Digital Digest: Penguin 4.0, Possum, & Syndicated Content

Patrick Coyne
Patrick Coyne Director of Organic & Local Search

The Digital Digest! Where we collect all the best SEO, SEM, Inbound Marketing, and general Digital Marketing stories from this past month. And with so many huge stories happening in October 2016, there’s plenty to cover – so let’s get started:


  • Penguin 4.0 FAQs – Here is everything we know so far (Marie Haynes):
    • There were a lot of Penguin articles from which to pick. We chose Marie Haynes’ FAQ because it’s one of the most comprehensive. The impact of Penguin is minimal on our own clients, but we have seen some shake-ups in the overall SERPs due to competition being re-ranked.
      • The important takeaways:
        • Penguin is now in real-time, so that means spammy links will have a more immediate impact (as would their clean up).
        • Penguin is now more granular. Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.
        • “Gary Illyes from Google has said that the new Penguin does not demote any more but simply devalues unnatural links.” -THAT’S HOW IT ALWAYS SHOULD HAVE BEEN! Why put the onus on the webmaster in the first place?
        • “Some websites may benefit from reviewing their disavow file and removing borderline links.”
  • Everything you need to know about Google’s ‘Possum’ algorithm update (Search Engine Land):
    • Takeaways:
      • Businesses that fall outside of the physical city limits saw a huge spike in ranking.
      • Google is now filtering based on address and affiliation.
      • The physical location of the searcher is more important than it was before.
      • Search results vary more based on slight variations of the keyword searched.
      • The local filter seems to be running more independently from the organic filter.
  • Don’t let your business play possum with local search (Search Engine Land):
    • “National-to-local brands may see positive shifts in rankings due to brand authority being turned up as a signal in the ranking algorithm.”
      • Ask questions like:
        • Is my data accurate and shared properly with the publishers and aggregators that distribute my data?
        • Are my data and content differentiated to make my brand stand out? Am I listing data attributes, such as the availability of free parking, which might differentiate me when near-me searches occur?
        • Is my deep content, such as long-form description of my business, or visual imagery, optimized properly for search?
  • Optimizing for RankBrain… Should We Do It? (Is It Even Possible?) – Whiteboard Friday (Moz): 
    • If you have not already killed the idea of one keyword, one page, you should kill it now. In fact, you should have killed it a long time ago, because Hummingbird really put this to bed way back in the day. But if you’re still doing that, RankBrain does that even more. It’s even more saying, “Hey, you know what? Condense all of these. For all of these queries you should not have one URL and another URL and another URL and another URL. You should have one page targeting all of them, targeting all the intents that are like this.” When you do your keyword research and your big matrix of keyword-to-content mapping, that’s how you should be optimizing there.
      • Takeaway: This marks a fundamental shift in approach for SEO. We typically assign keywords per page and have only recently moved to viewing those as indicators for related synonyms rather than direct keyword instances. We may for some sites want to consolidate thematically similar content to get better returns. More pages doesn’t always mean more targeting.
  • A complete Local SEO guide for small businesses (Search Engine Watch): 
    • A few items to start incorporating:
      • Include Geo tag to show your location to search engines
      • Apply business-related rich snippets
      • Optimize meta tags and page content for local keywords
  • How mobile has changed the way we search, based on 10+ years of eye-tracking studies (Search Engine Land):
    • Takeaways:
      • Top organic listings capture the most search activity (33.2%).
      • 5% of searchers on average look at the top organic listing.
      • 57% of clicks go to the top four organic listings on average.
      • Only 7.4% of the clicks that occur are below the fourth organic listing on mobile vs. 16% on desktop.


Inbound Marketing

  • How to Keep Google From Penalizing Your Syndicated Content (Content Marketing Institute):
    • Quick article to get the topic of inbound/content marketing going on how to promote your content on third party sites without being penalized by Google. A topic we should review with clients prior to suggesting content for link building purposes. I particularly liked: ‘SYNDICATE CAREFULLY.’ This reminds me of the “drink responsibly” campaigns. We know you’re going to do it, but be safe guys.'”
  • Authority & link building with real-time Penguin (Search Engine Land): 
    • The following i link building tactics still have merit in a post-Penguin 4.0 landscape:
      • Basic prospecting
      • Competitor research
      • Guest post prospecting
      • Content + outreach
      • Broken link building
      • Local organizations
      • Press and PR
  • Pinterest launches the Pin Collective so brands can hire influencers to create ads:
    • (similar to Google & YouTube article above) Pinterest is moving deeper into the influencer marketplace with a new program that matches brands and advertisers with content creators to create “inspiring, actionable pins.” With this feature — called the Pin Collective — the company behind the popular visual search and idea engine has hand-selected a group of publishers, production shops, and creators to craft pins that capture users’ attention.