SEO News

Google Panda Update Version #24; 1.2% Of Search Queries Impacted

Jan 22, 2013 at 1:16pm ET by Barry Schwartz

Google has announced a new Panda refresh, making this version number 24.
This refresh has a noticeable impact 1.2% of English based queries according to Google.
The previous confirmed update was #23 and it impacted 1.3% of English queries on December 21, 2012. Prior to that was a refresh on November 21st that impacted 0.8% of queries. It seems like Google is now rolling out these updates every 4 weeks or so.
Last week there were significant reports of a Google update, which Google denied.



The 5 SEO Tricks You Need to Ditch in 2013

This blog post is a must-read for all small businesses considering working with a marketing agency for SEO. Have any prospective partners brought up terms like link wheel, reciprocal linking (link trading), or blog commenting, or social bookmarking? If these terms are the main talking points of what is being recommended, be warned, you are likely heading down the wrong path.

Years ago, SEO was all about tricking search engine algorithms for the top position. Website owners would buy links, manipulate anchor text, and keyword-stuff blog posts for quick wins. Then, with Google’s first Panda update back in February 2011, it all came crashing down. Overnight, businesses lost traffic and revenue. The quick wins stopped working — valuable content and user experience came out victorious.

There’s no magic or mathematical recipe to SEO, so don’t let sketchy agencies convince you otherwise. SEO is a core component of inbound marketing. It’s a practice that is becoming more scrutinized for trying to take shortcuts. Here’s what to stay away from and why —  complete with recommended alternatives:

1. Link Buying or Trading to Pass PageRank

Website owners and marketers would swap links to pass authority from what Google calls ‘PageRank,’ a numerical rating system that benchmarks a website’s quality for certain keywords, topics, and phrases. Old school SEO marketers would try to boost their own rankings by acquiring links from authoritative sites. 

They’d pay money to participate in link wheels and other gimmicks to build links unnaturally. Google uncovered this practice and started running surveillance. If you get caught with unnatural links (which is more than probable given the sophistication of Google’s technology), you’ll be penalized.

What to Do Instead:

Focus on building authority through blog posts, videos, presentations, content syndication, valuable press, interviews and genuine relationships with fellow website owners. Build a network of people and share your knowledge instead of superficial links.

2. Spammy Mass Commenting

Questionable SEO marketers would adopt this practice to quickly build backlinks. For under $100, you could hire an overseas “consultant” to build you thousands of links by leaving meaningless blog comments in broken English that backlink to your website.

This practice ruins user experience and could hurt your reputation. Not to mention, it’s completely tasteless.

What to Do Instead:

Keep commenting! But only in a way that legitimately provides value to article readers and builds your influence and network. Slow, steady, and high quality wins.

3. Pointless Press Releases

Why publish news that nobody wants to read? Chances are, that you’re paying for your press releases, so your goal should be to get them in front of as many eyes as possible. If you really have absolutely nothing to write about, you should revisit your core business strategy. There must be more than fluff for you to talk about. Pointless press releases only hurt your business by basically showing the world that your company isn’t doing anything notable.

What to Do Instead:

Share substantive news and information about your business activities, growth, and changes. What makes you proud? What makes your customers proud to use you? If you care about what you’re doing, somebody else will too. Be passionate, have your CEO available for interviews, and be compelling.

Optimize your press releases for SEO and check editorial calendars of relevant publications for upcoming story pitch opportunities. Two hundred high-quality backlinks from press will beat 20,000 low-quality backlinks from spammy SEO practices any day.

4. Focusing on the Wrong Technical Details

Stop counting how many keywords you’re running on your web pages. If you focus on mathematical formulas to trick Google’s algorithm, your SEO strategy will completely fall on its face.

What to Do Instead:

Be technical in the right way. Focus on your meta descriptions and page titles to craft targeted and valuable messages that potential web visitors can use to understand what the page is about. If your content is valuable, targeted, and directed at them, it’s then in-turn valuable, targeted, and directed at search engines as well.

Target the niche and long-tail keywords phases. The more specific, the better. If you target a broad audience, and a website visitor stumbles on a page on your site and quickly leaves, search engines will get signal that the bounce rate for your page is high and therefore the content on your page is not what searchers are looking for. That’ll hurt your SEO.

5. Article and Directory Submissions

There are thousands of cruddy article submission sites out there. You’ve probably come across a poorly written article on a site with a bunch of other articles that don’t seem to relate in any way. You want to stay way from these sites. They hold no real authority with the search engines and can actually hurt your SEO effort.

Directory submission can also get you in trouble. Don’t submit your site to any directory that is not related to your industry (with the exception of DMOZ). Also, do not pay for directory listings. You will be penalized for this type of activity.

Both of these are tactics that website owners leveraged in the old days of SEO. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’ll find an audience on those types of sites, because you won’t.

What to Do Instead:

You need to focus your time, energy, money, and efforts on getting published on sites with legitimate audiences. Focus on building a network. If you want to guest post, target sites with audiences that are a strong fit with your business. Remember that every article you write should function as a tool to attract prospective customers.

The Full Circle
Stop chasing algorithms. There is no mathematical ‘right way’ to do your SEO. The key lesson to learn is that search engines are trying to measure your value to website visitors. So, start providing value. Some experts say the best SEO is no SEO. Try focusing on building a compelling user experience —  one that keeps your visitors coming back.

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