The latest Google algorithmic changes, Panda and Penguin, according to Matt Cutts head of Googles search quality team, focuses on 2 areas; web content and spam.
Both great topics in themselves, but I thought I would outline why some websites suffer and consistently never rank whilst others seem to be at the top of the search results ( SERP’s) all the time.
Sites that rank adhere to the principles outlined by Cutts, whilst those that get penalised, clearly flout and dismiss what Google considers compliant.
In many cases, websites have lost ranking due to these two Google’ must haves’ and have, in some serious instances, lost all their rankings. That is a Google penalty.
Following is a brief explanation of how to avoid being in the crosshairs of the latest Penguin and Panda updates, as well as a video of Matt Cutts explaining what you need and what your SEO company, must do to be doing to be totally compliant.
The first major update was the Panda update and recently as far as I am aware the Panda 4.0 ( released in June 2014) targeted those websites that were thin on content.
I can easily spot a site that’s too lean on the content. Many businesses, feel that this is not an important component of their website, well how wrong they have been! If your websites landing pages or blogs are slight on the copy, then don’t expect Google to reward these pages.
Panda’s intention is to deliver quality content to users and its algorithmic filters being as sophisticated as they are designed to weed out the rubbish.
How Can You Tell If Your Website Is Too Thin? This is a great question, but I always look at the nature and length of the content. I like all of my posts to be around the 750 – 1000 word mark and I ensure that everything published is unique. That is, I haven’t scraped the content from other sites or reposted other peoples content. It’s all mine and I spend many man-hours actually writing these. On top of this (like I am doing now over 2 years later) is revisiting old blog posts and refreshing them with more relevant and up to date content. In this case, the topic is content and it has since originally posted this, become so much more important. If your copy is not engaging its readers then you’re going to suffer online. This means the whole user experience has to be fantastic. Think about adding more videos to keep your readers on your site longer. Also, refresh old copy all the time and perhaps add to it with more up to date news.
So, if you have a look at your website or blog and can see that most of the pages are somewhat, well let’s just say, boring, unexciting, poorly worded and under 500 words; then from what the quality control team at Google are saying, you are violating the Panda updates. Better get cracking and start auditing every page of your website. It may seem like a hassle but it’s worth it.
How Does One Fix This Problem? It’s easy and it’s also not so easy. You can either get in there yourself and start editing all your circulated content, or you can get a professional on board to do the job for you. Either way, it’s a task that needs to be addressed immediately if you are ever going to have a chance of getting a better online ranking. There are dozens if not hundreds of web copywriters that can do the job, but like anything in business be prepared to pay for this.
Whatever, you do, however, don’t go down the path of outsourcing this to India where they can write copy for a couple of dollars an article. This is against what Google is looking for and this will further add fuel to the fire and exacerbate your bad online standings. Keep it real, make sure it is authentic and the most important point that you should take from this post is that it must be original.
The second and perhaps the update that hit most businesses is the Penguin algorithm, which focuses on spammy sites and shifty link building ‘black hat’ techniques.
In a nutshell, spammy sites are those that implement a myriad of both ‘on page’ and ‘off page’ tactics, designed specifically to improve rankings. Such sites use what is termed ‘black hat’ methods, all devised to cheat the system.
There are just so many things that one can do to cheat and defraud Google, but the Penguin filters have again, like the Panda, filtered out these sites and have punished them in the rankings. The Penguin was a killer update and its intention was to put an end to some search engine optimisation companies ways of doing business and those DIY SEO fanatics.
Pre Penguin it was pretty open slather on what could be done in terms of boosting one’s chances of higher SERP results. It was the wild west online and anything was allowed. Basically, I could buy links online for a few bucks and rank a new website within a couple of weeks. Such bad practices have been outlawed and luckily for us, Google now treats such processes as illegal ( in their world).
In the video, Cutt’s will explain what Google’s quality team are looking out for in the future and ways in which you can put your SEO company on notice if they are doing anything shifty. It’s a bit lengthy but well worth the watch, especially if you feel that your SEO team in the past has been treading on thin ice and skirting the fringes of what Google recognizes as authentic.
So how do you go about finding an SEO agency that will comply with both Penguin and Panda updates?
This is not easy but you have to do your research online to find the right agencies. I suggest go with an all-rounder. One that has the ability to design sites, optimise them and also an agency that has some good copywriters on board – or at least they are able to find good ones they have worked with within the past.
Do not make the mistake and work with SEO companies that promise:
- fast rankings when you’re in a competitive niche
- 90-day ranking guarantees – see what Google says about this!
- money-back guarantees
- if they outsource their SEO because they want to do it as cheaply as possible
- Is not able to rank their own website on page 1 of Google for the keyword SEO in their capital city – so for us, it would be SEO Sydney and as of today 29 March 21 we are on page 1, which just goes to show you how good we are and our ability to rank sites in seriously competitive niches.
- SEO without any copy or website audit