Though it seems like only yesterday that Google rolled out the last round of updates to its ranking algorithms, a new update has just arrived. Over the last few days, Google updated its Panda algorithm and its Spam algorithm. There is also speculation that another update to the Penguin algorithm could soon follow. These updates mean significant ranking and traffic change for many websites.
Google has officially denied that they have any plans to update Penguin, but some people in the SEO industry suspect that they might just be saying that to avoid public outcry before the algorithm takes full effect.
Confused about what these vicious penguins and giant pandas want to do to your website? We totally understand. It can be tough for people who don’t keep up with SEO news to keep track of every Google algorithm. That’s why we thought it might be useful to provide a brief overview of Google’s ranking algorithms and how they affect you.
Google’s Panda algorithm finds and filters low-quality content from search engine results. This ensures that only the most relevant, truly engaging websites make it onto the first page of results. The current update, known as Panda 4.0, marks the fourth major change to Panda. However, Google also updates Panda with rolling monthly updates in an effort to stay ahead of each new scheme to drive up rankings for low-quality content.
Panda affects a large portion of the searches done through Google. In fact, Google’s SEO expert Matt Cutts says that Panda 4.0 affects the results for about 7.5% of all English language searches. This has caused dramatic changes to the rankings and traffic of some websites.
Google Spam Algorithm
Also known as Google’s “Payday Loan Algorithm”, the Spam Algorithm specifically targets spammy websites that use terms you might see in your email’s junk folder, such as “payday loans”, “viagra”, “life insurance”, “LASIK” and “free coupons”. The Spam Algorithm mostly affected foreign websites and pages containing large numbers of spammy or extremely low-quality links and keywords. Most legitimate websites were not hurt.
Penguin may be Google’s biggest and baddest algorithm update. While Panda targets low-quality content and the Payday Loans Algorithm fights spammers, Penguin punishes poor SEO tactics. Sites that were SEOed with practices that worked in the past but are frowned upon today are going to feel the brunt of this algorithm change. This is because Penguin doesn’t differentiate between recent work and optimization done years ago, when guidelines were different. In fact, it’s extremely harsh on any problems that it finds.
Penguin focuses primarily on finding and filtering out sites it believes to have unnatural or highly optimized link profiles. In other words, it looks at all the websites on the Internet that link to your site and decides whether or not you “earned” those links (by providing high-quality content and services that people want to share or listing yourself on high-quality curated directories) or you “paid” for them (by hiring an unscrupulous SEO company or spamming links out across the Internet indiscriminately). If Google’s Penguin decides that your links weren’t “earned”, it will drastically reduce your site’s ranking positions and traffic.
Unfortunately, the Penguin algorithm can’t tell when or how links were created. This means that people who used SEO companies several years ago are getting penalized for these poor links today, even though the work these companies did wasn’t frowned upon at the time. Google is punishing these people for doing things it decided were wrong long after they did them. Penguin also makes it easy for competitors, spammers, and malcontents to sabotage your website by sending spammy links to negatively affect your rankings.
What You Can Do
All of this may sound very scary to you. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to protect your website. The best way to avoid any trouble is by following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines very closely and making sure your SEO company does the same. The Webmaster Guidelines are Google’s own list of tactics that will and won’t get you penalized by their current algorithms. Following these guidelines ensures that your website will keep attracting the same high traffic unimpeded.
While following the guidelines is the safest path, it doesn’t get you much movement. Even if you follow Google’s guidelines to a T without additional work you may not achieve the success you desire. Fortunately, there are still a few SEO techniques that will help boost your rankings and your website traffic without attracting any penalties from the Google algorithms. These tactics include:
Keeping Your Site Updated – Regular updates to the content on your website, whether it is on your homepage, in a blog, in your testimonials, or in your service page, helps Google’s ranking algorithm index your site and will send ranking signals that show your page is relevant for certain keywords. You earn more notice from Google and make it easier to gain rank by updating your website regularly with high-quality content.
Using Social Media – Using social media sites, such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, to link back to your site performs several actions that help to raise your rankings. Firstly, you make it possible for people to see and share your content. Secondly, you build a connection between your social profiles and your website. Thirdly, you show Google that you’re an authority in your field who works hard to share your knowledge with others. All of these signals can make your site stronger and more likely to rank higher.
Building a Quality Site – Sites that buy higher rankings will get punished. Sites that earn higher rankings don’t. You need to earn higher rankings for your website by putting in some old-fashioned elbow grease and providing high-quality resources for the people who want your product or service. Well-written and original content, clean and easy-to-understand design, and helpful information tells Google that you’ are an upstanding and trustworthy member of the online community.
Rank Monsters can answer any questions you may have about your website, your rankings and anything else related to Google algorithms and search engines. We live and breathe SEO and always stay on top of the latest algorithm changes. Call us today and find out how we can deliver you more traffic, deeper customer engagement, and higher sales.
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