Angry (Flightless) Birds – The Google Penguin Update

This is one p-o'd penguin. Watch out.

YouTube Baby Penguin – Adorable. Google Penguin Update – Not As Adorable.

Remember a little while ago when Google released the Panda update that penalized shallow, duplicate and irrelevant content-filled websites? Well, there has been another Google algorithm update that has taken the lovability out of yet another cute black and white animal: the Penguin.

This update runs on the same premise as Panda, which is to help make search engines a better place for humans. This is good or else we would start looking at Cookie the Penguin in a different light…

However, many have already felt its wrath. The Penguin update has essentially tanked traffic for numerous websites, for a number of reasons, but none too specific from Google. So far Google has broadly described the update as a Web-spam algorithm update, which aims to disarm spam and over-optimization.

The good news is that many website owners and practitioners have taken a step back to discover what part of optimization may be hurting their sites. So far, the general consensus is the update is knocking out websites that play dirty with their SEO. Aggressive link building through “black hat” techniques is emerging as the largest factor that has created loss of traffic for many sites across the web.

Probable Culprits to Spur the Update:

  • Too many exact match anchor phrases (these are keywords you are trying to rank for)
  • Overuse of exact-match domains (mainly used to help another site rank)
  • Low-quality article marketing & blog spam (keyword stuffing, irrelevant posts, article spinning)
  • Keyword stuffing in internal/outbound links

Google didn’t implement this update on accident or for funzies; they’ve unleashed the buoyant animal to battle spam tactics that have been showing up across the web. Lucky for you, we have some tippy-tips here to make sure the Penguin doesn’t go all “Angry Bird” on you.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t buy links. That’s cheating, and no one likes a cheater – especially Google’s beasts.
  • Don’t hide text. That’s spamming the search engine. Needless to say, you will lose that game.
  • Don’t stuff keywords in every nook and cranny. Your site will begin to look gross to search engines and humans.
  • Don’t “comment spam.” If it’s not relevant, don’t do it, or the Penguin will eat you. Well not really…but you’ll be penalized. Manual or computer generated, either way it’s not kosher.
  • Don’t copy paragraphs, stories or articles. Google detests plagiarism.
  • Don’t de-optimize if you realize optimization doesn’t fit. Re-optimize it to be more useful.

Do’s:

  • Diversify anchor text. If you refuse to eliminate this practice at least keep the text diverse.
  • Write for the audience, not the search engine. Google is heading in the direction of a fantastic audience experience – and they’ll get there because they’re smart.
  • Produce original, good content to naturally foster inbound links.
  • Check your work. If it feels like it is teetering on spam, it is spam.
  • Review your rankings and traffic to see if the updates are affecting your website.

The Google Penguin and Panda can be quite domesticated and sweet when treated right. Google wants to enhance your search experience, and this is a good way to eliminate those that have not produced quality websites.

If you think you have been too aggressive in your optimization with keyword stuffing, paying for links, and comment spamming, then take a step back and create a plan to revamp your SEO strategy. SEO isn’t doomed; it’s just becoming smarter, and you have to keep up or else you’ll feel the furry fury of these updates.

We’ll be sure to keep you posted as Google continues to take on the animal kingdom. What’s next? Parrots? Porpoises? PUPPIES?!?!

Geoff is our fearless leader – President & Owner of TKG, a role he’s held proudly for the past 15 years. He likes to talk “big picture” online marketing trends and strategy, and how/why businesses can use the web to achieve their goals. He’s also a passionate Steelers fan; we felt you should know that.

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