Google has been stepping up its efforts to create a revamped, far more reliable and far more relevant search experience to its billions of users. The Internet giant has been doing this through its Penguin and Panda updates and their hundreds of tiny modifications during the year and a half at least. The reasoning behind this is obvious; Google’s primary concern is first with its base of billions of search users who are expecting the highest possible relevance from their search queries and secondly with its hundreds of thousands of advertisers who depend on accuracy in search to make their Google Adwords ads more effective. Both of these depend on high quality search query results and leave content publishers and their SEO company’s efforts at the bottom of the barrel.
However, all is not lost for you as an SEO concerned webmaster, you just need to keep in mind the following five fundamental facts about Penguin and Google’s efforts in general.
1. Penguins Updates Went after SEO Spam
Never mind the complaining and whining from droves of internet marketers about the “death of SEO” and how unfairly they were impacted in their sites’ search rankings. The bottom line is that Penguin -although it affected an estimated 3% of the pages on the Google search index (that’s a LOT of pages!)—was designed with specific parameters that almost uniquely deranked or delisted websites whose main means of self promotion were the kinds that would give you search results you wouldn’t even like if you were a Google user. Penguin’s various updates were all aimed at web pages that had promoted themselves by manipulating keyword use, link building and content structure in specific ways. Penguin did not randomly derank websites just for having been optimized or just because.
It’s easy to blame any drop in rank on the Penguin algorithm, but it may just as easily be due to other reasons.
2. Penguin Hates Fake Link Building, so Keep it Natural
One of the Penguin update’s two main avenues of attack was against websites that backlinked their content all across the web artificially in order to attract more attention from search bots instead of building a genuine network of shared links back to their own URLs.
One of the things that get a website more attention and better ranking from Google is to see that the site in question is having URL links to its pages posted across the internet and even the social networks. This can indicate that the site is attracting interest from other experts and readers in its niche. Google loves this because it means that the site is creating something of quality that’s interesting people.
What Google really wants is for your website to grow naturally popular through this kind of slower organic backlinking to your URL’s and not through the buying of links on link selling websites and content farms or by flooding the internet with link spam on other websites, digital forums and site comment threads.
3. The Penguin Updates Love Real Content
Some of Penguins parameters include a low “opinion” of content that is not designed to actually inform human readers. This means that websites whose content offerings were overly filled with keywords beyond a saturation point that would be unappealing to human readers got punished for what they were doing. The same applied to web content that was an obvious duplicate of what other sites had or information that was just a thin synthesis of information that was mostly made to please search bots and their basic requirements.
Instead of pulling off these sorts of quick and cheap tactics, work at creating a website that is actually valuable to your human viewers and encourages not only repeat visits but also social or web based sharing of what you’ve got on your website. In simple terms, build content that’s rich and relevant to people, not robots or search algorithms.
4. Penguin Made SEO Easier
That’s right; believe it or not SEO really did become easier after Penguin (and its predecessor Panda) Why? In part it’s because a lot of black hat competition has been removed from the top search rankings, allowing for more plodding white hat SEO to rise higher. However, SEO is also now easier because the rules that work have been distilled and clarified; they’ve been made easier to see. Sites that want long term high rankings simply need to deliver value, spread the word about the value they have to offer and let their own quality carry them upwards through their honestly interested human readers.
There is still plenty of room for high quality and clever marketing tactics within the confines of this new simplified SEO but that’s just the thing; increasing your site’s popularity no longer depends quite as much on satisfying computer programs and robots through complex algorithm manipulation tactics. It’s now more about convincing humans within your niche.
5. Penguins Cleanup of SEO Will Only Continue
Penguin and its predecessor Panda were just major advances in a long march towards better search from Google. What they represent will only continue as the algorithms and search engines improve their emulation of human readers and learn how to tell apart a valuable site from one that’s faking it. Because of this, the value margin of using black hat SEO will only diminish over time. This applies particularly to classical black hat and spammy tactics that have been used since the earliest days of search to make site rank higher and do so faster.
The future of your own SEO efforts on your websites should focus as much as possible on simple creating valuable content, distributing it amongst interested audiences and creating a slow growing network of dedicated organically reached fans. By doing this through organically, you’ll build a steady interest in your page and create an online footprint for your website that will naturally attract Google’s attention, leading to a naturally better rank on search listings.
Best of all, by focusing on connecting with readers through these trust building tactics, you will also steadily lose dependence on worrying about Google or SEO in general; you may eventually simply learn to sustain your site through your own stream of steady fans that spread the word.
Stephan Jukic is a freelance writer who generally covers a variety of subjects relating to the latest changes in white hat SEO, mobile technology, marketing tech and digital security. He also loves to read and write about location-free business, portable business management and finance. When not busy writing or consulting on technology and digital security, he spends his days enjoying life’s adventures either in Canada or Mexico, where he spends part of the year. Connect with Stephan on LinkedIn.