Google Penguin – what the new updates mean for SEO
24th May 2012
Previously, you may have considered penguins to be nothing more then our feathered friends from the Antarctic; peaceful and unassuming, they had no impact upon your business or its website rankings, until now that is.
Penguin is the name adopted for a new algorithm rolled out by Google, intended to prevent websites from ‘spamming’ their way to the top of the rankings through less than kosher activities. Whilst this update has lead to some websites gaining more exposure, it has also had a negative impact upon the rankings of websites which have previously adopted aggressive ‘below the belt’ SEO tactics. As a smaller business this can work in your favour, as it has effectively ‘levelled the playing field’.
What does Penguin do?
Penguin has been created to penalise sites that engage in any kind of link spam or ‘shady activity’. It is no longer possible for a site to up their Google rankings by including irrelevant content. If the links on your site repeatedly use the same terms or keywords Google will class this as untrustworthy and you will be penalised. It is important to adopt good SEO practices to prevent your website rankings dropping dramatically.
Is SEO difficult for smaller businesses?
SEO can be a challenge for smaller businesses purely due to the fact that it can be very time consuming. You can choose to outsource this area of your business if you don’t have the available resources to devote to maintaining and improving your websites rankings, but there are still some key steps available for you to take.
The first thing is to understand what is commonly considered to be web spam, so you can avoid using this on your own website. Google has set out quality guidelines which it expects websites to adhere to, here are a few:
- Avoid hidden text and links: Hidden text or links can be created by making the text colour the same as the background colour, making it invisible to the user, this is considered to be untrustworthy by Google. If you adopt these tactics you will be hurt by the new Penguin update. To prevent this, do not employ CSS or scripts to hide text. In short, if you have placed texts and links on your page that cannot be seen by the reader it is likely that Google will class this as spam.
- Avoid using sneaky redirects or cloaking: Cloaking is the practice of serving different content or URL’s to search engines then you do to your users. For example, do not serve an HTML text site to a search engine, and a flash site to your users, this will be perceived as deceptive by Google.
- Don’t Duplicate: Whilst it may seem like a good idea to double up on keywords by duplicating pages or creating multiple domains, Google does not take kindly to this practice and will class this as a form of spam
- Malicious behaviour: If your website employs phishing tactics, or installs viruses and trojans Google will consider your website to be spam, and this will lead to you being blacklisted
- Doorway pages: Avoid doorway pages created for search engines, these tend to annoy users and are in violation of Google’s policies
- Content: Avoid adding irrelevant keywords to your page. If the content does not relate to your site or business it will be considered as spam
By following the above steps you can help to prevent your website from being downgraded by the new Penguin outdate.
If you have been hit by the update, don’t panic, the important thing is to start fresh, build a website that adheres to Google’s policies and you will start to see a recovery in your ratings. The worst thing you can do is nothing; you need to act now as your competitors will already be working to up their Google rankings and cleaning up their sites.
By following these steps you will ensure that you are presenting a clean, accessible site for your customers with content that is truly relevant to your business. This also means that on your next visit to the zoo, Penguin’s will resort back to being the cute, tuxedo wearing flightless birds that we know and love, not a source of stress and agitation.