As usual, when there is a Google algorithm update business owners have to stop whatever it is they were doing and focus on the update. A penguin or panda update can mean big changes for a website, so you have to always be prepared, informed, and ready to react and recover. Google is constantly making algorithm changes in order to improve the results that show up on a SERP, and whether you agree with the change or not, Google is the one that gets to decide if you're on page 1 or page 10.
The algorithm update occurred on May 22, but that doesn't mean the ripple effects are over. This was a major update that affected about 2.3 percent of English-US queries. Companies need to ask themselves: What comes next for my SEO efforts now that Penguin 2.0 is official?
Penguin 2.0 and How It Affected SEO
It's first important to understand what a penguin update even means. While Google often comes up with various categories of algorithm updates, there are two updates that are the most popular: Penguin and Panda. In general, a panda update refers typically to quality content, whereas a Penguin update refers to anything regarding webspam.
What's unique about this update: This is the first Penguin update to actually change the algorithm as opposed to just refreshing it.
This particular Penguin update focused on a few different areas of webspam including:
- Authority. This is probably the biggest change you'll see with the algorithm (and the first of its kind). Google wants to help sites become an authority in their niche, and then wants to rank those sites higher. One of the easiest ways to become an authority is through the use of Author Rank, which you can learn about here. Other ways to position your company as an authority include social sharing, rich snippets, and Google+ activity.
- Anchor Text. With this latest update as with previous Penguin updates, Google is looking closely at the anchor text being used to link to your website. If the majority of the anchor text is linking to you is keyword rich, Google will probably find that very unnatural. Google will go down to the keyword level and lower your rankings (not impacting your whole website). The good news is that with a little cleanup and by diversifying your anchor text with a focus on branded variations, the impact can be reversed over time.
- Advertorials. An advertorial is a place where you find links that were clearly sold and not earned by any given company. Google does not tolerate selling links because that does not ensure successful Google SERPs (it's almost like trying to trick the Google bots), so the new algorithm change has made this a priority. With the new change, any website paying for content placements (sponsored posts as well as blog posts) are going to need to include a disclaimer and/or use only nofollow links.
- Hacked CMS. More and more websites are getting hacked because the content management system (CMS) hasn't been updated or isn't secure enough. This typically penalizes a website, which affects rankings, whether it was the fault of the Webmaster or not. The new algorithm changes are putting a focus on this to make things fair and give Webmasters a certain amount of time to fix the problem without being penalized.
Aside from these three changes, other past Penguin considerations are only going to get stricter with the Google bots. This includes common black hat tactics such as doorway pages and keyword stuffing as well as link spam.
How Businesses Can Recover from Penguin 2.0
Recovering from Penguin 2.0 is all about positioning your website as an authority. If your website is using advertorials or black hat tactics, stop right away and work to earn links organically. It may take a little bit longer, but it's worth it in the end. When it comes to links, determine which ones are low quality or hire a professional to give you a link audit. Get those links removed, perform disavow requests, and submit a reconsideration request to Google if necessary.
As far as making yourself an authority in your niche, it's all about authorship and social shares. Make sure you have used the authorship tag and make sure that you are constantly tweeting and sharing your articles and creating relationships with others who will do the same.
Did Penguin 2.0 affect your business? What changes did you see, and what are you doing to recover? Let us know your story.