When it comes to technology, we’ve learned to not settle and to be ever-ready to embrace change. Technology has brought rapid progression to the ways we communicate and share with those in our circles and across the globe. Internet marketing and SEO in particular are not exempt from these changes.
While search engine optimization had humble beginnings, with sites only wanting to be seen and found by new visitors on the World Wide Web, savvy SEOs soon found ways to beat the system and manipulate rankings and visibility.
Enter progression. Search engines are smarter.
They detect black hat SEO tactics and penalize accordingly. Where we once saw keyword density and meta tags as important parts of SEO, misuse has rendered these facets to be unreliable agents for rankability. Algorithm updates are constantly being tweaked to weed out those sites trying to exploit the system. Google’s Penguin update laid down the Google law on unnatural backlink building and the Panda update debunked thin, duplicate, low-quality content in favor of sites providing content that is original and informative, or at least entertaining.
We can’t predict what updates will roll out next but we do know that in a sea of progress some things will remain as constant as the changing of the tides, and these things are laid out in Google’s handy dandy Webmaster Guidelines. So while we can’t tell you what Google will do next, we can give you some tips to keep your site in the clear.
Please Don’t Feed the Bears (Avoiding Panda Penalties)
While Panda is already in full-effect, all signs point to Google continuing its crusade for good-content. Playing by the rules now will save you a big headache later.
Above the Line Action Items:
- Don’t ever copy content without giving credit. Duplicate content doesn’t rank, and plagiarism just isn’t cool.
- Check for thin pages with content amounting to less than 150 words. Create new and rich content to live there.
- If you have a small site, manually spot-check for instances of duplicate or near-duplicate content that can be detected by Google’s Panda algorithm. Larger sites should consider using a tool such as Copyscape to check internal pages against each other.
- Eliminate duplicates by consolidating useful information into one strong piece of content, or by narrowing the scope of slightly similar works to create specifically differentiated pieces that are still relevant and useful.
- Don’t forget to 301 redirect your traffic to consolidated pages!
Be the Host with the Most (Developing Your Site and Content for Users)
For any party, you’ve got to send out the invitations if you expect anyone to show up to your BBQ. Treat your SERP display like a handwritten invitation to your super cool site.
- Write relevant keyword-containing title tags and meta descriptions within the proper length (50-60 characters and 140-160 characters, respectively).
- Helpful hint: If a CTA fits, it sits.
Dinner Is Served (Delivering the Right Content)
If you invited guests over for dinner, they would likely be disappointed to find that the night’s menu was a bowl of Cheerios. Likewise, when traffic is invited to your site, users will be disappointed if you don’t serve what they expected.
This is part of the user experience. Deliver to visitors what they expect to find when they navigate to and through your site.
- Did you put the right address on your invitations? Use a combination of 301 redirects and rel=”canonical” tags to send visitors to your preferred homepage.
- Keep the dinner conversation going. Write clear (and original!) content relevant to your site that should naturally contain keywords targeted for ranking.
- You wouldn’t direct people to the hall closet when they ask you for the restroom – that’s bad manners! Proper SEO etiquette entails implementing rel=”canonical” tags and 301 redirects to reduce page-not-found errors.
So cook a nice dinner and invite everyone over. Everyone except for the bears.
Disclaimer: These tips are only the iceberg above the water, and while they stand the test of time keep in mind that these items must be reviewed and re-implemented on a continual basis as your site grows. To prepare your site for the next algorithm-apocalypse, or to recover from a previous update, contact us at Elevated for more information on our SEO services.