30/10/2013 - 14:34

Getting hit by a Penguin

30/10/2013 - 14:34

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Google’s latest update is aimed at ensuring users follow best practice guidelines.

Getting hit by a Penguin

Only eight days after Google announced the biggest algorithm update in 12 years – Hummingbird – it released an update called Penguin 2.1, which was launched on October 4.

Clearly, considering online search’s massive importance to sales and reputation management, marketers need to stay on their toes where Google is concerned.

While Hummingbird has attracted significant media attention since its release, Penguin 2.1 is expected to have a significant effect on businesses, as websites it affects will experience an immediate impact on how high they appear on a Google results/search page.

The search result is an outcome of the effectiveness of a website’s search engine optimisation (SEO), with the result being pivotal in how much traffic a website receives.

Penguin 2.1 is the fifth update from Google and sends a clear warning to website owners and marketers that the internet behemoth is being more critical of SEO practices to ensure everyone follows best practice guidelines.

This latest update to Google’s algorithm is aimed at websites that are relying heavily on certain suspicious link-building techniques and practices. Google has been deliberately vague on specific details of the update for fear of people gaming the search results.

Sites that are trying to shortcut their way to the top rankings are in Google’s crosshairs.

The Penguin update is encouraging best practice optimisation, which occurs outside your primary website. These practices include getting other websites to link to yours, social media activities, and sharing new content across the web.

Search results are still in a state of flux as the update settles in. Many website owners have noted the results are still bouncing around, with a few having partially recovered some of their lost rankings while cleaning up their act.

If you have been affected by this update, you will need to clean up any negative past SEO activities. As Google measures your authority by your SEO practices, you’ll need to ensure any past strategies now viewed as less desirable are removed.

This includes, links from bulk distributed poor quality articles/press releases, spam comment links on blogs and other ‘mass’ linking strategies. Over time, Google will reward your efforts by reviewing your authority and reinstating higher rankings.

The speed of your recovery will be determined by the quality of your website’s past and current SEO approach. Websites that have employed a comprehensive SEO strategy, which includes a diverse range of content creation and ethical link-building techniques, will recover faster than ones that cut corners to higher rankings.

That said, some websites appear to have been unfairly penalised during this update, while other websites with poor SEO have slipped through the net.

Ultimately, the best course of action is to create high-quality websites that provide a great user experience and continuously practice Google best practice SEO techniques (such as the ongoing creation of quality content that will encourage authoritative websites to link back to yours).

Working alongside the Penguin updates is Panda, and these updates shouldn’t be underestimated.

While Penguin targets websites with poor link-building techniques, Panda is an aspect of the Google search algorithm focused on preventing low-quality content websites from ranking higher in search results.

Continuous updates to Google’s algorithm are inevitable, so it’s a matter of when, not if, Google will find these poor-quality websites. Whether you do your optimisation in-house or through an agency, it’s now more important than ever to ensure you are taking a holistic – and best-practice – approach to your SEO.

Clay Cook is CEO of Bonfire, a Perth-based digital agency that provides search engine optimisation, Google AdWords management and website design services.

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