End of 2012: What the Panda and Penguin Algorithms Really Mean for SEO – Part 3

In the first part of this series you learned that Panda and Penguin weren’t a onetime thing – similar algorithm updates came in the past, and they’ll come again in the future. In the second part, you learned that they’re actually advantageous to anyone looking to build a real business on the web, and that there are some benefits for truly talented search engine marketers.

In this post, you’ll learn some of the new tactics that Panda and Penguin have made possible, as well as why they’re going to be here to stay.

Exact Match Domains (EMD) Are Dead Now
In late September of 2012, SEOMoz reported a huge shift in the rankings for EMD sites. Dozens of EMDs that ranked in the top ten dropped to well below the hundredth page. The SEO world is viewing this as just another algorithm update targeted towards tried-and-true techniques.

The SEO world is wrong – sort of. If you dig a bit deeper into the data provided by SEOMoz, you’ll find something rather interesting. Not a single EMD with a first place ranking was affected. It was only those ranking from 2 to 10.

While the reasons behind the shift aren’t fully understood, there’s speculation that it has to do with the quality of the content and back link profiles that these sites had prior to the shift. The sites that weren’t ranked in first place typically had a weaker back link profile, as well as content that was just a tad over optimized.

So, what made the sites in first place so special? They already had solid rankings, with diversified back link portfolios, and amazing content. Just do a search for “Miami Fishing,” take a look at the first result, and then ask yourself if you think that’s a terrible site that has no right ranking in first place.

It’s not just an exact match domain. It’s a brand. Therein lies the catch.

Exact match domains are still incredibly powerful. In February of 2009, there was an algorithm update named Vince. It was quickly identified as favoring brands over generic terms. Do you think that MiamiFishing.com is just an exact match domain designed to gobble up and monetize traffic? Or is it a brand that actually delivers a valuable service.

Brands are more powerful in SEO than ever before. Just a few years back everyone could prove that anchor text impacted ranking positions by telling you to search for “click here.” Everyone and their brother’s mother’s monkey had a link pointing to the Adobe reader download page with anchor text that said “click here to download Adobe Reader.” That page ranked first.

But then, a smart little internet marketing company (with very bad designs) created a new brand – Clickhere.com. Go ahead, hop over to Google and search for “click here” right now. Who ranks first? Who has more back links? Who has the brand?

If you create an EMD that’s a brand, and not just a trick to rank, then you will have some amazing staying power. All you have to do is actually create a site that looks good and provides real value for searchers, and you can rank with ease.

Don’t Forget Social Media
In the first post it was mentioned that no one really predicted the impact social signals would have on SEO. While there is still a lot of debate about how powerful they actually are, there is no denying that the search engines are tallying them up and using them to determine rankings.

As an experienced internet marketer, you already know what it takes to put together a solid social media presence. For you, getting likes, rewteets, and shares should be no major challenge. Even if it is, your own list of friends can help you gain a respectable amount of social signals in short order.

New internet marketers are going to struggle at this. So, if social signals are so important, and you can get them so easily, that means that Panda and Penguin have actually helped to simplify your job.

Even if you’re not fully convinced that social signals are important for SEO, you should focus on them anyway. You never know when a future algorithm update could completely eliminate the value of low PR back links and replace them with social signal metrics – and you know that crazier things have happened in the past.

Panda and Penguin Really Make SEO Black and White
Here’s what it all comes down to:

  • Panda and Penguin haven’t introduced anything new – they just killed trending SEO techniques
  • These algorithm updates didn’t just take away easy techniques, they delivered new ones, too
  • They also helped to make it harder for newcomers to compete with experienced search engine marketers…
  • Which means there’s a lot more profitable key words left for you to gobble up
  • If you know how to create a site that looks, feels, and behaves like a real brand, then EMDs can make your job super easy
  • And finally, filling the void caused by the loss of mass back link building techniques is easy when you implement social signals in your marketing mix.

So, as an experienced search engine marketer, Panda and Penguin are actually two of your greatest allies. Next time you hear someone complaining about algorithm updates just nod your head and smile. You know what these updates really mean for you.

About the author:
Kevin Gao is the founder and CEO of Comm100 Live Chat, a leading provider of live chat software for business. As a software developer as well as a small business expert, he’s always ambitious to revolutionize the way of online customer service and communication.


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