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How Google's Penguin Update Affects InfoBarrel Writers

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 2 10

I'm fairly new to writing on InfoBarrel, but I've been running a couple of small niche sites for a while now and I've researched a lot about on page and off page SEO. I've also managed to get pages of my sites ranking highly with Google for targeted keywords. There's lots of great stuff here on Info Barrel about finding keywords and making them work for you so I won't linger on this.

What I'd like to focus on is the Google's Penguin update. Obviously there has been masses written on the internet about Penguin, but I wanted to fish out the really useful stuff and make it specific to InfoBarrel.

How can our articles be more SEO friendly with the Penguin update?

Pre-Penguin

Penguin Update Infobarrel
You probably know all about the previous update which was also named after a cute black and white animal - Panda. It received a lot of attention because of the shift it created in the way many sites and pages ranked in the Google search engine. Some sites disappeared entirely.

Google's intentions are noble and they are always working to give the user the best experience possible. In terms of the search engine, this means providing highly relevant and targeted results for the search term entered; giving the user near enough exactly what they are looking for. Gone are the days when you could trick Google into ranking your site or article.

This policing of content can only be a good thing, right? There are so many people simply churning out information of no real value. Panda forced site-owners and internet writers to provide engaging, relevant content, instead of spamming up the internet. Well, Penguin is continuing along this road and making it even harder for fraudsters to rank highly.

What has Penguin changed for Info Barrel Writers?

In many ways the changes we'll experience with Penguin seem as though they'll be fairly subtle. Penguin is simply automating work that was already being done by bright young minds at Google manually.

Dodgy doings have long been policed by an army of Google workers who are paid to scour the world-wide web in search of spam and under-hand tactics. If you were one of those writers who was participating in less-than-ethical link exchanges or cloaking your keywords somehow, chances are you were hit long before Penguin, but until recently the internet was patrolled by real human beings.

With Penguin, Google’s algorithms are beginning to catch up with the manual work and getting better and better at spotting what was already disallowed.

InfoBarrel has fairly strict guidelines of what is and isn't allowed and, for the most part, these promote great internet practises anyway.

What to avoid when writing articles on Info Barrel

Over-optimization

Penguin is specifically targeting what is known as over-optimization.

Not so long ago, it would have been possible to follow a formula that would almost guarantee search engine success; knowing exactly how many times your keyword should be featured in an article of a certain length or having the majority of your links using the targeted keyword as the anchor text. What this lead to was millions of internet writers optimising their articles a little too perfectly on and off page. Google has learned exactly how to spot the formulaic content.

What to do instead

Does your article on Info Barrel make sense to a human reader? Is it of real-value?

The key seems to be to write naturally and with the intention of providing interesting, useful and relevant information to the keyword your article is targeting. Try reading your articles aloud. If they sound right to the human ear, it is unlikely they will be red-flagged by Google.

Keyword Stuffing

With the Penguin update, keyword stuffing (using your keyword over and over again until the article reads unnaturally) is probably more harmful than not featuring the keyword enough (which was previously the big error).

What to do instead

Instead of stuffing one keyword or phrase into your article over and over again, try using plenty of related words and terms. On a very basic level, Google knows that if you are writing about 'losing weight' it is likely to see words like 'diet' and 'exercise' also featuring heavily in a relevant article.

It may also help, as specified by InfoBarrel guru jcmayer777 in his article on the future of SEO, to use technical terms related to your subject. By no means baffle your reader with jargon. You can even explain the terms if necessary. In our 'Lose weight' article, we might refer to BMI (Body Mass Index) or the European Food Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDG) to earn extra authority in Google's eyes.

Again, make sure you don't over-do your related and technical terms and words; read the article out loud and make sure it flows naturally and is easy for a reader to understand.

External Links

Links still hold a lot of weight in Google's eyes. They show that the content we are creating is worth linking to from external sites; it must have some value for other people to share it, right? With this in mind, lots of clever people came up with shortcuts for link-building. In terms of the Penguin update (and probably even going back to Panda), avoid these tools. Google is extremely sophisticated and knows the links you are creating aren't from real people who love the article.

Sometimes it isn't possible to attract lots of links completely naturally. If you write about lots of different subjects on InfoBarrel it can be hard to find a specific platform to tell people about your stuff. The best thing to do is to utilise relevant blogs and forums tastefully. Link back to your InfoBarrel article in comments on other sites. Only ever do this though, if the content in the article is relevant or useful to the users. Make the comment pertinent to the discussion.

Internal Links

Within your articles, try linking to other relevant content. Write several articles on a theme to make it possible to link back to your own work, but make sure they all offer something individual. Again jcmayer777 has some great advice here which I will re-iterate; never link back to content that is providing the reader with exactly the same information as the article they are already reading.

As an example, although I am writing on a similar subject to jcmayer777 in his article My Take on SEO and there are overlaps in the content, my aim is to be specific about the Penguin update and I believe readers who are interested in this will find his general SEO advice fascinating too, so I am linking to it.

Internal linking to your own articles is a great way of promoting your content and encouraging readers to explore more of your work and, with the Penguin update, Google sees inter-linking as a positive.

Don't overuse keywords in the anchor text of the link and don't stuff your articles with internal links; only use them when they make sense for the reader.

Why Penguin is good for InfoBarrel Writers

Penguin and baby

Penguin is another step towards banishing the bad writers whose sole aim is to make money. Don't get me wrong, I like making money as much as the next man, but I want to do it by providing content that is genuinely useful. I also want to continue to learn and improve my writing with every article I publish on InfoBarrel.

Google is in the process of weeding out content that ranks solely because it is optimized to within an inch of its life, but has no real value for actual readers. We're lucky because Info Barrel has a good screening process and won't let a writer self-publish on this site until they are satisfied that they will contribute high quality content; most of the articles I read on Info Barrel are of genuine use which is extremely positive. We all have a responsibility though. Info Barrel will only continue to grow in authority and rank highly in Google if we all play by the rules. We can help each other whilst helping ourselves.

To satisfy Google and our readers, the articles we publish on Info Barrel should:

  • Be written to be informative and useful
  • Be sharable by real people on social networking sites (don't use spammy computer programmes)
  • Attract natural links from real, relevant websites
  • Fulfil a real need and serve a true purpose for the reader; the article may educate or inform, but it should always do this by keeping the reader engaged with good quality writing

After all of this, there is nothing to stop us from promoting our articles in an ethical way. Just don't use too many automated shortcuts; these are bound to set off alarms at Google HQ.

In short; don't make your aim to manipulate Google search results. Write well and you should rank well.


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Comments

Jun 4, 2012 9:27pm
Antares
Thanks for the article. I haven't really been keeping tabs on what Google has been up to lately, and this was a great primer!
Jun 5, 2012 5:55am
jjhansen
Thanks Antares. Glad you found it useful. I'm learning as I go myself and this article was the result of much research on what is and isn't working for SEO at the moment.
Jun 13, 2012 2:14am
WebAddict
This is a great and useful piece. This sounds better than some technical Penguin update stuffs I've read recently. Thanks!
Jun 13, 2012 6:47am
vicdillinger
The best thing about these Google smackdowns is they force spinners, grinders, and scrapers to either go away or learn to write like humans.

Good points, but mostly they'll be lost on spinners, grinders, and scrapers. Sincere, newer writers can learn from this however, so you're getting a thumb from me.
Jun 13, 2012 7:09am
jjhansen
Thanks people. I'm no expert but just did a fair bit of research. I always like to write about what I'm learning. I would only ever want to write original, useful content myself - there's no point in spinning content - it's dishonest and unrewarding. I think pretty soon Google will be able to recognise all spun content any how.
Jun 15, 2012 7:31pm
DonnaCosmato
This is one of the best explanations of the Penguin update I've read - it's in non-technical language that I can understand! Thanks for helping me get some better insight on what to do and not to do.
Jun 17, 2012 1:33pm
jjhansen
Thanks DonnaCosmato - glad you found it useful. I enjoyed researching and writing it. Google is endlessly fascinating.
Jun 26, 2012 11:59pm
ATouchofMedicine
Thank you! This keyword/link stuff has been a real learning curve for me but this article helped a lot. I think the penny's finally dropping!
Jul 3, 2012 6:58am
jjhansen
Thanks ATouchofMedicine. I know what you mean - I'm still trying to get my head around it all myself.
Jul 3, 2012 7:54pm
mommymommymommy
Thumbs up for some great advice. Write good content, and you will be fine.
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