Week 4: A Conversation with Guest Speaker Clark Benson of Ranker.com

By UCLA X425 Student Michael Uemura

Watch for Penguin and Panda? A Survival Guide for the SEO Jungle

Michael Uemura

Trekking the SEO landscape can feel like being lost in a jungle. There is so much going on, so much competition, and so many unexpected things popping up. Survival in this harsh territory requires certain skills and knowledge in order to thrive. Clark Benson is a thriver in the SEO world; he is founder and CEO of Ranker.com, a website that hosts ranking lists on everything from the tastiest gluten free crackers to the most attractive celebrities, all based on votes by its users. Clark came to our class with tips on how to compete effectively in the world of SEO.

Getting to the top in Google searches is key for survival. As Clark reported, “about 80 to 85 percent of traffic from Google will go to the very first search result.” As part of the process, he emphasized the importance of getting inbound links from authoritative sources such as educational institutions and news media in order to boost your search ranking. But Clark also notes that this is ‘the’ most difficult thing to do. He also suggested writing guest posts on well known blogs. With such posts you can not only share valuable information and get exposure, but also generate traffic to your website by embedding anchor text and relevant keywords.

Clark warned, however, that overdoing such optimization tactics can backfire as well. “Google ranking is getting smarter,” he observed. Google has unleashed updates called Penguin and Panda into the woods to go after online publishers who use black hat techniques like “keyword stuffing.” Google’s goal is to stub out such sites from the ecosystem.

If you want to “please” the Google search algorithm, it is wiser to present only the most relevant content in a unique and personalized way. Don’t try to “toy” with the rules of search engines, because they are, after all, kings of the jungle.

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