I love how Google is taking some of the most sweet looking and anti aggressive black and white animals to name their algorithms after. Then again, black and white also means clear and in writing which they have been with what they want webmasters to do. These black and white animals could just be a symbol of them going after the sites that are not doing what they put in black and white print and that is why they are choosing black and white animals. There are much more angry animals out there that they could use for their next algorithm update, but instead of choosing one that people already dislike based on looks or annoyance, they are going to cause SEOs everywhere to hate the Zebra.
Zebras are great animals which roam Africa and even California (by the Hurst Mansion) and seem like peaceful, calm and social animals. Zebras look like they are social animals because they travel in herds and if you watch the leader run, the rest follow them, sort of like how people follow and react to influencers in Social Media or even groups of people in school, on sports teams and in any other clique that people form and belong to. Panda looked at the on site factors of your sites. Penguin went after the out bound things like when they go out “fishing” for fish and SEOs go fishing for links. Those are two of the biggest ranking factors in Google’s Algorithm, so what can we expect from a social animal like a Zebra? Social Rankings is probably next and what the Google Zebra algorithm update will be trying to stomp.
One of the reasons we all add social sharing buttons and icons to our sites is because social shares can help with your rankings. G+’s have had a huge impact lately, especially when people are logged into any Google service, and my guess is that social shares and social media triggers will be the huge thing that Zebra is going to go after. Here are some of the things you should think about.
Followers and Fans.
Did you use services to build fake fans, followers and likes? You may have 1,000 fans on Facebook, but Facebook is pulling these fake accounts and the search engines know what these people are interested in because of what they click on, share and react to most. If you bought a ton of followers, are they real accounts, are they active and are they sharing other relevant things? Do they click through to your site and actually spend time on it? Are you getting views, comments and reactions to your posts from these fans? If not, you are sending signals that you are trying to buy rankings and could be damaged by the Zebra update in Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Follow Me and I’ll Follow You Back.
Does this sound like you? Do you have about the same amount of followers as the people you are following? Are your followers relevant to what you normally like to read and share and do they read and share the same things? Having 10K followers is great, but if they don’t actually care about what you tweet and share or click through your links and retweet you, you could be flagged by Zebra. If a majority of them are following other people back and have similar followers to the number they follow, this could look like link exchanges and link farms from years ago and cause Google’s Zebra Update to flag you. You’ll also want to make sure that their followers and profile are similar to yours if you’re going to follow them and they have an almost equal ratio of followers to people they are following.
Pins, Diggs, Stumbles and more.
This is a tricky one. Are you using a ton of keywords around your links and spamming the same links with different urls into these sites? Do you have similar followers and people who are digging, stumbling and pinning your posts or shares? Have you hired a service to boost your diggs and stumbles or are you using multiple corporate accounts to repin products and get higher rankings? These are easily traced which I’ll go over in the next thing to look out for and can potentially be things that the Google Zebra update will be looking for.
Linked In Endorsements, Facebook Shares, Google+ Profiles and other Accounts with Company Name and URLs.
One thing to think about is how the Google Zebra update and other search engines can gather information and flag you for spamming with your co-workers, etc… If you list where you work, who you work for and the company website on your profiles, then you like, share and pin everything from that company, you are mapping out a pattern. Think about your profiles on Facebook and Linked In, they both try to get you to list all of this information and that makes it easy to map. If your company has you using corporate Twitter accounts and you have a link to your company site, this can get you mapped as well if all of the employees are causing the shares. You need to think about the information that is out there and how it can be mapped to show that it is only related people that have a vested interest in sharing the posts and data and people who are not directly related to the company or website that are sharing data. Blog rolls, etc… can be a good giveaway as well. Blogrolls tell the search engines you have a direct relationship with them which can lower the value of the tweet, share, like, etc…
Don’t be stupid.
Make sure your social media is natural and not being driven by paid employees, followers or fans. Make sure your social media manager, director or whoever is in charge is also aware of Google’s Zebra update and also make sure that they know how their job is now going to affect your the overall health of your sites SEO and rankings. If they are buying links, following if you follow back, etc… then get them to stop and be careful. Make sure they know how to build an audience, keep them active, increase comments on blogs, Facebook posts, get retweets on Twitter, etc… without having to bed or pay for them. If they don’t get this then your job is going to be even more difficult.
Google’s Zebra Update is probably going to be going after social media triggers. If your backlinking strategy has a focus with social sites, you could be screwed since that is obvious. If you are buying fans and likes, stop and try to get fake profiles to leave your following, fans, etc… Clean up the lists of people you follow to make sure they are relevant to your topics and make sure that your Social Media campaigns are clean and look natural.