The Penguin Update launched on April 24 2012 and according to Google "Penguin is an important algorithm change targeted at web-spam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines.” This effected sites that used link farms, has to many backlinks with the same keywords etc.
Local Search has gone Social and Mobile, integration of Maps and Mobile Search into Smartphone devices, Tablets and Vehicles through applications are skyrocketing. More people are using their Mobile devices for online access every day and this trend will continue to grow for years to come. If you are looking to drive more foot traffic to a brick and mortar store or increase the visibility of your brand, optimizing for Local Search is the right move for search engine rankings and conversions.
So what do we need to do now to make sure we clean up our sites and gain back our Organic Rankings? This is the question I get constantly emailed and phone calls on every day.
First create a link report to see what sites and keywords are used to link to you with. Here is a Tool called Open Site Explorer that will do that for you. Visit those sites that you do not want linking to you anymore and email the administrator or webmaster asking if they can remove the link pointing to your site.
Second is to do on page and off page Search Engine Optimization, then submit a webspam re inclusion form (Link at bottom of post) to Google.
There are two important factors here we are going to look at, On-page and Of-page SEO. I know you have heard about this before and I'm probably sure you know how to do this but after the Penguin update there are a few tweaks you must add to these factors in order for you to gain back your Organic listing in the SERP's
*Update, Here is a Video called "SEO for Startups in under 10 Minutes" by Maile Ohye a Developers Tech Lead at Google.
- Title Tag
- One of the most important factors in on page Search Engine Optimization is your Title Tag, put your keywords before your brand name or Location, when someone uses those keywords in a search query, Search Engines show a snippet of The title, description, and those keywords are highlighted in the results. For Local Search it is much easier to rank for popular keywords with your address in the title.
- Social Integration
- Social Buttons are a form of a call to action. When someone shares your page or post on Social Networks, the Link to your site generally has the Title of that page with those keywords.
- Context in a page matters because some words have multiple meanings and with Google's Knowledge Graph and Bing's Entity & Social Search Integration Search Engines are getting smarter so word Meanings and Intentions play a greater role.Your keywords and keyphrases should be spread out about 5-7% in your web copy with nice paragraphs that explain your niche market. I would say no more than 2-3 keywords per page as well
- Keyword and Keyphrase Variations
- Use variations of your Keywords and Keyphrases, Use them in different sentences spread out through your site or the page you are trying to optimize. Variations tell Google and Bing that your content is relevant to the topic and not just keyword stuffed.
- Fresh Content
- You always want to add fresh content, update old pages or even add new pages. Fresh content lets the search engines know the site is being maintained and kept updated.
- Keyword Density
- According to Google Keyword Density does not matter, however if you look at most of the top ranking sites for their niche keywords, they have a density around 5-7% You can check out the Keyword Density with this tool: Keyword Density Tool
- Supporting text for your keyword or keyphrases is important for search engines and readers as well. Search Engines use Semantic Search to determine what keyword or keyphrase you searched for and what that page is about
- Include at least one picture with a description and use the alt image tag with either your keywords or the keyword describing the picture. We live in a visual world and pictures make your content stand out. Search Engines read pictures by their supporting text and alt image tags.
- Call To Action
- Use links in your web copy for call to actions to other pages or your services. What is the use of providing good content and just have your visitors leave without them knowing more about what you have to offer.
- Contact Info
- Your business name, address and phone number on the Main page is one of the most important factors in ranking your page higher in the search engines organically for local searches.
- Internal Linking
- Search Engines use internal links to determine what the site is about and determine the relationship between pages. Internal links have Anchor Text with keywords and description of the page that correlates
- For your readers Site-Maps offer a easy way of finding your pages and gives your page structure. For Search Engines Site-Maps give page hierarchy and lets search engins know all the pages to your site so they get indexed.
Offsite Search Engine Optimization
- Link Building
- Link Building is one of the major factors that search engines use to rank a website in the organic results. Link Building helps create brand, Authority and credibility. Link should come from sites that correlate with your site and from sites that have high authority. Link should be natural and dripped out over time
- Authority Links
- You want sites that are popular and that have good page rank to link to your site. Authority sites give better credibility and can drive allot more traffic to your site. Search Engines see these types of Authority Links and rank your site higher in the organic results because Authority sites are trusted and usually have been around a while. Write the webmasters or website administrators and ask for a link. They may be interested in a Link Exchange. Search Engines like Google and Bing are adding Authority Links to organic listings, Google+ Search Your World uses the Authorship Tag and Bing shows "People Who Know". Authority Links give better credibility with a picture and help increase the click through rate.
- Do Follow Links
- Links that are do follow pass on Link Juice or Page-Rank. These types of Do Follow Links coming from Authority sites share this juice and search engines see that the links pointing to a certain page must be relevant and important
- Social Links
- Links coming from Social Networks are a word of mouth link. People care enough to share your content and spread the word. Social Links are targeted and contain Keywords and a description of the content they are linking to. Social Networks are including Local Search into their Network and Applications and as well including them in Organic Listings. This is why putting your keywords or keyphrase in the title tag next to your address or brand are important for local search.
- Correlating Links
- Correlating links is one of the most important factors in offsite search engine optimization. You want sites that are based on the same subject or niche to link to your site. Search Engines read these correlating links and follow them, its kind of like saying here is more information based on what you were just looking for so come check it out.
- Anchor Text
- When building links make sure your Anchor Text is the keyword or keyphrase you want to rank for that links to your main page or any page you want to rank higher. Add a description to your Anchor text to add further correlation.
- Link Variation
- Use keyword variations in your Anchor Text. People tend to search using different terms, Link Variation gives your keywords a chance in ranking higher for multiple keywords. Search engines will consider it link spam if you have the same Anchor Text plastered everywhere linking to your site.
- Blog links
- Links coming from blogs are generally correlated as they have something to do with a certain niche, usually you can see these Blog Links in a blog roll in the sidebar of a blog. You can add links using keyword or keyphrase variation and leave a useful description in the comments. Add value to the comment!
- Forum Links
- A Signature link in your profile gives credibility, allot of forums let you include this right away, however you may not be allowed to add links in comments till you have been active in the forums posting in threads.
- Directory Links
- For local search Directory Links are a must. Local Directories like YP.com, Manta, Yelp, and Google Places list your brand name with address and your keywords. Search Engines and Social Networks are using these directories and maps in their network and applications.
- Video & Photo Links
- Video and Photo sharing services like You Tube, Chill and Pinterest allow you to add your address and keywords in the title of a video with a description, People can share, like and re-pin potentially turning viral creating lots of targeted links
After you have cleaned up the site using the Search Engine Optimizations guidelines above use the following Form from Google to explain what you have done and give an example of your efforts.Here is the link to the WebSpam Form for re-inclusion.
Ranking higher in the Organic Listings for Local Search can be achieved pretty quick as you are only competing with other Local Businesses. The use of Long-Tail Keywords also help as most of them are not as competitive as 1 and 2 word keywords. With everything going Social and Mobile, its a good idea to optimize your site for fingers and thumbs<----easy navigation.
There are much more factors in ranking a page in the organic listings and in fact Google has 200 such signals. No one knows the true algorithm except for search engines and the coders themselves. The best option is to keep up with the latest information in search engine news. Join Forums, Blogs and Social Networks that have Search Engine Marketing groups.
Remember, No true Search Engine Optimization Specialist can guarantee you first place rankings in the Organic Listings. While many claim they can, they probably could when it comes to non competitive keywords and for Local search it is much easier to rank. Let them show you results of their work and check out their following on social networks, this will give you a good idea of reputable companies!
By "Shawn Lippert"
These are the 10 Videos Webmasters must watch according to Google, Thanks to Chris Crum form WebProNews
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