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How to Recover from the Penguin Webspam Update: Tips from SMX Toronto

Apr 27, 2012 / by Claye Stokes

How-to-Recover-From-the-Penguin-Webspam-Update-Tips-from-SMX-Toronto.jpgSMX Toronto was full of a lot of great information. I found that most sessions had at least one presentation that rivaled SMX Advanced conferences I've attended in the past, both in speaker quality and in content. In all sessions, every speaker hit it out of the park.

My favorite session was the day after the Penguin update hit, and amazingly there wasn't a single mention of the webspam update, yet all the content was directly relevant. The session was the "Google Kitchen Sink Panel", featuring speakers Duran Inci, Ken Dobell, Aaron Bradley, and Ryan Jones.

As a follow up to Greg's post yesterday about the webspam update, I wanted to throw a quick bullet-point list of my takaways that can be implemented immediately by anyone.

Here is a summary, in short form, of the best takeaways that can help future-proof your site against updates like this Penguin update, or if you've already been "pecked" by the Penguin, this is your battle plan, with hand-picked points I took away with me from Toronto:

[Note: Up-to-date SEO professionals won't find anything new here, but I'm a big believer in checklists to hold ourselves to a broad set of best practices, which is why I hope this is universally useful to anyone. My favorite points are at the top and bolded.]

  • 2012 SEO is about optimizing data, not keywords, it's about making content accessible in a wide variety of formats across all devices. - Ken Dobell
  • Develop "Power Content" - this is how it's done:
    • Create an update schedule for the top performing 100 pieces of content and update them every 90 days or less (includes home page). Every time you update it, make sure the "last modified" field in your XML sitemap is updated to mark the date of the change. This keeps content fresh. - Duran Inci
    • 1000-2000 words in length, should be exceptional quality, use advanced research and present new or interesting ideas.
    • Content does NOT equal "copy". It needs to be RICH - use images, videos, formatting, headings, quotes, etc.
    • Use this power content on main pages and category pages, if you have an ecommerce site.
  • Get social sharing buttons on all your pages (in another session, Aaron Friedman cited a BrightEdge study stating that social sharing buttons make your content 7 times more visible)
  • Remove all exact anchor text links, when possible. - Duran Inci
  • Refresh the home page content often. - Duran Inci
  • Fix all crawl errors.
  • Edit and optimize all major page titles and descriptions so that they are not keyword stuffed, and so they are unique.
  • Make sure the blog is in a subdirectory (not subdomain), and is updated regularly with high quality content.
  • Create a mobile version of the website - Google cares about multiple devices now so make sure the site works on all of them.
  • No link exchanges or sketchy link schemes.
  • Create supplemental content for pages and products, like shopping guides. - Duran Inci
  • Use a video sitemap, if applicable.
  • This is my thought, but heck, even a geo sitemap, schema, and any other 'bells and whistles' we can throw on the site will help to differentiate.
  • Focus on long-tail: Google's average search query is over 4 words in length - also, broad (trophy) terms are not nearly as valuable in conversion.
  • "A good SEO optimizes where Google is. A great SEO optimizes where Google is going to be." - @RyanJones, paraphrasing the Great One.

Which of these methods have you already used in practice, and for how long? Is anything here new to you? Did you attend SMX Toronto and want to add anything to the list?

Let's talk in the comments!

Topics: SEO SMX Toronto Penguin update Blog Google

Claye Stokes

Written by Claye Stokes

Claye has always been passionate about business, web technologies, and marketing. Professionally, he has worked for both SEO agencies and full service ad agencies. As a result, his experience ranges from managing the online presence and SEO for small- to enterprise-level companies, to working side by side with business owners to fulfill their entire marketing and advertising campaigns, both on and off the web. When he isn't working or spending time with his beautiful wife and two children, you will probably find him researching and practicing online marketing techniques, or outdoors practicing his golf swing. Check out Claye Stokes on Google+.

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