Knowing the importance of your website and online marketing strategy and actively working on it, can usually define the difference between the most successful business in your industry and the ‘others’.
However, some businesses think that just by getting online, they’ve done enough to market their business. Wrong.
If your website isn’t one of the results on the first page of results for your relevant keyword searches, then you may as well have just posted a flyer for your business on the ceiling. After all, you want people to find the site that you worked so hard to create!
Understanding The Importance Of SEO
Unfortunately, even once you start working on improving your site’s SEO and organic visibility, you won’t easily be able to sit back and rest on your laurels. Google is constantly working to provide its users with high-quality links to the sites that they think you want to see. How Google assesses the quality of your site can drastically affect whether it gets indexed, ranked and visited, or whether it never sees the light of day.
That’s where Google’s algorithms like Penguin and Panda come in. You’ll need to have worked hard on creating an authentic and well-balanced backlink profile to prevent your site’s traffic being hit by the latest Penguin refresh, which has been rolling out over the last few weeks.
Penguin first arrived on the scene in April 2012. If you’ve been monitoring your traffic (for example through Google Analytics) since before then, you’ll possibly be able to go back and pinpoint a change in your traffic after April 24th, 2012 – positive or negative.
The algorithm in the first instance was mainly focused on identifying sites which had a high quantity of low-quality links, or spammy links, on unrelated or irrelevant sites pointing to them – known as an unnatural link profile. Websites that fell into this category quickly found their site penalised in Google’s search results followed by a sharp decrease in organic traffic. Not good.
Google re-release algorithms like these on a regular basis to help sites to recover if they have worked hard to improve their site under the criteria of the algorithm… or to penalise them if they have got worse. Penguin’s latest iteration began rolling out on October 17th and is gradually spreading across the globe, re-ranking sites according to its updated criteria.
Have I been hit?
You can get a good sense of how your site’s rankings are doing and whether they’ve been affected using tools such as Google Analytics to examine trends in your organic traffic, rank tracking software such as RankTracker or Accuranker to evaluate movements in your rankings and SearchMetrics to view your organic visibility. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few we like to use here at 22PointSix.
If you think you have been hit (because your traffic has dropped at some point in the last few weeks, or your rankings have fallen significantly) then there are a number of things you may need to do to help ensure you see improvements when Penguin next refreshes.
What To Do?
1. Pay attention to your site’s backlink profile! By this, we mean the links pointing to your domain. Use a backlink checking tool from the likes of Moz, MajesticSEO or Ahrefs to find all of your backlinks and evaluate whether you think they are spammy and harmful to your backlink profile. Don’t forget to utilise the data from your Google Webmaster Tools account too. If you or your previous SEO agency have built poor quality links in the past you need to contact webmasters and ask for these links to be taken down first or if you have no luck, you can disavow them using your Google Webmaster Tools account. This will let Google know that you don’t want these links associated with your site.
2. Linked to the first point is the concept of ‘negative SEO’. This is where competitors can cynically build poor quality links to your site in all the wrong, spammy places – leading to you fall in the rankings. Negative SEO now presents a very real problem despite Google claiming their “algorithms are designed to prevent these kinds of activities from causing problems for webmasters”. If you do think that a competitor has built bad links to your site, again you contact webmasters to request the links to be taken down, but if they’re spammy sites, this may prove tough. If this is the case, as before you can tackle this by using Google Webmaster Tools to ‘disavow’ the links that you don’t want these associated with your site. Be wary of this and regularly audit your backlink profile in case someone decides to try and hurt you.
3. While the received wisdom thus far is that your site’s backlinks are a key part of the story with Penguin; unsurprisingly, high quality, frequent ‘fresh’ content production will also help push your rankings in the right direction too. This is in line with advice from respected Google Analyst – John Mueller who suggested: “I’d also work on making sure that you’re providing a lot of high quality, unique content on your website as well, that users will want to recommend on their own”. Take notice!
Even aside from the time involved in parts one and two of our checklist, the suggestions outlined in part three present a problem for a lot of our clients, because most businesses lack the time resources to go out and research high-quality content, let alone write and post it, and then there is the additional time required to monitor and audit the site’s backlink profile and embark on outreach and link building campaigns too.
Chances are unless your business is web development, design or marketing – you just don’t have the time and expertise required to make the fine-tuned adjustments that Penguin, Panda and all the other algorithms want to see. If that feels like your situation, then why not join our list of happy clients who have entrusted their SEO strategy with 22PointSix and benefited not just from our SEO expertise, but also from the extra time they were able to invest in driving their business forward – whilst not spending a minute of their day worrying about Penguins, Pandas and Hummingbirds!