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My Main Blog Ranks on a New Set of Keywords: Google Penguin Partial Recovery? (Plus Some More Interesting Findings)

15th March 2013

The more I look into Google ranking, the more confused I am. Perhaps it’s due to my lack of SEO knowledge, but even if I was an SEO newbie, I know that there’s something wrong with the whole system.

No, this is not yet another conspiracy theory on how Google tweaks search results so they can make more money off advertisements (well, even if they DO, they have every right to do so – Google Search is Google’s product, not an open source software!)

Case study

My main blog was slammed hard by Google Panda and Penguin updates – traffic was decreasing gradually (It’s now only 25% of the best month about a year ago.)

To make matters worse, late 2012 the blog lost its 2 main (read: money) keywords. The blog pages stop ranking on those 2 particular keywords – in fact, the blog was wiped form the 2 keywords; this is, most definitely, Penguin algorithm. I tried to deal with the over-optimization, but nevertheless, the blog has become a stat

However, not long ago, I start to see the blog gains in search engine traffic, having a handful of newly ranked keywords along with their long tail variations. It’s not a big keyword, but it’s a good sign nevertheless.

It seems that what I was working on to exit Penguin slap failed… but this is good news for me.

I was curious – I checked on the main keywords my blog was used to rank and all I can see is interesting stuffs!

1. Google seems to favor pages with plenty of words (even if the content is not that useful!)

From the first page, there are at least 2 pages with questionable quality: One is being a page that is clearly written for SEO (if you read a lot of articles and blog posts, you can notice that many article-for-SEO is not a good read.) It’s only 600 words something and only God knows how on earth Google bots think the page is useful (well, it’s not, to be honest!)

Another one is an interesting page – in fact, it’s the homepage which rank on the top 10! Wow… I access the site and here’s the interesting finding: The page is very, very long (4,000 word-long I think), and it does contain somewhat useful but basic tips related to the main keyword. The tips are presented in bullet points and all I can say is that it’s not authoritative!

My noob conclusion: So, long pages, with minimal fluff, DO get higher ranking; it doesn’t matter if they are authoritative or not. In fact, I am not totally sure what’s meant by “authoritative.” I do trust the content, but that’s because it has the been-there-done-that content that I have read elsewhere.

2. Google seems to favor big brands – a bit too much

I see big names on the Top 10 – but I can’t really say that the big brand’s site content is exceptional: The number one position is a major online and offline magazine – the page: Definitely not unique: It’s like a landing page with article links and excerpts sourced from their article/blog/slide sections. The rest in the Top 10 also sports similarities: Big brands, so-so but long content.

Yet another noob observation’s conclusion: If you have a big brand (read: A site with exceptional Domain Authority – not PageRank) you will likely to rank higher, even though your content is so-so…

3. Content freshness is not really an issue in Google ranking!

I mentioned above that one of my blog posts was ranked on the first page (the last time I checked, it’s in the Top 3!)

What’s interesting is this: I haven’t updated the blog post since 2009, yet Google rank the page high – so what’s with all the talk about content freshness?

My newbie observation: As long as the page gets quality backlink and contains more than 2,000 words, you have a good chance of getting ranked higher, regardless of the freshness.

4. Instead of pursuing your main keywords, pursue other keywords – go niche!

Going niche seems the way to go – while major keywords are dominated by big brands, niche, low competition keywords are up for grab for the rest of us.

As my Penguin-hit blog loses traffic from the main keywords, it’s getting a nice 150-250 targeted, organic traffic per day from the new keyword it ranked for; much less than the main keywords, but hey, it’s a good sign that my blog must be doing something right today.

Takeaway

You may scoff at my poor observations above, but I don’t really mind… that’s the whole idea, isn’t it? An average website owner like me can’t seem to understand what’s going on with all the algorithm updates; even reading discussions with responses from so-called SEO experts is really confusing – all seem to have his/her own understanding with regard to Google’s high quality site guidelines.

So, the best way to do is by stop focusing on SEO and start taking care of your Inbound marketing efforts.

What do you think? Do you have any tips to share with us on how to survive Panda’s or Penguin’s ambiguous updates?

Ivan Widjaya is the owner of AsepOnde.com, as well as the founder of several online businesses: PrevisoMedia.com, Noobpreneur.com and Uptourist.com. He runs his business from anywhere, anytime he wants.

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