In October 2016, Google announced the release of Penguin 4.0 and marketing experts across the globe began running daily trackers on accounts they supervise watching for any spikes that would indicate corrections the new algorithm made. From October through most of December, the activity indicated minor modifications to some areas – mostly in the mobile sector – of websites affected.
Then, in January and again in February things took a major shift. The activity levels became volatile. All the key trackers started showing enormous spikes in correction activity. Some pages disappeared. Some sites were re-indexed and downgraded into oblivion. Some webmasters reported high numbers of upticks in organic search on sites.
White Hat SEO sites reporting unexpected positive re-index ranking. Black Hat sites scrambling to find out which of their sites were completely removed, which pages disappeared from the search engines and how many accounts had lost parts – which is actually a lot better than happened when Penguin 1.0 – 3x hit sites that were trying to cheat the algorithm.
Back in 2013, Penguin and Panda –together or alone – wiped out entire sites that were operating under Black Hat schemes even if there was only one page involved.
As of the end of February, Google’s gotten serious about knocking down the rank of any site that uses spammy methods to gain position on Google. So, Penguin’s roll out is again making true believers of SEO gamers!
What’s In and What’s Out in SEO?
If you are a business owner that hires writers to create content for your site, it’s important that you understand the basics of SEO so you don’t end up paying for something that will get your site dumped into the tar pits. One way is to attend one of the digital marketing conferences 2017 in London this year and get a hands-on approach from real experts.
Reading articles, such as those that are found here, that teach you how to meet Google guidelines is the other way.
Back in August, Gary posted a good, general article to give those new to website building a helping hand. Some of those tips need to be updated to match the latest in Google’s index ranking but many remain solid advice for beginners. The most important changes are:
- Use of keywords has changed:
- exact match keywords are only for ads – otherwise you get penalized
- using sentences that support the keyword of your article – this will give you a bonus
- keywords, such as “SEO” no longer need to be used, bolded or underlined
- Penguin has become “search intuitive” with the previous update and no longer depends on keywords to know what the query intends
- Backlink generation:
- All links, including backlinks must meet the “good link” standard set by Google (we’ll discuss further on)
- Backlinks that are from sites that have a low rank on SERPs will be penalized
- Backlinks that are classified as “Toxic” will get your page removed and maybe even your site
For a good foundation, with the exceptions above, check out Gary’s post in February that discusses what search engine optimization actually means. Whether its content or links, the most important rule of all is “High quality” over slap-happy, poor quality.
What’s Out? Anything that does not present your visitors with solid, good, accurate, complete, honest information is out. Some of the information that Google finds suspicious and consistently reviews sites that specialize in that type of data include:
- PayDay loans
- Supplements – vitamin and energy
- Cosmetic fixes – elimination of wrinkles
- Diet products and lose weight supplements
- Any product or service that promises a quick result
All of those types of information articles are targeted for suspicious activity, use low-quality information and low-quality or spammy links.
Googlebot is Watching
In the past, the Google spider would crawl the net, scoop up information, take it back to the main nest, digest it, evaluate the findings, rank the results and sites would move up or down in the search results. This process could take up to 45 days before the results would be seen.
Penguin 4.0 has changed that process. Now, it only takes 3 or 4 days for the entire process to be completed which is why Google calls it “real time” ranking. If you are following the guidelines, you’ll be on the reward list and find your site moving up faster than you expected. However, there are some sites that will barely move at all mainly because they have yet to earn the trust of the search bot.
Then, there are those sites who spend endless amounts of time and energy trying to get around the rules and fool the bots and trick their way to the top of the search list. These sites use information that is considered suspicious, links that come from link farms or exchanges, that try to hide links in specific areas of coding or excessively use fake sites to redirect viewers to the main site.
Gaining Ground SEO
If you want to gain ground and move up in the ranks on Google, focus your attention on creating content that is accurate, honest, complete and in your own words.
Support that information with links from sites that are highly valued as reliable and trustworthy, such as
- government sites
- mainstream newspaper sites, New York Times, Guardian, Huffington Post
- university education sites
- mainstream global news sites – BBC, CNN, MSNBC
- magazines such as Forbes, New Yorker or Time
- specialty sites that are highly regarded in their fields, such as MozPro, Neil Patel’s Kissmetrics, Food Network, HGTV
If You’re on the Sidelines
If you have a young site or one that has little content but the content is trustworthy and valuable to your customers, have yet to include a mobile site and have minimal posts on social media, you’ll need to increase your contributions to the world of the internet with more quality content, social media activity, interaction with visitors and find links that apply to your special niche from high value sites.
Down the Tube Wipeouts
If you buy into the idea that you can gain rank on Google by skirting the rules, producing content that offers little or no information or present false or suspicious information as if it were true, expect to find your pages and site in the wipeout zone.
The Bottom Line
The message is clear: Love, Honor and Obey the Google rules or expect a penalty.