In Wild West days of the world wide web, if an entrepreneur could manage to send out enough press releases filled with relevant keywords linking back to her website, then her job was done. Her website ranked high for key search terms, business boomed, and everyone was happy.
Well, that is, except for everyday web users who were simply looking for relevant information, not a press release stuffed with keywords.
Everyone was learning how to use the Internet for optimal effect back in those days, but times have changed. Search engines like Google have realized that they need to provide the best search results to their users, or lose them altogether. That’s why Google frequently updates their algorithm to determine how a website appears within a search. And a couple of years ago, they introduced Google Panda (now @ version 4.0).
And that changed the game for absolutely everyone. Panda is savvy enough to recognize websites, blog posts, and press releases that actually provide real information to searchers, rather than just draw traffic with a bunch of random keywords and links.
So what does that mean for folks trying to promote their small business via the web? While the average Joe is certainly finding Google much easier to use, folks like you and I, even after loads of exposition and assurances, are still left scratching our collective heads over how the algorithmic beast is going to treat our press releases (and thus our websites). Will there be penalties? Will it hurt?
Never fear. As a savvy businessperson in a post-Panda world, I bet that once you un-train yourself to focus on keywords, you’re going to find today’s PR landscape easier, not harder. The key, you see, is in rich, reader-focused content.
Don’t believe me? Here are a few tips for surviving and thriving in a post-Panda world:
- Write for Human Beings – Don’t stress over stuffing your keyword into your post 3% of the time anymore. Just focus on the information you are trying to convey and write it in a style that real human beings will appreciate. Google is smart enough now to appreciate this style of writing, too.
- Don’t Stress About the Right Keyword – Are you obsessively checking your keyword tool to determine whether you should use the term “car parts” or “auto parts”? Stop! As long as your piece is well written and conveys important information to a reader, it doesn’t matter which version of a keyword you use.
- Build Credibility – Google and other search engines take your website’s credibility into account when determining how to rank your pages in search. Write many well-crafted articles on your topic. Take the time to become known as an expert in your field. Even Google will notice.
- Edit, then Edit Again – One of the quickest ways to lose your hard-won credibility is to publish pieces filled with typos or factual errors. Just like you wouldn’t serve a half-baked cake, don’t publish a piece before it’s finished cooking.
- Avoid the Appearance of Spam – No matter how well-written your articles are, if your website is unsecure and rife with pop-ups and flashing ads, Google Panda will penalize it. Employ web design best practices so people who do find you in search stick around for more.
- Be an Original – Last but not least, follow the old adage “Write what only you can write.” There’s clearly a reason you’re writing press releases, articles and other web content about a topic. Use original research and information, even original opinion if appropriate, to make your content stand out from the Google-penalized pack.
Google Panda’s gift to the world has been to encourage more thoughtful, useful, well-written content on the web. Isn’t that what it’s for, after all?
Have you noticed a difference in your content post-Panda? Let us know in the comments.
This article was written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases Press Release Distribution.