SEO Strategy after Penguin UpdateThe Penguin update sent a strong message that not knowing SEO basics is going to be dangerousin the future. You have to have the basics down or you could be at risk. Penguin is a signal fromGoogle that these updates are going to continue at a rapid pace and they dont care what coloryour hat is, its all about relevance. You need to take a look at every seemingly viable "SEOstrategy" with this lens. What you dont know can hurt you. Its not that what you are doing iswrong or bad, the reality is that the march towards relevance is coming faster than ever before.Google doesnt care what used to work, they are determined to provide relevance and that meansbig changes are the new normal. eHow / Demand Media after the Panda update
All that said doing great SEO is an achievable goal, make sure you are taking these steps.1. Understand your link profileThis is essential knowledge post Penguin. The biggest risk factors are a combination of lots oflow quality links with targeted anchor text. There seems to be some evidence that there is a new
60% threshold for matching anchor text but dont forget about the future, I recommend at most 2rankings focused anchor texts out of 10. The key metrics I look at for this are: Anchor text distribution The link type distribution (for example, article, comment, directory, etc.) Domain Authority and Page Authority distributionsThe goal here is to find out what is currently going on and where you should be going. Compareyour site with the examples below.Tools for this:For anchor text Open Site Explorer gives you an immediate snapshot of whats going on whileMajesticSEO and Excel can be better at digging into some of the really spammy links.
Natural anchor text profileGreat Excel templates for DA/PA analysis Natural Domain Authority profileFor link type analysis I use Link Detective but it seems to be down at the moment (please comeback!).
UNNATURAL link type profile2. Learn what makes a good linkGreat links: Come from respected brands, sites, people and organizations Exist on pages that lots of other sites link to Provide value to the user Are within the content of the page Arent replicated many times over on the linking siteThose are lofty requirements but there is a lot of evidence that these high value links are reallythe main drivers of a domains link authority. At the 1:00 mark Matt Cutts talks about how manylinks are actually ignored by Google:Thats not to say there isnt wiggle room but the direction of the future is quite clear, you have nocontrol over how Google or Bing values your links and theres plenty of evidence that sometimesthey get it wrong. The beauty of getting great links is that they arent just helping you rank, theyare VALUABLE assets for your business SEO value aside. At Distilled this was one of theprimary ways we built our business, its powerful stuff.
3. Map out your crawl pathThis is a simple goal but it can be very difficult for larger sites. If its really complex and hard tofigure out then its going to be hard for Google to crawl. There are few bigger wins in SEO thangetting content that wasnt previously being indexed out there working for you.
Sitemaps unfortunately can only help you so much in terms of getting things indexed.Furthermore, putting the pages that are the most important higher up in the crawl path lets youprioritize which pages get passed the most link authority.4. Know about every page type and noindex the low valueonesI have never consulted on a website that didnt have duplicate or thin content somewhere. Thereal issue here is not that duplicate content always causes problems or a penalty but rather if youdont understand the structure of your website you dont know what *could* be wrong. Certaintyis a powerful thing, knowing that you can confidently invest in your website is very important.
So how do you do it?A great place to start is to use Google to break apart the different sections of your site: 1. Start with a site search in Google 2. Now add on to the search removing one folder or subdomain at a time 3. Compare this number you get to the amount of pages you expect in that section and dig deeper if the number seems highNote: The number of indexed pages that Google features here can be extremely inaccurate; thecore idea is to reveal areas for further investigation. As you go through these searches go deeperinto the results with inflated numbers. Duplicate and thin content will often show up after thefirst 100 results.5. Almost never change your URLsIts extremely common to change URLs, reasons like new design, new content managementsystems, new software, new apps... But this does serious damage and even if you manage itperfectly the 301 redirects cut a small portion of the value of EVERY single link to the page.And no one handles it perfectly. One of my favorite pieces of software Balsamiq has severalthousand links and 500+ linking root domains pointed at 404s and blank pages. Balsamiq is soawesome they rank their head terms anyway but until you are Balsamiq cool you might needthose links.
If you are worried that you have really bad URLs that could be causing problems Dr. Pete hasalready done a comprehensive analysis of when you should consider changing them. And thenyou only do it once.6. Setup SEO monitoringThis is an often overlooked step in the process. As we talked about before if your content isnt upand indexed any SEO work is going to go to waste. Will Critchlow has already done a great joboutlining how to monitor your website: Watch for traffic drops with Google Analytics custom alerts Monitor your uptime with services like Pingdom Monitor what pages you noindex with meta tags or robots.txt (you would be shocked how often this happens)Some more tools to help you keep an eye out for problems: Dave Sottimanos traffic and rankings drop diagnosis tool Google Analytics Debugger The various rank tracking tools SEOmozs Google Analytics hook formats landing pages sending traffic in an easy graph
7. Embrace inbound marketingTo me inbound marketing is just a logical progression from SEO, thinking about your organictraffic in a vacuum really just doesnt make sense. Dedicate yourself to improving your websitefor your users and they will reward you, Balsamiq which I mentioned earlier is a perfect exampleof this. I guarantee you they have done little to no SEO and yet they rank first for their mostimportant keywords and have a Domain Authority of 81. How did they do it? Less features.So what does that really mean? Balsamiq had a rigorous dedication to what their customersreally wanted. Thats really good marketing, smart business and intelligent product design all inone. Remember the future is all about relevance to your users, if you arent actively seeking thisyou will get left behind. There is no excuse anymore there are plenty of proven examples ofmaking seemingly boring page types fascinating and engaging.Want to learn more?If you need more high impact changes to your SEO check out the topic list for SearchLove SanFrancisco, its the first time Distilled is going to be doing a conference on the West Coast.