Google Penguin – Friend or Foe?
The April 2012 Google Penguin update will go down in record books as one of the major shake-ups that rocked the Internet world in 2012. Along with its older sibling, the Google Panda (released in February 2011), the Penguin have brought about a number of radical changes that completely altered the way people look at SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
For the uninitiated, Google Penguin is part of a series of updates to Google’s search engine algorithm that started with the Google Panda in 2011. These updates were necessary to refine search results, and most importantly, to clear the InterWebs of annoying spam sites that were often filled with unreadable, keyword-riddled junk that was clearly not meant to be understood by human readers.
Unfortunately, the Penguin also affected a lot of poorly performing websites that were clearly not spam. A website’s ranking is now more dependent on its author’s online reputation and authority on the subject matter at hand. Instead of pageviews and backlinks, high-quality content has now taken the front seat as a determining factor in Google’s search rankings.
The Penguin Wants Quality!
So, how do you define the term “quality content?” There are really no set guidelines or formula for writing SEO-efficient content, but there are still few pointers that all web writers must follow. Here are some of them:
1. Write for humans.
This means no keyword-stuffing. Content used to be written with the sole purpose of making it rank higher on search results, with no regard to its relevancy and readability. A writer should be creative and unique. He or she must possess genuine interest and comprehensive knowledge on the topic that he or she is writing about.
2. Engage them.
Ask thought-provoking questions. Inspire friendly debate. Answer comments. Share relevant pages. These are signs for readers that behind all the words, images and content lies a living, breathing, human being. It makes them want to stay on a page longer and read more, and hopefully, be able to share whatever they’ve read to their friends on social networking sites. It’s a great way to drive organic traffic to a website.
3. Start off with a bang.
In copywriting, there is this concept of a “hook” (also called a “lead”), which is basically the most attention-grabbing part of an article. In web writing, you can place the “hook” right where it can instantly grab any readers attention- the title. Since most people have short attention spans (especially when surfing random pages on the Internet), a generic run-of-the-mill title will certainly not do. Instead of writing “Reasons to Buy Ultrabooks”, a writer could write “Ultrabooks- Fad or Future? Here Are Some Reasons Why You Should Get One.” He or she should grab potential readers with interesting and witty headlines that would make them want to come back for more.
Writing high-quality content is not rocket science, that’s for sure. But it requires a general understanding of what people want to read and a whole lot of common sense.
Alexis M is a distance education student by day and a freelance writer by night. She loves to write about technology, social media, food and travel. She has contributed to Degree Jungle best online college rankings, a resource for college students.