Google Penguin – Yes you did read that correctly! Penguin is the code name given to Google’s very latest (April 2012) algorithm update and follows soon after the last Panda update in February 2012. By now you’re no doubt picking up on a theme here!

For those of you still playing catch-up on the ‘algorithm’ element of the paragraph above, be reassured that you only need concern yourself with the fact that the algorithm, put simply, is a method and technology used by Google and other search engines to ascertain a website page’s position in any given search.

Google is continually updating their search algorithm in an effort to offer improved search and page rank accuracy, as well as combat various under-hand ‘black-hat’ techniques employed by sly search engine optimisation (SEO) managers in an effort to improve their site’s exposure.

What Google Penguin means for SEO

First and foremost, Penguin, according to Google engineer Matt Cutts, has been implemented to penalise and, in some instances, remove sites violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. For example, Penguin takes a really dim view of ‘black hat’ techniques, such as keyword stuffing, cloaking (strategically presenting different content or URLs to users and search engines), collaborative link schemes and deliberate content duplication for the improvement of page SEO... to name just a few things.

This is more or less what you’d expect from Google really – after all, nobody likes a cheat! But hold onto your horses! Penguin doesn’t stop there. In an effort to promote genuine content, it also sets out to penalise websites that Google considers to be ‘overly optimised’, reducing the page rank of those employing SEO methods that were once deemed ‘white hat’ and acceptable.

Beware of the Penguin!

For those of us who observe these updates from outside of Google, pinpointing the exact changes is not easy. What we do know about the update is what Google themselves have published, not to mention the various other observations of webmasters and online marketers across the world. Given all of this, we can certainly surmise a few things that Penguin doesn’t like...

Blog comment spam is an old technique that has been used by online marketers for years. But now Google is getting wise to keyword stuffing and exact-match keyword anchor link techniques in blog comments adopted by some SEO managers, and downgrading their site for it.

Article directory spam is another practice that is often used by webmasters. There are hundreds, if not millions of general topic directory websites where articles can be posted and commented upon,and where the same keyword stuffing and exact-match text link tactics are employed. But be warned, it’s a technique that Google no longer endorses.

Mass distribution and duplication of content is another technique that Google now considers to be black hat. Such content often contains things such as exact-match text links which, when posted upon various web channels, links back to the webmaster’s website. Once again, this method flies in the face of what is considered as ‘genuine content’ and as such Google is marking down the associated offending websites in their listings.

Embrace the Penguin

Before we all throw our white hats into the air in disgust, we need to remember why Google has unleashed Penguin – to promote genuine content that is relevant, authoritative and useful. When all is said and done it’s hard to argue against that as none of the above really sits comfortably with that idyll.

The key is to embrace the change and look to the positives. It forces us all to focus on offering users good and meaningful content, with organic links that add value and enhance the overall user experience.

Social media is a fantastic measure of how your website visitors feel about your content. Relevance, authority, usefulness and popularity are all key components in getting website content, articles, news items or blog posts shared across the many popular social media platforms. And if it’s being shared, then it must be deemed by that user as useful to his or her social peers.

Google algorithms are no different in this respect. Think of them as a digital replication of your website visitors... they simply want to separate the wheat from the chaff and give users what they really want – good, useful content.

Search engine optimisation is at the heart of every NetXtra website. To find out how we help our customers with their website and SEO strategy, call 01787 319393, or contact us via our website.