The past few years have seen wave after wave of Google algorithm updates; targeting aspects from dodgy link building, to low quality content. From start-ups to big brands, many have been hit and the cleanup has been messy; seeing SEOs removing links they previously built themselves.
The key to successful site optimisation now predominantly focuses on user experience. Below is a rundown of Google's biggest algorithm updates and what you can do to keep off of their 'black list'.
Avoid Google algorithm updates: Panda
Panda first hit in 2011, and has run several times since. The purpose is to unearth low-quality, 'shallow', content and stop it surfacing in search results.
SEOs have analysed sites that were hit to determine what constitutes 'shallow' content. The following were considered key issues:
- Poorly written content.
- Short content.
- Duplicate content.
If your website is riddled with the above, you could find your whole site penalised, so it's worth working to fix this.
How to avoid a Google Panda penalty
The best way to avoid a Panda penalty is to create unique, useful content. Duplicate content is a big no, so avoid lifting paragraphs of copy directly from the web.
Don't keyword stuff throughout your content; ensure phrases are only mentioned where appropriate and necessary. It's acceptable to use keywords multiple times on a page, as long as the sentence is coherent and not clunky.
Pages with little content are often penalised too, as they're deemed unhelpful, so copy should follow a clear structure - with headings - and answer users' questions.
Avoid Google algorithm updates: Penguin
Penguin first ran in 2012 and affected over 3 percent of queries.
Its focus is on your backlink profile, in particular:
- Link quality: A mix of high and low quality links looks most natural.
- Link velocity: Gaining a lot of links at once, rather than progressively over time, looks suspicious.
- Link diversity: Legitimate sites have backlinks from various sources, including contextual, forums, comments and blogs.
Although not a site-wide penalty, if your most visited pages are hit, you could see traffic dropping massively.
It's also tough to recover from; not only do you need to fix the issue (which can be hard to locate), you must wait for the next update to tell if the fix was successful.
How to avoid a Google Penguin penalty
Put simply, earn natural links.
Avoid buying links. You'll only be penalised and there's a good chance the same site will bill you later for the link's removal. Link farming (the gathering of 'easy' links from low quality sites) isn't acceptable either. If you think you have links like this, it's best to remove them before another Google algorithm update.
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