How A Penguin Brought Businesses To Their Knees

By · Filed in SEO

Over 80% of people start their search for the things they need by Googling them. Therefore, it is a really good thing if your website appears at the top of the search results and a really bad thing if it doesn’t. But you knew that didn’t you.

Merely having the top entry on page one of Google for a great keyword can be the trigger to achieve a hugely successful and profitable business. Appearing on page 2 of the search results can be as unrewarding as not having a website at all.

Therefore it is no surprise that many people (ourselves included) will tell you that it is important to optimise your website for search engines so that you get the best position possible. It is also probably no great surprise that self-proclaimed “search engine optimisation (SEO) experts” came up with tricks and “black hat technologies” to confuse the search engines into ranking a website higher that it would otherwise have been.

Well, those days are (nearly) over!

2012 saw the introduction of Penguin. This was following on the tail of Panda that started coming into effect in 2011. Panda and Penguin were code names for major algorithm changes that Google introduced to improve the search result rankings. Panda was aimed at downgrading “low quality” websites and Penguin was aimed at downgrading sites that violated Google’s webmaster guidelines. In other words, both of these changes were aimed at the tricks that were being used to artificially raise websites higher in the search results.

As a result of this, many websites saw their fortunes change overnight. Websites that had bought thousands of cheap backlinks or were stuffed full of repeated keywords or used duplicate content dropped in the search results, sometimes dropping completely out of the search results. Other websites took their places of course, websites that had been doing things the way that Google encourages.

You may have heard us rant on about not fighting Google and, instead, giving Google what it wants. That is even truer today than it was when you first heard us mention it.

Google’s goal is to give its searchers the best results possible. It achieves this by assessing over 200 factors when it looks at each website but they all boil down to three things. Google is looking for the most relevant, most up to date and most popular results. The message that they are giving out, reinforced by Panda and Penguin, is that tricking the search engines into thinking that your website is more relevant, up to date and popular doesn’t work anymore. There are still “SEO experts” out there pedalling their backlinks and keyword stuffing etc. to unsuspecting business owners but they are a dying breed.

So given these changes, how can you “give Google what it wants” and help your website rise higher in the search results?

Firstly, if you were using any tricks to confuse Google then stop, now! Google may not have spotted your trick on your website yet … but they are looking for it and they are determined to find it and penalise you for it … and they probably will!

Instead, focus your efforts around three activities:

  1. Relevant recent content: For businesses where we produce new content for their website every week we have seen a steady rise in their rankings over the last year. So, put new, relevant content onto your website at least weekly and, for more competitive situations, maybe as often as daily. Ensure that this content is relevant and that it does not duplicate other content on the Internet and also make sure that it reads well and is not simply stuffed full of keywords.
  2. Broadcast your content: Tell people that your new content exists. You can post links on Facebook and Twitter and you can email links to people. You might also be able to use other websites to tell people about your new content. For instance, there might be a forum website that covers your industry where you can look for people asking relevant questions and, when you find them, you can submit links back to the relevant pages on your website.
  3. Attract traffic: The more people that visit your website, the higher it will rank in the search results and the more people that will see it and visit it … resulting in it ranking higher and so in, in a virtuous (or viral) circle. Some of the things you can do to encourage people to visit your website include: publishing links on social media, emailing people with links, sending out e-newsletters where the body of the content is on the website (like this one J) and by buying traffic. Buying traffic can be an effective way of getting a spurt of traffic to your site, as can other strategies such as press releases etc. So use ways to show Google that real people are visiting your website.

In this way you do not have to worry about the changes that Google has made or will make. You are giving Google what it wants, relevant, up to date and popular information and your site will climb up the search results and the number of people who find your website will increase. All you then have to do is explain why they should do business with you! 🙂

From Liz, Ian and the Online & Mobile Marketing Wizards at
Roderick Pugh Marketing
The Local Business Specialists for Online & Mobile Marketing
When achieving a 25% or more growth at your business matters!
Tel: 01554 775 738

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