Google is still changing the way we do SEO and online PR

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Over the past six weeks Google has launched a number of attacks on SEO spammers resulting in harsh penalties for some, while those who have been following the straight and narrow over the past year have awaited these updates with much elation.

Google Panda 4.1 forces Companies to invest in a solid content plan

On 25 September 2014, Google announced the latest update to Google Panda — an update designed to weed out thin and poor quality content, and reward those websites with high-quality engaging content. Google’s algorithm has been fine-tuned to apply more precision in identifying signals that define the overall quality of a piece of content on a website, whether positive or negative.

For those companies that have been throwing heaps of money at lots of poor-quality, over-optimised (keyword stuffed) content simply for the sake of trying to appear more relevant to search engines, this update has not been a welcomed one. Companies that have shifted their thinking towards investing in creating unique, engaging and quality content for the sake of adding value to the user, are celebrating the latest update.

A recent survey conducted by World Wide Worx indicated that 73% of South African marketing budgets will be allocated to content marketing in 2015, while 60% will invest in multi-media content. This refreshing statistic demonstrates that South African companies certainly appear to be heading in the right direction to win favour with not only Google, but their users as well.

A content plan is an essential document that details the content development and promotional activities centered around a business objective. A content plan must be designed to reach a target audience through a relevant channel in order to achieve a desired action, where clear milestones and KPIs are set and where these key metrics can be properly measured.

Having a solid content plan is becoming essential to the digital landscape, adding immense value and benefit to the company’s search rankings as well as to the brand’s digital presence and credibility.

Google Penguin 3.0 reinforces the importance a web PR and communications strategy

On 17 October 2014, just three weeks after the Panda blow, Google started to push out the long-awaited Penguin update. It had been over a year since Google last released a Penguin update, and for those companies that were previously hit by a Penguin penalty – and have since cleaned up their act – this update was very well embraced.

Google Penguin is an algorithm specifically designed around identifying and penalising those websites that are intentionally practicing black-hat (spammy) search engine optimisation (SEO) tactics, by trying to manipulate the search engines into thinking that they are the most authoritative (popular) or relevant website for certain search queries. While the algorithm detects both on-page and off-page spam tactics, it is very much focused around identifying those websites that have engaged in un-natural link building tactics such as link buying, participating in link farms, posting one-liner, spammy hyperlinked posts on guest blogs and using doorway pages (also known as feeder sites), to mention only a few.

Becoming popular on the web is becoming increasingly challenging for those companies that have been dabbling in driving un-natural backlinks to their websites in the past. While these ‘quick wins’ might have helped them in the past in the short-term, those sites have now been smacked hard by the latest Penguin update; and if not yet affected, they may very soon experience the wrath of Google, as Google continues to roll out its Penguin update – with many more casualties still to come.

On the positive side, those companies that have been concentrating on building up their reputation online, and who have devised strategies to increase buzz around their brand, are already starting to reap the rewards of Google’s Penguin update.

A Web PR (Digital Communications) strategy is paramount to the success of any brand online. Having a solid editorial strategy on the web will not only improve a brand’s rankings on Google, but it will also receive more brand awareness, credibility, engagement and authority amongst its target audiences online.

Digital PR has the ability to give clients exposure across a range of online locations — essentially anywhere today’s audiences consume content online.

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