Google has recently come up with another change to its powerful and enormously influential search algorithm. As usual, they gave it a cute name that utterly belies its bite. Like Panda, also cutely named, Penguin has had a devastating effect on more than a few websites. Other have reported little or no changes to their ranking, but some have definitely been affected. Penguin basically made a two pronged attack at websites that were engaging in “Shady” SEO practices revolving around content keyword stuffing and link practices that ran contrary to Google’s general policies. Mainly, the affected websites were those that had overemphasized keyword stuffed content that was designed for Google’s search bots instead of human readers and websites that had created inbound links throughways that aren’t organic.
Either way, the effect has been noticed and commented on heavily. A lot of website owners have become worried about their own SEO and site structure; some of them without a good reason. Let’s go over what Penguin meant, how it will affect/not affect your site and what you can do to keep following the kind of good SEO that won’t put you at risk of disappearing from the search index.
Content Based SEO and Penguin
The Penguin update dealt harshly with websites whose content was stuffed with way too many repetitive keywords and key-phrases for it to seem natural. This hit hardest against those pages that had obviously been designed by their owners more for search bot reading than for attractiveness to human visitors. Although many people concerned with SEO obsessed with “keyword density”, ultimately it was going too far with this very concept that got nailed by Penguin in many cases. Human readers easily get turned off by overly repetitive use of the same or similar words, but that didn’t stop ranking hungry content spamming by many website owners.
Google is interested in seeing higher rankings for pages that have valuable and informative content to offer. They try to measure this through their algorithm and the search spiders that work off of it. Obviously, an algorithm can’t objectively decide what is informative and valuable content vs. what isn’t, but one way of getting an idea is by analyzing if keyword density is larger than what would appear in naturally written text. This may have also hit quite a few otherwise honest SEO efforts hard because they were misinformed about how to use keywords and phrases.
Content SEO Best Practices
The best policy to avoid being nailed by the algorithm change would have been a strict policy of informative, naturally fluid text that’s concise and packed with solid information. This will naturally attract human readers and if the content is making a real effort to cover its given topic well, it will also naturally contain an ideal amount of keywords and key-phrases without sounding strange.
Link Building and Penguin
Penguin’s second level of attack was against suspicious and spammy link building practices. Penguin attacked link building that didn’t rely on natural link spreading. People who were hit by the algorithm change had done several things they shouldn’t have: The first of these was using anchor text on inbound links that was identical to a keyword or phrase the site was trying to rank for. Usually these exact anchor text links were bought from other sites or received through a link exchange offer between both sites.
Another tactic that Penguin punished was creating large volumes of inbound links by submitting content or the links alone for a website to numerous content mills with their own low quality content and no clear relevance to the site owner’s niche. Inbound links from malware websites, spam pages, porn sites and warez web pages were also punished. The common theme for this tactic was that website owners were trying to farm out large amounts of inbound links from websites that were suspicious, had low content quality and had no direct relevance to the original websites own content.
Link Building SEO Best Practices
If you’re following good SEO policies, than you’re also trying to create a website with real content, product or service value -a site that people in your niche want to visit and share with their friends by linking to it. Furthermore, if you’re perceived as an expert in your field, you will either be invited to guest post on other blogs or will be accepted if you make an offer to do it. This creates organic inbound links from other pages that are relevant to your niche. This is what Google likes.
The ideal policy with regards to link building would be to follow the advice above and create interesting pages that people naturally share while at the same time increasing your own reputation so others in your niche say yes when you offer to create guest posts on their blogs or ask that a link to your site be posted on their websites.
You should also not worry about creating inbound links that are anchor worded exactly the same as your own ideal keywords; instead, try to link with whatever has general relevance to your niche search terms and be free of worries.
Ultimately, don’t rush your DIY SEO, stick to honest organic policies and remove the stress of suddenly finding yourself de-ranked or even delisted from Google’s pages.
John Stallworth is a longtime tech writer and has worked in the tech industry for over two decades. When he’s not busy writing, you can find John reviewing companies who offer insurance for renters or touring the shores of Lake Superior in his homemade sailboat.