The Complete Guide to Google Penalties (Both Manual and Algorithmic)


The Complete Guide to Google Penalties (Both Manual and Algorithmic)


It’s your worst nightmare…

You wake up one morning and check your analytics. But something’s wrong…where’s all your traffic?

Whether you like it or not, websites in most niches rely on Google for a large percentage of their traffic.

If you get hit by a penalty, 10%, 20%, or even more of your business can be wiped out overnight. That’s a pretty scary thought.

There are two types of penalties that can hit you: manual penalties and algorithmic penalties.

Algorithms get most of the attention because those types of penalties affect tens of thousands of sites all at once.

However, there are over 400,000 manual penalties that are applied every month, according to Matt Cutts—that’s a lot. 

To be fair, many of the sites that get penalized are legitimately awful sites that consist of nothing but content spam. However, hundreds of site owners are penalized every day who are trying to make the best site they can. It could even be you one day.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to avoid a penalty in the past, you might think reports of penalties are exaggerated. In most cases, they’re not.

While not all penalties will have the same effect on your traffic, some can wipe out 90% or more of it in an instant.

And penalties don’t discriminate either—they affect both small and large sites.

After the Panda 4.0 update (more on that later), eBay’s traffic was hit hard:


But that’s far from the only example of a big site being penalized.

Recently, another large company named Thumbtack was penalized.

Thumbtack, in case you didn’t know, is a company that Google invested $100 million into, and they still got penalized.

That being said, there is a difference between penalties for small and large sites. If you’re a verylarge site, where a penalty will garner a lot of press, you may be able to get prioritized support in fixing the penalty.

Thumbtack was able to get their penalty lifted in less than a week. If you have a lesser-known site, it’ll typically take a few weeks or months (at least) to correct the penalty.

I didn’t tell you all this to make you terrified of getting hit by a penalty. I did it so you recognize that avoiding penalties is ideal for your business.

If you understand all the different common penalties that Google hands out on a regular basis, you can take simple steps to reduce your chances of being hit by one by 99%.

In this article, I’m going to go over all the main types of penalties you can be hit by:

  • Panda
  • Penguin
  • Mobile-Friendly
  • Top Heavy
  • Payday
  • Pirate
  • Unnatural Links
  • Spam
  • Thin Content

For each of the penalties, I’ll let you know if you have the type of website that is at risk of being hit and what steps you can take to minimize your chances of being penalized in the future.

If you’ve already been hit by one of these penalties, check out my step-by-step guide to fixing any Google penalty.

Panda – This penalty chews up weak content

The Panda algorithm might be the most well-known algorithm.

It was one of the first updates that specifically penalized websites. The first Panda algorithm was run in 2011 and decimated the traffic of a lot of low-quality websites.

In the three years following its release, Panda was run about once per month. Now that the algorithm is more established, it only seems to be run a few times per year.

While this might seem like a good thing at first, it’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, with fewer updates, there are fewer opportunities to get penalized.

However, Panda is an algorithmic penalty. This means that if you get hit, once you fix the underlying issue(s) that caused the penalty, you have to wait for the algorithm to be run again to get your rankings back.

That means you could be waiting several months to get the penalty lifted.

And if you’re unsuccessful fixing the issues, you’ll have to try again and wait for another iteration of the algorithm.

The basics – What is Panda? The amazing thing about Panda is that even though it’s been run several times over the past four years or so, we still don’t have an exact definition of what types of sites it affects (although we have a good idea).

Google’s search team keep their algorithms as secret as possible. They don’t give much help to sites hit by algorithmic penalties, whereas they provide a lot of support for manual penalties.

As of now, we know that:

The purpose of the Panda algorithm update was and is to keep low-quality (“shallow”) content from showing up in search results.

Therefore, if you don’t have low-quality content on your site, you should be safe from the traffic-eating pandas.

Here is the problem, however. Low-quality can mean many different things.

Google provided a list of over 20 questions to help alleviate the worries of webmasters, but most of these are open to interpretation:


Two different people could be asked these questions regarding the same site and come to different conclusions. I don’t think they are very helpful.

Over time, the SEO community has come together to analyze websites that were hit by Panda and arrived to the following conclusions about pages that get penalized:

  • The content is poorly written (perhaps “spun” using software)
  • The content is very short (“shallow” content that is too brief to be valuable)
  • The content is mostly duplicate content (copied from another page)
  • The content adds no real value

It’s no surprise that content farms, like most web 2.0 sites, were hit the most. They were heavily used by SEOs to create backlinks to content, but those links were placed in terribly written, short articles for the most part.

How do Panda penalties work? Google often patents its algorithms, and it did so for Panda. It was granted its Panda patent in 2014. While you’re free to read it, it’s pretty boring, so let me sum it up for you:

Google creates a site-wide modification factor based on the quality of all the pieces of content on the site. If it falls below a certain threshold, the factor is applied to the site (lowering rankings ofall the pages on the site).

In plain English, this means that if a site has a certain amount of low quality content on it, the entire site will be penalized.

That’s why, when it comes to reports of Panda penalties, you usually see graphs like this one:


Panda penalties are rarely small—they decimate organic search traffic.

How do you know if you were hit by Panda? You don’t get any messages about algorithmic penalties. The only way to spot them is by observation.

If you get hit by a penalty that wipes out most of your traffic, chances are you’re not alone. Monitor SEO news sites such as Search Engine Land to get more information. If it’s a Panda update, it’ll likely get spotted quickly.

If you ever suspect you’ve been hit by a penalty, but it happened in the past, there are online tools that can help you.

One useful free tool is the Panguin Tool. Once you connect it to your Google Analytics account, it will overlay a graph of your traffic over timelines of past algorithms:


If you see that your traffic rapidly declined a few days before or after a major Panda update, you were likely penalized by it.

Remember that these algorithms are often run over long periods of time (weeks), so your traffic decline may not start on the exact day that the algorithm was reported.

Penguin – The bird that can’t fly but can detect your bad backlinks

Only in SEO would a panda and a penguin be so closely related.

Both have had a huge impact on the way SEOs approach their work.

While Panda focused mainly on on-page factors, Penguin was a huge step forward for identifying unnatural link profiles.

The first Penguin was released in 2012 and affected over 3% of all queries. Like Panda, it decimated the traffic of any site it penalized:


What Penguin looks for: Penguin was groundbreaking when it was first run and has become more sophisticated over time.

It looks for a variety of obvious unnatural backlink patterns.

Google will never release the full details of the algorithm (or not any time soon), but we do know that there are three main backlink factors that can be used to identify unnatural link patterns:

  1. Link quality – A site that has obtained all of its links naturally will have links of both low and high quality. Sites made by blackhat SEOs often have a ton of just low quality links oronly high authority links (like from a private blog network).
  2. Link velocity – Look at the backlink growth of any large site, and you will see that it gains links at an increased rate over time. Unnatural sites often get a lot of links in a short period, followed by a sudden decrease.
  3. Link diversity – Legitimate sites get links from all sources (contextual, blog comments, forums, etc.). However, bad SEOs often create a large portion of a site’s links from one source (like blog comments). In addition, links should have varied anchor text. Too many links with the same anchor text could trigger a Penguin penalty.

Complicated, right?

Penguin is one of the main reasons why most SEOs are “whitehat,” or at least “greyhat,” SEOs these days. If you want to manipulate Google, you’ll have to plan your link-building strategy very carefully to make sure that most of your links appear natural.

How Penguin penalizes sites: Penguin is not a site-wide penalty—it affects specific pages.

However, since it affects those pages that typically have the most backlinks pointing to them, you can still lose 80%+ of your traffic if those pages are responsible for most of your traffic.

If your site is flagged by Penguin, you’ll typically be penalized. In some rare cases, Penguin will discount the value of the unnatural links instead of penalizing you.

A tool such as Panguin (shown in the previous section) can confirm that your traffic drop was caused by a Penguin algorithm update.

If your traffic drop was relatively small, you were probably one of the lucky few who didn’t get penalized. The drop was most likely caused by those now-discounted links.

When you’re checking to see if you were hit by Penguin, you should know that it is an even bigger algorithm than Panda. It can take more than a few weeks to fully run.

Recovering from a Penguin penalty is possible but difficult. Not only will you have to try to fix the issue (which could be a number of different things), but you’ll also need to wait for the next algorithm refresh to see if it worked or not.

Mobilegeddon – Can Google force website owners into the future?

Google’s primary goal is to help users find the best content that satisfies their queries.

For the first decade of Internet search, most of the work done by Google was dedicated to finding and classifying content better.

But Google is pretty good at that now.

The biggest factor affecting the user experience (when someone is searching for something) is the content itself. In other words, website owners aren’t improving their websites and content fast enough to keep up.

In early 2015, Google announced that it would start trying to help mobile users find useful results on mobile-friendly websites.

This announcement caused a lot of stir in the SEO community. A mobile-friendly update was soon to come, and it sounded like it was something big.

Site owners scrambled to make their websites mobile-friendly—something that Google would be happy to see (better experience for mobile searchers).

The update finally came a few months later on April 20th.

Although it was called “Mobilegeddon” and “Mobilepocalypse,” it turned out to be much less significant than originally predicted.

There was definitely some movement in the search rankings, but only the worst mobile-offenders suffered traffic losses.


What does Google consider mobile-friendly? Mobile-friendly can mean many different things. This is probably why Google started by just demoting the worst offenders.

Right now, there’s no sliding scale. Your web pages are either friendly or not friendly.

You can see what Google thinks of your content by using the Mobile-Friendly Test tool. Enter a URL, click Analyze, and it will give you a green passing message or a red fail message.


It’s a good idea to check a few different pages such as your home page, a blog post, and any other pages with custom layouts or designs.

Another place to check if you have any major mobile issues is in Google Webmaster Tools (Search Console).

Navigate to “Search traffic > Mobile usability”, and you’ll see any errors that you should fix as soon as possible:


Finally, Google has also released a useful mobile SEO guide. In it, it explains the most common mobile errors such as blocking javascript or messing up your mobile redirects.

On top of those mistakes, here are a few more general mobile-friendly principles to keep in mind:

  • Don’t use software that most mobile devices can’t render, e.g, Flash.
  • Resize text to match the screen (i.e., responsive design)
  • Use text that is easily readable on a small screen (typically 16px or more)
  • Don’t put links right beside each other (hard to tap the right one)

Mobilegeddon in the future: Just because the first mobile-friendly update wasn’t huge doesn’t mean you shouldn’t concern yourself with making your website as mobile-friendly as possible.

Google will likely make changes to the algorithm in the future as it further develops its requirements for what is and isn’t mobile-friendly.

Keep in mind that even if you get hit by a mobile “penalty,” your traffic likely won’t be decimated. This update primarily boosts the rankings of the most mobile-friendly sites, so they’ll just push down your unfriendly pages in the results.

Top Heavy – Balance is the key to any impression

When a searcher clicks on a result in Google, they are looking for an answer to their query.

If they can’t find it, they get frustrated.

So, it makes sense that Google would like to minimize these frustrations by not sending users to sites that make it difficult for users to find what they’re looking for.

The “Top Heavy” algorithm was first run in January 2012.

As the name implies, it specifically targets top heavy sites.

The best explanation comes from Google itself:

“We’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away.

So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change. If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience.

Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.”

How the Top Heavy penalty works: This is a site-based penalty. That means that either all of your content is penalized or none of it is.

Google clarified this after an article on Search Engine Land pointed out that Google’s results themselves could be seen as “top heavy.”


Google responded by saying that only sites where most pages are “top heavy” will be penalized.

If it’s only a few pages, don’t worry about this algorithm.

The final thing you need to know about this algorithmic penalty is that it is run very infrequently.

It was first run in January of 2012, then October of 2012, and most recently in February of 2014. If you get hit with this penalty, you’ll have to be patient to get it removed.

Avoiding a Top Heavy penalty: Although it may seem unfair that the algorithm is only run about once a year, it’s fairly difficult to get hit by this penalty.

Here’s an example of a top heavy layout:


Unless you have multiple ads, all above the fold, you’re probably safe.

And really, these types of sites should be penalized. They’re extremely frustrating to the average searcher.

If your content is pushed below the fold, chances are your site visitors won’t bother trying to find it.

To avoid this penalty, just create a good user experience.

Payday – If you prey on hopeful readers, your Payday may be over

Anyone who has been in the Internet marketing industry for some time knows that shady industries can be very lucrative.

Most of the best blackhat SEOs compete against each other to rank for keywords in the gambling, loan, and supplement niches.

This algorithm—“Payday”—was appropriately named for some of the most lucrative, and therefore competitive, search engine results for Payday loans.

Combatting spammy results with the Payday algorithm: We’ve seen in the past few years how good Google is at catching blackhat SEOs.

It has repeatedly crushed large portions of their sites, mainly belonging to beginner and intermediate SEOs.

However, the best blackhat SEOs won’t go down easy.

There is a small group of SEOs who have the ability and will to manipulate Google. They are good enough to rank well in these high paying niches and make enough money to justify it before getting penalized.

The Payday algorithm was first run on June 11, 2013, and rolled out over a few months.

It specifically targeted queries containing keywords such as:

  • Payday loans
  • Casinos
  • Viagra
  • Garcinia cambogia
  • and more.


The second version of the algorithm was released on May 17th and 18th of 2014, and the 3.0 version was released soon after in June.

If you operate a site in any “spammy” niche, you need to be extra clean if you want to avoid being penalized. Otherwise, if you’re getting results with blackhat SEO, expect to be penalized eventually. If that happens, you’ll just have to move on to a new site.

If you have a legitimate site that was hit by this penalty (line up traffic drops with any of the algorithm dates), you can try to fix it. However, you’ll have to wait for the algorithm to be updated again for any positive changes to take effect.

Pirate – Outlaws be warned! The Google police are coming for you

Google almost always tries to show searchers the results they want.

However, Google has taken a strong stance on piracy.

Piracy, which is essentially stealing copyrighted content, is considered unethical by many and is illegal in some countries (although hard to enforce).

The “Pirate” algorithm was Google’s answer to the growing number of torrent sites (mainly used for pirating media and software) showing up in search results.

Based on the following graph of the traffic for some of the top torrent sites, I’d say it worked pretty well.


It didn’t knock them out of the search results altogether, but it reduced a large chunk of their traffic:


The reason why they still attract organic traffic is because not all their content is illegal material. In addition, this algorithm had no effect on branded searches.

Other sites that were purely made for pirating did lose most of their traffic. For example, lost 96% of its search visibility:


How the Pirate algorithm works: The main purpose of this algorithm wasn’t to eradicate torrent sites from the search results altogether, just for certain queries.

For example, if someone searched “Game of Thrones season 5 episode 6,” the searcher should not get torrent results. Before this update, torrent links to the episode would show up. But now, only reviews and legitimate ways to watch the show (HBO) are in the results:


The algorithm works based on copyright reports.

If a site has a lot of copyright violations, this algorithm will penalize it by lowering its rankings.

While new torrent sites can be made, they will be removed each time the algorithm is run if they have accumulated enough violations.

To get an idea of the scale on which copyright violations occur, consider this: Google receives requests to remove over 10 million URLs from search each week:


Not all of those are legitimate claims (Google always verifies first), but it’s still quite a bit.

If you want to avoid the Pirate penalty, it’s simple: don’t steal content (or I suppose don’t steal too much of it).

Unnatural links (manual) – Diversity is healthy

Manual penalties are a whole different beast when it comes to Google penalties.

They can be just as damaging to your traffic levels as algorithmic penalties are, but at least you’ll be able to see if you were hit by one.

As the name implies, manual penalties are given by Google employees and contractors who review your site against their quality guidelines and deem that you are violating one or more of them (most common ones are below):


One of the most influential ranking factors has been and still is backlinks. The more backlinks a page has, the better it ranks (in general).

Of course, SEOs started manipulating this as soon as they found out.

Manually reviewing backlink profiles of “unnatural links” is one of the ways Google combats this.

If the reviewer sees that a large portion of your links are paid links or part of a link scheme, you will be hit with this penalty.

Different forms of unnatural link penalties: Many different penalties include the phrase “unnatural links.” Some have more of an effect on your site than others.

If you log in to Webmaster Tools (Search Console), you can see whether you have any manual actions applied to your site:


The three most common actions are:

  1. “Unnatural links to your site—impacts links.” If you have unnatural links, but it doesn’t look like you had any part in creating them, you’ll get this manual action, which isn’t actually a penalty. The links will no longer factor into your rankings (so traffic might drop a bit), but there’s nothing you need to do to “recover.”
  2. “Unnatural links to your site.” If you just see this message, then you’ve been penalized. It means that the reviewer has concluded that you’re responsible for the shady links. Depending on the specific message, either specific pages will be penalized or your entire site could be.
  3. “Unnatural links from your site.” If you’re always linking to specific sites with exact anchor text (for a high volume keyword) or you have way too many links pointing out from your site, you could get hit with this. This penalty can affect either a portion or all of your site.

Fixing a manual penalty: While no penalty is good, manual penalties are better than algorithmic. Once you fix the issue, you can apply for reconsideration. If you truly fixed the problem, the manual action will be lifted.

Once again, you may need to refer to my step-by-step guide to fixing any Google penalty.

Spam (manual) – If you’re going to play around, at least do it carefully

While most SEOs believe that spam refers solely to blasting thousands of links to a site, it’s much more than that.

The term spam, at least when it comes to manual penalties, also includes things such as:

  • excessive or malicious cloaking
  • scraping content
  • automatically generated content
  • and more.

Just like in the case of unnatural links manual actions, there are many different spam-related messages that can show up as a result of a manual action. These are the most common:

  1. “Pure spam.” The majority of the site is clearly spam, or the backlinks to the site are all spammed. It’s next to impossible to recover from this manual action.
  2. “User-generated spam.” If you have a site that allows users to submit content, you could be penalized for it if they abuse it to create spam content or links. Most commonly, this penalty refers to spam in comments or forum posts/profiles. It can be fixed.
  3. “Spammy freehosts.” If you’re unlucky enough to have your site hosted by the same web host that provides service to a ton of spammers, your site might be lumped together with them. This is a good reason to stay away from very cheap or free hosting services.

Since these are manual penalties, they can be fixed. Recovery usually involves either cleaning up on-site spam or disavowing spammy links.

Thin content with no added value (manual) – No one likes hearing the same story over and over again

If Google doesn’t get you with Panda, it may get you with a manual review for having thin content.

Thin or duplicate content typically consists of information that can be found elsewhere, either on or off your site.

If a manual reviewer spots that most of your content is derived from other content, you can get hit with this penalty, and your traffic will take a tumble.

Here are the most common scenarios that represent “little or no added value”:

  • Automatically generated content
  • Thin affiliate pages
  • Content from other sources, e.g., scraped content or low-quality guest blog posts
  • Doorway pages

When you go to the Manual Actions section in Webmasters Tools (Search Console), you can see whether you’ve been hit by this penalty:


Pay close attention to whether it says that it’s a site-wide match or a partial match.

If it’s a site-wide match, that means the penalty applies to all your content until you fix it. If you just have a few pages of thin content, it’s possible that the penalty will only affect those. While you should still fix it, it won’t have a huge effect on your traffic.


Penalties are part of every SEO’s education.

Most are deserved, but some happen accidently. Understanding the root causes of penalties is the first step to preventing them from occurring and fixing them if you do get hit.

Once you have a good grasp on all the penalties, monitor Moz’s Google algorithm change log for any new ones so you can stay on top of them.

If you’ve discovered that you’ve been doing something that might get your website (or your client’s) penalized, stop it and correct it. Hopefully, you’ll catch it in time to avoid a penalty.


17 Mistakes You’re Making on Twitter and How To Fix Them

Just Found this



Do you want to be a success on Twitter?

There are things that  you’re probably doing right now that are preventing you from getting more followers, causing people to unfollow you, or decreasing the number of clicks that you’re getting on your tweets.1

Or worse yet, people could be so annoyed with you that they’ve blocked you all together on Twitter.

I’ve been on Twitter for a while and I can tell you from experience what works and what doesn’t.

That’s a big part of the reason why I created the free guide to getting hundreds of Twitter followers, the safe and legal way.

In this blog post, I share with you 17 mistakes that you can make on Twitter and how you can fix them.

I’ve made some of the mistakes mentioned in this blog post and other’s I’ve read about on the best social media websites and blogs.

Avoiding these Twitter mistakes has helped me to get the more than 100,000 followers that I currently have (thank You Lord  :-D)

If you need help getting started with using Twitter, check out this blog post.

Mistake 1: You send an auto-DM to everyone that begins following you

The problem:  There’s software or web apps that you can use that will send everyone that begins to follow you a direct message (after you’ve auto-followed them back).

Those who use these apps will setup their Twitter account to send a direct message with a generic message asking their followers to visit their website or to buy their product.

The problem with this is that most people view this as spam.  As a result, the click-through ratio on the links in these DM’s are very low and it prevents people from building a relationship with you.

The solution:  Don’t auto-send a DM to anyone on Twitter.  Build relationships with people first to find out what their needs are.  Then if you think your website or product is going to be helpful, go ahead and share it with others.

The trustworthy person will get a rich reward, but a person who wants quick riches will get into trouble.2

-Proverbs 28:20

Update:  After publishing this post, a few people told me that they experienced some success with sending auto direct messages to their new Twitter followers.

I still think that it would benefit you more in the long run to build a relationship first with others before asking them to do your call to action.

Nevertheless, feel free to experiment and measure your success if you like.

Mistake 2:  You post too much

The problem:  You love Twitter and you’re replying to tons of people and sending out lots of cool tweets that your followers find valuable.

The only problem is that you post too often and your tweets are not spaced out.

When your followers look at their timeline or their lists that you’re a member of, they see a flood of your tweets.

They don’t want to see every single public conversation/reply that you’re having and they’re not seeing enough of your cool tweets with your most valuable content.

I’ve been guilty of this myself and I found that a bunch of people unfollowed me when I reply and send all of my tweets one right after the other.

The Solution: Limit your tweets to no more than 2 per hour.

If you do a lot of public replies on Twitter, try posting one reply followed by one tweet that has valuable content for your followers so that they don’t get bored.

You can also spread out your tweets throughout the day without going to Twitter 5 million times.

All you have to do is use an app that will allow you to schedule your tweets in advanced.  My personal favorite is Hootsuite.

There is a free version and a paid version of Hootsuite.  For me personally, I need some of their premium features so I’ve signed up for their premium account.

Mistake 3:  You post too little

The problem:  Yes, not posting enough on Twitter is a Twitter sin although you might not know it.

If you aren’t posting multiple times a day, then you aren’t interacting with others and you aren’t driving traffic back to your website.

The solution:  You’re probably really busy and you don’t have time to visit Twitter multiple times a day to tweet.  I feel you.

So again, this is where a tool like Hootsuite comes into play.  Visit Hootsuite once a day and schedule multiple tweets for that day (at least 3).

If you know you’re going to be unavailable in advance, then you can schedule for the next day or even week.

Mistake 4:  The things you tweet have nothing to do with your target audience or niche

The problem:  In the guide that I’ll be releasing on how to get thousands of Twitter followers, I tell you in step 5 that in order for you to be a success on Twitter, you need to create a tweeting strategy.

If you’re just tweeting whatever you want whenever you want, people will stop following you and you’ll have a hard time getting new followers.


The solution:  Find out what your Twitter goals are.  Is it to drive traffic back to your website?  Connect with professionals in your industry? Sell a product?

Once you’ve done that, decide who your target audience is and create tweets that they’re going to find valuable.

Mistake 5: Your tweets are all about YOU

The problem:  All you ever tweet about is stuff about you, your website, or your products.  The problem with this is that people see it as selfish, self-centered, and boring.

The solution:  Tweet links and videos about other things that your followers are going to find valuable.  Re-tweet other people’s tweets and send other people traffic back to their sites.

The selfish shall be punished but the generous shall be rewarded, especially when it comes to social media.

Mistake 6: You post at the wrong times

The problem:  You send your tweets at times when your followers aren’t online.  As a result, your tweets don’t get clicked on and you don’t get re-tweeted.

The solution:  You need to find out when a majority of your followers are online and schedule your tweets for those times.  Luckily, there are a couple of services that can help.

I’ve used Tweroid and Fruji to help me find out when most of my followers are online.

I recommend trying both because Tweroid will give you detailed information organized by day of the week . On the other hand, Fruji will give you basic time zone information but it will give you other really useful information as well.

Mistake 7: You give bad apps access to your Twitter profile

spam apps

The problem:  Because Twitter is so darn popular, many apps and software that are created today can integrate with your Twitter account.

You have to authorize an app to have access to your Twitter account so that you can tweet from it.

The problem is that not all apps and software are created equally.  Some apps are bad and will post tweets and direct message on your behalf to your followers.

These tweets are considered spam and they can contain links to virus-infested websites.

The solution:  Only authorize reputable apps that want access to your Twitter profile.  How do you find out if an app has a good reputation?

Be familiar with the app’s website and take a look at its user base.  Spammy apps aren’t going to be very popular with people and they tend to have a shady element.

You’re going to need to use your discernment on this one.

If you need to remove an app’s access to your Twitter account, just follow these instructions here.

Mistake 8:  You’re not using any kind of metrics to measure how your tweets are doing

The problem: Yes you’re creating tweets, yes you’re interacting with others on Twitter, but how do you know if you’re tweets are doing well?

How do you know if people are clicking on your links?

You need to be able to measure how your tweets are doing so that you can make necessary adjustments when your tweets aren’t getting clicked on and so that you can keep doing the things that have been working for you.

The solution:  There are a number of free tools that can help you by giving you an inside look at how your tweets are doing.

  1. Hootsuite:  These guys have built-in reporting using their own system that they created.  Their reports are very insightful.
  2. Buffer App:  This is another tool that helps you to schedule your tweets and that gives you analytics that show you how your tweets are doing.
  3.  This is a url shortening tool that will give you reporting if you use their free service.  You can integrate your account with a majority of third-party Twitter apps.

Mistake 9: Your Twitter handle is too long

The problem:  You have a Twitter handle that looks like this: @JohnSmith123XYZ.  When people want to re-tweet you by adding your Twitter name in their tweet, it causes them to go over their 140 character limit.

Many people get frustrated when they are over their 140 character limit and will just delete the tweet that was going to mention you.

The solution:  You have two choices and I recommend doing both:

  1. Change your Twitter name: you can easily do this by going into the settings and choosing something else with less characters.  Once you’ve done this, tweet out to your followers a few times throughout the week that your Twitter name has changed.
  2. Create Tweets with some padding:  That means that don’t ever create a tweet that takes up all 140 characters.  Give yourself room of at least 12 to 20 characters so that people can easily re-tweet you without them going over the 140 character limit

Mistake 10: You thank everyone & their cousin for following or re-tweeting you

The problem:  Every time you get a new follower, you send them a mention thanking them for the follow.  Every time someone re-tweets you, you thank them for the re-tweet.

The problem with overly doing this is that you fill up other people’s timeline with your thankyou’s and a majority of them don’t find that very valuable.

People will get tired of this very quickly and they can either unfollow you, block you, or just ignore your tweets all together.

thanking everyone on Twitter

The solution:  Thank people for the follows and the re-tweets sparingly.  Also, once you find out when a majority of your followers are online, schedule the thankyou’s in advance to go out during your non-peak times like I shared with you in mistake 6.

Mistake 11: Your tweet’s are timed too close together

The problem:  All of your tweets are sent out in just an hour or two throughout the day.

For example, let’s say that you send out 10 tweets, you send 6 of them at 12 pm during your lunch break and the remaining 4 at 7 pm after you eat dinner.

The problem with this is two-fold:

  1. You followers don’t wants to see a whole bunch of your tweets filling up their timeline at one time.  They’d rather see a variety.  Some people will unfollow you if you continue to do this.
  2. Your tweets don’t get enough exposure if you don’t schedule and space them out in advance to coincide with when your followers are online.

The solution:  Use Tweroid or Fruji to post your most valuable tweets when most of your followers are online.  Space them out as much as possible during that time period.  Also, read the solution to mistake 2.

Mistake 12: Every other word in your tweet is a hashtag

The problem:  If you’re not sure what a hashtag is, you can go to my guide on how to use Twitter where I’ve dedicated a section on hashtags.

The problem when using too many hashtags in your tweets is that they become harder to read.

Also, some people will stuff their tweets with hashtags hoping to get more exposure so they add keywords that aren’t really relevant to the tweet or the link that they’re including.

The solution:  If you want to include hashtags, limit your use to just 1 or 2 per tweet.  Your followers will thank you for it and you’ll get more re-tweets :-).

Mistake 13: Your tweets are filled with mentions (replies) and not enough content

The problem:  You reply to different people’s tweets and send them at the same time (ex. 5 tweets at 5 pm).  Or, you want to reply to someone but you need more than 140 characters so you create 3 or 4 tweets that go out after one another.

The problem with this is that your followers typically find this annoying because again, you’re stuffing their timelines with tweets that they don’t find valuable.

Also if you have a potential new follower who is considering following you and is looking at your tweets to see whether they should follow you or not, they’ll see a whole bunch of replies and many won’t follow you if you do this too often.

The solution:  There are several things you can do:

  1. Schedule your replies in advance using a tool like Hootsuite.
  2. If you have a lot of replies to people, schedule them during non-peak times.
  3. For every reply that you have, follow it up with a Tweet that has valuable content for your followers
  4. Use a service like Twitlonger that will help you to create a tweet without the 140 character limit.

Mistake 14: You tweet people asking them to follow you back

The problem:  You want someone to follow you so you send them a tweet that looks like this:

follow me on Twitter please

This makes you look desperate and it doesn’t put you in the best possible light.  People should follow you because they find your tweets valuable and because you’re a delight in conversation.

You shouldn’t have to tell anyone to follow you.

The solution:  Don’t ask anyone on Twitter to follow you back.  Instead, use my guide to gettingmore Twitter followers.

Mistake 15: You ask people to unfollow you when you don’t like their bio or tweets

The problem:  Someone started following you and you check out their Twitter page.  You don’t like their tweets, or their bio, or you don’t want them to view your tweets so you ask them to stop following you.

The solution:  Please don’t do this.  It’s quite impolite and offensive.

The whole Twitter culture revolves around following and unfollowing others and it’s as simple as that.

If you feel really strongly about that person that just followed you, use the block button to block that person.  I don’t even recommend this but it’s the next best option.

Mistake 16:  You send tweets asking influencers you don’t know to tweet your link

The problem:  You find someone that’s following you that has a large following and you send him or her a tweet asking them to tweet your link to their followers.

The problem with this is that influencers with large followings get tweets like this all the time.  Many of them just ignore these requests because they feel like you are using them for their influence.

The solution:  Build relationships with influencers first.  See first what you can do for them and not what they can do for you.  After that, if God opens up the doors for them to tweet your links, then it’s a win-win situation.

Mistake #17: You never engage your followers


The problem:  People like your tweets and so they reply to them.  Only you never reply back and you don’t keep the conversation going even it’s just a polity acknowledgement.

This is a good way to make your followers feel disengaged and like you don’t really care what they have to say.

The solution:  Reply back to other people’s replies when you can.

Once your Twitter following grows, you won’t be able to keep up with everyone that mentions you so you’re going to have to pick and choose.

Nevertheless, replying to some people is better than not replying to anyone at all.  Also, don’t forget to space out and schedule your replies so that your followers don’t just see a bunch of your conversations in their timelines.

Key Takeaway

Be a blessing to everyone that you can on Twitter.

The result will be that people will follow you, people will re-tweet you, and you’ll be blessed 100 times more in return.

Be others minded and do everything that you can to help your followers meet their Twitter goals and they in turn will help you to meet yours.


Peter Guirguis

Facebook Twitter Google+

I’m the Technology and Social Media Manager of Calvary Chapel South Bay, a church in Gardena, California. My passion is to see people give their life to Christ both online and offline. I’ve created the free guide to getting thousands of Twitter followers to show ordinary people how to get extraordinary results on Twitter.

14 Great Tools to Create Engaging Infographics and Images for your Social Media Posts

 Just Found This

5 Reasons Social Media Is Not Working for You


Kim Garst

Founder and CEO of Boom! Social

Everybody is on social media now. OK, that is a slight exaggeration. Only 2 billion of the planet’s 7.2 billion people have active social media accounts. What is even more incredible is that there are almost 1.7 billion active mobile social users now.

Strictly from a business opportunity standpoint, I would like to say, “wow!” How and where else can you reach almost a third of the earth’s population so easily, so cheaply and so personally? It is a marketer’s dream and, if you are doing it right, you should be using social media marketing to dominate your market.

So, why isn’t social media working for you? The following are five common reasons why I see most people, companies and brands fail at using social media to grow their businesses.

1. You have to “pay to play” on Facebook.

Facebook is still, by far, the largest social media site with 890 million active daily users and 1.35 billion users overall. In 2014, the network earned almost $12.5 billion in revenue almost exclusively from advertising on the site. Coinciding with this massive jump in revenue is the dramatic decrease in the percentage of traffic that reaches fans and followers organically (meaning free).

Related: What Matters More, the Quality or Size of Your Social Media Audience?

Facebook has publically admitted that it is systematically decreasing that “free traffic” percentage over time to 1 to 2 percent of all traffic. For you, the business owner, that means if you plan on using Facebook to sell your products and services to your fans, you will need an advertising budget. Even a small budget can create huge return on Facebook.

2. You are “push” marketing when you should be “pull” marketing.

Most business owners make the mistake of thinking that social media is just a quick and easy tool to blast market their products and services out to large numbers of prospects quickly. Then, they are stunned when nobody wants to buy them.

The problem is that it is too easy to click away, ban, or worse, report you as a spammer. To win on marketing with social media you have to attract or “pull” people towards you. People are attracted to you via your message and the content you share on social media.

3. You are not “useful.”

This tip goes hand in hand with the point above. One of the best ways to “pull” market on social media is to be useful to your community on a consistent basis without the expectation of selling them something immediately. I know that seems a little counter-intuitive, but let me explain how that works.

Let’s say that you own a landscaping company. What if you wrote an ebook called 10 Ways to Make Your Yard Absolutely Beautiful and used Facebook advertising to target and give it away on social media to people in your city? You are not “pushing” your landscaping service. You are just being “useful.”

Guess what? Some of those people will get your ebook and want you to do the exact same things you told them to do in your ebook but pay you to do it. That is being useful, and that is pull marketing.

If you want more information on being useful in social media, you should read YOUtility by Jay Baer.

4. You are trying to be everywhere.

The top 10 social media sites have an estimated 2.2 billion unique monthly visitors. With that kind of traffic it is hard not to want to want to put your business right in the middle of all of that. However, being on just one site consistently takes a serious commitment of both time and energy.

Related: Secrets of Succeeding at Visual Marketing on Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube

Figure out which one or two sites you should be on (hint: they are the ones your ideal client is on) and then spend your time finding, creating and sharing great content and engaging with people in a consistent and meaningful way.

In short, in social media it is better to be really good on one site than bad on many.

5. You are not being authentic.

Social media is the easiest place to try and be something you are not. I hear stories and see it every single day. You want to be cool or hip or funny because you think that is what people want. Or worse yet, you want to be all business like.

You look for and share content based on what you think customers’ interests are, not yours. You know that cute puppy videos get a lot of traffic so you start borrowing the neighbor’s dog and dressing him up in every kind of crazy costume just hoping that people will watch and share your videos and somehow that will make them want to buy your products and services.

Sorry, that does not work.

Newsflash: People will connect with you around what they care about way before they connect around your business or your product.

The reality is that people buy from people they know, like and trust and authenticity is a huge piece of building that trust. Spend a few minutes thinking about what your real interests are, both personally and professionally, and create five to eight categories around those interests. Then, simply make sure to be yourself and deliver high-quality content consistently around the things you are actually interested in. You will have more and better engagement with people and these people will become your friends, your community members and, eventually, your clients.

Authenticity is the game-changer in social media marketing. I believe it so strongly that I wrote a book on the subject, Will the Real You Please Stand Up – Show-up, Be Authentic and Prosper in Social Media.

More Thoughts About Engaging a Community: Michael Stoner


Last week, I wrote about the value of engaging a campus community in developing a brand strategy and marketing a university.

As a followup, I thought it might be interesting to review what the marketing leaderswe surveyed earlier this year had to say about their experiences in engaging their communities when developing and rolling a brand strategy. These are very experienced people — 76 percent of them have led a brand strategy project at their institution.

I looked at the open-ended responses to three questions: “What worked well with the brand strategy project?” “What would you do differently if you had to do it all over again?” and “What were your frustrations?” [All responses were offered anonymously.]

Here are some themes that emerged.

Many believe that engaging in deep conversations with internal stakeholders allow people across an institution to clarify what is unique about its approach and programs and what distinguishes the education it offers. Engaging with internal audiences helps to uncover those distinctions, which are essential in developing an authentic and effective brand and may help an institution weather current the crisis in higher ed.

One person noted, “[The] discovery process led to greater clarity on strengths of the institution; distinctive characteristics were identified and incorporated effectively into comprehensive integrated marketing campaign.”

Not engaging deeply enough is a mistake: one person noted that the next time, she’d “focus on the hard questions… what will we do that will set us apart from others. We can’t just be the best vanilla ice cream and survive — we need to find a niche market and audience we can really serve well.”

While these conversations take time, not one person indicated they weren’t  worthwhile. Instead, ongoing conversations can help to build trust and awareness.

A respondent observed, “Our steering committee benefited SO MUCH from the conversations we had over the course of a year — they came out of the project with a deeper understanding of communications and a willingness to engage in a way that we hadn’t seen before. If I had known that we would have achieved THAT, I would have tried to find a way to include more people in those conversations, or to ask our steering committee members to speak to their departments throughout the project so that more people could have benefited from the process. By the end of the project, our steering committee were the project’s best advocates. I would have loved to have even MORE people (particularly faculty!) take that journey too.”

That comment suggests the need for consistent reinforcement and communication with colleagues over time, which leads to a more successful brand strategy implementation. In fact, a regret voiced by a number of respondents to our survey is a variation on the theme of not spending enough time doing the work it takes to bring colleagues on board. One respondent observed: “[I would] Spend more time on developing internal communication tools — videos, presentations etc. to future [communicate] the idea of the total brand. We have since done this over the past 3 years to broaden the internal mindset of what brand is and how to us it.”

The message is clear: engagement is essential, from the start through the launch of brand strategy or an institutional marketing campaign and well beyond. Yes, it takes time, but the conversations can’t end if you want to be successful.

Do you have examples of how effective engagement with you community helped to create a marketing campaign or roll out a brand strategy at your institution?



40 Lessons On Email Subject Lines To Expand Your Community


Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

This article, written by John Rampton, was originally featured on

Your email list is potentially the most important asset your business owns. Search engine traffic and social media play a huge role in online marketing, but if I had to choose just one channel? It would absolutely be email.

Having access to your target market’s inboxes gives you the opportunity to continuously send valuable content, and to build long-term relationships.

The trouble, of course, is you don’t have a hope of building these relationships if your subscribers aren’t opening your emails. According to Silverpop’s 2014 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study, the mean open rate across all countries is a mere 20.2 percent; this means that for every 100 emails that get sent, only 20 get opened.

While it’s important not to get hung up comparing your open rates to those of other companies, monitoring your own open rates can point out areas for potential improvement. The Silverpop report says it best: “The open rate works best as an in-house benchmark to track over time, because it can signal progress or problems with engagement. It’s relatively unreliable because it doesn’t capture all opens accurately due to image blocking and other factors. In other words, track your open rate, but don’t use it as a sole measure of campaign success.”

So, what does this all have to do with subject lines? Optimizing your email subject line is the #1 way to increase your open rates. For this reason, this post will look at all the latest research on subject lines, including which ones have performed best, and which keywords have resulted in the highest open rates. Just keep in mind that what works in one industry or niche may not work as well in another. Be sure to test these out for yourself!

So without further ado, here are 40 email subject lines and keywords to test with your own subscribers!

According to MailChimp’s analysis of over 40 million emails, the 10 most effective (60-87% open rate) subject lines were:

1. [Business Name] Sales and Marketing Newsletter

2. Eye on the [Business Name] Update (Oct 31 – Nov 4)

3. [Business Name] Staff Shirts and Photos

4. [Business Name] May 2005 News Bulletin!

5. [Business Name] Newsletter – February 2006

6. [Business Name] Newsletter – January 2006 [ *|FNAME|* *|LNAME|* ]

7. [Business Name] and [Business Name] Invites You!

8. Happy Holidays from [Business Name]

9. ATTENTION [Business Name] Staff!

10. ATTENTION [Business Name] West Staff!!

Element to test in your own emails: Every single one of the top 10 subject lines above included the name of the business, and four of them also included a date or year. While using “newsletter” or “news bulletin” may no longer be as effective, using your business name in your subject lines may have a positive impact on your open rates.

Digital Marketer analyzed the 125 million emails they sent in 2014 to determine which ones performed best. Here were their top 10 subject lines:

11. How (and why) to calculate Average Customer Value

12. [URGENT] You’ve got ONE DAY to watch this…

13. Check out my new “man cave” [PICS]

14. 212 blog post ideas

15. A Native Ad in 60 Minutes or Less

16. Is this the hottest career in marketing?

17. Your 7-figure plan goes bye-bye at midnight…

18. Steal these email templates…

19. The Facebook Slap is coming…

20. [WEEKEND ONLY] Get this NOW before it’s gone…

Elements to test in your own emails: Try conveying a sense of urgency in your subject lines (“is coming”, “get this now”, “you have one day left”, etc.). Using numbers is always a great way to grab attention as well (“7-figure plan”, “212 ideas”, “60 minutes or less”). Finally, test out using ellipse’ (3 dots) at the end of your subject lines; five of the 10 subject lines above used this strategy.

Alchemy Worx analyzed 21 billion emails sent by 2,500 brands to find the top performing keywords used in email subject lines. The top five most effective words were:

21. Upgrade

22. Just

23. Content

24. Go

25. Wonderful

Elements to test in your own emails: Why not try including one of these five keywords in your subject line? Other keywords they found effective in various industries included several, sleeps and important.

In an analysis of over 2.2 billion emails, Adestra looked at which keywords were most effective across a variety of industries. Following were the top eight keywords according to their research.

26. Free delivery

27. Available

28. New

29. Alert

30. News

31. Update

32. Summer

32. Weekend

Elements to test in your own emails: According to the report, while content marketing is the ‘it’ topic this year, content marketing keywords performed poorly due to over-saturation in the market. They recommend referencing sales or discounts where possible, as well as using percentage off amounts (e.g. “40% off today”).

In an older, yet still useful, analysis, Alchemy Worx looked at 24.6 billion emails sent. Here were the most effective keywords in terms of open rates:

33. Jokes

34. Promotional

35. Congratulations

36. Revision

37. Forecast

38. Snapshot

39. Token

40. Voluntary

Elements to test in your own emails: Try using the word “jokes” in your subject line, so long as it’s relevant to the topic of your email. It produced the most significant results, netting a 117 percent higher than average open rate. Words to avoid, according to this research: videos, romantic and discussion all resulted in just over 30 percent less than average open rates.

Final thoughts.
I trust this post has given you some ideas to test out for your own subject lines. When in doubt, focus on using subject lines that accurately convey the content of your email; research has shown that simple and to-the-point almost always outperforms elaborate or clever.

And above all, keep in mind that what works for one business or audience may not work for the next. I’ve sent out thousands of emails in my life and different things work for different companies. When I owned my subject lines were very different then with my current startup Due. Be sure to test out a variety of subject lines and keywords to see which ones work best for you.


Just Found This

LINKEDIN ACQUIRES REFRESH TO HELP YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR MEETINGSThis article originally appeared on Recode and is written by Kurt Wagner.

LinkedIn has acquired Refresh, a startup that helps people prepare for their meetings by collecting and sharing information on the people they’re meeting with.


Refresh, which is based in Mountain View, Calif., scours the Internet for information on the people a user is scheduled to see, such as news items mentioning those people. The app will also pull info from Facebook or LinkedIn, and can sync with your email to determine when you first met (or at least emailed with) the people you’re scheduled to meet.

LinkedIn already offers a similar product called Connected that manages your existing LinkedIn relationships and reminds you to follow up with people after you’ve met.

The company plans to build new features using the Refresh technology, although its unclear if those features will be standalone apps or baked into LinkedIn. Refresh will shut down its app on April 15, according to a LinkedIn spokesperson.

A dozen of Refresh’s 14 employees will join LinkedIn’s Identity team at the company’s Mountain View headquarters beginning next week. A spokesperson declined to share terms of the deal.