Penguins, Pandas, and Bears, Oh My!

When I tell people about what Diverse Elements does, many anticipate that I’ll say “SEO”  quicker than a politician’s flip flop.

For those who may still be uninitiated, Search Engine Optimization ultimately means getting and staying at or near the top of search results, and/or at least staying on page 1 for search engines when anyone looks for something in particular using natural language terms (organic search).

In addition to those coveted positions, I’ll wager SEO expert seekers at least imagine some high-tech wizardry must be involved.

By now, even those who aren’t “technology-immersed” have likely heard of Google’s “Panda update”, designed to counter methods of gaming the system such as using sites solely as a means of increasing rankings of other sites, keyword stuffing, and poor quality content/links. All evaluated by the accumulated knowledge of the search algorithm in this update, which can carry legitimate sites in its wake.

More recently (2012) the rankings of many sites were further impacted by Google’s “Penguin update” which focused on the quality of backlinks (links on other sites referring back to the target site), and the age of a site as well as its “evergreen content.” There is even a reported “over-optimization penalty” being levied.

As Jim Cockrum , a noted internet marketer recently observed:

“You can hire the best of the best SEO experts on the planet, pay them to do their chants and work their magic, and wake up one day on page 39 of [Google] just like the guy that deserves to be there…because his content sucks and you tried  to “fool” [Google]…both offenses get you slapped.”

On the flip side, these changes have given rise to a phenomena known as
“negative SEO” where rankings for sites may be intentionally reduced by their
competitors employing the deceptive strategies.

Fundamental legitimate practices can be applied to raise the odds of remaining
among the early SERP results: reasonable use of keywords (in order to clearly
express ideas, not to exploit favor by search engines); creative domain names and
titles; links from/to authority sites that have not been added abnormally fast,
to name a few. Visiting other blogs, forums and answer boards, contributing
and demonstrating knowledge and the like is a part of the recipe as well.

The boom in social media can also have such an effect but not the way you might
have thought. In fact there’s ample evidence that social networking is influencing search engine results greater than traditional SEO.

Quote from Neil Patel/ on the influence of Twitter on Bing:

“[…] while the ability to search for tweets via Bing may not send much traffic to your social networking profile, there’s evidence that tweets or retweets of links by legitimate users on Twitter can lead to a bump in traditional SEO rankings as well.

Jennifer Lopez (author of article in Daily SEOMoz) did a case study showing that after a tweet introducing her Beginners’ Guide to SEO was retweeted by Smashing Magazine, she noticed an immediate impact in terms of both traffic and rankings for a previously un-tracked keyword.”

However, social networking can involve an investment of time that business owners may not have. More about that in another post.

One thing is certain: authors of tricky (or worse) methods have just as many and more dedicated and bright individuals constantly inventing countermeasures. Another is that web search is evolving and no single strategy is a panacea.

So, does Diverse Elements “do SEO?” Most definitely. Organic search will continue in some form and should be taken into account. But the primary objective should not be to remain indefinitely on page 1; it should be to build a loyal following that will refer others, just as in the brick and mortar world. The search engines will reward accordingly.

Yes, being discovered is great. Being able to relate is greater.

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