On April 24th, Google rolled out its newest algorithm change to bring higher quality sites to the top of the search results pages. Named Google Penguin, the update targets ‘spammy’ sites or ‘webspam.’
Black, white or grey. Those are the three hats you can wear as an SEO professional. With Panda, and now with the latest algorithm update, Penguin, Google is sending a strong message to steer clear of any grey areas.
Google is trying to ‘level the playing field,’ said Google’s Matt Cutts, head of the search engine’s webspam team. Originally referred to by many in the blogosphere as the over-optimization algorithm change, Cutts has clarified that Google is not targeting search engine optimization (SEO), but webspam. There are still plenty of great ways to do white hat SEO and not be affected. However, companies that have used tactics to try to ‘trick’ the search engines by loading websites with meta data with repeat keywords, exact-match anchor text links, too-high on-page keyword density, low-quality or irrelevant backlinks and other grey or black methods, have been adversely affected by Google’s algorithm updates in the past. Companies that specifically used black hat tactics to build link profiles just took a hit over the last week from Penguin. Many companies are going to have to reinvent their online marketing strategy and get more creative. That’s just what Google wants – more competitive, quality materials for its users to find.
Penguin initially knocked down lots of sites that didn’t deserve to be ranking on page one or two, but has also affected some more reputable sites that didn’t believe they were creating ‘spammy’ material. Since then, it appears that some of those quality sites recovered as Google adjusted the algorithm. Here are some tips to avoid this penalty (or fix it if you’ve been hit):
- Don’t use 100s of exact match anchor text to build back links to your site. Make sure anchor text is natural and diverse.
- Don’t play in bad neighborhoods. Make sure not to get links from sites flagged for spam. Be extra careful when building your link profiles and go back through and remove any links only if you can for certain tell that they are hurting your SEO.
- Do create great content and get involved in social sharing. Get a hold of some experts at your client’s company. Get them to write guest posts that are interesting and share-able. Create a blog, along with an editorial calendar of relevant topics. Use keyword tools to find out what people are looking for and give them the answers! Tweet your content and post to Facebook! Use bitly urls to track the amount of traffic coming to your site from this new content. You’ll soon see its powerful effect. And you’ll earn great back links in the process.
- Don’t submit your site to 1000s of low quality directories, while ignoring higher authority links from pages with Page Rank.
Good luck and happy SEOing.
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