Penguin is the latest algorithm update from Google designed to eradicate spammy websites from appearing in the search results. Essentially another step forward from 2011’s Panda, Penguin’s main targets are out-of-date content and backlinks from bad neighbourhoods.
In the past, a website could get good rankings from using ‘black hat’ SEO techniques, such as spammy content, keyword stuffing and buying poor quality links from questionable sources. This resulted in a bad experience for Google users, who often found that sites using unreasonable SEO techniques were filling up the search engine results pages with nothing but spam.
Since these early days subsequent algorithm updates such asFloridaand Panda have attempted to root out these bad practices. The changes in Penguin aim to penalise any remaining offenders that are still lurking in web space.
In my previous blog post; ‘Why does Google update its algorithm?’ I discussed how Google updates are ‘for the greater good’ when it comes to improving the quality of search engine results. Penguin isn’t anything to fear as long as you are prepared to make any necessary changes.
No update is perfect and like its predecessor Panda, Penguin has had its fair share of criticism over the last few weeks. The teething problems have included complaints from legitimate companies that had been removed from search rankings. However, these issues have already been addressed by Google and the majority of eSterling clients have had no major problems with Penguin.
So what can you do to avoid your search engine results dropping as a result of Penguin?
- Update your content. Re-write old or keyword-stuffed content on as many pages as possible. You can read some guidelines for this here.
- Get a blog. This really is the easiest method to add fresh content to your site on a regular basis and is also a great way for your visitors to find out more about you.
- Source links from reputable websites. Build your own links by submitting to online directories, or signing up for quality online advertising. Link building services from eSterling have shown no adverse reaction from Penguin as we source only quality links.
- Remove anything that could be regarded as spammy – invisible text or keywords stuffing has been a huge no-no for a while now.
These points will come as no surprise to regular readers of the eSterling blog. A successful website is about providing fresh, relevant content to the user and adhering to Google’s guidelines on links. As long as you focus your attention on this, you will survive the Penguin update and many more to come. Who knows, you may even benefit from the next update…
‘It’s not fair!’ is a familiar phrase that many people utter when Google dares to update its algorithm. Their website had been ranking well and has now suddenly disappeared after the unleashing of the Google update. But is it really so unfair?
Chances are, if a website is penalised it’s for a good reason. The latest cutely named Google update is Penguin and it has been designed to root out bad SEO practices such as spammy content and poor quality links. In punishing one set of sites that have gotten seriously out-of-date or have flouted Google guidelines, Penguin rewards another set of sites that have been providing a good experience to the user and sticking to the rules.
The only reason Google updates their algorithm is to bring benefit to the billions of people that search every day. Remember the days when searches brought you irrelevant websites that used ‘black-hat’ SEO techniques such as invisible text and keyword stuffing? This has largely gone away as search has got better – and that’s thanks to Google continuously updating its algorithms to root out bad practice. So has Penguin achieved this? In the words of Google’s Matt Cutts; “It’s been a success from our standpoint”.
The Penguin update is just another step along the road to more accurate, relevant search results. There will be many more updates along the way, so how do you avoid getting penalised? The answer is simple. Ask yourself ‘Does my site provide fresh, relevant content to the user and stick to the rules?’ If you can answer positively, I’m sure you will survive a good few updates to come…
For more details on the Penguin algorithm update, see ‘How does Google Penguin affect my website?‘
Optimising the images on your website helps the tiny robots crawling your site to understand what an image is about, as obviously they are unable to ‘see’ it. Properly labelling your images can help to improve your rankings as the pictures can be indexed and added to Google Images, which can bring more traffic to your site.
One of our most successful SEO clients gets a lot of traffic through Google Images because they have successfully labelled each image on their site and these regularly appear in searches. Optimising images is especially effective for websites selling visual products or services, for example furniture stores (our client mentioned above), clothes stores or photography or art websites.
Using proper alternative text tags on your images will also make your site user friendly. If your image doesn’t appear for whatever reason (for example if a user is using an unsupported browser), the alternative text for the image will also show visitors to your site what the picture is about. In short, optimising your images is best practice for improving your rankings and making your site more user friendly.
It’s relatively easy to optimise your images for SEO purposes and therefore there’s no excuse not to do it! Here are some top tips for getting those photos in order…
- Save your images in the correct format. Most browsers support JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP image formats.
- Never save images as numbers e.g ‘Image_001.jpg’.
- On your product pages, save your pictures as the product name or description – e.g ‘Beaded-Green-Maxi-Dress.jpg’. Think about what a user would type into Google to find your product and use that phrase.
- If your website is service based, save your pictures as your keywords. For example, if you’ve got a picture of your equipment on your homepage, don’t save the file as ‘Our-CNC-milling-machine.jpg’ – call it ‘CNC-milling-Birmingham’.
- Use ‘alt’ tags (alternative text tags) where possible. If you have a CMS for your website, you may be able to do this yourself. Simply use the same keyword/description as the filename for your alternative text.
- If you’re unsure where to begin with re-naming your images, start with your homepage. Choose the first picture at the top of your site – which will normally be your logo and rename this as your top keyword as this is the first image the Google robots will find.
Many people forget about images when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Don’t be one of them – get the edge over your competition and start optimising your pictures! You could find that it really helps your rankings and brings more traffic to your site.
eSterling have a full-time vacancy for an SEO Administrator to support the provision of service to our large customer base. Based in Digbeth, the company is well-established within the Web Design and Development industry and looking for the right person to join our team.
We are looking for a friendly and motivated person who wants to carve out a career in this fast-paced industry. The right candidate will be ready and willing to learn, with a good aptitude for administration and customer service and will be punctual and smart in appearance.
We welcome applications from those with or without relevant experience, but do require a good standard of written and spoken English and a basic knowledge of HTML.
The role will include:
- Basic HTML work
- Onsite and offsite search engine optimisation
- Customer service and support
- General and technical administration
- Email support
Candidates will attend an initial interview and will be required to undertake a basic HTML test. Second interviews may be required.
Monday to Friday, 37.5 hours per week and flexible working hours.
Salary range: £12,000-£15,000.
To be considered for this role please email your CV to: email@example.com.
Sorry to sound bossy, but if the content hasn’t been updated on your website for a while, make sure you do it now!
The reason for my urgency is the latest update from Google. This mini amendment to the search engine’s algorithm is rooting out out-of date or spammy content. This means that if you haven’t updated the content on your website for a long time, you may see your keyword rankings drop, or even disappear altogether.
Before you panic at this news, it’s important to remember that Google (usually) makes updates that benefit the user – i.e your customers. No customer wants to read outdated content on your site, so why should Google rate your site if your copy is old?
The most successful websites add fresh content regularly, so you should therefore get into the habit of updating your content often. The easiest way to do this is to start a blog and write posts regularly. This doesn’t have to be a huge job – just a couple of paragraphs weekly would be a good place to start. You can talk about anything you like – industry opinions, company news, new orders, business trips etc – just make sure it’s relevant and well written.
As part of your content overhaul you should also re-write the text on your homepage and about page (plus any other pages that have text present). I have lost count of the number of websites I have seen that display the names of long-gone members of staff, old addresses; or information about an event that happened years ago! Make sure you amend these details as soon as they happen to keep your website fresh and relevant for your customers – and Google will be happy too.
Last month, I shared my thoughts about paying for search engine results with you. We established that the answer to the question ‘Is everyone paying for search engine rankings?’ was yes, yes and thrice YES.
So how on earth is Google currently using its great algorithmic capability to work out search engine results?
I am not going to list every factor for three reasons:
1) I want to concentrate on a big factor here, rather than fill 135 pages and bore you readers rigid!
2) I probably would run out of breath (and brain power!!) to list them all.
3) I don’t every single factor of the algorithm and it’s weighting – nobody does, not even the team at Google!
One thing is for sure, I don’t always agree with the way that the Google algorithm works when it comes to one particular element – links. Google’s official guidelines mention that links should not be bought, or sourced from spammy sites.
However, in practice the opposite often applies…
- The website with the greatest number of links is ranked highest – IMO this is WRONG
- The links do not have to be from a relevant site – IMO this is EVEN MORE WRONG!
This shows that links can be bought easily and utilized to help rankings, despite Google saying that they should not be bought. So does Google have any real way of finding out? – I DON’T THINK SO
I can’t stress the importance of using correct spelling and grammar on your website enough. Poor spelling creates a bad first impression that can leave a lasting effect when customers choose to shop with your competitors rather than you.
It may surprise you that poor spelling can also harm your SEO efforts. If you repeatedly spell one of your keywords incorrectly, it could have a negative impact on your search engine results because Google won’t be able to find that keyword in the text. If your text is littered with errors it could also lead Google to the conclusion that your site doesn’t have anything useful to say!
It really does pay to get little details right on your website as it creates a good first impression and pleases the search engines. Take some time today to read through your website text and make any corrections that are needed.
Follow these top tips for getting your content right every time:
- Write your content in Word and copy and paste this into your CMS – this will help you to spot spelling and grammar mistakes.
- Read what you have written out loud – it’s the best way to check how your content ‘reads’.
- If in doubt, print your content out. This way you can edit it with your red pen, or give it to a friend or colleague to read.
- Beware of American spelling. Americanisms can lead your customers to the conclusion that you are based in theUSA, which could put them off buying from your site. American spellings can also be confusing toUKsearch engines.
Short answer? – YES!!
Whether through Adwords/PPC or organic? – YES!!
Whether ‘off-site or on-Site’? – YES!!
Whether through blogs or satellite sites? – YES!!
Instances of your website reaching the dizzy heights of page one rankings in Google naturally are becoming rarer and rarer. If you don’t pay, you don’t get – this has to be the realistic mantra for achieving great rankings.
Over coming weeks, I will explain the reasons behind this. You may even be shocked by some of the revelations revealed in these articles about the lengths some people will go to get the rankings they want.
Come back to the blog to learn some very harsh realizations of the real world of Google rankings, on which we have all begun to rely.
You don’t always need to get your web development company involved to make a difference to the conversion rates of your website. Here’s a small list of things you can do right now to improve your business.
Advertise your best stuff “above the fold”
Make sure you are displaying your very best products on the front page and category listing pages. First impressions count and as they say “Above the fold if you want it sold”. Eye level is buy level!
State any order limitations early in the process
If you don’t ship overseas make sure the customer knows. Extra shipping to the Outer Hebrides? Let the customer know.
Inform the users about delivery times
Make sure you are giving potential customers a clear estimate of how long the expected delivery times will be. No one likes to wait.
Free shipping = lots of sales
Time after time surveys have shown that the number one barrier to sales is the cost of shipping. Give your customers free shipping and remove that barrier.
Use good quality product images
Customers want to see what they are buying. Provide clear good quality images of your products. Small pixelated images will prevent that sale.
A simple trick is to pick out items and make them “Limited Editions”. The less of something there is the more valuable it becomes to people.
Offer a price guarantee
Customers on the web like to shop around for the best deal. Keep them on your site by offering a price match guarantee.
While these ideas will get you started, remember that the best way to improve the performance of your site is to design and build for Conversions from the start. Call eSterling today for details on how to improve the effectiveness of your business.