By Allan Maurer
So, did Google’s Penguin update affect your website traffic positively or negatively?
Penguin updated again Friday (May 25) but Google says the refresh affects only a very small percentage of websites.
Google said the first Penguin update was expected to affect only a small percentage of spammy websites, but it apparently was more aggressive than that if Internet response is any guide.
We saw an initial drop at the TechJournal, which may have been due to using previously approved and always white hat SEO techniques – which are no longer a good idea. We saw traffic not only bounce back, but rise about three or four weeks after the Penguin update. It could have just a temporary glitch, but we did alter our SEO techniques.
A little extreme in the beginning
That’s what Matt McFadden, director of marketing at Merge, a Greenville, SC-based digital strategy agency, told was likely to happen if we actually were using legitimate SEO techniques.
McFadden is responsible for making Merge its own best success story. He designs winning strategies for Merge and its clients (which include Clemson University, Erskine College and Seminary, McMillan Pazdan Smith, Michelin NA and many others).
He directs all search marketing strategies: paid and organic search; content strategy and creation; lead generation and nurturing campaigns; and social media management.
McFadden, who spoke at TechMedia’s recent Digital Summit in Atlanta, told us, “These algorithms are sometimes a little extreme in the beginning. They probably went over the edge on it. They’ll dial back on that.”
Google, he noted, is likely to hear from the folks who lost up to 30 percent of their traffic. “They won’t hear from those who benefited from it (the Penguin update).
Predicted a traffic return
He predicted, accurately, that we would see traffic return, especially if we focused on some of the same things the Penguin update does: no over-optimization (we had some duplication of key words due to a wordpress setting – which could be interpreted as over-optimization).
“Tactics we’ve been using for years now can ding you,” McFadden said. “But there are things you can do to combat that.”
One difficult area he mentions is that of back-links. Google wants “quality” back-links, but that’s a subjective idea, he notes.
“In the past, we had a lot of success getting things reblogged,” McFadden said. “Sometimes even by other agencies. Now you have to be wary of that. Google might think you’re trying to outsmart the system and a reblog or repost might actually hinder you.”
And getting original content up above the fold (on top of the site) on a daily basis. That means doing a bit less curating and somewhat more writing of original journalism.
Do quality posts
McFadden says Merge focuses on doing quality posts and doesn’t even think about SEO at first. ”We would rather produce really good content once a month than produce like a content shop.”
He says his agency landed two of its biggest accounts from blog posts “We weren’t even trying to rank for keywords.”
Some sites might see less but better traffic following the update, McFadden says.
Overall, McFadden said, “We think the Penguin ding is a shorterm issue. You can’t change the core of your business. You’re trying to get in front of a human being who, ultimately, is going to buy something or consume your content. Search engines never bought anything.”
So, he suggested, “Take the time to do your content right and ultimately, you’ll be rewarded for it. The ranking is not the golden goose. It’s who sees it.”
See also: Recovering from Penguin
Here’s another infographic you may find useful:
- Is SEO still relevant after Google’s Penguin updates?
- Has your site lost or gained traffic with Google’s Penguin update?
- How does Google’s Panda affect your SEO? (infographic)
- How will Google’s anti-piracy search update affect sites?
- SEO firm says new content the key to search engine ranking success
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