Google’s latest round of algorithm changes, which affects just 3 percent of queries, is now known as the Penguin update. The latest sweep of the SERPs penalized spinners and spammers, and sends a clear message about what the search engine expects from the SEO community.
So, should your SEO strategy change?
Not Just SEO, Everflux SEO
While Google has been battling the most roguish of SEOs since it came into commercial being (see a brief history of Google updates below), many digital marketers still mistakenly believe that black hat shortcuts are better than having a sustainable white hat strategy.
As someone who likely requires some measurable success with SEO, your best tactic in the now post-penguin era is to invest your energy in Everflux SEO. No, it’s not a software or a service, it’s a mindset – a mindset that demands a greater focus on creating genuine value-added experiences for Google’s users and your prospective visitors. While the search indices are constantly in flux, SEOs need to be “ever” vigilant in adopting the many well-known best practices.
To understand what Google wants, or any search engine for that matter, you must first understand its history with the SEO community and the changes and modifications it has made to provide users the best possible experience over the years and which lead us to today.
A Brief History of Google Updates
The number, scope and depth of algorithm changes made by Google over time is extensive, but even by examining a brief history (we’ve highlighted the “key words”) can we start to see what SEOs should be focusing on. For example, Google has always been concerned with link quality. The Cassandra and Dominic updates put the quality of links at the center of discussion in the search engine optimization community, and that conversation continues today.
When the Florida update rolled out in late 2003, the practice of SEO became much more serious. Shortcut SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing, which once provided the most open point of access into the search results, were finally sealed with Florida.
With several loopholes closed, in early 2004 Google introduced an update known far and wide as Brandy, which dramatically improved Google keyword analysis through Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). This set the stage for the most significant changes to the Google SERPs in the Jagger and Big Daddy update of 2005. Google cracked down on link manipulation with Jagger and introduced the term canonicalization with Big Daddy, which made site quality issues (and some would argue search usability) the focus.
For many, it was the golden age of search engine optimization and out of the blue – it got much better. The Universal Search update in 2007 created a much more immersive experience for search engine users and provided SEOs with many more tools to practice their craft. News content, images and video started Google down a path of introducing new content formats to the user search experience. Google has continued with these integrations and, in some instances, bought companies outright (ITA Software, Zagat) which provide content that users can’t or don’t provide. For those it could not purchase, Google partnered with. The best example of this is seen in what I refer to as the “Fire Hose Wars”, where the interest in real-time search was at fever pitch. Google starting indexing content from a variety of services, including the fire hose (or full feed) of Twitter.
The real-time search update presented some further speed and indexation problems, which were addressed in the Caffeine update of mid-2010. If 2010 was the year of real time and caffeine, then 2011 was the year of the Panda, a broad update which harshly punished “thin content sites.” Then, in mid-2011, Google and other search engines announced support for Schema.org – again providing something of value for SEOs in terms of a means to provide more information to Google and influence their position on the search results.
As the interest in social media rose, so did Google’s reliance on social signals. And of course what still remains as one of the hottest topics in SEO, Search+ Your World further changed the already highly dynamic, personalized search results by incorporating user profiles and more social data. Social media optimization is now an essential technique for success with SEO.
By understanding the update history and with a firm belief in the importance of Everflux SEO, we can finally make some post-Penguin predictions.
Post Penguin Predictions
Greater Reliance on Knowledge-Base Optimization (KBO): The Web doesn’t exist without information, and more often than not, the more you have, the better the opportunity to receive website traffic (visitors). But you can’t get those website visitors if at some point you don’t first create the content. Knowledge-base optimization puts your whole organization/enterprise to work, developing and sharing information that will by its very nature appeal to those looking for your products or services on the Web.
Deeper Exploration of People-Powered Optimization: The practice of search engine optimization has changed and, for many, it has not been an easy transition. Today’s SEO must be skilled not only at content creation, site architecture or keyword analysis. Today, the best in the SEO business are those that have mastered the art of people-powered optimization. To benefit in this new era, you’ll need to understand the practice of social media optimization and the role that individuals play in the success of not just SEO, but of the entire digital enterprise.