This is a guest post from Damian Papworth of Ocean Feather
Google Panda was introduced last year to recognise good and bad qualities in web pages and lately the Penguin update has been added to further improve search results by focusing on the characteristics described in Google’s quality guidelines. New rankings following both updates seek to punish pages appearing to game search algorithms. Obvious examples are sites that repeat keywords to the point that they are clearly not designed with human reading experience as the top priority. These tactics are designed to attract the attention of search engines looking for particular keywords, in the hope that by providing keyword-rich content, they will be rewarded by great search result rankings. This is a simple example, but these updates are designed to discourage this and more sophisticated attempts that place the engineering of search results ahead of visitor experience.
The popularity of a site is not necessarily a good indicator of its immunity from demotion. Some popular “how to” and answer sites, are viewed as content farms because they contain excessive keywords, are thin on facts and original content, and are loaded with advertisements. These sites are regarded as being of lower quality than government sites and those with established and reputable content. They are therefore likely to be demoted.
Google’s quality guidelines provide a summary of the practices regarded as both acceptable and unacceptable in web content, so it is not the objective of these updates that is a mystery, only the specifics of how they are achieved. Google does not reveal these specifics because, as one of their engineers revealed in an interview with Wired, to do so would be to guarantee that people would seek to game these changes.
The goal Google hopes to achieve with these changes is more reliable promotion of pages that provide good content and therefore good quality user experience. Panda was designed to recognise both good and bad qualities within websites, and this was achieved by writing an algorithm that recognises the key characteristics identified in a previous study. Search now relies on updates to these algorithms in order to keep up with web developments. Another change is reduced reliance on PageRank. PageRank is Google’s link analysis algorithm, and knowing its significance has been downgraded suggests that search has become more complex, and that linking structures do not form the backbone for page significance that they once did.
So what does this mean for SEO today? Simply put, if you are doing your own SEO or outsourcing your SEO, you must focus on the two principles of quality, and a natural evolution of link building.
On the quality side, because Google does not explicitly state the ways in which its algorithms work, the best practice is, as it perhaps always should have been, to focus on creating good original content for visitors. Your content should be good enough that people naturally will want to link to it, thereby creating a natural increase in backlinks to your website.
On the natural side of things, if you are actively participating in link building activities, you must do so in a fashion that mimics the way links develop naturally online. Here are a handful of tips to help guide this:
- Don’t create more links in a month than the traffic you are receiving
- Don’t use your keywords solely as the anchor text – mimic the way other people would publish your links. Have diversity with your anchor text
- Diversity is key, try to achieve as wide a spread as possible, of websites where your links are placed
- Share your content regularly in your social media circles.
Keeping to these basic principles should help you achieve gradual improvement in Google rankings and also help ensure you avoid penalties that may be imposed with future algorithm changes.
Damian Papworth is the owner of http://oceanfeather.com.au/, a Gold Coast based internet marketing company. If you are looking for some help with your SEO, pleae contact him and request your free SEO audit.
[image credit - crackmedown.com]
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