Articles for Webmasters     Post-Penguin SEO: Has Anything Changed?

By DM Gray

There has been a lot speculation in the SEO world, following Google's last two major search engine algorithm alterations. First off, Panda caused a panic. Then Penguin came along and threatened to give SEO experts a mental breakdown. It's time to put an end to the Chinese Whispers caused by these algorithm modifications and instigate some kind of rumour control. Honestly, website optimisation (both on and off page) remains the same. Regardless of what the scaremongers tell you. Let's discuss five factors - which were important before the Panda and Penguin changes - and see if things are as different as many people believe.

Has Google Really Changed Anything?

  • Website Domain Names

    A lot of website owners have always believed achieving a top search engine rank means possessing a domain name which matches important keywords. Google has never confirmed this. It's certainly not a bad thing for the two to match or for keywords to be included within a domain name. But it's not a vital factor.

    There are plenty of big websites ranking very well for keywords that have nothing to do with the domain name. The Panda and Penguin algorithms paid no attention to the domain name/keyword factor. As far as Google's concerned, it's always been a case of what you offer not what you're called.

  • Age and Authority

    Google still likes authoritative sites, especially those that have been around a while. Age isn't everything, mind you. There are plenty of old domains which exist but show no sign of activity. You won't see these in search engine results. Search engine position is still all about quality and trust.

    If you're starting a new site, the best thing you can do is concentrate on providing quality content and encouraging relevant links. Both will help to establish authority. With the right attitude, even a young domain can climb search results in a reasonably short period of time.

  • Titles for People, Not Robots

    One good thing the algorithm changes have brought about is a better awareness of page titles. Prior to the algorithm changes, SEO experts have been instructing website owners to cram keywords into page and post titles at every opportunity. This resulted in grammatically incorrect, textually cumbersome titles.

    Always write titles designed for human eyes and not search engines robots. Consider what will attract targeted traffic and encourage visitors to read the content below the titles. Keywords appear in titles naturally, once you concentrate on creating titles for readers.

  • Regular Content Updates

    Websites that don't bother to promote topically relevant, regularly updated content rarely survive at the top of search engine results. There are exceptions to this rule. However, these static content websites normally receive traffic due to stature, not content. This would be an example where age and authority overrules search engine normality.

    The Panda and Penguin search engine algorithms were instrumental to Google's bigger plan to encourage and reward frequently updated quality content. The surest method for pleasing Google is to create a regular schedule for posting new content and sticking to it. You're not required to post every day (however, at least once a week is advisable). Remember, there's no substitute for providing readers with entertaining content.

  • Social Relevance

    This final section highlights the direction Google continues to travel towards (given the recent algorithm changes). Google was already beginning to promote social relevance prior to the changes. The Big G continues to make it quite clear it still favours websites who possess a positive social footprint.

    How do you improve your social relevance? Start by encouraging reader participation. Provide engaging content which inspires readers to leave comments. Something as simple as a poll, Q&A forum, or competitions asking readers to provide captions for pictures, can score you big points on the social relevance scale.

    Let readers provide unique content for you via comments and participation. Increasing your website's social relevance brings in more traffic, reduces bounce rates, and keeps your website in Google's good grace.

The Penguin and Panda algorithm implementations never had a massive effect on SEO. There really was no need to panic. All Google did was to point website owners down the road they should have been heading. This road leads to interactive content, social relevance, and websites designed for human visitors…not search engine robots.

See also: Googles PageRank


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