It’s big, scary, and it’s HERE: Google Penguin 2.0.
Officially launched on May 22 and termed the “Webspam” update, this Google algorithm beast is dedicated to targeting anything considered “blackhat” in terms of SEO, and is supposed to dig deeper than its predecessor in the know-how of what website content to rank (and what not to rank).
“Digging deeper:” this means Penguin is getting into the nitty-gritty of how your backlinks work, where they are from, your indexing patterns and more.
Biggest Change in the Algorithm for Ranking Website Content is…
How Google figures out PageRank. Here’s what Google wants to use for its search factors to rank you or not rank you in its Penguin 2.0: gauging you on a social engagement level. Consider it a gauge of how your visitors enjoy (or don’t enjoy) your site. This includes the amount of times your site gets bookmarked; the amount of times it gets socially shared; and the amount of times it’s re-visited. The best part? Google Penguin 2.0 knows when you BUY engagement…and when it’s natural.
However, take it with a grain (or two) of salt. In months ahead, the algorithm is set to constantly update. If Penguin 1.0 affected the web, think of Penguin 2.0 as the destroyer or influencer of the web.
“As long as you’re working hard for your users, we’re working hard to show your high quality content to users as well,” said Matt Cutts, in his video on the matter published this May. “If you’re doing high quality content with SEO, you won’t have to worry. If you’ve been hanging out on the blackhat forums, it will be a more eventful summer for you.”
Important updates that will be a core of the Google Penguin 2.0 include:
The Biggest One: No more spammy links. PageRank influencing factors are totally different. Advertising will not influence PageRank anymore (or at least most of it won’t). Link spamming will be heavily knocked down in the update. Sophisticated link analysis is in its “early days” in the Penguin 2.0 update, according to Cutts. This is huge for many sites. What does this mean? The new Penguin will be hitting down on:
- Comment spam (paying for low quality blog comments)
- Low quality guest blogging
- Article marketing/duplicating
- Links from sites that are dangerous to users
- Paid backlinks using exact match anchor text (in English: a paid backlink!)
If you relied on backlinks, you are more than likely going to be drowning by the end of Penguin 2.0 smackdown. Case studies available at: SearchEngineWatch.com.
How to Recover: Experienced a drop in rankings from the new Penguin 2.0 beast, and need to get rid of spammy links pointing back to your site? Google’s Link Disavow Tool is for you. It’s a machete if you need to get rid of bad links—with Google, it’s mostly all or nothing with very little success allotted to cliffhangers. Time to cut off all those bad links? Learn more about the Link Disavow Tool. Go directly to the Link Disavow Tool.
How To Avoid: To avoid your website content getting hit on PageRank influencing factors, if you are advertising to achieve PageRank, Google says they’ll hit you less if you actually tell your users that. Learn more about how to disclose your paid advertising so you don’t get Google-hit from WebProNews.
Want to avoid getting stuck in this mess altogether? Organically raise your PageRank. This means blogging; social engagement; and overall being a lot more engaged to try to get your website visitors active. Articles posted regularly on your website, social engagement every time you blog—that sort of thing is what Google is looking for in ranking factors.
Here’s 7 MORE IMPORTANT updates to the algorithm, both the good and the bad:
1. Pornographic links won’t give you much juice. Google doesn’t want to get in too much detail, but they will certainly be knocking down on anything spammy, including pornographic links. If you have any adult related content backlinks, they could push you down after Google Penguin 2.0 combs your links.
2. Hackers get revealed. “Hack” sites will be detected with a “next-generation” hack site update (this will roll out in June). Webmaster tools from Google will report the hacker more extensively to help with cleanup.
3. Niche authorities get better ranking. If you’re a site with authority in your niche, you’ll rank in that niche, according to Google.
4. No more cliffhanging. Sites in the border of being good or bad will be clearly defined in the update. No more hanging on the shelf for you. Doing quality content? No worries. Blackhat? You might want to worry.
5. No more clustering and getting multiple pages from your domain on one page of results. A bunch of content from one domain will be spread out over more pages instead of all on the first page. Once you’ve seen a cluster of results from one site, Google will bar the site from reappearing and cluttering your search feed again.
6. The algorithm will affect multiple languages. According to multiple sources, the updated Google Penguin 2.0 will affect websites in multiple languages.
7. Guest blogging will not be as effective as it used to be. Why? Well, Google found out that it’s super-easy for lazy webmasters to find a bunch of free guest blogging websites where you can stick your URL in an author profile, and then blast out a ton of content just to get that backlink. When you blog, don’t duplicate bios; try to create an original bio for each blog. Focus less on your keywords, and more on your anchor text. Authentic guest blogs are identified by these measures now.
Who Lost Out?
So, who lost in the algorithm changes? Dish.com and Educational Testing Service were some of the big names actually using bad SEO for their websites who got penalized. The biggest industry to get affected were Retailers and Real Estate, with a 33% affected rate, according to SEOMoz. Other than that, big websites with untrusted links and small business who hadn’t taken SEO seriously were at the ends of the spectrum, both getting the most affected by Penguin 2.0. SearchMetrics analyzed a whole slew, the list can be found here. Interestingly, it ranges from the Salvation Army to over five different porn websites.
Contrast of Gains & Losses Across Websites
Also from SEOMoz, here’s a brief contrast to see what went backwards and what gained traction and went forwards from the Google updates:
- Amazon lost out from the rankings; Wikipedia gained.
- Pinterest gained from the rankings; AllRecipies.com lost.
- Indeed.com lost out from the rankings; Ebay gained.
Yelp was the biggest loser, at over -8%: Twitter gained the largest growth, at 4%.
What’s the Biggest Things Website Owners Can Take Away from the Penguin Update?
1. Don’t panic. Google Zebra might be tomorrow. Since Google updates all the time, putting a big name on it and labeling the changes is just identifying the changes. It’s not going to stop your world by any means, and for most of the world, it won’t affect in a major way. In short, don’t be terror-stricken.
2. Realize you can’t maintain excellent SEO presence without original, excellent content. Google SERP rankings are now heavily dependent on the amount of content you publish, the value of that content and the originality of that content. Big players like SearchEngineJournal are saying that the quality of your content is the SINGLE, most important factor in maintaining a successful website.
3. Get social. This means Google +, folks. Google likes their own, and adding people in your circles and posting your blogs on their social network is only going to get you favor. Use tools like Hootsuite to sign up on one account and schedule a bunch of posts to go out at optimal times across all your networks.
4. Gain reputable inbound links. Even if it costs money, invest the money necessary to get only the highest quality backlinks for your website. Some are saying content marketing is the new link building. Publishing a blog on a network with your website backlink on it is probably the best backlink you can build (whether that network is your blog domain or a guest blog domain).
5. Consider investing in press releases. This is also linked to the hard-hitting by Google on link spam. An SEO Press Release is one of the best ways to get a backlink, besides blogging and organic article writing and posting on your website. A PR can offer more link juice than a regular blog because one Press Release can hit thousands of locations. And since it’s “news,” it’s not considered duplicate—while you get all those links out of it! Things to consider in creating an effective PR: it must be written well, and it must be newsworthy. PRs can bring in real human eyes, and conversions, if written well enough and attracting the audience directly.
Google Penguin 2.0 is going to be picking up keywords that include these variations:
So, instead of one keyword stuck throughout your content, think of as many phrases as you can (up to 5-10 per 500 words).
There’s lots more we could say, but that’s about the gist of what you need to know for your website content–in a nicely 1,500+ condensed words. Did you lose from Google Penguin 2.0? We’d love to hear in the comments!
Bonus — Links we liked that are very helpful: