A small business owner had to flip his website when his ranking dropped by over 76%. Someone who was earning $500 – $1,000 daily suddenly wasn’t making any significant income. This was a common story repeated across countries and businesses post Penguin Google update.

Months after the first drastic shake-up happened, the tremors are still being felt and many small websites are losing business everyday.

When it’s just a story you read and forget it, but when it’s your business on the line, your only choice is to move forward and find a way out of the maddening zoo.

Understand Google’s Algo Updates

Google Penguin and Panda updates drowned several quality sites too. Why? The algo updates were launched with the intention of tackling web spam, and many sites had unknowingly adopted SEO tactics that Penguin and Panda deemed spammy.

Living and Surviving In The Zoo

penguin seoThe best advice for businesses dealing with the wrath of Penguin and/or Panda is to study the competitors, or sites that are still doing well.

Take your time to evaluate your site vs. those of your competitors. What do they have that you don’t? The following are the key evaluation points you should keep in mind:

Content Optimization

If the keywords on your competitor’s site fit in naturally with the content, while those on yours seem forced, chances are your problem is that of over-optimization.

In addition to that if your keywords were not relevant to your niche, or weren’t appropriately used in the content, your site probably bore the brunt of it!

Finally, you must examine your page titles and descriptions as well. If they are keyword stuffed, you may have been penalized for over-optimization.


How easily can someone navigate on your website? What’s the status of your internal links? Google and other search engines do not like websites that are difficult to navigate.

A great tip to improve the navigability of the site is to make your internal links more visible. If your links are not underlined, it can be a great hindrance to engaging potential prospects and visitors when they read your content.

The Quality Of Content

Quality content is the bedrock of every successful website you see. Without quality content, a website cannot hope to generate leads and close sales.

So, what’s quality content in Google’s eyes? Simply put, it’s content that answers all questions that users may have. This means your web content should be:

  1. Clearly written with the intention to appeal to humans and not game search engines.
  2. Should be 100% original; duplicate content is penalized by Google.
  3. Should not include any spammy or spun text.
  4. Should be optimized for long tail keywords (3-4 word keywords) relevant to the niche.
  5. Should be easy to read, this means you must make use of subheads and bullet points wherever it seems appropriate.

Since, budget is often a constraint, a lot of small businesses end up outsourcing work to a dollar-a-piece content writers that deliver poorly written content. Don’t make that mistake.

It’s a better idea to cut down on the quantity and place order for limited but high quality content writing work. Or, if you have the skills and talent, take the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) route.

The Inbound Link Profile

seo link building tips for small business

photo credit: affiliate marketers college

Link building takes a BIG chunk of the SEO process. For a long time exact match anchor texts helped websites create powerful backlinks that brought home great results.

The Penguin changed that. If the anchor texts in your link profile consisted mainly of the exact keyword you had been targeting, chances are that you were slapped hard.

In the zoo world of Penguin and Pandas, you need to be careful about the backlink building methods you adopt.

Ideally, you should aim for a diverse link profile from Google friendly websites and social media networks.

In simple terms it means:

1) Your anchor texts must be varied and must include brand links (links containing your business name). So, if your website is called ‘highfashion4u.com’ and your targeted keyword is ‘highstreet fashion’, you could create anchor texts like:

  • ‘highfashion4u.com’
  • ‘Visit highfashion4u.com here’
  • ‘highstreet fashion website’
  • ‘highstreet fashion online’
  • ‘highstreet fashion for women’; etc.

The idea is to make your link profile appear diverse and natural. It should look like your backlinks were created by people linking to you on their own.

In addition to that you must also bear in mind that some sites are classified as bad neighborhood ones by Google. Make sure you do not create any links on those sites.

Niche sites with good page rank that are updated regularly and have active readership and audience make for excellent link partners.

SEO takeaway

Keep you gaze on quality content and build relevant backlinks only. The tips suggested here are all DIY SEO, so you can easily incorporate them into your online marketing strategy without overshooting your budget.

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Emma-Julie Fox writes for Pitstop Media Inc, a top rated SEO company in Vancouver that provides services to businesses across North America. If you would like to invite the author to guest post on your blog please contact Pitstop Media.