The Penguin Update hit many high-ranking sites after determining that high percentages of their inbound links were coming from link farms and sites that had no relevance to them. Some websites that were hit by the update saw their listings plummet from the first page of the search engine results pages (SERPs) to depths of 50 to 60 pages. Websites found to be excessively abusive were delisted by Google, never to be seen on a SERP again.


Websites that were punished by the Penguin update now have a decision; quit or rebuild. For those who decide to rebuild their links, the process will take time but it can be done by taking the following actions:

 

  • The link building process must follow a natural growth curve. A site with 8 inbound links on Monday that 900 links on Thursday will be right back in hot water with the search engines.
  • Links should be directed to a variety of internal pages on the sites, not exclusively to the home page.
  • Links should originate from a variety of sources such as social media sites, blogs, press releases, etc.
  • The natural growth of a link profile will include "no-follow" and "do follow" links. The search algorithms will be expecting both so make sure that you build no-follow links as well as do-follows.
  • The growth rate of a site's back-links should be closely correlated to its growth in traffic numbers. Additionally, the number of visitors to the site should outnumber its back-links by a wide margin.

 

The Penguin update has served two notices; that an unnatural link profile will be found out and penalized and that keeping your SEO practices above board with a natural growth curve will be rewarded. With that in mind, take a methodical link-building pace when rebuilding and let the other guys take the hit from the next "Penguin".

 

Call Gervais Group at (800) 381-9358 for an initial assessment to maximize the potential of your business with coporate internet marketing/SEO marketing services.

Within the last 18 months Google has released two algorithm updates that left most websites alone but rocked the world of others. Each update targeted different forms of spammy practices that were being used by a relatively small percentage of websites to manipulate rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs). While the algorithm updates were dissected endlessly across the web, there are three main takeaways from the combination of Panda and Penguin.

 

1) Create content for the people who will read it, not for the bots that will crawl it. Sticking the same keyword in every sentence on a page may have counted with search engine bots in the past but their sophistication has increased to the point where stuffing keywords will work against you. You'll also lose visitors who see your content as nothing more than a repetitive exhibition of the search term they used to find your site.

2) Develop unique content and be selective where you post it. Duplicate content posted all over the web doesn't count with the search engine bots. Unique and informative content on sites that have relevance to yours is what counts with search engines now.

3) Getting links from authority sites that are within your industry is far more important now than having thousands of links from all over the web. Inbound links from sites that do not have relevance to your site no longer count and could get you penalized if you have enough of them.

 

If you're doing the basics of SEO correctly, updates like Panda and Penguin won't hurt your search engine rankings. In fact, they may help if they're knocking competitors out of the game that have manipulated their way to the top listings on the search engines.

 

Call Gervais Group at (800) 381-9358 for an initial assessment to maximize the potential of your business with coporate internet marketing/SEO marketing services.

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  • User Experience and SEO

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    Prior to Google’s implementation of the Hummingbird algorithm in the second half of 2013, search engine optimization and delivering a positive user experience with published content were distinctly different practices. Despite Google’s mission to surface high value content, its algorithms were easily manipulated with SEO tricks that didn’t necessarily deliver the information that the search engine users were looking for. At the same time, content that delivered relevant information often earned lower rankings than poorly written articles that prioritized packing in keywords over adding value.

     

    Hand it to Google, the search engine has stayed true to its commitment to deliver improved user experiences and is now far less vulnerable to manipulative practices. Its ranking algorithm now factors a variety of signals that result from positive user experiences, including:        

            

            Links from authority sites – Content that contains valuable source material, topic-relevant information or delivers a positive user experience in general can earn links from authority sites to provide additional information or to be cited as a reference. These links carry an increasing amount of weight in the ranking algorithms due to the quasi-vetting process from originating authority sites. This is a completely different ranking methodology than the one which rewarded web pages that had thousands of spammy backlinks purchased for a few pennies each.       

            Social actions – When content is posted to social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, user can elect to share that material with their friends and/or followers. Sharing or liking posted content is referred to as a social action, which is an indication that the content delivers a positive user experience, whether it’s entertaining, informative or a combination of the two. Steady and/or increasing social actions with specific web pages can then boost rankings due to the implied legitimacy of independent referrals.    

             Active and positive comment threads – Quality content draws engagement in the form of active commentary threads. Content that is generating shares and likes will also elicit commentary, with the actions reinforcing each other when being weighed by search algorithms. While these reinforcing actions are great for SEO campaigns, they are equally capable of driving higher rankings for negative content, such as news stories.    

     

    In today’s SEO campaigns, manipulating the algorithms has become increasingly difficult. This is due in part to the growing sophistication in algorithm methodology that can detect spammy links and content. It is also due to the evolution in the way people communicate and share information on the web. The paradigm change now forces SEO and content distribution campaigns to focus on the same primary goal; delivering a positive user experience. 

  • One SEO Change to Implement Now

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    As the sophistication of search algorithms continues to increase, search engines are improving their understanding of what their users are looking for with their inquiries. Prior to replacing its search methodology with the Hummingbird algorithm in 2013, search results typically showed results that had a high percentage of the same keywords included in users’ inquiries. While the pages that were returned based on keyword matches generally reflected some relevance to the search, there were also results that had nothing to do with the nature of the inquiry.

     

    Two of the primary reasons for these unrelated results were black hat techniques that were used to trick the early algorithms into granting high ratings, as well as words that were spelled the same but had different meanings, known as homonyms. An example of a homonym is the word “lead”, which can either be a noun as in the metal or a verb as in “to guide”. An inquiry such as “lead dog” could list sculptures of dogs made of the metal as well as dog teams in the Iditarod race. Refining the search to “what is a lead dog Iditarod” could still return mixed results. With the implementation of the Hummingbird algorithm, searches provided results based on the context of the inquiry, rather than trying to find pages with identical keywords.

     

    The change to contextual search, in addition to providing a higher percentage of relevant results for all users, was also influenced by the more conversational nature of inquiries from mobile device users. When voice commands are used, it’s more natural to ask a question than limiting inquiries to a few key words. As the search phrases became longer, keyword-based algorithms struggled to return listings that answered the questions that were being posed, which required follow-on searches and lead to a less than optimal user experience.

     

    For businesses that have not changed the foundation of their SEO initiatives to the new search methodology, previously high rankings are likely to start falling, if they haven’t already. The key to success in context-based search is to modify content so that it answers the questions posed verbally by mobile users. As a simple example, a searcher may pose the question “Where is a pizza place in Anytown?” Content that answers that question, which would earn a higher search listing, would include something like “Jack’s Pizza is located at 123 Main Street in Anytown.”

     

    As Google and the rest of the search engines try to deliver the best user experience possible, the focus is on eliminating listings that don’t deliver the answers sought by searchers. To that end, the listings that are presented will increasingly address the full context of inquiries with the delivery of specific answers. In this environment the SEO campaigns that are modified to answer questions, rather than match keywords to searches, will deliver website and storefront visits which will drive revenues.  

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