The latest major update from Google, coined “Penguin”, has turned out to be mighty controversial. Massive rankings shifts have affected many websites and online businesses, instantly altering their fortunes. Much of what worked previously ceased working with the Penguin update. In this article I will offer advice on how to compose your blogs, and whether or not you should still be focusing on keywords.
Most troubling to me is the reaction within the search engine optimization (SEO) community. Grey Hat SEO techniques which stopped working with Penguin are now being replaced by more Grey Hat techniques. To do this is to completely miss the point of Google’s update. Google doesn’t want anyone trying to manipulate rankings by using keywords at the expense of well-written content. Whether you are in agreement with the changes Penguin caused or not, I believe the majority of web users stand to benefit from a stronger focus on content by blog authors.
The fact that search engines rewarded keyword density at all seemed like Dark Ages intelligence to me. I found it amusing, yet troubling, that there was actually a cottage industry of SEO applications which calculated keyword density to help bloggers increase their search engine rankings.
Should you switch strategies and mention your keywords less frequently, or experiment to find an optimum frequency? Definitely not. Your new content should read naturally, so focus on engaging writing and leave the era of keyword counting long behind.
New Techniques for Optimizing Keyword Usage?
My advice is to ignore all advice for new keyword optimization techniques. As the last couple of Google updates have taught us, any exploits will be shut down quickly. Don’t waste time trying to optimize when these techniques may become obsolete inside of the next six months.
Early indications are that very short article content (a few hundred words or less) is not being treated well in Google search. It’s hard to write a useful article in 100-200 words, so it is not surprising that Google might be penalizing short content.
I draw the line at 500 words as a bare minimum for my blog content. I prefer my articles to be close to 1000 words, which I believe allows me to get deep into a subject without writing an article which is too long for most people to bother with.
Promoting Your Blog the Right Way
The basis of your blog must be excellent, engaging content. This is a combination of interesting subject matter, a portfolio of well-written articles, and a healthy dose of quality stock photos like the ones we offer at Warmpicture.
Great articles generate organic links from people who are excited about your content. And these organic links are becoming an increasingly important cue for Google, as is social media activity related to your blog.
But many of you may not have established a large audience for your blog yet. Nobody is going to link to you if they haven’t yet discovered you. So it is time to introduce yourself to the social media world, the same way you engage people at a party long before you consider handing out a business card. You are networking, not begging for a job.
Choose a few major social media outlets to promote your blog with. Don’t spread yourself thin by trying to push your content through too many social channels. I like to focus on Twitter, StumbleUpon and Digg, whereas others swear by Facebook, Google Plus, and Pinterest. Whichever sites you choose to promote with, keep the list manageable so you can put forth a quality effort with each.
Social Media and My Disney Blog Experiment
I built a substantial following for my Disney World blog by using Twitter. I began by following fans of more established Disney blogs. I found that for every 100 people I followed, about 25 to 30 followed me back. I quickly built a following of over 500 people, then utilized the second party application Tweeter Karma to unfollow everyone who had not followed me. After a few weeks I was following about 400 people, with 600 following me.
I could have built a much larger following if I went after anyone and everyone. But I kept the list concise and stuck to only people who would have a strong interest in my own Disney World content. Nobody knows for sure, but it seems pretty clear that Google weighs more heavily the engagement of your followers than it does the total number of followers. Having 2,000 followers who don’t care about your Tweets is not going to impress Google. A smaller number which re-tweets your messages and talks about your content is going to get Google’s attention.
The key is to build that initial audience so that enough people know about your content. By posting links to your latest articles, you can keep your followers informed of your efforts. Once enough people are reading your articles and using their own social media channels to talk about your content, you will gain more followers organically.
Be a Person, not a Posting Machine
I regularly use a WordPress plugin to automatically Tweet my old articles 1-2 times per day. This is great for keeping my timeline active, and introducing more people to my content without my having to be in front of my Twitter account 24/7.
However I also spend a considerable amount of time chatting back and forth on Twitter with my followers about my subject matter. It is important that people see you as a useful member of the community, and as an authority on the content you write about, rather than just another promoter posting for the sake of business building. Would you trust someone who did nothing but hand out business cards? Of course you would not.
Establish yourself as an interesting member of the community and your followers will grow organically.
In the Age of Penguin and beyond, your focus should be on excellent content creation and community building. Articles should be of sufficient length (over 50o words), well-written, and engaging. Social engagement means you should be actively involved in the community to truly build a worthwhile following. Your followers will not only visit your blog, but also push your articles through their own social media channels and signal Google that you are worthy of high rankings.
Best of luck with your blogging!
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