The Google ‘Penguin’ update
When I say Panda, you say ‘Penguin’, Panda, Penguin!
The Google ‘Penguin’ update was first seen in late April 2012 its also known as the ‘Over Optimisation Penalty’ as part of a manual review process. It looks at a website to understand if the content and the sites structure has been over optimised just to rank well in the search engines.
Its partly a penalty and also a devaluation of links that have been passing link-juice / page rank for specifically optimised anchor text, both on-site and off-site.
You will normally get a warning in your Google Webmasters Tools account, In which it seems that you have 6 weeks or less to fix the problem. It’s much easier said than done as you can’t control other websites that have linked to you. Negative SEO is a real threat now, more so than ever before.
The ‘Penguin’ update affected about 3% of all websites. It partly looks at the ‘word/s’ used in anchor text within the profile, which is the text used to describe a link or a button onsite and off-site.
Google looks at the back-link profile of a website to understand how relevant a web page is to a search query and to other related websites which has always been a core feature of the Page Rank formula created by Google.
For example if a website has a link to it from another site with the term “SEO in Wiltshire” then it may help it rank for that keyword based on relevancy.
Everyone knows this and over the years webmasters and SEO people have gone out of the way to find specific links and websites that will provide links buttons and content for that targeted term. Which is really in breech of the webmasters guidelines.
There are other things SEO / Webmasters have done, these are;
- Link farms
- Paid Placement
- Blog Networks
- Automated link building
- Link dropping
- Keyword stuffing
- Blog spam
to name but a few!
The likelihood of an SEO Practitioner doing the above now without Google’s knowledge is pretty slim.
There is now a real penalty in place that can see your website go from hero to zero overnight.
Understandably there’s always a ethical line between what you can do, what you shouldn’t do and what you might get away with for awhile.
To be realistic SEO is tough, link-building is even harder, so when we see other sites that are ranking for terms that they shouldn’t and we can see that they’ve built links from questionable sources its tough to take the high ground. There’s always a pressure form clients to deliver results that sometimes can effect your judgment.
When we look at the word ‘optimisation’ there’s an acceptable range to optimise for.
There now needs to be a clear SEO Plan or Strategy that encompasses Content Strategy, Marketing Communications, Research and Relationships it goes far beyond the technicalities of semantic code and server level changes within Search Engine Optimisation.
‘Real company’s do real company stuff’ (Wil reyolds)
Our task is to understand the objectives of our clients and work with them in the medium to long-term to build a sustainable strategy rather then chasing quick wins that won’t pay off in the long-term. The eyes of Google are watching us closely so be careful its getting tough out there!