SEO’s constant state of flux was highlighted with Google’s recent release of Penguin 2.0. This is Google’s fourth update to the spam detection/prevention algorithm, which instantly downgraded old link building strategies and emphasized the integration of unique and original content.
Penguin 2.0 was especially impactful, with many sites left watching their page rankings plummet instantly in the wake of this release. A common underlying factor in those who lost SEO rank was their reliance on very thin content – recycled product descriptions that did little to add value to the user experience. Canonical tags were another determining factor in the sites that survived the SEO challenges that Penguin 2.0 brought, and those who did not. And, paid placements were also greatly devalued by Google, which in turn hurt many marketers who had previously received positive results from these types of investments.
Content creation has long been a key factor in SEO, but in the past lack of content could be somewhat overcome with other practices. With Penguin 2.0, Google is acting in direct response to searchers needs and adding a level of trust to the searches that are performed on their platform. Meaningful content allows search engine spiders to correctly index content and present the correct possibilities to the interested party. An ongoing, yet varied, posting strategy is now needed to give both search engines and searchers the information they are seeking.
Canonicalization has become an essential part of SEO. Canonical tags provide a working strategy against duplicate content, which is rarely ranked in search. Canonical tags tell search engines which page should be treated as the true URL – and which pages are offshoots – with all links and content metrics actually being credited toward the provided URL. Without these tags, ranking power will be split between a variety of URLs and the major SEO benefit of the content will be lost.
Paid Placements < Proper Link
Building Nothing can surpass the credibility of a proper link building campaign. In the past, paid programs allowed companies to climb search engine rankings, but the algorithms quickly caught up with these black hat practices. The best strategy for link building? Write great content that will be shared.
For the small business sector, the Penguin 2.0 release could bring a financial burden, as many formerly tried-and-true tactics must be cast aside in favor of more Google-friendly methods. This means the frequent creation of fresh content, the creation of resources like blogs, and the promotion of a site via more effective search strategies. The upkeep for this campaign may require a new staff position, or the bringing on of a new vendor – something many small business owners may struggle to understand and afford.
Yet, for the smart and resourceful local business owner, Penguin 2.0 brings great opportunities. Google appears to be placing their future on mobile growth, and the new algorithm is geared towards contextualizing the user experience by both topic and location. As more and more searching is done via the smart phone, local data will be indexed by Google via geotagging. And, to be highly ranked will require relevant, up-to-date localized information that is compellingly useful to searchers.
Moving forward, effective SEO boils down to a focus on the user experience. When you go the extra mile to create compelling original content on a frequent basis, then back it up with effective marketing, search rankings will innately emerge. But, you have to have something important to say. Content creation can come in many forms, including white papers, blogs, videos and webinars. To work well, content must be easy to access – putting yourself in the user’s position when posting will give you great insight into the propensity to share and completely read through the content you provide.
A company willing to invest in the proper expertise to promote their website site – via the content you’ve created – in a manner that is Google-friendly, will be successful in search. Partnership with an internet marketing firm that specializes in search and has a proven track record in producing an uptick in search engine rankings will return the investment many times over.
Understanding whether a prospective internet marketing agency is qualified to help may be difficult for the novice marketer, but taking the time to watch Google’s webmasters videos on YouTube can go a long way in building your understanding of the key concepts. While it is true that the diffusion of media has made it harder to get the attention of prospects than ever before, it is also true that for the smart and creative marketer who has something important to say, it is easier to target your prospect than ever before – if you have the right resources.