Matt Cutts (the head of Google’s search spam team) raised eyebrows when he mentioned that Google would soon be rolling out an “over optimization” update to their algorithm to level the playing field between sites that build quality content, verses those using questionable optimization techniques to manipulate search results.
Naturally, SEOs and site owners were left wondering what this meant and how it could impact how they optimize sites going forward. Google made their intentions clearer earlier this week by announcing that this algorithm update isn’t necessarily singling out “over optimized websites,” but instead will more accurately detect webspam and penalize those sites accordingly. Sites that use SEO properly do not have to worry, but those that violated Google’s Quality Guidelines in order to find loopholes to rank higher are more likely to be detected.
Should you be concerned that the Penguin update will negatively impact your affiliate site? Probably not. This update is expected to impact only 3.1% of English language searches. However, there are several best practices to help your site avoid getting negatively impacted by this update and future ones that target low quality sites:
Avoid adding content for the sake of adding content
Regularly adding unique content is one of the most important things you can do to get your affiliate site noticed by the search engines. When done properly, search engines value it and so do your users. However, adding content for the sake of adding content is not good for search engines, your users, or SEO. Worthless content will be general, boring, duplicated from other sources, and will be written for the search engines best interests instead of your users. On the other hand, content that adds value and will truly make a difference will be unique, interesting, problem solving, and tailored to your user base. Avoid write content that’s only purpose is to rank for certain keywords and fails to help your user base get the most out of your site. If your content is done properly, your site will rank for more keywords, bring in more traffic, satisfy your users, and ultimately increase revenue.
Do not stuff keywords into your content
We have all seen web copy that look like this: “Are you looking to book a hotel in Orlando? Hotels in Orlando can vary between cheap and expensive. But thankfully you came to our site to find your Orlando hotel because we offer the best deals on hotels in Orlando…”
Keyword stuffing not only annoys your users, but it’s a red flag to the search engines that your site has bad intentions. Make sure your copy is well-written and it naturally targets your keywords. However, if your copy looks like the example above, revise it immediately.
Be careful of overly optimized link anchor text
Link Anchor text pointing to your pages is one of the most important factors for ranking higher in the search results. However, while building links to your site, be careful that the anchor text isn’t overly optimized. For example, let’s say one of your target keywords is “Cheap Hotels in Las Vegas.” Overly optimized anchor text would mean that an overwhelming majority of links to your Las Vegas landing page has that term as the anchor text. Link building is supposed to be a natural process. That means a healthy link profile will have varied anchor texts (even if they aren’t optimal), across many pages, from high quality sources, and from many different types of sites.
Some pitfalls to avoid when link building:
Do not purchase package deals that promise a ton of links for a
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low price, do not spam blog comments with your URL, and do not hire a link building agency that will not be 100% transparent with you on how they will be getting links to your site.
Avoid being a thin affiliate
I have written about this quite a bit in previous blog posts on the Panda algorithm updates. An affiliate site is considered thin if it offers little to no value beyond the products they sell. Constantly ask yourself how you can make your site better than your competition. Regularly add unique and valuable content. Use social media to your build your brand. Never stop improving. Above all, make sure you offer value beyond the products you sell. If you can do these things you will stand out from the many thin affiliates out there.