Google’s War against Spam – SEO Best Practices, Survival Strategies and Insights
Google wages war against spam; its continuous effort towards better user experience is evident from the number of updates and tweaks that it has been carrying out for the last couple of years, some of the major ones include Google Caffeine ( though technically its not an update but Google’s new web indexing system , its widely known as an update ), social signals, Farmer/Panda update ( followed by rollout of various versions ), Freshness update, Search+ your world, +1 buttons, Parked domain bug, recently rolled out penguin and the latest one ‘ April 52-pack’ ( 52 minor updates ). All these updates have been a great set back for the spammers and black-hat SEO practitioners who have always been managed to get desired results. Though still the questionable practices continue and even delivering results at times, the few recent updates have been successful in greatly improving the quality of the search results. In the months to come, Google will leave SEOs with the only option that’s ‘white-hat’, Google’s spam cop Matt Cutts even suggested ‘No SEO’. Now the questions arise; what’s actually white-hat? , how much of optimization can SEOs really do to stay in the race? Can we expect quick results anymore? What works and what doesn’t? With so many questions to be answered, let’s discuss some of the important SEO issues, best practices, ways to survive and some insights.
1. Stop Spamming/black-hat techniques: This is a no-brainer. To be very honest, spamming worked and continues to work at times, but it has always been highly risky, but going forward these techniques will prove to be a waste of time moreover getting penalized is not a probability anymore but you can be very sure of getting caught by Google spiders at one point or the other.
2. Links: Create quality links.
Acquire links from quality pages. Checklist of quality parameters; Domain authority, page authority, quality of content, quality of inbound links, quality and quantity of outbound links, number of advertisements, relevancy of the page etc.
Acquire links from diverse sources: Getting links from diverse sources (Blogs, websites, Forums, Free blogs, Directories, Book marking sites etc) will help you gain stability and favorable consideration from Google.
Anchor text variation: Don’t focus too much on creating exact anchor text links, create variations; different anchor texts eg. Only url (no anchor), partial anchor texts (eg. Linking the whole sentence <For more information about our SEO Service>), brand name and different keyword combinations.
Adopt good methods to acquire links: Don’t expect short term results anymore. Good SEO takes time, so better don’t focus only on SEO. Matt cutt says “SEO can also mean good marketing” Go for a marketing campaign keeping SEO objective in mind, in order to drive quality traffic and links. ( For ex: A blogger outreach program can bring significant results, say guest blogging, contributing guest posts to various good blogs can not only help you gain good visibility but also acquire quality links.
Do you create content for the search spiders? It’s high time you changed your content strategy. Create content for the users.
Create great content that can generate user interest. Apply some marketing sense to your content strategy instead of thinking too much about keyword optimization. The game of keyword stuffing is over. Keywords are important, but don’t stuff anymore. Google is smart enough to understand the context of your content. Create content mixed with both exact keyword and also related words so that content looks natural and free from stuffing.
Use images, infographics, videos etc to enhance your content and increase the probability of your content going viral.
Remember thin or poor quality content is a website killer.
Meta description is no longer a ranking factor (Google); writeMeta descriptions for the users not search engines.
Meta Keyword – forget it!
Freshness update – whether it’s about your website or the whole content strategy. Fresh content works, keep updating your website with fresh content, incase of a static website, and add a blog to the website so that the site can be kept updated with content regularly. Keep creating and publishing fresh, useful and relevant content on the web continuously to gain more visibility.
While acquiring links, apart from considering other quality parameters also check that those targeted pages/sites are updated with fresh content regularly.
Remember, adding a small piece of content, editing or rewriting doesn’t indicate freshness of content.
4. Social signals:
Experiments and expert opinions strongly suggest that social signals are considered as ranking factor by Google. Though recently Google’s tie-up with twitter expired and face book never allowed Google to crawl user generated content on the platform, its can be said with much certainty that social signals play a role in ranking. If you don’t have a strong social presence its high time you started building your network on top social platforms, be an active user of social media, create influence and build authoritative profiles, accounts and pages. Your social authority is most likely to decide the strength of the social signals that you may send to Google whenever you share, tweet, retweet, like your content in the near future. Social signals as a factor may have less significance today but let me tell you, Google is moving in that direction and social media will play a crucial role in influencing SERPs.
Ah! Can we forget Google+? Well, as an SEO you cannot simply ignore Google+. It has been in the process of becoming an integral part of search. Start building a strong presence on Google+, keep engaging your audience and get as much as +1s for your site and brand page. +1s if not now will play a huge role in search ranking in the future.
Have You Been Hit by Panda or Penguin?
The recent panda and penguin hit a huge number of sites all over the world. Well, it was reported that penguin hit sites badly than panda. If you have been hit by panda or penguin or both, what should be your next move? Read on….
In case of panda attack, revise your content strategy. Analyze content on every page of your site. Remove any bad content immediately. Replace poor, thin or average content with great content (content strategy for post panda Google has been explained above, go back to the subtitle ‘content’). Reduce the keyword density (If the page has been stuffed with keywords badly). Keep updating your site with fresh and quality content. Panda updated versions are made to run regularly across the web indexing system to de-rank sites that don’t match panda’s quality criteria and improve the ranking of those sites whose content quality has improved considerably, so once you improve the quality of the content, wait and watch, you have high chance of recovering position once the next version of panda is rolled out or any content based tweaks are carried out.
In case of penguin attack, slow down your link building process, stop building poor quality links (e.g. bulk directory and book marking submissions), avoid linking with poor quality sites, remove poor quality links if possible, and start building high quality links but at a slower pace, finally wait for the past poor links to lose value.
SEO is not dying, but evolving and becoming much more advanced. It’s high time you changed the focus from chasing the algorithm to providing value to users in every possible way. Focus more on providing value to users when it comes to content and start creating quality referral links that can drive traffic to your site than focusing more on creating links to boost ranking. Well, I repeat, better go for a marketing campaign keeping SEO objectives in mind, and make your SEO process resilient to any kind of Search engine updates. Good luck!
About the Author
Kavin Paulson is the editor-in-Chief of The iMarketing Café, an Internet Marketer, Blogger and Social Media Strategist. His Areas of expertise include Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing, Online Reputation Management, Online Media Buying and SEO copywriting. You can connect with him on Twitter