Make sure to establish clear communication lines and consistent messaging between developers and the designers.

Do You Have Everything You Need?

The worst thing that can happen during the implementation o any UI is lack of communication between the designer and the developer(unless they’re the same person). Some designers think their job is done once the PSD is sent over. But, that’s just wrong! You must create an always-on communication workflow that lasts beyond the delivery of the PSDs.

Projects where the designer just submits the design files, and the developer just implements them, are the projects that just fail.

In many cases, it will take time before the designers see the actual UI/UX design implementation and, to their surprise, the build is completely different from the initial submission. (This happened to me more than once. I have sent over source files with complete descriptions and interaction prototypes, but when I finally saw the project, months later, it had different layout, different colors, and no interactions in place.)

Some designers might hate me for this, as this design workflow requires a lot of “extra” work on their side. However, creating and delivering full assets and information, in an organized way, is better for the project and the team as a whole.

Having everything a developer needs, in front of him, will speed up the process. A clean PSD is just not enough.

What do you need to get the job done effectively and efficiently?

These are the assets that a developer should expect from the designer to bring a UI/UX design to implementation:

  • Resource file – Designer should place every element of the app in one file. This file should contain buttons, checkboxes, header styles, fonts, colors, etc. Basically, based on the information in this file, developer should be able to recreate any interface from scratch. It’s much easier for a developer to export any element from a single PSD, than to search multiple files for it.
  • Assets – Make sure that developers get all the required assets, as source files should not be touched any more.
  • Interaction prototypes – Days of “static screens” are long gone. Using smart interactions and animations, to smooth-out UX design workflow and implementation, is a common practice now. But, you can’t just say “this will slide in from the left ” to a developer. Designer should create actual prototype of that interaction. Prototype should include information like speed, velocity, etc., and the designer is expected to specify each of these values.
  • Naming convention – Request a file naming structure to keep things organized. It’ll make it easier for both of you to navigate files. (No one likes to have things hidden in a background folder).
  • HDPI Resources – We live in the “hard times”, with the huge density of the screens. Make sure that designer will deliver images in all of the required resolutions, so your application will look crispy everywhere. Note: use as much vectors as possible, it’s going to help you a lot (svg).

If you do find something else missing during the implementation, don’t be afraid, ping the designer and ask for it. Never skip, and never skimp! You are members of the same team, and your job is to deliver the best possible product. If a designer fails, you fail as well.

Work In-Progress

Utilize your designers during the UI/UX development process. Don’t keep them in the sidelines expecting them to just “push the pixels”. A designer sees possible innovations even before the implementation starts. To take the advantage of this, keep them in the loop. Provide them with access to see, and test, the work in progress. I’m well aware that no one likes to share unfinished projects. But, it is much easier to make changes in the middle of a build than at the end. Doing so may save you time and prevent unnecessary work. Once you give the designer a chance to test the project, ask him to compile a list of problems and solutions, and suggest improvements.

What to do when a developer has an idea that would change the look of an application? Discuss it with thedesigner, and never allow a developer to modify the design, without consulting the designer. This design workflow will assure that the build stays on track. A great designer has a reason for every element on the screen. Taking a single piece out, without understanding why it’s there, could ruin the user experience of the product.

UI/UX Design Project Management

Designers think that developers can bring a design to life in one day, or even in one hour. But, like great design, great development takes time and effort. Keep your anxious designer at bay by letting him see the progress of the build. Using external project management software, to make sure every revision is accounted for, is a great way to make sure you don’t miss important information discussed in an email conversation or a Skype session. And let’s be honest: sometimes changes and activities aren’t even communicated until they happen.

Whatever solution you use, be sure to choose one workflow process that the whole team will adopt and consistently use. On our team, I tried to push Basecamp because that’s what I was using, but our front-end developers thought it had limited features. They were already using other project management software to track bugs, progress, etc., such as JIRA, GitHub, and even Evernote. I understood that project tracking and management should be kept as simple as possible, so I migrated my UI design workflow to JIRA. I wanted make sure they understood my workflow and progress, but I did not want them to feel like design was another thing to manage.

Here are few suggestions for a project management tool:

  • Basecamp – Tracks the progress of the design and development related tasks, and easily lets you export tasks. It also has a simple mobile client.
  • JIRA – A fully customizable platform where you can easily set up custom boards for different areas. For example, organize boards to track activities such as back-end, front-end, design, etc. I think the mobile client is a bit weak, but it is a great solution for bigger teams and includes a bug tracking feature.
  • Email – This is great for setting up a conversation or sending images. But please be carefull if you use email for feedback. Things can easily get lost.

You can also try Trello and other project management software, but the most widely used in our industry are Basecamp and JIRA. Again, the most important thing is to find a project management system that everyone can use on a consistent basis, otherwise it’s a moot point.

Lubos Volkov is an experienced designer who has worked remotely with numerous developers throughout his career. As the product designer at Toptal, Lubos interacts daily with team members from a variety of departments including engineering, community, and content. He is a talented designer whose communication skills contribute to his success. In this tutorial, Lubos shares his experiences and ways to optimize designer-developer UI and UX workflows that lead to quality products delivered on, or before, deadline.

5 Link Building Lies You’ll Hear in 2016

By Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO and first published on WebsiteMagazine.com

As 2015 draws to a close I can all but hear content marketers dreaming up the click bait headlines that will run amuck in 2016.

Rolling over to a new year is a trigger point for “this or that is dead” articles; you would think that Google only makes update at the end of the year the way articles start popping up. That being said, here are five link building tactics that will still work in 2016 unless Google does decide to actually make a yearend change, in which case, we will cover it here, so sign up for Website Magazine’s Mastering Search emails if you haven’t already.

1. GUEST POSTING IS FINALLY DEAD

Low-quality guest posting for the sake of building keyword rich anchor texts has been a bad idea for a few years now, if you are still doing this, it is time to get up to speed. If you are reaching out to high-quality sites that market to your audience, guest posting is never going to die. Even if it didn’t boost your rankings, it would still send qualified referral traffic, an instant win. So next time you read about the imminent death of guest posts in a headline, save your time and read something useful like how to build high quality links without writing a ton of content or tips on how to create great content.

2. WEB 2.0 LINK BUILDING NO LONGER WORKS

In the past many link builders would start link building campaigns off by creating blogs on sites like WordPress, Blogger and Rebel Mouse. In the past, a single article, often times spun, would be added to the blog and linked to the money site. These blogs would then have high volumes of low-quality links built to them in order to boost the Page Authority hosting the link. This method is no longer a good idea, as a matter of fact it should have ended in 2013 at latest.

That being said, you can still derive value from building out Web 2.0 sites. They can be a good source of traffic, can help you control your online brand reputation, and they can still be part of a good link building strategy. In order for them to have value though, you need to spend the time to create blogs that actually offer value to the reader. Every site should be set up as a standalone blog that people would want to read. Quality content, regular updates and ongoing link building to these blogs are a must if you go this route in 2016. Here is a great example of Tumblr, a Web 2.0 site being used by a brand properly.

If you don’t have the time or resources to manage Web 2.0s properly, focus on outreach link building instead.

3. PBNS ARE ALL YOU NEED

Done correctly, private blog network (PBN) link building can be pretty low risk and incredibly powerful. These types of links are like dynamite though. If you aren’t experienced, using them is dangerous. Failing to use them in just the right quantity can be disastrous and they are not always the best solution. If you are not familiar with building PBNs, don’t risk it, there are too many things that can go wrong. If you are using them, don’t make the mistake of using only these types of links. Link diversity is very important and you should be diversifying your efforts by getting links that drive traffic as well. Don’t try to cut corners and use just one type of links in 2016 or you are going to get burned. If you aren’t sure how to diversify, check out our recent post on creating your first 44 backlinks.

4. SEO SOFTWARE IS “ONLY FOR SPAMMERS” OR IS A “PUSH BUTTON LINK BUILDING SOLUTION”

There are tons of pieces of SEO software on the market today that range from automated link building tools like GSA Search Engine Ranker to tools like Scrapebox, often referred to as the Swiss Army Knife of link builders. Automated link building is not a good idea in 2016 unless you know exactly what you are doing, why you are doing it, and fully understand the risks of your methods. Other pieces of software are also wrongly demonized by those who don’t quite understand the many legitimate uses for those tools. Take Scrapebox for example, it was originally made to be a bulk comment spam tool and for that purpose, it is not useful to link builders any longer. On the other hand, you can use the tool to find broken links, locate resources pages at scale, and to pull URL lists from even huge sites, all of which are legitimate uses. Next time you read about a tool being the reason for an SEO failure, remember, no tool is better than its operator.

5. LINK BUILDING IS ALL YOU NEED

This may seem obvious to some of you but I have gotten numerous calls from people asking for our link building services and wanting to pass on any on-page SEO reviews or edits. As I touched on last week, SEO has evolved and with it, our role as marketers has also evolved. In order to successfully promote and rank a site, technical on-page SEO, page speed, UX, content assets and link building are all needed. If you want to get to and stay on top in 2016, you need to build assets that deserve to be ranked and that users will enjoy.

BONUS TIP: STOP ASKING – START RESEARCHING

I see and hear one type of question all the time. How many links do I need? What anchor text ratios should I use? How long does my content need to be? Etc. Etc. Etc.

The truth is, there is not a set number that you should shoot for across the board. If you are trying to rank for roofing services in St Louis, take the time to see what the top 10 sites are doing and make a side by side comparison of those metrics. You will quickly see that every keyword, niche and location takes a different combination to rank so stop asking for generalizations and spend that time doing research. My go-to tools for competitive research are SEMrush and Majestic Backlink Explorer, neither of which I am affiliated with.

 

14 Tools and Apps To Transform Your Twitter Engagement

By Brian Fanzo and first published on his Blog

Twitter, like all social media platforms, has changed drastically over the last couple years. And as the technology and networks have evolved, so too has their wider value and impact.

The learning curve for new users on Twitter is very high, but for those that are finding value on the platform or have had that “aha moment” via tweet, the question I’m most often asked is: “how do I scale, how do I engage more, how do I become a power user?”

I’ll admit I’m a technology and tools geek, (see my post: “40+ Social Tools I use for Personal Branding Success”) but before I share with you my favorite tools, you must understand that there is no easy button – to find value and build relationships, it takes effort and lots of work, just as it does offline.

Here are the 14 apps, tools and tactics that I use when engaging on Twitter. For me, engagement on Twitter must go beyond a RT, favorite or 140 character exchange. Embracing content and embedded material, such as custom graphics, audio clips and video, in combination with scheduling and social listening tools like Buffer and Hootsuite, not only allows you to stand out from the crowd, but enables you to generate engagement and conversations. My social media and personal branding philosophy is #ShowUcare, and if you embrace these tools you’ll have more time to be human, build relationships and do just that.

1. TweetDeck – Active, real-time dashboard that allows you engage and share from multiple twitter accounts.

14 Apps and Tools To Transform Your Twitter Engagement | Social Media Today

2. Buffer – Tweet scheduling, RSS feed management, content suggestions, engagement analytics, team collaboration

14 Apps and Tools To Transform Your Twitter Engagement | Social Media Today

3. Hootsuite – Social media management, RSS feed management, social listening feeds, team and account collaboration

14 Apps and Tools To Transform Your Twitter Engagement | Social Media Today

4. Canva & Pablo by Buffer – Create custom graphics easily to share on Twitter

14 Apps and Tools To Transform Your Twitter Engagement | Social Media Today

5. Periscope Meerkat – Live streaming video apps, leverages Twitter connections, posts live stream links to Twitter feed.

14 Apps and Tools To Transform Your Twitter Engagement | Social Media Today

6. Twitter Lists – Organize and filter your Twitter followers into organized feeds, subscribe and follow others lists.

7. ManageFlitter – Manage your followers, clear inactive followers, compare your followers to others, find new people to follow.

8. Mention – Social listening with alerts for each time your name, Twitter handle or other words.

9. Klear (formerly Twtrland) – Dashboard view of your account, influencers accounts and content being shared by your followers and followers of topics you follow

10. Twitter Video – 30 second video’s embedded into Twitter, take videos saying thank you or storytelling beyond 140 characters.

11. TweetBot or Twitter Mobile App – Leverage downtime with mobile Twitter apps, customize notifications to understand when your mentioned so you can engage in real-time.

12. Topsy – Search hashtags, compare hashtags and trends to better understand hashtags being used and which hashtags are best.

13. TweetChat / Nurph – Sites dedicated to Twitter chats, enables users to follow only chat hashtag to organize conversation.  Read more on Twitter chats here!

14. Meshfire – Twitter dashboard organized for team and campaign engagement, leverages artificial intelligence to give unique view of twitter conversations.