SEO Tips and Tricks - Swimming with Google Penguin

29th October 2012

The golden days of SEO may be coming to an end after reading about Google's latest search engine crawler. Since coming online in 1998, Google's core objective is to make sure you as the user receive the best quality information for your search query.  In other words, Google's pursuit is to ensure you get to start with the most popular content for a given keyword search.  

How Google measures the popularity of content is rather complex but it's based on the simple question of how popular is the content on your site?  Google determines popularity primarily by monitoring traffic to your website and assessing the number of links to your website.  Links to your site on other popular sites gives Google an insight into how relevant your content must be. 

Link Farms started popping up on the Internet and SEO consultants enjoyed the feast as demand to be at the top increased.  A Link Farm is a complex network of websites that simply target keywords and embed many links that channel traffic to your website.  Google finds your website links in these farms and voila!, your website starts ranking well.

Well, it seems that Google have caught up on the game and the latest Penguin crawler algorithm is highly sensitive to catching out those who appear to be using Link Farms to gain popularity.  A nasty consequence of this is that Google imposes a penalty on your site's rank and hence you drop down the results listing.  Your no. 1 spot has suddenly become no. 20. Even more nasty is that it is quite a challenge to track down and remove your links from Link Farms therefore leaving your website ranking permanently penalized. 

After researching this further, if this has happened to your website, the only point of recovery is to write to Google and explain your case and they restore the integrity of your page rank.  The other alternative as has been pointed out on several forums is to move your website to a new domain and start over.

Either way, one can only consider that websites dropping rank has increased demand for Google's Adwords and the SEO industry rolls on.  So what is the magic behind SEO and how can you boost your website ranking?  Here are some options to consider.

  1. Ensure you have Google Analytics embedded into your website.  Analytics reports the activity on your website back to Google.  It feeds performance information such as hits and their source plus much more.  Contact Us if your are unsure if your website has Google Analytics setup.  Learn more at http://analytics.google.com
  2. Track the performance:  Unique visitors, keyword impressions and source are very useful measures to track your public website. The XSQUIZZIT website statistics facility gives you this information and trends over time.  Google Analytics compliments this and gives you a lot of great information about who visits your site, what keywords they enter to get there, average duration spent in the site and a plethora of detailed tracking data and graphs.
  3. Know how well Google has ranked your homepage and top level pages.  Check out http://www.seobench.com/pr-overlay/ , enter your URL and take a look at the page ranks for your homepage and top level links.  Page rank is a weighting between 0 and 10 ranking the popularity of the page against all other pages on the internet.  A score above 3 generally means the page is quite popular once you apply it to a specific industry.  To get a benchmark, check a competitors website that is ranking well on search results to get an idea of their page rank.  Note: Pagerank is just one of the mechanisms Google uses to determine your rank in search results.
  4. Download and Print the SEO Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors (http://searchengineland.com/seotable ): There are many ways to boost your public search ranking in Google and their a some bad practices that kill your ranking.  This is one of the best charts we have found that outlines the best practices based on a simple weighted score approach.  Our advice is to work on the highest weighting items first and work down from their.  Notice the violations and blockers with negative scores.  Avoid these tactics.     
  5. Ensure your content pages are properly Titled with Meta Description and Keywords tags setup.  The same applies for your Top Level Category landing pages as these are often the links that attract the highest traffic beyond your homepage.  Targeting these pages can boost your ranking in Search results quickly.
  6. Discuss your SEO objectives with XSQUIZZIT Service Team.  We are here to assist your with your strategy and can review your website, offer advice and guidance, implement SEO features and refer you to 3rd party specialists to achieve particular outcomes.
  7. Engage a search industry consultant such as ROI.com.au or ewebmarketing.com.au.  These guys are great at establishing focused  adwords campaigns and assisting with monitoring and boosting your content.  They can also recommend structural fixes to boost rank and ensure your site is up par with latest SEO crawlers.  That said, our recommendation is to employ them in a consulting capacity rather than on a time based contract.  Set a task for them to do and monitor their performance.  We have heard some great success stories and we have heard others where customers feel the results have been lacklustre.
  8. Promote your website on your facebook page and other industry forums.  Link backs from legitimate sites and commentary linked to your website will boost your page rank and derive traffic from online sources.   
  9. Regularly issue press releases with the objective to get your website linked to online press in your industry.  Press sites generally have high popularity and appearing on a front page article can really boost ranking.  Beware: Some news sites block crawlers from ranking referrer links.  Check with the site administrator if this is the case.
  10.  Send regular eNewsletters with embedded links back to your website.  With Google Analytics embedded into your website, eNewsletter traffic will boost the popularity of web pages.  Its often vital to link the user back to high ranking pages such as top level categories, specials or news pages.

One final piece of advice, “Content is King”.  If your website has great content and the content is updated regularly, Google will treat your site with a great deal of respect.  Many of our clients are now employing junior content administrators to update content, prepare and send eNewsletters and manage inventory.  This is a great investment.  Ensure they have competent experience with HTML, CSS and prior Web authoring or PR experience.   

Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your SEO strategy.

 

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