Last week Google rolled out a new algorithm update called Penguin.
This caused a huge amount of uproar amongst the SEO and the blogs and forums are full of people bemoaning the changes. This is not the case for me. I liked the Penguin update because I believe that this latest update forces the SEO industry to behave more like supermarkets and I love supermarkets. Seriously.
I should probably explain that.
Supermarkets are a marvel of the marketing world. You may or may not know this, but the layout and functionality of a supermarket is a carefully planned, measured and executed thing. It is also one of the most successful marketing models ever created and it remains the same today as it did when first designed. In fact, it is so successful that every supermarket in the world adopts the same approach. This approach is one of intuitive, non-interruptive, simplicity.
It works first by separating products into categories and grouping them together. Mayonnaise is next to the BBQ sauce which is next to the mustard. Brown bread is next to the white bread, just up from the croissants.
After creating these groups of products, the supermarkets provide shoppers with massive signs that say ‘Bread – this way →’. The beauty of this system is that it doesn’t matter which supermarket you visit, you always know where to find the croissants. Not because there is a sign that says croissants, but because there is a sign that says bread.
The second thing supermarkets do is assume that I am intelligent enough to work out where everything is and leave me to get on with it. If ever I do need help there is always a convenient member of staff nearby who I can ask for help. Not only that, they group the staff with the product groups and so I know who to ask about bread because they wear that funny little paper hat that implies, ‘I am the bread man, ask me questions about bread, I am an authority on bread.’ Clever, eh?
Lastly, I like supermarkets because they don’t hassle me. I can browse as long as I wish without interruption. The occasional special offer or interesting item may be placed in my eye line, but importantly, supermarkets don’t have someone who upon my arrival to the bread aisle keeps shouting ‘BREAD!’ whilst pointing at the bread.
Now then, back to Google.
The Penguin update was launched to reduce the ‘over optimisation’ of websites. Loosely speaking, ‘over optimisation’ is deemed to be the practice of unnaturally filling your pages with as many instances of your keywords as possible.
As an example, perhaps you are in the bread industry. You might target a key word like ‘bread’ and it would be natural to have that word on your website here and there. Over optimisation would be when every article and page on your site has the keyword in the title, in the content, in the footer and also as the managing director’s middle name. Probably.
Over the years Google updates have forced webmasters and the SEO industry to build websites the same way that supermarkets layout their stores. You need to make things clear and simple for your visitors, by providing clear navigation and content that lets them know where to find what they are looking for. You need to make sure there is someone around who can help them when they ask for it, by featuring fresh, quality content that answers their questions.
And now, with this Penguin update, you need to stop shouting at your visitors. Google has done a lot of work on synonyms, so you no longer need to optimise your site for “bread”, “croissants”, “bagels” etc with repetitive content for each. If you have provided clear quality content, your visitors and Google know what you sell. That is why they are here. You no longer need to keep shouting ‘Bread!’ at them.