It’s almost Thanksgiving, a time when we reflect on the events of our lives and try to express gratitude for all that is good.
A special Thanksgiving message….and thoughts about Google…
When it comes to Google and the algorithm changes of the last 8 months, many of us can officially say that it hasn’t been the best of years.
I am reminded of many of your comments from previous articles where some of your sites were downgraded enough to lose substantial income and others lost everything as their earnings plummeted. While some are gradually picking themselves back up, for others it will take much longer, if ever, to regain the ground that was lost.
Much of my work focuses on understanding Google, why websites are downgraded or upgraded, and helping businesses use their content to become stars in their industries. While working, I have been so mesmerized with everything “Google” for the last year, that I lost sight of many other things.
Yes, I LOVE what I do, but today I decided to reflect on other matters…
I am writing this article in a doctor’s office where I am supporting my little sister with some health issues she is dealing with. As I sit here, I reflect on my work and what really matters to me. I look at my sister and realize that nothing comes close to the relationships we share with the people we love. No matter what Google changes, adds, or throws at the internet world, it will never change the bonds we share.
But, alas, while relationships are vitally important, for some of us Google’s changes affect the income we make that allows us to spend more time with the people we love. So, for this special blog post edition, I decided to summarize the major changes I feel are necessary for our readers to think about as they approach the end of the year and start fresh in 2013…
Quality…According to Google
You will often hear us talk about QUALITY content as the driving force behind this new SEO environment. But, here’s the problem…
What you may deem as quality, Google may NOT. To make it in this post Panda, Penguin world, you must create quality content the way Google wants it.
You may think putting some links in your footer will bring your visitors a great user experience, but Google thinks otherwise. Unique content…not enough. Grammar mistakes…you’re toast.
Here is a recent article I wrote that discusses what Google is looking for as it relates to content.
Why Your Great Content Will Never Become King
Here are some additional articles on the topic:
50 Google-Loving Content Tips to Create Traffic-Worthy Content
What Most Webmasters Don’t Know About Their Failing Website Content
Over-Optimization / Panda
Over-optimization has been played out and most of you know exactly what it means. But for those who are new here and may not understand it in its entirety, let me summarize.
Over-optimization refers to any practice that involves trying to manipulate the search engines to increase rankings. Google’s updates have addressed these issues and targeted websites that were “over-SEO’d”
Some of these practices are…
Links – Excess exact match anchor text. Pre-Penguin, webmasters were adding their exact keywords to a large amount of their links to try and rank for that particular keyword. Presently, this practice will get you downgraded.
Brand names, urls, and generic phrases should make up a large part of your linking profile. How much? If it happens naturally, that is the right formula. If you must use a formula, I wouldn’t exceed 10-30% for exact match keywords for your anchor text. Also, diversify from where your links come, and focus more on related sites.
Keyword-stuffed titles and metatags – One keyword is plenty for titles and metadata. In fact, Google doesn’t even consider meta keywords anymore and meta descriptions are only there to entice people to click on your site in the search results pages. Avoid using too many keywords in your content; just think “natural” and write for your audience first—the right amount of keywords will follow.
Thin affiliate sites – Part of my work involves inspecting downgraded sites to see if there are any issues related to an algorithm change. Many are affiliate sites and 9 times out of 10, I find problems with duplicate content. I’m not talking about blatant copying. I’m referring to snippets of content that are similar to the vendor.
In one instance, a webmaster lost rankings after a Panda update. I instructed him to re-write the duplicate descriptions I discovered and add content that would separate him from the thousands of other affiliate sites that were simply regurgitating the vendor’s information. Once Google launched the next Panda update, this webmaster’s site jumped back up to where it had been before the downgrade.
As a former scientist, I understand this one example does not denote a cause-and-effect relationship. But, we can deduce that affiliate marketers must distinguish themselves from the pack and offer unique content people will not find anywhere else on the web.