I was on top of the world for 4 plus years until Google’s Penguin Update. Life was good. I had learned how to optimize for Google and was rewarded with enough business leads to sustain my business and even get a head. Then came Google’s Penguin Update. I actually got bit by the Panda update. However this article will cover how to optimize your website post Penguin.
Until January of this year the way to optimize for Google was to publish some content and then obtain a bunch of inbound links. Inbound links, especially those that contained your search terms in their anchor text was the best way to get a website to rank. Inbound links was the number one way to rank. Content was a distant second. Onsite optimization was necessary however most of everyone’s effort was placed on obtaining inbound links.
I have some good and bad news. The bad news is you can no longer brute strength your Google ranking by obtaining inbound links. As you may know obtaining inbound links has become increasing more difficult, so not needing them so much is good news. The good news is content has become the number one factor in ranking on the Google search engine. Depending on how you view writing and how good you are at it this maybe good or bad news.
Now we must concentrate on content while being careful not to over optimize our websites for Google. Google is trying to increase the search experience by delivering results that contain the best and most relevant websites.
As I researched what to do I noticed Google was rewarding what they call authority websites. An authority website is one that contains both old and new content, is not a thin content website, and contains lots of pages. A thin content website is one that has a limited amount of content on each page.
I have had a theory for some time that began as far back as 2005. In 2005 I looked at a bunch of websites to determine why they were ranking so well. Then again in early 2006 I repeated this research process. One of the things I noticed was larger websites did not need as many inbound links. Internal linking replaced external linking. These were called authority sites.
Becoming an authority website depends on several factors. It will depend on your niche. You just need to do better than those you are competing against. If the top ranking websites in your niche contain 100 pages of content and each content page averages one full 8.5 x 11 inch paper at 12 point font, then that is what you must be better than. You will need to write and publish over 100 pages of quality content, with each page having at least a full page of content as described above. If your competitors have more content pages, and more content per page, then you will have to set your target accordingly.
I would say an acceptable page would contain at least one full 8.5 x 11 inch page at 12 point font. One and one half pages at 12 point font would be even better. This in a minimum. You will have to research your niche to determine how much content should be on each page. Note that this is the standard for most of your web pages. On occasion it will make sense to add a page that has limited content. Limited content pages should be the exception, not the norm.
Be careful not to over optimize your website. What do I mean by that? I used to add an H1 tag at the top of my website which contained the search terms I wanted my website to rank for. That worked great until early this year. I was penalized for doing so. Once I removed that H1 tag my website began to rank again, my website does not rank as good as it used to however I am back in the game. The next step for me is more content and paying attention to a handful of on-site optimization rules.
Here is a simple approach that I think will serve you well.
- Determine the theme of your website and stay consistent with that theme.
- Determine how you wish to categorize your website. Group your content into logical groups.
- Determine what search terms you would like to rank for and what niches you would like to compete in.
- Determine the number of pages your competition has and the length of those pages.
- Write for your audience not the search engines.
- Optimize your content for your visitors not the search engines.
- Pick a pace you can live with. If you can only write a page a week then do just that. Do not set too lofty of a goal.
- Do not do keyword stuffing. (“keyword” and “search term” can be use interchangeably)
- Use only one or two search terms per title meta tag. The title meta tag is the most important on-site ranking factor (at the page level). The theme of the page should always match the value of the title meta tag.
- Utilize H1 through H6 tags as they make sense.
- Bold text only when it makes sense to do so.
- If you have images on your website, you will want to take advantages of the alt tags associated with those images. Make sure to do what make sense. The text in those fields is viewable if your image cannot be found and will be read to the visitor that is using a reader such as a virtually impaired person.
- Your website’s internal linking is probably one of the most important factors in ranking today. You will want to take your time and ensure you get this part right. Remember what I said about the internal linking becoming more important when a website becomes an authority website? That is what you want to take advantage of. The anchor text of those internal links must match the content of the page they point to and must make sense for your reader, all the while containing good quality search terms or keyword.
The bottom line is to not over due your optimization while still optimizing your website. If you follow these simple principles, you should be in good shape.
At this point I would not be too concerned with inbound links. They will occur naturally once your website become an authority website. At this point trying to acquire inbound links may cause your website not to rank as good as it could have otherwise.
As I learn more about the new Google algorithm, I will post that information. As for now if you do not over optimize and publish lots of quality content while paying attention to your internal linking, and by following a handful of simple rules you will find your website will rank better and potentially bring in more visitors.