Article marketing has been the cornerstone of Internet Marketer’s SEO campaigns for many years providing high quality backlinks to their intended “money sites” converting to high rankings in the search engines. However, the web has seen a major influx of so-called “Black Hat SEO techniques” that use advanced software programs to automatically generate backlinks. Often this content is plagiarized and spammed to thousands of article directories at the push of a button.
Google regularly instills 2 distinct updates - the Google Panda update and the Google Penguin update aimed at improving the quality of it’s search engine results. To understand their effect on article marketing, we first need to understand how they individually affect search engine rankings.
Google Panda Update Overview
The first Google Panda update was introduced on February 24th, 2011. In a nutshell, it looks at SEO factors that are based on the pages of your website. It aims to target what Google deems “thin sites” - sites with little or no value to visitors. These sites are often content farms, keyword stuffed and illegible. The big deal about the Google Panda update is that it is a site wide penalty. Meaning that if a number of pages on your website are deemed “thin”, your entire site is penalized.
The Google Panda update effects article marketing indirectly. If your pages are keyword stuffed, Google is not going to rank you so high, regardless of how many backlinks you have coming in. From personal experience, I seem to get better results with articles and posts that have around 2% keyword density as opposed to 3% or higher. I also notice articles where I have my keywords dominating most of the H2 and H3 tags are also ranked lower - even if the repetition is justified.
The other main Google Panda Update affects duplicate content. This is where someone takes your work and links it back to their site as their own. Of course many Internet Marketers spin the original content into 100's of different versions to attempt to fool the search engines, an issue I’m not sure can ever be overcome by a computer algorithm.
Google Penguin Update Overview
Unlike the Google Panda update, the Google Penguin update deals with SEO factors off your pages. Penguin focuses on the content you generate to build backlinks back to your site.
Similar to the Google Panda update, Penguin deals with material considered to be spam and keyword stuffing, but relating to the back links to your site. For example, if you submit an article to 1,000 different article directories and they all have the exact same anchor text with your keywords, this will be penalized by the Google Penguin update.
The Google Penguin update also focuses on link relevancy, so if you have hundreds of backlinks coming in from completely unrelated niche markets, Penguin will penalize your rankings.
Google Panda/Penguin Update Best Practices
There are several basic practices we can follow to ensure our articles do not get detrimentally affected by either the Google Panda update or the Google Penguin update:
- Keep Keyword density to around 2% - this seems to be a good value for my articles
- Don’t spam keywords into H2 or H3 tags even if its justfied
- Only submit your work to reputable article directories, not those that have been over spammed (most important!)
- Always publish unique content that reads well
- Use a variety of anchor text when linking back to your articles or posts
- Only post to categories that are relevant to your market
Note, if you have been penalized by either the Google Panda update or Google Penguin update, you can recover. However, you will need to correct the issues (lowering keyword density, removing articles, removing links etc) and wait for Google to re-index your work before your rankings are restored. It is far easier to follow the above simple guidelines and not get penalized in the first place!
Please see my personal list of best Article Directories with high Page Rank that still yield great results even after the Panda and Penguin update.
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Contact: Stephanie Tully