Fighting the Penguin: Tips for Winning Back Google Traffic

Don't let Google Search's new Penguin update put your site in the deep freeze. Here's how to optimize.
Founder, Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, LLC
September 17, 2012
Google’s so-called Penguin update has wreaked havoc on some search engine results and many small-business websites have felt the brunt of its impact. So many business owners have spent time, money and effort trying to boost ranking by maximizing SEO—only to be struck by an almost immediate change from Google.
Some of the methods taught by search gurus as the way to use content marketing as a means to promote your site have become the fastest way to sink your rankings. What Google constantly strives to do with its updates is weed out the spammy sites that have been using those techniques as a way to cheat the system and boost their rankings.
The newest algorithm is supposed to help high quality web content reach the top of the rankings and knock spam sites out of place. Unfortunately, if your website has fallen victim to the new update and caused a decrease in your typical traffic flow from Google, then you need to look at what changes need to be made in order to regain (and even elevate) your page rank.
Avoid keyword stuffing. Previously, marketers worked within a keyword saturation of only 2 to 4 percent. That meant limiting the number of times your keywords appeared in your content so that it was not considered “stuffed” by the search engines. For instance, for 500 words of content, your keyword should not appear more than 10 times.
Now Google is also looking at whether your keywords are also being added to your page title, meta keywords, H1 tag, sidebar, and so on. If you’re doing this on your pages, go in and make any necessary changes or else you will be penalized for keyword stuffing.
What has always been important with Google search is finding content that provides value to the reader and flows naturally. Remember: You are writing for people, not search engines! Always make sure that your content reads well and gives the reader what they are looking for. Google is trying hard to make sure that this happens.
Fix your backlinks. Google is now cracking down on what it considers to be “unnatural backlinks.” Many business sites would use backlinks anchored to keywords in order to help increase their SEO, but Google is now making sure that you are only using natural backlinks, which may not always have anchor text attached. The anchor text can have a keyword, but it must make sense for that link.
You will have to test and see what works best for your site and what improves your results on Google. It goes right back to what makes your content flow correctly.
Create quality content! You will always hear this from me, because it’s always true. Keep your content fresh and make sure it provides real value to your readers. It is more important to have a blog post that provides information in a natural way and flows in the tone of an actual person and not a robot.
Keep your blog updated each week, at least. Submit articles to a few select article directories. Send out press releases about upcoming events. Write up some whitepapers for people. The more quality content you are generating, the better off you will be.
That means no more spinning. If you want to rewrite a popular piece of content to place elsewhere, then take the time to rewrite it. Don’t plug it into a spinner, which will only spit out a chewed-up version of your original work.
Use Webmaster Tools. The Google Webmaster tools can help you keep your website ranking high and ensure that you are creating the best site for your business and  customers. This is also a great way for you to gain insight into what you need to be doing in order to rank well. You will be notified if any of your content appears spammy as well as any technical problems that are occurring on your site.
These updates are not intended to knock down legitimate small-business websites. They are meant to weed out the content that does not deserve a high ranking because of underhanded, sly techniques. Treat this as an opportunity to make needed improvements to your site.

Read more of John's online marketing tips here.
Founder, Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, LLC