By Chad Pollitt published June 18, 2013

4 Reasons Content Creators Should Celebrate Google Penguin 2.0

happy content creatorsWhen Matt Cutts, head of the Webspam team at Google, announced the launch of Penguin 2.0 last month, he directed people to a video that explained the upcoming goals of his team, what actions to avoid, and what actions Google wants to reward. The video appeared to be a preemptive attempt to address questions post-launch.

This post will attempt to analyze and translate Google’s post-launch comments and explain how they impact content creators.

SEO analysis & translation #1

If you’re doing high quality content when you’re doing SEO, then this [Penguin 2.0] shouldn’t be a big surprise. You shouldn’t have to worry about a lot of different changes. — Matt Cutts

Enterprise marketers who produce valuable, problem-solving and/or entertaining content, both earned and owned, have nothing to worry about. The true impact of this update will be felt by traditional link builders and brokers who place links on questionable websites pointing to generic product, service, or category pages for the sake of SEO instead of creating remarkable, compelling content.

Cyrus Shepard of SEOmoz says, “If you don’t have a linkable asset, now is the time to start working on one because they earn more links than anything else.”

He’s simply stating that remarkable online assets like eBooks, guides, studies, and white papers with real value are link bait. They naturally attract link citations throughout the web. Most generic product, service, and category pages aren’t remarkable or shareable.

By adding a little digital PR, marketers can pitch this advanced content to online media outlets for write-ups, exposure, and citations, too. These efforts can drive hundreds — even thousands — of natural links in a short amount of time. Short-term benefits include brand coverage, increased website traffic, and conversions. Search benefits are realized and grow over the long-term.

Takeaway #1: Quality content, on- and off-page, is a future-proof SEO strategy.

SEO analysis & translation #2

We’re doing a better job of detecting when someone is more of an authority on a specific space. You know, it could be medical. It could be travel. Whatever. And try[ing] to make sure that those rank a little more highly if you’re some sort of authority… we think might be a little more appropriate for users. — Matt Cutts

The best off-page SEO practitioners today get inbound links from relevant and authoritative websites. Google maintains a very short list of these websites, called Hilltops.

Earning inbound links from Hilltops requires two things. The content the link points to must be remarkable, problem solving, and/or entertaining. Next, there must be topical relevance between the Hilltop and the site it links to. The best content marketing fulfills these two requirements, earning inbound links from highly authoritative websites.

When several industry Hilltops link to a brand, Google will most likely view it as an industry authority, too. Matt Cutts says above that they want these brands to “rank a little more highly” than the others. Because of this, links from Hilltops don’t just affect the page they link to — they also have a positive impact on the entire website.

Takeaway #2: Google’s goal is to promote authoritative websites. Climbing Hilltops in your industry is a future-proof SEO strategy.

SEO analysis & translation #3

If someone pays for coverage, or pays for an ad or something like that, those ads should not flow PageRank… We’ll be looking at some efforts to be a little bit stronger on our enforcement as far as advertorials that violate our quality guidelines. — Matt Cutts

Buying links has been against Google’s webmaster guidelines for a long time. Brands that get caught buying and selling follow-links risk being de-indexed from its algorithm. Google has gotten much better at detecting these practices. Great content marketing earns inbound links that add value over the long run without risk of penalty.

Takeaway #3: You can’t buy a ticket to the Hilltop. Earning links, rather than buying links, is a future-proof SEO strategy.

SEO analysis & translation #4

We are looking at Panda and seeing if we can find some additional signals, and we think we’ve got some to help refine things for sites that are kind of in the border zone… if we can soften the effect a little bit for those sites that we believe have some additional signals of quality, that will help sites that were previously affected… to some degree [by Panda]. — Matt Cutts

Driving quality off-page signals (like links and mentions) can help offset any previous negative impact from Google’s Panda algorithm. In essence, the Penguin can reverse the Panda. The best way to drive the biggest and most diverse set of off-page signals is by deploying a deliberate and strategic earned media campaign. This can exponentially expose current owned media and content marketing efforts to a targeted, usually larger, audience. Some off-page signals include:

  • Social mentions: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, G+, Pinterest, Digg, reddit
  • Middle-of-the-pack direct advertising website links: Articles on industry communities and blogs
  • News curation websites: Paper.li, Scoop.it
  • News aggregation websites: The Huffington Post, Alltop
  • News feed syndication: Private companies and public organizations
  • Print publications: Remarkable online content can be cited by magazines, newspapers, and trade publications
  • Slideshows: SlideShare, PDFs

Having a broad diversification of off-page signals communicates authority and trust to Google. Earned media and content marketing can meaningfully drive these signals naturally. Search engine algorithms will easily be able to determine the authenticity of the off-page signals.

Takeaway #4: Earned media and digital PR can help you recover from Panda. Driving a variety of quality digital signals is a future-proof SEO strategy.

Content marketing and digital PR folks who primarily rely on their compelling content to drive search engine traffic should be smiling now because the future looks bright for them. It looks bright because with each algorithm update, Google gets even better at rewarding good content from authoritative people and brands.

Get more insight on best SEO practices that will help your content win the Google game — register today to attend Content Marketing World 2013

Cover image credit: seanbjack

Author: Chad Pollitt

Chad Pollitt is a decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and former Army Commander; a member of a Forbes Top 100 List, and the Director of Marketing at digitalrelevance. He co-authored "The Enterprise Blog Post Optimization Guide" in 2013. His other writings and articles have been published in dozens of newspapers, magazines, and websites throughout the world. Learn more about Penguin 2.0 in digitalrelevance's newly published eBook, "Search Engine Optimization in a Post-Penguin 2.0 World."

Other posts by Chad Pollitt

  • Greg Borchardt

    It seems to me that with every update, someone figures out how to “cheat” such as keyword stuffing or having a high number of backlinks. With each cheating strategy, they get their websites to the top of Google rankings until the next Google update comes along, when their ranking tanks. Then they figure out a way to game the system again, bringing their websites back to the top. This practice has made me wonder if a better strategy is to simply figure out how to cheat each Panda/Penguin update.

    • cpollittiu

      Greg:

      That’s certainly something you can try. However, the amount of time and resources it takes to cheat the system far surpass what it takes to create content that solves your prospects problems today. The more time and money you spend trying to figure out how to game the algorithm the less you have to create compelling content.

      Here’s another reason not to do it – organic web traffic converts between one and 3.5 percent. Referral traffic gained through content marketing converts between 10 and 20 percent. You get WAY more bang for your buck skipping the algorithm games, putting your head down and writing problem-solving content.

      @ChadPollitt

  • Deppe Communications

    This is indeed good news for those with good content. I keep saying it whenever I am speaking about social media to small groups or clients: doing the right thing for the right reasons will always pay off in the end. It may take a little longer than the shortcuts, but it will be worth it.

    Thanks for the article, and thanks for your service Chad.

    • cpollittiu

      You’re very welcome. We’re two birds of a feather. . . :)

  • Dan Rosenblum

    How does this relate to services like MakeRank.com who advertise selling links? Do you think 2.0 has a better chance of catching domains using these types of services?

    • cpollittiu

      Dan:

      While Google is no where near perfect at detecting all manipulation, it is certainly getting much better with each update. Buying links today is a very risky proposition IMO. I’ve been completely content focused for the last 3+ years of my SEO career (no link building). Within 18 months of the switch I saw a 400% + increase in my organic traffic. I’d never recommend playing the link game.

  • cnholbein

    I like that Google is wearing a Firefox shirt.

  • PM Fiorini

    I’m sorry, this article is really bullshit. Shows what little you know about SEO and marketing in general.

  • Spook SEO

    Chad, it is good news for the content writer and after penguin 2.0 there is a better chance for the content writer to get benefit from this and deliver more and more to the industry, if you have quality content you will get the best results in organic searches.