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What are the key things businesses should consider in the post Panda/Penguin/EMD update world?

by Mark Pitt | 12.11.2012
Google algorithm updates in the last couple of years have had a considerable impact on how businesses should conduct their digital marketing campaigns. Updates such as Google Panda, Penguin, and the Exact Match Domain (EMD) update are Google’s latest attempts to prevent low-quality websites from ranking highly in their search results.

“Negative SEO” tactics like unnatural link-building, keyword stuffing and content-scraping are under Google’s radar.

To be successful with SEO, businesses need to ensure that they have high quality content on their website, and have a healthy external link profile. Here are some of the most important things that businesses need to consider in the light of these recent updates:

• Is their Website SEO Friendly?

If they have not done so already, businesses should conduct or outsource a technical SEO audit of their website. In the post-Google Panda/Penguin era, the technical quality of a website is more important than ever.

Many webmasters have big problems with their websites that they are unaware of until their site has been audited. For example, some websites have hundreds or thousands of duplicated pages due to archived content or their URL structure. Issues like this could remain undiscovered for a long time if no audit is carried out.


• Do They Have a Healthy Link Profile?

Google is on the lookout for signs of manipulation when it comes to a website’s link-profile. So, if a site receives 80% of its links from blog comments using the same anchor text, a red flag will be raised.

More care than ever needs to be taken to ensure that an external link profile looks natural, with links coming from a variety of sources with varied anchor texts.

Some businesses who have used poor link-building tactics in the past now find themselves going through a time-consuming link-removal process to restore the health of their link profile.


• Are They Building High Quality Links?

Quality over quantity is the name of the game in modern link-building. It is essential to know the difference between a high and low-quality link. Google’s Head of Web Spam Matt Cutts has admitted that Google simply ignores many links they consider to be low quality.

Businesses need to focus on acquiring links from respected brands, sites and organisations who themselves are linked to by many other websites. The quality of an external link is affected by several factors, including:

– Domain age

– Page rank

– Quality/quantity of incoming links to the linking website/page

– Number of outgoing links on the page

– Location of the link on the page

Effective link-builders will take these metrics into account to maximise the success of their campaigns.


• Is their Content Link-Worthy?

Effective SEO campaigns focus not only on link-building, but also link-attracting. The most important focus when creating content should be on producing something that people would be willing to share.

Useful, original, engaging or funny content has the potential to go viral, and this can attract hundreds or thousands of links and shares with no additional effort.

Ideas for link-worthy content can include tutorials, info-graphics, charts & graphs, case studies, funny images, videos, games, quizzes etc. There are many possibilities.


• Are They Active on Social Media?

Social media is undoubtedly becoming more important from an SEO standpoint, with search engines now incorporating social signals (e.g. tweets, likes, shares) into their algorithms.

Social media also provides an unmissable opportunity to build relationships and promote content. Any business that is serious about SEO will be sure to have social media “share” buttons on their website, and will update their social media profiles regularly.

Google’s vision of eliminating spam and low-quality content shows no signs of halting. Businesses must consider the factors above and practice white-hat SEO to enhance and safeguard their online performance in 2013 and beyond.