The changes to Google’s algorithm take their names from animals, most recent of them being Penguin and Panda. Each of these updates is meant to not only refine the effectiveness of search, but also to foil those who would game the system with “black hat” SEO techniques. Of course, this also means that optimizing for search means something a bit different with each revision.
What’s a marketer to do?
Be Original, Be Relevant
Think about your readers rather than the search engines. To some that might sound counterintuitive, but it works. Find your own original voice and make your content useful. Searchers will find it thanks to Google’s Knowledge Graph, the visible component of which are the autocomplete options you see come up when entering your search. Google is skewing its attention towards relevancy and penalizing negative tactics like keyword stuffing — and so should you.
One of the best things about producing relevant content is that it can be done in a way that the search engines really like — blogs and articles. (This is one reason that SixEstate focuses on these types of content. By producing regular posts that tend to the needs of the audience we have been able to produce documentable results throughout the various changes on Google’s end.)
Authority and Authenticity
In a digitally savvy world many of the disengenuous tricks of the past no longer work. People have much better BS detectors, as well as Google and Snopes to help sort out the noise. This makes it vital to show transparency, as well as digital due diligence in the form of the rel=Author tag.
Use of the rel=Author tag makes it easier for searchers to see the author’s credentials and body of work. This is the sort of context that gives authority to that author’s works as well as to the websites on which they appear. It also helps demonstrate authenticity and transparency, both of which are more and more in demand with shoppers and potential clients.
The Best SEO Is Good Content
Good content is useful, informative, and authentic. It enhances the conversation or provides tools to the reader. No matter what changes get enacted on Google’s end their goal is to make their search engine as useful as possible to the users. It follows naturally that the more attention you pay to those users and their needs the more effective your content marketing will be.
Of Pandas, Penguins, and Spam
Matt Cutts over at Google has been pretty great about answering user questions via the Big G’s YouTube channel. Here is his rundown on what sort of notifications get sent out through Google Webmaster Tools, mostly of the negative kind.
Of the thousands of notifications sent monthly it breaks down like this:
- 90% of notifications are black-hat related.
- 4% highlight low-grade content.
- 3% underscore hacking instances.
- 2% flag paid-link practices.
- 1% call out link-selling initiatives.
This is the tide of the ethically challenged practices that the Panda update was implemented to help stem. Of course, the dishonest will always find a hole in any system, so there will never be a time without updates. This means that for the foreseeable future the best SEO tactic is to produce something worthwhile.
I’m sure a lot of companies that have interns shepherding their blogs will find themselves further and further out of the loop as time goes by…
Image by anneheathen.
George "Loki" Williams is the community and brand manager for award wining game company Savage Mojo, Ltd. and the owner of SocialGumbo, LLC, an online consultancy specializing in Web content and online communications. Loki has produced content for clients including the Open Society Institute, National Association of Broadcasters, Kobold Press, and Kaiser Permanente. His work has been seen or written about in The New York Times, The BBC, Air America, The Gambit Weekly, and NOLA.com, among others.