Avoiding Algorithmic Pandas and Penguins

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Avoiding Penguins and Pandas.”


Google’s recent penchant for naming major algorithmic updates after animals has the world of search engine optimization sounding more like a zookeeper’s dilemma. But with rumors of an impending Penguin update right around the corner, ecommerce marketers need to know their Penguins from their Pandas, and how to avoid the ire of both.

In both cases, Penguin and Panda are algorithmic updates. Each represents updates to the hundreds of signals that Google uses to analyze and rank web pages for its search results pages. Penguin and Panda are primarily associated with negative impact on organic search traffic. Algorithmic updates are different than a manual penalty, in which human members of Google’s Web Spam team manually identify violations to Google’s webmaster guidelines and assess penalties on those pages. Because Penguin and Panda act algorithmically, if a site that has been demoted can identify and remove the issue, the site should be able to rebound algorithmically as well.

Most algorithms are being constantly tweaked and updated within Google’s main index. As a result, the impact of these continual updates isn’t felt strongly or suddenly as the algorithms evolve. Interestingly, Penguin and Panda are processed outside of the main index. Consequently, the updates to the rankings that these two algorithms produce are experienced in sudden bursts of change to rankings and traffic, lending Penguin and Panda their fearsome reputation.

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce for more detail on Google’s Penguin and Panda algorithm updates. »

PS: For lots of interesting details on how Google instructs its human quality raters, see Search Engine Land’s article from 9/7/12: “Google Search Quality Raters Instructions Gain New “Page Quality” Guidelines.” I guess this topic is on a lot of minds lately.

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

4 Simple Visuals to Explain SEO

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “4 Simple Visuals to Explain SEO.”

When talking to marketers, it can be nearly impossible to get them to look beyond the brand imagery and user experience they’ve crafted for their customers online. And while they’re locked into that perception of their site it’s very difficult to explain why search engines don’t perceive their site exactly as they do. These three simple visuals can help shatter those perceptual walls and open the door to more productive SEO discussions.


Read more about the thinking behind these visuals and how to create them for any site at “4 Simple Visuals to Explain SEO.”

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Three Steps to Better Search Rankings

My latest on NBC 5 Chicago’s Inc. Well: “How to Get Better Search Rankings

Optimizing a site’s title tags is one of the simplest and most effective actions you can take to improve a site’s search engine optimization. Many content management systems create default title tags based on the site’s name and the page’s name, in that order. Others smear a single title tag on every page across large sections of the site. Depending on how suboptimal the title tags are today, optimizing them could have a real impact on a site’s organic search performance.

  • Step One: Keyword Research
  • Step Two: Review Analytics
  • Step Three: Optimize Title Tags

Read the whole article with details on each step at “How to Get Better Search Rankings.”

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Using User Language: UGC and SEO

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource’s weThink blog: “Using UGC to Benefit SEO.”


User-generated content (UGC) and search engine optimization (SEO) are a match made in heaven. SEO is done by marketers and can fall prey to same language issues that caused the site to perform poorly in organic search in the first place. But UGC is created by customers and uses the real-world language that other customers and searchers are likely to use.

“Why, is that our new ‘Zip-front Sweatshirt-Black-With Hood?’” asks the marketer.

“No,” replies the puzzled customer. “It’s a “black hoodie.’”

So while the marketer busily optimizes for the product name, the customer logs on to write a review about the great new “hoodie” he just bought.

That review, a free bit of UGC gold, contributes to the keyword theme of the page and begins to send “hoodie” relevance signals. The more customers write reviews, the stronger the signals become.

Read the article in full at Resource’s weThink blog »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.