Last week I covered how the Penguin update will affect SEO copywriting but the update affects more than just copywriters. This week I’ve invited Chris Bates from Octoply to go through the broader implications of Google’s algorithm change.
Chris, can you give us a brief overview of the new No-Nos in Penguin?
The SEO community is discovering more and more No-Nos every day! Every time a new theory about the Google ranking algorithm is formed, something happens to disprove it, leaving us all back at square one. The reality is that even some of those sites that avoided the No-Nos have been hit as well.
Nonetheless, the official list of post-Penguin No-Nos:
- Don’t over-optimise your website copy, and avoid keyword stuffing and (as Belinda said in her last blog post) excessively highlighting (just) keywords.
- Avoid low-quality and low-relevance links. Google particularly mentioned links that are contained in content with no relevance (i.e., spammy or highly spun content).
- Don’t use just one “money keyword” as the anchor text of your incoming links. (It’s been found that sites that had >60% of link as just one keyword were penalised.)
- Similarly, don’t use that money keyword with internal linking; e.g., change your menu from “where to buy blue widgets” to “where to buy”.
To be honest, it’s the same stuff that Google has said from day one. All that has changed is that (it appears) they are now slapping you on the wrist if you DON’T adhere to their golden list of No-Nos. This, however, opens the door to Negative SEO.
Can you explain what negative SEO is and how Penguin changes how negative SEO affects websites?
Up until recently Negative SEO was a form of reputation management; you couldn’t de-rank a website, but you could push it down by ranking with more favourable content. However, now that Google has implemented a penalty for certain factors, they have (intentionally or unintentionally) opened the door to Negative SEO where it IS possible to de-rank a website.
By purposely building a lot of low-quality and spammy links to a competitor’s website, you can trigger Google’s “iron-fist” reflex and your competitor’s website will start to drop in rank. What’s that saying? If you can’t beat them, sneak up and cut their legs off.
Is this something that every website owner should be worried about?
No, I don’t think so. I think we’ll see it in play in the more competitive niches, but not at the general level.
In addition, even in the SEO black hatters’ world, the topic of Negative SEO has been made taboo. Apparently, despite their willingness to cheat and manipulate Google, they have a conscience when it comes to other businesses/websites who’ve worked hard to get where they are!
Bottom line, I think you would be struggling to find an SEOer who would be willing to engage in Negative SEO for business reasons. There’s an ethical grey area here: Is it wrong to sabotage another business’s marketing, or is it right to employ your full arsenal for the benefit of your clients?
I think (for now) it’s a clear-cut NO! Don’t do it. But I also think that will change if Google doesn’t take steps to reverse the open door that is Negative SEO.
How can people check if their website has been affected?
Keep an eye on your rankings; either use software or just check them yourself. (Remember to de-personalise your search – Chrome’s ‘Incognito Mode’ is best for that.)
If your website drops more than a spot or two and doesn’t bounce back, then you can probably start to worry. From there your only real chance of recovery is a plea to Google via their reconsideration request.
Do you have any tips for business owners who have (or want) SEO as part of their long-term marketing strategy?
Why, come see me of course!
It’s vital to diversify your SEO efforts now. You can’t target just one money keyword and go gung ho at it. However, this makes it a lot harder to target and rank on the main competitive terms in your industry. Yes, yes, that does make SEO a lengthier and costlier process!
If you’re not already, get on the social media bandwagon; it’s suspected that social signals are playing a bigger role now than ever before.
Lastly, should you decide to engage an SEO consultant – choose carefully!
Chris Bates is an online marketing consultant who loves your business as much as you do. Through years of research, testing and experience, Chris has developed a wealth of knowledge and loves to help your business get more business, online. You just need to decide to get more business online, and then leave the rest to him. Find out more at octoply.com.au