Lately we’ve been hearing a lot about how Google’s Penguin update has hurt online businesses. In fact, some are going as far as saying it’s going to kill SEO as we know it. But despite the sense of impending doom that surrounds this latest update, there are ways to avoid negative impacts as a result of it.
Just three days ago, Google’s head of search spam Matt Cutts posted a video regarding Penguin 2.0 and the future of Google SEO. In his seven-minute address from Mountain View, Cutts explains that the Penguin update was created in order to clean up Google’s search results and give pages with honest, valuable, and engaging content the exposure that they deserve. As a result, sites that are using black hat strategies have been, and will continue to be penalized. By knowing what to expect from Google in the coming months, publishers can avoid losing page rank in Google’s search, and ultimately, losing money.
According to Cutts, Google’s expectations of site owners remain “constant and uniform,” as the company actively looks to promote sites that are informative and exciting to users, and generally beneficial to the online community. “As long as you’re working hard for users,” Cutts explains, “we’re working hard to try and show your high quality content to users as well.”
However, for pages that aren’t providing valuable information, the Penguin 2.0 update is lingering on the horizon and promises to terrorize rankings within Google’s search results.
A more comprehensive, impactful, and deeper reaching update as Cutts describes it, Penguin 2.0’s primary focus is on targeting and eradicating black hat web spam. While that may sound frightful, Cutts latest YouTube video lists the specific practices that Penguin 2.0 is targeting, essentially giving sites time to prepare for the upcoming algorithm change.
Among the things that Google’s Penguin 2.0 will be looking for are advertorials that violate Google’s quality guidelines, as well as spam queries that draw black hat interest. Penguin 2.0 will also look “at some ways to go upstream,” according to Cutts, meaning that link spammers will no longer be able to boost their search results by building unnatural link networks.
Google is also in the early stages of developing more sophisticated link analysis technologies that will enable them to profile back links, identify black hat strategies at work, and eliminate them.
Another focus of the Penguin 2.0 update is hacked sites. Not only is Google trying to create better, more comprehensive ways to detect hacked sites, but they are also working on new methods of communication with webmasters that will help to recognize and clean up these sites.
Along with hacked site detection, Google has made it a point to better detect sites of authority and get them to rank higher overall. In other words, pages that provide factual, specific information on particular subjects—Cutts offers up medical and travel as examples—will see their site rank higher in Google’s results.
The moral of the story here—Google is on a warpath to eliminate black hat sites from showing up in their search results. But, despite the fact that Penguin 2.0 will certainly change the way Google’s algorithm works, it certainly isn’t going to kill SEO. In fact, it’s only going to make search results cleaner, more informative, and more relevant, providing a better experience overall.
When we spoke with David Klein of Purpose Inc about the upcoming Penguin 2.0 update, he offered similar sentiments, saying,
“Google is trying to give users what they are looking for. Google still can’t evaluate what is on the mind of every user at the time they are searching, so they need to look at clues that point toward good content. Links have been a mainstay of these clues. The Penguin update is about links that were obviously faked, and on-page factors that show the person designing the page was going out of their way to trick Google. Our team’s analysis of penalized sites, and what it took to recover them, gave us a list of factors in recovering a site. The sum of the specific factors is exactly in alignment with what Matt is saying publicly.”
Keeping all of this in mind, certain positive SEO practices will only continue to boost a site’s rank within Google’s search results. Internal linking, proper tagging, relevant outgoing links, and appropriate titling are all practices that will ensure that your page gets the rank it deserves.
In the end, Google’s Penguin 2.0 update isn’t going to kill SEO, it’s just going to clean it up a bit.
What do you think this update means for affiliate marketers? Have you experienced any negative side effects from the first Penguin update? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Murray Newlands is an online marketing industry veteran, and the founder of TheMail.