About a week ago (24 April 2012), Google announced another update referred as Penguin Update, which is another step to reward high quality sites, according to Official Google Webmaster Central. This is a major update, which significantly impact on a lot of websites since the Google Panda update, despite the claim of affecting around 3% of the queries by Google.
What Is Google Penguin?
The Google Penguin update is essentially a roll out from the over optimization penalty announcement by Google in March 2012. According to the Official Google Webmaster Central:
“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.”
As per the classic Google style, you will need to refer to their quality guidelines and focus on high quality sites. Subsequently, Google provides an example for keyword spamming, which is not a good example as that kind keyword spamming has been caught by Google many years ago. So, I would think about another advanced level of interpretation about keyword spamming or “over optimization” for on page SEO.
Another example that is provided is about unusual linking pattern, which refers to low quality article spinning with anchor text backlinks. There are a number of blog networks that are hit hard by Google, including the close down of Build My Rank. So, I will expect the over optimization penalty includes the excessive backlinks with anchor text (without much variance), based on the examples given in the Google Webmaster Central.
Unfortunately, so far there isn’t a logic pattern about the penalty based on the ranking of my niche sites and discussion on a number of forums. I have 1 site completely lost the ranking (i.e. beyond page 10) for all keywords. 2 sites lost the ranking for 50% of the keywords. However, the ranking for another 2 sites improved significantly. 90% of the targeted keywords reached the front page ranking from page 2 and page 3.
The sites mentioned above are considered decent quality and not the typical sniper sites with a few pages. Another thing that worth to mention are my old auto blogs, which does not seem to be affected because they are still ranked on the front page of Google for some of the low competitive keywords.
For the decent niche sites, I do use blog networks like Linkvana, Article Ranks and Authority Link Network to build backlinks for each of the site. The reaction of each site varies so I can’t reach a conclusion about the penalty pattern. For the autoblog sites, which I have kinda abandoned for 2 years (except renew the domain) without adding content or building backlinks, are still ranked on the front page of Google.
So far, Google is still tweaking the algorithm and there are a ton of ridiculous sites that ranked on the front page of Google. Feel free to check out the Google Webmaster blog to see the comments with the keywords example if you are interested. Some of those sites mentioned might be disappeared because of the algorithm tweaking.
What’s Next For SEO?
As per Matt Cutts stated in the Google Blog:
“We want people doing white hat search engine optimization (or even no search engine optimization at all) to be free to focus on creating amazing, compelling web sites. As always, we’ll keep our ears open for feedback on ways to iterate and improve our ranking algorithms toward that goal.”
If you believe Google is there to help you when you create amazing content, just stick to it (Yeah, I only need to study hard, get a good job and I will be fine)!
I don’t want to bore you to repeat create good quality content because I know you must hear it every where, plus it is a default to me and nothing to do with SEO.
For the backlinks, I will only do direct linking to my money sites from a high authority sites such as web 2.0 sites and decent article directories such as Ezine Articles and ArticleBase.
Does it mean I will stop using blog network? No… However, I will think twice to link directly to my money sites, which is a risky thing to do since Google is targeting the unusual linking pattern. Instead, I will only use blog networks to link to web 2.0 sites, which eventually link to my money site. I.e. I am using the backlinks as second tier backlinks. Check out the post below for the concept of 2nd tier backlinks:
Web 2.0 sites like YouTube, Squidoo, Hub Pages, etc…are authority sites with tons of links pointing to their domain / pages everyday. Do you think they will be taken down by Google because people building blog networks link to them? I doubt that (It will be funny to see YouTube to be penalized by Google because of the blog networks, lol) . Out websites are a lot different comparing to these web2.0 sites in terms of page rank, authority and traffic and hence we are not immune by the penalty.
Also, get as many social signal as you can via social medias such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc… and bookmarking sites since these are the signals that Google is looking into for SEO purpose.
Negative SEO Alive?
What is negative SEO? An example would be competitors who build tons of spam backlinks (such as forum profile, blog comments, etc…) to your site with the intent to let Google penalize your site so that they will get the benefit to move up in ranking. It is a can of worm that Google was afraid years ago. Once it started, it will never end since competitors will attack the sites that ranked on the first page.
However, since the roll out of the over optimization penalty plus the 750,000 unnatural backlinks warning messages sent out to webmasters, this might become a problem.
Having said that, I will think it is rather a big problem to Google than our problem as the war of negative SEO will get very nasty.
What’s your take on the Google Penguin update? Do you think negative SEO will come alive? What’s your next step for SEO and online marketing? Keen to hear your thoughts! Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving me a comment below.