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Unexpected Results From Internal Linking


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#1 noobuk

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Posted 15 June 2015 - 01:10 PM

I work as a developer for one of my clients. There was an interesting conversation this morning, which I got pulled into, because;

 

  • the client has little SEO knowledge and no in house expert;
  • because I'm in IT; and
  • I was unlucky.


This was the scenario.

They run short term loans business which has typical pages you would associate with an online business plus some landing pages for SEO. One of their pages ranks fairly well, but for a very limited number of 2 phrases.

They also have a Wordpress blog - there's many things on there including about 20 or 30 targeted articles in a silo structure.

One of their landing pages "payday loans" has the keyword "instant payday loans" in the title. About a week ago they changed a couple of articles in the silo (apparently it wasn't being utilised properly). They reworked links with anchor text of "payday loans", and "check it out", low down on the page, replacing them with a single link from each article, high up - which are now optimised for "instant payday loans", and "fast payday loans". The anchor text was exact match.

Within 2 days there was a distinct improvement in some of the secondary keywords - for instance "instant loans", jumped 15 places from 30 to 15, and there were other examples. Encouraged by this, the guy carried out the same process on another 10 articles, all closely related to payday loans". Over the weekend there was more movement, however, instead of similar improvements across the board, some of the keywords took a big step backwards - "Instant Loans" dropped back 10 places.

I tried to help them analyse it as best I could but its a bit beyond the scope of my knowledge.

We checked webmaster tools for any anomalies - Majestic SEO for any back link movements and SEM Rush - interestingly it showed no significant drop off in traffic.

I made a list, of what I though might have caused the movement, then proceeded to analyse each point, until I discounted it, or promoted it to a maybe.

The a couple things, I have left on the list, which are are:
 

  • The page title contains "Instant Payday Loans", not "Payday Loans" - could this be too specific for the board range of keywords that are now being directed to the landing page? In other words, is it likely to perform better if its changed to "Payday Loans"?
  • There's not enough focus in the article keywords. Each anchor text is exact match - "blah blah payday loans". Would it be better to have more focus on "Payday Loans" as the main anchor?
  • A combination of both the above.
  • None of the above.


Of course, the steps taken could be reversed, but it would be better to have an understanding that can then be positively applied. If there are any views as to whats happening or why, I'd appreciate the help and advice.

Thanks in advance.



#2 chrishirst

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Posted 15 June 2015 - 06:18 PM

 

 

One of their landing pages "payday loans" has the keyword "instant payday loans" in the title. About a week ago they changed a couple of articles in the silo (apparently it wasn't being utilised properly). They reworked links with anchor text of "payday loans", and "check it out", low down on the page, replacing them with a single link from each article, high up - which are now optimised for "instant payday loans", and "fast payday loans". The anchor text was exact match.

 

Also known as "Junk SEO". Sure it will have short term effects on equally useless 'rank checking' results. But it is a task that will have to go on for ever and NEVER, EVER create stable, useful results.

 

 

 

I tried to help them analyse it as best I could but its a bit beyond the scope of my knowledge.

And their's it seems.

 

 

 

 

We checked webmaster tools for any anomalies - Majestic SEO for any back link movements and SEM Rush - interestingly it showed no significant drop off in traffic.

 

No surprises there then.

 

It seems like everyone involved has just enough knowledge to be dangerous, and you are the only one being honest about it.

 

Do you, or they monitor anything useful? Or are they all stuck in the last century pastime of 'rank checking'?



#3 AvyGuttman

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Posted 15 June 2015 - 09:40 PM

 The a couple things, I have left on the list, which are are:

 

  • 1)The page title contains "Instant Payday Loans", not "Payday Loans" - could this be too specific for the board range of keywords that are now being directed to the landing page? In other words, is it likely to perform better if its changed to "Payday Loans"?
  • 2)There's not enough focus in the article keywords. Each anchor text is exact match - "blah blah payday loans". Would it be better to have more focus on "Payday Loans" as the main anchor?
  • A combination of both the above.

-----

 

1) The page title is "Instant payday loans" <-------- it does in fact contain the term "payday loans". Direct a range of anchor text that is varied and relevant to the landing page in question but most of all that makes users want to click on it. Think of anchor text as a way for you to implement a call to action that acts as an option to move the user on to another page, rather than playing your key word games.

 

2) Let's be real here, your content is probably thin dribble that your client uses as bait for desperate people who barely read the "articless" or "blogs" anyhow. You just want them to link through, ride your funnel and bite the bait. Make your anchor text something that attracts people and gets them to click and jump into payday hell and pay your clients 18% interest every two weeks.

 

Example

-----------

 

Desperate and broke? Good! Need some cash fast but your paycheck is next week? Are you hankering for that scotch bottle? Your kids need clothes, right now? Wife kicked you out? You arent going to wait a week for cash! No! You aren't going to even wait a day or a fleeting moment! Don't stress it! We can help you put yourself up the creek without a paddle!


Edited by Jill, 16 June 2015 - 08:17 AM.
Seriously? You linked to loan sites here?


#4 Michael Martinez

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Posted 16 June 2015 - 02:06 AM

Google has a "Payday Loans" algorithm that punishes Websites for being too aggressive about keywords related to that industry.  I don't recall if it's an automated filter or something that has to be updated manually, but it's conceivable the site has ventured into the dark area of "overly aggressive optimization" and even if the Payday Loans algorithm itself is not to blame some other trust filters could be kicking in.

 

I would undo all the changes and wait 1-2 weeks to see what happens.  If it's an automated algorithm you should see a return to about what you had before.

 

Don't use exact-match anchor text.  That is a major red flag to the search engines now.



#5 noobuk

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Posted 16 June 2015 - 04:18 AM



 
Also known as "Junk SEO". Sure it will have short term effects on equally useless 'rank checking' results. But it is a task that will have to go on for ever and NEVER, EVER create stable, useful results.
 
And their's it seems.
 
 
 
No surprises there then.
 
It seems like everyone involved has just enough knowledge to be dangerous, and you are the only one being honest about it.
 
Do you, or they monitor anything useful? Or are they all stuck in the last century pastime of 'rank checking'?

 
Chris,
 
Thanks for your reply. You're not wrong with any of the points you make, however, could you please explain which bit you're referring to in your first point.
 
They do have access to some tool but I don't know to what level. What are your thoughts as to what they should be looking for?



 The a couple things, I have left on the list, which are are:
 
  • 1)The page title contains "Instant Payday Loans", not "Payday Loans" - could this be too specific for the board range of keywords that are now being directed to the landing page? In other words, is it likely to perform better if its changed to "Payday Loans"?
  • 2)There's not enough focus in the article keywords. Each anchor text is exact match - "blah blah payday loans". Would it be better to have more focus on "Payday Loans" as the main anchor?
  • A combination of both the above.

-----
 
1) The page title is "Instant payday loans" <-------- it does in fact contain the term "payday loans". Direct a range of anchor text that is varied and relevant to the landing page in question but most of all that makes users want to click on it. Think of anchor text as a way for you to implement a call to action that acts as an option to move the user on to another page, rather than playing your key word games.
 
2) Let's be real here, your content is probably thin dribble that your client uses as bait for desperate people who barely read the "articless" or "blogs" anyhow. You just want them to link through, ride your funnel and bite the bait. Make your anchor text something that attracts people and gets them to click and jump into payday hell and pay your clients 18% interest every two weeks.
 
Example
!


 
Lol, thanks for your reply Avy.
 
In terms of the content on the blog - much of it is great stuff - its written outside the context of "loans" and regularly attracts 1000's of readers a month.
 
The payday articles are written with the same intent, however, they are at the end of the day articles about "payday loans", and are never going to attract the same interest.
 
With regards to the ethics, I'm afraid that's beyound my remit - I like you, get paid by someone to do a job, whether I like it or not.



Google has a "Payday Loans" algorithm that punishes Websites for being too aggressive about keywords related to that industry.  I don't recall if it's an automated filter or something that has to be updated manually, but it's conceivable the site has ventured into the dark area of "overly aggressive optimization" and even if the Payday Loans algorithm itself is not to blame some other trust filters could be kicking in.
 
I would undo all the changes and wait 1-2 weeks to see what happens.  If it's an automated algorithm you should see a return to about what you had before.
 
Don't use exact-match anchor text.  That is a major red flag to the search engines now.

 
Just to be clear about the exact match anchor text Michael - the text is exact match from the article passing the link juice, so an article about "fast loans" links to a landing page about "payday loans" using the anchor text "fast loans".

#6 torka

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Posted 16 June 2015 - 08:46 AM

I agree with Michael, it sounds as though they may possibly have tripped the "payday loans" algorithm with some overly aggressive "optimizing." It's not just exact-match anchor text, but the totality of what's been done that would push things over the edge.

 

Second, checking rankings is inherently unreliable, so you don't really know what the effects of these changes may have been. At least not with the kind of precision they think they "know." Google attempts to personalize search results (even for visitors not logged in to a Google account), so the rankings the company sees when they check may or may not reflect what the majority of the searchers see. Using a third party rank checking tool is even worse, because at least if you're checking rankings in Google, you're... well... in Google. Using a third party tool, you don't know how they came up with those rankings or whether they have any relationship to what real people see or what. So either way, whether you simply run a search in Google or you use a third-party tool, the rankings you see may not have anything to do with Real Life.

 

Beyond that, ranking checking is by necessity based on a list of keywords. You might be getting all kinds of traffic (and conversions) from other terms that you never thought to check... but you might never know if you're focused on the "rankings" for your chosen "target keywords."

 

A more reliable measure might be to look at traffic from organic search. Typically, if a page ranks higher, it will get more clicks... so a page that shows up higher for the majority of searchers will get more traffic than a page that shows up lower for most searchers. By comparing organic search traffic before and after a change, you'll have a better idea of whether the majority of searchers are seeing the page higher, lower or unchanged in the search results.

 

Also, by focusing on traffic acquisition to start with, they're more likely to continue on and look at visitor behavior. That's where the rubber really meets the road. It's not about how many visitors you get, it's about how many of your visitors convert. Until your landlord and utility company will accept ranking reports or traffic stats in lieu of cash, what matters is closing the deal. All the rest are just distracting shiny things.

 

Looking at behavior and conversions will allow them to identify the specific types of pages and content that seem to resonate with visitors -- and, conversely, the types that don't. So they can  take the time they're wasting now chasing rankings and use it to improve the content that isn't converting. More conversions will equal more actual revenue, which is bound to be more satisfying (and more beneficial to the business) than "higher rankings."

 

My :02:

 

--Torka :oldfogey:


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#7 AvyGuttman

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Posted 16 June 2015 - 11:25 AM

*****Sorry about the links, was a joke and I should have known better but honestly didnt mean it any other way and for sure will not happen again...I will just underline instead ;)*****

 

 

 

 

Just to be clear about the exact match anchor text Michael - the text is exact match from the article passing the link juice, so an article about "fast loans" links to a landing page about "payday loans" using the anchor text "fast loans".

 

I was joking in my reply and glad you have the sense of humor to see it. I was however serious about not bothering with exact match anchor text and others have said the same but here are (3) possibly useful examples... 

 

(1)A made up article about the struggling workforce... this would be a made up excerpt...

 

"...many of today's jobs entail a workforce composed of people with college degrees and job salaries that are simply not paying enough for those hard working folks who struggle to make their ends meet.

 

(2)made up article about the increase in the price of groceries vs. the growth of salaries...another made up excerpt....

 

"...and so with the rising prices of agricultural goods and the stagnation of many worker's salaries, by the time it is payday, those people are late with bill payments without at times money to even pay for the bare necessities, like groceries and clothes..."

 

(3)One more...a made up except from a made up article about the economics of unemployment:

 

"There are four basic categories of employment, such as employees, self employed, unpaid family workers, participants in government funded training schemes. There are however many people, who do in fact work every day, or even hold a secondary emplyment, only to struggle when it comes time to pay their bills and much of this is often due to the timing of paychecks in relation to expenses."

 

Lol, thanks for your reply Avy.

 
In terms of the content on the blog - much of it is great stuff - its written outside the context of "loans" and regularly attracts 1000's of readers a month.
 
The payday articles are written with the same intent, however, they are at the end of the day articles about "payday loans", and are never going to attract the same interest.
 
With regards to the ethics, I'm afraid that's beyound my remit - I like you, get paid by someone to do a job, whether I like it or not.

If you have great stuff but it is written outside the context of the actual product or service your client is selling then it isnt great stuff. Great would be related and relevant topics and there are plenty seeing as the service offered is a very broad topic which dates back very far and with it an intersting history and much to say and discuss that would interest your target audience.

 

payday loan articles? No, write about topics that overlap and are related to payday loans in such a way that you offer an added insight and value and solution to those web surfers who land on the content...then with internal linking send them around and funnel them to the appropriate spot where they will convert.

 

With regards to ethics, you are using that age old and somewhat weak argument that sounds like, "well its a job and I have no choice, or someone has to do it"...With the power to choose comes the power to hold on to one's morals even if it means struggling or finding other clients.


Edited by AvyGuttman, 16 June 2015 - 11:38 AM.


#8 Michael Martinez

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Posted 16 June 2015 - 04:37 PM

 

Just to be clear about the exact match anchor text Michael - the text is exact match from the article passing the link juice, so an article about "fast loans" links to a landing page about "payday loans" using the anchor text "fast loans".

 

 

It is my understanding that is exactly one of the things the Payday Loans algorithm is supposed to be looking for.  But exact-match anchors have been brought into discussions about other Google algorithms/filters.  It's probably a very bad idea to use them any more.



#9 noobuk

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Posted 17 June 2015 - 04:51 AM

*****Sorry about the links, was a joke and I should have known better but honestly didnt mean it any other way and for sure will not happen again...I will just underline instead ;)*****

 

 

 

I was joking in my reply and glad you have the sense of humor to see it. I was however serious about not bothering with exact match anchor text and others have said the same but here are (3) possibly useful examples... 

 

(1)A made up article about the struggling workforce... this would be a made up excerpt...

 

"...many of today's jobs entail a workforce composed of people with college degrees and job salaries that are simply not paying enough for those hard working folks who struggle to make their ends meet.

 

(2)made up article about the increase in the price of groceries vs. the growth of salaries...another made up excerpt....

 

"...and so with the rising prices of agricultural goods and the stagnation of many worker's salaries, by the time it is payday, those people are late with bill payments without at times money to even pay for the bare necessities, like groceries and clothes..."

 

(3)One more...a made up except from a made up article about the economics of unemployment:

 

"There are four basic categories of employment, such as employees, self employed, unpaid family workers, participants in government funded training schemes. There are however many people, who do in fact work every day, or even hold a secondary emplyment, only to struggle when it comes time to pay their bills and much of this is often due to the timing of paychecks in relation to expenses."

 

If you have great stuff but it is written outside the context of the actual product or service your client is selling then it isnt great stuff. Great would be related and relevant topics and there are plenty seeing as the service offered is a very broad topic which dates back very far and with it an intersting history and much to say and discuss that would interest your target audience.

 

payday loan articles? No, write about topics that overlap and are related to payday loans in such a way that you offer an added insight and value and solution to those web surfers who land on the content...then with internal linking send them around and funnel them to the appropriate spot where they will convert.

 

With regards to ethics, you are using that age old and somewhat weak argument that sounds like, "well its a job and I have no choice, or someone has to do it"...With the power to choose comes the power to hold on to one's morals even if it means struggling or finding other clients.

 

Thanks for the thorough response Avy.

 

We'll agree to disagree with the latter.



#10 AvyGuttman

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Posted 17 June 2015 - 09:12 AM

 

Thanks for the thorough response Avy.

 

We'll agree to disagree with the latter.

My pleasure. I hope my suggestions are of value. Again, there are so many topics related to loans, money, the workforce...and it goes on and on...people who would need a payday loan are employed and are struggling with their cash flow. There is much to be said to this niche market that would relate and interest them. Giving money and employment advice, like tips is definitely helpful.

 

We don't even have to disagree, I have written sales scripts and ebooks for people selling ebooks targeted at obesity and improving brain power. Clearly I had the choice and I chose the paycheck and had no moral dilema...Good luck with your client and all the best


Edited by AvyGuttman, 17 June 2015 - 09:13 AM.





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