In a previous post I wrote about the ever changing world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which describes how search engines are constantly tweaking their search algorithms to bring the most relevant results to the top of the rankings. I’m not going to go into much detail about this in this post so if you would like more information on the topic I highly recommend you read that post. Instead, I am going to go into detail about the new Penguin update that Google has released to the search algorithm and talk about why many small businesses have dropped off the face of the earth (well, the Search Engine Result Pages anyways).
Much like Panda, Penguin’s black and white algorithm update predecessor, Penguin is aimed at removing sites that have been using “black hat” SEO tactics from their rankings. Black hat SEO is essentially abusing search algorithms in order to get the higher rankings for targeted keywords. These “black and white” updates to the algorithm are designed to not only punish those Black Hat optimized sites but prevent people from trying to abuse the algorithms in the first place. Unfortunately, the Penguin update also affected many websites that were not necessarily using Black Hat tactics. The core of the Penguin update focuses on two things: the inbound links pointing at a website and the actual content on that site.
The search engines use inbound links to determine who is relevant and considered respected within the community. The thought is that if people are willing to link to a website it should mean that the content on that site is quality and something people will actually want to read. Unfortunately links used to be easy to abuse. Link farms (sites that solely linked to other sites for no relevant reason), buying or trading links, and spamming blog comments with links are just a few techniques Black Hatters used to jump to the top of the search engines.
Penguin essentially destroyed these tactics by making sure your links come from relevant sites and punishing your for bad (link farm) links. It makes sense that getting links from sites that are similar to yours are much more relevant than links from a completely different industry. It is essential that a strong percentage of your links come from relevant sites to make sure you don’t get thrown in the link spammer category. So far I’ve read conflicting reports on what percentage of your links should come from relevant sites but it ranges anywhere from 25% of your total links to 40%, so aim high and don’t risk it. If you have bad links pointing to your site, it is important that you go back and have them removed. This not only will help you get out of Google’s dog house, it will also help you increase your percentage of relevant links.
Penguin also harshly punished sites with duplicate content in efforts to make sure that you’re getting the most relevant results from the original author. This has crippled resellers of products as most of their content comes from the original sellers. While this is not really fair to the websites that are just posting the content that the manufacturer gives them, it is still going to be punished by Google. If you have a lot of duplicate on your site, no matter the reason, it is essential that you update your content to be original. If there is no way to update the content in an original way then removing it from your site is essential.
If your website was negatively affected by Penguin these are not the only things you need to fix to help get your rankings back, this is just a basic explanation of what has happened and why. If you would like to know more about these updates or if you want help scoring organically without the fear of getting punished later, please contact us today!
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