June 19, 2015

Recent Google Penalty Makes Clear No Site Is Immune

Generally, when websites use questionable or outdated SEO practices, they do so for one of two reasons:

  1. They aren’t clear about current SEO best practices.
  2. They think they will be able to fly under the radar and avoid penalties.

Any organization relying on that second reason should reconsider—quickly. Google recently proved it will penalize a company that even invests in one that is trying to find ways around Google’s algorithms, as it did recently with Thumbtack. The company—which helps businesses find qualified professionals to hire and is backed by Google Capital—was penalized for including unnatural links in its articles.   

The Internet is populated by approximately 1 billion websites today and like any tool used by so many people changes can be slow to take hold, either because of a lack of widespread awareness or simple stubbornness. But whether businesses choose to accept Google’s continued algorithm improvements or its crackdown on SEO tactics that don’t conform to its guidelines, the reality is that it simply no longer possible to “fool” the search engine by using techniques like unnatural linking, keyword stuffing or link cloaking.

Put simply, any organization that wants to maintain strong Google rankings today must use custom content as a pillar of its SEO strategy. Google’s algorithms are now advanced enough to separate valuable content from filler and as such, quality content is now at a premium.

The next logical question is, “How does Google define valuable content?” In its Webmaster Academy course, Google lays out several characteristics of quality custom content:

  • It should be informational and useful.
  • It should provide value beyond what other similar sites offer.
  • Articles should be well-researched and properly cited.
  • Authors should have bios on the site that readers can access easily.
  • It should include pictures and other media that adds color and engages visitors.

One of the challenges Google’s increasingly advanced algorithms pose for businesses is that crafting compelling copy takes considerably more time and effort than jamming a few extra keywords into the opening paragraph of a blog post. Faced with the possibility of poor Google rankings, many companies now hire full-time content creators or pull members of their marketing teams off other projects to focus more on content creation.

These are not the only two options, however. A content strategy vendor can help develop concepts, create editorial calendars and execute content initiatives—all for considerably less than it would cost to hire a full-time employee. Adding this extra “arm” to their marketing teams, businesses can also ensure that their internal teams can focus on growth initiatives. So if you are unsure about whether your current content strategy is helping or hurting your SEO rankings, consider reaching out to a content strategy vendor to see how the business might be able to help you reach your goals. 

After all, no website is exempt from Google’s guidelines.  


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