Google Penguin – what can we learn from the update?
Hello again everyone. Today I’m writing a little more about the Google Penguin update and some of the steps that you can take in order to avoid your own website being penalised.
SEO forums and blogs are full of Google Penguin bashing write-ups, but no one’s really tried to understand the underlying message that Google and Matt Cutts are trying to convey. Here’s a list of takeaways from the Google Penguin update that we think you should take note of.
Google Penguin hint and tips
Here are a couple of tips that we recommend you follow in order to avoid being penalised by the Google Penguin update:
Pay Attention to Your Backlinks
This is probably the strongest message that is being conveyed through the Google Penguin update. A lot has been said about how several sites that did not indulge in keyword stuffing and has some pretty good content were hit. A lot of these webmasters were quick to point that they did not indulge in link baiting – but still saw negative effects to their search rankings. But, can they be reaaaaaaaally sure that all their backlinks are clean? Did they use Manual Directory Submission for instance! We all know this is a pretty white hat SEO strategy and there’s nothing wrong in it. But how do you make sure that the backlinks that you’ve got aren’t from dubious looking sites or from network sites. You may have innocently submitted your site to these directories without checking details about the site. The best solution as a result of this is to regularly check for backlinks. Linkbuilder.wordtracker.com is a pretty good site that can track your backlinks. Make sure that you check for sites with a low page rank, sites that are from the same network (those that share the same IP address), and sites that are purely malicious.
Stay Away From Black / Grey Hat Techniques
There are some sites that indulged in some pretty innocent (but prohibited by Google) link building tactics. A good example of this would be Godaddy.com. Here’s a link to an article that links to the strategy adopted by the company. But for those in a hurry I’ll explain in brief…
GoDaddy.com offers a service called Website Tonight where you can get your site built in a jiffy. At the footer is an image with a link that says ‘Powered by Website Tonight’. This image can be switched off, but many choose to ignore it. What appears as a mere image on the preview is actually a link when the site goes live. The author’s done a quick study to explain how their visibility doubled after they started doing this aggressively.
Well, now Google has started to punish such sites. Although this seems to be a pretty innocent way of spamming, it’s still prohibited by Google. But what worries me is that the proportion of such sites being hit (and mind you they’re pretty strong on content) is huge when compared to sites that indulged in large scale spamming.
- Google’s ready to sacrifice some of its search quality (remember Google Penguin isn’t about search quality) to punish sites that indulge in spam or do not follow their guidelines.
- SEO isn’t down and out; it’s just got a lot smarter. And we can’t really complain about Google trying to kill SEO; it’s their search engine, and we ought to play by their rules. Anyone who’s familiar with SEO and Google should know this.
- They’re ready to acknowledge (through the reconsideration form) that there have been some mistakes where sites that did not indulge in black hat link building got hit.
That’s all for this SEO News Post – ‘Takeaways From the Google Penguin Update’ – thank’s for reading.
About James Andrews
Director at HP Net Services – you can connect with me by clicking on the buttons below.