Guest Column by Nick Hoover, Niby Design Group
Recently, Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team, made it known that there will be a massive update to the Google Algorithm known as Penguin. This is big news in the SEO world and could impact how your site appears in Google search results.
The first Penguin update was released last April and was said to affect around 3.1% of English search queries. The goal of the Penguin update was to combat keyword stuffing and web link spam. Things like buying links from links farms are big no-nos and violate Google’s Quality Guidelines. Penguin was released in an attempt to decrease the rank for sites that relied heavily on some of these questionable SEO tactics. The overall goal was to make sure sites with quality content were getting the ranking they deserve.
With that in mind, what can you expect from the latest update?
Because the original Penguin update was focused on web spam linking and keyword stuffing it’s easy to assume Penguin Version 4.0 will be more of the same. What makes me a little nervous is the warning from Cutts that this update will be talked about all year. No one really knows for certain what the update is going to do, but it might be a good idea to double check that your current linking strategy aligns with the Google Quality Standards.
The first place I would start is to make sure you are signed up and using Google Webmaster Tools. From there you can monitor any messages you receive from Google. Yes, they actually send them. No, they are never good… if Google has found excessive unnatural linking activity on your site you may receive a notice in your webmaster tools account. This is indicative of a manual penalty imposed by Google on your site. In other words, an employee from Google has penalized your site for breaking the quality standards. You should move quickly to address the concerns brought up in the message and submit your site for reconsideration.
In Google Webmaster Tools you can also analyze links pointing to your site. I would review these links and ask yourself if any of them look spammy. Would I start removing them now? It’s hard to say until we really know the impact of the next update. But if you are at least thinking about where the links to your site are coming from before the update gets pushed through, you can move quickly to address any impacts Penguin might have on your rankings.
Lastly and most importantly, you need to understand that you can’t rely solely on Google as your main traffic and revenue driver. Nothing guarantees you the number one spot and updates to the algorithm are coming more rapidly year after year. These updates can have significant impacts on your site and you have no control over them. Creating compelling content for humans and not chasing algorithm updates is an effective strategy for long-term success.