Google recently announced a new update to its search algorithm that penalises websites that use “aggressive web spam tactics.”  Many SEO experts who carry out legitimate SEO activities have welcomed the update because it acknowledges and targets a growing number of “cowboy” SEO agencies that don’t comply with Google’s best practices guidelines.  Unfortunately, the update (known as Google Penguin) has created a bit of controversy due to the negative impact it’s had on many websites’ rankings, and all businesses should be aware of how it could affect their site.

Adelie Penguins Clustered on an Iceberg
Google claims that the new changes will only affect 3% of searches, however many webmasters feel that this figure should be much higher.  They claim that websites using legitimate SEO techniques have found their rankings plummet overnight, including major sites such as last.fm (-25%), digg.com (-35%), and dictionary.com (-40%).  Other opponents of Penguin claim that search results have not improved at all, and in some cases are now giving poorer search results.  Major brand sites also seem to be given more prominence, which could negatively impact smaller companies and niche sites.

Google is by no means trying to prevent companies from carrying out an SEO strategy, in fact they’ve stated many times that they think SEO can be “positive and constructive.”  What Google is trying to prevent is the use of “black hat” SEO that relies on generating spam links and poor quality content.  Google has cited this excerpt as an example of a website that clearly uses improper SEO and will be penalised through Penguin:

Google's example of link spam

As you can see, this example shows how poor SEO leads to badly written content, poor quality links and keyword stuffing. It’s no wonder Google wanted to prevent this sort of thing from happening.

 

What do our SEO experts recommend?
As with every Google update, you may experience a slight shift in ranking, however you can often retrieve your spot with adjustments to your SEO strategy.  The important thing is not to panic and continue using approved SEO activities.

You should also check your Google Analytics to see if traffic significantly dropped after April 24.  If it has then your site was affected by the new changes.

If you have hired a digital agency to carry our your SEO, check with them to make sure all of their methods adhere to Google best practice guidelines.

Develop an SEO strategy that includes measurable goals and includes multiple methods of implementation, for example blogging, article syndication and quality link building.

Evaluate your progress on a monthly basis to figure out if any changes need to be made to your SEO strategy.

Be patient.  Good SEO takes time to develop, but once you’ve gotten a good ranking it is easier to maintain.

We’ve always encouraged people to use legitimate SEO methods, such as posting well-written blogs, implementing professional online PR campaigns, and developing quality inbound links.  The introduction of Penguin confirms our opinion that SEO is a long-term strategy, and quick fixes are usually questionable.

Read our “SEO Tips for Business” blog post for more great tips, or contact us today for more information on our SEO services.