When Google launch a new algorithm, whether it is a completely new release or an update to an existing one, the SEO industry, and indeed anyone with any interest in SEO, is quick to act to understand what they need to do to maximize the changes or remedy any damage to their, or their clients’, search rankings.
So far in 2013 there have been two Google Panda updates, Google Penguin 2.0, and a number of other algorithms aimed at specific industries and websites with a reputation for spamming. This is in addition to the everyday tweaks and modifications that are made to Google’s standard algorithm, which changes are made to around 400 times a year.
Understanding Google’s objectives makes it much easier to analyse and understand the reasoning behind their algorithm changes. To the SEO industry, Google is ‘God,’ and looking good in their eyes is what everyone wants to achieve so that they feature higher in the search results and can increase their revenues.
However, many forget that Google themselves are a business and have customers to keep happy. This drives their algorithm updates above everything else. If Google stop working to display the best, highest quality, most relevant search results, then people will stop using them for search and use Yahoo! or Bing instead.
Google’s head of web spam, Matt Cutts, announced in March of this year, prior to Google Panda update 25, that Google would no longer be publicizing major algorithm updates, either pre or post them occurring. Cutts also suggested that Panda would fit into Google’s general algorithm at some stage during 2013.
This in itself represents a huge challenge for the SEO industry. Previously, being forewarned of an impending change by Google, as well as having the knowledge of what changes would be happening, allowed webmasters and SEO professionals to begin to take action. Today, it is a much more reactive process.
These changes, and Google’s refusal to publicize them, has been positive for levelling the SEO playing field and making people commit to ‘good SEO’ throughout their campaigns, rather than engaging in borderline black hat strategies as much as they can before taking reactive action prior to being penalized.
In summary, Google’s algorithm changes mean that ‘good SEO’ has to be on the agenda at all times, whether you’re a webmaster looking after a friend’s small business website, or a large SEO agency with dozens of high retainer paying clients.
Here are the main examples of what a Google friendly SEO strategy looks like as a result of 2013’s algorithm changes.
While many believe that many of Google’s updates are aimed at discouraging link building, this is not the case. In fact, Google continues to encourage link building, and recognize it as part of any sustainable SEO strategy. At the same time, Google are focused on link profiles that look as natural as possible.
Using a variety of anchor text is the biggest thing Google are focussed on; those who have been using too much ‘exact match’ anchor text and seeing the majority of their links made up of two or three keywords have been hit hard recently. Today’s approach is to use a variety of anchor text, sometimes without it even including the keyword, although if an article is based around a particular key term, Google will recognize this. The approach to anchor text alone has proven challenging, particularly for SEO agencies explaining to clients why they aren’t submitting guest blogs, for example, all with the same backlink anchor text!
Secondly, a natural link profile should be as diverse as possible. This means a variety of do follow and no follow links, as well as links coming from a variety of locations, including guest blog posts, citations, and comment sections on other content.
The central element driving link profiles is content.
How many times have you seen that written in the past four years? At various periods during that time, however, content could literally be anything. As long as you were posting something, Google would pick it up and reward you accordingly.
Now, the focus on quality content is higher than ever before. Google are looking for those websites that do the best job of giving real value to their readers, rather than those that are just posting on a regular basis.
Those looking to use content to increase their SEO strength should ensure they’re linking their own articles to other authority sites, as Google see this as the next best way to add value on top of writing original, informative, and engaging content.
Great content will also be linked back to, giving your link building efforts a huge, organic boost.
This rings true both for content and for links. One quality blog post per week, with links to authority sites as well as internal ones to your own, beats a daily half-baked effort that will get clicks but lead to a high bounce rate. As for links, stop building them from low quality, irrelevant sites. The best way to approach link building is to build links from sites where you think you’ll get healthy referral traffic, rather than just going for the link.
In recent years, we’ve seen everything from articles saying keywords are irrelevant to those that offer a scientific calculation for discovering the correct keyword density. The real work you need to do with keywords is with their diversity, however, and the manner to which you use synonyms of your main targeted keywords.
For example, if you were an SEO company with a focus on a specific industry putting together a piece of content, you might look to include “the benefits of SEO,” “digital marketing strategies for [industry],” and “making [industry] appealing to an online audience.”
Many people are talking about how Google are becoming more ‘human’ in terms of their algorithm, and that is certainly true in terms of keyword diversity and how you mix it up so it appears as natural as possible.
2013’s Google algorithm updates should inspire anyone, from the small business webmaster to the large SEO agency, to ensure they are engaged and invested in natural practices that are showcasing the strength and value of a business or brand, rather than simply following a strategy for the purposes of manipulating Google into rewarding them with a high search position.
Those who are proactive and commit to ethical, ‘good SEO,’ will come to be unmoved by future algorithm updates, as they’ll be 100% confident that they’re doing the right thing already.