Since its highly-anticipated release on May 22nd, Penguin 2.0 has had the SEO world abuzz. Now that Penguin 2.0 is here in our backyards instead of looming on the horizon, it’s time to have a closer look at it.
A recent infographic by Entrepreneur shows that too close a look can get daunting. With over two hundred factors, none of them officially disclosed, understanding Google’s algorithm is a challenge. Entrepreneur contributor Eric Siu boils it down for us: we should be optimizing for our target keywords, paying attention to the quality of our backlinks, and sending the right social signals. Sound familiar? That’s because this advice has remained consistent throughout every algorithm change. Is it really that simple to optimize our websites for this new update?
Some say it’s even simpler.
One strategy for handling SEO is to stop worrying so much about algorithms. The system is built to work best when you don’t try too hard to please it. Search Engine Guide contributor Stoney deGeyter gives us three good reasons not to build our SEO strategy around Penguin 2.0 or any other Google Zoo animal: personalization, localization, and socialization. Aside from having a catchy ring to it, deGeyter raises a good point. No matter how well you optimize for all of Google’s algorithm, there are other things at play. Personalized results mean that no two users are looking at exactly the same search results, which are also subject to local SEO and social media activity (specifically on Google+).
Google’s algorithm is designed so that trying to game the system is ineffective in the long run; despite continued efforts to find a “silver bullet” for each new update, there is no single surefire tactic for success within the algorithm. According to Search Engine Watch contributor David Cato, “With every passing year, Google refines its algorithm further, reducing the effectiveness of silver bullet techniques,” meaning that Penguin 2.0 is even less susceptible to this kind of SEO strategy than its predecessors were.
Unsurprisingly, the answer to the Penguin problem is an integrated digital marketing strategy. Treating SEO as part of a greater web marketing strategy means that all of the media that you’re working with will help and support each other, so good SEO should follow. “The great thing about a diversified cross-media approach,” Cato says, “is that it makes companies decently Penguin-proof.”
Google’s own Matt Cutts is getting at the same idea in a recently released Youtube video when he says “You get too focused on search engines.”
“I would think, just like Google does, about the user experience of your site. What makes it compelling? What makes it interesting? What makes it fun?”
In the end, it all comes down to delivering quality content in the most interesting and valuable way for your customers. It comes as no surprise to us that Penguin 2.0, like its predecessors, is just Google’s latest effort to improve the user experience by delivering useful, legitimate, “compelling” content. It’s important to do the same for your site—optimizing your site for a search engine and optimizing for your customers should amount to the same thing. That isn’t to say that we should forget all about Penguin; being familiar with the algorithm and how to optimize for it, within boundaries, is still smart. However, that kind of SEO is only worth as much as the content on your page.