It was just a little more than a year ago when I reported about the roll out of the Google Panda algorithm version 2.2 as Google further attempted to measure user response to the quality of their SERPs. Since then, they’ve made dozens of tweaks to the algorithm. Last week, they released a new version of their algorithm called, Penguin, to identify and penalize sites guilty of “SEO over-optimization”.
Word of this pending change started circulating at the last SXSW when Google’s famed head of their Webspam team, Matt Cutts, talked about the “over-optimization penalty”. Then last week, he made the official announcement that Google will be penalizing those sites that are using “aggressive web spam tactics” for gaming their way to the top of Google’s rankings.
So what does this mean for SEO and your website?
If you’re following white-hat SEO practices and you’re posting high-quality, compelling content, you have little to worry about. And I only say “little to worry about” because the reality is that Google does sometimes get it wrong with all the best of intentions. However, if you are using aggressive black-hat techniques, like keyword stuffing, unusual linking patterns, and spun content with anchor text that links to pages with content that is completely unrelated, then you should be concerned.
This latest update should raise a couple of questions for your SEO strategy.
1. Are you trying to cheat your way to the top?
The bottom line is that if you want to get to the top of Google organically, you have to work for it. If you’re a small business owner and you are considering using the low-cost services of faceless sites that promise to get you thousands of links quickly, realize that these are some of the same services that use spun articles and unrelated links that Google is targeting with Penguin.
2. Does your SEO strategy focus on what makes your target audience happy or does it focus on Google’s algorithm?
As the image at the top of this post indicates, you shouldn’t be creating your SEO strategy based solely upon what makes Google happy. Yes, we all want the great visibility and click-throughs that come with sitting in the #1 organic ranking spot on Google’s SERPs. And yes, you should be aware of the how the algorithms work.
However, have you ever seen content that was obviously created for a machine and not a human reader? These are the posts that have low quality content and read as if certain phrases were dropped in repeatedly, with little relevance, or in a way that doesn’t flow grammatically with the rest of the content.
Google will continue to hone their algorithm to improve their SERPs. What you create to cheat the system today can cost you tomorrow. Plus, some of the gaming tactics are pretty obvious for the people who find your content. What does this say about the quality of your products and services? Even if you get this content past Google, you’ll lose credibility with your target audience for being guilty be association.
BTW - I have to give credit to high_plains_drifter in the Warrior Forum for the creation of the amusing image in this post. Great pic! Don’t get caught in this viscous circle.
3. Are you leveraging other channels to reach your audience online?
Even though Google is the king when it comes to search engines and it can bring your business great clicks and targeted traffic when you rank high on Page 1, Google’s search engine isn’t the only game in town. Your target audience spends time on other sites, including social media platforms, bookmarking sites, video channels, and more. Do you know where your target audience spends time? Connecting with them on various locations online increases your visibility and your credibility which ultimate will increase your odds of improving your profitability.
4. Do you know the difference between white-hat and black-hat SEO?
The rules for SEO change pretty frequently. What you may hear as a “good idea” or best practices today can be obsolete in a few months or could cost you rankings in the future. If you are unsure how to differentiate the two or simply don’t have the time to stay up-to-date with these ongoing changes, it’s best to bring on professionals that do. If you are concerned about your past and current SEO strategies and tactics and want a professional review, contact us.
All the Best,
The Solopreneur’s Guide