Penguin, Google's latest major algorithm update, has gotten a frosty reception. Penguin dumps cold water on many of the tactics that some SEO companies use to keep their clients at the top of Google's organic search results. And many business owners and webmasters were horrified to find that their search rankings have taken a deep dive.
Google engineer Matt Cutts says the new algorithm is simply designed to stop web spam, which Google defines as: “when websites try to get a higher search ranking than they deserve by deceiving or manipulating search engines.” Fair enough.
Why Such a Frosty Reception?
One of the many reasons web professionals view Penguin so negatively is that the update marks the first time that Google has demonstrated that it is indeed willing to let the quality of their results suffer in order to accomplish other objectives. In this case, the main goal is to strike a direct hit on so-called web spam.
So what does this mean? You could have the best web site on blue widgets on the Internet, and you may be considered the blue widget expert, but if your web site participated in what Google deems as “unnatural linking practices” to rank for “blue widgets”, Google will drop your site in the rankings for “blue widgets” like a rock.
Here are the three major practices that Penguin is targeting:
- Unnatural Linking Patterns: You know those overseas companies that promise tons of links virtually overnight? For just a few hundred dollars they will quickly get you thousands of links that legitimate web sites take years to build. Black hat tactics like this have always been suspect, and now they’ve been removed them from the equation entirely.
Less nefarious linking practices that Penguin has de-emphasized include repetitive links within your website, such as navigation and footers. We don’t think that you’ll be penalized for this practice; it just doesn’t look like it will help you much anymore.
- Over-Optimization of Keywords: Stacking and stuffing of keywords has long been penalized, but it now looks like simply overusing keywords within your content has also been targeted by the Penguin algorithm.
- Duplicate Content: This is another long-time no-no, and Penguin appears to have deemphasized it further. Don’t expect any benefit from syndicated news feeds that surface content that isn’t your own. If you do have them, keep those feeds away from your unique content areas.
We’ll keep an eye on how things develop as Google continues to tweak this latest algorithm. For more information on how to stay relevant in Google in the meantime, check out our article on how to “feed the Penguin.”
If you have any questions or want help improving your search rankings in the meantime, please contact Ridge Marketing.