Everyone was crying ‘fowl’ when Google had an SEO hissy fit and introduced its new pet, Penguin, to go fishing through rankings to find the tasty bites everyone regarded as a staple diet but which did not go down well with them.
The result is for many websites was the unexpected penalties of a drop in their rankings – or even being completely dropped from search result indexes. Everyone knows that the world of SEO changes but it is a rare thing that a decision by Google can directly damage individual websites.
The history of this goes back a while and as I reported, Google had decided that sites in general simply had ‘too much SEO’. To bite into this problem, the internet giant let loose its ‘Google Penguin’ on April 24th and as soon as it was swimming through the ‘net, a large section of the website-owning community found their rankings had been hit – and hit hard.
So what SEO tactics was Penguin designed to fish out?
Keyword stuffing was one; which means having a wealth of keywords on your website in the main content but also those hidden from plain sight.
Another Penguin problem was in Anchor Text – this being the words that link to your site such as ‘click here’. If you always link back to your website with the same keywords, Google may now punish you.
Link schemes caused a rapid Penguin response, too. These are arrangements where website owners buy or trade backlinks from high authority or spammy websites.
So Google Penguin was looking with beady eyes on the quality of links between your website and others, unless the Google Panda which focuses on site quality.
Then – a couple of months ago, in fact – website owners found themselves looking at messages from Google with the rather alarming title ‘Unnatural Link Warning’. The messages came via Google Webmaster Tools – a free and otherwise useful tool that helps website owners manage their sites.
Two types of message were sent to owners. One warned the website owner that their links appeared to breach Google’s quality guidelines and should be corrected. The other was a notification that a penalty had been imposed against a website which meant it would be removed from search results entirely, partly removed or downgraded. None of this being good news, of course, and apparently viewed as arbitrary by many of those on the receiving end of the terse messages.
Amazingly, Google sent out 700,000 of these messages in March and April alone.
OK, so Google Penguin is out there. It’s looking for ‘bad’ links – but what makes a link bad?
This is the basic list as far as I have currently been able to identify what sort of bait attracts a Penguin.
- Large numbers of links from low quality, on-line directories
- Links from private blog networks such as Build My Rank
- Links with a lot of duplicate anchor text (as with Penguin)
- Links that have been paid for (as with Penguin)
- Links from link farms or renowned spam websites
- Links from irrelevant websites.
What can you do if you have received one of the two ‘naughty, naughty’ messages about your website?
First and foremost, make sure that the links that point to your site are not from any source listed above. If you find they are, then get them removed even if it takes time or effort. Then, a reconsideration request should be submitted, detailing what has been done to remove backlinks and requesting to be relisted on search results.
What you do for your website to prevent a Penguin peck turning into a penalty
Even if you haven’t seen either of the Unnatural Link Warnings appear on your screen, Google hasn’t finished with the Penguin push just yet. Google are fast catching up to manipulative – ergo, unnatural – search engine optimisation techniques.
My advice is that there are three things you can do to keep out of the Google penalty cross-hairs.
Firstly, sign up to Webmaster Tools. Secondly, check your back links and, finally, only build high quality links.
If you have already received either Warning, or are now noticing you are not getting as many site visitors via Google as before all this started, contact Websmart to find out how we can help you pick out any Penguin problem.
Call us today on 01553 766760 to find out how we can help