Search engine optimisation has changed fundamentally, and as a result the Internet is maturing. Google’s recent ‘Penguin’ update seeks to punish websites that have thus far been using archaic ‘black hat’ techniques, and reward those that create and publish content that is both new, and can attract a large, interested audience.
I suppose one way of looking into Google’s thinking here is that in a sense, they are encouraging the qualities that made pre-Internet journalism successful, and applying it to the age of e-commerce and social media. The key now for improved search-engine ranking for your site is to think, write, publish and share rather than simply looking to exploit a web crawler that searches for keywords and links. This new algorithm has completely changed the philosophy and approach to search engine optimisation that web developers and businesses will have to take, even if they don’t yet realise it – after all, the update was only released in April 2012.
The Penguin update has dramatically diminished the search engine rankings of websites that have not adapted to the change in policy by Google, with many sites falling down the search results as an effect of several years of content negligence and keyword reliance. If you have discovered that your once proud website now appears on page 8 in a Google search then it is pretty likely that you have been caught out by this algorithm change.
You can however counteract this, and ultimately use this fundamental change in search rankings to your advantage. The new rules, which underlie Google’s new ranking policy, are orientated around discouraging ‘spammy’ search engine optimisation methods. These methods used to be cheeky tactics used by many websites in order to improve both search rankings and site traffic.
The opposite is now true for many of the techniques. ‘Spinning’ (i.e. taking something created by another party and making slight keyword changes) is something now picked upon by the Penguin. Keyword ‘stuffing’ was another popular short-term fix several years ago, and whilst the clever use of keywords on your site is important for SEO purposes, it is unwise to simply ‘stuff’ your website with tonnes of keywords in a methodological and unimaginative way.
As we have already mentioned, building relevant content that your audience will enjoy, and potentially wish to share online is an incredibly effective way to re-build your friendship with Google. Blog posts are a great way of achieving this (something I’m doing right now in fact!). Try and write content in your site blog posts that are topical, up-to-date and even opinionated. Remember, this is not a sales technique; it is a way of interacting with the people who are interested in what you do.
Publishing fresh content that your audience can also interact with, comment on and share is evidently an effective tool to use now that the Penguin update is here. The Social Churn publishing element is uniquely efficient in attaining this as it allows you to hand-pick relevant comments from various social networks, and then publish them on your website. If you utilise this you have two instant benefits; you significantly improve your search ranking and also display positive feedback or ‘social recommendations’ on your site, improving both trust from prospective customers and high purchase likelihood.
The Penguin update essentially causes websites to suffer if they fail to innovate, which I can only see as a wholly positive change, which should in time make for a vastly more interesting and content driven internet.