As a marketer, you know that the content you produce isn’t worth anything if no one sees it. With the rise of social media and influencer marketing, many marketers are trying to find ways to get plenty of likes, comments, and clicks from social networks.
But search engines are also a valuable way to get readers and customers. In fact, a person who ends up on your page after a search might be even more interested in what you have to say, as your website showed up in the list of results for his or her search query.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, involves putting together a webpage or piece of content that will earn traffic from search results. Traffic that comes from search engines is free, as opposed to any traffic your content might get from a sponsored post or ad.
SEO has evolved over the years, largely in response to a fair amount of abuse. So-called black hat SEO tactics led to the creation of websites and pages that earned high spots on search engine result pages but that were of little actual use to the human who did the search and was looking for actual information.
Although Google isn’t the only search engine out there, it’s the one that the most people use. According to Search Engine Watch, more than 1.6 billion people use Google each month. Nearly 73 percent of all searches are conducted using Google.
So when Google makes a change to its algorithm, or how it ranks search results, marketers need to listen.
The Penguin update is just one of a series of updates Google made in response to black hat and unsavory SEO tactics. Google first announced the algorithm update in 2012. In 2016, Google made Penguin a full part of its core algorithm.
As Google put it, the goal of Penguin and similar algorithms is to reward marketers and website owners who are making a good-faith, honest effort to promote their brand and site. Remember, it benefits Google as much as it benefits a marketer when people are able to find useful information and what they are looking for during a search.
Penguin focuses on down-ranking sites that violate Google’s quality guidelines and on boosting the rankings of pages that produce high-quality content.
Links and Your Content
According to Google, the most recent Penguin update looks at the source of the links that point to your page. But, rather than demote your page for having what are considered to be “spammy” links, the algorithm simply doesn’t count those links for or against you.
It’s like when you skipped a question on the SATs — not answering didn’t improve your score, but it also didn’t lower it. That said, you do still want to think about what sites are linking to your pages, and do your best to make sure Google doesn’t think of those sites as spammy or low quality.
So what’s a spammy link? A good example is a profile page on a social network that contains little or no additional information. You can think of having a link to your page on a spam profile as similar to having an influencer who buys fake followers. That link might point to your site, but you and Google both know that it’s worthless.
Low-quality links aren’t hurting your SEO, but it’s still in your brand’s best interest to try to ensure that only useful, high-quality sites are linking to you.
Other Ways to Boost SEO
Links are just part of the SEO puzzle. There are a few more things that content marketers can to do improve their sites’ SEO and their position in search engine results:
- Go easy on the keywords. Using certain relevant keywords strategically in your content will help Google (and other search engines) find it. But if you go wild with keywords and fill a story or blog post with them, not only will people not want to read your post, but the search engines will ignore it too.
- Create original, useful content. Google’s algorithm down-ranks content that has been copied or “scraped” from another site. It also punishes auto-created content and pages that seem to contain little actual information. As a content marketer, you probably already understand the importance of making valuable content. The fact that doing so improves your SEO is just icing.
- Keep an eye out for spammers. Hackers and spammers are everywhere and they might want to take over your site, potentially diminishing its search engine rankings. If you allow comments, moderate them so new users need to be approved before their comments appear. Install security software on your site to keep hackers out. If you are hacked, take down any spammy or added content right away.
The new rules of SEO put the human first. If you think like a human when creating content, and put the needs of your readers or customers first, it’s likely that you’ll find it easy to create content that’s also search engine optimized.