The fallout from Google's latest update, code named "Penguin," continues. This has affected a lot of people in the Internet marketing industry, often more severely than even the previous "Panda" update. Penguin has targeted a lot of low quality link strategies specifically, earning it the nickname "The Webspam Update."
Both of these updates were intended to increase the quality of Google search results, but in very different ways. Panda applied advanced artificial intelligence techniques and focused more on the content of the pages being ranked; for example, if too large a percentage of the page was taken up by advertisement space, it caused a penalty.
Penguin focuses more on the types of links coming to the page. It targets "low quality" link strategies, discounting links from known link farms, and so on. Basically, if your SEO strategy is based mainly on having lots of low-PR backlinks to your site, you probably got nailed by Penguin.
Penguin Red Flags
Here are some specific examples of stuff that would have gotten your site's rankings docked by Penguin:
- Spun content
- Article marketing, especially from low-PR directories
- Forum signature links
- XRumor Blasts
- Blog commenting and comment spam
- Web 2.0 profile links
If you've been getting the majority of your links by these methods, Penguin has probably already hit you hard. Time to regroup and start doing things differently. You need to switch to tactics that Google likes, such as: guest posts; high quality, high-PR links; distributing infographics, and even direct requests for high quality links.
Duplicate Content Is More Than Just The Same Words
There's more than one way to get dinged for duplicate content, including deliberately setting up similar content that targets closely related keywords. For example, you may be putting together a site that uses recipes for SEO content. To try to maximize your keyword coverage, you set up multiple pages with slightly different title tags and keyword optimizations on very similar content:
- Chinese Noodle Soup Recipe
- Best Chinese Noodle Soup
- How to Cook Chinese Noodle Soup
Google can now catch this sort of "over-optimization" as you split up your content amongst multiple pages, and you can be penalized for it. If you're going to do something like this, be sure that the content on these separate pages is completely unique!
Social Content Links are Key
Social signals are becoming more and more important to Google rankings all the time. Now more than ever, you need to cultivate a strong Twitter following, Facebook exposure and Google Plus presence. The good news is that there are solid methods for doing this; the bad news is that Google can now distinguish between true communities and a bunch of fake likes purchased on Fiverr or the like.
Google is taking into account authority of followers, tracking trending patterns and reading sentiment better than ever. If you're going to put effort into the social realm, work on building a real community rather than trying to fake it.
You've probably seen training repeatedly that emphasizes the importance of "natural" link patterns and the need for diverse link sources. People who failed to heed this training have now, thanks to Penguin, paid the price. Don't get dinged for this yourself; spread your links out naturally, don't focus on only a few tactics.
The Penguin update should finally make it clear that you have to stop using "spammy" link building techniques and focus on quality backlinks and -- even more important -- on quality content.
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