Surviving Google Penguin 2.0
by Constant Content
Internet marketers and anyone else trying to promote and drive traffic to their websites have to constantly keep up to date with the ever-changing trends in the world of search engine optimization. The world's biggest search giant released the Penguin 2.0 update on May 22, 2013 and this latest transformation of the Google search algorithms further improve the quality of the results delivered. The latest update is aimed at clearing spam off the Internet by penalizing websites which attempt to artificially increase their standing in the search results by using black-hat SEO tactics. This update focusses in particular on elements such as keyword-stuffed anchor text and aggressive link building strategies.
Webmasters who might have been over-optimizing their content may be looking at a sudden drop in traffic since the release of the latest update. If your site has been hit by Penguin 2.0, then you will need to think about taking a new direction in your search engine marketing campaign.
A Brief History of Google Penguin
Codenamed 'Penguin,' the major Google search engine algorithm was originally announced in April of 2012. Its purpose was to weed out websites which use black-hat techniques to artificially manipulate the search engine results. These SEO tactics are defined as those which are against the terms of Google's Webmaster Guidelines. Some of the most common black-hat tactics addressed by the original Penguin update were duplicated content, keyword stuffing, cloaking and link buying.
The first version of Penguin affected 3.1 percent of searches in the English language. Minor updates were released in May and October of 2012. Penguin 2.0, by contrast, affects 2.3 percent of searches. This might not sound like a lot, but it does still mean that well over one-hundred million searches per day are affected. Additionally, around half of search engine marketers say that their websites have been affected, for better or for worse, within the first month of the update being released.
Which Sites Are Affected by Penguin 2.0?
The latest update focusses heavily on links and anchor text and the ratio of your site links will determine whether your website benefits or gets penalized. In particular, websites containing links with keyword-stuffed anchor text have been hit the hardest. If the content of your website contains large amounts of anchor text with exact-match key phrases, then it looks very unnatural in the eyes of Google's crawlers and your traffic will likely suffer as a result.
Any website which has made use of aggressive link building campaigns may be adversely affected by Penguin 2.0. This includes sites containing backlinks from other websites deemed low quality in Google's eyes and sites which contain a lot of other outgoing links. Additionally, having an excessively high percentage of keyword-rich incoming links will hurt your website. Other bad places to have a high percentage of your backlinks include webpage footers, blog comments, unrelated websites and other pages which are also penalized by Google. Those who have brought links before will almost certainly find that the vast majority of their backlinks appear on such sources.
How to Survive Google Penguin 2.0
For the most part, the things which have constituted good SEO tactics since the first release of Penguin back in 2012 should still work. Google has not changed its policies; it has simply become better at enforcing them and making sure that less and less spam and otherwise junk content makes it into the search results. While ideally, you should have already discontinued any black-hat SEO tactics long ago, it is even more important now to change your strategy if you haven't done so already.
If your website has been severely hit by the latest algorithm, then it may be time to completely redo your content as well as entirely change your search engine marketing strategy. Now is the time to ensure that your website is filled with quality and original content that human readers actually want not only to read, but also to share with others. Content that gets social signals is exactly what impresses Google and, in some cases, it may even end up going viral. The modern Internet is very much about social media and it is an inescapable fact that any successful website is successful due to the very fact that its visitors are actually the ones promoting the site by sharing content that they like on sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Any webmaster should also do their bit to encourage sharing of content by providing social networking buttons to accompany suitable articles and other pages.
When it comes to link building, you need to be looking for natural links rather than having more links on irrelevant or otherwise unsuitable sources. Going after the cheap and/or easy links is only going to hurt your business in the longer term. Instead, focus on getting links on other sites which deal with relevant niches and industries. People should be clicking on those links because they want to learn more about something or they want to read references supporting another piece of content.
Finally, ensure that you have a content creation and marketing strategy. This needs to be something that you are one-hundred percent committed to. If you are running a blog, ensure that it is updated frequently and consistently in order to encourage your existing readers to come back regularly while also attracting new ones. This will also help to encourage social signals and natural, organic traffic.
When it comes to dealing with social media, it is important not to ignore important social signals. Social media is about interacting with your readers by responding to their queries and comments and getting involved with the community that builds up around your business and website. Google wants to reward popular websites which draw in traffic organically rather than that those which put every effort possible into manipulating the search engines.
In conclusion, make sure that you abandon the old strategies of search engine optimization if you haven't already. Focus on your human readers and customers – that is what today's SEO is all about.