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Webmaster Central Live Site Reviews

Today Google Webmaster Central is doing live site reviews.  You can join in and watch here. They are going over sites and what they are doing right/wrong.

Small Websites Should Pay Attention To:

  • Does it have content for what it wants to rank for?
  • Is it Mobile ready?

Large Websites Should Pay Attention To:

  • Check server logs
  • Avoid dup content
  • Site Easy Crawlability – Can googlebot crawl it? You’d be surprised how many people have noindex or URL removal requests.
  • Unnecessary fluff – aka soft 401”s
  • Is the navigation logical – we’re getting good at figuring out human behavior.

Interesting points that you should pay attention too:

  • Don’t put all caps in the title tags
  • Make sure you’re using Rich Snippets
  • Don’t put Rich Snippets in the footer.  We want it in the site.  They just showed a Polish site where it’s in the footer.  Double check guidelines.  If you have questions, submit questions.

Ranking for Keywords

Lots of sites are trying to rank for things, but people aren’t showing the page.  Make sure you check your “text only version” of your site to make sure we see what you’re trying to rank for.  We can sometimes pick up on it but if you show it… we’ll always know.

High Quality Websites

Never aim to be as good as your competitors.  Aim to be better.  Lots of people complain that others are worse than them, be better.

If your website has been the same for the past 10 years, you need to improve it.  You won’t last forever in the serps if you aren’t innovating.  It’s not modern enough for todays user.  People associate design with relevancy.  Focus on what you need to do with your users.  Keep it fresh.

Content won’t typically be the same for 5 years.

Stop working on 5-10 sites, focus on one really good site.

Manual Actions

We check your sites all the time.  When we warn you, fix it.

Link actions DO expire, but it can often take YEARS. You need to fix this and not just build more good links.  You should clean this up.  This means someone has personally flagged your site.  If you’re just iterating and tweaking something, typically this won’t work.  I wouldn’t recommend doing anything but cleaning everything up.

If we see the webmaster has been penalized and they are still buying links, we won’t trust you.  When you do what you say what you do, that will build trust.

If you are a new webmaster, get help from someone that is an expert. Typically they can help you get your site back ranking a lot quicker.

You must use Webmaster Tools.  We’ll tell you what actions have been taken.

Downloads from new links vs old links are different.  If you have a larger site with a lot of links.  You should combine this list.

Quality Algorithms

  • High quality website are key.  When users are searching.
  • There is more to a website than text.  There is a lot around your website that’s important.  You can have amazing content and not rank well.
  • Clear up hacked content
  • Clean up blog comments.  Even these could cause a manual action.
  • Clean up user profiles, these could hurt your site.

On Site Spam Issues

  • No spun content, seriously people are still doing this.
  • Don’t just re-write content, stop doing it.
  • Get ride of doorway sites.
  • Only use removal tool for parts of your site unless you know it’s all low quality content.
  • Make sure you have a policy to prevent this moving this forward.


  • Remove all the bad links
  • If webmaster doesn’t respond – use the domain disavow to make sure ALL links from the site go away.
  • Document everything so you can prove to us what you’ve done.
  • Keep in mind – noindex, 301, and a few others don’t block passing of PR
  • When you’re reporting bad links, show us that you know what you’re talking about.  Make sure we can trust you.  If we don’t trust you, we won’t put you back in there.  We’ve been doing this for a LONG time and every request is manually looked at.

note: Stop paying for links.

Random Questions

If you have to ask if a link is bad, you should probably just get rid of it.

If you have low quality content should I noindex or 404 the page?  Either, but you could just write amazing content on that page and figure it out.

Will I get a penalty for crawl errors?  No

I’ve got a smartphone site, am I good.  Not really, we recommend not blocking css or java script.  Make sure your load page speed it good.  Most mobile/responsive sites take a LONG time to load.  This isn’t good user behavior.

Why do I get fluctuation in page speed from Google? This is all in the time the server reacts to our server. Check rules being fetched for the most accurate number for reporting.

Large websites should check your crawling logs.  Sometimes we crawl 5x more pages and only show 1x of them because of crawling errors.  This happens with very large sites.  If there are TONS of duplicates, you should pay attention to this. Use clean URLs.  Using parameterized URLs.  For this you can use the parameter handling tool in Google Webmaster Tools.

Rich Snippets do not help with Panda.

What can I do to outrank bigger sites? (aka Amazon or Sears) – This is hard, cause you don’t have the history.  You can’t just put up the same info as them won’t do it.  You need to put up better information than them.  You should be able to outrank them with better content on individual products.

I’ve got a large site – I can only see 100k links.  This is typically only a sample for very large sites.  Make sure to combine the new links and all links to see more.  You should see patterns.  Use these to find bad links.

If a website isn’t ranking in the first 10 pages of Google for anything has it been slapped? Not always, typically the quality algorithm will place your website where it belongs.  Put up higher quality content to get better rankings.

Get rid of low quality

Responsive Design vs Mobile Website – I’d try to go responsive because it’s typically better for the users.

Can I disavow bad links that aren’t reported in GWT – YES, you can do this and we recommend doing the domain level.

Why would a site jump around after a fetch – Typically it’s when our algorithm doesn’t know what to do with it.  Means it’s pretty good, but not good enough.

Newly launched site – 10k indexed pages – signs of a sandbox.  We don’t have anything that would hurt that, myth.  Focus on good content.

Will Google ever offer a service to clean up your site?  No

Will Google ever do one on one’s with users to show them what’s wrong with their site?  No, though we do respond to forums.


Key Takeaways from Todays G+ Hangout:

Good content is really what Google is looking for.  Make sure you don’t have crappy links.

Category SEO
John Rampton Founder at

John Rampton is an entrepreneur, full-time computer nerd, and PPC expert. Founder at payments company I enjoy helping people ...

Webmaster Central Live Site Reviews

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