An interview with Barry Schwartz about Penguin update, Google’s plans and SEO market

Barry Schwartz is the founder of Search Engine Roundtable, News Editor for Search Engine Land and world famous SEO Expert. When something important happens on search engine world, Barry is one of the few people who is able to consistently get Google to answer his questions. Today, Barry Schwartz shared his thoughts on Google algorithm update, Ecommerce mistakes and SEO tips with Netpeak Blog readers.

Could you sum up influences of the new Penguin update?

Sure, Penguin 3.0 in bullet points:

  1. Started rolling out late Friday night, October 17th.
  2. Will continue to roll out for next few weeks.
  3. Is a worldwide roll out.
  4. Impacts less than 1% of English queries (but may have a smaller or greater impact in other languages).
  5. Only a refresh, no new signals added.
  6. It helps sites to recover from previous Penguin updates that fixed their link profile.
  7. It demotes sites that have a bad link profile.

Why did Google wait for more than a year, if this rollout doesn't have any new signals?

Well, we do not know for sure if it had no new signals but that is my feeling based on the limited communication from Google. Why? I think they were in no rush and then looked back six months later and started to think of a refresh but ran into many obstacles. So it took longer than they wanted but I have a feeling it has to do with both waiting and also technical issues.

Do you know any cases, when Google removed manual penalty by himself, without any webmaster’s actions? If so, how did site trafic change?

Yes, manual actions are known to expire by themselves. But they can and do return if no webmaster action is taken. So you can see traffic improve after the action expires and then drop down shortly later after a manual action is renewed. This is fairly common.

How did financial crisis affect SEO market in U.S.?

Like any advertising market, it had an impact. Hard to say, since SEO is growing in terms of ad budget year to year. Would it have grown faster in a good economy, no doubt, but by how much? I am not sure.

Recently, there was a scandal involving several SEO agencies in Poland. Could you name any U.S. companies, that entrust their SEO to Eastern Europe agencies? What are the prospects of Eastern Europe based IT-agencies on U.S. market?

I do not know of any US companies that hired these European SEO agencies. I do know that the US market is typically a year or two ahead of other markets, especially markets not in the English language, in terms of SEO and penalties.

Is there any competitive pressure from APAC based agencies in U.S.?

I suspect so, but I wouldn't know first hand.

Please, name first three things you check when you do a site audit.
  1. Google Webmaster Tools.
  2. Google Analytics.
  3. Backlink profile.
  4. Index saturation.
Is it possible, in your opinion, to build marketing efforts on free search traffic only?

Sure, but there is a huge risk to that. I wouldn't recommend it.

What do you think about negative SEO? Is it working? Is it worth doing it?

I think it exists, I think it does work in some cases. Google giving us a disavow tool proves there is valid concern for this. I don't think anyone should do negative SEO, it isn't a nice thing. :)

Can regional or language site mirrors affect website ranking results?

They shouldn't if you do the href lang annotations properly.

Please, name TOP 5 most annoying Ecommerce mistakes.
  1. Poor internal search.
  2. Not mobile friendly.
  3. No SSL on checkout.
  4. Not having auto-fill.
  5. Hard to navigate.
What is, in your opinion, the best way to close the page from being indexed (robots, canonical, noindex)?

Fastest is via webmaster tools, but I'd do all, noindex, robots, etc.

Would there be, in your opinion, any significant redistribution of search market share among major search engines?

Not in the next few years, no. I highly doubt we would see Bing or another player take over 10 percent from Google's market share.

Please, name TOP 5 must-read online marketing blogs for SEO-specialists.
  1. Search Engine Land.
  2. Search Engine Roundtable.
  3. Google Webmaster Blog.

I'll stop there not to insult anyone. :)

Thank you for great tips and answers!

Read our interviews with Rand Fishkin and Ann Smarty.

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