On Friday 17th October, an event happened that shook the entire SEO world. Suddenly, everywhere, organic search engine rankings were fluctuating. There were reports of some websites ranking 30 to 40 places higher, while other websites experienced some dramatic drops. For those SEO enthusiasts among you, you might recall Google’s John Mueller forecasting a Penguin algorithm update before the turn of the year, and for those of you who aren’t SEO enthusiasts, this algorithm’s primary aim is “combatting spam”.
The Relevance Guide to Google’s Penguin Update
This is Penguin’s sixth release since the first instalment was made on April 2012, and despite the fact weathered digital marketing professionals are now used to these routine updates, the nature and timing of them are as ever, relatively unpredictable.
Don’t get caught cold with this Penguin instalment, follow Relevance’s guide to the Google algorithm and protect yourself from future updates.
In the case of those SEO companies who have cleaned up their website’s link profile (provided this was achieved before 15th September) high ranking increases were enjoyed. For those lucky few, it is time to reflect on your accomplishments, recognise why you have been successful and continue employing those methods.
A large majority of websites however will have been affected negatively by the update. This is because even those websites not directly impacted by the Penguin changes may still see ranking drops. Sites that have been directly damaged by Penguin will still be outsourcing links. Where once links from these sites were improving your SEO, they now harm it, thus the negative domino effect will occur, sending websites spiralling down the rankings.
As for those less fortunate websites, the trick is not to over-correct. Google seeks to penalise webmasters using manipulative and spammy strategies and analyse behaviour patterns to do so. In over compensating for previous malevolent links, you risk diluting your SEO to the point that it becomes ineffective or worse still Google may become even more suspicious of your SEO strategies. Instead, promote your site in a sincere and organic way.
That means delivering quality content that is at once informative, interesting and relevant. Google’s ultimate goal is to provide a search engine that users enjoy and benefit from. If you can achieve that holy grail of high quality website content then you can be certain to avoid any Google penalties in the future.
A further technique to strengthen your website against algorithm penalties is to avoid depending on SEO so heavily. Although the Penguin updates may well have caused a drop in organic traffic to your site, look for visitors elsewhere on mailing lists and employ various social media platforms. This has the added advantage of adhering to future updates as Google’s forward thinking algorithms are increasingly incorporating social indicators.
Webmasters the world over wait anxiously as the effects of the Penguin update filter down the internet. Google still hasn’t given more details concerning the percentage of search results the latest version of Penguin has impacted. The uncertainty doesn’t stop there, because websites that have been hit by Penguin will now have to wait until the next release to know if their consequential changes conform to Google’s new guidelines.
One thing is for certain however, so long as Google continues to pursue an improved search engine, Penguin and Panda algorithms will be unforgiving when it comes to poor quality content and outdated links and spam. The solution is to seek high quality SEO that is devoted to producing informative and relevant content and cleaner and more modern websites.