If you’re like a lot of website owners, you may have noticed your rankings, and consequently your website traffic, take a hit over the past few months due to the latest iterations of Google’s Panda search algorithm update. The major updates took place in early and late February, and seem to have had a major impact on the way that many rankings are calculated. Whether you have been pushing the issue with aggressive optimization and link building, or have done things in an entirely safe and natural manner, your site still could be at risk, or already have been hit. It is still a bit too early to draw accurate conclusions, but in my own early testing, as well as that by noted industry experts, there are several major changes to be aware of:
Don’t Ignore Social Media
It is becoming very obvious that Google is putting a lot more weight behind what is known as ‘social proof’, or in practice, how many visitors are Liking your site on Facebook, Tweeting it on Twitter, Digging it on Digg, Pinning to Pinterest, or Plus One-ing to Google’s Plus One social network. For many businesses social media can seem like a waste of time, as it can be very difficult to utilize effectively. Ignoring it used to be an option, but in 2012, if you want to preserve and build on your search traffic, you will need to develop a strategy to make sure your site gets at least some attention on the social networks.
Don’t Over Optimize Exact Match Anchors
This one is a major problem that many site owners have made without even noticing. The latest Google Panda update seems to have put a penalty, or at least a devaluation, on sites where too high of a percentage on their links have the same anchor text, especially if that anchor text is a keyword rather than their brand or domain name. In any link building campaign it is important to diversify, and with Panda 3.3 this is now more important than ever.
The Death of Public Blog Networks
Many people aren’t familiar with public blog networks, but they have historically been a very effective way to rank for some very difficult keywords. Recently, two of the largest networks, ALN and BMR, were crippled by recent Google updates. We at Mozetta never use public blog networks for clients as they tend to be a bit risky. Based on my own personal data, I can confirm that public blog networks are all but dead at this point, and would not advise any SEO or site owner continue to use them.
Associate Your Website with Large, Respectable Websites
Google’s recent updates are putting a lot more focus on ‘neighborhoods’ and ‘association with authority. This is one tip I won’t be delving into in great detail, but I have found recently that if you are able to successfully associate your site with the largest, oldest, biggest brands in your industry, you can find your rankings sky rocket.
Quality Over Quantity
A trend that has been occurring for several years, especially when it comes to links, a few good links will now do far more for your site’s rank than hundreds of low quality ones.