As most of us already know, the Google Panda update brought with it significant changes to the way that the Google ranking algorithm evaluates website relevance. We have referred to this update with our clients as Google “CUTIE”, that is “Cleaning Up The Internet for Everyone”. While Google is understandably very close to the vest about the details of any such updates, they do emphasize one theme consistently; add value to the internet, and your site will do well. Check out Google’s “Quality guidelines – basic principles” for more information.
So what is Google Penguin?
Penguin, released on the 24th of April, is an update to the Google algorithm released with the intention of penalizing sites for over-optimization. This is otherwise known as webspamming. (The “web” is inserted here to differentiate from “email” spamming).
You can “Google” the term and you will see a plethora of opinions from around the world about what the Penguin update means to us all. Do not bother wasting your time sorting through all the speculation. This article from Matt Cutts on the Google Webmaster Tools Blog will help you to get a good understanding of their overall intentions. For ease of reference, I would like to highlight the paragraph below:
“The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.”
Now I will say that this paragraph may appear vague. After all, Google has been saying for some time that there is and always will be a consistent effort to promote “high quality sites” and “good user experience”. But if you read this in the context of the entire blog, it becomes clear that they are focusing on keyword stuffing and link schemes.
Fortunately none of the sites we manage have been negatively impacted by either the Panda or the Penguin updates. But we take nothing for granted…and neither should you. Beware on-page optimization and backlinking scams. At this point, Google will not look at who is providing the services that may expose you to punishment – only at the site which it finds to be in violation of the quality guidelines.
Don’t let it be you!