As a business with a website and blog, you rely on Google to drive traffic to your site and generate business for your company. It, then, becomes important to make sure you stay up to date with changes to Google’s algorithm. You don’t need to know all of the technical details, but understanding what they are targeting and where emphasis is being placed is crucial to your online success.To help you prepare for Penguin 2.0 (Google’s latest search engine update), we’ve included an overview of areas to monitor and improve to make sure you stay in Google’s good graces.
Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, discussed several items in one of his recent videos but one point he emphasized the most was link quality – both to your site and from your site. Link building is an essential tactic of SEO and many firms have used “black hat” techniques to build clients’ link profiles and increase search engine rankings. Black hat techniques involved purchasing links from other spammy sites just so the link could be counted by Google’s algorithm. Google has never been a fan of this tactic and has worked over the years to identify and penalize websites that used link purchasing. Here are a couple ways you can improve your link quality:
Do A Link Audit
You can find a list of sites linking to your site in Google Webmasters. You might need to do a little exploring to see which sites are spammy and which are legitimate but it is well worth the time. One way to sort out the sites that are potentially harmful is to check their PageRank and overall quality. If they aren’t valuable, disavow the link and email the website owner asking for your link to be removed. This will keep your backlinks as clean as possible.
Discern Between Editorials and Advertorials
Special attention was paid to Advertorials – content that looks like editorial content but is actually a paid article or advertisement. If you’ve been paid for the article that is on the site, the link you provide is not supposed to pass PageRank (this is done by using rel=”nofollow”). You should also do your best to notify users that the item they are reading is a paid advertisement and not editorial content. This is designed to stop the practice of paying for links. If you’ve done it in the past, or hired an “SEO company to get you to the top of Google”, it’s time to go clean up your content and your links.
Improved Hacked Site Detection
This is one of my favorite updates: improved hacked site detection. The latest update is supposed to recognize hacked sites quicker and notify you sooner. This is good and bad. Once Google recognizes your site is hacked, it will penalize you until you can demonstrate that you’ve fixed the issue. However, the communication tools in Google Webmasters are supposed to be better at communicating the issue to you. This will make site security even more important as you move forward.
There are also a number of activities you should be checking regularly as part of your Webmaster activities.
- Check for HTML improvements
- Has the sitemap been submitted recently? Are all of the pages indexing properly?
- What keywords does your site rank for? How has this changed?
- Investigate the links to your site. Who is linking to you most often? What content is the most linked?
What You Need To Be Doing
- Develop quality content that people want to share and come back to your site and read.
- Do not pay for links. Focus on getting quality, legitimate links back to your site. Of course this may take a bit longer but will be better for you in the long run.
- Do not disguise paid content as original content. Make it clear to your readers and make it clear to Google by using rel=”nofollow” on all paid links/content.
Matt seemed very excited about this update and the implications for black hat link spammers. His excitement is probably a good indicator that this update will be an important update with potentially huge implications on link building tactics. Make sure you stay ahead of the curve.
Checkout the video here: