How much SEO is left after Google penguin? Penguin devalued on-page optimization, anchor text, and most forms of traditional link building. There are rumors that extensive SEO optimization is actually harmful, although how much is hard to say. The only thing that’s left is social engagement and of course, content. Does that mean an SEO strategy should become a content strategy?
The End is Nigh
I believe the doomsayers. SEO always was a form of search engine manipulation. Often, it could have a positive effect due to the limitations of Google’s engine at the time. However, with increasing sophistication Google doesn’t need you to tell it what a page is about. Google doesn’t want you trying to artificially boost popularity. Thus, Google has an incentive to push everyone into building genuinely useful content.
If Google is actively punishing optimization and rewarding content, particularly viral content, then the cat and mouse game is done. Penguin went pretty far to making this a reality.
Content is Future Proof
Google has made it pretty clear what it wants. Although traditional SEO still has a place in the web, what if whatever comes after Penguin goes even farther? There seems to be little sign that Google will backtrack. Quality content creation will probably become an even larger part of the SEO skillset. I’d say it would be pretty smart to get stronger on content creation now, so your skills are useful in the future.
The only possible wrinkle in this prediction is “negative SEO.” Negative SEO is spammy linking activity that actually harms SERPs. It’s a reality after Penguin. The potential for abuse is huge with negative SEO, so it stands to reason that Google can’t be quite so picky about what links it rewards. Still, I don’t see why Google can’t just revert back to the old way of business: bad links won’t hurt or help. That would leave content as the future, all-encompassing, SEO king.
The Penguin SEO Strategy
It’s probably a good idea to throw a lot into SEO before whatever comes after Penguin drops. I don’t want to figure out how to build viral content when the search engines are ignoring my client. I doubt you do either.
1) Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is probably the last outpost of high value SEO, which is why I also think it’s doomed over the long term. Write high quality content, get a decent set of contacts, and try to build a successful online business.
Google now judges whether a page is a good fit for keyword partly by whether it contains a high volume of related words. Get a domain expert, and that should come naturally. This also naturally optimizes your content for long-tail search, so at least Google is making life easier for us in one way.
3) Quality over Quantity
It’s officially better to get that awesome but hard to acquire outbound link than a hundred easy, low value links. Adjust accordingly.
4) Social Engagement
Activity on a social network is hard to fake, so Google trusts it. To get deep into a social network you should shock, amuse, inform, or express a popular opinion with your demographic. Easy to digest articles or graphics are good for this.
5) Relevance is Here
PR and Pagerank is on equal footing with relevance, which is now a full fledged member of the SEO kingdom.
6) User Feedback
Bounce rate, conversion rates, site speed, and even responsive design are all highly relevant to SEO. It was a good idea to improve these before, but an even better one now.
Use a high degree of anchor text diversity, link diversity, even follow / no follow diversity. Anything consistent smacks of over-optimization.
But I Hope I’m Wrong
Are you still having success building site rankings the old fashioned way? If so, I’d love to hear your comments. Although I’m a doomsayer, I’d like to be proven wrong. I’m really tired of fearing a Penguin.
About the author:
Brian Case is a Senior Partner at a brand new web design firm for attorneys, Ethos Web Solutions. He fears Penguins