Google Bought a Zoo – Post from SMX East on Panda and Penguin

By Ariele McWhinney | Oct 2, 2012
More Articles by Ariele

Google Bought a Zoo: Surviving Penguins, Pandas & Other SEO Beasts – Post from SMX East

What is the best way to respond to Google’s seemingly constant SEO algorithm changes?  With their potential to change whether your site is found and indexed (and their ability to penalize), it is important for search engine marketers to know how to track these changes and move with the times.

All of the speakers had fantastic points. I have included a few that interested me the most and weren’t all about overcoming a black-hat strategy and moving into a white-hat one.

Erin Everhart – As an SEO-er, “you want to make it look like you don’t exist.”

There was a Panda update year and half ago and some are still seeing negative reactions. We have to understand how to adjust and put in the work to make improvements.

Content that’s already on your site:

  • Fix your title tags. Clean them up – they’re your main selling point. As a rule of thumb, you want to include your brand name with your main keyword and maybe a secondary keyword as well.
  • Fix your content. Perform a content audit of your site. Pull your data using a tool (such as Google Webmaster Tools), compile your links in a spreadsheet, and then go through Analytics to get your Pageviews for these pages. From here you can find your faults. What purpose does this page serve? Who are you trying to serve it to? Is the content bad? Etc. And now you can attack the problem areas: update your content, promote your content, or delete it if need be (only if completely necessary)!
  • Another common content problem is duplicate content. Here are a few problems with simple fixes (hint, Erin likes canonical tags)
  1. URLs are not case sensitive – canonicalize them
  2. Multiple versions of home page – 301 redirects
  3. URL parameters – canonicalize everything
  4. Internal search – meta=noindex entire search feature on site
  • Panda affects your link building efforts, too. According to Erin, everyone at one point or another has bought shady links. It is time to move on, build a bridge, and get over it. Don’t focus on trying to get them removed because of the time and energy involved. Leave no link behind; get any type of link you can get. And make a melting pot of anchor text, but make it look natural, i.e. brand name links.

Finally, a good point to keep in mind, whether you are an agency and must remind a client or are in-house and must remind your boss: SEO is an investment! It has to incubate first, but the result is a sustainable SEO strategy.

Eric Enge – The True Significance of Panda and Penguin – what about the users?

Panda and Penguin aren’t all bad. You were once a user, too right? Google just wants to protect and help the searcher from black and grey-hat tactics and provide them with the most relevant legitimate content.

In Eric’s recent interview with Google’s Matt Cutts, Cutts remarks on the frequent Panda and Penguin updates; “that is a part of what our algorithm does: work to find quality diverse results that help solve problems for users.”

Eric then goes on to talk about his speculated future implications of Panda and Penguin and possible future penalty triggers:

  • Thin content pages, like on an ecommerce site, with too many links. This looks sketchy and unnatural and Google will notice.
  • Bad PR balance – skewed distribution of number of links (all towards the top) on PageRank
  • Infographic links with low relevance to the landing page
  • Low relevance links in unrelated blog posts – most anchor texts should be brand or domain names!
To recap Panda and Penguin thus far, there have been 20 Panda updates and only 1 Penguin update. So, according to all of the speakers in this session, whether Penguin has hit you or not, it is coming. So you must be prepared to make the necessary adjustments.

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