It’s amazing to think that it is over 2 years now since Panda launched on 11th February 2011. A date that should be tattooed on many SEOs brain. This was after the Caffeine update which meant that a lot more content was being indexed a lot quicker, but this content was competing with a lot of spam in the index. This is where Panda stepped in to target sites with thin, poor quality content.
Many updates of Panda pursued and websites were then hit by Penguin on 24th April 2012. This has changed the landscape of SEO dramatically with SEO companies attempting to update their linking practices. It also meant that a lot of websites lost massive visibility through linking penalties. 65% of agencies said they were negatively affected by this update.
So the purpose of this article is to give users a guide to some of the best practice tips since the updates, things to do and things not to do. Here are our 10 ten tips following the algorithm updates.
- Write unique content – write content that is engaging for users that sells your company and service just as much as it does the product and meets SEO. The more unique the content, the more likely it will stand out from the crowd which means it will do better from a conversion perspective aswell as on social media endorsements.
- Write longer, quality content less often rather than shorter, lower quality content more often – gone are the days where you are writing blogs 3 or 4 times a day just to maximise the freshness of your content. It is still true however that you want to be writing regularly but the point is don’t sacrifice quality at the expense of writing regularly. I remember the days of writing blogs daily because we wanted to get rankings up and increase the crawl rate of the site – yes this is a good tactic if you are a new website but make sure the content is newsworthy. If you do not have the capability to write daily then make sure you are writing regularly and the content is really good. Make it detailed and worthy of being shared.
- Think about your target audience, not your keyword density – this is particularly important for text content on target pages. Many of the websites now ranking in the top 10 on Google have very little by way of text content and many are relying on the meta optimisation and authority from off-page. 4% and above densities are not advised, much of the content is repetitive and not natural. Some clients ask “well what is a best practice density” and the answer is whatever is natural should you be writing the article without thinking about keyword density. Think about the flow of the content, if it is targeted at a particular product then it will naturally have the target keywords in and shouldn’t be an issue. Think also about the synonyms which is very important and a great tactic for getting keyword density down but also increasing the density on other related keywords.
- Content does not equal written content. Content equals text, image and video. Think about what you are doing with all three content forms. Many websites focus solely on content, but remember that watching video is a very popular activity online. Images and the growth of infographics are proving popular, which again increase sharing and can go viral.
- Don’t worry about article syndication – it’s syndication, not duplication. Many people have debated the value of article submissions since the updates. What a lot of people miss is that article sites like EZine are article syndication sites. They are portals of good content, like PR portals, where journalists can sift through quality content to use on their websites or in offline media. The best practice approach is to write your content, publish on your blog (because you are the author and are laying claim to the unique content) and then syndicate it. Beware of syndicating on mass to thousands of portals, that’s not advised. Syndicating to top portals that are relevant to your products, services and target audience is key because the portals will then be relevant and natural.
- Don’t buy links – the most important thing, some would say this is obvious but believe me there are agencies that are still professing to link building and for a fact they are buying links. Make sure you are checking your link profiles weekly and monthly and avoid any practice that involves buying links, even if it is being endorsed by a marketing agency. Buying links is not natural, even advertorials are suspect where Page Rank is passed.
- Don’t mass submit to directories – again this is where companies need to be careful. Submitting on mass was the standard practice two years ago, it was a good way of getting mass linking from multiple sources albeit from low quality websites. However since the Penguin update many of the sites that were be used submitted to on mass have been deindexed, ie not adding any value to the linking profile and as a result those companies who submitted to those sites have been penalised. If you are having problems with your SEO penalties then looking at your links from de-indexed sites (which will largely be low quality directories) is a priority among other factors.
- Get on social media – social endorsement is becoming one of the most important currencies on SEO. We have to think about SEO now as it was intended – it’s based on citation. The whole purpose of the Google algorithm was to rank content with the most relevant at the top and that has always been done on citation. This has been interpreted into “links = citation” which is true, but only part of it. There are many other ways of validating citation and social media is becoming a significant part of the citation process. If people are recommending, talking about, sharing content through social media means then that is a very valid way of verifying the quality of a piece of content.
- Have flexibility – many of the traditional SEO agencies are now struggling to adapt to the changes within the SEO practice and still providing the same work as before because they are “inflexible”. Big companies that have 80 plus staff are finding it difficult to amend their processes for hundreds of clients because of their size. This is where the brand of Blue Ocean Search comes in, we are based on Blue Ocean Strategy which is about change management in business and having the flexibility to adapt offerings in changing markets.
- Change your KPIs – Every company wants to rank on page one of Google, preferably position one. But SEO is multi-faceted, it’s about increasing visibility of your site and your business, not just about one or two keywords. Think about rankings for your most important keywords, but think about other KPIs aswell. For us, they include overall site traffic from search engines, number of keywords that are driving traffic (keyword exposure), enquiries and sales, number of pages in the site that are gaining entry traffic, and referral traffic (ie from portals or other linking sites).
At Blue Ocean Search we specialise in SEO, and the company has been founded in the new error of SEO that is about social media and quality content, and not about mass link buying programs. We have successfully helped many companies with their linking penalties and we offer a free, no obligation, review of linking profiles.