More threads by JustinM

Jan 30, 2013
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Greetings Local Search Experts! I hope this isn't cheeky, I'm sure there are lots of people out there in need of help, but I'm kind of lost at sea here so I thought I'd reach out....

My story: At the start of 2012 I started working hard on my SEO (I have a software background so the on-page stuff was easy). I was completely surprised by my success when I appeared on page 1 in the 7 pac within a few short months. I had a great run, and generated some much needed business until last September when I got hit with a hidden address violation. After a few months, I was able to get it resolved and I made it back to page 1. Until May when I fell off again.

I'm now languishing on the bottom of page three (of the map results) behind one business, for example, who isn't even in my niche (I think they added the wrong category).

One major SEO play I made recently was to start blogging with a major retailer, where I was able to add my own followable links. It came to light recently (see here) that adding links to other sites by guest blogging may actually get you penalized. So I went and added a 'nofollow' to the links in all my articles. So far this has had no effect.

If anyone can offer any advice I would be incredibly grateful.

Thanks in advance!

My site: Vancouver Wedding Photography by Juna Photography
My search term: vancouver wedding photographer - Google Search
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If you haven't already - take a look at the courses on offer by Linda. She covers how to set up a Local page as well as seo for your website.

In addition, you could also try the download available at for recovering from Panda & Penguin. I suspect, without digging deeply into your site, that your drop in ranking is related.

It's a fair bit of work to do this yourself - hard to be a jack of all trades. Have you considered using a professional to help you? There are plenty here in the forum, I'm sure a few hours of their time would be well worth the investment.
Sorry Justin I've been dealing with family medical problems and am way behind on work too, so have not had time to look at this one.

Thanks wonderwoman for mentioning my training. But unfortunately I only do advanced training for consultants. I don't have any training for business owners at all. I do consulting and troubleshooting for select businesses when I have time, but am usually booked up.

I'll try to take a 10 minutes if/when I can but likely won't be until this weekend.
No worries Linda, take your time. Any guidance you can give me (whenever it suits) is very much appreciated.
I will jump in, just took a quick look to your site and I have seen that you are using JS-es for the Menu - I wouldn't recommend, as I have seen similar issues in the past with other websites using JSes.

You shall use rel author on your blogpage also as now you are using only rel publisher.

Not sure you have registered on Google Places for business but I am not able to see the exact address ( the one from the site ) , only the cityname Vancouver, CA - you shall add and verify the exact address in order to be listed on Google Maps.

Contact page is loaded in a pop-up. You should build a different page only for this

Use tags on the NAP and add an embeded google map on your contact page ( not image )

Add Top keywords in site meta description also. ( already in titles in headings )

You need to build some citations for your website, here is a good place to start with:

Citation Building Service by NGS Marketing
Thanks for taking the time sergiuliano! As regards the exact address, it's hidden as I had a hidden address violation a while back.

I will definitely look at some of the on-page issues you've raised.
Maybe Google is upset that you are using a Yahoo Map on your website...:p
Hey Justin,

Noticed your back links started tanking in Late May and bottomed out in Early July. You went from roughly 1200 down to 580. Do a link audit. Also noticed some 404 errors, minor, but I always try and take care of every little thing. Check your broken links on the website: There are a lot of changes going on in Google. I've seen fluctuations every week since May. Most of the time I'm tossing my hands into the air wondering if Google is just making things up... ;)
Believe me Colan, I did my utmost to incorporate a Google Map, but it just wasn't possible!
I glanced through things without doing an in depth look.

1. There could be a problem with your record inside google. When I found the site by name it had the phone number and city and not a street address. But your site does have a street address.

Is this a service business? If not and your street address isn't showing (or a different critical piece of NAP) then there could be a backend data problem inside the google cluster. I'd check.

2nd. I started searching for wedding photographer in vancouver in organic and couldn't find your site. Not maps, but organic. After a couple of pages results were whacked..but you still weren't there.

If Google has your address correctly you should be showing in organic even w/out a lot of effort.

Someone above referenced links and a good number of them. You could well be hit by a penalty if you either have a lot of anchor text links and/or a lot of cheap directory links. If that is the case you are taking a big hit on the organic side, and it could have a neg impact on the local side.
Hey Justin, I'd be careful about your blog commenting. You have 733 links from only 11 domains, all with the anchor text: "Justin Morrison - Vancouver Wedding Photographer".

You're ending up in the sitewide top or recent commenters list on a lot of those sites, which is why there are so many links with that anchor text on so few domains.

I would avoid using your keywords at all in blog comments these days. In general you just have to be very careful with anchor text.

Also, this site, for example is pretty abused by spammers because they're giving away dofollowed, sitewide links in the footer to recent & top commentators. I would avoid placing blog comments on sites like that in general, but especially with targeted anchor first glance it just looks like you're another spammer...if it looks like that to me, it may look like that to Google as well.
1. There could be a problem with your record inside google. When I found the site by name it had the phone number and city and not a street address. But your site does have a street address.

Is this a service business? If not and your street address isn't showing (or a different critical piece of NAP) then there could be a backend data problem inside the google cluster. I'd check.

Thanks Dave!

Why do you think it looks like a problem? Maybe there is something I'm missing?

It's a service area business with address properly hidden. So it looks correct to me. He already got in trouble for not hiding address in the past, so is doing it right now.
Thanks for the input folks!

@johncrenshaw You've got a good point there. When I started out my SEO journey I read that blog commenting is a way of getting easy but low value links. I'm part of a professional forum where someone came up with the idea of 'spreading comment love'; basically exchanging 'dofollow' links through blog comments. I'm kind of cringing now as I write this - it sounds so amateurish. I did write some comments and yep, went for keyword anchor text. Should I disavow those links? Or ask the site owner to take them down?
@Dave It is definitely worrying that my organic ranking has plummeted too. I was page two at one point. If I was being penalised for anchor text links (from dofollow blogs comments in my niche) would I get a message in webmaster tools?
I don't deal with backlinks at all, nor do I know how to diagnose Panda or Penguin penalties, so not sure if what I'm about to share is helpful or not?

But if it was a penalty would he not rank at all?

Because when I add another word from page one of Justin's site, that makes the phrase less competitive, he ranks #1. "Vancouver wedding photography market"

So does that tell us he's not penalized because he ranks #1? Or does that tell us that he's only penalized for Vancouver wedding photography and Vancouver wedding photographer, because that's the specific key phrase he over-optimized? OR???

One important tip Justin that may seem small but is really huge. If your most important key phrase you want to rank for is Vancouver wedding photographer (as opposed to photography) then you should have THAT exact phrase at the start of your title tag and in your H1. You already have photography in your name in the title tag.

So I would consider changing both to: Vancouver Wedding Photographer - Juna Photography

If you'd like proof this would help, I can show you. I mean it won't overcome whatever this problem is you are having. BUT if you had no problem and were #7 and just wanted to rank higher for that specific phrase, then you need to have it in title and H1, 2 or 3 and image alt, etc.
Hi Justin,

What @dave, @justincrenshaw and I are responding all relate to the same sort of thing. (Unfortunately the website I referred to in my first post has a glitch and you wouldn't have found the document I was originally referring to had you gone there.) So instead, here's a link to a 92 page document (yes, a bit of a read) that will explain about links, penalties, rankings and your website. *

It is about your website only, not Places or G+.

When I went looking for your site, I found it languishing at the bottom of page 6. So yes, if you had good organic some time ago that seems to have vanished, then it's worth investigating. You've done a lot of things right with your site :) so you may not have to work exceptionally hard to clean things up.

* Disclaimer - I'm a customer of theirs and highly recommend. I do not have an affiliate relationship with them, nor do I earn anything other than a warm-fuzzy feeling when I recommend their stuff.
@wonderwoman Thanks for that, I'll download that doc and give it a read

@Linda Thanks for taking the time Linda, I know you have a lot going on. What you're saying re. title tag and H1 makes total sense, but I guess I became somewhat change averse after I made it to page 1!
Linda: My bad on address. I scanned this site for rankings, both w/in maps and organic. This site is under enormous penalty. I glanced through the site, saw the address...then when glancing at the record...saw no street address and frankly thinking about penalties and loss of ranking suggested an inside dup record and a back end problem.

But that is probably wrong if it is a service business without visitors on site.

Regardless this is a seriously penalized site. I've experienced that. I started adding links to some smb sites around 2003/2004. Hey a lot of them are exactly the type of cheap easy meaningless links Google is now penalizing. They penalized the site both on the organic side and inside of maps.

Is there a direct maps penalty or is a result of a blended PAC ranking w/ seo/links strength...wherein the links are now penalized so the PAC ranking drops???

I don't know but I suppose so. I'm getting rid of the cheap links. I'm also getting a few out of the box strong links. Both impacts are working on both the organic and the PAC side.

I would suggest getting rid of the cheap bad links. Some were discovered. Get rid of them or disavow them. Get rid of 30% to start. See what happens. If you aren't rebounding get rid of another 30%. Check again. If no rebound...get rid of another 30%.

Just get rid of them.
@wonderwoman That was an interesting read, thanks!

So there are two link sources that I'm worried about. One is the electronics retailer I blog for. The dofollow links I was adding to the footer of each post were unnatural because I was adding them myself. I nollowed those a couple of weeks back. The other source was the website that johncrenshaw pointed out where I made just one comment (with exact match anchor text) which mushroomed into a pile of dofollowed, sitewide links, which may very well have skewed my link profile badly. I've emailed the site owner (a fellow photogapher) and asked him, very nicely, to remove the comment. Fingers crossed.

I'll report back in due course. Thanks again to everyone who chimed in with great advice. Let me know if there's some way I can give back.


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