How to Penguin Proof Your Web Copy …

Posted on 19. Jun, 2012 by in Digital Marketing

Penguin isn’t the first Google update to emphasise that quality content matters. But, under Penguin’s penalties, if your on-page copy and content strategy isn’t Pingu-perfect you’ll have less than happy feet. So forget the shuffle of shame down the organic search ratings – just keep reading and p.p..p…p…pick up some tips that’ll help penguin-proof your web copy.

5 ways to please Pingu in the post-penguin web:

Earlier this year, the penguins at Edinburgh Zoo were mighty miffed when pandas Sweetie and Sunshine rocked-up and hogged the limelight. So much so, they began to throw their mess at zoo-goers in a fit of what’s been termed “monochrome rage”. Lesson learned: peeving a penguin can get messy.

The web’s peeved penguins get just as angry – but instead of flexing their wings, they use negative SEO to deliver a powerful peck to offending websites, sending them tumbling down the organic search ratings.

So how do you please Pingu and penguin-proof your web copy?

1. Don’t over-optimise your web copy at the expense of readability

Google’s been against keyword stuffing from the start, but post-penguin it’s more important than ever to use keywords only when relevant, in properly constructed sentences. Forget peppering your copy with terms just to hit a set keyword density. And try not to include terms that you wouldn’t use in real life like “penguin Edinburgh” instead of “penguins in Edinburgh.”

Remember, Google says “make pages primarily for users, not for search engines” in the Basic Principles section of its quality guidelines. If your copy isn’t easy and interesting to read, your site could be set for a shuffle down the SERPs. So focus on readability and don’t over-optimise (no matter how tempted you may be).

2. Don’t just bold your keywords

Underlining has always been a formatting no-no as far as web copy goes, as it can create a false hyperlink effect that’s mighty annoying – whereas bolding, italicizing and using a different font colour can help you to pull important bits of copy to the fore.

But, unless you want the penguin to peck, you shouldn’t just bold or draw attention purely to your keywords – instead, bold in context by pulling out whole phrases and sentences that’ll interest your reader.

3. Anchor safely

Much has been said about Penguin’s effect on anchor text, but really there’s one simple rule: don’t stuff “money” or high-volume search keywords into your anchor text. According to Microsite Masters, 65% of websites that saw their ratings fall in the wake of Penguin’s release had a “money” keywords for anchor text – a big sign that bad anchoring is Pingu’s pet peeve.

If you want to anchor safely, in a way that appeases the web’s penguin gods, vary your anchor text, use synonyms and include a mix of branded keywords. And don’t anchor on generic terms like “click here” or “find out more” – anchor contextually, on a relevant keyword that follows through to a relevant page.

4. Be smart – and discerning – with your links

Sometimes less really is more and quality’s better than quantity. Linking is one such case. Unless you’re looking to peeve the penguin, don’t link to low quality pages or irrelevant ones.

Use your blog and news services to create topic-focused sites that contain helpful, optimised and relevant content that will attract new visitors to site and send valuable, positive ranking signals your way.

And, instead of linking to irrelevant site pages in your web copy, boost your internal linking in a Pingu-pleasing way by linking to relevant blog and news articles on your site – it’s a great way to keep visitors on page and clicking through your content.

5. Don’t duplicate content – ever

Duplicating your content has always been an SEO no-no, but with quality, relevant, original and unique content becoming even more highly valued by Google and other search engines, duplicating your web content is just asking for trouble.

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