SEO firms have been getting very upset with Google recently. The reason? Pandas and penguins.
No, not the cuddly things that look cute on nature programmes.
Pandas and Penguins are algorithmic updates that Google regularly sends out, warrior-like, to re-rank websites. The latest Penguin shuffled out just before Christmas - no doubt wearing a suitably festive hat, some tinsel and a broad sword. Much moaning ensued.
Your view on Google's algorithmic wildlife will depend which side you're on. According to many SEO firms they’re irritating, goalpost-moving little buggers designed to catch out unwary websites and banish them to the deserts of page 4. According to Google, they’ll only down-rank websites that provide a poor user experience. In other words, sites which use sneaky black-hat SEO techniques such as keyword-stuffing, cloaking, blatant link bombing and duplicate content.
If the penguins catch you at it, they'll get nasty.
... and how to survive them
Now, I’m going to come clean and confess that I love Penguins and Pandas. Frankly, they’re great news for SEO copywriters. Most of us have been jumping up and down with glee because here’s the thing...
The best way to survive Google's regular Panda throwing is to make sure your site contains high-quality, relevant, and extremely useful content. Penguins and Pandas get cuddly if your website is regularly updated with fresh copy.
And what do we do? Yep, you’ve guessed it. We provide high-quality, relevant, useful and updated content. Contact me. I like Penguins.
Please would you do something for me, dear blog reader? Type “elephant banana wobble” into a search engine. Oh go on, I dare you.
I’m going to stick my neck out here and guarantee that this blog will appear at the top of page 1. Why? Because I’ve made “elephant banana wobble” the keyword phrase in this blog and tagged it up to its eyeballs.
Now I’m not suggesting that “elephant banana wobble” is a popular search term on the internet. Obviously. But it does bring me, in a roundabout fashion, to the subject of this blog. Keyword stuffing.
What is keyword stuffing?
Keyword stuffing is the practice of shoving as many keywords as possible onto a page in order to increase search engine rankings. There was a time when this worked a treat. You could fool the Google algorithms by using completely random but immensely popular search terms. “Sex” and “porn” were, as you can imagine, particularly prevalent on websites that bore no relation to sex and porn. Knitting patterns, say. Or elephants.
Alternatively, you could just over-use keywords. Imagine, if you will, a world in which “elephant banana wobble” was one of the most popular search terms ever. Yes I know, but bear with me... Back in the day, I could write a paragraph that consisted of pretty much nothing except elephant, banana and wobble. Or - and this one’s sneaky - I could use text that matches the colour of the background so that only Google could see it.
Either way, my website would be unreadable.
The dangers of keyword stuffing
Google has long since wised up and now has various clever ways to spot irrelevant or over-stuffed keywords. Worse, if it suspects cheating, you may be banished to the outer reaches of Nowhereland or get deleted completely. You shall be spam. Not only that, you shall be spam on page 5 of Google.
In other words, keywords stuffing is risky. Google will notice.
Using keywords responsibly
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that I have used the exact term “elephant banana wobble” in the title and 5 times in this blog. Actually, it’s now 6 but you get the picture.
Google rewards websites that use keywords sparingly and in proportion to the word count. Its robots will smile upon original copy with keywords relevant to the subject. Most importantly, a human visitor will be able to read your content.
If in doubt, hire a professional web content writer. Better still, hire me.