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Google Penguin Wages War on Links

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When Google released its Panda update, it was impossible not to notice the initial impact it had on search engine results pages. It periodically rolled out new updates thereafter, but like a shockwave, each subsequent release was less significant than the last. Google Penguin, released in April, is supposed to take a similar course of action, but each successive hit is projected to be equally as rattling as the first. The creators of Penguin

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While it’s difficult to have beef with an algorithm change that is meant to reduce spam, some webmasters question the integrity behind its intent. Some fear that they have been unfairly targeted due to their use of links – Google’s latest big no-no. While some sites interlink (and link to other sites) excessively, to the point where it is confusing and not useful to the reader – some sites have truly useful links to and from various pages, but the new algorithm picks it up as spam.

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Allegedly, a tool is in the making which site developers can use to tell the search engine which links to ignore. There was once a time when excessive links to your site from outside sites would boost ranking, but since those days are gone, it is more favorable to have those links fall off the grid. Webmasters are anxiously hoping that tool will be released before the next Google Penguin update rolls out.

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And it truly can’t come soon enough, because some developers are completely making bank off the detriments of this new update. Back when people would invest in linkbuilding, it wasn’t uncommon for a developer to pay several other sites to link back to their own. Now that those links are doing harm, these developers obviously want them removed. However, the site that once took payment for putting the links on their sites are now charging a fee to remove them – usually upwards of $50. That’s right…it is actually possible for a Website owner [with poor morals] to charge both to add and to remove links from their site. If that SEO tool is really in the works, it had better get here soon.

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Blogging on the Post-Penguin Web

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Today, many webmasters utilize blogs to keep their viewers updated on new offerings or events and to help generate feedback from that audience.  However, blogs have also been used by online marketers as a tool to build authority in the SERPs and establish a greater overall presence on the Web.  Additionally, with many website owners on Penguin watch following Google’s major algorithm update in April, blogs have proven to add truly viable SEO value that is Penguin-friendly.

Although blogs have always been a cornerstone of many SEO campaigns, they are now more important than ever before.  For developers of blog content, quality and relevance are crucial on the post-Penguin Web.  Posts should always be original, as duplicate content is penalized by search engines.  The structure and topicality of posts are also critical.  Spun articles and blog posts which formerly carried SEO weight are now targeted by search engines and some are even de-indexed.

Another ranking component is authorship.  Content creators can now establish themselves within the SERPs based on their name, area or areas of expertise and previous posts written.  Going forward, authorship is likely to become a more substantial ranking factor and holds value to not only authors, but marketers and the brands they represent, as well.

A vast majority of SEO developers realize that quality is now the single most significant aspect of success in the organic SERPs.  The future of both search engine optimization and blogging depends on the development and implementation of high-quality content.

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The SEO Era

It seems like with every big technological innovation that some technologies, products, and methods are bound to be left in the dust.  Once automobiles became mass produced and affordable the unofficial reign of whips and buggies ceased, and the advancement of telecommunications devices have made the postal service lost thousands of employees and billions of dollars.  The last Google Penguin update had online entrepreneur on the edge of seats for weeks, and now it seems like yet another Google algorithm is in the works.  The far reaching effects of the last update and the new one looming on the horizon has some people wondering about the future of SEO.  In world of on-going Google updates, is SEO still important?

The End of SEO?

As long as people are still using the Internet, SEO will always be an invaluable tool for businesses.  There is no doubt that new Google Penguin updates, and any major search engine algorithm update, will have a profound effect on search engine results.   SEO success comes from following the basic rules of succeeding in any field.  Professionals need to realize which SEO methods are and aren’t working, and once that is figured out they need to stick with the methods that give good results.  These Google algorithm update doesn’t hurt the SEO business, if anything the updates can only benefit the SEO field.

No, the End of Bad SEO Practices

Algorithm updates are done in order to bring people the most relevant and best written content possible.  Websites with useful and interesting content will do just fine; it’s the websites that have keyword stuffed content and useless interlinking that will be hurt.  Focusing on well-written content isn’t a new algorithm change, but the important role of social media in search engine results will be.  New Google updates will be placing more and more importance on social media.  This doesn’t mean that pages with a lot of likes will automatically be bumped up in search results.  If companies really want to use social media to their advantage, they’ll be sure to interact with followers more and post engaging content like pictures and videos in their social media profiles.

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Why You Should Love Google Updates

Who doesn’t love updates? An updated version of anything will offer you something better than what you currently have. Whether you upgraded your cell phone from an iPhone 4 to a 4S or simply updated your Facebook status, people love updates because they offer something new and different, and something more useful and beneficial.

But, sometimes change isn’t easy for everyone. Or, rather, not everyone sees the picture clearly. When Google released its webspam algorithm Penguin, many SEOs and Webmaster reacted with heavy criticism and disdain for the new algorithm, stating that the update only hurt their site rankings. Google responded explaining that the algorithm serves to give all sites an equal chance of ranking well and penalizes those who over-optimize or don’t play fair.

Did SEOs and Webmaster understand the purpose of Google’s Penguin update or did they react too soon and overlook the bigger picture? Search engine companies are in competition against each other, not with Google. Google’s aim isn’t to pick and choose which sites to hurt and which to favor. Google’s job is to ensure a fair game is played on the SEO court.

Google dominates the search industry and stands as the leading search engine website. SEOs and Webmasters dedicate much time in analyzing and studying Google SEO. Countless internet users turn to Google when searching online, whether looking for a product, finding directions to a location or staying current on news. Like all businesses, Google is on a mission to find what their customers (SEOs and Webmasters) want and constantly make updates for the benefit of their customers. Google’s Penguin update provides sites with many advantages that many may have overlooked.

Content still rules
With the Penguin update, content is still king. Both onsite and offsite content is to be of good quality. This means writing content that is clear, focused and original, as opposed to content that is filled with countless keywords and duplicated. Remember, content is for humans to read, not robots. Writing quality content will attract more readers to your site and encourage them to stay on your site longer.

Increase your page rank
In regards to page rank, again the Penguin’s focus is on quality. Instead of focusing on the number of links pointing back to a domain, the purpose is to focus on the quality of the links. Therefore, Google rewards those who use good, quality links as opposed to cheap and worthless links.

Natural backlinks are rewarded
The Penguin looks for the use mixed anchor texts instead of exact match anchor texts, both onsite and offsite. This helps debunk any spammer’s chance of gaining traffic and helps those who practice honest linking tactics to gain traffic.

It’s ethical
Google updates occur in an effort to offer more benefits for both SEOs and online audiences. Webmasters have a fair chance in competing against other sites for higher rankings and online audiences can avoid dealing with spam-like sites.

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Google Gives More Insight Into Further Penguin and Panda Algorithm “Jolts”

Google’s Spam Department head, Matt Cutts took to the mic at the SES San Francisco conference Thursday to discuss further changes to Google’s algorithm. As many small business owners have noticed, Google updates have come in the form of animal-themed adjustments. These software changes—entitled Panda and Penguin, respectively—were designed to eliminate some of the SEO practices that Google programmers felt were lowering the company’s quality of service. Before Thursday, Cutts had not issued further instruction since the Penguin update was announced at the SXSW Music and Technology Conference in March.

Panda, designed to minimize the amount of sites hosting stilted, unhelpful or spammy content, has been updated every month since its February release and, according to Cutts’ address, this update will be no different. These little changes affect less than one percent of sites online and most changes are too small to notice. Large, glaring rankings decreases have already been handed down and now, updates are designed to do a little clean-up.

The Penguin update is a little different. Designed to force sites into higher quality linking strategies, eliminating duplicate content and getting rid of low-quality links, its adjustments will be more noticeable. Since Penguin has not yet had an official update since the May release of Penguin 1.1, the next update will be more far-reaching to try and cover all the sites developers may have missed on their first pass.

“We’re still in the early stages of Penguin where the engineers are incorporating new signals and iterating to improve the algorithm. Because of that, expect that the next few Penguin updates will take longer, incorporate additional signals, and as a result will have more noticeable impact,” Cutts told the crowd at SES. “It’s not the case that people should just expect data refreshes for Penguin quite yet.”

Cutts also shied away from calling these latest updates “penalties,” instead referring to them as adjustments that will help the search engine give better, more accurate results and protect business owners from spam. The updates, Cutts said at a Q&A back in June, are designed to take away rewards from sites that have these less desirable practices present on their site, and that site developers should expect to see a decrease in rankings due to better optimized sites gaining precedent.

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Google’s Algorithm Changes: Why they’re Positive

It wouldn’t be a surprise if anyone who has a Website that was negatively affected by Google’s Penguin update harbors a bit of resentment toward the change. No one wants to see all their hard work go to waste and their once pristinely-ranked homepages get booted off the first page of search results for hot keywords. Regardless, truth be told, the changes Google has chosen to make are actually beneficial for the user and Website creator alike, even if it does not seem to be so. Once you have made the necessary adjustments to recover your ranking, think about why you should be grateful – both as a user and a site moderator.

Google’s algorithm changes create an all-around better user experience. Almost anyone who uses the internet is a user of search engines, and most would agree that it’s frustrating when the first few results after searching lead to sites with very little helpful content. By targeting sites that are culprits of having keyword stuffing, spun articles, and blatantly excessive optimization, users are more likely to feel satisfied by the results the search engines turn out.

That being said, if your site does make it to the front page of results, then it is most likely contains content that is readable and relevant. You can think of this as sort of a reward system for having user-friendly Websites: by encouraging you to have more legitimate content, you will be rewarded by having visitors who are willing to spend more time perusing your site. It doesn’t take long for users to deem certain sites ‘spam’ and navigate away from them once they see the keyword forced into every sentence. However, if they are actually enjoying the content, they are more likely to click through the pages – more traffic for you!

These algorithm changes will benefit most sites that never used these SEO schemes to begin with. Many developers were previously victims of having legitimately useful and relevant websites but had to face strong competition for ranking from overly optimized pages. Now, those types of pages don’t stand a chance, whereas sites with good content will naturally make it to the top of the list of results.

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Next Update to Penguin Will Have Significant Impact, Says Cutts

While web spammers and businesses that use black hat SEO tactics are still picking up the pieces from the previous release of Google’s Penguin algorithm, it turns out there’s even more stormy weather on the way. Matt Cutts, the company’s head of its web spam-fighting division, announced Wednesday that upcoming updates to Penguin can be expected to wreak some major havoc with the SERPs. So if you haven’t gone through your online content and done away with duplicate content and unnatural links, now is the time to do so.

The cause behind the immensity of the next Penguin update is reported to be due to the infancy of the algorithm and the endless list of tweaks being made to it. According to Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land, the recent changes made to Google’s content filtering algorithm Panda are at this point so minute that revisions made to it affect relatively few SERPs. Penguin, on the other hand, is still very much an evolving code and one that is far from complete. As a result, each new version of that algorithm will have significant impact on the structure of Google’s search engine result pages for some time to come.

As of now, no further announcements have been made regarding when we can expect the next update to hit the web. The last noticeable algorithm changes were made about three months ago, and a short time before WebiMax held its Penguin webinar. Now, with Cutts’ recent remarks, everyone is going to be focused on buckling down for the next changes to the algorithm.

Fortunately it’s not all doom and gloom. Since Google has made it quite clear what the targets of Penguin are, every site owner is able to redevelop his or her domain to avoid being penalized by the algorithm. What remains to be seen, however, is whether or not the newest iteration of Penguin will address other forms of web spam beyond what the company has already designated. For now, all we can do is keep our ears to the ground and wait for more announcements by Matt Cutts and gang.

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Four Months Later: Recovering From the Penguin Update

On April 25th, Google’s Penguin Update struck thousands of webmasters and changed organic ranking criteria for the foreseeable future.  In the months since, many affected sites have undergone significant revisions to their content and taken steps to improve their link profiles.  While these efforts have helped many webmasters and their pages rebound from their diminished rankings, the long-term effects of Penguin are now proving to be a threat for any pages which haven’t moved away from low-quality content and poor links.

The Penguin Update was not intended to be temporary.  In fact, it will continue to be an integral part of Google’s algorithm going forward.  Although some webmasters have recovered, it now becomes important to adhere to high-quality content and link building strategies in the future, as well.

Quality should not be overlooked when developing content and building a link profile.  For any webmasters or online marketers, the following factors will be crucial in remaining free of Penguin-related penalties:

  • Relevance & Originality Google has always had a preference for original, relevant content.  Now, that preference has become a necessity in order to maintain rankings.  Content should never be duplicated or too keyword dense.

 

  • Avoid Paid Links  Paid links were never seen as a “white hat” link building method by SEOs, but Google is now penalizing them and has even de-indexed several sites which sell links to users.  Building relevant, natural links is now a key component to success in the SERPs.

 

  • Utilize Blogging & Social Media  Guest blogging and social media are effective ways to build authority in the rankings.  Both should be utilized as a part of every brand’s ongoing digital marketing initiatives.

Today, organic rankings are still as important as ever to Internet marketers and their clients.  However, Penguin’s impact on Google’s SERPs will be noticed for the foreseeable future and quality is now the most crucial element of any campaign.

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Writing Web Content with the Google Penguin in Mind

When Google’s spam-fighting algorithm Penguin made its debut appearance on April 24th, SEOs and Webmasters immediately revolted against the algorithm claiming that it only hurt their site and caused a dramatic drop in their site’s rankings.

Shortly after the Penguin’s release, Google Engineer Matt Cutts stated that the algorithm served to combat sites that cheat the search system by over-optimizing and conducting bad SEO practices such as repeatedly stuffing keywords in content, producing duplicate content, creating low quality links, and creating titles that contain solely keywords, among many others.

One major emphasis in Cutts’ many explanations when discussing (and defending) the algorithm rested on emphasizing that the new Google Penguin algorithm serves to help sites with high quality content but low rankings achieve higher rankings in the SERPs in comparison to competitor sites that hold just the opposite: low quality content and high rankings due to heavy optimization.

All too often SEOs and Webmaster think more like robots and less like humans. Content is written for the purpose of an online audience to read. Who wants to read content only to find every other word hyperlinked? Sometimes the better question is who wants to read duplicate content on a site with every page providing the same text? To online audiences, it means online businesses could care less about what readers want or think. And, if that’s the case, then it seems business aren’t worried about their success. A business survives by customers and customers start as readers online. Therefore, keep your readers atop the importance pyramid.

Writing good web content entails preparation, creativity and skill. All content should have a purpose and give readers a “call to action.” Listed below are best writing practices that meet Penguin criteria that businesses should follow when creating website content as well as offsite content.

Use extended versions of keywords
Don’t just use the keyword that Google Adwords provided you with. Instead, make the keyword a call to action. For example, if your keyword is “vintage apparel” use “shop vintage apparel online” as your keyword. You should think about what phrases you would use when searching a particular product or service.

Don’t stress solely on keywords
Although keywords play an important role in SEO, when writers focus heavy attention on the keyword alone, they may feel intimidated because they know little about the subject. A keyword doesn’t have to be the topic of a writing piece itself, but rather should fit into the content.

Give each page its own individualized attention
Pages on a website should have content created specifically for the purpose of the page. For example, if a page is created for a certain product, then the content should focus solely on that product and provide informative content for readers.

Stay current and newsy
Readers love reading content that they can learn from and make use of. Writing “How to’s” and creating lists are two great ways to capture the interest of readers. But, you should also try to keep content current. Think about what’s going on in other industries and in society in general that would make for a great read.

If you don’t have the time to write clear, creative and unique content then your best bet is to hire someone who can.

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Relevancy & Exact-Match Anchor Text Linking in the Penguin Era

The recent Penguin Update has sent waves through the industry and only now are those that have been affected getting a handle on understanding what has happened to their sites and been able to start taking proactive steps to rectify the situation. Various outlets for SEO news and insight have offered their knowledge and expertise through videos, articles, and full webinars. For WebiMax, this entire PenguinWatch site is an example of this information-sharing. With this in mind, we conducted a successful Penguin Update Webinar that detailed precisely what happened, what companies can do about it, and what this all means for the outlook of internet marketing and search rankings going forward.

In the last post below, we were describing the coming webinar, but now that it is completed, you should head over and watch the Penguin Webinar to gain further insight. Addressing Google’s Penguin Update itself, depending on the ways in which your site was impacted, there are specific measures you can take, from dropping previously attained unnatural links to revising past off-site links that you control.

Right there with the linking and the locations from which they come, are the actual ways in which they are created in terms of anchor text and content. In looking at how businesses can rectify their latest algorithmic penalties and establish a revised plan for the future, two specific areas of interest are the relevancy and exact-match anchor text linking within the content.

Exact-match anchor text linking does not spell death, but close
Matching the anchor texts that you use in your content for your links exactly to the keywords or keyword phrases is problematic, to a degree. This has been a common practice for quite some time, in fact the default strategy for most SEO’s, for creating in-content links. This practice must be adapted, however, post Penguin. The practice lends itself to an unnatural flow of language at times and its use can be overdone, and in Google’s eyes contribute to “spammy” looking content.

Websites that exclusively used such linking were hit by the recent Penguin Update and need to adjust their practices. Our research shared in the Webinar shows that there was a threshold for direct-match anchor text use and penalization. Websites that have around or over 60% of their links as exact-match anchor texts, penalizations were experienced. Dialing it back, there were virtually no penalizations for those sites that had less than 50% of their links as exact-match anchor text links. As a result, businesses and those facilitating their linking texts should diversify the way those anchor texts appear and establish a set strategy to measure and track their total linking.

Relevancy…for the reader and the algorithm
The search algorithms, especially Google’s, have come a long way and no longer have difficulty recognizing when text does not relate to the rest of the content. The relevancy goes for the entire text, but is focused on the anchor texts used themselves. The algorithms can determine how relevant anchor text and keyword phrases are to the rest of the content, and when the anchor text content does not strongly relate – then there can be issues.

In response to this, varying anchor texts is the best strategy, but doing so using variations of relevant phrases is the key. Regarding this matter specifically, SEO’s want to ensure that the relevant anchor text occurs naturally in the flow of the language. This means that the occurrence of the words should flow as if there were no links there at all and only minimally change given the presence of the link. According to the algorithm, this is more user-friendly for the reader and appears less “spammy,” both goals of the search engines.

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