A little over a month ago, we relayed that Google was cracking down on websites that were a little too rambunctious with their SEO. Since then, more information has been released about this algorithm; specifically the name of it and more about what Google’s thoughts were behind the update. The algorithm update has been dubbed “Penguin” which lends credence to the fact that Google has a habit of naming their algorithm updates after zoo animals. That information aside, what’s important about Penguin and how will it affect your website? (If it already hasn’t.)
First, the important thing to realize is that Google isn’t going after all websites that perform white hat (ethical) SEO. The algorithm update is meant to reduce the amount of spam in the search engine and it’s intended for websites who keyword stuff, build an immense amount of backlinks and take part in other strategies in an attempt to manipulate their search engine rankings. To put it simply, websites that have been affected by Penguin or will be affected by Penguin don’t follow Google’s quality guidelines.
Anyone that has a website or who is even thinking about having a website in the future, should read Google’s quality guidelines. While these guidelines don’t put all of Google’s algorithms in the palm of your hand, the guidelines do touch on what Google expects and wants out of websites that are listed in their search engine. Unfortunately, these guidelines are often ignored by website owners and that can lead to issues when the search engine makes changes or updates to their algorithms.
Another issue that’s often misunderstood by website owners is the process of link building. Google likes it when a website has links (think of them as votes) from other high quality websites. Naturally, website owners will place their focus on trying to get as many inbound links to their site as possible, but how the website gets those links is very important to Google. Google loves quality content and the thought is that if a website has a lot of quality content, then other websites will link back to it and that’s how links are born.
Then comes the obvious situation. Quality content is adored and that’s how websites should be getting links back to them, but it doesn’t always work out that way. For one, writing quality content for a website isn’t always easy. It takes time, it takes effort and it takes skill. Most website owners don’t want to devote the majority of their time to writing, which leaves them with a couple of different options- they either hire people to write for them, they use syndicated content or they try to wing it and sporadically write content for the site that’s mediocre at best. Even if great content is present on the website, it doesn’t automatically equally backlinks and awesome search engine results and therefore website owners look for other strategies to help send them to the top.
When everything is broken down, it’s easy to see that owning and operating a website isn’t the easy task that some believe that it is. The slightly spammy strategies being used may work for awhile but eventually the search engine algorithms catch up and websites get buried.
So what constitutes as spam in regards to the Penguin update and Google’s quality guidelines?
1. Hidden links or text on a website or web page
2. Keyword stuffing (too many keywords being placed in your website content)
3. Buying links (that pass on pagerank)
4. Building a lot of links in a short amount of time (quality is more important than quantity) and building too many links in a short period of time raises a red flag
Google’s Penguin update doesn’t mean that you can perform SEO on your website and it’s not going to put those who work in SEO out of business. It’s another algorithm update to help further combat spam and unethical SEO practices.