Penguin 2.0, Google’s latest algorithm update, rolled out on May 22, 2013. Two months later, some websites may be wondering what happened to their rankings, while others are thriving. Penguin 2.0 targets link spam, so the difference between websites that maintained strong rank and those that took a hit following the update is most likely found in the link building strategy. Here’s a guide to understanding Penguin, using it to your advantage, and generating high-quality content that leads to favorable links.
Penguin, Penguin 2.0, and best SEO practices
Google’s Penguin update discourages certain SEO techniques designed to manipulate rank or that generally don’t follow best-SEO practices. Penguin 2.0 specifically targets link schemes that elicit links through dishonest methods. But Penguin, Panda, and other Google algorithm updates are also designed to reward websites that provide high-quality content and a good user experience, making the update another opportunity for websites to measure their search marketing techniques.
Penguin leads to a better user experience.
SEO practices that keep the end user in mind should fare well through Penguin 2.0 and future Google updates. Google wants to reward websites that earn authority by generating high-quality content that earns searcher trust and creates a genuine following. Google’s Head of Search Spam, Matt Cutts, says links are still the best way to gauge page authority, and earning them takes time and work.
Rather than looking at Penguin 2.0 as another marketing dilemma or blaming Google for slowing website traffic, marketers can use Penguin as a guide to improving link strategy and searcher experience. By providing relevant content that establishes authority and builds trust, websites can convert click throughs to customers. For users, Penguin delivers results they can trust, and marketers should listen to the message.
Quality content is key.
What do Google’s algorithms like these days? Matt Cutts claims that SEO is coming back around to old-fashioned marketing techniques, and that means we should stop worrying about what the search engines want and focus on what potential customers want. Building authority and reputation by generating unique, useful, and insightful content isn’t just the best way to win customers, it’s also the best way to avoid being penalized by Google. Here are some Penguin-safe places to start:
- Know the sites you link with. Links that come from low-quality, low-authority sites will be penalized. Make sure you know where your inbound links are coming from and ask unwanted sites to remove your links. Google’s Disavow Tool can help you identify sites you don’t want to link with.
- Build your reputation. Attract high-quality links from authoritative sites, by generating relevant, user-friendly content that establishes you as an expert. Build your brand and following through social media, blogging, and other platforms that promote interaction, sharing, and genuine links.
- Earn your links. Earn searcher trust by giving them unique and helpful information in an easily digestible format. Make other sites want to link to you. Strive for links from sites you’d be proud to share with your own followers. Don’t buy links, trade links with other websites, or use link building automation techniques, as these black-hat practices don’t sit well with Google’s recent updates.
- Use social media. Search results now include social media posts and socially shared files, so producing content for these platforms is growing in priority. Social followers love to share good content, so the more useful, interesting, and meaningful your content is, the faster is will spread. Social media is a great way to build followers, brand, reputation, and authority.
- Find new ways to reach your audience. There are always new or different ways to publish and share unique types of content that other people online will want to publish and share too. Social media, guest blogging, syndicated content, and press releases are still all great ways to get your content out there, as long as you work with authoritative sites and use authorship markup that helps search engines identify you as the source.
- Get to know your audience. It’s hard to market to people when you don’t know where they’re coming from or what they’re looking for. Get to know your target audience in order to offer them something of value or establish yourself as someone of value to them.
Remember, the best way to satisfy search engines is to satisfy searchers, so give them the content they want and they’ll return the favor with the links you need for great rankings.