Just over a month ago Google released their most recent update, Penguin, to the Algorithm for Search Engine Rankings. As a follow up to Google’s previous updates, Panda and the Page Layout Update, Penguin is tasked with identifying and targeting web spam to display higher quality websites at the top of Google’s Search Results. This left many webmasters wondering what will happen to their site rankings and organic traffic.

So what does this mean for your business? Were you affected by the most recent update? If you are unsure about your rankings as a result of the Penguin update, the first thing you should do is take a look at your site Analytics. If you see any unusual activity after April 24th you may have been affected. If you were, the first thing to do is to audit your site for spam, bad content, duplicate content, etc. If you have been engaging in any risky SEO tactics to increase your rankings, then stop! If you are working with an agency, now might be a good time to meet with them and find out what specific strategies they are using. In most cases Google will notify you that spam has been detected. You have the opportunity to act before being seriously penalized, so make changes now!

For those sites that have approached increasing organic rankings through a well-optimized site and trusted link building with relevant content, do not panic. You have seen organic growth through a slow and steady commitment to SEO, and ultimately you will benefit from this update.

Now that we have had a month to digest Penguin, lets take a look at what we have found.

  1. You can’t trick Google – There is a distinct difference between what is known as white hat and black hat SEO practices. Google has taken the steps to devalue black hat SEO and reward those using long lasting best practices.
  2. This update is effecting only a small portion of websites – By Google’s estimates, Penguin has affected just over 3% of search queries.
  3. Focus on Unique and SEO friendly content – It should be obvious at this point but Google is focusing their efforts on increasing the user experience. When designing a site, you should keep the reader in mind, not the Algorithm. If you maintain your site with the idea of creating the best experience for the reader, you should see the benefits through the Algorithm as well.
  4. Ensure your links are relevant and high quality – The updated Penguin algorithm seems to be concentrating on low quality or “spammy” backlinks, links from unrelated sites, and too many links pointing back to a site with exact keyword matches in the anchor texts. To paraphrase Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, if an algorithm affects your site and you make the necessary changes to eliminate the flag or trigger causing Google to believe you are keyword stuffing, once they re-crawl and re-index, you should have the opportunity to pop back up in rankings. So its safe to assume getting rid of your bad links will help.
  5. You cant just trade links – Google now recognizes when there is an abundance of links that are pointing to your site from outside of your business and market niche. Work to generate a genuine link building strategy for added SEO value. For more information on creating a quality link-building strategy see our recent post “Keys to a Link Building Strategy That Works”.

Search Engine Optimization and Google’s algorithm are constantly changing. SEO agencies are relentlessly working to stay ahead of the game and keep up with the changes Google makes to determine your site rankings. Through these efforts Google is focused on providing the best experience for its users. It is becoming more and more important for web designers to follow the Webmaster Guidelines as defined by Google.

If you would like any additional information, please feel free to reach out. Groove Commerce is a full service online agency focused on ecommerce and lead generation. Through our online marketing services, we can help your business develop an appropriate online strategy and help drive qualified traffic to your site.

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