How to Protect Your Website from Future Google Updates
19/11/14 Google's Algorithm Updates

How to Protect Your Website from Future Google Updates

Did you know Google makes an average of 2 updates per day, and around 500 per year? And even if you work with someone like me, who does SEO consulting professionally, you only hear about the most major ones (3-5 per year or so).

How do you keep up with all of these updates when even Matt Cutts, Google’s spokesman, occasionally misspeaks?

The truth is, you have to focus on creating a website that gives a better user experience than any other on the internet. Only one site can do that, but if you make it your goal, you’ll be fine. When you stick with the principles Google outlines, you can give yourself a 99.99% chance to stay protected from Google penalties.

Speaking of those, there are two kinds of penalties you can get:

Manual Penalty – Google notifies you in its Webmaster Tools that you have been penalized. Google has dedicated employees whose job is to manually browse websites and their SEO metrics, and see if they are deserving of a penalty or not.

Algorithmic Penalty – With each Google update, and especially the major ones like Hummingbird, Panda, and Penguin, there’s a chance that you’ll get penalized if Google doesn’t like what you’re doing. For example, they recently dropped the hammer on guest blogging as an SEO tactic.

You can still do it if you post only on high-quality blogs and use it to primarily focus on building authority (not links). But if you own a website with the majority of its links from low-quality guest blogs, you have a good chance of getting whacked with a Google penalty.

What in Specific Do You Do to Stay Protected from Google Updates?

This works in 2014:

Good Video to Watch about what Google wants…

On-Site SEO

This is what you should do on your own website:

Build interesting, specific, and actionable content – This one will always go for as long as Google exists. It wants regularly updated content. And it has to be your very best writing. It also looks at factors like bounce rate (the number of people who visit your website’s pages once and leave) and number of social shares to determine the value of your content.

Optimization – Every page on your website should be optimized for 1-4 keywords. This will always remain valid, even in the Google environment that exists years from now.

When you think about it, Google’s always going to need a way to identify how to rank your website, and what terms to rank it for. People will always type search terms into Google.

What changes is Google’s ability to identify what your site is about and rank it for the appropriate terms. For you, the key is making the keywords sound natural within your site’s copy.

Navigation – Your site should be laid out so it’s simple and easy to use. Use 2-3 calls-to-action on your home page and services pages.

Design – You don’t need anything fancy, but your site should look professional, modern, and above all, load fast. One of the biggest mistakes for SMBs and corporations alike is many do not have a modern-looking website.

If you have unique branding (logo and colors), that’s a plus for your visitors, but Google doesn’t require that.

Natural link use – Google frowns on anchor texts that match your keywords exactly, and this goes for links both on your site and off of it. It’s fine to link wherever you think it helps your visitors most, but you can’t optimize their anchor texts. Use anchor texts like “click here” and “learn more.” And Google also doesn’t like keywords stuffed in links in the footer of your website.

Off-Site SEO

The main thing with off-site SEO is links. They are still the biggest factor in your search rankings by far. There is some evidence that getting social shares increases your rankings, but that still gets debated hotly.

Links are guaranteed to continue to have a major impact on your search rankings though, so let’s talk about how to get them safely in 2014 and beyond:

Links have to be natural, not built – A “built” link is one that you put specifically on a website, without any real oversight by that site’s owner. Google does not want these links pointing to your site at all. In reality, you can probably use them as a small part (5%) of your overall link profile. But, they’re not worth your effort. Built links include ones you get from forums, and low-quality article and business directories.

“Natural links” mean the site’s owner reviewed your request thoroughly, and willingly placed your link on their site. Even though guest blog post links have been attacked by Google, you can still use these as part of an overall link strategy. If you approach your chamber of commerce, a local business association, or the BBB, those would be high-quality guest post links.

Links should be on reputable sites only – If the website you’re looking at appears cluttered, outdated, or otherwise uncared for, generally that site is not a reputable one to try to earn a link from. If it looks like the owner of the site actively cares for it, it’s usually a good place to have your link.

5-10 years ago, you could place your link on any old website, and Google would give you at least some value for it. But, Google’s only going to get tighter on this in the future.

The website should be topically related to yours – If you run an HVAC company, your links should come from DIY websites and reputable business directories. If you have a small percentage of links (5% or so) coming from sites completely unrelated to yours, that’s nothing to worry about.

However, if you have 25% of your links coming from sites about cooking and mobile technology, then you have reason to be concerned about a Google penalty.

You should have diverse anchor text – Now, SEOs have many varying opinions on this. There’s no specific rule that Google has made anyone aware of, but Google has stated it does not want a high percentage of your links to have anchor text that exactly matches your target keywords.

Ratios for your anchor texts something like this will keep you safe:

50% – Variations of your brand name (some say 70%).

20% – Your homepage’s URL.

20% – Variations of terms entirely unrelated to your keywords like “learn more” or “click here”.

5% – Slight variations of your target keywords.

5% – Exact match of your target keywords.

If you follow those general guidelines, you’ll avoid a Google penalty now and for years into the future.

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Google’s Penguin 2.0 Algorithm Update 2013 – Things You Need to Know
19/11/14 Google's Algorithm Updates

Google’s Penguin 2.0 Algorithm Update 2013 – Things You Need to Know

Although penguins are one of nature’s most harmless creatures, the penguin is dreaded in the SEO/internet marketing world.

For search marketers, Penguin 2.0 signified another major step forward in the direction of helping quality websites rank near the top of Google.

It’s not a perfect solution for accomplishing that, but you can bet many SEOs are terrified of the potential ramifications of this Google algorithm update. Websites that aren’t engaging in SEO best practices might find their rankings severely penalized, which could take months, or longer, to recover from. Speaking of ramifications – what are they, and what do they mean to website owners like you?

Changes Penguin 2.0 Brings and How You can Adapt

1. Link relevancy – It’s been getting tighter over time and it’s getting tighter now. Links to your website must be from sites relevant to yours. If you run a garage door service, you shouldn’t have links from gambling websites. However, you should have links from business directories or do-it-yourself type websites.

2. Limit exact-match anchor text – The words “anchor text” are the anchor text of that link. Google uses this text to determine what your website is about and how to rank it in its search results. Somewhere around 10 – 30% of your anchor text should exactly match your keywords. Anything more than that looks suspicious and unnatural to Google, and overuse can harm your search rankings. The rest of the anchor text pointing to your website should be a variation of one or more of your targeted keywords.

3. The rate at which links are acquired – Most websites acquire links gradually over time. If your website experiences a dramatic spike in links, Google becomes alarmed. There is no exact numbers on this, but think about it this way: it takes time for word to naturally spread about your website, so it only makes sense links will slowly attract to it. If you do build or ask for links, it should be done at a nice, steady pace. Some dishonest SEOs will attempt to manipulate this in order to increase your rank quickly, but it only hurts your internet marketing efforts in the long run.

4. Disavow harmful links – Since it is clear that some links will hurt your website’s rankings, it’s important to get rid of the ones that most likely do. Google has a disavow tool, which allows you to list the links to your website that you would like Google to ignore when determining your search rankings.

There is no perfect method of determining which links are causing trouble, but if you look at a website and ask yourself, “Is this a website I’d bookmark or tell my friends about?” then you also know whether or not the link is a good or harmful one.

5. Create new, quality content and get active on social media – With Penguin 2.0, Google more than ever before places its focus on authority websites. An “authority” website has regularly updated and authoritative content. Get at least 1 blog post on your website per week, and 2-3, or more, if possible. Make sure you share this content on your social media profiles, and ensure you keep your social media profiles active and sharing valuable content (both yours and from third parties) as well.

6. Make sure you have good, quality content – If your website pages have 100 words on them briefly discussing your business, that’s not considered quality. Also, your blog articles should contain your expertise, but they must be written in an intelligent way.

If your content reads like someone in elementary school wrote it, you’re probably hurting your search rankings. Your content doesn’t need to be award-winning in its presentation, but it should appear like someone who has a good grasp of writing, and the subject, composed it.

Does All This Sound Like Too Much?

If so, that’s because it’s a lot to do. Google is very serious about helping the best websites rank the highest in its search rankings, and keeping your site Google-friendly involves extensive amounts of hard work over the long term.

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Google Panda & Penguin Overview 2012
19/11/14 Google's Algorithm Updates

Google Panda & Penguin Overview 2012

Hi All,

I have spent the last 2-3 weeks studying the recent Google algorithm changes, to make sure I guide you in the right direction as your Dallas SEO Consultant. Below is my rehash of what I learned about the Panda and Penguin updates.

In Google’s big push to clean up web spam, they first implemented Panda, an algorithm update that occurred in 2011. Panda targeted mainly content farms and article marketing sites, those that were mass producing and distributing content, written with the end goal of manipulating the search results. The content on these sites and in these articles was not serving the needs of users, and the web was becoming littered with them, which was keeping many good sites down and frustrating web surfers (like me for one).

The Panda update also went after shallow content, unverified content, misleading content, duplicate content, and article spinning. Bottom line, Google wants your content to be designed for visitors, not for search engines, and they want to find it on your site, not distributed across multiple domains.

To perform well post Panda, your content needs to be easy to read and navigate, informative, and provide real solutions. It also should be original and accurate, not full of false claims or dangerous pitfalls. If a Google user has to visit a bunch of sites to find what they need, or has too many bad experiences with the sites they find, they will likely turn to another search engine, and Google wants to keep its market share.

Next Google implemented Penguin, another algorithm update which happened in April 2012. Penguin was aimed at sites trying to manipulate rankings using (mostly) automated methods, like blog guest posting software. Blogs allowing tons of off-topic comment spam with links to unrelated sites were especially targeted. These types of sites are usually not run by real people or businesses, and only exist to provide links.

Many links companies create hundreds and even thousands of blog sites for the purpose of selling links, these are link farms. If your site was found commenting, guest posting, or being linked to from a link farm, it was supposedly penalized. It is said that Google sent out warning letters in March to offending site owners and links companies alike.

However, there is conflicting opinion in the SEO community over whether Google truly penalizes sites for links, considering it would then be easy to bring down any competitor by throwing bad links at them. I think the sites who believe they were penalized were actually not, and lost their rankings because they lost their links when Google wiped all the low quality pages linking to them out of the SERPS.

With Penguin, Google also went after sites in bad neighborhoods (not just link farms). Some examples of bad neighborhoods are get rich quick schemes, diet pills, and other shady, snake oil sites offering fast, easy cure all fixes. All seemingly untrustworthy, misleading sites were targeted for removal from their index, in an effort to make the web we experience via Google a safe place.

Last but not least Penguin penalized over optimization, which is blatant over use of keywords where the content makes no sense to read. This especially applies to keyword stuffing, which is adding for example, a paragraph that reads like one big long run on sentence, listing hundreds of keyword phrases.

One interesting note about Penguin is that Google did make a mistake and admitted it. Because of an incorrect setting, their system thought some domains were parked that were not, which caused them to remove those sites from the listings. That has been corrected, but has not necessarily brought back all sites affected. A parked domain is a domain that does not have a website attached to it, but instead points to a place holder page that says the site is coming soon or is for sale.

In conclusion, here is what Google wants to see from a website:

Quality Content. Up to date, original, quality content is still king. Take the time to revisit your content, make sure it’s unique from your competitors, not too shallow, and is informative and helps solve a problem. Content should be written not for the search engines, but for your target readers. Try to make it something worth sharing.

Social Signals.  Socials signals are when people using social medias respond to your posts by commenting or sharing. This means you will need to make at least some of your content available for comment posting, and share capable with the major social media sites. I recommend a self hosted WordPress site with added security features, since they are easily hacked. The goal is to get as many people as possible to share and save your content, and cheating is not going to work. It must be earned.

Video. Video with real content, not just articles turned into videos, and a YouTube channel.

Quality Links. Links from validated, relied upon sources for correct information, those trusted by Google, and links from authority sites related to your industry or niche.

The days of building an optimized website and setting it on auto-pilot are over. There is no more easy shortcut to the top. If you are not willing to do the work, meaning produce frequent RELEVANT content that meets Google’s measure of quality, you are vulnerable and will eventually be over taken.

Personally, I know I have a lot of work ahead for my own site. I have neglected it way to long. However, I do not plan to post something unless it’s worthwhile. It’s time for everyone to stop spamming the web with superfluous information in an attempt to get noticed. It’s just not going to work anymore. For your content to count, it will need to be highly relevant to your target audience and serve their purpose for seeking it out.

I hope this summation of the information I read and heard on Panda and Penguin has been useful to you. Each of our success on the web will depend upon how well we comply with what Google wants, which is a safer, more reliable internet. If you found this SEO article helpful, please Like it, bookmark it, share it, and sign-up for my feed here.

Wishing you every success!

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