Google Penguin Update
Google has given webmasters, businesses, organisations and general website owners a difficult time recently with the evolution of various search engine updates. Each update corresponds to a different goal that Google has set in order to clean up search results that have accumulated over the last through years in relation to content, links, SEO ethics and more.
Google's latest updates include Google Panda 3.4, Google Venice and now Google Penguin. These updates were introduced to enhance the quality of search results and to finally filter out websites which have been using tactics against Google webmaster guidelines to gain prominent search positions.
Many question Google's ethics in relation to Google Panda, namely the huge displacement in search results, even for webmasters who have taken genuine steps to enhance their websites positions in Google. The main areas which have caused upset relate to the shifts in rankings and the websites which have gained ground as a result. Many small businesses, companies, users and organisations have reported a huge drop in website rankings overnight, which has significant impacts on their business, revenue and ability to trade online. Some of the websites hit belong to webmasters / businesses which have taken a completely white hat approach to SEO, yet still received the damning penalty.
So what exactly is Google Penguin, and why so many problems?
Google Penguin was an enforced update that went ahead despite thousands of requests against it. Google Penguin is another branched update from Panda which has tackled the following areas:
- Website Linking Profiles
- Exact Match Anchor Text Profiles
- Affiliation with Blog Networks
- Link Diversity
- Spun Content and Content Duplication
- Mined Content & Site Profile Content Makeup
- Excessive Ad Utilisation
- Paid Link Utilisation & Brokerage Link Patterns
- Blog & Comment Spam
- Forum Links & Posts on Irrelevant Websites
- Article Websites & Distribution Channels with Link Back
- Links from known Bad Neighborhoods
- Content Profile using Excessive Syndicated Content
The above are the main areas which have been taken into consideration by Google Panda.
The problems which stem from the update relate to link development and influence. The Google Panda update appears to have hit websites hard when their link profiles appear artifical and not organic. Websites which have used obvious or excessive link development strategies that employ some of the items listed above will have been penalised for their site profile.
Google Penguin has been introduced to reward websites which have acquired links organically using the power of content and media. The ultimate goal of ALL of Google's search algorithm updates stem around quality. Google's business model and utilisation has been built on the foundation of returning high quality search results, any compromises could lead to the downfall of Google's authority as a market leader in search.
As such, Google's drive for high quality search results has inevitably led to stringent measures being put in place. Google has stored data volumes beyond imagination which is used to evaluate various factors in relation to a websites link profile. For example, some of the things that Google has been monitoring includes:
- How quickly has each website acquired it's links?
- How diverse or non-diverse is the websites anchor text profile?
- Has the website attracted links from a single or multiple bad neighborhoods in a given time frame?
- Have blog comment posts appeared consistently over time?
- Are article sites or forums being used to syndicate content to achieve links back?
- Has the website got a growing link profile with websites frequently re-used by linking brokers such as textlinkads?
- Over the index life of the website, how quickly has the link profile grown, are there any obvious patterns?
The above are just some of the factors included in Penguin which have allowed for the re-evaluation of website quality based upon the websites linking profile and behavior. We all know that competitors would be able to gain a massive advantage if they built a large volume of links to a competitor website in order to damage their credibility in Google, so how does Google treat these links?
1 key thing to remember in relation to how Google treats negative links!
"Google does not penalise a website for poor quality links, instead, it removes any credibility from links it deems to be of poor quality, highly irrelevant"
What the above means is that Google will remove credibility from links that are seen to be of paid or artificial influence, which inevitably leads to a drop in positions for that website. Many panic and accuse of penalisation, however, it is basic logic, bad quality links + removed link credibility = loss of website positions.
So why have good sites suffered a drop in
When we say good websites, we mean websites that have generally undertaken white hat SEO and have created good quality content, and made efforts with social media and other positive SEO processes. Even websites which are compliant with Google webmaster guidelines can suffer. Remember that Google Penguin has hit interlinking websites across it's index which has had a massive effect on search results across the web.
Because websites interlinking creates the web as we know today, a change in the evaluation of links can have a massive knock on effect for both good and bad websites.
If a compliant content rich website has suffered a knock, it will be because of any number of external links losing credibility themselves. If the content rich SEO friendy website looses 25% of its link credibility because the websites linking have suffered a drop, then the impact will be seen even if the content rich website has been compliant in it's SEO efforts.
This explanation shows why so many large known brands have maintained positions. Because their link profile is so vast and often is compiled of high value high authority links, the collapse in link credibility is unlikely to impact a majority of the websites linking profile.
The best way to understand this is to evaluate good links vs. bad links, and establish how much of your websites link profile is formed from good links and bad links. If your website link profile is formed mainly from bad or poor quality links, the drop in website positions is likely to be more significant, if your website link profile is formed mainly from good quality links, then the drop in positions are likely to be far more minimal, again, this is based on proportions.
The bigger your websites link profile, the wider the scope of the investigation. It boils down to basic mathmatics.
Link authority (Before Penguin) = Good website authority + bad website authority
Link authority (After Penguin) = Good website authority - bad website authority
It's very simple, in principle, but the dynamics of link weight & link distribution go much further.
What you also need to take into consideration are the following:
Good Website Links:
- Are they on a page which has a frequently updated cache date?
- What is the quality of the content of the linking page?
- What linking behavior does the linking website participate in?
- How diverse is your websites anchor text profile?
- Would users find your link a valuable source of information when viewing on the linking domain?
- How have you achieved your link? did you pay for it? was it acquired organically?
Bad Website Links:
- Who built the links?
- What practices did they use?
- Are the links paid for?
- Is the linking domain a known linking neighborhood?
- How long has the link been in place?
- How diverse is the anchor text profile?
- Has the link been generated through spun content?
The above are just some of the things that need to be taken into consideration.
Everything boils down to quality and the acquisition profile. If your website has been hit by Panda and/or Penguin, then you will need to review your websites linking profile. You also need to take into account that the link activity goes back over many years, you will need to review your websites SEO strategy for the past 5 years +, in this review, you will need to evaluate the links that have been built and the method of sourcing and link placement.
Some of the most common link sourcing processes include:
- Reciprocal Linking
- Paid Link Ads
- Blog Network Links
- Blog, Forum & General Comment Spam
- Spun & Syndicated Content with Consistent Anchor Text Usage
- Sponsered Ads
- Poor Quality Directories
- Outsourced Link Development to Foreign Countries
- Excessive Non-Geo Relative Domain Links (i.e. .IN or .DE or .CZ linking to say a UK based business)
Efforts to remove built links will only help marginally towards domain recovery, however the best plan of action is to begin a new content creation strategy combined with Social Media in order to naturally accrue new links organically.
So, all types of website have been hit, even white hat compliant websites which have made good efforts will have suffered from the loss of external link credibility, again, this is no fault of the webmasters and is just a key part of Google's integrity revamp for search results.
This is also a key indicator for utilising good quality SEO organisations, agencies and/or freelancers. Link building should be an integral part of content development, and should not employ standard linking procedures.
Google is able to detect link building patterns, profiles, common link spaces & lots more. The success of any website in Google is down to good quality content, social interaction and strong organic link growth from known authoritive sources.
How can I recover from Google Penguin?
Recovery from Google Penguin is a difficult one for some webmasters, but much easier for others. The recovery time depends on the extent of the authority lost from bad/poor quality links. Depending on your websites link profile makeup will depend on how long it takes to recover, there is no fixed answer.
To get started why not consider:
- Evaluate your websites linking profile, if you believe you were unfairly hit then use the following form to submit an appeal to Google. This is a manually reviewed form and will take time to be considered. Click here for the Webspam Form.
- Whilst waiting for your websites review, ensure your link profile is clean, and does not contain links that could be perceived as bad/negative or spammy.
- Create a new strategy for creating good quality content, media and other useful items which can be shared through social media from your website. Consider everything from useful tools and guides to viral content/media.
- Don't rely too heavily on links, do not hit back by buying links or influencing the re-growth of your websites long run doing so could cause major issues in the long run.
- If your not already video blogging or using Youtube, consider joining the revolution, video is powerful.
- Ensure your social activities and presence remain active, poor or inconsistent efforts will hamper progression.
- Ensure that your growing link profile has a diverse link anchor text profile, excessive exact match anchor text can and will cause problems.
From the point of ranking loss onwards, there is no foreseeable update likely to help recovery as linking was one of the leading contributors for website positions. Instead, focus on addressing the situation and putting new strategies into place.
Gain a better understanding of your market place, join social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Google +, Reddit and other networks and share your content, knowledge and information.
Any quick fixes are unlikely to work, and could cause problems for the website during future updates.
Why has Google Penguin been introduced?
Google Penguin is a branch from the Google Panda updates which has led to implicit enforcement of link value and quality evaluation. Websites had managed to hang on to positions through some of the previous Panda updates, however after Google had announced shutting off it's traditional link evaluation algorithm, some minor tweaking was made before revealing Google Penguin.
The whole purpose of Google Penguin was to stop poor quality links influencing website positions, alongside this, the shift in search results was also made to re-order websites based upon quality content, site foundation and organic link profiles.
Google Panda also incorporated algorithm changes to further eliminate webspam.
What else is involved in Google Penguin?
Google Penguin has also seen a further change to webspam filtering. More stringent methods are in place to prevent webspam, spammy links, poor quality content, respun content and more.
The whole point of this update was not only to remove link credibility, but also to ensure content quality was catered for by websites. Websites which didnt suffer a loss of link credibility could have been impacted by outdated content, poor content update frequencies, stale content & syndication or respun content.
What should I do for the future?
Remember, each algorithm update or revision can change search results dramatically. The websites which rely on content, and good quality site foundations tend to be more successful in the long run.
It is vital to stay within white hat SEO, ensure linking activity is dictated by content and to avoid any bad practices to try and influence quick wins within search engine results.
We can't stress enough! Good content! Good website structure! Clean and Compliant URL's! Frequent Social Activity!
Avoid being hit by further changes to Google's algorithm update, stay white hat, stay compliant, and only build links through good quality, useful content. It takes lots of time and effort, and can be incredibly difficult work, but persistence pays off.
Do's and Don'ts?
Here are a few pointers to help you move in the right direction!
DO's ( Good things, things Google will appreciate)
- Create high quality, themed content
- Tailor your website for your audience, not for search engines
- Have a diverse anchor text profile from links on valuable websites
- Connect your newly created content up with social media buttons, tags
- Share your newly created content through Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Linkedin, Google + etc.
- Enhance your websites loading speed
- Ensure your websites navigation is clean and clear
- Keep your websites URL structure clean and clear
- Ensure your websites basic on-site SEO is fully compliant and used in moderation.
- Focus on increasing average time on site per visitor
- Focus on decreasing your websites bounce rate
- Consider accessibility & Usability Reviews
- Ensure your websites structure is free from 404's / Invalid or excessive re-directs
- If you have external paid links ensure they are nofollowed
Don'ts (Bad things, Google either hates them now, or will do soon)
- Don't use out sourced link development
- Don't buy links, or try influencing mass link growth
- Don't build volumes of directory links
- Don't waste time with heavy reciprocal linking
- Don't write mounds of poor quality content or content that is not of good quality
- Don't resort to any grey hat or black hat SEO, even if it works for a competitor
- Don't stuff keywords into page content / links or articles
- Don't abuse your social profiles or leave them stale
- Don't go overboard with on site SEO, Google will penalise for over optimisation
- Don't use link brokers
We hope this helps! and we hope you enjoyed our article!
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Written by Daniel Foley