Have You Been Hit By The Penguin Update?

Several months have passed since Google’s algorithms changed the web world for site owners all over the world – including the likes of webmasters and SEO companies such as ourselves. Having experienced this first hand throughout our network of test sites we learnt a lot and we thought we would create a post to offer some help. If you are looking for ways to get your traffic back on track and boost your positioning in today’s search engines, stay tuned!

To start with, you may ask yourself – what’s the difference between the Penguin and the Panda update? The Panda update (also known as the ‘Farmer Update’ was launched back on February 24th 2011). Since then, many further updates have taken place. One of which was the Panda 3.9.1 which launched on August 20th 2012. After which, Google released an official blog post, which stated the update was ‘designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites’. By ‘low-quality’ they meant sites with duplicate content and sites generally of low-value to web users.

What The Panda Update Was For

In basic terms, the Panda update was created to target websites which featured thin content, in other words sites with web pages that qualified as poor value. Duplicated content from other sites is also a definite NO due to the fact that it already exists in the online world and will therefore be flagged as poor content. In short – do ensure that the content on your site is original and well written (i.e. no bad grammar or incorrect punctuation).

The initial update hit many sites significantly, specifically sites known as ‘content farms’ – sites that pub-lish a number of articles stuffed full of keywords and that are inadequately written. The Panda algorithm update uses the ‘site wide’ penalty. This meant for sites that were deemed as having poor content on nu-merous pages, the entire site could be penalised. A result of this would be your site disappearing from the search engines altogether and in the case of ‘content farms’ this was certainly a reality.

What The Penguin Update Was For

The Penguin update – also known as the ‘Over Optimisation Penalty’ launched on April 24th 2012. In regards to Google, this update was referred to as an ‘algorithm change targeted at webspam’. The result of this update was a decrease in rankings for sites that were believed to be violating the rulings of Google’s quality guidelines. Despite Penguin being designed to penalise sites for implementing Black Hat tech-niques, including; keyword stuffing and comment spamming, here at SEO Essex we would proudly state that these were not practises we ever undertook and yet our positioning in the search engines were still affected.

Things began to make a little more sense when we came to realise that not many companies were actually sure of the precise signals that Penguin were and still are targeting, which is why we decided to do a little research. From doing so, we found that the Penguin update penalised sites who were completing either some or all of the following actions; blog spam, overuse of exact match domains, aggressive exact match anchor text, low quality article marketing and keyword stuffing in internal and outbound links. If you noticed a decrease in the position of your rankings, you now know to avoid doing any of the above.

Google stated that changes will continue to occur as they make advancements to the search algorithm, in order to deliver the greatest possible results. The updates will continue to be enhanced for the better, so if you discovered changes in your rankings due to being hit either by the Panda or Penguin update, then it is time to make changes to your site. Unfortunately, the updates are not going to disappear and for this rea-son, either changes need to be made to your site, or your site will remain at the bottom or the search en-gines or worse still – they may disappear altogether.

Were You Affected By The Penguin Update?

To start with, you need to determine the following fact… what day did your rankings drop? If they happened to drop on or around the 24th April 2012, then you can be fairly certain the reason for your decreased positioning in the search engines is due to the Penguin update. You may also find a blog post from April useful with 12 tips to beat the Penguin Update.

If you want help in establishing the reason(s) behind a slump in search engine positions, please get in touch with us today and speak with one of our friendly and very knowledgeable SEO consultants.

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