May 11 2012
If you were to look under the hood of Google you’d be presented with an extremely complex and intricate math formula. Since it’s virtually impossible for humans to keep track of every website on the internet, Google has turned to it’s algorithm to help determine how a website ranks on their search results page.
Knowing that their formula isn’t perfect Google periodically changes these algorithms in an effort to provide searchers with the most relevant and accurate content. When this happens, it’s known as an “update,” which in turn has an impact on the search results we get. Sometimes the updates have a big impact; sometimes they’re hardly noticed but within the last year two major updates have occurred that now determine some characteristics of a “quality” website.
The first of these two updates occurred in February of 2011. The Panda update was designed to filter out thin, un-fit content that lacked substance. When the update first ran, some websites that had number one rankings were now shuffled to the back of Google’s index due to the website’s lack of content. The Panda update isn’t a one time update either. Google will occasionally run the update in an effort to re-sift through all of it’s content to ensure the best search results.
On April 24th of this year Google released it’s most recent change to their ranking formula. The newest update named “Penguin” targeted content that over used keywords (keyword stuffing) and sites that have “unusual linking patterns,” such as links from content with text that is completely unrelated to the actual on-page content.
As Google keeps on throwing out more and more bumps in the road it might seem impossible to attract and maintain those #1 rankings. We have no idea what lurks in Google’s update future but one thing that will never go away is Google’s thirst for compelling content. Not only is Google thirsty for content but we can see through recent updates that the search engine seeks quality content. Focusing on the creation of engaging content will not only attract strong rankings but good content will also avoid getting caught in an update that could potentially hurt your website’s rankings. As we look to the future, here are some timeless tips:
If you aren’t producing content that is entertaining, informative or educational it will be a struggle to get ranked. Excellent content will be relative to your keywords and provide enough detail to fully satisfy your readers inquiry. A good way to see if your website contains valuable content is by taking a look at your website’s social profile. When users are excited, surprised or humored by the content they interact with they react by buying, sharing, connecting or returning to the site. A site with valuable content will have lots of return visits, shares or purchases.
If you feel that your website’s content might be lacking take a look at Google’s guide for quality content.
Their are tons of ways out there to try and trick a search engine into better rankings. The recent Penguin update tried to eliminate some common “black hat” techniques but as time goes on it’s inevitable that a new technique will show up that will “guarantee #1 rankings.” As tempting as it might be to follow the latest and greatest cheat, your site will most likely suffer down the road. From a content stand point, make sure that you aren’t over using a keyword as this will come across as keyword stuffing and you could get penalized. The copy of your website should sound natural and not like a broken record repeating the same phrase in every sentence. If you can work your keyword into your copy at least 2 or 3 times you should be in good shape. Image from Warrior Forums
You’re taking a risk by solely relying on organic search for traffic as a simple algorithm update can annihilate your rankings. To help avoid a situation like this, look towards other methods to market your content as putting all of your eggs in the organic search basket could be disastrous. Beyond a well optimized site for organic search, paid search, e-mail marketing and social media marketing should fit into a your content and distribution strategy.