Google Penguin and You

Google changes its algorithm about 500 times a year. Most changes are minor, but every couple of months, a major update happens that gets people talking because of the impact it has on ranking results. The two most recent algorithm changes are:

Panda: Officially rolled out in February 2011, but there have been about 13 data refreshes of it since then. Now on Panda 3.7, it cracked down on sites with thin, stolen or duplicate content, as well as sites with a high ad-to-content ratio.

Penguin: Released April 2012, this algorithm put tighter guidelines on website optimization and adjusted a number of web spam factors, including keyword stuffing, cloaking, unnatural links and content spinning.

Penguin is a change in how Google ranks against people trying to game the search system. The primary target was ‘unnatural links’ that were either bought or exchanged in order to artificially inflate a website’s authority. Other reported targets included keyword stuffing and comment spam, which Google also houses under the umbrella term ‘webspam’.

How do you know if your SEO has taken a hit?

Google has taken a more open approach to the Penguin update than they have with previous updates, sending notices to Google Webmaster Tools accounts warning site owners that Google had detected ‘unnatural links’ pointing to their site. Website owners are then asked to submit a reconsideration request once the links have been removed.

SEO Moving Forwards

Many companies in the past have used cost effective offshore SEO services to build and buy links for them. Now much of this work needs to be undone or re-done.

The entire SEO industry is in for a bit of a shakeup at the moment as Google tries to re-shuffle the deck and get the most genuine websites to the top, not the ones that have done the most SEO link building.

Keep a regular eye on your Google Webmaster tools as a direct communication with Google about your site.

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