Coming Soon: Penguin 2.0

httpv:// Matt Cutts announced on Monday that there are some pretty big changes in the Google algorithm coming down the pipes, as Cutts calls it: Penguin 2.0. Exact release date is TBA, but it sounds like it will be coming in the summer months. In the past, algorithm updates have only been revealed when they are significant. This one was announced ahead of time and labeled with a 2.0, not a 1.6,7,etc., so we can expect that the SERPs will be shifting indefinitely pretty soon. Some brands will likely see improvements in their search performance, while others less fortunate may fall off the radar completely. For those of you who prefer reading to video viewing, here is a summary of my interpretation of things to come:

1. Stricter Policy on Advertorials

There is nothing wrong with a pay for inclusion link in the form of an advertorial. But Mr. Cutts says that these links need to: a. Not flow link juice, and b. Provide clear disclosure that they are in fact ads and not organic links. Sites that do not adhere to these guidelines may be penalized for poor link tactics, even if it was not intentionally deceptive. If you are paying for a link, make sure you are getting a true ROI by requesting that these guidelines are in place. Otherwise, that link may do your site more harm than good.

2. More Sophisticated Link Analysis

Although he doesn’t delve too much into what this means, Matt says that the Goog is continuing to try to deny link spammers with any value. He doesn’t say that Google will de-index link spammers, but he does mention that he does not want shady links to provide sites with value in search. Maybe this means that some links will pass more “link juice” than others, based on legitimacy? Or maybe some links will essentially be labeled “nofollow” based on an analysis of factors that only Google knows? No one can know for sure, but based on the previous generation of Penguin, I would assume that some factors that will be evaluated will include: – The use of exact match anchor text – Links coming from sites that solely offer “SEOa for your website – Footer links

3. Webmaster Tools Improvements

Matt mentioned that there will be better detection and notifications for webmasters when a site has been hacked. As more and more sites continue to be targeted by hackers, this is definitely a positive. Better communication to webmasters through Google’s Webmaster Tools has been a trend in recent months, and it sounds like this will continue to be the case. Any information about how a site is appearing to Google is extremely valuable, so this is one thing I’m excited about.

4. Rewarding Brands for Authority

Brands that are “an authority” in a space will be rewarded with extra weight in search results. Exactly how this will be determined was not said, but I would imagine that social interaction, reviews, and link profile will all contribute to ”authority.”

5. More Diversification in the first page of results

Google, in an attempt to keep results as helpful and relevant as possible, is cutting down on clusters of pages from a single domain appearing on the first page of results. However, this doesn’t mean that deeper results pages will not include some of these clusters. In fact, Cutts implies that these might actually be more common on the second page of results.

Reading Between the Lines?

I don’t claim to be a mind reader, but my hunch is that we can expect the following as well: 1. Engagement metrics will increase in importance. Matt opened the video with saying that if webmasters continue to build sites that are engaging to users and include quality content, they are doing what they should be. We’ve always known that social interaction and things such as click through rate are important. But there has been some debate about how important some other metrics, such as time on site and bounce rate, really are. I have a hunch that Google might examine these things a bit more closely in the future. 2. Google+ reviews will matter even more. Similarly to on-site engagement metrics, I think that social engagement and reviews on Google+ will grow in significance. Why? The content on Google+ is all crawlable, and I would imagine that is no accident. Plus, we all know that Google likes it when people use their products, (hence why so many YouTube videos show in Google mixed results). Also, the fact that Google just rolled out a whole new layout for Google+ means that their developers are hard at work to make this platform optimal for users. I would suggest any brand to jump on the Google+ bandwagon and quick.

What does this mean for brands?

If you are aware of any spammy link tactics that a not-so-great search team has done for your website in the past, it might be time to clean up some of those links. Regardless, I would suggest taking a hard look at your site’s link profile and look for anything unnatural or of very low quality. The penalties for link spammers are only going to become more and more strict. Since the “Backrub” planning stages, links have been considered extremely important for giving a site legitimacy. So it makes sense that they would also be weighed heavily when deciding if a site has used manipulative tactics.

What does this mean for SEOs?

If SEOs are doing their job the right way, they shouldn’t have too much to worry about. There is always a risk that client sites will get dinged, even if you are following guidelines, but Google is fairly good at updating and correcting these imperfections in algorithm updates. One thing though, that I’m excited about at least, is a promise for more Webmaster reporting. Google has been really stepping up its game lately as far as providing us with more data in its free tools. With the new social measuring capabilities in Analytics, and more and more upgrades in Webmaster Tools, they seem to be working on improving these tools significantly. Now if only they would get rid of “keyword (not provided)”.

St. Louis Shout-out: Content Marketing

St. Louis Shout-out: Content Marketing

Saint Louis is a pretty remarkable city. We all know how its residents unabashedly love Cardinals baseball and consuming craft beer in ungodly quantities, but there’s more to The Lou than that. From budding Internet-savvy start-ups to the Fortune 1000 companies that have adopted new digital modus operandi, St. Louis is home to a myriad of brands doing incredible things in the WWW. We even joined the ranks of the fastest growing cities for tech jobs (according to Fortune). Watch your back, Seattle.

Local Showcase: Content Marketing

The inspiration for this post might have stemmed from the long-awaited spring weather, but Derek asked me to break from our clients and own brand agenda to recognize the solid work a couple local agencies are doing, specifically in content marketing. Atomicdust and Gorilla 76 stand out as two shops that excel at producing great work and sharing their achievements with the digital realm. No agency is an island; without the inspiration and support from these guys across town, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Even though our specialty is Search and PPC, rather than branding and design, we really appreciate learning from these brands’ published work and sharing methods. The truth is, digital marketing requires strategy from all angles in order to build a powerhouse domain, one that acts as an extension of your brand. And one that is available 24/7 to provide a solution for searchers online.

Why Does Content Marketing Matter?

Although many of us are bored with the constant cries to “create content!” there is an undeniable advantage given to brands that can pull it off smoothly. When the contents of a website, such as blog posts, resources, videos, or case studies, enhance the site’s value without trying to oversell the brand, the domain will much easier recruit and retain visitors. Rather than becoming a hub of self-promotion, an ideal website focuses on the needs or interests of its audience. Do you want real examples? Let’s do this.

1. Get Ranked

It’s pretty sweet how natural it can be to optimize your website for search engine efficiency. Google’s algorithm continues to reject manipulative, low-quality websites from its results pages, simultaneously rewarding legit sites for creating and sharing information that supports visitors’ searches. It makes complete sense; consistently publishing your brand’s work and insight is a solid way to communicate to The Goog that your site is a worthy destination for marketing solutions. Gorilla 76 is a team of guys that do an exceptional job of writing content for its targeted demographic. Take its piece, Web Marketing Guide for B2B Industrial Companies: this resource was crafted for a very particular audience with particular goals. It’s not going to rank for terms that receive super high search volume, but that’s perfectly fine because the B2B industrial companies that are in need of web marketing will find extreme value in the content on Gorilla 76’s site. I looked for keyword data on SEOmoz and discovered the targeted term to be highly competitive.

This was no surprise, as the powerhouse domains competing with our friends include,, and Still, Gorilla 76 was able to score an impressive spot at the top of the second results page, ideal real estate for attracting CMOs of industry companies. Well done, dudes.

2. Entertain and Engage

Atomicdust impresses me with its ability to attract an audience. It says a lot about a brand when followers on Twitter and Facebook click links simply because the brand’s track record reassures the read will be worth their time. That’s sort of a complicated way of me saying if Atomicdust tweets about a recently dropped post, I’m more than likely going to check it out. I find the content interesting and valid; it’s really that simple. I’m particularly fond of Atomicdust’s ability to fuse its edgy culture and sleek design into the core messaging (e.g., photographing team members to showcase new content). It strengthens the brand’s unique vibe and initiates all sorts of friend crushes.

Atomicdust releases monthly wallpapers that correlate to the season or upcoming events. A quick summary and invitation to download the attached wallpapers round out the content. While this initiative may not directly result in signing a new client (who knows, though – that may very well have happened), its distilled purpose is much laxer: to highlight the team’s creativity, the team’s skills, and the desire to share both characteristics with its online community.

Finally, I dig the monthly events posts; by taking the time to consistently curate a list of the month’s creative events (as well as linking to corresponding external pages for more details), Atomicdust provides a really useful, appreciated service that sets it apart.

3. Share Some Secrets

A company blog is pretty useless if it doesn’t dish out tips and hints, either to educate it readers or reaffirm what they already know. Otherwise, think about it, the content would just be dancing around the problems without actually addressing how to fix them. As a brand, you can’t be afraid to explain a process or share your expertise; there will always be clients willing to pay you for services that are beyond their comfort zone and capabilities. Referring back to Gorilla 76’s content, the industrial-relevant web marketing guide is a seriously robust document that offers valuable tips for CMOs in all industries, really a though as mentioned, it’s smartly targeted for the construction biz. Throughout the guide, Gorilla 76 has sprinkled helpful visuals and resource links into the rich content, further validating the brand’s desire to share its know-how with an interested audience.

4. Show Success, Duh

Atomicdust is super great at promoting client work as well as the awards or recognition the brand receives. It’s inspiring to read about (or in the case below, view) the different companies with which this brand works, the thought process(es) that spur projects along, and the dazzling end results.


It’s worth noting that blogs fare best when the content type is varied. My favorite company blogs successfully balance education, culture, and proof of success. Any blog that is weighed down by just one of these three attributes will have a difficult time resonating. Too many education posts (sans culture and proof) will leave readers asking “Who are you? And why are we supposed to take your word for it?” Then again, an excess of posts that offer proof come across as self-promotional. Readers are definitely interested in hearing about the recent projects a brand has worked on, but if the string of posts only scream “look at what we did!” it might be difficult to connect with an overwhelmed audience. I (and everyone at Team Evolve) feel fortunate to have these other agencies to learn from, even though our day-to-day responsibilities are often radically different. Thanks for checking out our local showcase and thanks to Atomicdust and Gorilla 76 for being excellent influences. High fives all around.