March 2011

Content is King…you’ve heard it stated over and over again.

Many people did not believe when experts keep emphasizing on creating excellent quality content for web pages and kept trying to beat the Google system by spamming the engine with keywords just to boost ratings. However, Google had been observing and between 2010 and early 2011, it has made several changes to its algorithm, which is meant to target at low quality web sites or spammy ones.

The question now is the creation of good content.  How do we define good content?

There are three basic ideas about good content that we may look at:

  1. A well-written piece of content which is grammatically correct, with proper spelling and punctuation.
  2. It offers new perspectives and ideas to an issue, based on research that come from valid sources instead of just some superstitious ideas or ideas that are written without careful study of the logic behind a topic.
  3. It does not keep repeating on the keywords unnecessarily with the intention of confusing the search engine bots to think that the site is a good source of information.

Google Panda / Farmer UpdateThe main aim of the change in the algorithm is to cut low quality sites from the search engine results pages (SERPs). The algorithm was changed once before in May 2010, and webmasters called it “Mayday”. When this happened, many sites with bad quality content dropped from the first pages of the search results to as far as beyond the first ten pages.

In early 2011, the first of two algorithm updates has been quietly dubbed the “Scraper” algorithm and is intended to block low quality scraper sites from showing up in the Google index. Later in Feb Google released its second algorithm update dubbed the “Farmer” update, also known as the “Panda” update, that is believed to specifically target content farms.

Content farms are seen as a site, or perhaps a portal, that has a lot of users submission articles, without any rules to determine the validity of the content. Most experts declared that content farms are spammy, and may have been ruled out completely from search engines such as Blekko. An example of a content farm is eHow.com, which allows non-experts to build articles on the site without much regulations.

The “Farmer” update affected a pretty significant 12% of all search queries. According to Sistrix the biggest loser of this algorithm-change are:

Sistrix Content Farm

Source: Sistrix

A dilemma for SEO Experts

While content becomes the main target for Google to determine the ranking of a site, SEO experts still need to rely on keywords to get things moving. There is still no clear-cut guideline by Google to define quality content, and even the community cannot create any definition to it. There are a lot of question marks in the minds of the web community.

What we know about Google is that it wants content that are relevant, quality and authoritative. Creating such content requires a lot of research and expert copywriting to create the content. Hence, either SEO experts advice companies on the creation of the content, or companies should leave the writing to the experts writers that work hand-in-hand with SEO experts.

Web writing is an art, and just like the writing for any media, is something that should add value and knowledge for the readers.  In the past, there was the statement that anyone with a computer at hand can do writing for the web.  This caused a lot of problems, since such amateur writing may be done without regard to grammar, spelling and even validity of facts. In fact, blog writers may even use common abbreviations used in short message services on mobile phones on their website blogs, assuming that everyone can understand what it means.

Any piece of writing on the Internet should be rhetorically correct.  This means the combination of ethos, pathos and logos, mixed together to create a good piece of writing that will keep readers engaged and increase knowledge. This is ethical writing that will keep the standard and quality of content in check.

Conclusion

The Google algorithm may have changed drastically, but recently there is again some spammy sites that are able to penetrate Google’s algorithm, with topics totally unrelated to the searched keywords by a visitor. Will there be another “Farmer” for 2011?

Whether there will be another “Farmer” or not, we can be sure of one thing: Excellent Quality Content will endure the challenges of Google algorithm anytime, no matter how Google changes. Not only this, quality content will lock the interest of your readers, and lure them coming back for more. Ultimately, with the increase in visitors and reputation, your business will soar indefinitely.

PS. If you were unfairly affected by this update, feedback to this Google Webmaster Support thread.

If you are thinking of revamping your website, it will be wise to get your SEO consultant involved right from the beginning, and to lead your redesigning effort instead of leaving it to a team of developers.

website redesignUsually, redesigning may happen when a company wants to rebrand, or if the design is already too archaic and belongs to the dinosaur era. A new website design will actually either help to make or break your business, so the SEO consultant will be the better person to deal with the improvements. A developer might know much about search engine compliance, but may not be the best to talk about optimization.

Your SEO consultant should be the first to be involved in a CMS review. CMS review is important, unless you are using familiar tools such as WordPress or Joomla. These two are examples platforms which are search engines friendly for on-page optimization. If your designer uses its own platform, ask the SEO to review it, to see how useful and flexible it can get. Some developers might boast to say that they are using niche CMS that are more advanced than any of the tools mentioned, but it might have fewer input fields for content publishers.

There is also a need for the SEO consultant to work on an information architecture to allow greater user experience and to drive search traffic. This also mean that the SEO consultant should provide a standard guidelines for the designer to adhere to and make the new site easier for search engines.

The SEO consultant may also introduce a URL redirection strategy, especially if the redesigning uses a new CMS. Your previous article might have some back links and also referal links by reputable industry players and reviewers, so you do not want to lose them. Making sure that the transition has a good strategy will prevent the loss of referral traffic and links.

Pages that are full of content should also be identified, and reviewed for traffic driving and integrate keywords. SEOs may also take this opportunity to build cross-linking within the content, assign relevant keywords for each page, pass rank and ensure page spiderability.

And of course, finally, before the site goes live, your SEO consultant should do a final check on the new design. Is there any broken links? Are there any errors? Your SEO consultant would simulate a spider crawl and check for such errors.

There is no undermining of the developer, but if the developer actually understands the difference between compliance and optimization, there will be no reason to reject the use of a good SEO consultant during the process. Opinions may clash, but let the optimization be your priority.

Malaysia Advertisers Can Now Target Specific Cities Through AdWords

March 4, 2011

AdWords advertisers can now target the specific region of Malaysia! Google has just included 17 new countries where you can target specific cities through AdWords. With this expansion, city targeting will now be available to AdWords advertisers in 34 countries. Before this, advertiser can only target the specific region of Malaysia through the custom selection […]

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