- Category: Our Blog
- Written by Brent Williams
Find out what this update is, why Google did it, how it could effect your business and what you can do about it.
Penguin is a code word used for an update (April 24th 2012) to Googles ranking algorithm. This update is focused on improving search results, for end users, by eliminating (by penalizing) website that use what Google considers “shady” SEO practices.
However these updates sometimes have the unintended consequence of penalizing legitimate sites. You just have to Google “Google penguin update” to see a lot of chatter by SEO folk detailing the negative impact this update has had on rankings, particularly for small business.
Unfortunately it seems that Google have weighted the penalty of these bad links where it only takes a few to blow your search ranking out of the water. Potentially undoing months, if not years, of work. A good example is the discussion about WPMU.org (a large and authoritative site for Wordpress themes and plugins) who saw a large fall-off in traffic after the update. Apparently this was because to just a few bad backlinks.
Penguin could negativly affect your ranking if you have backlinks that have…
- somehow found their way into shaddy or questionable sites, e.g.a porn or website involved in pirating (like in the WPMU example above).
- these could be guest posts (with links to you) on questionable sites.
- links on a 'legitimate' site but this site (due to poor maintenance) has become infected by comment spam (Wordpress has a lot to answer for!).
- your link is on a link-network, or other paid text links. i.e. to many match anchor text to keywords, across multiple sites.
- only have a few incoming links, and they are from domains and websites from within the same niche.
All this highlights the need to engage in kosher link building and SEO practice in general, by avoiding shortcuts, and making sure you engage or employ people who use reputable techniques. Even internal employees may engage in bad practice in an effort to hit KPI targets or other things that may incentivize them to take the cheap or quick and easy route.
What you can do about it.
If you have noticed a recent drop in your rank, there are a couple of things you can do ...
NB. There are links to the tools listed in the resource section below
- Link Pruning. Regularly evaluate the quality of backlinks and prune out the bad ones. However this is a manual process where the website manager, on the offending site will need to be contacted and a request made to remove the link.
- Check to see if your content is being copied by other sites, using a tool like copyscrape
- Use Open Site Explorer and ahrefs to check your link profile and diversity.
- Use tools to monitor your site/domain and page authority. If it slips make a concerted effort to find out why.
- Engage in best practice, perform an SEO audit on a regular basis
However it’s not all doom and gloom. For every site that has taken a negative hit there will be sites that have benefited. This highlights the need for organisations to be vigilant about their SEO practices and they remain current with Googles expectations of who they recognize as authorities sites, in their effort to create a better experience for the searcher.
Make sure your link-building strategy is consistent with Panda/Penguin best practice. Make sure articles are fresh and relevant to your key-word or search criteria. Develop content that is ‘sticky’ and likely to be linked, tweeted or posted or discussed by others.
- A good article about Performing an SEO audit http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2049427/The-Art-and-Science-of-SEO-Site-Audits-Best-of-SEW-2010-10
- A guide to help identify low quality links http://cognitiveseo.com/blog/604/identify-low-quality-links-easily/
- Check for copied content http://www.copyscrape.com
- check your link profile and diversity http://www.opensiteexplorer.org and http://www.ahrefs.com to
- Info about link networks and how they operate http://www.seomoz.org/blog/unnatural-link-warnings-blog-networks-advice
- A good article about checking domain authority from SEOmoz http://www.seomoz.org/learn-seo/domain-authority