Some pretty big websites got knocked down hard in Google’s recent Panda 4.0 upgrade. How did your sites fair?
If you got slapped down by Google’s new search algorithm (and reports suggest eBay lost a whopping 80% of its organic search traffic released on May 20, 2014), maybe the SEO jokes from SkilledUp will help brighten your mood.
But, after you’ve had a chance to lick your wounds and have a chuckle, let’s get down to the tough business of building your site back up with a long-term focus on content marketing and SEO.
Long-term Search Engine Optimization Tips
When I started blogging in 2010, I got a lots of search engine optimization tips. I chose to ignore many of them because I’m obstinate and independent, but mostly because I wanted to write the kinds of content that really helped visitors. I had a full-time job as a marketing professor and blogged because I wanted to write content that made a difference in additional to stilted academic research read by a handful of other marketing professors. I found it liberating to focus on sharing my informed opinions based on practitioner and academic research as well as a couple of decades of my own experiences as a users, researcher, and teacher of digital marketing.
So, I ignored all those search engine optimization tips.
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Good thing I did.
In May of 2010, just a few months after I introduced my blog, Google began the changes culminating in Panda (1.0) in 2011. Panda had a major impact on SEO, forcing a dramatic turnaround in search engine optimization tips from knowledgeable experts.
While Google tweaks its algorithm constantly, major updates come every year or so — first Panda, then Penguin, Hummingbird, and, most recently, Panda 4.0.
While these algorithm updates drive organizations crazy, they’re a boon for users, which keeps Google on top of search engine — currently about 70% of searches start on Google. Ignore Google at your own peril.
So, what are my top search engine optimization tips:
Content, content, content
Create value for readers. Period. Do that and you’ve accomplished about 90% of the requirements for good search engine ranking. If we’ve learned anything from Google’s algorithm changes is that sites providing quality content on a consistent basis will ALWAYS be the top search engine optimization tip.
Recent changes termed Panda 4.0 punished content farms (a continuing pet peeve of Google’s), content syndicators who use content created on another site, and other tactics to circumvent meeting requirements for original, quality content.
Interestingly, I’ve read a lot recently about website content being too thin — meaning it adds little to ongoing discussions in terms of new insights, interesting perspectives, or novel approaches.
Commonly, I see recommendations in the 1200-1500 word length; substantially longer than previous search engine optimization tips of 400-600 words. Yet, some experts still advise shorter length in favor of more frequent posts and increased engagement. While the jury is still out on post length, I shoot for longer posts because it’s tough to shut a professor up. Plus, I think I provide more value with longer posts because I can share more insights and build a more cohesive understanding.
I shoot for some middle ground — around 1000 words.
The key to longer content is to make it snackable by breaking up unappealing walls of text into short, pithy paragraphs and embedding infographics, video and other visual stimulation to keep visitors amused.
Sprinkle with authentic keywords
Write for humans, but bear in mind that Google looks for keywords in serving up content to searchers. Choose keywords that naturally flow with your content, represent high search volume and low competition, as well as a tight-fitting set of keywords across your site.
Beginning in about 2010, Google encouraged long-tailed keywords (actually keyword phrases) as a means to gain organic traffic by meeting searcher needs and reducing competition.
Building trusting relationships shows Google you’re a reputable site. The more your content is cited (link building) and shared across social networking and bookmarking sites, the higher your page rank and rank in results pages (SERPs).
Earlier updates took care of unscrupulous websites who bought links rather than gather them organically in their effort to appear reputable, when they, in fact, provided little of value.
In addition to external validation, Google looks at internal website metrics, such as # visitors, time on site, bounce rate …
Google’s stand is to crowdsource reputation evaluations to users using social signals. A wise decision.
As an academic, I naturally view papers that site seminal works in their literature review as higher quality than thin literature reviews. Google came to the same conclusion and gives more weight to content with citations (links) to high quality content on other websites.
High quality EXTERNAL links also provide an incentive for website owners to share your content since you’ve referenced their content. A good search engine optimization tip is to email site managers or highlight them in social shares to encourage them to not only share your content (see social signals above), but backlink to your site as part of the tit-for-tat nature of digital marketing.
I don’t know what the RIGHT number of external links per page is. Informally, I’ve heard 6/ page. Officially, Google says no more than 100/ page based more on optimizing user experience rather than technical capability. This post, containing lots of search engine optimization tips, includes a relatively large number of links. Other posts contain fewer links because they’re less technical. You need at least 1 link.
So, you might ask, how did I do with Panda 4.0, since the proof is in the pudding? Who would follow search engine optimization tips from someone who couldn’t grow their own website?
My results are generally very good.
The most critical stat — traffic — shows my site up significantly. My traffic normally drops by almost 1/2 in the summer (I guess many of my visitors are students, professors, etc who don’t work summers). Since May 2014, I’ve seen a steady increase in visitors as opposed to drop offs in recent years.
I still have the same page rank, however, this stat only gets updated periodically, so running your SEO based on page rank is a little risky.
I still show up on page 1 for several keywords — mostly marketing concepts with less traffic because my keywords (content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, etc) are highly competitive and dominated by a few mega media outlets like Mashable, Moz, etc) with several full-time staffers managing their accounts. At Hausman Marketing Letter, I manage my account alone, as well as manage Hausman & Associates, which is a full-time job by itself.
Here’s my biggest loser — Alexa rank. I’m not sure what’s caused the decline (actually increase) in this stat, which is weird because it should lag other measures of website performance since it’s a 3 month moving average.
Read more at http://www.business2community.com/seo/get-hit-panda-4-0-heres-something-lighten-day-0919096#x8eRCsGj2XjSvA64.99