Penguin Friendly SEO Tips

small business seo In the last year or so, many have written on the dangers of first Panda and now Penguin to websites and internet marketers, indicating which search engine optimization tactics will get you in doo-doo with the big G and what to do about it.

Normally, I don’t pay much attention to these warnings because I use only very basic SEO.

Plus, my goal is to write quality posts and books that actually help my readers. So why do I need to worry about all of this? As long as I keep focusing on quality, I’m good. Right?

Will Google Penguin Affect Quality Sites Like Mine?

It’s possible. As an online entrepreneur, you already know that getting traffic and noticed online takes work, which includes SEO. What you may not know is that certain SEO tactics are likened to the air-brushing of celebrities on magazine covers. What you see is not necessarily what you get.

Google considers these SEO tactics unnatural and indicative of a spammy site. For example, in the past, many marketers would build a network of bogus sites with static content or automated content (in other words – poor quality) for the sole purpose of linking them all to their blog and getting better search engines results. This type of backlinking doesn’t work very well anymore.  Google wants real sites with quality content pointing to other quality content on real sites.

Maybe you’re not into building elaborate backlinking networks – I’m not. Like I said, I stick to the basics. But Google has been steadily tightening the reigns and certain methods long taught, practiced, and considered basic (that even I use) are now on Google’s current hit list.

Replace Some Bad SEO Habits With Natural Ones

Here’s what Wordtracker, expert in search marketing had to say about some needed SEO changes and focus points for today’s online businesses. This tactic in particular is one that many of us still use:

Unnatural links (end March)

When most people link to websites, they either use the URL, the brand name Wordtracker or a selection of generic words like click here or more info here that kind of thing. Google knows this, so will expect your site’s links to follow this pattern.

Keyword rich links (such as this link – SEO tools are much rarer. But they are also much better for SEO, so link builders try hard to get them. Google looks to see whether the links you’ve got form an unnatural pattern. Do you have ‘too many’ keyword rich links? Is your site adding links in a regular pattern, a set number per month? Or, did you suddenly acquire lots of keyword rich links, having not had very many before? Google will detect these patterns and may choose to downgrade the value of the ‘unnatural’ links.

To check the links to your site, there are a number of online tools to help you:

–>Majestic SEO lets you create a free profile, so you can monitor how your backlinks are developing. If you are link building manually, this can help you judge how ‘obvious’ you’re being. And also how successful your existing content is at attracting links.

–>Wordtracker’s Link Builder tool can help you see how links have accumulated over time.

Again, Google may send a warning to your Webmaster Tools account, so check this first.

Plus, according to Wordtracker, SEOMoz believes that domains matching their target keyword are most likely next on the hit list. So consider this when picking a domain name.

So What Do We Do?

Well as mentioned above ease off on the keyword-rich backlinks and other such black hat strategies. Focus your time instead on doing this:

Consider your content

That said, content is still crucial to SEO success. It’s clear that Google is becoming increasingly good at spotting poor quality content, so it’s worth investing some time into thinking about how you can make yours great.

You can start by looking for quick wins. Are there existing pages you could add to? Maybe with a (correctly tagged) video or image? Are there extra pages that your site is crying out for? And what about your structure? Does it let Google see how great your site really is? Perhaps there are some problems with your existing content? Have you run a site audit? If not, you should.

Where are your links coming from?

Links are still important, but Google is increasingly evaluating the quality of your links. Make sure you get a wide variety links from quality (not spammy) sites. Creating content is a great way of attracting links but you should consider other media, too. For example, are you using PR or offline advertising as a way of improving brand awareness? There are many different link building strategies and many ways of getting links.

It’s not all bad news. If you’re only starting at this, then there’s not much to do except to adopt these more natural and content focused SEO practices. They seem a lot easier and less time consuming than a lot of those elaborate black hat strategies out there.

And if your small business is already established online and you’ve dropped a few notches on the Google ladder, then take Wordtracker’s advice and see where you can put some energy to improve your site’s ranking. And don’t forget the 80/20 rule; place 80% of your focus and time on that 20% that most impacts your traffic, which doesn’t always include SEO.  You can get to the rest later.


So, what do you think of all these Google changes? Do you see them as good or  unfair? Has you site been affected? Do you know other common practices that are being targeted? Grab a coffee and let’s chat!


Read Wordtracker’s article Google Penguin | What it Was, What it Wasn’t and What You Need to do Now .


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19 Responses to Penguin Friendly SEO Tips

  1. Louise

    It seems Penguin has affected people differently over the last weeks as this has been rolled out. Some people are trying to repair dammage from bad SEO links they have used and more and more it comes down to not usign Link Building services as Google is slowly removing their capability for non human placed automated links.

    This is forcing people to spend time posting quality comments on blogs posts and in forums. Again decent involved communication is going to trump automated rubbish.

  2. Lance Lovelady,
    First of all thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation!

    In the end quality will reign. And I certainly agree with that. We’re actually going to have to produce useful content and earn our position in the ranks. The way it should be.

    I’m looking forward to not having to trash tons of automated comments on this blog!

  3. Good post Louise…

    What the Internet Trolls fail to realize is that syndicate-worthy writing will always trump crappy, spammy links. The key to REAL SEO is writing content that other sites can’t wait to syndicate. And it has the added benefit of bringing a lot of traffic that isn’t dependent on Google.


  4. Hey Russ,
    Nice to see you here!

    Great point…and I love that term “syndicate-worthy writing”. Is it your creation? If so, can I use it?


  5. Hey Louise…

    I am not sure if syndicate worthy writing is a term I coined. I doubt it. Either way, feel free to liberate the phrase.

  6. After Penguin update, i was tried remove auto link, write content by me…don’t copy content of other site. But, My new article only index top 1 with exactly article’s title as search string in 2,3 day. What were wrong?

    Example : when i search “Thiết kế website theo chuẩn Mobile” 2 day ago, my site with url : stay at top 1. But now it stay at #5.

  7. Hi Thang,
    As I’m not an SEO specialist, I can only make guesses as to why your situation didn’t work instantly. One would be that you’re not supposed to see instant top rankings. Switching to quality content and allowing for more natural links to your site pages, means you will rank better for the longterm. It will be a gradual process based on quality content that really gives consumers and readers what they want. That’s what Google wants ranking in its results…real quality content.

    But, the Panda changes are happening gradually (and nobody except for Google knows exactly how). So that means that some “fake” linking strategies and keyword domains for low quality sites are still squeezing by and getting top spots in the rankings, and you have to fight your way through these. Luckily, it won’t last. And if your business is based on ranking via these black hat methods, it will not thrive for long. So, not a great business strategy.

    Does this answer your question? If you need more explanation, you need SEO experts. So, here’s a SEO forum where you can get some great info:

    If I were you, I wouldn’t get too carried away with SEO. I would keep focusing on providing your market with what they want. And there are other traffic and promotion methods.

  8. This is a great post about Google Penguin Tips, I just stole it for my blog :) You’re a great writer Louise!

  9. Ahh! Thanks. Enjoy & thanks for sharing.

  10. Louise..
    Hey, I am Bilal, Online Reputation and Management Consultant. Well your post really impressed me and I have also read others comments on your post, which I considred to be very interesting.. I usually investing my time on creating quality content and of course content still a King :) BUT!! But it doesn’t work and I sure Google either treating a Web copy as backlinks. I am sure G also looking at content quality. What quality is? Sensible page title, fruitful content with max info for a reader, use of few but targetted KWs, on page anchors leading to a right landing page, sentenses and grip to the content flow and lastly stay of people on a certain page… So these all makes your content rich in the eyes of readers… So better to work for your audience rather making copies for Google only.


  11. Hey Bilal. So nice to meet you!

    You are absolutely right. Quality implies a lot more than just great writing. At least to Google it does. Actually, another post here is needed on what constitutes “quality content”. You nailed it though, your content has to be what the reader wants. The more they want to read what you write, the more likely Google will consider your content relevant and worthy of ranking.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Thank you for replying and I look forward to read your next post on effective content writing.. Keep on writing :)

  13. Hey Bilal! Thanks for bringing that topic up :)

  14. SEO Consultant in toronto

    Above given Tips are really very good tips for those people who are working in this field, but I would like to add something more that if after caffeine update of Google it always gives priority to fresh and unique content so always try to write something new and unique content so that you can improve ranking of your site in search engines.

  15. Yes. I agree. If you put the focus on valuable content you are more likely to stay at the top.

  16. […] before I go on, I’ll just describe very briefly (and probably too simply) a bit about SEO. SEO is the part of internet marketing that gets you noticed by search engines as well as […]

  17. […] Yes, you can as long as you are aware of the search engine updates. […]

  18. This is a really good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.
    Brief but very precise info… Thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read post!

  19. Thanks!
    It’s easy to get carried away with SEO, which can turn into a big waste of time…better to just keep it simple and don’t forget about your audience and what they want.