Penguin 3.0: A year in the waiting

Google’s “Penguin Updates” target the easiest link building practices. Since Google’s algorithm uses links to determine whether a website deserves to rank, they use the Penguin Updates to punish sites that might be getting links in an automated fashion.

Penguin Update 1: April 24, 2012, dubbed v1.0Google Penguin Hyper Dog Media SEO
Penguin Update 2: May 25, 2012
Penguin Update 3: October 5, 2012
Penguin Update 4 : May 22, 2013, dubbed v2.0
Penguin Update 5: October 4, 2013
Penguin Update 6: October 17, 2014, dubbed v3.0

Penguin 3.0 was the sixth Penguin Update from Google, and actually much smaller than the original Penguin Update. It started on October 17, and is still rolling out. But it hasn’t been as much of a hit as previous updates:
1. Google says less than 1% of queries will be affected. That’s less than a third of the original Penguin Update.

2. No new “signals” have been added. It was more of a “refresh” than an update. For those sites that disavowed or removed heavy amounts of links, it was a welcome change.

3. Talk of a larger Penguin update has already started, expected in Spring of 2015.

Vigilance and Risk Management
Last year’s update also opened sites up to more dirty tricks from competitors. Negative SEO has been possible for a long time, and only recently acknowledged by Google. The newest forms of Negative SEO put a competitor’s site into Google’s crosshairs with:
– Links from the worst kinds of sites
– Links targeting the worst kinds of keywords
– Links targeting the right keywords, but in unnatural amounts

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“How do you write great title tags and meta descriptions?”

“How do you write great title tags and meta descriptions?” That is the question that clients ask me most frequently. And it’s a loaded question for sure! There are several components to authoring great titles and descriptions, but there are also a few considerations that each client will want to consider for themselves.

Hyper Dog Media SEO Boulder

Where are those title tags? Find them in the tab of your browser.

I’ll address the considerations first. You want to write title tags that are Google-bot-pleasing, but you also want to have titles and descriptions that are functional and helpful to the human visitors to your website. This can be tricky when the approach can be different when thinking of writing for bots versus humans. My best advice: somewhere right in the middle is your best bet! Write naturally and use the same voice that you are using in your page content, but include keyword targets that are specific to the page

Title tags must fall in a range of characters, but also need to fall into a size range to appear complete in Google search. This size range has to do with the number of pixels that a title tag takes up on the page. For example, if you’ve got a title tag with a couple of w’s in it, that will take up far more space than a title with several lower case l’s and i’s. Just look at this spacing difference:  www lil. The three skinnier letters take up about as much space as one of the w’s! Why does this matter? Well, in Google search results, you are allotted a specific amount of space for the title of your page. This went into effect earlier this year when Google updated its search results page. So, you’ll want your page titles to appear complete in the results, while getting you the most out of this limited function. Unfortunately, this makes it really tricky to say that there is a specific number of characters that you should use for each title tag. Around 52-58 characters is probably a pretty safe bet, but if you think you might be using a lot of wide characters, choose to use a few less characters.

Hyper Dog Media Meta Descriptions

The meta description appears in search results, it’s that black text below the (green) website address.

Meta descriptions also have a size range that you want to target for full effect in Google search results. Meta descriptions are not used in Google’s algorithm, but a good meta description raises your organic click-through-rate. Google can tell human searchers are clicking through to your site, and likely takes that into account. Google also does see short or duplicate meta descriptions as a site quality issue – so I guess it is indeed part of their overall formula. Meta descriptions of between 139 and 156 characters seem to work best. Again, strive to convey your message to human visitors with your natural writing style, but include those keyword target specific to the page. When writing meta descriptions, entice users to click on your search engine result by listing benefits and a call to action. In addition, the meta description should be different for each page of your website.

I have written a plethora of title tags and meta descriptions for a wide range of clients and what I’ve learned is that if you are organized and set up systems, even the largest websites can have all new titles and descriptions before you know it. I recommend setting up a spreadsheet and setting columns for old titles, new titles, character count, old description, new description and character count. Once you get used to using the spreadsheet, you can set the width of the columns to help guide you to the right size while you are writing.

If you are still feeling overwhelmed about getting your titles and descriptions in order, just give me a call. I’ve just about got it down to an art and I’ve also got a few tools in my tool belt that can automate some of the process that may be bogging you down. I’m here to help! Questions? Shoot me an email or a message at @jannavance on Twitter. Good luck!

Summary of Search: Who is Syndicating Who? What to know about syndicating your blog.

Google released a new Panda 4.1 update this month and unique, relevant content and overall site quality has never been more vital. Syndication actually plays a large part in what Google sees as duplicate content. Done correctly, syndication can mean new visitors, brand exposure, social shares, and links to your site (which are seen as “Votes” by Google). When implemented poorly, another site may look to Google like the authoritative source for your content – and your site is seen as a spammy “scraper” site.

Why does it matter?
Google prefers to show a piece of content only once in the top ten results. When Google finds the same content in two places on the internet, it will typically show the most authoritative site in the higher position, and other sites on page 2 or 3 (or 20). But a site with more authority doesn’t necessarily deserve credit for all content it posts.

Canonical tag
A few years ago, Google helped create the “canonical tag” to provide authors a chance to specify the original source for articles that could be syndicated, scraped, or otherwise end up all over the web. It’s a tag that can be placed on other websites, but point back to yours.

This could work well, but many larger sites either
1. cannot (will not) accept a canonical tag pointing back to your website – or
2. They insert their own canonical tag pointing to their own site! What does Google do when two canonical tags are encountered for the same content? Revert back to looking at authority, and the smaller site loses out. If using or LinkedIn to syndicate your content, your own site/blog is likely to lose the authority test!

Hyper Dog Media Monthly Summary of Search October 2014Syndication used to be much easier. In the “old days”, the deal was that if you gave my site unique content, I gave you a link. In 2013, you could still get the link but it might be nofollow. In 2014, the deal is that you probably do not even get the canonical tag.

What to do?
Syndicating your content can provide amazing exposure for your business. Don’t walk away from syndication, but certainly use it in a way that will not harm your own rankings.

1. Ask about policies with the canonical tag
Some sites, such as and do indeed want to place a canonical tag pointing to their own URL as the one true source of the content.

2. Post unique summaries on syndication sites
Everyone wants unique content, so give it to ‘em. Just, do it in summarized form. Post the long, full version of your article on your own website, with a summary or intro on the syndication websites. Both locations should have canonical tags and unique content. In this case, might have a canonical tag pointing to it’s own page but it will be the only place that unique content is located.

PSST! Need a Free Link?
Get a free link for your agency: Would you like our monthly take on the changing world of SEO delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to the Hyper Dog Media SEO Newsletter HERE! When you subscribe, each newsletter will contain a link idea for your business!