SEO content strategies for Google’s Penguin update

Welcome back! In today’s SEO copywriting video how-to, Heather addresses the latest topic that has the industry abuzz: Google’s Penguin update. Specifically, she discusses SEO content strategies for dealing with the Penguin.

While Google’s Penguin update is targeted towards outright webspam (and suspect linking profiles), like it’s cute animal predecessor the Panda, it still has many site owners frozen in their tracks.

Take a deep breath and join Heather as she explains why you’ve nothing to fear from the big bad Penguin, and how you can move forward with specific SEO content strategies…

Yes, Google is at it again!

Here we had just recovered from Google’s Panda – another black-and-white animal – and now we are faced with its Penguin update:

  • The Penguin update targeted “web spam”.
  • Impacted about 3-percent of Web queries – especially those with “unnatural” links.
  • Site owners are scared. Again.

About those “unnatural” links: in Google’s eyes, unnatural links might have been those that a company purchased, or those resulting from a link exchange where the company may have been getting a large number of incoming links that were not targeted to its market.

Regardless, the net result of the Penguin update is that site owners are scared, yet again. They are afraid that whatever they do is going to be “wrong,” that Google’s not going to like it, and that they’ll be popped by yet another animal in algorithmic update form in the future.

So here Heather gets into what the industry is saying about how to deal with the Penguin update, and how to move forward without fear.

Here’s what the industry is saying…

Pulling quotes from three different industry sources, Heather notes (and you can see) that the quotes are very similar in that they all discuss content:

“Blog more and blog regularly:  Writing content that is useful for end users will not just increase your reader base but force search engines to crawl, index, and rank your site. After all, engines need good content just as badly (to be relevant to their searchers) as you need their “free” traffic.”

Bob Tripathi, founder and chief marketer at Instant E-Training, as reported in Search Engine Watch.

  • This first quote makes the direct correlation between “[w]riting content that is useful for end users” and your site rankings.

“The thing about great content is that it will generate links. But more importantly, great content will add more value to your site’s visitors. Just be sure to promote your new content. Encourage your visitors and customers to share your content and products.”

- Kerry Dean, Search Engine Land

  • “…add more value to your site’s visitors.” : That’s an important point. It’s not just adding content for the SEO benefit of it – that has never been the point of adding content – it’s about adding value to your readers. And yes, people will link to it because it’s an exceptionally good article or blog post.

“Always remember that content is (and will always be) king. That is the rule of thumb in white hat SEO. Do you think websites like SEOmoz and Search Engine Journal need to do any link building in order to rank high in search engines? Probably not, they simply focus on delivering high quality content that people constantly link to from their websites and from their social profiles.”

- Amine Rahal, YOUmoz/SEOmoz

So there is your Penguin, right there in these three quotes: now, you have an opportunity to evaluate your site, asking yourself, “All right, how good is my content?” and “Is this something that is good for readers?”

And this is a great opportunity for all sites – occasionally it’s wise for all of us to go back into our site, look at our content, and see what we can do to make our site even better for the visitors who are coming to us!

So what does this mean?

What we know is that: 

  • Well-written content is still a safe SEO (and social) bet.

The operative words here are “well written”: this isn’t content driven by a magical keyword density formula or content that’s been written just for search engine purposes or to attract links. This is content that we know is good for our readers.

So what you can do is:

  • Review your site, look for content opportunities, and remove any content mullets.

An example of content opportunities is the humble yet powerful FAQ page.  If you are receiving a lot of customer questions about a product or service that you offer, and you don’t have a FAQ page on your site that answers these questions, then that could be an amazing content opportunity! Develop that FAQ page, and maybe create some blog posts that discuss the FAQ answers in more detail.

As for content mullets – they’ve been addressed here before. You definitely want to remove, change or tweak any kind of out-dated content – you know, that old content that makes it look like your site hasn’t been touched in the last couple of years!

  • Ask how you can make your content even better.

Again, this is a great opportunity to go back and look through your site, paying attention to elements like your benefit statements: are they still valid?

How about your site’s tone and feel – how your copy “sounds” to the reader: is there anything that you could tweak to help increase your conversion rate? Or the amount of time folks are spending on your site?

And the final tip is to let your editorial calendar work for you:

  • Use your editorial calendar to track content changes/creation.

As with the content mullet, editorial calendars have been discussed here before.  And although it may sound like a complicated process, it’s really as simple as looking at what you want to accomplish and then setting it up on a calendar.

Simply write in what you want to have accomplished on your calendar, so you can keep track of your content and understand where those milestones and deadlines are. Then it’s a matter of creating the content and making it happen!

A few closing thoughts

So don’t fear the Penguin – use it as an opportunity to do all we’ve discussed above.

And while it’s understandable why site owners may be a little spooked by yet another Google update, remember that throughout all of the updates visited upon the SEO content industry, well-written content has proven itself to be a very, very safe bet.

Well-written content is good for Google, but more importantly it’s good for your site and for your readers…and don’t forget: well-written content will help your site make more money!

Thanks for joining us for this week’s SEO Copywriting how-to! If you have any questions or topic ideas for Heather, let her know: you are encouraged to email her [at] heather@seocopywriting.com or tweet her @heatherlloyd. See you next Monday!

Would you like to know more about writing for Google?  Simply visit the SEO Copywriting Buzz page, and sign up to receive either the daily or weekly newsletter (or both), and receive Heather’s “How to write for Google” whitepaper, free!

photo thanks to *christopher* (Christopher Michel)