The Google Penguin Update and what it means for business websites

Google rules the search engine industry and every business website must heed its updates to avoid losing traffic and revenue. Google periodically releases algorithmic updates, with the aim to ensure that search engine users see the most relevant results in response to their search. Recently, the “Penguin” update, one of the most powerful to date was rolled out to curtail websites that used all the wrong techniques to raise their ranking and recovery has not been easy.

What is the Google Penguin Update?

The Penguin Update targeted websites that used black hat SEO and spammy methods to increase their search engine rankings. These included unnatural link exchanges, stuffing keywords, comment spamming and web spam. The update also rewarded sites that did not use these techniques. Google urges webmasters to focus on creating high quality sites with useful content, enhancing positive user experience through white hat SEO.

With the Penguin Update, a number of businesses noticed a decline in their rankings, while some simply disappeared from the first page results.

Last year, Google released the Panda update to sift out low value websites with duplicate content that existed purely for linking. The goal of this update was to encourage websites to focus on the user experience rather than over-optimising for search engines. Similarly, the Penguin update seeks to minimise the number of websites that indulge in link cloaking and other black hat SEO methods without offering visitors any value. Websites that offered fresh, original and valuable content were not touched.

For business websites that regularly create high quality content across their web properties, this is good news. Google Webmaster offers specific guidelines on the best practices to help Google find, crawl, and index sites and adhering to these can ensure that your business website remains unaffected by search engine algorithmic updates.

The bottom line is to avoid stuffing keywords, overuse of site-wide links, distributing unnatural anchor text, an overdose of links, purchasing links and of course, duplicate content. Instead, create valuable, relevant and keyword optimised content that users want to share. The focus must always be on the user experience through engaging content.

Some takeaway tips to ensure your business website thrives through the updates:

  • Watch those keywords – make sure they appear naturally and in sync with your content. Don’t forget to optimise your images
  • Maintain a natural link profile by varying the anchor text and including non-descriptive links to look natural
  • Content was, is and will always be king. Keep it good and relevant. One way to do this is through a blog that is regularly updated. Use press releases and whitepapers to increase your authority.
  • Keep track with Google Webmaster tools where you can stay informed about how Google sees your website.
  • Don’t cloak links and avoid duplicating content.

By following the above, it is easy to stay in the good books of Google, and achieve your internet marketing goals consistently.