Google has again made changes to its algorithm in a shakeup that has already hit tens of thousands of websites, demoting them it in its rankings. The latest update comes just over a year since the notorious Panda update, implemented to weed out content farms and spam websites, which Google hoped would improve the search experience for its users. However, many websites have become so adept at SEO (search engine optimization) that while they offer poor or inadequate content, through link building and page design, are able to rank highly, despite Panda.
The latest change, dubbed the “Penguin Update” is intended to address this and penalize those websites that have poor content, but currently appear higher up in the search engine results pages (SERPS) because they have optimized their website.
While the websites and blogs that have found themselves demoted in SERPs will bemoan the new change, with regards to improving search quality, Penguin is a good thing. The update will mean that those websites and blogs that produce good quality content, which is actually worth reading, but have found themselves constantly losing traffic to poorer websites and blogs in the past just because they are good at playing the SEO game, will now rank better. The update also means that many of the search engine optimization (SEO) techniques websites employed as a means of ranking well will no longer be effective. In particular, this will affect websites and blogs that:
- Have excessive links, with little regard to the quality of the pages where those links come from.
- Excessive keywords, especially pages where keywords are stuffed into content without any attention to whether it fits the context or where the quality of the content is poor.
- Excessive and meaningless content that doesn’t offer a reader a quality experience and is aimed at just attracting search engine traffic.
- Deceptive doorway pages, aimed at luring in traffic from search engines but offer little or no quality content.
- Websites that duplicate copy but change keywords to attract different searches and don’t offer a unique and quality experience.
As defined by the bold text, one thing Google is after is quality. This means for content producers, quality content is going to rule.
Poor quality content
For far too long, the internet has been awash with poorly written, low quality content, churned out purely to improve search engine rankings. Of course, there is nothing wrong in trying to improve the search engine rankings of a website or blog. However, in the past, content has been produced purely for that purpose, which has resulted in vast swathes of poor quality content.
With this latest update, Google is trying to reward content that is rich, useful and provides a service to people. If you have been guilty in the past of churning out poor quality, SEO-orientated content, then stop. It is time to start implementing good quality and effective content.
Producing quality content
Creating quality content is not difficult, but it means a change of approach, Instead of producing content that you think will appeal to a search engine, you need to produce content that will appeal to people. The first thing is to stop trying to wedge keywords into content unnecessarily. Of course, keywords have their uses, but they should only ever be placed in content if they fit the context and are included in a natural way. This means not overusing them, and even forgetting about using them altogether. Quite often the context of the content will naturally attract searches, regardless of keyword density. This is because Google is now getting extremely proficient at identifying the subject of articles, even though it may not contain the exact keyword phrase.
For example, suppose a website sells insurance. In the past, it may have worked to produce lots of content with the phrase “buy insurance” stuffed throughout the articles. However, by creating good quality content that is about different aspects of insurance, such as the difference between business insurance and home insurance, how to make claims, the hidden charges like insurance excesses to look out for etc, will automatically, by its context, rank well when somebody enters a “buy insurance” keyword search.
As a consequence, the Penguin update means, no matter what the website, by producing content that is designed to teach, communicate, and address issues that readers will be interested in, will mean your content will also naturally appeal to search engines too.
This post came courtesy of Lucy Faraday, a full-time professional writer and researcher for over five years.