If you follow SEO industry news, you likely heard about the Penguin tweak that took place at the beginning of this month. While the impact was initially reported as being minor in scope, and most thought it would be a data update, it seems as though it has affected more people than initially anticipated. Some webmasters report being hit very hard indeed. As usual, most people remain in the dark about what they can do to protect themselves from being penalized by these updates. Here are some good rules of thumb that should serve you well no matter how many tweaks they make to their algorithms, because they match what the search engines are actually trying to achieve:
Release Valuable, Original Content
This cannot be emphasized enough. Not only does the content have to present actual value to readers, but you should also focus on delivering an original message. Think for a moment how many second-tier sites that regurgitate what others say you consistently visit over time; the answer is not likely very high. Originality is key to establishing regular traffic.
Don’t Game the System
Some webmasters try to essentially game the search engines through purchasing links, or other tactics which are not endorsed by companies like Google and Bing. Even though many of these tactics can initially bring you positive results, it is only a matter of time until the engines refine themselves enough to be able to notice and penalize those who attempt to manipulate their rankings. Build your traffic the old fashioned way, one user at a time.
You should consider creating certain pieces of content expressly for use as linkbait. Think of the way online magazines or periodicals are constructed; how they feature a headline that is intended to get you to click on a link to read below the fold. This same principle should apply when you are creating linkbait. Make sure to offer a hook that is good enough to get people to make that initial click, and you will see a lot of success from this sort of content.
While this list is hardly exhaustive, it does represent a good selection of tips that almost any webmaster can apply to their site to improve the content and traffic it gets. These tips will also never place you in a position to be penalized, because they are mimicking the real, holistic traffic patterns that search engines want to see with sites.