In Beyond The Blog Basics, it’s time to discuss Google Panda and your use of keywords (see Promoting Your Books for more posts on blog basics and more). I had an interesting talk with a friend who helps me with SEO (Search Engine Optimization). For those of you who don’t know, Google is constantly trying to adjust its algorithms that rank individual web pages. And Google hates websites that try to fool their system. As I chatted with my friend today, he pointed out that Google Panda (a change to Google’s search results ranking algorithm) has had yet another update (there have been quite a few since February 2011).
Beyond The Blog Basics – Why Does This Matter to You?
Some of you are probably thinking, what do I care about this? Well, if you want people to discover you and your blog (and your writing), in my humble opinion, you should care a lot. There are millions of websites and blogs out there. In order to get yours noticed, you need to have a strategy that will get you discovered. Running a quality blog is a huge part of this. But you also need to make sure Google isn’t penalizing your ranking.
Your Ranking And Blog Basics
Ever searched for something on the Internet (who hasn’t, right?). What you type in the search window is you keyword or keyword phrase. The sites that are the most optimized for those words will appear first. My whole goal for my blog and websites is to get on page one of Google for the keywords I’m targeting. Why? Because most people won’t go beyond a page or two when they’re searching for information. If they don’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll try a different word or phrase. So you need an optimized website or blog, but you have to be careful because of…
Your Blog And Google Panda
Here’s what Google says about Google Panda:
This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on. (Source: Google Blog)
Google doesn’t want you to try to trick the system. If their crawlers think your site is trying to trick them, your site will be penalized and you’ll lose your ranking. My friend said that sites that had ranked page one (and even the number one spot) on Google lost their ranking overnight. For some sites, this meant years of work down the drain. If you’re trying to market something (like books, hint hint), this is huge – a game changer. So what do you do to help your ranking but not be penalized by Google?
Beyond The Blog Basics – Tip One
The first thing to look at is your visitor engagement. Google wants to see that your blog has value, and one way Google measures this is by how many visitors you have and how much they are engaging within your site. Do people comment? If not, you might consider ways to get people engaged: ask a question, ask for advice, write something controversial and so on.
Beyond The Blog Basics – Tip Two
Have you heard the term bounce rate? This refers to what a person does once he/she comes onto your site. Does this person come on your site and immediately leave versus staying and reading your content? Higher bounce rate is bad. Good quality content keeps a person on your site and is good in Google’s eyes. It bears repeating: good quality content keeps a person on your site.
Beyond The Blog Basics – Tip Three
More on the quality of your content. One way people were tricking the system was to write articles, posts and the like, and then copy and paste the exact same content on other sites or articles. Google doesn’t like this – at all. If you’re doing this, stop. I am told, however, that having an exact description of your book(s) on Amazon, your blog, website and a few other places isn’t going to get you penalized. Writing a blog post and then putting the same content elsewhere could.
Beyond The Blog Basics – Tip Four
I’ve talked before about the importance of a keyword strategy and I will be doing a follow-up post on this. If you want your blog to be read by more people, you need to perform keyword research and target your audience. However, for the purposes of Google Panda and being penalized, you do not want to keyword stuff. Keyword stuffing is placing keywords in your posts that don’t really flow with your content – they are inserted there solely to up the number of times you use a keyword (or keyword phrase). Google penalizes for this. The rule of thumb is if your content doesn’t flow naturally because of your keywords, you’re stuffing your content. Don’t do it.
Beyond The Blog Basics – The Best Tip
It all comes back to your content and your relevancy for Google. If Google doesn’t think your site is relevant, it’s much harder on you. They want to help sites that are imparting great information to their users. Most of you who are reading this are authors – you love to write and tell stories. You’re likely not anywhere near a danger zone when it comes to Google Panda. But I would encourage you to look at optimizing your sites so more people can find you. Just be careful when you do.
What do you think? Do you worry about blog basics and Google Panda? Or SEO?