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SEO Strategy Update

Kelly “Rags” Ragland is owner and operator of Rags to Stitches Productions, a holistic advertising-specialty company providing a range of services from web design and development to customized apparel.

Google recently announced a significant change to the way it measures search results; changes that may require some modifications to the way businesses approach SEO (search engine optimization). The long and short of it is that Google will lower pages rank for sites that seem "spammy" or over-optimized, and knock such sites further down on search results.

This update, named “Penguin,” went live April 24. The initial reaction seems to be that websites hosting mostly aggregated content—such as ezinearticles.com, articlebase.com and associatedcontent.com—were pummeled by the change. Sites hosting nothing but links and directories, hubpages.com and business.com, for example, were also hit hard.

Although the search giant has not (and likely will not) handed out user manuals for avoiding this new penalty, it stands logically that we can look at what the infringing sites have done in terms of SEO that Google has raised an eyebrow over and will likely consider qualifiers for penalization.

Inbound links

Inbound and outbound links indicate to search engines what relationships one site has with other websites, and all of them should complement each other in terms of content. More links generally boost SEO.

However, if the majority of inbound links come from other sites you own (personal blog, social networking pages, and micro-sites); it may actually hurt your site under the new system. Analyze the number of inbound links and where they are coming from by checking site analytics in Google Webmaster tools.

Anchor text

Anchor text is the text used to link to your website and provides links to the pages within a website. For example, a list of links to your web pages might say embroidery, screen printing and sublimation, with each line of text linking to that particular service’s individual web page.

Under the new circumstance, websites with too much of the same anchored text may be penalized. Check on the website copy and make sure that, if the keyword is there, it does indeed link to the proper page.

Also be aware of how many times the same anchor text is used for that link. If there are several occurrences, consider changing the verbiage. For example, change “we provide embroidery services” to “we provide embroidered apparel.”

Aggregated content

Content that is copied from another website—for example product descriptions from an equipment manufacturer or apparel provider—may raise a red flag.

If the aggregated content is important to the site, consider editing it thoroughly so it does not match the source word-for-word.

Alternately, if you have provided content for other websites to use, consider alerting them to this new change, as each website providing the aggregated content would be penalized. Google Bot has no idea where the original content came from.

Other duplicate content, i.e. a web page that details a business or service in Michigan, along with 49 other web pages with the exact same content for every other state, is also likely to adversely affect ranking within search results.

Free offers

Google will soon be watching the method of delivery for products/services offered gratis. Any offers should not require an email address, subscription, credit card number or other significant obligation from site visitors.

Recourse?

Google offers an online form for those who feel their sites have lost placement unfairly to provide feedback.

Stay tuned to PrintwearMag.com and Printwear magazine for the latest on this and other breaking news headlines, progressing trends and industry information.

Editor’s note: Read this article in its entirety coming up in the June issue of Printwear. Subscribe here; or visit our Digital Version Library after June 1.