24 July 2012 by Web Bureau
The Google Penguin algorithm update has left a trail of confusion, controversy and conflict in its wake ever since it was announced in April of this year. Intended to target webmasters employing black hat SEO tactics, Penguin aims to, “decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines,” explains Google’s Matt Cutts.
Is the Penguin Good or Bad News For Online Businesses?
While eliminating spam can be seen as an honourable goal, some critics have questioned the motives behind the update. Some speculate that Penguin (named after Batman's adversary) is in fact a tactic to encourage site owners to use Google Adwords as a means of optimising their site. On the other hand, Penguin’s exponents claim that it is merely a step in a more ethical direction, allowing website owners who stick to the rules to reap the benefits of their hard work while punishing those using sneaky tactics like cloaking, keyword stuffing and duplicate content. Not only this, the update also enables Google to ensure that sites are adhering to its quality guidelines.
Quality Content Equals Quality Links
The Penguin update was introduced to target link abuse. Google warns webmasters not to try to increase PageRank by linking to spam sites as this can have a detrimental effect on your rank. In fact, search rank is more pertinent to your site than PageRank. Consequently social media and blogs are becoming more important for back linking. As Social Media Marketing continues to converge with Search Engine Marketing, it is believed that a Facebook share can be more influential than many other links due to the user engagement which represents a vote of confidence for the brand. Securing links from relevant sites should form a key part of your website's marketing strategy. Acquiring these links is all a matter of creating content that will pique peoples’ interest. Google relies on the satisfaction of the user, so it isn't surprising that they want to provide users with only the most relevant results for their searches. Content is therefore the key to survival.
What does this mean for businesses going forward?
Some site owners have experienced a dramatic drop in their search rankings for keywords in the aftermath of the update and are in the process of re-assessing their strategy. As Search Engine Marketing practitioners, we would advocate that a good search engine strategy should include a combination of both Pay Per Click Marketing and Search Engine Optimisation. PPC offers an instant and visible boost to traffic and online sales and creates brand awareness, whereas SEO is a long-term strategy to boost a website's rankings in the organic listings over time. Although SEO is more beneficial in the long-run, it cannot offer the instant boost that PPC can offer, which is of particular importance to new websites, therefore investing in PPC alongside SEO in the interim is recommended.
Ultimately, businesses will have to adher stringently to best practice guidelines from Google when optimising their websites and the external content published about the business online. It is necessary to invest in creating strong content to promote your website, which is unique, relevant and of value to the user. Avoid excessive use of keywords and duplicating content if you want to increase your rank in a post-Penguin world. Securing links from relevant sites should form a key part of your website's content marketing strategy. Acquiring these links is all a matter of creating content that will pique peoples’ interest. Google relies on the satisfaction of the user, so it isn't surprising that they want to provide users with only the most relevant results for their searches. Quality content always has been and continues to be key to survival.
Outsourcing your search engine marketing and content marketing responsibility to a specialist agency may be worthwhile if you don't have in-house specialists and struggle to keep up to date with the frequent algorithm updates. In addition to knowledge gaps, many businesses cannot dedicate the time and effort required to deliver their search engine marketing strategy in-house. If your site has been affected by Penguin we can help.
At The Web Bureau we have a team of dedicated SEO professionals who can advise you on everything from identifying relevant keywords for your site and including them naturally within the content, to generating relevant and quality links that will boost your search rank and increase web traffic to your site. Get in touch with us today to find out more.
Remember: Good SEO will never be considered spam!