In the past year, many website owners have been affected by Google’s roll out of its algorithm updates, codenamed Panda and Penguin. The new algorithms have affected how individual and company SEO strategies are implemented. Because of the confidential nature of the algorithm, it is hard to predict what should be done and what should not be done, but one thing is clear: the rules of the game has changed, and these updates are here to stay.
Even as some websites have been decimated because of the onslaught of Panda and Penguin, others have managed to recover their former rankings. The following are tips to consider when undertaking your own SEO plan on your website.
- Invest in valuable, fresh and original content. Rehashing content from competitor sites will not help your site overcome the new requisites set by Google. Google wants content that is interesting and unique, so the front page does not contain several paraphrased versions of the same content.
- Exercise restraint with SEO. It’s clear now that overly optimized sites will be penalized, which means keyword stuffing on pages or unnatural linking structures are things of the past. In fact, it’s probably safer to ignore what we think of as “SEO” altogether, and focus instead on writing your content and acquiring backlinks in a manner that’s consistent with what an average joe would think to do for his website. This means seeking out blogroll links from websites similar to your own, guest blogging, etc.
- Use social media for your own benefit. Google is now expanding into social media in determination of the popularity of a website as well as the links that work to provide benefits for SEO. Let’s face it: your users are on social media. If your website is not being liked, shared, and retweeted, this is a clear sign to Google that it isn’t relevent to your audience. Make your content shareable to many other individuals, and likely your search engine rankings will improve.
- Use tools for analysis, particularly Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. Specifically, look at how users interact with your website. How long do they spend on your site on average? How many pages do they visit? Google is looking at these metrics to determine the quality of your site, and you should too. If your users aren’t taking the time to read your content, why would Google present it to them? Use these metrics to make your website more enjoyable to your users, and rankings will follow.
- Quality over quantity. Inbound links need to be quality driven and not quantity driven. You want links from authority websites with content that overlaps your own. Old tactics like buying bulk blog comment spam are now more likely to harm than help your website.
Although frustrating to many users, the recent Google updates have moved the search engine in the right direction. Whereas formerly we had to spend our time with SEO trying to improve our rankings, now all that needs to be done is concentrating on the delivering what your target audience wants. Produce great content and provide a good visitor experience, rather than using specific SEO techniques, and your site will not only rank better in Google — it will be generally more useful to your audience, and they’ll be more likely to share it in the first place.