Blog Post

How to Recover from the Google Penguin Update [VIDEO]


SEO is constantly changing. Google has been updating its search algorithm, known as Google Penguin in its current version, and it might be having an effect on how people find your website. Google, as well as other search engines, are looking to reduce the number of irrelevant search results by frequently rolling out new updates. Learn how you can keep your website relevant to your audience and adjust your SEO strategy to recover from Penguin and other future updates.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Hello, and welcome to our video today where we're going to be talking about how to recover from Google Penguin, the most recent algorithm update. I'm Chad Hill and I have Adam Stetzer with me.

Yeah, good afternoon, Chad. All the blogs are pretty much talking about the big Google updates in the last couple months. There were quite a few websites hit by Google Panda and Google Penguin, and even for those who weren't hit by these most recent shifts in how Google ranks websites, people remain pretty concerned about future Google updates and how to keep their SEO on the right track so that they can, as much as possible, be doing things that are in line with Google's webmaster guidelines and really not have to worry about drops in traffic due to Google Penguin.

So I thought we'd try to wade into this today for both audiences, those who maybe did suffer from a drop in traffic from recent Google updates, those who are just trying to sharpen up their SEO and get back in a strategy and figure out what they need to be doing. What are some of the tips we can offer these folks for moving forward?

Right, and I think the first thing that you want to think about is really, again, separating out Penguin and Panda. Google Penguin is all about looking at the link profile to your website and over-optimizing especially the anchor links to your website, and then Google Panda is really more about duplicate content and having information on websites that essentially are scraping content or creating gobbledygook out there that really has no meaning.

A lot of the people most recently come to us talking more about Google Penguin issues, so let's start there. The number one factor that we've seen time and time again is, again, over anchoring on your target keywords. So every single link to your website has the perfect anchor text keyword that you're trying to rank on, and especially, we've seen the cases where those keywords tend to have geographic phrases. So if you're a local business, you're the plumber in Rochester or plumber in Arlington, all the links to your site have those exact keywords.

You want to get away from that. The thing that we really recommend people thinking about is taking a step back and thinking about interesting information that their clients might want to read about, and rethinking how they link to their website and how you earn links to your website, and really do that more with what we're calling today topic keywords. So think about things people want to read about and learn about, and write and create content around that to start with.

Right, and it almost sounds like we're implying that anchor text is not important to Google anymore in determining the search rankings. I want to be really clear, that's not what we're saying. Most of the data that I have reviewed and the studies I've seen suggest that anchor text is still as important as ever, but what has happened in the recent updates is the filters that then look at, is this an unnatural placement of an anchor text have gotten way more stringent.

So while it's still in the Google search algorithm and you would still want those because they help you rank, the stakes have gotten much higher and the rules much tighter. So Chad, what you're suggesting makes perfect sense. Just stay clean on that. Don't try to game that, and just go to what the recent Google update really wants, which is creating good quality content around what people really want to read, and that's going to inevitably change your anchor text to be more natural phrases. If you do this well and you apply some creativity, it can still be very, very helpful because they're in your category and they'll help your site.

Absolutely. Once you have those topic keywords or the keywords you're going to write about, you really want to think now about creating great content. So again, a year ago, maybe not even quite a year ago, a lot of people went out and said, what's the most minimal number of words that I need to create to make this look like an article? What we're saying today is you can't think that way anymore.

You need to think about writing high quality information that answers the question that your client's prospects or your prospects have, and does that in a way that's visually engaging. So you want to have images, infographics if possible. You certainly want to be thinking about proper paragraph spacing with bulleted lists, maybe subheadings. So really spending that time on the content you're creating to make it interesting, and then also when people land there, that it's interesting and compelling enough for them to stay and read the content.

Right, and I kind of think about two parts when I think about great content. There's this first visual, artistic appeal, which is the gestalt of, I hit this page and is it what I want? Am I going to stay here? Do I like how it feels? That has a lot to do with look and feel of the site, the design, the things you've mentioned, Chad, the artwork that's selected, even the titles and the bolding.

You want to help the eye travel down the page because a lot of research shows that people scan very quickly down the page before they commit to reading two or three or four paragraphs. If they see headers that are in line with, I just searched for the three best ways to do SEO and there's number one, number two, number three, and I see those titles and they look interesting to me, they'll probably commit to it. So that's the static aesthetic, artistic, or gestalt first when they land so they don't bounce back.

But then I think there's the intellectual piece, which really drives how long they stay there and whether they'll like it or share it, and now you're actually into the words, the meat of what you're actually writing, and it needs to be good. It needs to be good content. You've gotten over that first hurdle so they won't bounce, but now you need to actually express something, share content, give them a how to, teach them something, offer humor.

There's many ways to do this. Video is excellent. Infographics are excellent. Keep to engaged. Get them through your whole article, and then you'll have a high chance of them enjoying it and sharing it.

Right. And then the final thing that you want to think about now, once you have that great content that we just went through, is making sure that when you place that content, when you syndicate it out to different places on the web, that you really spend extra time now finding the most category specific and relevant websites that you can because so much of, again, the times we've seen issues with people bringing sites to us have been when they were on general article directories or general sites that had topics that ranged all across the board. Those are the ones we see coming back as problematic.

The people who are spending the time to go really find places to put their content on relevant sites to recover from Penguin are not the ones we're seeing with issues. And so really, again, more than anything, looking at not only the research and data that Adam's talking about, but some specific examples of people who've had problems, you need to spend that extra time on finding the best possible placements for the content that you're creating.

Right, and people don't want to hear this, Chad, right? Because what you're actually saying is you need a higher budget. When it comes down to how you syndicate content, you need, and actually now should want, a higher budget in that category. After all, you just spent all this extra time making the quality of that content better than it used to be. The days of, I'm just going to take this great thing I wrote and send it to 200 generic blog sites are really over.

And as you said, we've just never seen an unnatural link warning for a back link profile that comes from very category specific sites that are in the same general area as the site they're linking to. I even think that some of the anchor text issues we talked about earlier are somewhat forgiven if the sites they're coming from are very, very relevant, so these things kind of interplay with each other.

So bottom line, SEO is changing, and the idea of, I could just geotarget a term, write something that's of marginal quality, slap it out there to as many generic blog sites as I can find, the most recent Google updates show us that doesn't work and that's not what Google wants. And so people choosing to play there do so at their own risk.

We see another path where you can really invest in your content marketing, spend a higher budget on the syndication, ironically do less. You actually do less work when you recover from Penguin, but the work you do is of higher quality. And overall, you'll achieve much better results, you'll recover from a hit if you had one, and you'll be prepared, we believe, as far as we can tell from what Google's saying, for the Google updates that are coming next year and the year after.

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