Every few months the SEO world along with all of their Monday morning quarterbacks go into a frenzy about Google algorithm changes. Much of the panic and doomsday scenarios could easily be remedied if industry “professionals” followed SEO best practices. Just try a search of “SEO is Dead” or “Google Algorithm Changes” and you’ll find a plethora of news articles and blogs lamenting the death of SEO.
SEO is alive and well. If you own a small business and want to rank well on Google search, you simply need to create an aesthetically pleasing and content rich website that follows SEO best practices and steer clear of unethical practices that could leave your site with a search ranking penalty. To put this in layman’s terms, you need to have a website that’s awesome for human beings: fast, responsive, and a great user experience.
What the Heck is a Penguin Penalty?
The Google penguin update came on the scene in April of 2012. The purpose of the update was to penalize sites who sought to get an advantage by producing unnatural links with spammy anchor text. Typically, a site is penalized on a particular keyword that has been linked unnaturally around the web. A website with a penguin penalty can still rank for other keywords and will not be penalized universally.
To our dismay, we’ve had a few clients come to us recently with a Penguin penalty due to an unscrupulous SEO company they’ve worked with. If you or your SEO company have hyper-linked a particular keyword on low quality websites, Google will eventually find that link and penalize your site. For example, if you own an engineering firm and your hyperlink appears on low quality foreign gaming sites and pages about baking cookies, you’re probably going to get a Google Penguin penalty.
We’re working with a client at the moment that appeared on the first page of Google for a highly competitive keyword about a year ago. Slowly but surely, the primary keyword started to decline over the course of several months. After they hired us, we did an extensive link analysis and found spammy links on a number of low quality sites and of course, the primary keyword was used as anchor text. We’re now working on helping this client recover from the Penguin penalty by disavowing the spammy links through Google Search Console.
There is Nothing Cute and Cuddly about a Panda in SEO
In February of 2011, Google introduced the Panda algorithm change to penalize sites with low quality content, sparse content, or those sites with too many ads. Google Panda affects an entire site, rather than a single page. Here are a few ideas that will help to prevent your site from being penalized by Panda:
- Each page of your site should include enough content to get the point across and sell your services.
- Do not spam your keyword multiple times in the content.
- Use synonyms and LSI keywords.
- Do not include an over-abundance of ads on your site.
- Duplicate content will get you in trouble. Use original, unique content.
- Use good grammar and punctuation.
- Break up your content using H2 and H3 headers.
Google Pigeon Update
A major update affecting the local search results on Google was implemented a few years back. The map results were reduced to a 3-pack. In addition, Google seems to have integrated much of its ranking factors for organic search into the map results. In order to show up in the local search results more prominently (on the first page of Google), we’d recommend the following:
- Get listed on trusted directory sites like Yelp, Yahoo Local, Bing, and Superpages.
- Make certain your business name, address and phone information is consistent on all directory sites.
- Get a verified listing with Google My Business
- Look for opportunities to get more Google reviews from satisfied customers
- Create an SEO friendly website and steer clear of unnatural links or low quality content
- Add your business name, address and phone to every page of your website (typically in the footer contact section)
If you own a small business that has trouble keeping up with the myriad of Google Algorithm Changes and you’d like to spend more time focusing on your business, drop us a line so that we can learn more about your online marketing objectives.