By Andreea Cojocariu
Google released a new Panda update this week. Its quest to make search as user friendly and relevant as possible is pushing forward. This update only affects about 1.6 percent of search. However, it reminds us that Google is determined to make the lives of everyday Internet users as easy as possible. This has quite an impact on SEO.
The idea is to have a website that is geared toward your target audience. That’s pretty obvious. However, SEOs understand that you can make your website user friendly, but also search engine friendly. Certain aspects of a website’s design aren’t always search engine friendly (i.e., use of too many images, Flash). The problem now is that it’s become easy to play the “SEO game.” If you do x, y, z, you’ll rank number one in searches. Google is saying no to that. And it’s up to online marketers, specifically SEOs, to keep up with Google and change accordingly.
The basic premise: Keep it natural. Give your target market what they want. And what they want is quality content–facts, research, unbiased reasons why your product or service is by far better than your competitions. You can do this with articles, press releases, blogs and market research.
Keeping that in mind, Google’s Panda updates are making it harder for black hat SEO to rank well…as it should. Caught in the crossfire, however, are what we would consider good quality websites. I recently noticed drastic drops in backlinks for several of my clients. One went from having over 1K links to 6. At first, I thought it was a fluke. But then I checked other sites I was working on, 6 seemed to be the magic number. Now, it’s not 6 for every website out there, but the decrease is noticeable. To check your site for backlinks, enter link:www.yourwebsite.com.
Links and Affiliates
Google has been evaluating links. If your backlink is coming from a spammy site, it’s not going to get counted. This can be quite the problem for companies utilizing affiliate marketing. One of my clients in particular has a rather successful affiliate program. And recently, their back links have dropped.
To combat this, I’ve become rather particular when I approve potential affiliates. Here’s what I do:
- Check title and meta descriptions of the homepage. I’m looking for keywords, specifically ones that match my products. If they are there, I approve them.
- Make note of where links are located on the page. Ideally, you want content on top and then ads and links below the fold of the webpage.
- Make note of the types of products and services. Someone affiliates just want to make money and will advertise anything. Make sure that their site matches your business profile.
- Make note of excessive images and use of Flash. Search bots have a harder time crawling Flash and images, which means that these sites won’t get crawled nearly as frequently as others.
By the way, you don’t want to overdo SEO either. Google is going to penalize sites with too much optimization. You want to keep your site as natural as possible. If you have a good keyword list, it should be pretty intuitive. Creating quality content with your keywords should be easy for your copywriters whether you have someone in house or through an agency. That being said, many of you won’t see too much of a dip in traffic or sales. But you may notice small things like decreased backlinks or small drops in ranking. If it’s been a while since you touched your website for SEO, you really could see a big dip. Either way, prepare yourself. Stay connected and ask your online marketer for advice on how to make your website both user friendly and search engine friendly.
Andreea Cojocariu, also known as the Smiling Marketress, is an online marketer in St. Louis, Missouri, specializing in SEO and social media. She has a knack for developing successful online marketing programs resulting in increased sales and ROI for small businesses. By keeping her eye on clients’ target market, she helps companies create both user friendly and search engine friendly content. Cojocariu has a B.A. in English, an MBA and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Business Administration. Connect with her on Twitter (andreeac_t) or LinkedIn.