Back in early April 2011 Google rolled out the update that we have all come to know and love, the Panda update. This was essentially an algorithm change designed to improve the experience and search quality results for users. Google went about doing this by clamping down on spam sites and link farms with the aim of improving the rankings for those sites featuring high quality, unique content.

Introducing Google’s new addition to the animal kingdom… the Google Penguin update. Released on the 24th April 2012, this pesky Penguin is the main talking point within the SEO world at the moment, as we mitigate the impact that this will have on our websites.

So what is the purpose of the Google Penguin update? The aim of the Penguin is to catch those people who intentionally spam Google search results; those who have been creating unnatural links through comment spam, paid text links and the like, which Google have said is against their publisher guidelines. Some of you may be thinking “So? I thought Google already combated spam”. And you would be right; Google does already combat spam, but what is happening is that they are rolling out better ways in which to detect such spamming techniques.

You might also be thinking “I’m a white hat SEO so this won’t affect me, right?” Not necessarily. Some smaller content sites have reportedly been impacted as a result of the Google Penguin update. This suggests that the emphasis on quality content has never been greater, with the larger sites beginning to show their authority in the SERPs. For smaller content sites, this shows the importance of keeping site content “fresh” and regularly updated, providing the user with the most relevant content.

So what does Google deem as web spamming?

Comments spam– Blog commenting has been a well known and well used SEO Linkbuilding tactic since times began. However, exact match anchor text links and comment signatures may prove to be a major contribution to Google’s perception of a website trying to rank for a specific keyword.

Exact match paid links Purchasing “exact match” anchor text links from other sites is one way that companies might try to steal a march on their competitors. With the Google Penguin on the loose, an anchor text link needs to have direct user benefit and not just be designed to manipulate the search results.

Article spam and irrelevant guest blog posts – Companies that distribute articles to websites chock full of content with exact match anchor text links are likely to be affected. So too are companies that post guest posts on sites harbouring a large amount of blogs with wildly varying content, also using exact match anchor text.

However, the Penguin doesn’t just penalise web spam. It also goes after infringements on Google’s ‘Quality Guidelines’, especially the following:

• Duplicate Content– When distributing duplicate content, especially with exact match anchor text links, you can expect to see an impact on your targeted keywords. This also applies to duplicate content hosted on your own site. This particular advice has been in Google’s guidelines for a while, but it now appears to be of greater importance.

• Website load time

• Crawl errors/404 URLs

So what can you do?

Monitor your links and focus on content. Forget using exact match phrased keywords, and focus on building links organically with the aim of providing the user with what they are looking for. Look at where you may have built links in the past that Google may deem as spam sites.

Google will never provide us with the exact algorithm signals with which they rank websites. What we can do is ensure that we continue to build links organically and distribute content to relevant sites with genuine content.
According to Google, “The change will go live for all languages at the same time. For context, the initial Panda change affected about 12% of queries to a significant degree; this algorithm affects about 3.1% of queries in English to a degree that a regular user might notice. The change affects roughly 3% of queries in languages such as German, Chinese, and Arabic, but the impact is higher in more heavily-spammed languages. For example, 5% of Polish queries change to a degree that a regular user might notice.”

4Ps Marketing’s SEO department is putting innovating strategies in place to continuously provide users with genuine organic content that can help improve the position of our clients within the online space. With these strategies we will address any issues our clients may face with the roll out of the Google Penguin update.

4Ps isn’t just another SEO agency. To discuss how PR and content are evolving together in order to keep pace with new developments in search engine algorithms and advertising legislation, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and technology across all inbound channels. What could a 4Ps content marketing strategy do for your brand?