Were You Affected By The Google Penguin Update?


Published on

On 24th April 2012, Google rolled out one of its biggest algorithmic update to date which affected the rankings of millions of websites in a negative way. If you were hit by the Google Penguin update, read our article and find out how you can get your website back on track.

Published in: Technology, News & Politics
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Were You Affected By The Google Penguin Update?

  1. 1. Were You Affected By The Google Penguin Update?On the 24th April, Google rolled out one of its most talked about algorithmic changessince the Panda update in February 2011. The reason It has been talked about so muchis because it impacted so many websites, causing many to lose rankings and in theprocess, most of their web traffic.Needless to say, for most businesses that rely heavily on traffic referrals from Google,this can be catastrophic to say the least. Being penalised by Google is no fun and gettingback to where you previously were in the rankings, an uphill struggle.But what was the “Penguin update” and why were so many websites affected?What Was The Google Penguin Update?Most of us use Google in some way or another to find information and it is Google’s jobas the leading search engine to make sure that the results that it produces are relevantand of a high quality. That way, users maintain their faith in Google and continue to usethe service.The latest update was said to target webmasters that were over optimising theirwebsites, building spammy back links and generally abusing the Google guidelines inorder to rank better within the organic search results.So the reason that Penguin was implemented was to make sure that sites that over theyears had been gaming the system somewhat, would be penalised by the algorithmicfilter and demoted in the search results.The update was said to affect around 3.1% of search queries which doesn’t sound like alot, but considering that Google receives hundreds of millions of search queries everyday, this equates to millions of websites being penalised.It is worth noting, that the Penguin update is not a manual penalty, where a human hasfollowed say a spam report and taken action. The Penguin update is an algorithmicupdate which filters out sites based on certain criteria which assesses whether or not asite has been over optimised or been building spammy back links.How Do I Know If I Have Been Penalised?
  2. 2. It would be quite difficult to not notice whether you have been affected by the Penguinupdate or not. If you lost pretty much all of your websites traffic from Google just afterthe 24th April, it is pretty likely that you were hit by it.One thing that is noticeable is that sites appear to retain their page rank and continue tobe crawled and indexed. What you will notice though is a big drop in organic rankingsfor keywords that you previously ranked well for.Another thing worth noting is that it may not be your site that has been penaliseddirectly. If you obtained many low quality links or paid links, it could be that these siteshave now been devalued meaning that the links that were pointing to your sitepreviously have also been devalued. This can appear to be a penalty but in fact is purelya natural drop in rankings due a devaluation of those incoming links.What to do Now?For most sites, Google search traffic can be their main source of traffic in which case itis imperative that you do the following as soon as possible to help re-establish your sitespositioning.1. Firstly, if you have been gaming Google, hold up your hands and admit it. If youdon’t, you may never recover. So admit that you have crossed the line and go aboutputting things right.2. As link exchange is against Google’s guidelines, remove any link exchange pagesthat you have. De-index the page/s via Google Webmaster Tools and robots.txt. Youmay also want to inform your link exchange partners that you no longer participate inlink exchange and will therefore no longer be linking to them.3. Remove any internal links on your site where you are over targeting broad “money”terms. So for example if you link to your home page frequently with the samekeywords, try varying the linking text and make it look more natural. If you have footerlinks on your pages that look un-natural change these too.4. Clean up any over use of alt tags and link title tags.5. Make sure that you are linking out to related pages within your industry and notunrelated content.6. Remove any hidden text that you may have.7. Make sure that the grammar and spelling on your pages are correct. Google looks atquality and you can bet they have the capabilities to know if content is well written ornot.8. Remove any keyword stuffed meta keywords tags and also make sure that yourcontent does not use the same words repetitively. Remember, write for users and notsearch engines. Try using synonyms of words. For example, if you want to rank well forthe term “estate agent”, try using “homes”, “property”, “houses” and “real estate” as thiswill help Google to gain a better idea of what your content is about in a non spammyway.
  3. 3. 9. Make sure that the majority of your site is original and not duplicate content fromother sites. As a guide, 80% should be your own material. It’s ok to provide someduplicated content, just don’t over do it.The key is to clean up your content and make sure that its primary intent is to provideusers with a better experience and not search engines.An important question to ask yourself when undertaking any SEO or marketing activityis, “Would I be doing this, if search engines did not exist?”.If you can honestly answer yes, then go ahead and do it.10. As it has been strongly suggested that the Penguin update has been targetingspammy link profiles, it is important to do some deep analysis of your external links andwhere they come from.Do your links come from varied sources?Natural link profiles contain links from PR sites, article directories, blog comments,forum links, blog posts, footer links, blog rolls, RSS directories and other similarsources. Having 80% of your links from low quality web directories is not a good idea.Does the linking/anchor text look natural?As a rule of thumb, around 70% of the links back to your site should be“yourbrand.com” or “your brand name”. This is natural. If you have 500 domainslinking to you and 90% of those links contain “cheap televisions for sale”, this is a verybad signal that you are sending to Google.Link PruningIf you do check your link profile and find that you have what looks to be a lot of lowquality links targeting non branded keywords then you may have to do some linkpruning.This means cleaning up the links that are pointing at your site and in some cases askingthe webmaster to remove them.1. Use Google Webmaster tools to download a spreadsheet of all the links you have.2. Go to the pages and assess the quality of the site and the link text that it is using tolink to you.3. Put this all in the spreadsheet for all linking sites.4. Assess the percentage of links that point to you with broad money terms and thosethat link to you using branded terms. So if you feel that 60% of your links look un-natural, you need to go about contacting the webmaster of that site and asking them tochange the linking text to something more natural or removing the link altogether(especially if it is a paid link).5. Keep working at it until your link profile is squeaky clean.When Will I Get My Traffic Back?This is a tough question but one you will no doubt be desperate to know if you havebeen affected by the Penguin update.
  4. 4. As this particular update is algorithmic it may be a case of cleaning up your site andwaiting for the next update. The whole of your site may need to be re-crawled. If youhave spent time changing your links as indicated above, you will need to wait forGoogle to re-crawl these external pages and links. You could be looking at a number ofweeks or months rather than days.Should I File A Reconsideration Request?In most cases filing a reconsideration request with Google via Webmaster Tools is notnecessary as the update is an algorithmic update as opposed to a manual penalty.There are some cases where you may need to file a reconsideration request though. Forexample, if you have links pointing to your site that are paid links or if there are linksthat you have not placed yourself and feel that they could be damaging your site.If this is the case, file your reconsideration request and enter as much information aspossible including the link URLs that are pointing back to your site and what you havedone to try and get the links removed. You will also need to advise Google that you arenot responsible for these links and that you would like Google to devalue them.The future of SEO and Online MarketingFor us, the future of marketing your site is clear. If you have been affected by thePenguin update you will need to start adopting a different approach to your onlinemarketing. If you haven’t been hit by Penguin yet and are choosing to take shortcuts,it’s only a matter of time before you are caught out.When devising an SEO/marketing strategy you want to consider doing the following.You Need To1. Build your site for users, not search engines.2. Create something of value for your visitors.3. Build a community online via sites such as Facebook and Twitter.4. Have an opinion, become more social and participate on blogs, forums and socialmedia sites.5. Become a consistent publisher of content.6. Aim to be a leader within your field.7. Share other users content with your own visitors.8. Don’t depend on Google alone. Use different sources of traffic including blogcommenting, forums, guest posting, articles, press releases, videos and other socialchannels.9. Target more specific long tail traffic that converts better and is easier to rank for.You Need To Stop1. Manually building spammy links from non related sites.2. Paying for links.3. Looking for shortcuts to success. In SEO, there aren’t any.4. Exchanging links.
  5. 5. 5. Getting low level directory links.6. Aggressively targeting broad search terms.7. Using spammy black hat practices such as cloaking, doorway pages, hidden text andJavaScript redirects.8. Using comment and forum spam.9. Looking for overnight success. Becoming successful on the web takes time, effortand creativity.At Redline Company we have extensive search engine optimisation experience. If yourwebsite has been hit by the recent Penguin update, give us a call and let us help to getyour online promotion back on track. Please visit us at http://www.redlinecompany.com