The SEO landscape has changed dramatically over the past few months. Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, with their penalties for duplicate content, low-quality links, over-optimised keywords and heavy ad pages have been felt across the world.
Many businesses have seen their page rankings plummet. Lower ranks means less traffic, and less traffic means less revenue.
But even if you’ve not been hit, if you’re serious about your online business you can still prepare your site for future updates, so we’ve put together six survival strategies you need to have in place if you’re serious about surviving what I like to call Google’s Animal Kingdom…
Survival Tip #1 – Avoid webspam
Spam on the internet is a problem that Google has been trying to nail down for years. As such, the recent Penguin update is an attempt to rid the internet of spam by targeting ad-rich websites which only exist to sell backlinks to other sites. Because they provide no intrinsic value to a web user – if you are linked to, or include a link to one of these sites, then you’ve probably already been hit by Penguin.
Survival Tip #2 …and build great links
If you think about it, trust and authority are crucial when it comes to proving to Google that your website is a valuable resource. If a website with a high page authority links to you, it’s saying to Google that you’re a trusted source of information. With that in mind the only real, authentic way to build links is by creating good, quality content which people love and will link to.
Survival Tip #3 Avoid duplicate content
The main purpose of the Panda update is to reward websites which provide value to the visitor – so if you’ve got duplicate content on your site then you’ve got a problem. This has proved a little difficult for the many e-commerce sites with thousands of similar products on offer. Many were hit hard after the recent update, simply because they used the manufacturer’s wording in product descriptions. A little harsh, maybe, but it's something all site owners need to be aware of.
Unfortunately it seems the only way to get around this and prove to Google that you provide your visitors with quality unique content is by carrying out a full audit, including all editorial, domains and image tags.
Make sure your written copy isn’t replicated anywhere, and if you have an e-commerce site always make sure your product descriptions are interesting and unique. If you have multiple domains, each site should have original content too – even if you are using the same keywords. If you use the same images, each should have different tags.
Survival Tip #4 …and focus on creating unique, accessible content
Since Panda rewards fresh content, you really want to be writing high-quality content on a regular basis. Not only will you get indexed much faster, you can use it to get higher-quality inbound links from other websites in your industry.
If however you are creating content for another website which includes a link to yours in the text, make sure you do your research. I can’t stress this point enough. If the website your content appears on gets hit by any future Panda or Penguin update you can bet your bottom dollar you’ll be hit too.
You can do your research through sites like Open Site Explorer’s search – look for a high page authority and a high number of total referring links. If you’re happy that the site is a quality, well-respected resource you can rest easy.
Survival Tip #5 Avoid keyword stuffing
What’s become clear in the post-Panda and Penguin world is that stuffing content full of keywords or direct match anchor text links no longer works. You can write news and articles with keyword-rich copy until the cows come home, but if you try and outsmart Google and use more keywords than necessary it could be seen you were over-optimising your site – and you will be punished.
Suvival Tip #6 …and use a mix of keywords across your site
Make a list of all the products and services you deliver and use a mix of specific and non-specific keywords and links across your site. For example, if you are an email marketing company and publish an article called “How to write email subject lines which sell”, your keywords and links should be “avoiding spam”, “email tips” and “selling through email”. Don’t stuff the article full of “email marketing” keywords and links to your product, make it natural and link to a variety of pages.
The message is clear – whatever you are writing, think of what your potential readers are typing into search engines and use the keywords to suit.
To sum up…
Unfortunately, none of us can see into the future and say with much certainty where Google’s Panda and Penguin updates are taking us. What is clear however, is that those sites which consistently provide quality and valuable content to visitors are best placed to survive the Animal Kingdom – those that don’t are asking to be punished….Google Piranha, anyone?