Penguin – The death of SEO

How will the algorithm changes affect SEO?

Google have again had quite a major overhaul to the search algorithms – Penguin. It was announced by Matt Cutts on April 24th 2012.

A previous update, Panda, was concerned with ranking on-page content. They were evaluating whether a human would want to read the webpage in question. Penguin seems more concerned with penalising SEO “over-optimization” of a website.

Quality guidelines focus on natural results

Matt said, “We see all sorts of webspam techniques every day, from keyword stuffing to link schemes that attempt to propel sites higher in rankings.” So this is a direct move against over-optimized sites from the natural search results. Google will “decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines.”

You can determine whether your site was affected by Penguin by checking your Google Analytics account to see if you experienced a drop in traffic on April 24.

What off-page SEO factors are affected?

There is a lot of second guessing in the industry about what Matt means by “webspam” techniques, including:

Link Schemes

One of the key methods of determining the quality and quantity of links from other websites. The sites that link to you can provide context about the subject matter on your of, the number of links indicate its quality and popularity – this was called page rank. However this lead to SEO companies creating websites exclusively for the purpose of generating links for their clients.

Try to avoid links from low quality articles, bad blog networks and paid link services. Bad blog networks actually leave a considerable footprint which can be detected by Google Penguin.

Varied Anchor Text

This can also be interpreted as Google will also be looking at the anchor tag used to link to your site. Different humans adding links to your site would not always use the same anchor text. If all the links are the same then it is likely that the same person added the links or it is part of a link building campaign. Natural links to your site would include anchor text such as Click here and your domain.

Varied linked pages

Vary the pages that you link to. Link mostly to your home page but also your internal pages.

How does Penguin affect on-page SEO?

Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing was another factor that Matt mentioned. This is the practice of overloading a webpage your key search engine terms (keywords) in an attempt to increase site’s ranking in Google’s search results. As an overstuffed page is hard for a user to read this results in a poor user experience and can now harm your site’s ranking.

You can use a keyword density analyser to determine your pages percentage of any keyword or phrase. You should be targeting a keyword density of 2% and under, otherwise you will be penalised by Penguin.

The death of SEO?

In many ways the death of search engine optimisation is the aim of Google. It wants it rankings to be natural – if your site is interesting and informative them google will rank it highly. Google often mentions that webmasters should “Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.“

That said, your website needs to be able to help Google as much as possible – what we mean by this is help Google as much as possible to find out about the content on your site by using alt text, h1, page titles appropriately. Apart from that if you concentrate on creating a good site then you should not be affected by Google updates in the future.

For more information about this you should review the Google guidelines for webmasters.

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