Attacked By the Google Penguin? Tips to Recover From the Penguin Update
The Google Penguin algorithm update had been anticipated for some time and was released on April 24, 2012. Google is calling it “another step to reward high-quality sites”, and while I’m normally skeptical about the effectiveness of their updates, I’m beginning to see a trend in updates and the necessary shift in SEO if one desires to continue ranking well.
Google says this about the Penguin update:
“The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.” And you can read the full article here.
Ok, but what does this actually mean for SEO?
First of all (and this is stuff that you should have stopped doing LONG ago), get rid of your keyword stuffing. Stop using hidden text or text that almost blends into the background and is hard to read to put a bunch of keywords in. Stop putting big chunks of text on the footer, header, sidebar or wherever else that have the sole purpose of using a bunch of keywords and related terms. We’ve all seen the “incoming searches” or “related searches” type boxes on sites. This is mild keyword stuffing, it can get a lot worse. Like, 500 words with a keyword repeated 100 times. Don’t do any of this. If the content doesn’t serve the visitor in some way, then get rid of it. I promise, having more content isn’t always better for your ranking if that content isn’t quality, which brings me to the next thing to fix/avoid.
Make your content readable and remove links that don’t have anything to do with the topic being discussed. Spun content is worthless for your website. There was a time that it worked for both article directories and sites, but that time is passed. If you don’t clean up your site, you will be hit if you haven’t already. I’m talking about stuff like:
“why not intent a life insurance policy today *link*free downloads*link* in order to get your siblings feel safe and harbored in any occassion”
You know when it is meant for people that can read and when it’s not.
Another thing that you can and should do is consolidate or get rid of near duplicate pages. I’m not talking about duplicate content, but having several pages that target a variation of the same keyword, like having one separate page for “life insurance” and another for “good life insurance” and another for “great life insurance”, etc. is obviously spam according to new standards and you’re really better off by combining these terms into a really strong single page.
Now Google says that they prefer that people don’t do any SEO at all and just sit back and create the best sites possible. Sure, that’s nice, it’s good to create cool stuff, but sadly, this utopian paradise does not exist. When you have a business, you don’t simply sit inside and expect people to show up without doing anything (and if you do, then you probably don’t have much of a business).
SEO is simply another form of advertising and I think the internet is ready for “good” SEO without the spammy tactics. It’s harder, it takes longer, but the rewards are greater and are sure to last through the ever increasing algorithm updates.