The last Google update dubbed “Penguin” has had a far reaching impact that seems well beyond the 3% that the company had predicted. The foretold intent was to target web spam, but reports of high quality websites that never did a day of link building in their lives have been hit by the not-so-friendly fire as well.
With some reporting a loss of their entire business overnight and others bragging about how their sites have gone up and they are glad that Google finally “cleaned up all the spam”, the verdict is still out on this.
It’s painfully obvious that search results are still cluttered with spammy EMDs, one page websites, and total irrelevance in some cases. Just do a search for “window blinds” and you can see what I’m talking about with the #1 spot being taken by a Windows theme software company. Looks like the big G got the right word with the wrong context.
Is that just an anomaly? Well if it is we should just all report bad search results to Google right? But is it our job to fix Google?
I could give a ton of examples where Google has gotten rid of quality sites to replace them with spammy sites, but it’s just another case where “no change” is better than “wrong change”.
So where is this great opportunity?
But I want to tell webmasters and site owners and SEO gurus out there, that with this update came HUGE opportunity. Even if your site has been slammed to oblivion you should be hopefully optimistic here.
Because Google has just revealed its hand.
The company is always very careful not to actually “say” what kind of spam they are targeting so people do not “game” the system, but by making any algorithmic changes at all they are revealing what they are looking for. All we have to do is assess the damage.
Just like an arson investigator can find the cause of a fire by looking at the damage and debri, we can get a closer look at Google’s motive in all of this.
By analyzing data like Microsite Masters did here, we can not only find out what Google is penalizing but what they are rewarding as well.
When nothing changes in the algorithm its actually harder to see what the search engine giant wants. Even though the last penguin update hit many sites hard, it can allow site owners to begin to assess the damage to find the cause of Google’s disdain and begin to rebuild.
It’s not always fun to have to start over and rebuild the traffic to your site. Actually, it’s never fun, let’s be honest.
But I caution you to never just throw up your hands and give up. There is ALWAYS something you can do to make your site better both for visitors and for search engines.
How do you define spam?
So, is the big G just targeting web spam here, like they are saying? Since so many high quality sites have been hit it should make you question what Google really thinks spam is anyway.
The average person would say spam is overly promoting something in an obnoxious or illegal way that does not offer any helpful or insightful information. But if you build links to your site at all, Google sees this as an attempt to manipulate the search engines… a.k.a. spam.
But if you OWN a site aren’t you supposed to be promoting it, getting eyeballs to it, doing everything you can to let people find your site? You can write articles, pump out some videos, contact friends on social media networks, etc., but if those actions are resulting in links being built it is frowned upon.
So you have to determine… are you going to do what is best for search engines or what is best for your visitors? They OFTEN are not the same thing!
What sites were hammered?
Most of the sites that were hit seem to have a high percentage of exact match anchor text links going to them. There are basic guidelines for getting links to your sites and you should try to have a healthy mix of naked URL links, generic links, exact anchor text links, and partial match anchor text links. I advise for websites to have at least 40% to 50% of their incoming links as url links.
Try to mix up these url links as well. You can use http://mywebsite.com/ and www.mywebsite.com along with other similar variations.
Try to get as many different anchor text links as well. So if you have say 1,000 backlinks to your site, it would be ideal to have at least 200 or more “different” anchor text keywords. Of course, what is ideal is different for every site.
So take this awesome opportunity Google has given us to get a sneak peek into its algorithm and try to build your traffic levels back up. If your sites were rewarded by the search engine then figure out why so you can do the same thing to other sites.
This is no time to be sitting on the sidelines complaining about what has happened. But don’t listen to those “holier than thou” types who are saying “Well I’m glad all those spammers got hit. I never build links and I play by the rules and my sites are surging.” Because for every one of those comments I am seeing complete black hats that are being rewarded as well. I am not condoning black hat tactics here, but it’s hard to fault someone for using tactics that Google has rewarded for so long.
I’d love to hear back from you. Leave a comment if you have something to say.