Google Penguin & Panda Algorithm Updates Bring SEO into the Light

Google Penguin & Panda Algorithm Updates

In the past few weeks and months, Google has made fundamental changes to how its algorithms rank webpages for search, creating both hope and discord in the SEO industry. I hear tales of websites tanking on their rankings and dropping significant web traffic because they have an abundance of poor quality backlinks (links from other sites pointing to their site) which they may have paid for or exchanged for over time. Equally, I’m seeing sites rise up in the rankings, based on good content and well-chosen keywords (relevant search terms people are likely to use to find a site).

We are in the midst of change on the internet search frontier.

The Google Penguin Update, released on April 24, 2012, lowered the value of sites associated with large quantities of poor-quality backlinks (such as from link farms and automated blog spamming bots… an increasing scourge for many organic bloggers). Penguin also penalizes sites associated with black-hat SEO practices such as keyword stuffing, cloaking and spinning duplicate content.

The earlier Google Panda Update, first released in February 2011, with several updates since, has been lowering the ranking scores for low quality sites with misleading titles, high advertisement-to-content ratios, poor design, slow load time and a general lack of trustworthiness.

These and many other algorithm changes by Google are an effort to purge the web of low quality sites, which sometimes offer little value or association with the search terms of the internet surfer, from appearing high in search rankings.

It’s unfortunate that some sound and otherwise legitimate websites will be affected.

Bad links can come from anywhere and can be unsolicited. Anyone with a tiny bit of tech savy can link to any other site from a site they control, so there are sure to be some interesting reactions out there to Penguin. Many SEOs have been selling links of various quality for years and getting business results, but also effectively watering down the quality of the search experience, by helping to boost poor quality sites into the top pole positions in the rankings.

When you want to know something immediately… you ‘google’ it. If you have to spend a long time sifting through Google results to find a webpage that gives you what you’re looking for and can trust, beyond a few quality reference sites for comparison, Google has lost some of your confidence and you might try Bing or searching on social media, requesting information from your friends or followers, calling your parents, talking to your dog… whatever way your prefer to converse with the universe.

This is a wake-up call for the entire web and SEO industry. If you cannot provide quality, relevant and timely content, your site will likely be lost in the sea of mediocre sites, much to the applause of the general web-surfing public.

Some site owners are now scrambling to unlink from poor quality or questionable websites, which can be no simple or small task, and of course others will try to figure out ways to ‘out smart’ the Pandas and Penguins through the grey areas of SEO.

I humbly suggest to site owners who want to rise in the search rankings and hold your positions, that you focus on creating high quality, current content, optimized onsite with relevant keywords for search using white-hat SEO practices, and optimized offsite with organically generated backlinks (unsolicited links acting as an endorsement or reference to your content because it really is good) from reputable websites in your niche. This all takes time, effort and goodwill to achieve, but so does anything worthwhile… a key principle in Marketing Samurai Style!

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