Google continues its quest to provide searchers the most relevant results (and anger SEO and site managers who make a living avoiding these efforts) with its new Penguin update. And, just like the Panda update last year, people aren’t happy. Here’s what Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz (a premier SEO provider) has to say:
It’s done a nice job of waking up a lot of folks who never thought Google would take this type of aggressive, anti-manipulative action, but I think the execution’s actually somewhat less high quality than what Google usually rolls out (lots of search results that look very strange or clearly got worse, and plenty of sites that probably shouldn’t have been hit).
You can see more of what he has to say on the firm’s Google+ channel.
To understand the impact of Penguin, we need to look at how Google works – without all the technical stuff you’ll find on these other sites.
How Google Serves up Results to Users
As a user, you type in a search query into the Google search engine hoping to find something valuable — sources for that term paper you’re writing, that great pair of shoes you saw at Macy’s last week, or contact information for an old colleague. The web consists of billions of pages of content and adds a massive amount of content every day.
Google knows you don’t want to sift through 1000′s of results possible — you want what you want. So, instead of acting like a huge library card catalog that serves up results in alphabetical order that means nothing to users, Google uses a complex algorithm containing over 200 different factors to filter the results for you. And, that’s how Google came from two guys working in their dorm room to a major, multi-billion dollar company. They do it better than anyone else.
Google needs to know a lot about a website so it can give you the BEST results to your search query. But, with such massive amounts of content added every day, Google uses automation to categorize (index) every page it finds. When the users types in their keywords (or key phrases) to find stuff, Google uses what it knows about the website to give the user what it thinks they want.
How Google Categorizes Website
Google spends a lot of time and money trying to understand what makes a website a “GOOD” website. First, Google looks for sites containing the keyword (or key phrase) you searched for. Sites that use this keyword frequently and feature it prominantly, get served up first. Google figures more recent information is better than old information, so it uses factors like how frequently the site is updated (which is why a blog is SO important to showing up in search results). Google also tries to assess the quality of the information, so it looks at whether other sites link to your website; assuming that if you’re posting quality stuff, other sites will want to reference your stuff. Social sharing and commenting also mean folks find your content valuable.
Now, Let’s Look at What Penguin Did
Although Google carefully guards it’s algorithm (and tweaks it all the time), SEO experts track how different sites perform to make educated guesses as to what’s included in the algorithm. SEO experts then manipulate the algorithm so their clients’ websites perform better than other websites. This helps their clients draw more traffic to their websites and more traffic translates into more sales.
Penguin (and several updates to Panda) attempts to “punish” efforts to manipulate it’s algorithm and ensure users are getting the best stuff when they search with Google. So, websites using the keyword in an artificial way got punished (by getting less traffic). The same with sites that traded links so they had a lot of links pointing to their sites, especially if the links come from outside your market niche. Posting duplicate content so you can easily publish content frequently gets punished.
How to Deal with Google’s Penguin Update
That means those spammy sites that steal great content from others are getting bit penalties. Sites that bought links or used artificial means to increase their perceived quality, get punished. Loading your site with “money” keywords gets you punished.
Hausman Marketing Letter actually did BETTER after the Penguin update. That’s because I keep content CLEARLY focused on my target audience and providing YOU with the BEST tips I find, analysis of marketing and social media trends, and expert advice to make your social media marketing efforts a success. In other words, I’ve always done exactly what Google wants — providing valuable, high quality information that folks are looking for.