Google rolling out the real-time SEO update is only a matter of time now. Back in 2015, when the rumor first hit the industry, many SEOs squinched their eyebrows. Some of them have been strategizing ever since the announcement.
In October 2015, Gary Illyes of Google hinted the update is Penguin and will release at the end of that year. But the release was stalled for some reasons.
Sources believe the new Penguin will be out soon. Even though it is technically Penguin 4.0, it’ll be massive compared to the previous Penguin update. And it’ll reportedly be a core update.
Panda as a Core Update
The news is still fresh. In January this year, Google included Panda as a core ranking algorithm. Illyes informed the SEO community that Panda won’t be real-time like Penguin.
We can see a trend here – Google is encapsulating two manual updates into its fold of automation-driven core ranking algorithm. The question is what does that imply for the online marketers.
The Invisible Penalties
There’s no point living in denial. The sooner we face the truth, no matter how ugly it is, the sooner we could decide the best course of action. The truth is we won’t get to know when Panda or Penguin hit us, let alone be receiving suggestions on how to recover from the hit.
Recovering from a penalty is hard, and not being informed as to whether a site was penalized or not makes the recovery even harder. That’s precisely what might happen in case the penalty is algorithmic. Webmasters won’t get a clue that their sites were hit.
Clearly, Google is making parameterization of SEO impossible. A marketer’s best bet is to play safe and devise strategies that may or may not yield a top ranking, but will never invoke Google to penalize their sites.
Avoiding Panda is easier because Panda is all about content quality, and writing quality content is not that hard. But Penguin deals with links and that’s a headache for a whole lot of digital marketers.
To stay safe, SEOs need to constantly check their site traffic and the quality of incoming links. A noticeable drop in traffic may be an innuendo that the site got hit. As for links, webmasters need to be overly alert with them. In my previous article, I spoke about the doorways. Keep those doorways that have enough content on them and remove the rest.
You can use Google Analytics to check whether there’s any drop in traffic. SEMrush is an excellent tool that you can use alongside. I endorse SEMrush because it gives you a granular view of changes in the search visibility pattern.
See below for a screenshot of this:
SEMrush and Google Updates
Tally Google Analytics and SEMRush to know what’s going on, whether your site is hit or if it’s just a temporary drop in traffic.
Caution with Links
Link building must be done meticulously. Spammy practices such as two way link building and link exchange are outdated trends. But the allegedly safe practices for backlink generation may not be safe after all, if not done correctly. Two such practices are guest posting and infographic.
Social Media and Infographics
Google values backlinks that come from infographics. And social media is the best place to post and share infographics because the popularity of visual content on social channels is on the rise. Don’t keep these two separate. Merging the two is arguably a safe practice as infographics drive user-engagement, which is real time on social media.
Prudent Guest Posting
While generating backlinks through infographics is a safer bet, guest posting requires a bit of reticence. From my professional experiences, I can tell you that the volume of guest posting doesn’t always remain the same. You don’t write the same number of guest posts every month. Even if you do, it depends on the admins when they will publish those blogs.
Apparently, that’s not a problem. But as the next Penguin will be real-time, it’ll track even the teensy bit of changes in linking and try to find a pattern. The absence of a pattern means a site gets an inrush of backlink at one time and no backlink for a long time.
To keep the link frequency consistent, webmasters need to sit down and plan out their guest blogging strategy. The submission volume should be the same for every month. If they are submitting ten guest blogs for January, they’d have to maintain that for next six months at least. They better talk to other webmasters to get an idea of the tentative publishing date and then proceed with writing guest blogs.
During a natural disaster or a political uprising, the military deliberately jams all the mobile networks, so that rumors don’t get spread. Unfortunately, the internet is free for all and there’s no jamming mechanism.
This may not be good for SEOs as in the wake of Penguin 4.0, the SEO circle, in my opinion, will burst with rumors. An issue with server or a database error and ensuing downtime may bring a difference in traffic, which SEOs might interpret as the result of a hit by Panda or Penguin.
As there will be no official statement from Google, they will fly blind using the wings of speculation. This way, they may end up removing some organic links, which may hurt the SEO performance of their sites.
My advice for the marketers is use local keywords for organic link building. Don’t use local keywords as anchor texts, anchor texts should be their semantic variations. The real-time update won’t make a negative impact on the local SEO. Here’s why:
Keyword Ideas and Localization
Google Planner is the most endorsed keyword research tool right now. Even though there are demographic-based filtering options, local businesses still prefer the use of local keywords. And Google has no qualms with that as mobile users rely on local keywords.
In fact, Google encourages small businesses to optimize their logos and other images for local keywords, so that those images are displayed if Google Images is used to search retail products.
I think the use of local keywords will remain unaffected by the real-time update given the keywords won’t be used as anchor texts. They can be highlighted in the meta properties with two caveats:
- No frequent changes. Just like guest posting, there should be a consistency between two consecutive changes.
- Due to browser compatibility issues, meta properties sometimes become inaccessible. Use latest version of JQuery and check the “"meta[property='og\\:title']" part as many webmasters reported syntax errors using it.
Local search directories are so powerful that a small business with physical stores can get customers without having a website, only by selecting local keywords and marketing around local search directories.
For Now, Let's Wait
Taking preparations is good but overdoing it is not. Google hasn’t officially rolled out the real-time update yet. We can speculate the worst and think of some remedies, but to get the sense of the whole thing, we need to wait a little.
Once we are fully sure the new Penguin has arrived, we need to check for patterns in how it hits websites. Then we can make better strategies.