Avoid Panda Peril: 5 Easy Methods

Many SEO’s believe there are unique and specific reactionary steps that can be taken to remedy the effects of each individual google algorithm update. While this may be true to a minor degree, the fact remains; this is simply not the best overall SEO approach. Google is updating its algorithm constantly (some estimates count nearly 500 small updates per year!) – so you can’t expect to simply maintain your existing SEO strategies with a few minor tweaks here and there aimed at each update. Yes, you should always be learning and paying close study to how the algorithm is evolving, but it will give you greater value on the whole to respect broad best practices that will leave your site well prepared – regardless of what the exact update is. Google’s latest major algorithm update, “Panda”, has been arguably the most radical in terms of how it attributes SEO value across the web. To best prepare your website for Google Panda, and all of the smaller Panda updates that will continuously occur – don’t simply “react” to each one, check out this list of the top 5 easy steps you can take to always be prepared for major algorithm updates in general.

Offsite: Relevant Links Matter

In recent months there’s been ongoing debate over the true value link building as an SEO strategy. With the growth of “Co-Citations” and google’s ability to see value beyond simple links, the question is always asked “is this worth my time?” Overwhelmingly, the answer is still “YES!” The remaining caveat is link relevancy. For the large part, you can forget about analyzing how the latest Panda update might view the placement of a link on a page, or how it’s tagged. It’s much more essential to consistently create relevant links across a wide array of websites. This means websites that contain your industry keywords on the pages you get links from, and even their domain names. If you can practice this strategy on an ongoing basis, you will see results. As Panda updates occur you may see some minor losses now and again, but quality relevant link building will always keep your site strong – because it would always be occurring naturally anyhow, even if you didn’t spend time pushing it. Natural is what google wants to see.

Onsite Content: The Impact of Quality

When it comes to onsite optimization, even if you exclude specifics like HTML tags, or page “breadcrumbs” – it’s obvious too see how much google has shifted generally in the past couple years toward rewarding original, quality onsite content. You need to make sure there is fresh content on your site weekly, if not daily – always original of course. Even if you only create small posts or splash landing pages with one or two paragraphs – this will actually do more for your SEO than long text pages of redundant subject content. You’ll notice with any website, as their experience and expertise grows along with their industry; so does the depth and quality of their content. Don’t push the envelope into things you don’t understand – just continue to evolve, and keep it fresh. If you do this consistently, you won’t have to worry about “fooling” google and evading it’s next algorithm trap – because you’re already exhibiting what they want to see.

Onsite Peril: Over Optimization

Onsite web design and SEO optimization can be an extremely complex process. There are any number of back end considerations like HTML or rich snippet tags, etc. However, as you continue to scrutinize these evolving micro strategies, you should always be remembering your big picture onsite “do’s and don’ts”. These are the things that will arm your site in spite of algorithm updates. Among the many do’s, there’s one glaring don’t that’s all too common in web design: keyword over optimization. This goes back to the old logic of “whatever is worth doing is worth over doing”, and it just couldn’t be further from the truth. While you may think you can outrank your competition with more keywords per page, Google is way beyond rewarding that kind of behavior. Google is getting so smart, that they can actually crawl your website’s content as the human eye would – and if there are too many keywords, and it seems unnatural to the flow of your copy, you’ll actually lose SEO value for this “over optimization.” For example, if you own a printing website, you can’t use the keywords Business Cards 15 times per page – no matter how badly you’d like to rank for this term. Don’t fret though, it’s pretty simple to monitor. Write some copy, leave it for a day and then come back to review it again. If it seems unnatural or purposefully worded for SEO, it obviously needs to be changed.

White Hat SEO Basics

While this may seem like a total “no-brainer”, you have to understand what “Black-Hat” SEO tactics are and make sure to avoid them. These are strategies like paid linking, hiding onsite keyword text, and web-spam linking in comment forums. These tactics couldn’t be further from earning you SEO value, and will do quite a bit to hurt your rankings both in Google and other search engines. Staying strong with White-Hat tactics like fresh original content, guest posting, and link building will protect you from almost any algorithm update while providing you constant SEO value. It’s as simple as understanding that you can’t “trick” google, and you really shouldn’t even want to. Google is getting better at policing the people who do try this, and they aren’t seeing results.

Remember the Big Picture

The fact is, the algorithm updates are really designed to better police websites that are gaining SEO value from cheap, or “black-hat” SEO strategies. The better Google gets at policing, the cleverer the Black-Hat tactics get; and on and on. The point is, if you move your strategy toward consistent “White-Hat” SEO that exhibits natural quality behavior, you don’t really have to be concerned about how Google’s improved its policing tactics – because you don’t have much to be policed against anyhow. Cast your site in the light of quality, and it won’t get shackled in the bonds of deception.

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Tyler Watkins is a Marketing Manager at PrintingForLess.com, the nation’s leader in Brochure Printing.