To start this topic on fair ground, we own several web properties and a few of them we use for experimental purposes, to push the limits of white hat search engine optimization. One of these sites got penalized by the infamous Google Penguin update which caused our very well ranking site to drop to page fifteen of Google’s search engine results in a single day.
Yahoo Site Explorer was completely transferred to Bing's Webmaster Tools on November 21, 2011. After the transfer Yahoo Site Explorer is no longer available for use. The change cut out a great SEO research tool that was available to the public for free. A tool that the majority of webmasters were using to research or get a general idea of the backlinks of the competing websites in their niche or even their own website.
Our studies have shown that the any of the following signals are enough to get your site functionally removed from family safe searches (anywhere from a -8 to -500 penalty, or even banned – the more that’s wrong, the higher the penalty). Avoid these at all costs.
Bounce Rate: +50% Index or Sitewide Average Bounce Rate
Our studies show this is one of the triggers for a Panda review. If your “back to SERPs” bounce rate, or your average sitewide bounce, exceeds 50%, this may trigger a deeper check (and a “Pandalization” for any given related query, or family of queries) as it may indicate low quality pages. If the majority of your pages have poor usage metrics, this can be enough to cause a Panda review or penalty. Consider this one of many spam signals.
Hyphens, Domain Length, and Disreputable TLDs
Avoid having more than 2 hyphens in your domain name, or it being longer than 4 words. E.g.:
BEST (Actionish): acmeherbal.com OR buyacmeherbal.com OR goherbal.com OR acme.com (then use EMQ once in file names or in the Title tag) BEST (Infoish): herbalshampoohelp.com OR herbalhelp.org OR shampooforyou.net
WORSE: herbal-shampoo-review.info, TITLE: Herbal Shampoo, Buy Herbal Shampoo, Herbal Shampoo Reviews
The following is the list of all known spam signals that may combine to cause a site to be algorithmically penalized and reduced in SERP pages. Google has over 200 ranking signals, and so this list is possibly incomplete. Site owners want to maximize the former Useful signals, and minimize the following Useless or Spam signals. These signals are broken down into PageRank algorithmic signals and likely Panda signals.
Any site that wants to be considered reputable in Google needs to be vouched for by other sites Google finds reputable. Reputable signals that Google tracks and lists in your semantic index consist of (in order of weight and importance):
1) Followed Links*
2) Nofollowed Links
3) Exact URL mentions (e.g.: http://www.xyz.com is great or xyz.com sucks, etc.)
4) Brand / Name mentions (e.g.: xyz is a great company, or xyz is a great product, etc.)
For years onpage SEO has largely concerned itself with adding the exact phrases to one’s site that people are searching for in the search engines in order to rank for said phrases. However, this is no longer required, and actually can be detrimental if overdone. Instead, site owners who rank for a query are the ones that can most precisely and obviously match the supposed intent of those queries.
The following four (4) attributes are signals that the site in question is a useful, even vital site for the search queries for which it tries to rank. The more one maximizes these attributes, the safer they will be long term.
These are the signals that indicate your site is a “quality” site in Google’s perception:
1) Manually reviewed as “Useful” or even “Vital” for any particular query*
Every site has factors working for and against it in regards to its search engine ranking position (SERP). The following Post-Panda SEO Best Practices report will list these good and bad SEO factors as “Useful / Anti-Spam Signals”, “Useless / Aggregate Spam Signals”, and finally “Standalone Spam Signals.”