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Penguin Update: Dealing with Google’s Latest Update

Posted by Avasoft Team | Posted in Site Traffic, Website Technical Issues | Posted on 01-06-2012

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Google has been releasing updates in leaps and bounds over the past couple of years.  One of the search engine’s most controversial updates was last year’s Panda update—until now.  Google’s most recent update was Penguinthat has resulted in websites dropping right off the first page of search results, literally overnight.

So why would Google do such a thing?  It’s all about enforcing link value and creating an algorithm that evaluates the quality of back links rather than the number of them.  It’s all about making sure that the links that count toward your search engine ranking are on sites that are relevant and that haven’t simply used content that was spun from what’s already on your site.

The Penguin update deals almost exclusively with link building, especially:

  • Linking profiles
  • Anchor text profiles
  • Blog network affiliation
  • Diversity of links
  • Duplicate and spun content
  • Content makeup profile and mined content
  • Excessive advertisements
  • Brokerage and paid links
  • Comment spam on blogs
  • Links to forums and posts to sites that are irrelevant to the content on the site
  • Distribution channels and article sites used for back linking
  • Links from so-called “bad neighborhoods”
  • Too much syndicated content

As you can see, even some of the best websites have been hit by Google Penguin and had their search results affected.  Of course this is Google’s way of remaining the authority on providing quality search results for its users, so the best thing website owners can do is figure out how to live with it.  If Penguin has stripped your site of its excellent search engine ranking, here are several things you should look at:

  1. How quickly did your site receive its backlinks?
  2. Is the anchor text you use on your site diverse?
  3. Do you have links from several “bad neighborhoods” in a relatively short amount of time?
  4. Have people been posting blog comments on your site consistently?
  5. Do you use a lot of syndicated content, forums, or article sites to get your back links?
  6. Do you use linking brokers like TextLinkAds?
  7. Has your link profile grown suddenly rather than gradually over time?

The most important thing to take away from these changes is the fact that Google doesn’t penalize your site for what it terms “bad links.”  Instead of penalizing, the search engine simply removes the credibility from links that it deems to be of poor quality or irrelevant to your site.  Of course this spells doom for websites that have already used these practices to gain in the search engine rankings, but it also means that competitors can’t lower your site in the rankings by posting a lot of poor quality links to your site.  Google only takes into account quality links, so if you follow the search engine’s definition of “quality,” you’re as good as gold.

Of course that begs the question of why so many quality sites have taken such a major hit from Google Penguin.  The term “quality” generally means sites that have good content on them and have made good strides in back linking by using social media and other traditionally successful methods like linking through article sites, etc.  Even sites that have been in compliance with Google’s guidelines for webmasters have suffered from this latest update, and it’s entirely because of the way they have done their back linking.

One thing you will notice immediately is that many major online brands haven’t lost their ranking, or if they did, it wasn’t nearly as much as other sites.  This is because these large sites have such a wide array of back links that it matters much less if they have a few bad ones.  In order to determine exactly why your website fell in the search rankings overnight, it’s necessary to look at the good links verses the bad and figure out how much of your link profile is made up of each.  Sites that have a link profile made up of mainly bad links will find a significant drop in the rankings, and it all boils down to basic math.

So how do you figure out whether the links to your site are good or bad?  Here are some examples:

Good Links

  • Those on a site with a cache date that’s updated frequently
  • Those on sites with high quality content
  • Good linking behavior of the site linking to your site
  • Good diversity of the anchor text used when linking to your site
  • Links from sites that are relevant to the content on your site (a.k.a., would they find your site helpful if they followed the link from that other site to yours)
  • Links that haven’t been paid for and were acquired organically

Bad Links

  • Links that have been paid for
  • Links on sites that use bad practices for back links
  • Those on sites that are known to be neighborhoods for back links
  • New links (quality links in good places will add to your website’s ranking in time, so it is still essential that you do back links in places Google finds to be of quality)
  • Links that use the same anchor text to link to your site everywhere
  • Those generated through the use of spun content

Remember that the linking strategy you use dates back to more than five years, so if you’re not sure what the problem is, you may have to go back quite a long time.  In the past, there were several techniques used for back linking that are no longer viable.  These practices include:

  • Reciprocal linking
  • Paying for link ads
  • Links on blog networks
  • Comment, forum, and blog spam
  • Syndicated or spun content that uses consistent anchor text to link back to your site
  • Sponsored ads
  • Link directories
  • Link development that has been outsourced to companies in foreign countries
  • Placing links on sites that are non-geographically relevant, like a site with a domain extension showing that it’s in India (.in) linking to a site with a UK domain extension (.uk)

Your immediate reaction to all of these changes might be to hurry up and remove as many of these poor links as possible, but unfortunately this will only have a marginal impact on your search engine results. The best way to combat Penguin is to create a new strategy for getting those back links so that you can acquire new links to your site organically.  Social media provides an excellent route for acquiring the organic back links your site needs to soar in the search engine rankings.

If you’re still having difficulties determining why your site fell in this round of Google updates, there are other things to take into consideration.  For example, if you have a lot of spun content on your site, you could also be experiencing problems.

The bottom line is, if you want your site to avoid problems with Google updates like Penguin, you just need to focus on providing quality content that’s meant to be read by human beings rather than search engines.  This is the key to long-lasting placement high in the search engine rankings.

Let Avasoft analyze your site and help you deal with Google’s Penguin update.