When Google rolled out the first Penguin algorithm update in April 2012 there was little doubt that it would hit webmasters in the wallet – hard. Overnight countless blogs tumbled through the rankings, losing their coveted and lucrative positions on Google’s front page, and the Internet marketing community exploded in fear, paranoia and frantic scheming in an effort to avoid the carnage.
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Some succeeded. Many bloggers saw the way the wind was blowing and began to make major changes in the way they promoted their sites, clawing their rankings back through relentless hard work. However, we’re now more than six months post-Penguin and there are still a lot of people out there confused about how to move forward; how to run a blog in the new world, and how to insulate them against further algorithm updates.
Well, you’ll never be completely immune to the whims of the search giant. It’s the nature of the beast. However, there are a few simple ways you can increase your chances of success in a post-Penguin landscape. Here are a few suggestions to consider.
1. Stem the Bleeding
One of the most damaging factors of Google Penguin was the increased sensitivity for poor quality and unnatural link patterns. More than ever before we’re being penalized for our choice of friends, and some webmasters need to take a hard look at the company they keep. Google’s recently introduced Disavow tool is an invaluable feature for webmasters still suffering from Penguin. It allows you to comb through your backlinks and tell Google to ignore any that come from sites that may harm your standing. This tool is especially useful for those who used… ahem… questionable link building tactics in the past.
2. Watch Your Keywords
While we’re still years from seeing the end of the importance of keywords, Google Penguin made a concerted effort to attack those who stuffed them into every other sentence. All the evidence suggests that we’re moving towards a world in which relevance is decided by context rather than keywords, and Penguin was just the first warning shot across the bows.
To thrive post-Penguin you need to forget about the old techniques. Don’t create content with a keyword density percentage in mind. Instead, create it with the reader in mind. When you’re writing on a subject you should imagine that your best friend has asked for information about it. If you couldn’t recommend your own site you need to go back and try harder.
In fact, your only considerations when it comes to keywords should be that you use enough related words that Google can identify the purpose of your content. Content may be king today, but tomorrow context will claim the throne.
3. Diversify Your Links
This has been said time and again, but it bears repeating. You need link diversity to succeed. More specifically, you need your link profile to look as if you didn’t build it yourself.
This means that you need to vary your anchor text significantly. Your target keyword should make up only a fraction of your link anchors (as would be the case in a truly natural profile), interspersed with plenty of raw URLs and ‘click here’ and ‘take a look’ style links.
You should also throw in a mixture of DoFollow and NoFollow links from sources with a range of Page Ranks. Build your social presence and do your best to garner links from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others. Create YouTube videos related to your content with your URL embedded. In short, make your site look as if its influence grew organically.
Post-Penguin Success: In The Captain’s Words!
Google is getting smarter all the time. Its algorithms are becoming more advanced by the day, more adept at identifying crafty exploits and shady techniques.
In the words of Firefly’s Captain Reynolds, “Come a day there won’t be room for naughty men like us to slip about at all.” The good old days are gone, never to return, and whether you adapt to that now or wait until the next update comes along to spoil your day, soon enough we’re all going to have to use a little more intelligence in building and promoting our sites.
4 Strategies for Golden Long-Tail Keywords For Your Blog
Countless guides advise new bloggers about the benefits of SEO. However, far too few of them focus on the importance of proper keyword research. Many bloggers make the mistake of focusing all of their time and resources on short tail or high-volume keywords, such as “make money online”, “woodworking blog” or “pharmacy coupons.”
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Ranking for these broad keep words is going to take a lot of time. Many bloggers get very frustrated after not seeing any results and eventually give up.
You will see results a lot faster if you start your blog focusing on low hanging fruit. There is a massive number of longtail keywords in any given niche that you can rank for a relatively easily. Conversion rates also tend to be higher with long-tail keywords. The average conversion rate for long-tail keywords is 36%, which is 3.5 times as high as broad keywords. The trick is knowing how to find them.
Since there are so many longtail keywords, looking for them can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Don’t despair – there are a lot of great ways to find high converting longtail keywords. Here are some of the best approaches.
Use SEMRush to see what keywords other blogs are ranking for
SEMRush is an SEO analytics tool that monitors keyword rankings for various websites. Many bloggers use it to monitor rankings for their own websites. They also use it to gauge their rankings against major competitors. If they see that they are ranking for more keywords than a competing blog, then they know that their SEO strategy is on the right track.
Fewer bloggers and SEO professionals recognize the value of using SEMRush for keyword research. You can try using it to see what keywords other blogs are ranking for. If a competing blog is ranking for around 7,000 keywords, then you can dig through that list and see which ones you want to target yourself. It is best to use this tool with blogs that clearly have strong rankings. You aren’t going to build a very large list of keywords to target if you use it with a new blog that is only ranking for a handful of search queries.
You might want to find well ranking blogs by searching for relatively competitive keyboards in your niche. The websites that show up on the front page of Google for a competitive term are probably also going to be ranking for lots of less competitive, longtail keywords as well. Take the route URL and plug it into SEMRush.
You can see a list of the top 10 keywords for a blog for free. You will need to pay for a premium membership with SEMRush to see the rest of the list, but it can be worth it considering the value of finding so many great keywords to target.
Keyword Shitter is possibly the easiest to use keyword research tool available. To make things even better, it is totally free.
All you have to do is take a relatively broad keyboard and put it in the search box. Then you will need to click the button at the bottom of the form. The tool will start aggregating keywords that people search for.
If you use a relatively broad keyword, then you should be able to make a list of thousands of longtail keywords in as little as 1 to 4 hours. Although this is one of the easiest ways to perform keyword research, there are a couple of drawbacks to be aware of:
- You might get tunnel vision if you only start with a couple of base keywords for your lists. There might be a number of great converting longtail keywords that you would never think to add, because they don’t have common root words in them. For example, names of books, authors or products in your niche might be great keywords to focus on. They often don’t have common keywords in them, so they might not show up with this tool.
- A lot of the keywords are going to be loosely related to your niche. You will need to sort through the list carefully and remove any that don’t fit.
This is definitely a great keyword research tool to use, but you will need to take some time to get the hang of it.
Look at suggested keywords from Google
Google has become a lot better at recommending keywords for its users. Their suggested keywords are not just great for people trying to get better search results. They are also good for bloggers trying to find new keywords to target.
Keep in mind that Google recommends keywords based on your previous search queries, especially if you have not enabled privacy features in your Google account. You might want to try beginning searches in Google chrome incognito to find less biased suggestions for your search queries.
Look at product lists on Amazon and other sites
Most people use Google tools to conduct their keyword research. While they can be very helpful, it might be a good idea to branch out a bit and look for keyword ideas on other sites. If you are using your blog to promote products on Amazon, why not look at Amazon products? You can build keywords around them. For example, if you are writing blog posts on business cards, you might want to try searching for business cards on Amazon and see what products and books appear in your queries.
The benefits of this are two-fold:
- Most other bloggers are going to be focusing on broad keywords in their niche. They won’t be as likely to consider keywords centered around specific products. This means that there won’t be as much competition for a lot of these terms.
- The conversion rates are going to be a lot higher if you are trying to get visitors with these terms and refer them to Amazon.
You can search through thousands of possible ideas in your niche. Make sure that you find ones that are most relevant and do your research accordingly.
What is Thin Content and How to Fix It
I don’t want to name any names, but I saw an awful website this morning. Granted, I was looking for examples of thin content because of this post and I figured I might be able to just wander around until I found something that could count towards the description. I didn’t expect to find something this relevant, much less to such a degree that I would leave the site cringing.
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Because of tactics they had used and length of time the site had been around, they maintain a decent Google ranking in spite of having some of the thinnest content I have ever seen. But the lack of engagement on the articles, the amount of spam littered among the occasional real comment, the lack of social media shares… it all showed that in spite of being prolific in their posting habits, their content was doing nothing to help them.
Someone should let them know about the benefits of high quality content versus thin content. Though given the sheer number of ads on their domain, quality probably isn’t their first priority.
Thin Content Risks
Why is this such a bad thing if the traffic is high enough to bring them within the first page of Google results? It is the same reason that keyword stuffing is a bad idea. Sure, it will bring people to your site for a time. But eventually Google’s algorithm is going to catch on and while they claim they don’t penalize, we all know that isn’t true. If you try and skirt around the system you are going to get flagged.
Not only that, but it is damaging to a brand.
What is the use of being on Google’s first page if people realize the moment they click onto your site that you have nothing worth viewing? They will be gone within seconds and over time your rank will go down along with the lack of interest or brand trust.
The Legend of Fred
Now there is a more direct threat to your business. But then Google came out with updates, all named under one collective term “Fred” which focused on battling thin content:
Basically, if you publish high quality content that is highly cited on the Internet – and I’m not talking about just links, but also mentions on social networks and people talking about your branding, crap like that.
Fred caused quite a ruckus when it was first released in 2017. It came from the Black Hat sector, aimed specifically at spam links and suspected spam links.
Of course, we know from past statements and experiences that Google is also targeting backlinks and trying to discourage the practice which may be why so many sites that were well established and not at all spam saw a 90% decrease in traffic seemingly out of nowhere. It sparked panic across the web as site owners and brands scrambled to figure out what was happening and came back with rumors of “Fred”.
The good news is while a percentage of sites hit were valid ones that might not have deserved it, most did appear to be low rent content hosters using shady practices to boost traffic and so ad revenue. But that was little relief for those bigger sites who were impacted by the release of Fred.
Since then Google has got even smarter at identifying and fighting thin content, so in case you have some older lower-quality content on your blog, fixing it may cause your overall rankings increase.
How to Fix Thin Content on Your Blog
Step 1: Identify and Enhance Articles That Bring Traffic
- Go to Google Analytics Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages
- Enable it to show 5000 rows (this is the maximum)
- Export the whole report and check if any of those articles can be called “thin”, generally:
- Number of words is fewer than 500
- There are no structure (subheadings, images, etc.)
- There’s no “substance”, i.e. some unique tip, facts, etc. that a reader can take home.
TextOptimizer is a great tool for that: It will run your target query in Google, extract search snippets and then apply semantic analysis to identify related concepts and entities to implement in your content to expand it.
TextOptimizer will also generate popular questions on your topic for you to answer in your content and make it better:
While editing your old content, think if there are any content re-purposing opportunities, like creating a whitepaper or a blog series. Use the checklist to ensure higher quality for each of your content projects.
Step 2: Identify and Get Rid of Articles That Bring 0 Clicks
Now, go ahead and check all the articles that didn’t get into your above list. You may double-check again to make sure any of them are not really driving any clicks. Once you are sure, go ahead and:
- Use 301 redirect to redirect any of those articles to their updated or closely related versions
- If there’s no related content to redirect to, simply delete old thin articles
- Here are great plugins that will help you with both the steps above
For more information on this tactic, check out this case study on how this process increased one blog’s traffic by ~1000%
Have you been thinking about fixing low-quality thin content? Please share your tips!
5 Ways Blog Optimization Tips for Google Ranking Success in 2019
On-page SEO for your blog articles should be a top priority. You have most likely read plenty of articles on the subject. If you are a new blogger, you probably have a domain, WordPress hosting service, a long list of potential topics and categories to write about, but what about blog optimization? This is a common misstep for new bloggers.
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If you are still wondering what the true anatomy of an optimized blog is, we are here to help. Meta-tags, keywords, image Alt Text, and the list goes on. What is the real goal of on-page SEO? Better Google rankings! And better Google rankings means more eyes on your content, since you will be ranking high on Google SERPs.
Having exceptional on-page SEO is vital to the growth and success of your business. This means bending to the hand of the almighty Google. Why? Google handles two trillion searches per year.
Let’s take a deeper look at five ways to optimize your blog for Google ranking success in 2019!
- Start with Optimizing Keywords
Whether you write for your own blog, or have an editor, all your content should revolve around unique keywords. Normally, bloggers will be given a keyword to include in their highly authoritative, actionable content in various places. You can see a perfect example here, as the article is written in a way to not only focuses on the keywords and search phrases in the title, but the content within the article breaks down even further into each of these data points and subtitles as well.
Having that keyword allows you to begin formatting your title, subheadings and text. But keyword development doesn’t necessarily end there.
You should also identify two to three supporting keywords that will be used throughout the post, in subheadings, and even in your title. You can use tools like Infinite Suggest to maximize keyword research. You can also find other supporting keyword ideas using Moz, Google Keyword Planner, and SEMrush.
- Do Your Due Diligence During Keyword Research
There is a bit more that goes into choosing two or three supporting keywords. You don’t want to blindly pick one. The goal is to find keywords with a fair amount of search volume, low difficulty, and high opportunity.
From the keyword tool, make a list of supporting keywords, let’s say you choose “on page SEO tactics” as a supporting keyword, but the monthly search volume seems low. What to do? Check another platform like MOZ or SEMrush to get a second keyword opinion. Remember, you want to choose keywords that your audience is actually searching for.
- Make a List of LSI Keywords
You may be asking yourself, “What are LSI keywords?” LSI keywords, better known as “long-tail” keywords, are actually becoming more important for search engines like Google. They may also help you avoid Problematic Google penalties. How do you find LSI keywords? It’s actually simpler than you may think.
Open up Google and search for your main keyword, and then scroll to the bottom of the page where you’ll find a nice variety of LSI keywords waiting for you. After, check the long-tail keywords you want to use in a keyword tool. It is best practice to use two or three LSI Keywords in a blog article for max value.
- Always Put Keywords in Your Blog SEO Titles
Identifying and qualifying your keywords is quite often the most difficult part of on-page SEO for blog posts. However, once you have them, things begin to fall into place for SERP results you will be happy with. How do you use them though?
Placing keywords in your SEO title is also important. It essentially tells Google that you want to rank for this or that. If “Blogger Tips” is your keyword, you’ll want to include it in the title as close to the beginning of the title as possible.
It is important to note that you want your title to still sound natural, so don’t force it. Be natural, but always think Google page one. The closer your keyword is to the front, the more weight it carries with search engines.
- Put Your Keywords in Headings Correctly
This is a common mistake many bloggers make. Sure, crafting delightful content that is worthy of the New Yorker is dreamy. However, Google ranking algorithms don’t only look at content. You essentially want to tell search engines, and your audience, where the shifts in the story are, and what each section is about.
Using appropriate header tags can make this happen. Most content management systems will automatically place an h1 tag for your post’s SEO title. WordPress does this nicely! If you are writing for a client, you may only be formatting your blog article for on-page SEO via Google Docs or Word. In this is the case, you want to ensure each heading is tagged correctly, like:
- h1 tag for SEO titles
- h2 tag for subheadings
- h3 tags for supporting subheadings
In Conclusion . . .
There are certainly a ton of blog optimization tips out there for you to dig up and use for maximum rankings on Google. However, the above five tips are among the most important. From keywords to placing keywords strategically, grow your blog by getting the most out of each post. Do you have a blogging SEO tip? We want to hear from you.
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