Protect Your Website from the Next Search Engine Update.

Austin Internet Marketing - Wiz Marketing

Everyone in the SEO industry is waiting for the next Google Penguin update to hit. Penguin first went live in April and was a radical wake-up call to many site owners, going after sites with poor quality back link profiles, an overuse of exact-match anchor text and other web spam tactics designed to trick the search engines.

Many sites that were hit have yet to fully recover, although there have been a few reports of some sites being able to stop the free fall and earn back some of their lost visitors.

Then, back in August, Matt Cutts of Google’s web spam team said that “next few updates will be ‘jarring and jolting’ for webmasters and SEOs.”

This has many site owners and SEO professionals understandably anxious. If a site was hit the first time around, could it possibly get worse with a Penguin refresh? Could a site that wasn’t tagged with Penguin 1.0 get caught in the filter?

Until the next Penguin update comes down from Google no one can be 100% sure that their website is safe, but there are a few things that site owners can do now to protect their website from the next Penguin update, and any search engine update to come.

1. Take a look in your link building past.

This is especially important if you purchased a pre-existing domain or worked with an SEO provider in the past – you need to know what kind of inbound links are pointing to your site, even if you didn’t put them there!

Search engines don’t really care who built the 1,000 directory links or when they were created; your site, your links, your problem.

I’ve worked with several site owners that suffered a search engine penalty because they didn’t look over their site’s entire link history. Even if you have been doing everything by the book for the last 2 years, is there anything in your past that might come back to haunt you now? SEO skeletons never stay buried forever.

2. Get honest about your current link building.

So many site owners are still on the quest to get as many links as possible as quickly as possible, even when they know the dangers of building too many links too quickly without regard for quality.

Before the next search engine update hits it’s time to get honest about your current link building. Are you really focused on building the best possible links or are you still striving to meet some arbitrary link quota each month? Are you going after the hard-to-win but incredibly worthwhile links or shooting for the easier options?

There is nothing wrong with getting an easy win link every now and then, but you can’t rely on “meh” links to protect your site. Even if you aren’t directly penalized, if many of the less-than-awesome sites in your link profile get whacked there might be a residual impact on your site and the value of your link profile.

3. Check for duplicate content issues.

I’ve worked with so many site owners over the years that didn’t even know duplicate content was an issue on their site. I’ve seen old versions of sites not properly blocked, which mean the new site and old site were both being indexed. I’ve seen more .com/default or .com/index pages than I can count (usually duplicate of the homepage), duplicated title tags, Meta descriptions and more.

Get rid of it now! Even if it hasn’t come back to bite you yet (which with Panda floating around it’s still a definite possibility), duplicate content can still land you in hot water with the search engines.

Most site owners aren’t intentionally using duplicate content to try and manipulate the search results, but it’s important to remember that the search engines aren’t human—while I can look at a site and realize it’s just a technical mistake, there is no guarantee an algorithm will do the same. You don’t want to give the search engines any reason to doubt your intent.

4. Get serious about your content marketing.

Even if you can only write and promote one blog post a week it’s well worth the time and effort.

Great content is important to SEO for so many reasons. It helps build your online authority and reputation, improves your search engine visibility, garners quality links for your site, fuels your social media marketing campaign and more.

All this activity helps protect your website from search engine updates because it helps build trust! The more the search engines trust your website (which is created through a variety of factors) the less likely it is to get dinged by a search engine update.

It’s definitely still possible, even with great content, to get whacked by a search engine update, especially if other factors are working against you, but a great content marketing campaign helps build a buffer around your site to protect it.

I have worked with several sites over the years that got hit with a penalty from a search engine update, and all of them were guilty of some infraction.

Personally, I have yet to come across a site that was 100% by the book and white hat that got whacked with a penalty from a search engine update. They say the best defense is a good offense, so if you want to protect your website from a search engine update make sure your SEO is clean, solid and strong.

Author: Nick Stamoulis

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