While many webmasters are still either licking their wounds or celebrating their rankings boost following Google’s latest Panda update (3.5) which rolled out on 19th April, Big G dropped another bombshell in the form of another new algo which they have affectionately labelled “Penguin”. The Penguin update (aka the Webspam update) is specifically targeted at sites that aren’t adhering to Google’s quality guidelines or are “over-optimised”. With the update, they have quoted these 8 guidelines in particular as the ones they are policing most rigorously:
- Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
- Don’t use cloaking or sneaky redirects.
- Don’t send automated queries to Google.
- Don’t load pages with irrelevant keywords.
- Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.
- Don’t create pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware.
- Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines, or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.
- If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.
This was rolled out on 24th April and if you have noticed a change in rankings since then it’s likely this is the reason. If you feel you have been wrongly affected by this algorithm update there is a form you can submit to Google outlining your grievances, click here to access it.
Another interesting topic recently which has stemmed from the Panda updates is the negative SEO debate. Since Google started penalising sites found to be using unnatural or spammy link building techniques, it has opened up a whole avenue of opportunities for shady SEOs to vandalise other websites’ credibility. A couple of shameless characters have even publicly advertised negative SEO services e.g. http://www.negativeseo.me/. They even have the brass neck to advertise it as “legal”! Rand Fishkin delves into this topic in more detail in his Whiteboard Friday video on SEOMoz and outlines some precautionary measures you can take to protect yourself from such campaigns.
The guys over at searchmetrics put together a list of the biggest losers (and winners!) from the penguin update. Most notable losers were major sites like Digg and Folkd who are essentially content aggregators (or at least provide their users with that capability) and notable winners were spotify and some high profile magazine sites like GQ and MensHealth. Matt Cutts has since pointed out, however, that searchmetrics list may be a little misleading due to the recent Panda 3.5 update which rolled out just under a week previous to Penguin. He maintains that some of the affected sites in their list may have been hit by either the updated Panda algo or the more recent Penguin rollout so that is worth noting. Either way, this last few weeks has seen one of the most major shake ups in the land of SEO for recent years.
Finally, I have to include this brilliant email process flow chart which I shamelessly stole from Tabita Green’s excellent blog post yesterday. I have a constant battle against procrastination so this hit the nail on the head for me!