Frequently Asked Questions

Do HubShout Services Comply with Google Webmaster Guidelines?

  • Aqeel Reply

    We recommend that everyone familiarize themselves with Google Webmaster Guidelines in order to make the best decisions for their clients or their own website.

    The majority of the guidelines are very easy to understand and anyone running a business website would be in compliance. Let’s review those:

    • No automatically generated content - All content that we create is 100% original and written by our team of US-based writers.

    • Cloaking - We do not recommend or implement any type of cloaking that would attempt to manipulate rankings.

    • Sneaky redirects - We only recommend redirects for 404 errors and canonicalization errors.

    • Hidden text or links - No. We assume that website users want to see text and links so we do not change their formatting from any other content on a website. Oh and if we are going to take the time to write content, we definitely want it to be visible to and end-user.

    • Doorway pages - We do not create or recommend doorway pages in the sense that Google uses the term. If you read the exact description from Google, however, it includes “multiple pages on your site with similar content designed to rank for specific queries like city or state names.” We do in some cases recommend that businesses who have multiple locations create a page for each of their locations. We typically recommend that those pages include specific information about the location, hours and services offered. We typically also claim a local listing in Google+ for each of these locations and point the Google+ URL to the location page. We recommend those pages for end-user benefit but in many cases those pages rank for “specific queries like city or state names.”

    • Scraped content - We do not recommend scraped content on our client’s sites. We may in some cases recommend certain Twitter, RSS or other news widgets to improve the usability of a site. If that recommendation is made the content is not indexable by a search engine.

    • Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value - We do not recommend affiliate programs. If a client is participating in an affiliate program, we leave it up to them to interpret and determine if they are “adding sufficient value.”

    • Loading pages with irrelevant keywords - No. We spend a lot of time working with customers to find topics and keywords that are relevant to their business.

    • Pages with malicious behavior - No.

    • Abusing Rich Snippets - We check for rich snippet opportunities in our onsite assessment. We do not ever recommend adding rich snippets for content that does not exist. The one murky area is whether a website can add Authorship markup to content that isn’t specifically written by one person (e.g., homepage). Since popular plugins like Yoast SEO enable adding authorship to all pages, we follow their lead and recommend adding authorship to the homepage.

    • Automated Queries - We do not initiate any queries of Google services. We do use 3rd party data sources to help calculate the value of organic rankings and provide metrics for measuring your campaign.

    • Avoid participating in link schemes - See below for detailed discussion.

    Perhaps the most confusing part of Google’s guidelines has to do with their guidance to avoid participating in link schemes. If you review the search engine optimization press, there is a tremendous amount of discussion about what constitutes a link scheme. In 2013 and 2014, Google has taken a number of high profile manual actions against blog networks, guest blog posting coordination services, widgets and other marketing programs. At the same time, Google has launched a part of its algorithm (Penguin) that detects unnatural linking and removes the value of those links.

    Before reviewing link schemes more closely, it is important to understand that Google’s original innovation was building a search engine that crawled links across the web in order to prioritize the SERPs. Prior to Google, search engines used page content and meta data on the page. Google used “backlinks” or links to your website content as votes. Links are still important and Google even recorded a video in 2014 confirming that links will be an important part of its algorithm for the foreseeable future.

    Links are an integral part of the Google algorithm but you can’t scheme to get links. How does Google define a link scheme? Well, they say “any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results.” That means you need links but you can’t actively try to get links.

    Based on this definition, you are permitted to build links, but only WITHOUT the intention of manipulating search ranking. This is a nearly impossible standard, and pretty much means that ALL SEO activity is against Google guidelines based on a literal read of their language. All SEO’s we’ve encountered approach online marketing trying to create high-value content placements for brand and audience - that will ALSO attract a link. And they do so knowing that links will help rankings. It is important that all clients are aware of Google’s purist position before they engage in any SEO activity.

    As an interesting side note, the SEO community has challenged Google to do SEO for a small non-profit or relatively unknown brand with a small budget to demonstrate how great content without a focus on links would actually earn links and improve rankings. Google has declined this invitation.

    For our clients, we work to create opportunities to promote their business. We follow our REAL SEO approach which focuses on creating end-user value. We work to align their business with the news cycle and seek opportunities for quotes and press releases. The content is published both on their website as well as relevant websites. We work hard to make them an expert resource that would be cited in relevant news stories with statistics and facts - which helps earn citations.

    We believe strongly in:

    • Diversification - don’t rely on any one tactic. This goes for your SEO strategy as well as your overall marketing strategy.

    • Building a brand - even if you are small company, have a position and a unique selling proposition. Brands seek out press opportunities and sponsorships and don’t rely 100% on non-branded search phrases.

    • Making your content interesting - we align our clients with the news cycle because people like to read the news.

    • Putting Audience First - ALL publishing and syndication should be done in the name of the end-user. Only place links that are editorially appropriate and enhance end-client experience.

    Ultimately, you will need to make the right call for you and your clients. One of our founding tenets is transparency. All of the work we do is clearly reported and available for you to review. It is clear that many of the guidelines are debatable and without full transparency you cannot make an informed opinion.

    04/24/14 at 03:12 PM (14012)