Google recently announced on Twitter that they would be refreshing their Panda update days beforehand which gave SEO professionals and companies considerable time to prepare for the actual launching. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could NOT be prepared for Google Panda updates by now, since this is the 24th revision or refresh to occur after its initial launching in February 2011.
The majority of users know by now why Panda was created and what role it plays in conjunction with Google search engines. If sites have continued to produce poor quality content and have managed to get away with it up until now, it is highly unlikely that they will continue with their getting-by-on-a-wing-and-a-prayer streak for very much longer with each update that is released in 2014.
In the same vein, if a site has already been penalized for producing low quality content and has worked hard to make the necessary corrections, they will need to
be even more conscientious about creating high quality that stays within Google’s guidelines to perform well in SERPs. The following tips can help companies and SEO professionals carefully strategize how to strengthen their online presence using a dynamic plan of white hat tactics.
Companies and SEO professionals can use Panda updates released in 2013 as a rule of thumb for what to expect in 2014. For example, websites that used black hat techniques to boost their rankings at the top of search engine page results, but provided no valuable content for their visitors were a main target for penalization. Since online presence has become even more competitive than it was only a year ago, it makes sense that micro updates (from Panda and Penguin) would continue to target the quality of a site’s links and content in 2014 as well.
Therefore, savvy marketers need to monitor and perform periodic audits with their link profiles (i.e., look at anchor phrases, monitor the pace of link acquisition over the previous six months or a high percentage of .COM Top Level Domains (TLD) linking) to identify and remove inbound links that have been manipulated. This action alone is crucial to also prevent dozens of unnatural links from being embedded onto sites for content to remain at the same high quality level.
Vigilant content marketing efforts made by businesses is one of the primary things that Google looks for to assess whether or not they want to support them. The best way to produce good content strategy is to consistently provide fresh, relevant and informative content to the targeted audience. They also need to measure social signals to guide future marketing campaigns both on and off social media sites, and include social buttons such as “Like,” “Share” and “Send” to encourage interaction with and sharing of products that can in turn increase authority to their site.
Because guest blogging appears to be one of the most effective means of building traffic, quality inbound links and branding exposure in 2014, any posting should include a caveat be done using high ethical standards when selecting target sites to maximize any SEO efforts. Companies need to make sure that blog campaigns are released in moderation and are on topic (both in content and on the website the blog is posted on), and include a brief explanation of who a guest blogger is and why they were invited. These measures make a guest blog appear more organic instead of looking like a large paid link scheme in the eyes of Google.
Diversification used within content marketing means that companies need to gain exposure using several social networks (at least seven) to stay competitive. Aside from Facebook and Twitter, companies should consider attaching themselves to networks like Instagram, Pinterest and various micro-video services which Google’s updates are likely to increasingly rely on to validate high quality content produced by a site.
In addition to strengthening and investing in an overall social media marketing position, businesses need to establish their presence on Google+. The most recent study of ranking factors confirms that Google+ is plays an extremely significant role in maintaining a solid SEO ranking. Since a component of Google’s algorithm depends on “social signals,” it is a smart move for businesses to establish Google Authorship (which brings the content’s body together) and link it to their Google+ account. The more +1’s a business receives, the higher the ranking their site will have on SERPs that will also serve as the key factor to strengthen their Author Rank.
The SEO preparations needed to make an active content marketing strategy a seamless process largely depends on how a company connects with users. This is particularly essential in view of the dominant trend of many competitors who are regularly advertising their products and services via mobile devices. Another factor that will make the difference in how a content’s quality is determined will specifically come from its length. Ordinarily, length of content is an indication of the depth of expertise and credibility delivered to the reader which are both valued by Google. On average, the desirable length for text-based articles is a minimum 550 words, but has increased from this range to 1000 words or more. However, posting lengthy content on a mobile device needs to be seriously taken into consideration, since most readers will probably not want to continue scrolling down on their smartphone or tablet to read a 1,000 plus word article.
Hummingbird is just a small piece of the graph pie that reflects the rapidly shifting digital environment where at least 33 percent of all Americans own tablets and 50 percent own smartphones which matters immensely to a company’s SEO rankings. A few underlying changes that happened with Hummingbird include the growing importance of both Knowledge Graph (interconnected network of entities and referenced properties, i.e., Facebook) semantic search (used to improve search accuracy by identifying a named entity, i.e., Movie: “Divergent”) that will serve as key components in preparation for the emergence of voice search related with mobile. It is crucial, then, that companies make it a top priority to first invest in and to produce a mobile-optimized website for 2014 to accommodate the vast number of mobile device users and then upgrade their website properties for bigger screens next.
Although Google has made the decision to encrypt the vast majority of its searches, the ability to access keyword data is still available for advertisers using PPC on Google’s platform. As a result, future SEO budgets should include PPC because access to keyword data may otherwise be prohibited.
Google has taken humongous steps to prevent SEO professionals and many others from boosting their online presence using “black hat” and “gray hat” tactics. To prevent a long string of penalties from being put on their site, companies and SEO professionals should strive to only use solid “white hat” tactics and focus on rapidly evolving priority areas to rank high on SERPs in preparation of Google’s newest Panda update!