Google constantly updates it’s search results algorithm
The Penguin update to Google’s search rankings was initially created in 2012 to crack down on websites that used deceptive tactics to fool Google into ranking their website. Things like really poor content that’s deliberately stuffed with keywords or paying for links to your website from really poor quality sources. Tricks that are collectively known as ‘black hat’ search engine optimisation. There are over two hundred signals or ‘clues’ that Google use to identify spammy websites. A Penguin penalty would mean your website would no longer appear in Google’s search results.
Another trick that worked over the last couple of years was creating blog networks. Essentially this involved scooping up a bunch of expired domains and recreating websites on them, in the hopes they still hold some value in Google’s eyes. You would then create content on them (generally of a pretty poor standard) and place a ‘money link’ back to your website. The more links to your website, the better the ranking right? There might still be some value in these networks if you haven’t been sprung yet, but rest assured, Google is out to get you.
The latest update to Penguin
Google just released the fourth and final update to it’s Penguin algorithm that eliminates these spammy websites from it’s search results. It’s final because Google will now penalise (and un-penalise) websites in real time. Previous Penguin updates could penalise a website and there was nothing that could be done to lift it until a future update was made and announced by Google.
When announced, marketers would analyse the effects of each Penguin update and assess the damage it might have on their websites. But now without any update announcements Google will be freely adjusting their algorithm as they see fit, and it will be up to us to be on our toes. Although if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear.
Google also announced that Penguin will now be ‘granular’. If you were penalised in the past for having a spammy page, your entire website would be penalised. Now, several aspects of your website will be judged and a particular page or section of your website might be all that is effected by a penalty. There’s not a huge amount of clarity on exactly how granularity will work, but it’s comforting to know if a piece of content is accidentally deemed spammy that your whole website isn’t going to drop off the face of the earth for months on end.
The updates to Penguin are rolling out now, but we’ve noticed some fluctuations over the last week or two, with some rankings moving around but returning a few days later. For a great look at the movement of the Google algorithm check out Algaroo.
How to protect yourself from the Penguin update
Google is constantly trying to provide the best possible results to it’s users. Results that answer their questions, solve their problems and provide value in their lives.
So the answer to be ‘Penguin proof’? Don’t create a website that is full of crap. Don’t over optimise a page for keywords when it provides no actual value for someone searching that phrase. Don’t ever, ever pay for a bunch of links to your website from some random freelancer. Don’t try to trick your way into the rankings.
Create content that people will love and will want to share with their network. Content that is so good it gets written about by other website owners. Content that Google can clearly see is valuable to it’s users. This is the only real way of assuring your website can withstand any Google algorithm update.