By Stephen Sandecki
Google Penguin is the code name used by Google for an algorithm update that went live on April 24, along with an additional update on May 25. Both updates were designed to combat websites that were violating Google’s webmaster guidelines. Some of the methods used by websites violating these guidelines were link schemes, duplicate content, cloaking, keyword stuffing, etc. A basic analysis of the algorithm update appears to show it was designed to decrease search-engine rankings of websites that were using black-hat SEO techniques.
Google estimated the Penguin algorithm update affected 3.1 percent of English-based search queries, and about 3 percent of search queries in additional languages, with reports of much higher percentages in highly-spammed languages. The update on May 25 was expected to affect less than 0.10 percent of English-based search queries, according to Matt Cutts, a Google associate. Any webmaster who feels his website was accidentally affected and should be re-evaluated can use the Google feedback form.
What Does This Mean for the Self-Storage Industry?
This update once again proves how important it is to make sure your internal or outsource Internet-marketing team is following proper guidelines and industry practices. It can be very enticing to use methods not allowed by Google to rank higher in search results, and while the short term can be fruitful, the long term can be far damaging to your self-storage business.
The update did seem to affect a few of the larger self-storage operators when you view common self-storage search terms. Sadly, many smaller operators who were using third-party marketing companies might have been hit the worst.
You also need to know exactly what your Internet-marketing provider is doing for you and that it follows the Google Webmaster Guidelines and standard, acceptable industry practices. As Google moves to provide more relevant, less spam-like search results, we can expect more updates like Google Penguin.
There are two backlink techniques that go against the Google webmaster guidelines that all self-storage operators should also understand. They are:
- Paid text links. Paid text links are against the guidelines because they’re considered a way to manipulate PageRank, a link-analysis algorithm. A paid text link is when someone pays a website owner to place his link on his website for a specified cost. Obviously, if you’re selling or buying a text link solely to promote to that website’s audience, you need to make sure the hyperlink contains the rel=”nofollow” attribute to stay within the guidelines.
- Blog-comment spam. Does your Internet marketer or marketing company comment on blogs to help boost your search-engine rankings? This practice was also addressed in the Google Penguin update. The update appeared to go after blog backlinks that appeared spam-like and always contain exact match keywords.
If your self-storage marketer or marketing company is using the above practices, you should instead follow the industry standards and methods allowed per Google's webmaster guidelines to build backlinks. Just because your website wasn’t hit for using these techniques on this update doesn’t mean it won’t happen on the next!
You want to make sure your internal or outsourced marketers are following white-hat SEO techniques. For example, a professional search-engine optimizer will try to always improve the usability of a site for its visitors. He’ll also always try to have unique, quality content that’s directly related to the site’s main topic. The speed of a website can also be useful, not only to users but by search engines.
When you build a website that has educational content and is useful to visitors looking for information on that subject, the net results will be improved search-engine rankings and natural inbound links. Remember, the goal is to build relevant, quality links to your website. The best way to do that is to provide something someone would want to share with others!
Stephen D. Sandecki is the Internet marketing specialist for LifeStorage Centers LLC. He has more than eight years of experience in search-engine optimization, paid search and Internet marketing, and six years of experience in the self-storage industry. LifeStorage has 18 facilities throughout the Chicagoland area. For more information on Chicago Storage, visit www.lifestorage.net. You can reach Mr. Sandecki at firstname.lastname@example.org.