Here are questions we received for our monthly marketing Q&A session. This month we received a lot of questions about Google penalties, creating good content, SEO and other relevant topics. If you have any questions you would like for us to answer, leave them in the comments below or click here to email us a question.
Q: Does Google have a minimum word count for quality pages?
Google doesn’t have a set minimum for how they assess the quality of a page. Due to the influence of article sites, many people base their assumptions of quality content on 250 to 300 word minimums but the reality is that quality content can be any length. As a general rule of thumb, if you want a page to rank and be effective in SERPS, having fewer than 100 words in the body content won’t be sufficient. Consider that 50 percent of your word count is going to be words of no value (I, to, the, of, in, or, etc …) so a 100 word page likely contains just 50 words of value, so to speak.
Q: Should sites continue to follow the 100 links per page rule?
The 100 link “rule” was originally determined by the size limit for the crawler which was 100 bytes. Google can now index hundreds of links per page but from an SEO standpoint it’s important to remember that pagerank passed is calculated by the value of the page divided by the number of links (which is why I don’t understand why anyone would want their links on a link farm). In fact, I’ve recently begun to reduce the number of links on client pages to improve the value of their internal links.
Common ways to reduce links include removing links to the home page in the footer, removing links to HTML sitemaps and using an XML sitemap instead and combining pages with overlapping content.
Q: How long does a Google -50 penalty last?
Matt Cutts has said that Google tries to assign a punishment that fits the crime. Any penalty is jarring and disruptive but their duration depends on the offense. A site that was using white on white links could be punished for 30 days. A site that was using bad link building schemes and engaging in malicious conduct could be penalized for months or even a year. Personally, I’ve seen sites punished for more than one year as a result of using hit counters to boost their ranks.
Q: Are there SEO companies that specialize in helping sites that have received penalties?
Any SEO company should be able to help their client with a penalty. If I was inheriting a site that had been penalized, the first thing I would do is verify it was a penalty and not a drop in traffic as a result of Panda. A lot of sites are looking at their month over month performance data for March and seeing drops but that doesn’t mean they’ve been penalized, it could mean they were ranking for low quality content.
If it is determined that a penalty could exist, the first thing I would do is run diagnostics (check for large numbers of broken links, run keyword density tools on top pages, check for hidden text in CSS, look for doorway pages, etc …) to see if the site has been caught by algorithmic penalty that can be fixed. If the site checks out, then I would start looking at inbound links and look for paid links or other low quality link schemes and make any necessary changes.
Q: What is the average social media ROI?
It is impossible to calculate an average ROI for social media because of a lack of available data. Social media can produce outstanding ROI because of low overhead costs (free to create accounts) and businesses need to keep in mind that a quality social media presence can affect their search results in a positive manner. Calculating an ROI in terms of referrers and leads/sales is relatively simple but one must also factor the costs that go into developing social accounts (management, content, art).
Q: What happened with Facebook testing a second search box?
Late last month, a screenshot surfaced showing a second search box next to the standard Facebook search. The second search box reportedly had results powered by Bing and if it actually existed, it would quickly improve Bing’s market share into a more competitive position. However Facebook revealed it was either a hoax or someone with malware on their computer and that was generating the second box.