What is Google’s latest update and how to use it to win those rankings?
With a lot of people talking about the Google Penguin update and how it’s uprooted websites from top positions in the index, the whole atmosphere of search engine optimisation and search marketing begins to get a bit dreary. So I’d like you to leave your worries for a moment — I’ve found no-one can think properly in the wrong frame of mind, get ready for some “real” revelations and come with me on a ride. Let’s understand the Penguin update and use it to benefit both our visitors as well as ourselves.
Google Penguin: What You Need To Know
I’ll discuss points relating to the technical side of the update and the overall big picture. I’ll give you the big picture first so that you know where big G’s headed. It’ll help you better understand the impact of the update.
Big Picture 1 — Service Oriented
Firstly, Grandmother’s and eggs: Google is a customer oriented service. And like any other good business that keeps its customers on top of its priority list, Google makes their best effort to benefit the searcher.
Unhappy searchers means no queries. No queries means no results. And no results means no revenue for them. Every update they make is a step towards enhancing their searcher’s experience.
Big Picture 2 — Give Readers What They Want
No matter how many updates are made, what your visitors get from your site is always in your hands. So as long as your objective is to give the site user exactly what he/she wants in a way the average surfer is comfortable with, your rankings will stabilise over time.
Of course you may slide up or down a bit with competition and the fluctuating nature of a dynamic index, but people ‘will’ find your site if you have:
- Unique quality content
- Genuine anchor text for incoming links and
- Site design that is user-friendly and aims to benefit your visitor.
I’m saying this for a reason…
There are many people out there who tend to get worried when they see a slight drop in their rankings just after an update. Then they make changes which really mess up the original motive of the site. So while earlier they could have tested their way through and come back up by catering to the visitor, now they’re in a real problem because their focus shifts from the visitor to the search engine.
And believe it or not, the engineers powering a search engine like Google are slowly and steadily recognizing these shifts. To persons maintaining such an important index, it is a clear sign of manipulation. Hence, a small revision that may just have refined the crawling ends up turning into a magnified hammer.
Your best bet is to always bear in mind the big picture as I explained. It’ll keep your worries at bay and help you remain focused on your traffic’s needs. You’ll optimise better e.g. for the reader not the engine.
Anyway, speaking of optimising…
What is Google Penguin?
The Google Penguin update was issued on or around the 24th of April this year., And unlike the previous Google ‘Panda’ and ‘Fresh’ updates that were heavily inclined towards finding fresh content, penalising over optimisation and forced linking, the Penguin update has an extra sharp edge to its knife.
Along with the usual rewards for good content that have become a custom, the Penguin is outright “ruthless against spamming methods” — namely Link Types and Anchor Text Diversity.
What kind of spam?
Here’s a few types:
- Stuffing keywords
- Link cloaking
- Purchased links in the form of affiliate links
- Banners that are never nofollow’ed
- Expanded link loops — aka link wheels / link pyramids
- Advertising focused sites — yes even Adesnse sites
- Blog network links
- Blackhat tool implemented links (like those from SENuke-X)
- .…and loads more.
Basically, anything and everything that goes against Google’s Quality Guidelines. And if you’re looking for answers relating to follow / nofollow — here’s Matt Cutts:
Link and Content Relevancy
Another factor of search that Google Penguin targets is “Link Relevancy”.
This means that content provided in huge amounts but off the topic of the site or target keywords, yet still ranking well, would be heavily penalised.
After spammers, these sites are the most hit. This is an attempt to block results leading to sites that are forcing their way into an unrelated market just for the sake of exposure or ad revenue.
But on the flip side, it is extremely difficult to judge relevancy. There have been a number of business owners, who were hit just because they were trying to branch into a new product or were testing the waters at this time. Their exposure has been cut short due to misinterpretations.
Also, some websites that are not relevant to the desired results continue to pop-up. A comparison based case study is on Search Engine Land.
Now, if you search for your keywords and see a slight drop in your rankings, DON’T not panic. As I mentioned, do not go about changing your entire site structure. You’re most likely suffering from a content quality problem, which is easier to fix.
If there’s no change, then you’re probably unaffected.
However, if your site has dropped down by a number of pages or has gone out of the index, it means you’re badly hit. Since the update targets spam, it means you or someone associated to the content or backlinks you have, got flagged as an inappropriate optimisation effort.
It could also imply that the content of your website isn’t generating enough signals to be mapped to the top results. This is a problem that a lot of new website owners are facing, when competing with older sites in their niche that have years of blog posts or information stored in their archives.
This content problem can be tough to solve, but it is still possible to overcome. It’s the spam part that’s hard to track down and solve.
First, let’s tackle the content issue. Here’s four effective tips for you:
There will always be people in almost every niche who already have great websites with more content than you may ever make! There’s no point in trying to compete just on the basis of textual content and site interaction on blogs.
It’s time to step up the gas and use more than one form of media. Put that RSS feed to use and release podcasts and videos over video sharing sites. In essence, put out content that can be spread, talked about, shared and serves as a search signal. Then, link it back to your website as a genuine and valuable relevant link with appropriate anchor text.
# 2 : Use Google’s Help
The world of social media is out there to help you. But use it wisely. Don’t waste your time promoting events or affiliate partners until you’re well established online. People are least likely to come to you because they won’t see those in their feed so quickly.
Instead, start feeding your content to your business page on Google Plus. It gets value and is 10 times more likely to bring visitors than a start-up content subscription! If you need proof on the power of Google+ check this
# 3 : Exercise Your Authority
Make sure you implement rel=“author” for every post or content piece you create. It’ll keep your content safe and establish you as a credible source of information, whose stuff gets indexed quickly.
Once you have your site linked to a Google account, it automatically becomes a place that exists in the dictionary of Google’s web-crawlers. They visit it regularly as long as your content is good enough. No heavy promotion needed.
Due to the commotion, many people have not realised that Google also released an important update to the Google Panda algorithm around April 19th and Google Panda 3.6 came out on the 27th April
The good thing is — if you steer clear of the problems cited by this one, you also stand a good chance of ridding yourself from the “unnoticed efforts syndrome”. Your content will have a better shot at getting indexed, even if you’re new to the field.
So in a nutshell, avoid these:
- Heavy design templates
- Excessive use of press portals
- Aggregating information from open databases
Now that we have the content problem attended to, we can focus on the 2 most important points regarding Google Penguin. These are:
- Avoiding being hit by the Google Penguin update
- Recovering if you’ve already been hit
And I’ll discuss these in the next post tomorrow…