Can Classifieds Prosper in The New Age of SEO?

SiteVisibility looks at the techniques that classified websites should adopt in order to rise above the challenges presented in the post Panda and Penguin world

A recent webinar held by SiteVisibility, in conjunction with ICMA (the International Classified Media Association), explored the relationship between search rankings for ‘classified’ websites and the algorithm updates that Google has been rolling out over the last 18 months. So what do these sites need to look out for to keep them safe? How can they reduce their risk of dropping their position in the SERPs?

Martin Hayman, Head of Technical SEO at SiteVisibility says: “The main problem for classifieds is that they have a huge variety of categories to try to rank for and a massive number of competitors. If their strategy hasn’t been very strong in the past, or they fell foul of common mistakes, the Panda and Penguin updates may have hit them hard.”

Fortunately, by understanding the dangers, all websites, classifieds or otherwise, can formulate a defence against incurring damaging penalties – and the biggest danger in the post Panda and Penguin world is having a site full of low quality content and ‘spammy’ inbound links. Duplicate, thin or ‘below the fold’ content can also put a site at risk, as can reciprocal and paid links, overuse of article syndication, numerous directory submissions and links with ‘exact match’ anchor text.

“Classifieds need to start thinking about the quality of content on their sites and the value of their content to the end-user”, says Hayman, who adds: “In-depth keyword research, good onsite optimisation, clear targeting and a touch of realism are also essential components of a successful strategy.”

By focusing on just one or two keywords per page, limiting advertising (especially above the fold) and providing relevant and unique content, classifieds can raise their game and start to rise above any competitors who are still adopting damaging tactics. Link building is also a vital part of a good strategy; build relationships with high authority sites and magazines, offer them great content and nurture these contacts continually. Google is trying to provide searchers with valuable, useful results, so you have to prove that your site is more relevant for your keywords than the sites belonging to your rivals.

Effective SEO doesn’t happen overnight, but by devoting a portion of your marketing budget, time and effort towards your strategy, you should start to see results within a few months. As Hayman says: “Classifieds may have taken a hit over the last year or so, but a drop in rankings doesn’t need to be a permanent issue; don’t see Google as the enemy – they’re just trying to make the Internet a better, more efficient place. There’s plenty of advice as to what techniques will reap the biggest rewards, so listen and act on it.”

Whether you take care of your SEO yourself, or employ a professional SEO company to do it on your behalf, by following these guidelines you can soon limit the damage caused by these search-centric animals and bring your classified site back up to standard.