Google Releases a New Version of It’s Penguin Algorythm
An article over on Search Engine Land did a good job at explaining the entirety of the situation, but on October 4th 2013, Google launched the newest version of their Penguin algorithm. Given the number of cute, cuddily animals that can destroy the traffic that you get from search in a single moment, I thought a short review might be warranted.
Pengiun is the most serious part of Google’s algorithm that searches for paid links. Let’s look at how links are typically given, if it is happening editorially. A site creates content and there are sometimes many links coming in immediately. Other times a piece of content brings in zero, or practically zero links. Other new content bring in a few links at the beginning, before going viral and bringing in hundreds of links. If you buy links though you’ll often see hundreds, if not thousands of exact match anchor text links given to sales pages, all within a few days (or if your link seller is smart, a month or two). Either way and no matter, there is a noticeable spike in terms of links that is unusual, anything that is unusual can be tracked by Google based on the huge amount of data that they have at their disposal.
Panda was the first part of Google’s set of named updates to specifically look at on page content. The idea here was fairly simple, to figure out what sites were ranking well based solely on links, without any high quality content on their site. The secondary thesis with Penguin is that a site with thin, or non existent content should not be garnering many links, unless the site owner is creating them completely by themselves. As I am sure you are aware, Google is desperately trying to keep links at the core of their ranking algorithm, but they want these links to be only editorially given.
While Google’s other updates have always dealt with the way that websites are ranked, Hummingbird actually tries to improve a type of search used by their average user. Called semantic search, Hummingbird attempts to deliver better results when someone types something along the lines of “where to have lunch in Berkeley”. There was a time when marketers could have targeted that exact term as a long tail term, but now Google is going to look at that search and realize that the end user is really looking for a restaurant in Berkeley and deliver those results instead of a set of pages set up to match that term exactly. The goal here I am sure you realize is to end short term SEO and to make SEO’s and website owners create quality content and quality marketing campaigns to deliver real, editorially given links.
I hope this short reminder of Google’s various named updates has been helpful, more so than anything else it is important to remember that simply creating good content and following guidelines as much as possible will make these updates seem less important! I’ve certainly been pulled into that easy trap before when it comes to SEO, but with my online wine club it simply isn’t worth the headache any more. I want to achieve lasting rankings that don’t fluctuate wildly with every single small, or major Google update!
Mark Aselstine is the owner of Uncorked Ventures, an online wine club based out of San Francisco. When he started his online business, he knew nothing about SEO. Of course, he paid a bad SEO a couple of thousands of dollars per month and didn’t get anything in terms of ROI and received a Google Penalty in addition. Now, he handles the hard work of SEO himself.