Google’s latest search algorithm has changed the way it calculates the value of a page, and in the process has impacted the search placement of millions of business websites.
Small businesses have been particularly hard hit by the new Google algorithm known as Penguin. Some have seen their sites disappear altogether from the first several pages of results. It was introduced back in April, and according to a tweet by Matt Cutts of Google, the first update went into effect on June 5.
Penguin is designed to offer search users the most relevant results based on a massive database known as the Knowledge Graph, composed of websites, historical facts and social linkages. Information entered into the search bar is analyzed to determine the user’s intent from a logical perspective instead of simply relying on the use of key words. The search results now include more maps, graphs and images along with traditional websites.
Ignore link requests from sites you can’t verify as valid. As part of the anti-spam content in Penguin, Google is removing links that connect to spam. While linking to relevant content on other sites and vice versa will help your page rank, getting tagged as a questionable site due to spammy links will do just the opposite. Unfortunately, Penguin also doesn’t like blogroll links, which are often quite legitimate. Use them, but be careful to check that they’re actually relevant based on content.
Avoid SEO-heavy copy on your pages. Using too many keywords or jamming your page so full of search terms that it becomes awkward is a turnoff to site visitors looking for useful information. It also offends the Penguin, so will cost you in search result placement. Moderation is the key to success in search engine optimization, as in so many other things.
Use your best writing skills. Look, good content wins on all fronts. That means well-written copy that utilizes search terms naturally where that’s the most appropriate language. It also means offering readers meaningful content they can use. When they use it because it’s helpful, that creates the patterns that Penguin rewards.
Try to attract traffic from a variety of sources. Use analytics tools to monitor the sources of your web traffic and work to achieve a balance. Penguin likes it, but it’s also a sound strategy for your firm in general. Besides, getting traffic from many sources lets you know that your web presence and other marketing efforts are effective. If your traffic is heavily dependent on only one or two sources then you’ve got a weak link, and not of the hyper variety.
Downsize while upping quality. That’s right, downsize your site. According to the conversation among SEO professionals, smaller sites of higher quality are making out the best under Penguin’s watchful eye. Increasing your social media sharing can help too, along with the tactics we’ve already stressed of careful linking, offering well-written content and avoiding over-optimization.
The message from Penguin’s observed effects seems to boil down to what we all know but sometimes wish we could ignore: There are no shortcuts to success.