Penguin Update Coming: An Ominous End to 2015 [MONTHLY SUMMARY OF SEARCH]

penguin-159524_1280Gary Illyes of Google indicated the next Penguin update is by end-of-year. While not acknowledged by G
ary Illes, this Penguin update is rumored to be continuous, and a
permanent part of Google’s algorithm. If the rumors are true, it will be welcome relief for many
sites that are penalized, making amends (through disavowing, etc), and waiting up to a year to see the penalty lifted.

There has actually been some confusion, spread by Google,as to whether these updates are “realtime & continuous” or not. Gone are the days where a penalty might be matched up between dates of Google updates and a sudden loss of rankings and traffic.


1. Use your keywords, in a natural way

Be relevant for your keywords, but don’t get crazy. Make sure you are not over-optimizing on your site around a limited set of keywords. Consider that the more competitive the topic, the more content you need AROUND the topic. The wrong approach is becoming repetitive and beyond what feels like natural, human readable content.

2. Disavow bad links

Links can go bad: Sites get penalized, or maybe Google changes their guidelines. Regardless, link disavowal is an important part of modern SEO. It can be hard to find all sources of links, but start with Webmaster Tools. We also subscribe to many tools for link research: Google hasn’t found all of your site’s bad links yet, and they also do not report all of the links they do find!

3. Maximize your good links

Many times pages move or removed from a site, and Google stops counting the inbound links (from other sites) to those pages. What a huge loss of authority this can be! Now is the time to maximize your existing link authority: Simply 301 redirect old links to their proper new locations.

4. Get more good links

Google weighs hundreds of factors in ranking websites, but links consistently have been shown to be a top factor. The best way to get great links is to be awesome, or produce awesome content – and then get the word out!


And Google Panda is allegedly STILL rolling out – since July! So make sure your Technical SEO house is in order.


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!

How Apple Is Changing The Mobile Internet [MONTHLY SUMMARY OF SEARCH]

Remember back when Google focused on the user? Back before organic results were overtaken with PPC keyboard-509465_1280ads and knowledge graphs – and back before ads triggered by last night’s searches? It was a simpler time. Apple’s bold new moves hearken back to this simpler time, and their emphasis on user experience is likely to be a big win.

1. Ad blocking

As mobile has exploded, the rise of mobile advertising has meant big profits for Google. Ads have made the mobile experience somewhat undesirable, with bandwidth usage and speed being the primary factors. It’s no wonder that one of the new “Ad blockers” allowed by Apple was named Peace. Click-through-rates on mobile have long been suspiciously high, thanks to the fingers of users navigating free apps filled with advertisements. We once audited a manufacturing company’s PPC account to find the amazing clickthrough in their app ads were simply toddlers playing a construction game.

This abuse is what prompted change. With one fell swoop, Apple allowed ad blockers at a level that both apps and browsers can be cleansed of ads. Early feedback is that mobile browsing is quite pleasant, and ad blocking is likely to go mainstream.

This isn’t just a big shift for mobile ads, but also for remarketing/retargeting ads. With remarketing, ads can be displayed based on sites you’ve visited, shopping carts you’ve abandoned, or even searches you’ve made. It’s a great way to stay in front of – or even annoy – your audience. With one fell swoop, ad blocking apps are likely to snuff out remarketing opportunities as well.

2. Spotlight

“Apple’s spotlight is the stealth search engine you’ve been using,” says Jason Calacanis. Spotlight is fueled by Bing, and provides search as part of the operating system. No need to even visit a website to search. And app results are often prioritized above web results! There are also no ads in Spotlight, and no privacy concerns.

It’s hard to say how Spotlight will evolve, but “Applebot” has been crawling the web since Spring 2015. It even follows directives in robots.txt specifically for Googlebot! This is likely to make a small dent in Google’s business, regardless.


Reactions from the advertising industry are across the entire spectrum of responses: Some say users won’t go to the trouble of setting up ad blocking, others see this as an ad-pocalypse. But with change always comes opportunity. And without ads everywhere, where to spend ad dollars?

  • SEO (search engine optimization): As long as machines are trying to rank content, there will be place for SEO. Merchants will want their products to come up first on Amazon, Google, Etsy, and everywhere else buyers are searching.
  • PPC (pay per click): Most ad blockers are likely not going to block PPC ads. But aren’t Google and Facebook just giant ad networks with search/social features?!
  • ASO: App search optimization to get those deeplinks in apps in front of Spotlight. App developers will always want to outrank competitors in app stores, as well.
  • Native Ads: Native ads look like content on the site itself. Advertorials, featured and sponsored content can be hard for both humans and software to pick out.

A brave new world lies ahead!

5 Biggest SEO Fails seen in 100+ Web Redesigns, and 2 to watch out for! [MONTHLY SUMMARY OF SEARCH]

With Hyper Dog Media turning 11 this month, we having been looking back at the most common SEO
problems created by website redesigns. On some website redesigns, we’ve been on the team preventing
these SEO killers from happening. But in the vast majority of cases, we are brought in after a web redesign kills organic – and sometimes referral – traffic.

Here are four potential problems we see time and again

macbook-624707_12801. 301 redirects of old pages

As website technologies have evolved, so have URLs. An oft forgotten part of website redesigns is the 301 redirecting of old page locations. Traffic can shrink instantly, but the conventional point of view was that Google will figure it out. I’m not sure if that approach ever worked – for anyone – but especially now it is absolutely vital to 301 redirect old page locations to their new equivalents.

Not only should URLs be redirected from the previous version of the site, but of ALL previous versions of a site. Doing so helps these key visitor groups stay happy:

  • Visitors that have bookmarked a page: Don’t make these folks return to Google when they could stay on your site.
  • Search engines that have ranked a page: If a page is ranking well, you don’t want to lose that!
  • Webmasters that have linked to your page: Dead links tend to get removed. But also, 301 redirects preserve the rankings boost from these inbound links.
  • Visitors to other sites that have followed a link to your page: Referral visitors are notoriously impatient when links are dead.

Having dynamic content in various stages of the web’s development has often meant having various suffixes on URLs: .shtml, .pl, .php and/or many different parameters. Have you redirected these? Consider pulling ancient page URLs from analytics,, and even old backups. We’ve seen rankings boosts among clients that justify this level of obsession with 301 redirects!

2. Handling the development site


During the development phase, Google can sometimes discover new website versions. It is fascinating the many ways Google can discover content… until they find and penalize for duplicate content!


You blocked the development version? Excellent. Now don’t forget to unblock when you go live! Whether it’s a robots.txt file, password authentication, or robots metatags on the pages, we’ve seen these blocking techniques go live with the new site. Make it part of your launch checklist to remove these. The consequences of lost indexed pages, traffic and rankings are severe and all too easy.


In the rush to launch a new website, the development server might be left behind. These old subdomains or subdirectories have a way of showing up, though! Make sure you nuke that old server (from space, it’s the only way to be sure!). Or, just take it offline.

3. 404 error pages

With larger web development changes, the 404 error page can disappear. Or it might start returning a 302 redirect! If your site has changed CMS, web server, or scripting languages make sure a friendly 404 error page comes up for missing pages, has analytics code on it, and returns a code 404.

4. Canonical tags

Canonical tags are a wonderful way to prevent duplicate content penalties. Unfortunately, some things can go wrong. We’ve seen sites that describe every version of a page as canonical, which is like communicating noise to Googlebot. It’s worse than saying nothing at all.

One valid implementation we’ve seen causing trouble is the use of relative canonical tags. We’ve seen a tag such as this:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”/services” /> show up on several subdomains/ protocols:

This can confuse Googlebot, as both pages are describing themselves as the canonical version. It’s best to use an absolute URL, and make sure your server isn’t spitting this out for both http and https: <link rel=”canonical” href=”” />

5. Old dirty sitemap.xml files

The sitemap.xml file is an excellent way to communicate URLs to Google, along with freshness and priority. But we encounter many sitemap.xml files that are full of these problems:

  • Old, dead, missing pages
  • URLs that redirect
  • URLs that do not match what Google can crawl, or those listed in canonical tags


And here are two more problems we can see likely to happen in redesigns this year:

6. HTTPS Implementation

HTTPS was added as a small ranking signal in the last year, and many sites have made the switch. Or have they? Often image files, 3rd party scripts, or other elements mean that not all page elements are https. Google has let this slide, but recently Google said last week that may change.

7. Mobile Friendly pages

The mobile update ranks pages individually, so it’s important to test your site’s most important landing pages on mobile devices. But also check devices are indeed triggering mobile sites to show: Even big brands such as Noodles & Company can discover their mobile site isn’t being triggered.


Websites are meant to be changed. Not only do prospects expect fresh content and design at proper intervals, but search engines do too! With Google’s newest updates, there are more changes happening than ever. Change is good. Embrace change, and redesign that site – but be careful not to make these common mistakes!


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!