Content Marketing Strategy, Post Google Algorithm Changes [Infographic]

If your website rankings have changed for the worse as a result of Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, you’re probably looking for a new SEO tactics. The founders of Quaturo, a content marketing company, and Neo Mammalian  Studios, a infographic design company, put together this infographic titled “Content Marketing: What’s your plan of attack?

The infographic cleverly relates content marketing to warfare, focusing on different strategies and tactics pre/post Panda and Penguin. Before these major Google algorithm updates, a website could get high rankings by applying the  “weapons” blog spamming, blog networks, linkwheel, mass paid linking, article, marketing, and web 2.0. These tactics allowed for scalable and noticeable affects on search engine rankings. The alternative “weapons”, as presented in the infographic, are quality blogging, unique guest posts, interactive content, infographics, linkbaiting, and asset building. The latter is considerably more time consuming but obviously of more value to the end-user.

What has been the results of the Google Panda and Penguin updates?

  • 12% of search results were affected by Panda, as it focused on “spam factors”, “keyword stuffing”, and “over-optimization.”
  • 3.1% of search results were affected by Penguin, as it focused on quality over quantity.

How should you react to these changes?

If you’ve subscribed to the quality over quantity mindset on your website and have been doing what’s best for the user first, you’ve probably noticed minimal changes in your rankings. You’re the SEO marketer who has been doing things right from day 1. The truth is Google, Bing, and whatever other search engines pops up are going to continuously tweak their algorithms to “better” their results.

If you’re applying gray hat or black hat tactics that “chase the algorithm” then you’re at risk of changes such as these destroying your rankings. Does your website really deserve to be number one? Are you the biggest? Do your customers naturally generate the most buzz for your company over your competitors? If the answers to any of these questions are “no” then you’ve likely resorted to tweaking your site up the results page. Step back, focus on creating some real value and stop building thousands of irrelevant links. Focus on adding value to your customer and you won’t have to worry about these changes or any future ones.

View this great content marketing infographic below:

Infographic by Quaturo

Google Algorithm Changes Affect SEO

Google has been one of the leading forces in the search engine industry for several years now and it seems like everything they do tends to set the trend for other search engines. Over the years, they have implemented several new algorithm changes that have effectively slapped webmasters down the rankings when they engaged in things Google didn’t approve of. The latest Google slap dealt with individuals who used unnatural linking practices to achieve higher rankings. Many webmasters in this category have been negatively affected and are unsure of where to turn from here.

Blog Networks

Many webmasters were using blog networks as a way to achieve high rankings in the search engines. A blog network is a system that people pay to be a part of. Once an individual is a member, he can write short articles and include a link back to his own site within the article. Then when he submits the article to the blog network, it is posted on one of the blogs owned by the network. The blogs are all high PageRank sites and they try to give the impression that they are legitimate sites. This made it look like a page on the webmaster’s site was being linked to by one of the blog sites in the network, which usually helped improve its ranking. Recently, Google decided to de-index many of these networks, which also affected all of the sites that the blogs were linking to.

Notification

Webmasters who engage in unnatural linking practices recently started receiving notices from Google in their Webmaster Tools account messages. The message tells the Webmasters that Google has detected unnatural linking practices associated with their sites and that something must be done to fix this issue within in a certain amount of time.

Affect of Unnatural Links

There has been some confusion and debate about the impact of having these types of links associated with your account. At the very least, Google has discounted these links and made it so that they do not carry any weight in helping other sites rank. In some cases, webmasters claim that having these links actually lead to some sort of punishment by Google. Many of their pages went way down in the search engine rankings and some of them were actually removed completely from Google’s index. Regardless of whether the bad links just lost their value or actually ended up leading to punishment, they definitely had an impact on search engine rankings.

What to Do

If you are a webmaster and engaged in something that Google considers to be unnatural linking practices, you should do your best to alter toxic links as soon as you can by either changing the anchor text or removing them completely. Go through your inbound links report and remove any links that come from questionable websites. While it might be a lot of work, it will help your search engine rankings rise again. This recent act by Google proves that nothing beats high quality, contextual link building strategies to further your site in the search engine results.

Overly Optimized Websites Hurt SEO

In a great article by Barry Densa on his blog MarketingWitandWisdom.com, Barry identifies the concept of Google penalizing, a.k.a. “slapping”, your website for being overly optimized. He also goes into detail about what that means and would be worthwhile to read the entire post.

My (still true) philosophy is creating great content and value on a website that people naturally want to link (vote for) to your website. You can increase site rankings in the search engine if you do this. You can’t trick your way to top anymore and buying links or paying someone to make a bunch of irrelevant posts on other websites is the fastest way to get “slapped” by Google.

Many people don’t understand SEO or are knowledgeable enough to be dangerous. They think they can write a bunch of Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, and add the keyword 5.7% of time on their website. The artistic side to the equation is balancing those tactics with a strategy of adding value to the website visitor. If you’re #1 in the search engine, are driving 100,000 visitors a day, and every single visitor leaves the first page they hit because the content is not helpful. You’re going to eventually get penalized.

The Google “Slap”

Matt Cutts, head of the Google Webspam team said this at SXSW in Austin.

…We don’t normally pre-announce changes but there’s something we’ve been working on over the last few months and hope to release it in the next few months or few weeks. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or over SEO – versus those creating great content and a fantastic website – we’re going to level the playing field. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance more adaptive, and, we are also looking for those who abuse it, like using too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links, or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.

SEO Website Audit

Before you begin implementing major search engine optimization changes, it’s important to know where to start. The first step is to follow the “rules” as outlined by the search engines. As SEO has become an entire industry in recent years, search engines such as Google have been communicating what they expect from your website. Basically, they expect you to be honest. Don’t try and trick the search engines into making you seem more relevant and popular than you really are.

If you’re a company with a website that sells shoes in a small town and don’t have the infrastructure or resources to ship hundreds of thousands of orders nationwide, do you think that your website should really be ranking higher than Zappos.com, DSW.com, or Shoes.com? Probably not.

  • Don’t buy links. Build them naturally.
  • Don’t show the search engine a different page than your real visitors. Show everyone the same content.
  • Don’t load pages with tons of irrelevant keywords. Write content with the keywords that make sense to your visitor.
  • Don’t think you can buy your way to the top of the organic search engine results. You can’t.

What you should do is find out what makes your website unique. Why do people want to engage with you, your content, and your site? Identify that special niche and you’ll be on your way to optimizing your website to the best it can be.

Here are some basic areas of your website to focus on:

  • Website URL – Your website URL should be unique to your brand, however you have an opportunity in the URL to specify what your website is about. You can’t always get your keywords in the domain name, but try and put your most popular keywords in the file names and folder structures. The closer the file is to the root directory of the domain, the more weight it will hold on the website.
  • Title Tag – Be consistent with your brand for your user but also try and add keywords relevant to the content on the page. Choose 1 or 2 keywords per page and make a unique title tag that represents the content.
  • Meta Description Tag – This tag displays underneath your title on the search engine results page. Create a call-to-action that encourages your users to want to click on your website link. Place keywords where appropriate toward the beginning of this two or three sentence description.
  • Image Alt Tags – Search engines can’t see images. Tell spiders and people with disabilities what is contained in the images on your website. Don’t stuff every tag with your most popular keyword, but use them strategically.
  • Navigation – Spiders won’t index every page of your website unless they can follow a clear path of links. Utilize breadcrumb navigation so the visitor and the spider both know exactly where they landed. If you have a website that is more than three levels deep, you should have links back to the higher level pages.

After you’ve determined your weak spots, per the areas above, you are now ready to begin identifying what keywords your website has the potential to rank for.

No matter what your brand, you can build credibility and popularity in the search engines for specific keywords. They may not be the most queried by volume, but if you choose correctly and focus on providing valuable content, you’ll be able to increase your visibility and drive conversions on your site.