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 http://www.wordtracker.com, 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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