Another month, another update from Google. And Penguin 2.0 is a serious one, with implications fro many businesses as well as online marketing professionals. From search results to the way we optimize, the two cute little animals from Google – Panda and Penguin – have changed the online landscape forever.
Matt Cutts mentioned a few industries that are targeted with the over-optimization penalties – online casino, payday loans and a few others found themselves a the end of algorithmic retribution that got many people thinking about moving on from SEO to SEM and more strategically to optimization within Digital marketing rather than SEO as a discipline on its own.
The changes that were rolled out in May will all but eliminate black hat as a tactic or strategy, with even grey hat reduced to short term significance rather than a solid case for decision making. And most importantly, the current Search marketing climate will separate the men from the boys, with only the most proficient optimization specialists to remain in business.
To me, what is happening today in Search marketing has been coming for a long time – there is only so much destructive, spammy work that the internet (and Search engines) can take. Users rarely link to a site using exact match anchor text – it of course depends on the industry, but only 1-2% usually make reference to a source using the anchor text desired by link builders and the people behind them. The current acceptable anchor text spread revolves around Brand – over 50%, random – anything between 30% to 40% and exact, phrase match anywhere between 2% and 10%. In other words, the big SEO party as we once knew it is over.
Without Brand credibility, good content to support it and a significant Social presence, links do no longer carry much weight. They are still valuable – the good ones, but the way in which link building that works is used has completely changed.
Another direct result of current changes is that many businesses have found themselves in a situation where getting rid of bad links is as important, if not more important, than acquiring new ones. That in my opinion includes both guilty and innocent sites – after all, nobody is in control of who links to a page on the internet.
We are slowly approaching the time when Matt Cutts’ prediction on around 70% of Search traffic to come from long tail, content-based SEO is about to become reality. In these circumstances, only those who can really understand the internet and how people interact online will be able to deliver results in Search engine marketing.
The ideal recipe for success seems to revolve around integrating SEO into pretty much all the other aspects of Digital marketing and channels of acquisition. Onsite optimization needs to be perfected to an art level, then content, links and Social have to complement the main element of any strategy – the Brand. As long as any optimization is done with the user in mind, it should succeed in delivering solid, measurable results in the Search marketing of 2013.