We are still analyzing the data and case studies in the aftermath of the Google Penguin and Panda algorithm changes, and the first impression is that Penguin is really just more refinement of the same mindset. Being successful online in 2017 means that you are a “self made man” (no offense ladies) to say the least, and most folks doing any form of link building have seen a drop in their rankings, especially for their primary keywords.
Google Is Penalizing Bad SEO
The businesses that have fared the best (or sustaining the least damage) are the ones that have put into action a longer-term SEO strategy that is focused on diversification and a certain degree of randomness. Adopting this mindset is obviously becoming more and more vital for internet marketers to embrace with each passing day, and is the most efficient way to get the higher rankings we are all looking for.
The Google Penguin changes are still not completely clear to us at this time, but from what we have seen, over – optimization of both on-page and off-page SEO factors were targeted with this rollout from Big G. According to Matt Cutts, they are focused on having links hurt you :
A lot of people waste their money on buying links, and it hurts the name of the whole industry. Now we’ve gone farther and try to get those links to actually hurt you.
Search Engine Optimization Is Like Playing Pro Football
The real “secret” that people with websites that were relatively unaffected have uncovered – has long been the mantra of many of the best professional teams in the history of the National Football League, where the best offense is a great defense. In this scenario, these teams have focused on having an offense that is good enough to score a few points in each game, but having a defense that prevents the opponent from making big plays is more important (having a great defense).
In 2016, SEO is very similar to this scenario. You have to build up enough points (high quality backlinks, not high PR) to score higher rankings, but preventing your opponent (Google) from seeing your webpages as “unnatural” is even more important.
Taking A Similar Approach Will Avoid Headaches
The Penguin is all about stopping people that want to “score” with a few “big plays”, just like a “prevent defense” in the NFL, so you have to adjust to this by doing what the NFL teams do. You take what this type of defense gives you, by steadily making a lot of smaller gains (by using more techniques like article marketing for SEO), and stop trying to take chances and gain big yardage on just one or 2 plays. This is because Penguin is specifically designed to stop “big plays”.
The most efficient game plan to win against an opponent using a prevent defense is to take a similar approach. You focus on making small steady gains and prevent the other team from scoring on one big play. In this case, the Penguin is trying to “score” by penalizing your website, so you absolutely must put your focus on keeping that from happening.
Off-Page SEO Factors – Offensive Game Plan
There are handful of tell-tale signs that you are trying to make big plays with your SEO, and this is what Penguin is specifically looking out for in 2016. By mixing up your backlinking efforts (your offense) with a lot of “small plays” (weak links), you can keep the Penguin prevent defense “off balance”, and occasionally get some longer yardage with a “big play” (high PR links).
It is absolutely crucial to work at a steady pace, and avoid even trying to get a high PR backlink for a page on your site, until you have built up enough lower PR backlinks.
Off-Page SEO Factors – Defensive Game Plan
As we have already discussed, having a strong defense is even more important than having a good offense to win the SEO game in 2016. We have to protect ourselves from the Google Slap as a first priority, and rank for our targeted keywords as our second priority.
You can protect yourself from “having your links hurt you” by keeping our backlinking profile appearing natural – and the best way to do this is to not let anything “get out of whack”. The most common signs that your website is out of whack are:
- Having A Good Defense Is First Priority
- Too many backlinks in relation to traffic coming to the site – keep it proportioned
- Too many backlinks as a percentage of the website total pointing to the homepage – keep the backlinks to the homepage less than 30% of the total
- Too much exact match anchor text in the backlinks to a targeted page – keep the exact match to less than 15% of the total links to the page
- Too many high PR links – sprinkle these in occasionally for each page
- Too many do-follow links – keep this less than 90% of the total for each page, and for the website as a whole
- Too many links of one type – the more different types, the better
Each one of the factors listed above has certain boundaries that you must stay within, and is different for every niche. What is “acceptable” in one niche, may not be acceptable in another. This is why it is also important to analyze the backlink profile of some of your competitors that are ranking for your targeted keywords. Once you have a better idea of what is working for them, you can take a similar approach.
On-Page SEO Factors – The Offensive Game Plan
From what many SEO practitioners have observed in the aftermath of Penguin, it is hard to say if on-page SEO factors played a larger role than off-page SEO factors did. What we do know, is that on-page SEO is just as important as having a natural backlink profile. Having good on-page SEO is pretty easy. Strive to create engaging content on your website. This is really important (and yes, it can be difficult), as well as having a natural “content profile”.
Your posts should vary in length, and be focused on providing a “good user experience” for the best results. Sites that were hurt were pretty easy to single out. The articles and posts appear to be written for the search engines, and not to provide useful information to the user.
On-Page SEO Factors – The Deffenive Game Plan
Once again, having a strong defense is paramount. You simply must avoid the common pitfalls that all too many internet marketers fall into when it comes to on-page Panda safe SEO. Some of the tell-tale signs that someone is trying to game the system are:
- You Have To Avoid Being Obvious
- Having title tags beginning with exact match of targeted keywords – it is OK to have your keyword in the title, just try not to have it at the beginning of the title. Titles with the keyword at the end are ranking better.
- Targeted keywords found in all H1, H2, and H3 tags – You simply can’t have the targeted keywords in all of these places. Mix it up.
- Targeted keywords found in meta description and meta keyword tags – again, mixing it up and not having the exact match for the targeted keyword is working better right now
- Too many occurrences of targeted keywords in page content – this is a no brainer, is keyword stuffing, and will get you slapped in short order. Keep the content on the page with the reader in mind, and if you think the keyword appears too much, switch out other words and variations.
Putting It All Together To Win The Game
Hopefully, you have a better idea now of what does and doesn’t work when you are trying to increase your search engine rankings in 2012. Keep everything in moderation, and looking natural, and you will effectively see higher rankings – and keep them – if you can successfully keep it all within reason.