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Post-Penguin SEO In 2013: Foundational Strategies

According to Matt Cutts, Google’s well-known search engineer, Google’s algorithms change as frequently as once a day. On average, the algorithm changes around 500 times per year. If you think about it, keeping up with this many algorithm changes is impossible. Instead of focusing your energies on Penguin, Panda and other algorithm updates, you need to go deeper and beyond the commonly employed SEO techniques. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Share-worthy Guest Posts

We all know that guest blogging is a hotly debated topic in the SEO community. It is arguably one of the best ways to get traffic, backlinks and improve your social profile, all at the same time. But in the same way we permanently ruined article directories by stuffing our articles with keywords, many people are also misusing guest blogging. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there, full of useless, keyword-infused content with no real value.

The links within these so-called guest blogs never get clicked on, and the pages have abnormally high bounce-rates. However, the fact that there are tons of mediocre guest blogs out there makes it easier for you to stand out, especially if your content is unique, original and share-worthy. Truly useful content often gets passed around on social networks, and legitimate referral traffic from social networks is an indicator of human activity. Search engines look for pages with high levels of human activity, and actively measure social signals such as: facebook likes, tweets, shares and comments.

With this said, you have an even greater incentive to write useful content rather than writing content for the sake of it. Think of guest blogging as an opportunity to make an impression on the host website’s visitors. You will only get one chance, but if you write an innovative and unique post with a twist, the host might invite you to write more posts.

Author Rank

Author rank is yet another step by Google towards a better web. The idea is to rank authors based on the authority and quality of their content as determined by Google’s algorithms. So, how does one go about building author rank?

Google+ comes in handy here. Go to the “About” section of your Google+ profile and add links to the webpages you regularly contribute content to. It is important to remember that Google+ plays an integral part in building your author rank, and Google considers many factors to compute it. These factors include: the number of people in your circles; the number of people who have you in their circles; your frequency of content generation, and the level of social activity on your Google+ profile.

This is what you should do to increase your author rank:

1. Create great content regularly
2. Be active on social media
3. Share useful content with people in your network

Co-Citation

Co-citation is yet another hotly debated topic among SEOs, and there seems to be some disagreement on what co-citation is, in addition to co-occurrence. Some theorize co-citation as a step by Google towards a more intelligent and semantic web. The concept itself is pretty simple to understand, and there are real examples in which co-citation has helped websites rank for keywords that were neither in their title, nor in their description tags.

Co-citation can best be explained with an example. Suppose Rob’s Ice Cream Parlor makes great “Blueberry Ice Cream.” In this case, search engines cannot make a connection between the keywords “Rob’s Ice Cream Parlor” and “Blueberry Ice Cream” unless they have been mentioned together on various websites. Google can now spot if there is a connection between two keywords or key-phrases, like the correlation between a company and its products.

There are numerous examples of co-citation that help websites rank for keywords they aren’t even attempting to rank. SEOmoz’s famous, Open Site Explorer ranks for the search term, “backlink analysis,” even though it isn’t mentioned in title, description or the page itself. Google picked up some other article from somewhere else on the web for use in the search snippet and that article does mention “backlink analysis” and “Open Site Explorer” together.

Press Releases

Some things never get old. Press releases are one of the oldest tricks in a SEO’s arsenal, but they still work. A well-positioned press release with useful information about your company’s products or services not only drives traffic to your website, but also helps increase awareness about your brand amongst the public. Apart from usefulness of your content, you can also insert relevant anchor texts where necessary to your home and inner pages. This helps you get backlinks and traffic, simultaneously.

How you distribute your press release is also very important. You can choose to email it to journalists and online news outlets manually, or use the services of a company like PRWeb or PR Newswire. Most of these companies guarantee syndication of your press release to hundreds of online news outlets, so if you know how to write a great press release, it can prove to be a great tool (especially when you’re launching a new product, service or campaign).

It is important to note that Matt Cutts of Google has stated that backlinks from press releases do not contribute towards page rank, but some recent tests have proven otherwise.

Social Media Signals

A couple of years ago, Matt Cutts denied the effect of social signals on rankings, but his denial has now changed into guilty admission. Not only do social signals affect rankings, but Google also made social signals an integral part of their ranking algorithm with the introduction of Google+.

So, what’s all the fuss about? It’s quite simple, really. Social signals, as we mentioned earlier, are an indicator of human activity. The number of times something gets liked, tweeted or commented on becomes an indicator of social value. The more popular something is, the more authoritative it becomes. This means social signals not only have the ability to affect rankings, but also the perceived value and authority of a website in the eyes of search engines.

Google and Bing, both major search engines, actively consider social signals to help rank websites and make SERPs more relevant to the user. Therefore, it is more important than ever to create share-worthy content, which can even go viral if you’re lucky, and focus your efforts on creating value rather than brute link building.

Post-Panda SEO: Stop Building Links, Start Writing Content!

Search engine optimization has long been a goal of virtually every website owner, but recent updates to Google’s search engine algorithms have many scrambling to completely change their ways. In recent updates known as Google Panda and Google Penguin, the world’s largest search engine changed the very structure of the way pages are evaluated, displayed, and ranked during a keyword-targeted internet search. It has had a number of major effects on website developers and marketing professionals, including a strategy that has shifted away from links and toward quality content.

Down with Links: The Changes that are Transforming SEO

Google’s search engine algorithm changes came in two parts. The first was known as Google Penguin, and that update focused on content. Developers at the company found that many websites were taking advantage of Google’s focus on keywords, engaging in an act known as “keyword stuffing” to propel their websites to the top of search result pages. That resulted in a number of spam websites being the “most recommended” website in the eyes of visitors, and it was a serious problem for the company for several years.

The update virtually eliminated that problem, focusing instead on a website’s value, authority, engagement, loading times, conversion rates, and other factors. Excessive use of keywords was punished, rather than rewarded, and habits began to shift.

A second update to the system, termed Google Panda, focused primarily on link spam and excessive outside referrals. Another major way that spam sites were taking advantage of Google’s policies was by building a simply unmanageable link of referrals from outside websites, many of which they actually owned themselves. In Google’s eyes, each of these links was a virtual endorsement of content, improving that site’s authority and sending it upward in search results.

With Google Panda, the emphasis on referral links was greatly diminished. In fact, it’s estimated that roughly three percent of websites saw their ranking change in a negative way after the update simply because they were relying too heavily on link-based SEO techniques. With results like that, website owners everywhere should consider the balance of their SEO between links and content, and make the appropriate adjustments.

How to Live in a Penguin and Panda World: Fresh, Authoritative Content

Since links are now virtually a non-starter when it comes to improving a website’s ranking and performance at Google, website owners have had to look elsewhere in order to make sure that their site doesn’t slip to the back pages of a keyword-targeted search result. That has been a pretty difficult process, largely because it’s new to many websites and they’re not familiar with how to accomplish this.

The operative phrase when making the transition into Penguin and Panda compliance is “content marketing.” In essence, content marketing involves creating robust, authoritative content for a website that is posted frequently and draws visitors based on how informative it is. Instead of luring people into keyword-spam traps, or link-heavy sites that offer no value at all, content marketing proves that a website knows what it’s talking about, carries some authority in the industry, and is worth visitors’ time. When Google gets word of that, they’ll reward a content marketing website with prime placement among their results.

Content marketing might sound like an easy solution to link-based search engine optimization, and it generally is. There are a few guidelines to follow, though, to ensure that these rich articles are not used in vain. To keep Google’s favor, be sure to make a few considerations when writing, soliciting, or posting content marketing articles to an existing website.

1. Focus on Keyword Density

Any search engine optimization professional is likely familiar with the term “keyword density,” but they may not be familiar with Google’s changed view of keywords on websites. While there was a time when more keywords meant a better ranking, that is not the case today. Instead, Google views excessive keywords as spam. If there are too many instances of a single keyword within any content marketing article, it will not help a website’s ranking at all. In fact, it will generally send the website down.

Be sure to focus on density that doesn’t exceed 5 percent, in most cases. This will make the keyword sound natural, and Google will rank the website far more favorably. A few different keywords throughout the article will make this easy to accomplish without sacrificing placement in any current targeted search results.

2. Freshness is a Priority

Articles must be fresh. Content marketing is viewed by Google has a field that is exceedingly dynamic. Information changes every day, and the search engine’s algorithm now accounts for this. Articles that are a few months old do not score highly anymore, and those that are a few years old will probably not appear in search results at all. Instead, focus on fresh content that is posted on a regular basis.

One article per day, or three articles per week, or ten articles per month, is a great way to get started. With fresh content and a predictable update schedule, Google will reward a website with higher rankings.

3. Post Content Marketing Articles on Other Sites

The importance of the “guest post” on outside blogs has become significantly more important since the Penguin and Panda updates. Websites that link to another site as part of a blog entry lend significantly more authority than those sites that merely operate a link list. Therefore, website owners should focus on striking up relationships with others in the industry, exchanging guest posts and creating a rich environment for competition and SEO improvement that Google will view as authority and credibility.

Easy Changes to Make for Penguin and Panda

The changes that need to be made in order to accommodate the Penguin and Panda algorithm updates are actually pretty easy. Most people already operate a blog within their site, and they like to discuss topics relevant to their products or niche. By emphasizing keywords, freshness, and authority, link-based marketing can easily become a thing of the past without harming a website’s rankings during the transition to more modern techniques.

How Google’s Panda and Penguin Changed the SEO Landscape

The world of search engine optimization has evolved in the past few years. Each time Google rolls out an update, panic spreads like wildfire across forums, blogs, and social networks. For marketers, knowing the date of these updates can help explain changes in organic website traffic and rankings. Google’s recent Penguin and Panda algorithm updates have dramatically affected search results. No one knows what Google’s next move will be.

Why the Updates?

Achieving high search engine rankings has become critical to business success. Google aims to deliver the best user experience. Panda and Penguin updates are a boost for marketers who have worked hard to provide quality content. Their goal is to identify websites that use questionable SEO strategies and improve search engine results. It is important to understand how these updates affect your website so that you can optimize your pages and make sure you don’t lose out.

Since Panda and Penguin target two different issues, it is essential to know the exact algorithm that hit your website. Penguin targets unnatural backlinks and spam, while Panda is all about low quality content. Both updates will be rolled out periodically. Therefore, you have to continuously improve your SEO strategy and provide the highest quality content. In order to be successful and maintain your search engine rankings, it is necessary to make a few changes to your website, including:

– Remove poor quality content
– Create fresh, interesting content
– Build relevant links
– Eliminate unnatural back links
– Vary your anchor text
– Ensure proper navigation
– Optimize pages for multiple keyword phrases
– Remove duplicate content
– Avoid over optimization and keyword stuffing

The best way to determine whether you have been hit by Penguin or Panda is to launch Google Analytics and check your stats. You must know the problem in order to address it. Based on how Google rolled out these changes recently, many marketers are confused about which update hit their websites. These updates force people to keep producing quality content and use ethical SEO techniques.

Google Panda Update Overview

Google Panda was released in February 2011. This update aimed to lower the rank of “thin sites” and “low quality sites” that provide little or no value to users. At the same time, Google Panda provided better rankings for high quality websites with original content and fresh information. This change to Google’s search results ranking algorithm has had a great impact on content farms. These website were loaded with hundreds of low quality, keyword stuffed articles.

According to Google, over 12 percent of searches in the United States were affected by Panda. This update is just one of more than 200 different factors that Google uses to rank pages. In the last year, Panda began to have a monthly schedule. As a result, many websites tried to diversify their content beyond search engines and create better quality articles. To lose the penalty, webmasters must remove or improve low quality content.

This update made people realize that some widely used practices were actually going against Google’s recommended Best Practice guidelines. Panda affected web pages that don’t have relevant content, but simply exist to push users to cloned sites, landing pages, parked pages and more. Many websites hit by Google Panda are loaded with intrusive ads or provide duplicate content. It takes just one or two pages of poor quality content, and your entire website can be penalized.

How to Recover from Google Panda

The best thing you can do to recover from Google Panda is to constantly update your website with fresh, relevant, and informative content. Webmasters should also avoid over optimization. Try to keep the optimization ratio around 70 percent. Every time you write a new post, ask yourself a few questions. Is it well researched? Is it useful for readers? Are you providing information from reputable sources? Focus on creating unique content. For example, if you have an ecommerce website or an online store, write unique product descriptions.

What Is Google Penguin?

Google Penguin was released on April 24, 2012. This update affected over three percent of English-language search queries. It aimed to decrease rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using black hat SEO tactics, including content spinning, link schemes, cloaking, and keyword stuffing.

Many SEO experts agree that Penguin was just the official word that Google is taking action against people who are trying to cheat the system and use unnatural linking practices. Website owners should check their Google Webmaster accounts for any messages from Google warning about a potential penalty. Some contributing factors to Penguin may include:

– Keyword stuffing in internal/external links
– Blog spam
– Low quality article marketing
– Overuse of exact-match domains
– Excessive links from poor quality websites’
– Aggressive internal linking
– Unnatural inbound links
– Paid links
– Link exchanges

Google Penguin is cracking down a common black hat SEO strategy: abusing links to achieve higher search engine rankings. If your website has links from low quality directories, link schemes, and dubious sites, you may receive a penalty. It is estimated that 94 percent of Google Penguin victims did not fully recover. Overly-optimized websites will continue to be targets. For now, the best approach is to focus on the quality of your site in terms of content value, link value, and visitor interaction.

How to Recover from Google Penguin

The first step to recover from Google Penguin is to analyze your website’s traffic data and identify the problem. Check the backlinks pointing to your site and determine which of them are contributing to your penalty. Remove as many bad links as you can. Send out link removal requests to webmasters and then start a new link building campaign. Safe post-Penguin link-building anchor types include hybrid-branded anchors, universal anchors, and branded anchors.

Focus on link quality. Work on collaborative projects with reputable webmasters. Offer you services in exchange for relevant backlinks. Publish guest posts on high quality sites. Spend your time building connections with industry influencers. Keep your bounce rate low and write great content. Make sure your website has a diversified link building strategy.

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