Google Penguin Update: Does it Affect Your Blog?

2 comments

A few months ago, the Google Panda update shook the blogging world.

Many webmasters found their blogs had either moved up or moved down. Some found their blogs knocked off the Google entirely.

This week, Google has introduced yet another update: The Google Penguin update.

Have you noticed a significant change in your traffic over the last few days? If so, this may be Google Penguin at work.

If you’ve noticed a drop in traffic or want to inoculate your blog against potential harm, read this article carefully.

A Word on Google Updates

Google has always been vigilant about regularly updating their search algorithms to prevent spam and improve the quality of search listings. However, in recent years and months they seem to have definitely picked up the pace.

The changes recommended in this article come directly from Google. They’ll help you recover from this update; but will also go a long way towards protecting you from being impacted by future updates as well.

The #1 Thing to Look Out For

The Google Penguin update was designed specifically to attack linkbuilding techniques that Google perceives as spam. It’s designed to get behind various linking schemes and penalize the sites that are using them. Schemes that may be affected include:

  • Three way linking schemes. The “I’ll link to you and your friend links to me” schemes now not only don’t work, but could actually harm your site.
  • Multiple C-Class IP schemes. Trying to build a bunch of your own sites on multiple C-Class IP addresses has a high likelihood of getting you penalized with this recent update.
  • Web 2.0 linking. If you’re creating a whole bunch of web 2.0 articles and using them to form a sort of a “web” of links to bump up your site, this is also easily detected now.
  • Link wheeling. If you’re buying a bunch of low quality links, sending them to throwaway sites and using these intermediaries to link to your main site, hoping that the site in between the links helps “filter” the bad karma, you’re out of luck.
  • Article marketing. In the Google Panda update, many webmasters who used article marketing suffered. In Google Penguin, article marketers are likely penalized even more.

What Else Google is Penalizing

Google has upped the ante on other techniques they’ve had an eye on for a while. These include keyword stuffing, cloaking, doorway pages and duplicate content.

Even if you’re not using blatantly blackhat tactics, there are still ways this new update can affect you. These include:

  • Archive and category page duplicate content. If your category pages and your archive pages take “snippets” from your blog, Google will consider these pages made of duplicate content. Avoid getting penalized by making your archive and category pages “nofollow.”
  • Too many ads. If Google sees that you’re ranking well or ranking quickly but have your ad stuffed full of ads, you may get penalized.
  • Too many affiliate links. Avoid putting affiliate links on your site until you’ve built up a little bit of an audience and some authority in Google. Better yet, promote affiliate links through your email newsletter and don’t place them in your main site.
  • Targeting irrelevant keywords. Avoid deviating too much from your main keyword. If you have a website about “fishing tips,” it’s fine to write about the weather for fishing, buying fishing gear and fishing techniques. However, you should probably avoid talking about boat repair. If you do talk about something that’s significantly off topic, just post the post without doing much backlink building for that page.
  • Exact match anchor texts. Are all the anchor texts coming into your site exact match? In other words, if you’re trying to rank for “fishing tips,” do most of your anchor texts have the words “fishing tips” in them? If so, Google will pretty quickly figure out that those links were deliberately built rather than natural. Aim to have only about 40% of your anchor texts with the exact keyword in it, 40% with related keywords and 20% with something completely unrelated.

Key Takeaways from Google Penguin

There are a few things you should takeaway from this latest update.

First, avoid shady SEO services and tools. If you hop on the Warrior Forum and find someone who’ll buy you 20 .edu domains for $50, you should probably think twice.

Next, focus on content. Google is getting smarter and smarter about detecting deliberate linking techniques. Instead of focusing on rankings, focus on the end users. That’s how you get genuine links, great links and real rankings.

If You Got Hit, What Can You Do?

Matt Cutt’s anti-spam team has released a feedback form you can use to let Google know if you believe you’ve been unfairly hit. You can find this form here.

Realistically, your best chances of getting back into the Google game is to re-evaluate your current link building and content generation strategies. Fix any inadvertent mistakes you’re making and stop using any unnatural link building techniques that could raise Google’s red flags.

Your chances of getting back up in the rankings through Google’s spider liking you more is a whole lot higher than Matt Cutt’s team stepping in on your behalf.

Question for readers: Have you noticed a difference in your traffic? Did Penguin affect you?

- Derek

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  • Dave Foy

    “Avoid getting penalized by making your archive and category pages “nofollow.””

    I think you mean ‘noindex’? I can see the value stopping search engines from indexing those kinds of pages, but why would you want to stop PageRank flowing through them also?

  • Derek Pankaew

    I think it’s a subtle distinction that probably won’t make a big difference. I’d probably just nofollow it, but you could noindex it as well.

    For one, there’s no reason *to* pass PageRank to an archive or category page. It just detracts from the power of your “real” links. The power that could be spent promoting real pages of content is instead passed to a page with duplicate content.

    Also, when you “noindex” a page it’s still being crawled. Google downloads your entire HTML file, reads the page and then just doesn’t add it to the index. Whether or Google reading duplicate content but not indexing it hurts is still kind of unknown.

    More on this here:

    http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/webmasters/crawling-indexing–ranking/2wzrlPdnHcM

    Just to be clear – I’m not talking about using the meta robots tag to make the page nofollow. That just makes all the links *on that page* nofollow, but doesn’t prevent PageRank from flowing into the page. I’m talking about making links *to* to archive page or the category page nofollow. Most SEO plugins will do this. Maybe that was the confusion … ?

    Cheers,

    - Derek

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