In mid March of 2012 Matt Cutts(from Google) announced that Google will be implementing a new algorithm to weed out sites that are “Over Optimized”. The new algorithm will focus more on relevant content then keywords and links. We’re trying to “level the playing field” said Matt.
Is this a huge change for SEO as we know it?
Most algorithm changes only slightly affect websites and their rank on Google’s SERP’s(search engine results page). This upcoming algorithm change will punish sites who have done everything right. Now, while the underdog in me likes the leveling the playing field concept, the SEO is my freaking job guy is wondering how much this will affect me and my clients.
Matt went into more detail, stating that the new algorithm will be a good thing for people making good sites with great content. It will only penalize sites that over do it. i.e. too many keywords on a page or more than the amount of links expected. Too many keywords but, we already know that’s a bad thing. It’s called keyword stuffing.
So the answer to will this change SEO forever is No. While technically any change to the algorithm does change SERP’s forever. This new algorithm won’t hurt you if your site has good content and you don’t blast it with link software every week.
Why did Google implement this SEO Penalty?
All of Google’s updates are developed to better the experience for people searching for information on the search engine. It’s Google’s job to provide relevant and accurate results in their SERP’s. So by weeding out sites that are over optimized but don’t have the content to back it up, Google is simply giving more credit to people that focus on content not just tags and links. Sure links matter but content is what determines factors like bounce rate and time spent on your site. And for this reason I couldn’t be happier about the upcoming update. Why? You may ask.
I focus on content for my web properties as well as my clients. Now this doesn’t mean we don’t also implement link building campaigns for our clients, we certainly do. It means that the content needs to be good enough to have earned those links. The only people that are actually angry about this newest update from Google are Black Hatters or people that use link building software to post spammy comments or submit spun articles.
Protect Yourself from the Google SEO Penalty
Content has and always will be king in the SEO world. As a San Diego SEO Company I teach my clients to keep their content up-to date, in-depth and relevant. If you follow those 3 simple guidelines for content and combine it with a natural link building campaign you can be immune to Google’s updates. Remember Google and other search engines only care about giving relevant and accurate results on their SERP’s. So making your content up-to date, in-depth and relevant has to be a solid foundation for any sustainable SEO strategy.
Some guidelines to get you prepared for the latest SEO penalty from Google
- Keep your content above 1,000 words per page
- Keep your content relevant to your keywords
- Only 1 h1 tag per page
- Focus on High PR one-way links and index them naturally
- Make sure your internal links are appropriate
1. Keep content above 1,000 words
Previously Google only looked for content above 500 words but shortly after the Panda Update they started rewarding pages with 1,000 words of content and up. 1,000 words can seem like large undertaking in today’s busy world. So here are some tips on writing in-depth content.
Try breaking down your topic into sub categories. So if I wanted to be found for Missouri Auto Insurance I’d have sections on Auto Insurance, Unique Missouri Auto Insurance Laws, How to get a quote in St. Louis, Lowest Insurance Deductibles in Missouri, etc.. Now you just have to write four, 250 word segments. This is much less daunting then writing 1,000 words on one topic(heck I’m at 558 words right now and I’m wishing I broke this down into segments). You may have noticed that I did break this post into segments. I did this right after I wrote the previous sentence.
2. Keep your content relevant
There is nothing Google hates more than a page that is optimized for a certain keyword and then the content doesn’t match. Keeping your content relevant to the keywords you are targeting may sound obvious. Yet, everyday I see numerous sites that have content that doesn’t match the keywords they are targeting. So here are some tips to keeping your content relevant and making your site immune to Google’s SEO Penalty.
The best way to keep your content relevant is by organizing your content marketing strategy. Start with the hardest keyword you want to be found for. For this example we’ll say SEO. Then build a keyword tree using your main keyword has the trunk. Use your mid level keywords has the branches and your long-tail keywords as the leaves. For SEO as the trunk your keyword tree would look something like this.
Branches=SEO Company, On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO, SEO Strategies, Indexing, Link Building, etc..
Leaves=SEO Software, San Diego SEO Company, Article Marketing, Blog Commenting for SEO, Getting Good Free Links
Now that you have your keyword tree set up you can start using it to structure your content development(writing your articles and posts).
Use your trunk for your homepage, the branches for your menu items and the leaves as your individual articles. Then for each page or article make another keyword tree to create the sections of that page or article as we talked about in keeping your content above 1,000 words.
3. Only 1 h1 tag per page
This is a simple one. I promise I won’t ramble on too much. USE ONE AND ONLY ONE h1 TAG PER PAGE.
4. Focus on High PR one-way links and index them naturally
This one isn’t going to be as easy as the last. Link building is not as easy or as simple as it once once. You have to have links come naturally. Now this doesn’t mean you can’t go out and create links. It just means you can’t take shortcuts(I know not what you want to hear).
What is too many links?
This section is probably the one most related to the newest update other than Content. Google will actually penalize you if your links get created to quickly or if you have too many. What is too many links? You may ask. Well, if you have a website that has 2 likes, 1 google + and 10,000 links you have too many links. If you get 20 visitors a month with a 60% bounce rate, then you have too many links. If the 10 sites on the first page for your targeted keyword have an average of 1,000 links each and you have 10,000 links, then you have too many links.
Do your research there are plenty of descent link research tools out there. Find out how many and what caliber of links each of the top ten sites for your targeted keyword have. Then copy their link structure if at all possible. Just be carefull here. You don’t want to copy their inbound links to the letter. Just the high PR and relevant link sources. Then get links from sources with a higher PR and more relevance. If that doesn’t get you to the first page of Google then focus on content. I usually focus on content until I’m in striking distance of the first page of Google and then implement a link building building strategy. This way your links look more natural as well, because your content and site is worth the links pointed at it.
5. Make sure your internal links are appropriate
Internal links can be just as, if not more powerful than external links. Think about it. If a link is considered a reference or thumbs up from another website, that the page at the end of the link is relevant. Your internal links are your website saying that that external link was right in recommending you and that the page you internally link to with the same keyword as the anchor text of the external link is the exact part of your website that has the most relevancy to your targeted keyword.
Another way to look at it is. Say your looking for a classic ford mustang and your friend recommends a good classic car dealer. Think of that as the external link. Then you call the dealer and they say hold on let me transfer you to our classic ford department. Think of that as the internal link, telling you more specifically that this classic car dealer is more likely to have the classic ford mustang you’re looking for because they have a department just for classic fords. Now if the classic ford department said let me have you talk with our mustang guy. That would be a deeper internal link.