Changes in Google's search engine ranking algorithm, which many know as Panda and Penguin, have some brand marketers giving up on optimization strategies. Google announced another Panda update earlier this week, suggesting only 1.2% of English queries were affected -- this time.
Many companies affected by the 24 Google algorithm updates never recovered. An upcoming PM Digital study literally dissects passages in Google's guidelines to provides 30 tactics to improve today's SEO techniques through off-page signals, location, relevance and recent information.
"I've heard marketers tell me, 'we've given up on Google organic'," said Clay Cazier, senior director of natural search strategy at PM Digital. "Everyone's really freaked out about Penguin, but I don't know why. Google's been telling us about this for the past 10 years."
Cazier analyzes passages in Google's guidelines to define principles that will drive better performance from Google's algorithm in 2013. He attempts to clarify the ongoing value of traditional link-building and explore ways to supply the off-page signals of social previously supplied by links alone.
Pay more attention to incoming links that are immune to future updates, such as the Better Business Bureau or the Chamber of Commerce, Cazier said. He also suggests that marketers monitor Google Alerts for authoritative people who may blog about the brand but forgot the link.
Marketers need to begin thinking differently when optimizing pages because Google has changed the search game by bringing off-page factors to bear on organic rankings. They should target links found through what Cazier calls competitive coincidence -- a mention of the brand along with relative keywords -- rather than focusing on directories that are "free," a word that inherently remains flawed.
Compile a list of sources of incoming links for sites that already rank well in Google for your top keyword.
Marketers working on sites in the U.K., for example, need to focus on local U.K. links, according to the report. That made the difference for search engine query ranking when working on the site for Berks Beads. While the guidelines don't measure link quantity, Cazier plans to analyze that next.