ED UPDATE: Google rolled out Penguin 2.0 worldwide post publication – 23/5/13
You may have heard rumours about ‘Google’s Penguin’ recently, seen the tweets, maybe even read the odd blog post, and you know an update is coming, but do you know what it really means for your small business website? Could it pose a problem?
For those of you that don’t know what I am talking about, Google introduced a major update to their algorithm last year (the algorithm is what determines how pages are ranked in Google). It was termed Penguin (not to be confused with another update called Panda!) and had a big effect on many sites, resulting in pages dropping down or even out of searches.
Google stated back in March 2013 that a new Penguin update was planned. Then last week Matt Cutts (God of Google!) released a video describing what we could expect in terms of SEO over the next few months, and Penguin was the first topic covered. They have called it Penguin 2.0 and Matt states:
“Penguin is a webspam change that’s dedicated to try to find black hat webspam and to try to target and address that. This one is a little more comprehensive than Penguin 1.0 we expect it to go a little more deeper and have a little more impact than the original version of penguin”
This means it could be big!
ED UPDATE: with the roll out of Penguin 2.0, Google has stated it is an algorithm change and not a data refresh like other updates. Time will tell as to the true impact, but in the meantime …
I have recently been working for a client who has a competitor that is using a specific SEO tactic to target multiple locations for the same services. The way they do this is to create duplicate pages, and simply swap out the location.
This was a well practised tactic a few years ago but now abuses Google guidelines with regards to webspam. However it still appears to be working as the competitor is high in the rankings for key location search terms – my client wants to address this understandably!
Nobody knows how Penguin 2.0 will pan out yet (except Google I guess) but I am wondering whether it will dig deeper and find sites that may have managed to miss attention so far (like my client’s competitor).
So, my advice is to not rest on your laurels, go check your site and get prepared for the next update.
If you haven’t already done so, as you haven’t been affected, now is the time to re-look at your site and identify whether you have a potential problem that may still yet get picked up – you really don’t want to lose your traffic from Google do you!
The following is an updated checklist for what to review, and questions to ask yourself. (kudos to Mashable for an original blog post on this subject back in July last year):
Keep your keywords in check
Termed the ‘over optimisation update’, many webmasters panicked and removed lots of mentions of keywords that simply caused sites to drop in the rankings. Keywords are still important though, as Google needs to know what your page is all about. Just don’t over do it and mention them everywhere!
Cyrus Shepherd over at seomoz, suggests “Dream Your Keyword Theme” which is a great approach to take. Basically talk naturally around your theme keeping in mind your primary keyword and don’t keep repeating the same keyword over and over. It doesn’t sound good to your readers and it’s not good for Google.
Ask yourself …
- Does your site read well, or is it clunky?
- Do you repeat keywords incessantly?
- Do you have multiple mentions in your title tag?
Ask someone else to read your content as you maybe too close. If it doesn’t read well then it’s time to change it!
Diversify Your Link Building
Penguin placed big emphasis on identifying link spam. And by link spam I mean issues such as
- links pointing into your site from dodgy irrelevant forums,
- waste-of-time directories,
- multiple identical articles on dodgy article websites,
- multiple links from every page of the same website,
- paid for links,
- links from multiple websites on the same server
- links from spammy blog comments, the list goes on.
Google is looking for a ‘natural’ link profile which means
- not having someone, somewhere buy you 100 links for £50,
- not having links placed in comment spam,
- not having many many links with identical keywords in the text of the link (the text of the link is called the anchor text), the list goes on yet again!
Links are still important though. Have a look at your current link profile,
- does it appear natural?
- do you have links from different and relevant websites?
- do you have links from authoritative and credible websites?
- are links from relevant websites associated with your sector?
- do you have varied anchor text?
Link building in 2013, is really more about content marketing and an online PR approach. Cultivate those relationships, spread the love, create some fabulous content and tell the world!
Beef Up Your Content
Google loves good and fresh content.
- are you keeping your site live and fresh?
- how regularly are you blogging?
- is your content of good quality – and by that I mean adding value to what is already out there and not just regurgitating?
- is your content aimed at your target audience?
Check Your Google Webmaster Tools
If you have not got your site verified with Google Webmaster tools, then do it! And do it now. Google provides a wealth of information on how they see your site. They will even tell you if they think you are spamming, but by then you may already have been penalised!
Moving forward, follow these two tenet’s and you shouldn’t go far wrong:
- Think of your readers as well as Google – if it doesn’t look or sound good to your readers then it probably won’t be good for Google
- Follow Google Guidelines! You can find them here.
Remember at the end of the day Penguin is all about combating webspam. Google may be adding new areas to check in Penguin 2.0 and we won’t know that till it is implemented. But if you review the above and clean yourself up today then at least you are prepared.
Please don’t delay on this as Penguin 2.0 could happen any time!
Good luck and happy Penguin combating!
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By Wendy Chamier