Penguin effect on Local? A quick story.


JustinM

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I recently started blogging for a major electronics retailer. It seemed like a huge opportunity because I can pretty much put whatever links I want in the posts. In my eagerness to capitalise I threw in one exact keyword matched link to my sote. Then I noticed that links to external sites were 'nofollow'.

Surprisingly enough, when I mentioned this to my contact, she was happy to add my website to the list of linkable sites. Great.

Then lo and behold, within a couple of days of the 'nofollow' being removed, I fell off page one for local results. So I went back and removed the exact match link and few days later I'm back on page one!

I seem to recall reading elsewhere on the forum that Penguin and link profile have no effect on local results, but my recent experience seems to indicate otherwise.

I'm interested to hear any other thoughts or comments.
 

Phil Rozek

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Interesting story, Justin. Sounds a bit sensitive, even for Penguin, but you did test it pretty scientifically...

My initial thought is it depends on just how exact-match the anchor text was.

My other thought is maybe it was just the straw that broke the camel's back (although I don't know anything about the SEO you've done, obviously).

You know what would be interesting, albeit in a masochistic way? To try it again.
 

Linda Buquet

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I seem to recall reading elsewhere on the forum that Penguin and link profile have no effect on local results, but my recent experience seems to indicate otherwise.
Hi Justin, I don't recall seeing that. I don't really deal with backlinks at all but in my opinion local is primarily about regular organic factors. There are local factors mixed in with the blended results of course. But I don't see why organic penalties would be removed from the mix just because a result was local.
 

Phil Rozek

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@Justin

It just occurred to me: by "the local results," do you mean the Google+Local (AKA Google Places, AKA 7-pack) rankings, or the organic results for local businesses?

Even if you meant the former, Penguin could indirectly affect the Google+Local rankings: if your clients' site gets penalized, that's certainly enough to knock them down in the results. If you meant the latter, a Penguin penalty certainly can do you in.
 

JustinM

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You know what would be interesting, albeit in a masochistic way? To try it again.
@Phil
Not a chance!


I don't see why organic penalties would be removed from the mix just because a result was local.
@Linda
My bad, I'm not sure where I got that idea.

@Phil
Just to clarify, I rank in the 7-pack. I'm just a sole proprietor doing my own local SEO here, not a consultant or anything, hence my total aversion to experimenting with my link profile, educational and all as that may be!
 

Phil Rozek

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@Phil
Just to clarify, I rank in the 7-pack. I'm just a sole proprietor doing my own local SEO here, not a consultant or anything, hence my total aversion to experimenting with my link profile, educational and all as that may be!
Good thing you knew I was just joking! (I'd hate to be responsible for even more link blood on the Penguin's beak...)
 

Marie Ysais

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You said, Links to external sites, I wonder how many sites? If it is a large number then it could have been the straw that broke the camel's back. A bunch of do-follow exact keyword back links can lead to a drop in rankings.
I have read other people testing the same thing out with back links and they would fall and recover just as you described when the links were removed.
I find it interesting and do wish you would test it again......but I understand why you don't want to!;)
 

JustinM

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I'm guessing Marie that this isn't so much the straw that broke the camel's back but the 50 kilo anvil. I've only been doing SEO seriously for about a year (and by no means in a full-time capacity), so it's conceivable that my link profile is so shallow that this one link threw the whole profile into the red zone.

Anyway, it is interesting that I've got this resource (a major retailer's blog) that I can experiment with. I'll be doing so with a bit of caution though as my livelihood is on the line here!
 
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It may be incorrect (or perhaps not) but I just don't go for exact match anchor text anymore. It just seems to risky in light of the fear in the aftermath of the Penguin update. I figure that if you have good On-page and a good link profile, you will have secure rankings for your keywords, and you will not have to worry about future iterations of the Penguin update. - Incidentally, we have a new wave of Penguin on the way very soon :D;)
 

Marie Ysais

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If your back links are shallow....then YEP, it can cause the drop. You need to have more of a mixture. If possible try back links with images, your company name and so on. Once you have more of a back link base then add in a few keyword back links.
 
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I am currently working with a local client that has a Penguin penalty on their Organics and rank on page 2-4 in the SERP's for over 25 local keywords. However, this clients Google Plus Local page ranks on the first page for just about every keyword.

If Penguin is a factor in Local Search it isn't much of one.

I don't think your one link with one exact anchor match is a Penguin issue at all. A Penguin Penalty before Penguin 2.0 is a filter penalty so if you triggered it your rankings wouldn't come back until the next Penguin filter was applied even though you removed the link - usually months apart in filter updates.

If the link you acquired however was a site-wide link (please verify) then I have seen websites with just a few links in their profile that suddenly get a large chunk of links from a site-wide link placement get what I call "quarantined" for a few days and then reappear later.

Bottom line is without more information on your link profile and the type of link that was acquired there is no way to say what caused it but I certainly don't think its a Penguin issue since it came back instantly upon removal. It sounds more like an unusual link pattern or a "quarantine" issue that I have seen a few times with sites that have very few links pointing to them.

I would definitely recommend putting the link back and if you wanted to be safe go with a branded keyword anchor text.

Never be afraid of a link that you naturally earned.
 

Dave

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penquin and panda, as I understand them, are penalties determined by formula or algo. This differentiates them from hand penalties.

On top of numbers of links, some characteristics include where the links are placed on sites, and possibly qualitative measures google uses to evaluate if the "anchor text" links are natural or not. google has been using various measures of this sort for some time in different contexts.

I certainly have felt the penalty of over optimizing using anchor text in some cases in the last year or so. OTOH, I've been doing this stuff for years. and for years past google rewarded sites for this as opposed to penalizing them. I recall an interview with a smart google engineer, possibly around 2008-2010 time frame. He spoke well of the value of anchor text.

Very tricky stuff.

I'd suggest its a good idea to evaluate your links, use tools that evaluate your links and look hard at the volume of anchor text compared to non anchor text and overall links.

I'd also suggest linking into interior pages. Over a long time, so many sites that simply keep posting content, and engage in nothing more than quality content...avoid penalties, get higher rankings, and do well regardless of changing google algos. Links help. They did years ago...they still do now.
 
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penquin and panda, as I understand them, are penalties determined by formula or algo. This differentiates them from hand penalties.

Penguin and Panda both are considered filters and not a part of the actual ranking algorithm but filters applied to the ranking algo. Even though they are not manual filters the updates are. Once the filter has been applied to your site you must fix the problems and then wait for the next update cycle for hopes that you made it out of that filter. Penguin 2.0 as I understand it is being baked into the actual ranking algorithm which is why they are calling it 2.0 so now it's not a filter therefore updates are not applicable and it truly is an automated process.

I feel like I have been researching for a thesis lately on Penguin issues as a lot of local clients went the cheap route with their link building and now have this penalty. If anyone understands this differently then I'm all ears but from what I have researched and experienced it's important to know the difference between an ranking algorithm change and a ranking filter as the resolution time frame is quite different.
 

sergiuliano

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Hi Justin,


Backlinks works on Local Keywords but not for local SEO ;)

For example if you are targeting a keyword as "car rentals miami" - you can use backlinks to improve position on organic results, but if you target "car rentals" for users searching from Miami only, the backlinks will not help you improving your rankings
 

Dave

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Hi Justin,


Backlinks works on Local Keywords but not for local SEO ;)

For example if you are targeting a keyword as "car rentals miami" - you can use backlinks to improve position on organic results, but if you target "car rentals" for users searching from Miami only, the backlinks will not help you improving your rankings
Interesting perspective. First: that kind of effort did work wonders in the past. and for several years as google developed its presentations of local results both in the pac and in organic to respond to what it considered local phrases (even w/out a pac and maps) it Worked.

Its not working to the same extent as it did. I am still seeing evidence it is working, though. But the clear caveat now is that you cannot google bomb w/ anchor text by any stretch of the imagination. If you do get links with that kind of anchor text...you better get other links to the page with different structure to links, different anchor text, possibly just the url...and they better be from acceptable sources rather than through some kind of cheap manipulative methods :)D as I used so often in the past...and worked ;) )

Google's algo's have changed and they are smarter at least IMHO.
 

sergiuliano

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Here is how I argue my previous answer:


Google Reuslts for "car rentals miami" are the same for all users in the US, the USER location is not important, the results are different only for users searching for "car rentals" only.

In the same time, results for "car rentals miami" are different than the results a user from Miami is getting for "car rentals"

Users from Miami are searching 5 times more for "car rentals" than for "car rentals miami" according to Google Trends

What does this means when we talk about the organic results? ( not about the blended ones )

For building the organic results rankings, google is seeing the longtail keyword "car rentals miami" as a generic non-local keyword, and build SERPs based on classic SEO methods, without taking into consideration the Local SEO factors.

Now, if you want to target the longtail ( 20% of what the users are searching ) you shall focus on backlinking, but if you want to go for the 80% of the searches "car rentals" for users from Miami, then you shall build a strong Local SEO strategy.
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JustinM

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I didn't get any email updates so I missed a bunch of replies on this thread! Thanks everybody for taking the time.

Having read Chris' initial reply, I'm inclined to agree with his opinion that this is not a Penguin situation. I'm not worried now about adding the exact match link again.

After my initial disappearance from the map in blended results, and subsequent reappearance, the same sequence occurred again before I fell off for good.

The results were actually changing completely, showing an entirely different set of businesses, and unfortunately for me the SERP has settled on the new order.

No idea what's going on.

I called Google (or requested a call from them - how cool is that?!) to report a problem with the disparity between the categories I was seeing on my Google Places for Business management page, and the categories that were appearing on my page returned from search. The chap told me that Google will basically choose two of your chosen categories and designate those to your page. While I was there he upgraded my page to a Local + page, which seems to have really sent me into the ether. No visibilty in results now. Fingers crossed this situation will improve in time.
 

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