April 24 2012 was Google Penguin Day and many of us scrambled reading post after post to find out if our websites were affected, how bad they were hurt and what we could do to regain a top spot on SERPS (search engine results pages) once again.
Many SEO (search engine optimization) experts say Google is tight-lipped about their new algorithm search updates—Penguin and Panda, and do offer lots of tips on what to do and what not to do but what none of them can tell you is how to find out if your website was hit by the Penguin update—there’s no Google page for that.
Just as the goal of Panda and Penguin was to reduce unwanted spam and phishing and get rid of thin or duplicate content, if you’re panicked by Penguin, keep in mind many so-called help-your-website-experts are spammers in and of themselves so first off, skip any offers and instead, turn to some experts for SEO and Google algorithm help.
Almost everyone is familiar with Matt Cutts who is part of the Search Quality Team at Google. There is a reason why his words on Google’s updates like Penguin are hard to understand. He works for Google and Google is not going to reveal corporate secrets. What you can do is follow his tips and advice. While he won’t come out and actually tell you what Google is doing, he does offer website tool after tool to guide you in the right direction.
For example, his post on Google’s Search Plus Your World he explains in a round-about way why using Google+ can and will help you website as far as SERPS and rankings go—such as getting back on page one of Google! Even if Mr. Cutts is a little vague on insider secrets, he does offer tons of links and tips on how to make the most of your SEO efforts.
There are those who are not fans of Matt Cutts claiming even his blog efforts are to engage readers to focus on Google only but if Google is King, I’d say, follow one of its subjects—especially a knowledgeable one.
Mr. Fishkin is the CEO of SEOmoz, a software company based in Seattle. He is also one of the top experts when it comes to SEO and battling Google algorithms. Do read his post on Penguins, Pandas, and Panic at the Zoo. As Fishkin says, the role of Penguin was to seek out websites that used “aggressive exact-match anchor text, overuse of exact-match domains, low-quality article marketing and blog spam, and keyword stuffing in internal and outbound links.”
What does that all mean to you as far as stopping the Penguin and regaining a top spot on Google? Plenty.
Aggressive exact-match anchor text - Don’t link to something that isn’t relevant. For example, if you have a link for CNN News, make sure the link is going to CNN News and not to a paid spam website that may also have a link to CNN News. Also, for blog post tags, don’t use the name of your company; i.e. sunrisesigns.com.
Overuse of Exact-Match Domains – The domain name for our company is http://www.sunrisesigns.com. It’s not http://www.cargraphicsandwraps.com. Make your domain name unique.
Low-quality article marketing – Much has been said about this even when Panda hit. With Penguin, website owners must be stricter about posting unique content and skip article marketing that offers little value or thin content. You will find many online companies telling you why article marketing is a necessary must but what most of these companies offer is a plethora of articles based on your product that may not even be relevant to your product or are poorly written. No one knows your business better than you do so blog about what you know and don’t depend on others who don’t know what you have to offer. Be Unique!
Keyword Stuffing in Internal and Outbound Links – When you place that original content in articles and blog posts, stop linking your keywords both internally and in outbound links. In fact, if you overuse your keywords too much, you’ll also be penalized, so use keyword variations instead and link them. If you have unfortunately subscribed to a service that automatically links keywords within your articles, drop them or tell them you want the feature stopped. Google looks at these as spammy.
Follow this advice from Mr. Fishkin and do subscribe to his blog posts for updates and how-to posts.
Our Expert Tips
We’d love to say we came up with the following tips on how to battle the Penguin and get back on page one of Google, but we turned to the source itself—Google.
First off, Google is not trying to punish your website on purpose. Breathe and relax. Some of the things Google recommends include:
Webmaster Tools – Google Webmaster tools and Google Analytics are a must-added element to your website. Once you register your website within Webmaster, you’ll be able to see how well you’re really doing in Google searches and gain valuable information such as number of page bounces (those who find you and then click away) as well as site verification and website health.
Create a Sitemap – Even Google admits it can’t find everything! Once you’ve verified your website in Webmaster, you’re next step should be to create a Sitemap. If your website software doesn’t have a feature for this, Google will walk you through the process. If Google doesn’t know how to crawl your pages, it’s probably because you don’t have a sitemap.
Learn More About Rel=No Follow and Meta Tags – Google support also offers great information on when to use the rel-no follow feature and what it does and doesn’t do. Essentially, if you add it, you’re telling SERPS to ignore the link whether it’s internal or outbound. That doesn’t mean you have to add it to every link but on the important ones, you do.
As far as meta tags go, how effective are your meta tags and descriptions? Google also has help for meta tags but keep in mind duplication is not favorable as far as Google goes. Even if you don’t write your own HTML, your website software does and if you’re article or blog post title are exactly the same as your meta tags—you guessed it, Google considers that duplicate content, not original content. If you do want to spend time on rewriting HTML, you can learn a lot with this cheat sheet.
We Could Go On and On…
Fighting Google’s latest algorithm update, Penguin doesn’t have to be hard or complicated and we could offer more tips from Google but we’ve offered up some great links here to help you get back on page one as well as Google resources to educate you on everything Google.
Above all, here at Sunrise Signs, we want your website to be found and for marketing professionals, we want to help your clients regain their spots. Remember, fresh and unique content, skipping keyword stuffing and spammy links, and website verification are probably the most important things to do with your website. In fact, if you’re site is already registered with Webmaster, have you checked your account lately? As Matt Cutts says, “You should check your Webmaster account—you may have a message waiting for you on something you’re doing wrong.”
Having trouble with the Penguin or even Panda? Drop us a comment and let us know how you resolved your problem or what methods you utilized to find success. A well-placed discussion we feel, is far better than searching the World Wide Web for tips on battle Google’s Penguin so send us your thoughts!
Panda and Penguin via MS Word 2010 ClipArt