Google Updates Becoming More Frequent & Links Are Counting Sooner Rather Than Later?

After all the shouting last year about the state of the SERP’s it seems, as predicted, Google have started this year with a bang, updates and fluctuations in the SERP’s are becoming much more frequent and maintaining top rankings for any sustained period is becoming more difficult.

I personally track around 25 competitive terms and the top 20 sites that rank for them, when I couple this with the data we hold at Branded3 it shows quite clearly how often Google are making changes to these terms.

Rank Fluctuations

If you look closely it is almost a weekly occurrence, apart from the odd website that controls position 1, those that rank in positions 2 – 10 are switching around weekly.

Now Google could be simply cleaning up a lot of the profiles they failed to take care of at the end of last year, however my feelings are that Google is finding an counting links a lot quicker than it ever has, that combined with caffeine is causing these massive fluctuations.

My only reservation is that we saw these kind of fluctuations last summer, Google was making a massive update and when it was finished the SERP’s became a little more stable. If this kind of ‘Google Craziness’ is here to stay it can only be good thing for SEO’s and clients as seeing the benefit of links should come around a lot quicker.

Faster Results?

If you speak to SEO’s in general they will tell you that you need to wait 3 months to fully appreciate the effects of link building and solid on page recommendations. Recently I have been noticing changes coming about a lot quicker, Google reacting to fresh links in a matter of weeks, not months.

Now I am not going to be bold enough to say anyone paying for SEO should see results in 2 weeks, because I don’t believe that, however once link building has commenced, generally speaking you should be seeing results a lot quicker. Of course if you already rank in the 10 gaining the top position is still going to be a drawn out process, this is simply down to the amount of competition on the first page of Google, however generally speaking, every link you build should make it’s mark a lot faster than it would have done 12 months ago.

Visualising & Understanding Where You Need To Build Links

If you’re anything like me you will have been in a position hundreds of times, where you a trying to rank for a given keyword and no matter what you do, you cannot break into that top 5 or hit that first position.

Part of you says ‘just keep going & build more links’, however the truth more often than not is that you simply aren’t building the right type of links.

I thought it would be a good idea to run through how I  like to analyse link data and establish where I need to build links.

So, I want to incorporate a little open site explorer, excel, pivot tables and vlookup. I’ll try and make it as straight forward as possible for anyone that isn’t that familiar with excel.

Collecting The Links

For the purposes of this example I have chosen 2 sites that rank in the top 5 for mobile phones, I am not going to reveal the sites as I can’t be bothered dealing with complaints, businesses spend hundreds of thousands on SEO but they don’t want anyone to know :)

Anyway head over to Open Site Explorer:

opensite settings

Filter out nofollowed and internal links then down load your links into excel where we can begin to play around with them.

links in excel

Organising The Links

OK now we have all the data together there are only a couple of columns I want to use for the purposes of this example, Unique Domains and Domain Authority.

I prefer to use domain authority rather than page authority because more and more often I find this to be the most influential factor.

So…. to get the unique domains you will have to perform a ‘text to columns’ on the URL column, copy and paste it into another sheet otherwise things will get messy.

text to columns

Once you have a long list of domains, input them back into the main sheet next to the url column and use the data & remove duplicates option to have a 100% unique list of links.

Add the Pivot

So you have the columns you need, select all and insert a pivot table.

pivot info

Add domains into the values area (ensure it is set to count) and domain authority into the row labels area, this will display the data like so;

pivot chart

Simply add a chart if you want to visualise what you have put together which is literally a domain authority scale and the number of domains for each authority figure.

Once you have done all this for your site, you now need to perform exactly the same for the competitor ranking where you want to be.

Putting it together

So you should have 2 pivot tables, yours and your competitor’s, open a new sheet and add numbers 1 – 100 in column A (this is going to be where you combine the two tables).

comparison structure

In a separate sheet you need to add the two pivot tables side by side (same work sheet as the above structure), however simply copy and paste the figures not the 2 tables as we are going to perform a vlookup to put it all together.

comparison pivots

Now in the new 1-100 table you have created you need to use vlookup to transfer the data for each site across, see the below vlookup query I performed, I don’t want to go through vlookup here, Richard Baxter is does a far better job than I could ever do so read his here.

vlookup table

Right, you have performed the vlookup and have your two sites side by side, you can now play around with the data and begin to understand what types of domains you are missing from your profile.

comparison chart

Or you could spice it up a little using an area chart :)

comparison area

Well not really spiced up but you get my point…

Surely Just Building Links from Top Quality Domains Will Eventually Put Me At The Top????

Don’t fall into this trap, if you just go after the big fish all the time you will lose for 2 reasons…

A – They are harder to get so you will never get the quantity required

B – Since when did a link profile with PR5 links only look natural??

Be smart and build your links from the right places.

I just wanted to thank everyone for their support on the Best UK Online Marketing Blog Poll, I have no idea how I got to the top but I am flattered at the amount of support. If you haven’t had chance to vote yet I would really appreciate it :)

Thanks to all!

Build Links Faster For Better Rankings – Possible ‘Freshness’ Algorithm

Well it’s been a crazy start to 2011 but I thought it was about time to update you with something I am finding is working really well, it also goes against conventional link building advice.

Much has been said about link building rates in the past and the fact a huge spike in your links could suggest manipulation and therefore get you penalised, however much of what I am seeing is suggesting the polar opposite.

So just to clarify many SEO’s including myself have advised natural link growth;

natural link profile

Some recent link building experience goes totally against this theory suggesting that links that come through in mass, in a short space of time have a better impact on rankings than ones that are developed over time.

I have seen this play out on multiple client websites and carried out a little test just after new year.

  • 2 websites
  • 2 optimised internal pages targeting the same keyword
  • 10 links built from the same blogs to each site

I used 10 blogs on a network I own to write a post for each site on every blog. Each had the same anchor text links the only difference was I built Site A’s links over 14 days and Site B’s in 24 hours. Both sites had 0 links before this and were registered last October to target similar niches.

Here are the results;

link building results

Think you can guess which day I put site B’s links live? That’s right day six and on day 7 it jumped into the top 50 of the SERP’s leaving Site A behind.

(Sorry I can’t divulge the sites or linking sites, they are part of a network of sites I’d rather keep secret)

There seems to be a ‘freshness’ algorithm in play, Google rewarding links and anchor text that seem to mimic a viral nature.

I am probably going to get slammed for not divulging the sites but I work with this stuff everyday, if you don’t believe me it doesn’t cost much to test it :)

If you want some serious increases in rank try saving your links up and setting them live within 48 hours.