Increasing Rankings Post Panda and Penguin Updates

don't let penguin peck

Human beings naturally like to take shortcuts. Since we can remember, we’ve taken shortcuts to either make more money, make our jobs easier or get SEO results faster. Making our jobs easier isn’t necessarily bad but when the quality suffers, your reputation might as well be in the gutter. For example, Apple contracts Foxconn to hire cheap labour and saves millions (Foxconn is infamously notorious for treating its workers horrendously). There has been backlash against Apple to push Foxconn to treat their workers better. So, by trying to save money Apple has hurt its reputation.

Inbound marketing is no different. All SEOs in the late 90s and early 2000s tried to manipulate rankings by trying every possible shortcut (and later had to recover from a search engine penalty). These included but were not limited to:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Using meta tags maliciously
  • Participating in link farms
  • Mass submitting websites to directories
  • Publishing very low quality content on article directories

Google is officially cracking down hard on websites that have used any “black-hat” SEO. In fact, they’ve constantly tried to push websites to take an organic role in trying to build presence online. And in many cases, business owners have hired sketchy SEO agencies who have tried to manipulate rankings for a short period only to find out a year later that their website has been penalized heavily and has dropped from ranking on Google.

2013 and Beyond to Rank Better on Google

The game (as some SEOs call it) has changed tremendously. Since Google has gotten smarter, we’re now creating great content mainly, but not only, to not only impress our users but search engines as well. Simply submitting sites to directories or submitting articles doesn’t cut it anymore. Google considers many factors when determining a site’s authority. Here are just a few:

  1. Is the website user friendly (code, information architecture)?
  2. Is the website accessible?
  3. Does the website have unique well written content?
  4. Does the website have a blog?
  5. Is the blog up to date or is the last post several months/years old?
  6. Are there signs of interaction with content?
  7. Is there a social presence?
  8. Is the business/organization/webmaster trying to engage users in a conversation?
  9. Where is the website getting links from?
  10. Where are the sites your website is linked from getting links themselves?
  11. Who is the website addressing (users or search engines)

Even if you have good content you have to get it out there with proper on-site SEO and good social media skills so it’s crucial to have a strategy and sticking to that strategy is your best bet.

How to Improve Current Keyword Placement with Google/Bing

Keywords

The first action to take is obviously find what your keywords are. Let’s assume you already have access to Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to see which keywords bring traffic in (if you don’t have these two tools, I suggest you get on the bandwagon quick). Once you know your keywords you can prioritize them by:

  • Importance
  • Relevance
  • Popularity

You then want to improve some very basic on-site SEO. For example, the primary keyword must be in the title, meta description (for better usability, not rankings), headline, content, bulleted list, etc. It’s your business so your best bet is to optimize every page for a primary keyword supported by a secondary keyword.

Link Building and Content Strategy

The toughest part of increasing rankings is getting others to link to your site. Since we’re creating good content and want to publish them on good websites, we’re looking at investing quite significant time. And writing good content on a consistent basis is also very challenging. What you want to do is have a content strategy on your own website and off your website to increase awareness for you and your brand.

A lot of people ask how many links is enough in a 30 day period. How many articles should I publish on my blog per week? This article talks about creating 5 pieces of content a week (not just blog articles) to see a return on your content efforts in about 20 months. that’s a lot of effort, but you will notice that after that the ROI just keeps on improving and beating other channels.

These questions really depend on you time and budget. Again, we’re assuming that you want to publish good quality content that people would actually read. Here at Pitstop we recommend a blog post a week on your own blog. We would then share that blog across a network of the same industry to capture awareness and build up authority and the brand.

As for links, we get asked this question many times. How many links are enough? Well that really depends on the industry and quality of links available to reach out too. We think that one very good link can worth hundreds of crappy directory links. Sometimes getting that one juicy link might just be worth a 1000 regular links.

Monitoring Links & Seeing Progress in SERP

At Pitstop Media we use several tools to monitor how a client is performing based on the effort we make to increase their rankings for a particular set of keywords. We also use Buzzstream to monitor the accepted links via guest posts. If you don’t have the budget to hire and SEO agency to do this or the software to monitor your progress, your best bet is to simply make an Excel file for:

  1. What keywords you’re targeting
  2. Benchmarking where you’re at each month
  3. List of links acquired from other websites (so that you can check regularly, share and monitor response)

Within a few months you should see an improvement in your rankings. If you don’t see any improvements this might mean that the competition for your keywords is high and you might have to take a more aggressive role in publishing content on your own website plus generating great content for other websites.

Time To Start

We all know how hard it is to start an exercise regimen. We tend to postpone it and say “I’ll start when I have more time”. Well it’s your body and your business when it comes to SEO. The harder you work and the more investment you make into your business, the more return on investment you should see coming back. Don’t postpone increasing your online presence because everyone else sure isn’t.

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About 

Puya has worked for companies all around Canada helping with their inbound marketing and conversion rate optimization.