In the year 2012, Google unveiled the Penguin Algorithm that was designed to target manipulative SEO practices. This meant that marketers who tried to mislead the search engine algorithms would be detected early and penalized by Google. That was in line with the general principle that web content should serve the reader rather than be used to manipulate web traffic…
Gone are the days when you could just buy content links or exchange them with a view to increase traffic to your site. Now Google has a way of detecting those unnatural link building practices and will not hesitate to penalize the defaulters.
Therefore, the objective should be on natural and relevant links that can be sourced from willing content partners. A quid pro quo exchange is not likely in most instances, however, a more practical link exchange should be encouraged.
Many marketers in yore would literally stuff the content with most commonly searched words, sometimes to the extent of making them unrelevant. Keyword density was the mantra and marketers were focused on specific keywords and phrases within the pages. The Hummingbird update fixed that issue. Its new software is capable of looking at the meaning and context behind the content rather than only the keywords, thereby enabling much better optimization of search results.
Google has enough computing power to analyze billions of pages and therefore can very well figure out which pages stand out over the rest. The language, lingo, style, depth etc all matter for the search engines now.
Anchor Text Optimization
Ever since links became part of search engine optimization, anchor text has been used as a mark of relevance of the pages being linked into. If you are pointing someone toward health supplements, for example, then the anchor text should contain the link “health supplement” as well as the page that it leads to. It is important for search engine to know what the link is all about and therefore help the reader navigate freely.
However, since many marketers would be using the very same back links, it won’t be possible for everyone to have a similar anchor text. That’s why, Google will pick out the most relevant of the lot and prioritize it. So it becomes necessary to keep the text as original as possible with only “essential” links rather than forced ones.
Earlier, since the focus was on saturating the content with keywords and phrases, not much attention was paid to enriching what was being written. Now, since too many websites are pushing out content for the sole purpose of ranking, this method is no longer effective.
Also, visitors were unhappy with the search results since the content was not to their liking. With the Penguin upgrade though, Google has surmounted this problem by trashing those sites that were only for ads or ranking and picking up sites producing high-caliber content.
Due to these abrupt changes, many people have seen their fortunes change and some of them even have gone out of business!
The Way Forward
Take time to make sure that your web content is valuable. Good content improves your reputation while junk content hurts you. Better content is more likely to get noticed, linked and thereby will produce more business traffic rather than manipulative content.
Always keep in mind that you shouldn’t chase the algorithms, rather the algorithms should be following you…