Don’t Let Penguin Put Your Website on Ice

Is search engine optimization on its way out?

Could be, if you believe a recent Forbes article titled “The Death of SEO: The Rise of Social, PR and Real Content.” In it, leading SEO consultant Adam Torkildson proclaims, “Google is in the process of making the SEO industry obsolete, SEO will be dead in two years.”

Torkildson was referring to Penguin, an algorithm Google launched last spring. It turns out that Penguin penalizes websites that incorporate some of the most popular techniques for achieving high rankings on search engines. Among the techniques: SEO.

Penguin puts a stronger emphasis on content than its predecessors, such as Panda. With Penguin, many long-held SEO tactics just aren’t as  effective anymore. Google says the reasoning behind Penguin is to stress the user experience. In other words, websites that offer outstanding content will rank the highest, as well they should.

In addition, rumor has it that Google will soon institute another change that affects SEO. It reportedly will push so-called zombie sites — those that are not updated regularly — farther down in search results.

Why the shift? Google and other search sites have evolved in their thinking. The prevailing thought is that quality content is far more important than keyword density. Previous algorithms actually encouraged keyword overuse because that’s the kind of data the algorithms were looking for.

Does this mean business owners and marketers should ignore SEO altogether? Not exactly. It’s still important for your website to have the basics of on-page optimization. The website’s code needs to be up to date and clean. The page titles and header tags should clearly (yet briefly) describe the content that’s on each page and your business. This just makes it easier for Google to find and evaluate your website. It’s also important to pay attention to 301 redirects and sitemap submissions when you launch a new website, but that’s another blog post.

The real shift is content. If you had to choose between spending hours upon hours optimizing each of your website’s pages around a specific keyword and writing a blog post every week – go with the blog post. This is important. In 2013 and beyond, great content should be your No. 1 goal.

What comprises great content that will get sites noticed? Pretty much anything that’s not overly marketing-oriented, such as thoughtful blogs, white papers, bylined articles, e-books, podcasts, plus informative appealing videos, infographics and graphic design. It’s still OK to use keywords. Just don’t use them to draw too much attention to your company, its products or services so Penguin won’t give you a cool reception.

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