You Vs The Google Penguin – Round 2!
Google’s cute and cuddly algorithm mascots are back in action, this time with the second full iteration of Penguin making the rounds, devastating web traffic for sites that took too many shortcuts to achieve their rankings.
Whether this sounds familiar or you are just concerned about future rankings, it’s important to understand WHAT Penguin 2.0 was designed to do, and more importantly WHY it is currently affecting your site.
As usual, we don’t know exactly what changed, but we do know that Penguin 2.0 affected more than 2.3% of all English-language sites, and some people saw huge decreases in traffic.
Here are some of the things that probably changed and why they matter:
- Thinning of Clusters – If you ranked for multiple spots on Page 1, that’s been changed. Google wants diversity on Page 1 where possible.
- Problem Phrases – Big spam targets like “pay day loans”, “hair loss treatment”, “make money online”, etc. were all targeted for spam techniques. Yes, that means us.
- Link Value – Low quality links are being singled out more and more. BUT, there is a catch. A site with only high quality links are now being seen as unnatural as well. A normal site gets some bad links….just not 10,000 of them.
- Link Velocity – Pick up 5,000 links in three days and you’ll get sandboxed. Google has always ignored excess links – now more than ever.
- Anchor Text – Even more than before, keyword matches in anchor text are being seen as spam. Don’t use exact matches in anchor text any more where possible.
- Relevancy – When you get a link, it needs to be related to your site and your industry. Those sites with lots of unrelated links are seeing dings.
This is a small list and none of it is mind blowing compared to past Penguin updates (this is the fourth after all), but it is all much tighter and stricter than we’ve seen in recent years.
How to Avoid Penguin 2.0 Problems
Here’s what most of you are looking for – the magic rulebook for not getting dinged by Penguin 2.0 or any of the other future algorithm updates Google has planned.
As you know if you spend any time on this site at all, I’m not a fan of blackhat or even grayhat tactics, so if you’re looking for stuff to “cheat” the new algorithm, I’m not your guy. My theory is this: if you cheat, you’ll get caught. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday Google will catch up and you’ll lose your ranking (and your revenue).
It makes more sense to build a GOOD foundation today that won’t go anywhere and is more or less algorithm-proof. Here’s how you do it:
- Create Amazing Content – This is the first and in many cases only thing you should be doing. Determine who your audience is, target their needs, and create amazing content they will be interested in. Do all of that, and your site will perform better.
- Create Lynchpin Content – Articles are great, but they are limited in their link building power. You need lynchpins like eBooks, podcasts, and webinars that will drive HUGE chunks of backlinks from natural sources.
- Get Social – Don’t cheat with social media! This is a huge area that Google is going to tighten down on in the future. Paying for Likes will get your site dinged – I guarantee it. But you can build an audience and share with them. 100 natural likes or tweets on an article is HUGE.
- Stop SEO and Start Marketing – Marketing is all about creating trust, building authority and promoting content to the right audience. If you focus first on content, not link building, you’ll do well.
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The bottom line is this – Google is not interested in punishing people for every little issue. They want to reward those who offer value to their readers and solve problems, ending search. Do this and your site will thrive.
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