The head of Google’s webspam team, Matt Cutts, has announced the coming of a new Penguin update sometime in the summer of 2013. Brace yourself for Penguin 2.0.
Penguin 2.0 will be similar to the original Penguin update but has a few added elements. Let’s take a close listen to what Matt Cutts has to say and then we’ll discuss the action steps you should take.
What To Expect from Penguin 2.0
Penguin 2.0 is targeting low quality and black hat link building efforts. Just as the original Penguin update focused on penalizing websites with volumes of low quality links in proportion to the number of high quality inbound links; Penguin 2.0 will do a more accurate job of penalizing websites who have cheated their way to the top of search engines.
Here’s a list of what Penguin 2.0 is looking for:
- Paid Links (Advertorials violating Google’s guidelines)
- Links from low quality websites
- Irrelevant Links (Un-Natural)
- Over Optimized Anchor Text
- Keyword Stuffing
- Hacked Websites
Here’s what type of websites may be penalized:
- Sites which have received a boost in ranking from purchasing paid links
- Sites that have a high ratio of inbound blogroll links compared to other inbound links
- Sites that are ranking for keywords outside their industry (if you were lucky enough to have your website ranking for a random keyword phrase… this may be corrected)
- Hacked sites
How to Survive a Bigger, Tougher, and Meaner Penguin
Google wants the formula for online success to always remain consistent for your brand. The ultimate goal is to have those websites that provide the most value to the user to have the most online exposure.
Thus, if your website provides extraordinary value to the user then your website should be rewarded with higher relevant keyword rankings. However, as competition in every online industry grows, the task for Google to find the best websites in each industry becomes more difficult. Enter social signals.
The easiest way for Google to determine if your website is valuable to users is by looking closely at your social signals. Social media and SEO are influencing each other more each day. If your website has a great deal of traffic, return visitors, a low bounce rate, Facebook likes, shares, and recommendations, and a fair amount of Google plus shares…. then it is easy for search engine robots to determine your website provides a great user experience. The end result should then be higher rankings. Lets dig in further and examine how to go about building a great user experience.
Action Steps To Scare Off Penguin 2.0
1). Provide Value To Your Visitors – Build your website, write page content, and compose blog posts with your visitor in mind. Give them the information that they want and readers will come back, share your content, stay on your website longer, and possibly buy your services. An engaged and happy website visitor shows in analytics that Google can see. When Google sees happy website visitors they determine your website is of high quality and reward you with higher rankings and higher page rank.
2). Lower Your Bounce Rate – Your bounce rate is the first indicator of what people think of your website. If your bounce rate is high it can mean two things. One, that you are running an ad campaign with keywords and copy that don’t accurately relate to your website. Or two, that your website is lacking visually or contextually what organic visitors are hoping to see.
The most effective way to lower your bounce rate is to use an A/B conversion software to help you determine the best combination of text and images to convey a first impression that visitors hope to see. Try Crazy Egg.
3). Provide Social Sharing Opportunities – Even if your company does not have a very proactive social media marketing strategy you should still offer those socially savvy website visitors an easy way to share your content. Add Facebook, Google Plus, Yelp, and Twitter buttons at the very least to your homepage. The social shares will follow in time as your business continues to provide valuable content.
Bonus Social Proof Tip: Until your website garters many social shares, use social buttons that don’t display the number of shares. Avoid negative social proof at the start and then leverage social proof when you have the swagg to do so.
4). Keep Your Website Safe From Hackers-
2013 is quickly becoming the year of the hack. And Penguin 2.0 is on the hunt for injured prey. If your website is hacked or contains malware you can expect to lose rankings and website traffic. Keep you website safe by updating your password to contain symbols, upper and lower case letters, numbers, and multiple words that in no way, shape, or form could relate to your brand, business name, birthday, or service. Hackers and software are quick to try the top thousand combinations of your business password to get into your site.
5). Use Google Markup Language to Help Google I.D. Your Industry – Google’s highlighter tool makes it simple for webmasters to add html markup to their website in order to help Google bots id their industry, products, or events. No coding skills necessary. Just the knowledge and application of the tool itself is all that is needed. This is the easiest way besides using a sitemap to help Google index and understand the pages and content on your website.
6). Build Quality Links– Ultimately Penguin 2.0 is looking to penalize sites with low quality inbound links. So build high quality links instead. Begin by guest blogging on relative and authoritative sites in your industry. Guest blogging is the best SEO tactic of 2013.
So there you have it. The ultimate defense to Penguin 2.0. What concerns or questions do you have about Google’s next big update?
So as we stated in tip #3 providing social sharing signals has become increasingly important to your online marketing efforts and is now a factor in organic keyword rankings. Circling back around to our point on negative social proof, you don’t want to display social sharing buttons on your website or blog post unless you have already accumulated a few shares. Your readers won’t want to share a post that has zero shares….
That’s why we recommend the WordPress plugin, Flare, to our clients with wordpress hosted blogs. Flare is like other social sharing plugins with the addition of a social proof attribute. Using Flare you can set the number of social shares to a minimum before the plugin will ever show a counter to your visitors. Once you hit 10 or maybe you decide 20 shares as a minimum, Flare, will now leverage your positive social proof to help you gain even more shares from your readers by suddenly showing a share counter.
Best of all Flare is free to download and free to use and includes a bunch of other great attributes to make your site look good and help you drive more social traffic and increase SEO signals to your site.