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The Google Penguin Update

Google Penguin's is here to stop web spam

It’s been a few weeks since Google launched its Penguin update and we’re getting quite a few site review requests from our advertisers. The newest Google update was launched on April 24, 2012 with a data refresh on May 25th.  The purpose of the updates was to combat “Web Spam” in search results and Google indicates that the new update will affect approximately 3.1% of the queries compared to the earlier Panda update at 12%

The original Penguin update, and it’s newest 1.1 refresh, has sent a strong message that not knowing SEO basics is going to be dangerous in the future. You have to have the basics down or you could be at risk. Penguin is a signal from Google that these updates are going to continue at a rapid pace and they don’t care what color your hat is. It’s all about relevance.

You need to take a look at every seemingly viable “SEO strategy” with this lens. What you don’t know can hurt you.  The reality is that the march towards relevance is coming faster than ever before and Google doesn’t care what used to work.  They are determined to provide relevance and that means big changes are the new normal.

What does the Penguin update combat?

  • Exact/Phrase Match Domains-removing artificial ranking previously given site domains with relevant keywords in them.
  • Hyper Focus Linking- too many links going to too few pages, from too few root domains, or using too similar hypertext.
  • Copied or Spun Content- copying content through scrapping techniques and passing it as one’s own.
  • Over Optimization- keyword stuffing or too many optimizes instances of keywords on landing pages.
  • Hidden Content- placing hidden content with the goal of being favored by the search engines, without consideration for the user experience.
  • Link Farms and Link Networks- Purchasing of links on websites that are there solely for SEO purposes.

Bing’s Senior Product Manager, Duane Forrester, had this to say about the update.

“Seriously folks, if you want to lay a smack down on the animal kingdom that’s taken over your life, you can do it,” he writes. “Get the basics covered, leverage your unique strengths (or create new ones) and focus, like a laser, on the single thing that matters most: your visitors. Get religion on this point and never let go. The engines are very focused on those visitors: what they like, what they dislike, what they click on and what they avoid. We’re watching them closely so we can learn what they want and bring exactly that to them every time. You should be, too.”

He talks about “preventative work,” and taking care of “all those projects you know should be done,” as well as doing “the obvious,” which apparently includes using Pinterest. He lists the following as “other obvious stuff”:

  • Do you have a webmaster account activated at the engines?
  • How’s your robots.txt file doing? Blocking the right stuff?
  • Got clean sitemaps?
  • Still have duplicate content issues?
  • Have you integrated social sharing features across your site?
  • Got the best practices of SEO covered (remember, we like SEO…)

Forrester also suggests reading a pair of articles about “letting go of Google” and “breaking up with Google” from SEO expert, PotPieGirl.

Google’s Matt Cutts advised watching these two videos if you’ve been hit by Penguin. He also endorsed these tips.

Remember, Penguin and Panda will both be returning on an ongoing basis.

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