Tom Phelan is the newest SEO member of the WebBizIdeas Team. To introduce Tom to you we thought we would we ask him his thoughts on what Google wants “Post-Penguin Update.” Here is what Tom believes will help local business owners become experts online in 2013.
1. More Is No Longer Better
It used to be that just having more incoming links to your pages, more pages on your website, and more keywords in your content was better. The worst that could happen is that you might not get much added benefit. But now Google is actively punishing recipients of links from “bad” sites, people who over-optimize their pages with respect to keywords, and people who spin off dozens of pages with slightly different content on their site. Using Webmaster Tools to determine what pages or links are actually bringing down your SEO is a good idea, especially for established pages that have seen their rankings drop.
2. Analytics & Design Are Important
I think that the most interesting thing that I learned about Panda is that it takes into account site metrics to determine whether users think your website is of high quality or not. The bounce rate, time on site, and perhaps even factors like the number of times a user returns to your site can all be used in your search rankings now (and even Bing is taking bounce rate into account, where they can measure it). Though it is a good idea to lower your bounce rate in general, it hasn’t really been the domain of SEO companies before – and in fact page design and site analytics are probably more time consuming than a lot of SEO companies want to get into.
3. Advertising Is Punished
Excessive advertising on a page or site is punished, which can affect the quality of your incoming links as well as the quality of your own site. A lot of websites that provide tons of links survive by advertising – this could push down the quality of a website’s incoming links significantly. After all, most sites on the web can’t just provide tons of free, high quality content without getting something out of it. At the same time, link buying is punished, which removes another possible funding source for websites providing links. I have to imagine that a more high-class version of link-buying will emerge or already exists. Say, for example, that I really want to do a guest post on a blog. I might establish a friendly relationship with the publisher and send them a small gift or something of that nature. This sort of thing happens in political lobbying and business all the time. I would guess that anything that isn’t an obvious black hat link buying scheme with tons and tons of low quality links would escape the notice of Google.
4. Social Factors Are In Play
Getting users to tweet about your site, share it on Facebook, like it and +1 it could all help your SEO. Again, something that was probably smart to do in general for a site, but now might affect your SEO as well. Social factors should also probably be taken into account when evaluating a website for a possible link.
5. Google Isn’t Everything
Though Google is obviously the biggest piece of the search pie, they only account for 65% or so of search traffic – and depending on the client’s website, that number could be lower. So while new factors are in play at Google, a lot of the old SEO rules still apply elsewhere.
6. Content Is King
As user experience gets more and more important in determining a website’s ranking, the quality of content needs to go up. Everything should be either very useful or very entertaining. Infographics, video, and free tools could all become more useful in attracting and keeping users on your page or your linking article, and any aspect of the content that encourages them to share it or link to it is beneficial. Additionally, the originality of content counts. That means that if you are trying to sell a product that someone else manufactures, and all your competitors use the copy that the manufacturer gave them, you’ll do better by rewriting it to have something different and original. The relevancy of your incoming links matters as well. So, if you are a dentist and your site has a link from a dentistry blog, it is worth more than a link from a candy-focused blog. The text of the article should also be highly relevant to your site.
Overall the updates are more far-reaching than I originally thought. Looking forward to be part WebBizIdeas’s SEO Research Team!