Google have in the last quarter of 2016 tightened it’s ranking criteria and for 2017 this means that you have to be even more compliant and more organic in your approach to SEO if you are going to have even the slightest chance of ranking your website.
The last round of Google changes completed in Oct ’16 we all about monitoring websites back link profile and penalising those websites deemed to be trying to game the system in order to fraudulently manipulate their page rank. Sure, there have been these types of filters implemented by Google in the past, let’s think Penguin and Panda updates, but the latest update is more harsh in it’s approach to ‘black hat’ back links.
What happened in the past was that websites could get away with spammy back links and in many cases this would help their rankings until Google indexed the site and devalued these links or penalised your site for this type of behaviour. Sites could actually stay on page 1 for many months until Google carried out these penalties. The latest Penguin update has turned this on it’s head by penalising sites immediately for inorganic link activity. So if your engaging in any suspicious activity with any kind of SEO, expect to see your rankings slide immediately. It’s not a matter of months now, it’s going to get you within days as soon as your in bound links have been indexed.
So what does this mean for your website and internet marketing?
Many businesses over the last decade have engaged SEO agencies purely based on price and false hopes and promises of unrealistic rankings. It still happens today ad is rampant in the Australian SEO world. You see all these agencies advertising their services for next to nothing and lying about being able to rank them in less than 90 days.
What happened was that businesses fell for these con artists and they were able to see some type of positive results over the short term as they built dodgy back links. These SEO agencies were able to get away with it for 3-6 months collecting their monthly fees and claiming good results until Google enforced their version of Penguin 3.0 – which in turn pernalised the sites. What happened is that theses businesses were seeing relatively ok results for a while but these were only an illusion. These results were the result of really bad back linking and gave websites a small ‘sugar high hit’ that were totally unsustainable.
PENGUIN 4.0 has completely stopped these SEO agencies ability to give these small peaks in the rankings by indexing links in real time and ranking them accordingly. If they appear bad (in most cases if the SEO agency is dodgy, the links will be also), then the web page these links are pointing to will be punished. So this means that there are absolutely NO SUGAR HITS or quick wins unless, and I want to make this point absolutely clear, unless the links and the SEO strategy is 100% compliant and ethical.
If Google even slightly smells or sees and type of dodgy back link behaviour you will know about it straight away.
For companies like ours this is great news and we have been waiting for this algorithmic update to happen. we have been so fed up with all those SEO scams going around and so exhausted with having to rescue websites from Google penalties, that this update comes as a real relief and we do really welcome it. These so called SEO agencies that have been ripping people off all these years are going to find it really hard to justify their monthly SEO fee when the rankings are simply not moving. Sure, they can con businesses for a couple of months but savvy owners will soon cotton on to the fact they are with a company that has absolutely no idea what they are doing or even worse unaware of the latest Penguin 4.0 update.
So what does a compliant back link profile look like in a post Penguin 4.0 era?
As usual it is all about having relevant links that have been obtained organically and it’s also about having a really diverse link profile. Over optimising a set of keywords in the hope of ranking is now out the window. This now means that business owners need to be a lot more patient and aware that ranking for your core keywords can take longer as Google now has a keen eye looking out for a SEO agencies pushing core keywords too hard. Do for example if your a furniture removalist company and want to rank for the keywords ‘ furniture removals’, you can no longer push that main keyword too hard. Google will immediately see a spike in this link activity and devalue the page that these links are pointing to. What needs to happen is that you have to look at a more ‘long tail’ keyword approach and go for a much more diverse spread of words such as ‘ office furniture removals sydney’ or ‘ residential removals company manly’. As you can see it’s now how you structure the keywords and where you link them from and which page on your website it points to.
The worst thing you can now do is pressure your chosen SEO agency to push your main core keywords too hard. We know that you want to rank for these but Google is far too aware of suspicious and constant linking and will dish out their punishment quickly. So the trick now is to be patient, rank for a whole set of keywords, that still bring in lots of website visitors and traffic and be prepared to stick to your SEO campaign for the long haul. This is the only way you are ever going to succeed online.
Penguin 4.0 means that you have to switch your mind set regarding SEO from the number of keywords on page 1 to the number of site visitors you are getting. The best approach you can take it to watch your traffic grow over time on all your keywords, not just 1 set of words.
Another point to note with Penguin 4.0 is that local search will become a priority. So if your based in central Sydney CBD it will be a lot tougher to rank you in other areas like Homebush unless your have an official office address there. This means that the ethical approach to SEO will be to look at targeting local areas through proper citations. Unfortunately, there is no way around this and if you think you can beat Google and rank in all areas and all suburbs, think again! You simply won’t be able to unless you are truly a national brand.
So if your a plumber in Bondi and want to dominate local search in Balmain, this will not happen! I know that folks reading this are going to say:’ how are we going to build our business, if we can’t be all over Sydney?’ Well the answer id simple, when it comes to Google in 2017 you have to focus on your local area.
There maybe websites that are defying this and seem to be popping up everywhere when you do a search, but believe me when I tell you that this will not last. They may hang around for the short to medium term but in Penguin 2017 this will end.
The huge take away from Penguin 4.0 is that you need to be so much more compliant and stay well away from any form of inappropriate link activity. A good idea now would be to look at you current back link profile and start pruning all those bad back links.
If you are confused by all this jargon and need a clearer or more detailed explanation about what this all means, OR you feel that you are currently with a dubious SEO supplier and are going to get penalised I seriously urge you to call us on 02 9360 8514. I am more than happy to explain the SEO landscape in 2017 to you in much more detail.