On April 24, 2012 Google announced that they were rolling out a new update to their algorithm, code-named “Penguin.”
The Google algorithm is all about humanizing the web. Machines cannot replicate the human mind but over time as more data is collected and its synthesis gets closer to actual human thoughts, it’ll make more sense.
As we’ve seen a de-emphasizing on the mechanical aspects of SEO (e.g. keyword density, in-bound link volume, etc.) factors that are more qualitative overtake the quantitative measures. By this we mean it’s better to have more truly engaged online relationships than a high quantity of relationships.
Tom Schwab wrote in a recent blog post, that SEO has become “less about gaming the system and more about engaging the visitor.”
Understanding Google’s Penguin Update
In order to make sure that sites are spending their time and energy engaging the visitor instead of tricking them into visiting their site, Google’s “Penguin” asks 4 key questions:
1. Who is visiting the site?
Google will now penalize websites for driving lots of traffic to their site just through keywords deemed irrelevant to the majority of the site’s content. There is greater emphasis on quality of visitor rather than quantity of visits.
2. How long are these visitors staying on the site?
Google is examining the amount of time visitors are spending on websites to determine whether or not the website content is actually helpful and/or interesting to those visiting.
3. Who stays on the site, who immediately leaves?
About 75% of Google users do not click past the first page of search results. Meaning users expect to find the information they’re looking for near the top of Google’s results.
Known as the “bounce rate,” tracking who immediately leaves a site after clicking on it helps Google figure out whether or not a site is something visitors are looking for (websites with higher bounce rates will start to drop in rank in Google’s search results).
4. Is the visitor sharing this content (is this content worth sharing)?
The emergence of social activities is going to be interesting. To date it’s been mostly quantitative and Google is as guilty as anyone with the way Google Plus is encouraged to be used. In time this will change. It’s the same with every new marketing channel.
For now Google is only looking at quantity of social media shares, but we will see how they measure the value of social media sharing in the future.
Now I pass it on to you, What will you be doing to engage your visitors better?