Of Penguins, linkbait, and the user experience: #SEO best practices

A mashup of Heather Lloyd-Martin's post about Google updates & SEO best practicesDid you hear that?

It’s the sound of Google finally dropping the other shoe.

Google distinguished engineer and head of web spam, Matt Cutts, announced yesterday that Google’s much-anticipated Penguin 2.0 has arrived. In his blog post, Cutts said “…the rollout is now complete…” and that “[a]bout 2.3% of English-US queries are affected…”

Cutts went on to say that the Penguin update has also finished rolling out for other languages worldwide.

For those SEOs, webmasters, and site owners that had taken heed and cleaned up their site content and backlink profiles beforehand, this “…next generation of the Penguin webspam algorithm…” shouldn’t cause any problems (although there is always a remote chance of collateral damage with any algo update).

More to the point, those who never engaged in any spammy linking or keyword-stuffing practices in the first place, and instead focused on providing a valuable user experience, shouldn’t be overly anxious about the Penguin 2.0 launch.

Would it surprise you to know that before Panda – much less Penguin – was even a twinkle in Google’s eye, Heather was talking about the need to create quality content focused on the persona-defined reader? And encouraging SEOs and site owners to move beyond linkbait?

Me neither.

So as a nod to Penguin 2.0’s arrival, and as a shout-out to Heather for her vision and passion, here’s a mashup of her written and video posts around Google’s Penguin updates and SEO copywriting best practices… Enjoy!


SEO content strategies for Penguin UpdateSEO content strategies for Google’s Penguin Update

From this video post published just over a year ago when the first Penguin update hit, Heather’s counsel retains its relevancy. It is every bit as applicable to this second Penguin rollout as it was to the first!

Her message? Do the right thing and don’t fear the Penguin.


Going beyond linkbaitGoing beyond linkbait – why you need good, original content

In this post written in the fall (October) of 2009, long before the arrival of those cute black-and-white animal updates, Heather urges SEO content writers and online businesses to write for their audience, not for SEO’s sake.

“…better search rankings, better conversions and a better connection with your customers. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about?”


Dont fear the PenguinHow to stop worrying about Google updates…and learn to love writing really great SEO copy!

Here is a second video post Heather addressed to the Google-stressed, written after Matt Cutts warned that the next Penguin update would be “jarring” to SEOs and webmasters.

Published in August of 2012, here Heather encourages site owners to move past their Google-fear and learned helplessness, and their ensuing content generation paralysis.

“…instead of being all fearful about what Google is going to do next, think of what’s going on as an opportunity: Good content is still good for Google.”


Suffering from Content Mullet Syndrome?Does your site suffer from “content mullet” syndrome?

Remember those mullets from the 70’s and early 80’s? You know – “business up front, party in the back”?

Once upon a time they were considered hip, even attractive. But today…not so much.

The same goes for your site content. Tune in to this video post as Heather explains what a “content mullet” looks like, and what to do about it.


Keyword DensitySEO keyword density: lose this relic and adopt best practices

Know how to make Heather grind her teeth? Ask her about “keyword density”…

In this video post published exactly two years’ ago today, Heather explains why there is no such thing as keyword density anymore.

Unless you’re stuck in a time warp and writing content for Alta Vista rankings, it’s time to put this SEO bone down. Really.

“You can party like it’s 1999, but don’t write SEO copy that way!”


image thanks to cnystrom (Chris Nystrom)

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Penguin 2.0: Should you rewrite your evergreen site copy?

The pending Penguin 2.0 update may require you to rewrite your evergreen site copyWelcome back! In this video of the SEO Copywriting Checklist series, Heather discusses the impending Google Penguin 2.0 update and what it means for site owners and evergreen web content.

Matt Cutts, a distinguished engineer from Google, recently released a video announcing the next wave of Google algorithm updates. He specifically discussed Penguin 2.0, saying it will roll out this summer.

So Google is giving site owners a big heads up!

Also, on last weeks’ SEO Copywriting Certification call with Bruce Clay, he discussed Penguin 2.0 and what it means for site content. So Heather thought she would address this update today because it is a big deal to a lot of site owners!

Tune in to learn what web copy on your site might need rewriting, before the imminent Google updates hit:

Are Some Of Your Pages So-So At Best?

– Does your site have any low-quality posts or articles?

– Does your sales copy walk a keyphrase-stuffing line?

When speaking to the SEO Copywriting Certification folks last week, Bruce Clay advised listeners to go through their websites and locate those pages that are of so-so quality, and make them as good as they can be.

A lot of companies have these so-so pages on their site. They might not be technically keyphrase-stuffed, but they’re not necessarily high-quality or well-researched either.

These mediocre pages might be articles that you kicked out all at once and under deadline, so maybe you or the writer in question were working a little bit more quickly than normal. Or you might have some lower-quality blog posts on your site from way back when you first started out.

There also may be old sales copy on your site, where you thought you were supposed to include more keyphrases than you really should, and they are walking that keyphrase-stuffing line.

These are all examples of evergreen content that is ripe for a rewrite.

Also consider that you’re probably not getting much promotional value from them, because you know they’re not good. You never link to them, you never talk about them, and you may haven’t had the time or the inclination to go through your site and make those posts or those sales pages as good as they can be.


Now Is The Time To Make Some Changes!

– Google wants to recognize authority sites.

– Identify low-value and low-quality content and rewrite it.

– If your blog hasn’t been updated in months, it’s time to start blogging again.

In his Google Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts made it very clear that Google wants to recognize – and reward – authority sites. And Bruce Clay emphasized in his presentation that if you have those kinds of pages on your site that are so-so at best, now is the time to revisit and rewrite them.

So identify that low-value and low-quality content! And if you don’t have time to go through and rewrite those pages, now is the time to find someone who can help you with it.

That way, when the Penguin update does hit, you know that all of your pages are exactly the way you want them to be: they are well-written and well-researched, and you’re able to link to them and refer to them without embarrassment!

And if you’ve neglected your blog for months, now is the time to get back to it. Again, Google wants to recognize and reward authority sites, and the way that you can establish yourself as an authority in your niche is by blogging about it – consistently!

If you tackle this evergreen content rewriting project now, then when Penguin 2.0 and other Google SEO updates roll out, you should be in good shape!

Thanks for tuning in! Have any questions or feedback? I’d love to hear from you! You can leave them in the comments, or email me directly at [email protected]. You can also find me on Twitter @heatherlloyd.

photo thanks to nick.amoscato (Nick Amoscato)

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