Q&A:Google Penguin Algorithm Update
The Penguin Update – Google’s spam fighting algorithm launched on April 24th. Google periodically changes its algorithms and this can have an impact on search results. Sometimes updates have a bigger impact than others. Whilst every major algorithm update causes some opposition, Penguin seems to have caused quite a stir. The update was designed to punish pages that have been spamming Google through black-hat methods such as ‘keyword stuffing’ or ‘cloaking’ which break the rules of Google’s guidelines. I asked Scott, eMarketer at Radiator, some questions about Google’s Penguin update and this is what he had to say:
1. What is your opinion of Google’s Penguin update?
I think it’s a necessary change; its aim is to increase the quality of Google’s search results. It is an algorithmic change designed to de-clutter Google’s index of over optimised poor quality sites. When you think about the size of Google’s index (Billions) it’s inevitable that at some point data cleansing will be required to filter out the low quality data. This is what we’re seeing with the penguin update, a mass data cleanse in the hope to improve the quality of search results.
2. Does it make the way you do your job any different/challenging? If yes, in what way?
We have to remain mindful of optimising pages to the point of over optimisation. Consideration has to be given to new clients with backlink profiles that contain large quantities of exact match anchor text.
3. Should people be worried about this update?
If you are doing any of the following, yes:
- Aggressively over using exact match anchor text
- Overly reliant upon exact match keyword in your domain name
- Stuffing your site full of keywords (example: within body copy, title, H1)
- Building low quality backlinks (example: forum backlinks, blog comments)
- Showing two different types of content to visitors and search engines (cloaking)
- Adding duplicate content to your pages
4. Does this update mean quality content is the key to good SEO?
Great content has always been crucial to seo and building a strong web presence in general. Keeping your visitors satisfied to the point that they want to return to your site is vital and good content certainly helps. Having a blog is perfect for expanding your sites content with industry specific content relevant to your visitors. It gives you an opportunity to appear for more keyword variations via search and lets you link back to your sales pages. If you don’t present visitors with content that is engaging and useful what are you adding to the value of that users visit? Not much.
5. What defines ‘over-optimisation’ and where do you draw the line?
Over optimisation can occur when targeted keywords are prominent within the URL, over used within the title and body copy and have backlinks with lots of exact match anchor text pointing to that page.
6. Does the new Penguin update make negative SEO a cause for concern?
Negative SEO tactics are certainly interesting; some SEOs have tried to show it is entirely possible while others believe it isn’t as effective as some make it out to be. I think webmasters should be mindful of it but not to worry. The effect should be short term and you can submit a spam report to Google explaining why you believe your site has been affected. Also keep an eye on the backlinks that are being pointed at your webpages.
7. What advice would you give people that think they may have been hit by Google’s Penguin update?
Undergo a site audit, check for indexation issues, duplicate content, canonical and overused keywords which can cause problems. Analyse what site changes you have made recently and the backlinks being pointed at your site.
8. What can people do if they feel they have been wrongly penalised by this update?
Technically this isn’t a manual penalty, it’s an algorithm update and as such there is unlikely to be a manual review process of appeal.
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