Search engine optimization, often referred to as SEO, recently experienced yet another major change when Google implemented their last big update. They called it the Penguin update – and while penguins are typically found in cold climates, this Penguin had significant impact on rankings no matter what climate you are in.
This latest update was largely about link quality. Incoming links (in the SEO world we call them “backlinks”) are critical to how Google determines the “value” or “authority” of your website. In SEO links are viewed as “votes” so to speak – the more “votes” you have, the more “authority” you have. Therefore, the more popular you are – at least in the eyes of the search engines.
But not all backlinks are created equal. Think of this like your own personal circle of influence. Some of the people in your circle of influence are well-known and influential in your marketplace. They simply are more valuable because when they speak, people listen. They have credibility and what they say means more. Backlinks are the same way. A link from a highly authoritative website, like a news or educational site, will likely mean more than one coming from your friend’s local burrito bar. Nothing wrong with burrito bars – I love burritos, but you know what I mean.
Danny Goodwin, in his Search Engine Watch blog dated 4/29/12, about the Penguin update talked about 5 common linking tactics that were penalized:
1. Paid text links using exact match anchor text
2. Comment spam
3. Guest posts on questionable sites
4. Article marketing sites
5. Links from dangerous sites
The image to the left, included in Danny’s post mentioned earlier, is a great illustration of what the SEO industry goes through.
What Google did with Penguin challenged the SEO industry and made it more legitimate. To many, SEO is an activity meant to “influence” search engine rankings. Many SEO practitioners try to trick the search engines. With Penguin and the other updates Google does to make their search results as relevant as possible to the internet user, legit SEO’s should focus on
1. Evaluating where organic SEO fits into a company’s overall marketing plan
2. Researching and evaluating the right key-phrases relevant to a company’s customers
3. Developing a content marketing strategy to improve a website’s authority and to generate backlinks
4. Obtaining quality links that make sense
5. Measuring results and making changes accordingly
Google’s search engine provides the best, most relevant results and they want to keep it that way. Enhancing their search algorithm to ensure the best results are delivered to their customers is what their search focus should be. As a result professionals in the SEO business should realize they can’t beat Google, and focus their attention on doing it the right way – the “white hat” way.