What is the proper way to optimize your site post Penguin?
For starters you can throw the old optimization playbook we have all been playing by right out the window because the plays just plain do not work anymore.
From our testing we have found these new rules are the ones you should be playing by post Penguin:
Google has made it clear that clean layout, logical navigation, and appealing design are now an integral factor in their determining a site’s ability to gain ground in the SERPs. While using an ultra-simplistic layout to maximize CTR or a widely-used free template to save on up-front costs for bulk site building may seem appealing, you’ve really got to ask yourself if the potential long-run sacrifice is worth the short-term savings. Perhaps it may be; but in most cases I believe it’s not.
PAGE TITLE TAG – <title>Page Title</title>
I never choose to single out one specific on-page element that is more important than all else, but if I did, it would be the page title tag. Along with the meta description tag, they’re the only pieces of your website that are explicitly displayed to visitors in the SERPS. Good practice of this tag calls for insertion of a single instance of your keyword aside or within other words that are relevant to your site content.
META DESCRIPTION TAG
<meta name=”description” content=”A sentence or two containing a single keyword instance within page-relevant text, unique from all other meta descriptions, and less than 160 characters.” />
With the page title tag, the meta description tag is shown to search engine visitors on the SERP as a snippet below your page title listing. Make sure it contains spam-free text with a single instance of your keyword, does not exceed 160 characters, and is present but unique on every single page of your website.
META KEYWORDS TAG
<meta name=”keywords” content=”primary keyword,secondary keyword,tertiary keywords…” />
Do not use the meta keywords tag. All of the top search engines have said for years that they ignore the meta keywords tag – but we still recommended its integration, cuz, you know, just in case. But now that Google has made it clear that the latest algorithm updates are exactly focused upon seeking out examples of keyword spam and over-optimization, it makes absolutely zero sense to hand them the master list of the terms they should seek out for examination. Dump it from every page on your website!
TOTAL WORD COUNT & ANCHORED TEXT RATIO
The minimum recommended word count for a single page is 450 words, but do not place all 450 words within anchors. In general, a page’s normal body text should outweigh its anchor text by a margin of AT LEAST 5 to 1.
OVERALL PAGE KEYWORD DENSITY & ON-PAGE ANCHORS
There is no magical target keyword density which the search engines are seeking. Like many other factors, keyword density is elastic; the ideal percentage is variable and relative to other site factors. That being said, some safe generalizations we can make are:
1. Keyword density should be above 0.5% – one keyword instance per 200 words on your page;
2. Keyword density should not exceed 4% – eight keyword instances per 200 words;
3. Keywords should not appear excessively as anchor texts upon your page. Once or twice in the main navigation and once within relevant body copy is acceptable;
4. Keyword instances should be spaced apart from each other, never used in repeated spam fashion;
5. Keyword instances should not be stylized (bold, italics, underline) without reasons pertaining to enhancing visitor experience.
PAGE HEADINGS & IMAGE ALT ATTRIBUTES
Your keyword should appear once within an H1 tag upon your page and once within the alt attribute of one of your page’s images, but never in excessive fashion. It used to be good and standard practice to see how many keywords we could jam into H1′s and image alt attributes, but no longer.
WORDPRESS TAG CLOUDS
Do not use them.
HTML Site Maps and XML sitemaps greatly enhance a search engine’s ability to crawl your pages in an effective manner. An HTML Site Map is a page the same as any other on your website that contain a single link to every other page on your site. It should be linked to from your site’s navigation or subnavigation in the same manner as the other top-level pages. An XML sitemap is an xml file containing links to your site’s pages that is published for search engines. It should be named sitemap.xml and placed on the top level of your site directory – yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml.
Of course all that may change overnight when the next algorithm is rolled out but as for now keep them in mind when optimizing your site.
What’s the best way to build links to your site post Penguin?
In the good old days link building was an extremely simple process. All you had to do to rank a site was submit as many links out as you could using the exact anchor text of the keyword you wanted to rank for and then sit back and wait for Google to find them all and boost your site up in the rankings.
But the days of being able to blindly submit links to rank sites are over. So the sooner you get that fact in your head the better off you’ll be and the quicker you’ll begin ranking your sites again.
From our tests we have found these new linking rules are the ones you should be following religiously as you build backlinks to your site:
Make sure at least 50% of the links that you submit are on pages relevant to the content of the page you are attempting to rank for.
Gone are the days when you could post hundreds of links on hair dressing sites in order to rank your gardening site. So if you’re attempting to rank a gardening site you need to make sure the pages you are posting links on are also about gardening (or at least 50% of them).
Some SEO enthusiasts think that you can get away with 30% relevancy and from my own experience I am prone to believe them. But I’d rather play it safe than sorry. I mean if you do the work to find the relevant sites why waste it by linking to a bunch of irrelevant sites? The next algorithm changes may penalize sites that have a majority of irrelevant links. You never know.
While the old way of link building had more to do with quantity than anything else. The new way is about relevancy.
The next thing you need to do when building links is to make sure at least 25% of them are on nofollow sites.
Back in the Pre-Penguin days if you were like us you made sure the pages you were posting links on were dofollow so that they would pass link juice to your site.
Now in order to keep your link profile looking natural to the crawlers you need to make sure at 25% of your links are placed on nofollow pages.
Again, other SEO practitioners say you can get away with 10% of your links being nofollow. But we like to play it safe with the campaigns we run now. So we stick to the 25% level.
Do not over use the keyword you are trying to rank for in the backlinks you send out.
Google really penalizes sites that do, so make sure you use your main keyword on only 10% of the links you submit out. So it’s important when sending out links to use a wide variety of different keywords as the anchor text.
Not to beat a dead horse again but some experts that I trust say this number can be as high as 50% but we like to be safe these days rather than sorry.
Make sure you have links from Social Media sites.
There is no doubt that the Penguin algorithm favors sites that have communication taking place about it on social media sites. So now more than ever it is important to have a healthy mix of these types of links in your link profile.
Just make sure you take it easy with them. Too many social media links of one type can throw up all kinds of red flags. That’s why it’s important you analyze the ten sites already ranking on page one for your keywords to make sure the amount and type of social media links you have are in line with theirs.
Make sure that you use social qualifiers or natural anchors in at least 20% of the links you submit out.
Just about everyone knows these days that you need social qualifiers as anchor text linking to your site in order to make your link profile look far more natural to the search engine crawlers.
So make sure you use your naked url and social qualifiers (click here, check them out, etc.) as the anchor text in 20% or more of your links.
As far as off-page optimization goes that’s all you pretty much have to consider in order to rank your site Post Penguin.
There’s other factors you need to watch for such as your overall domain authority and the authority of the links you have in your link profile.
To increase the authority of your domain you need to first improve the authority of your links.
The simple way to increase your link profile is to use a site like Ahrefs Site Explorer to pull a list of your found links. Then export them to a spreadsheet so you can examine them easily. What you want to do is go through the list and delete the links that are not relevant to your site. Once you have done that you’ll have a list of relevant links.
Then use a software program like Scrape Box to check the links to make sure they still contain a link to your site. The ones that do you simply export into a text file.
Once you have that text file you can then begin backlinking them with links of their own.
It’s a time consuming process for sure but it is a sure way to increase the authority of your overall link profile.
So make sure to start backlinking your backlinks with links of their own!
But what if you don’t have the time, know how or tools to do all this work yourself?
To make matters even worse rumor has it that Google is about to launch a brand new Penguin update that is supposed to be bigger than any other they have ever made in the history of their company.
This is what Matt Cutts from Google just announced (September 2012):
“You don’t want the next Penguin update.” He also stated that the Google “engineers have been working hard,” on this upcoming update. He concluded by warning that the next few updates will be “jarring and jolting” for webmasters and SEOs.
So yeah SEO is a different game these days post Penguin. It most likely will get tougher and tougher as time goes on.
So with that in mind :
Let me tell you about our SEO service we’re making available to Warriors to help them circumnavigate the storms coming out of Google seemingly by the day.
We’ll totally analyze your site and competitors sites to the point where we will be able to produce a detailed plan that will get your site to page one.
Once we have that plan in hand we’ll begin implementing it until we get your site on to page one for your chosen primary keyword.
Like I mentioned, these days it takes much more than just links to get a site on to page one.
Here’s Just A Little Bit Of What You’ll Get When You Sign Up For Our SEO Services:
Step One: Keyword Research
Once you sign up and give us your URL we’ll get our keyword research department immediately working on compiling a list of competitive and noncompetitive keywords we think you should consider on your campaign.
Once you have the list we’ll ask you to pick one of the keywords to declare as your primary keyword for your campaign. Or if you have another keyword in mind that you would rather use then that is more than fine as well.
The rest of the keywords on the list we pull will then be considered (oddly enough ) the nonprimary keywords for your campaign. I’ll share in a moment how we’ll use these nonprimary keywords.
Step Two: Competition Research
Once you pick out your primary keyword we’ll get our web research team to work inspecting the sites already ranking on page one for it.
We believe that sites already ranking on page one are excellent guides to let us know what variables Google is favoring at any given time.
That type of information is absolutely invaluable when you’re looking to rank a site post Penguin.
What our research team will do is check:
A) the onsite optimization of each of the ranking sites.
B) what types of backlinks each of the sites have.
C) what types of links they have on social media sites as well.
D) plus a few other critical areas we won’t get into with you until
you’re our customer.
Step Three: On Page Optimization Of Your Website
Once we know what keyword you want to go after on your site we’ll also get our HTML department to examine how well your site is optimized for the keyword you selected.
In some cases our team will be available to make the changes for you free of charge as long as it isn’t anything to drastic that needs to be cleaned up.
Otherwise we will let you know what needs to be done so you can make the changes yourself or have your webmaster make them for you.
A lot of customers choose to skip this portion of our service. But we highly recommend you make all the changes our team recommends when they report back to you.
Step Four: Once We Have All That Information Pulled We’ll Then Begin Giving Your Campaign The Exact “Medication” It Needs To Strengthen Your Site So That It Eventually Ranks For Your Primary Keyword
We have a wide variety of different links we have at our disposal. Once we figure out where your site is weakest link wise we’ll give you the links your site needs.
Step Five: Every 30 Days We’ll Pull A New Report Showing Where Your Site Has Progressed And What Types Of Links We Need To Submit Out For The Next Month.
After 30 days we’ll check to see if your site is ranking on page one yet for your primary keyword. If it isn’t we’ll pull another comprehensive report sharing how your site has progressed over the prior 30 days on several factors:
A) We will check to make sure your on-page seo factors are still in line with the Penguin algorithm.
B) How much the authority of your domain improved from our initial efforts.
C) How well the authority of your backlinks improved from our initial efforts.
D) Percentage your primary keyword is being used as your anchor text (needs to be under 10%).
E) Percentage of your links that are nofollow (yeah they are important too!)
F) And a slew of other factors
After sharing the report with you we’ll then make the adjustments we need and then continue on with your campaign following the adjusted plan.
Then we’ll repeat the process every month until your site ranks on page one of Google for your primary keyword.
So you see this is much more than just a linking service.
Sure it’s easy to send links out. But they need to be the type of links that make your site look healthier month after month to the search engines instead of sicker and sicker.
So as your site’s needs changes we’ll be on top of it to give it the proper nutrition it needs.
Please contact us today so we can get you on Page 1!