Monday, November 19, 2012

Google Penguin Update : Fight Against Web Spam

Google Penguin updateIt’s been more than a year that we hated Panda and seems like now it’s time for another animal to be hated by Webmasters. Google Penguin update is the name of recent Google algo update which happened couple of days back. Matt Cutts has confirmed the same with his recent tweet.
Like all other update, this update affected the 3% of search engine results and affected a great number of high-ranking sites. This is one of those update after Google panda, which created a rage among webmasters against Google. People who are effected with this update, already started working on recovery from Penguin update and I have shared some of the working Penguin recovery tips later in this article.

Before, I go more into this update let me tell you that SEO is a part of maintaining the quality of site and in 2012, SEO is much more than building backlinks and other techniques. Now it consist of many other strong factors like Page layout, user experience, page load time, Website social signals and more than 100 other signal. In short, the idea is to maintain a high quality site in terms of content and usability. Use the latest technology and keep an eye on important announcement from Google regarding changes.

What is Google Penguin update:

Back in Feb 2011, when Google first launched Panda update, we never thought this will be a turning point of SEO. Many things has changed since then and web is going more social. Anyhow, we will talk about it after the break but first lets see what’s this penguin update all about. If you are aware of recent Google attack on private blog network and they not only deindexed such websites but also nulled down the link value.
With Google penguin update, Google is targeting more on sites which falls in the category of Web spam. This includes over optimized SEO site, sites using black hat technique, Keyword stuffing and using link scheme to build backlinks.
Here’s official words from announcement post:
In the next few days, we’re launching an important algorithm change targeted at web spam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted web spam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.
Last year Panda update affected 12% of search engine results and penguin update affected 3% of result. Though, we have seen some major issues with this algo update as keyword like Make money online was taken by a blogspot blog with 0 post and other Keyword like “Panda recovery” showing irrelevant result.
Penguin recovery
WPMU has written a detailed article on this and about negative SEO, which you can read here. Most of the SEO’s are referring this update as bad SEO update and we can expect an updated version of Penguin update (May be Penguin 1.1) soon. According to the report many quality sites like geek.com, cultofmac.com digg.com lost great amount of search engine ranking.
Here are some of the reasons why your site might be affected with Penguin update:
  • Anchor text over optimization
  • Low quality backlinks
  • Link relevance
  • Outbound link quality
  • Link pyramid
  • Serving duplicate content from sub-domain (Fixing WordPress duplicate content)
  • Keyword stuffing (High Keyword density, repeating Keywords)
  • Sending automated queries to Google. Ex software: WebPosition Gold
  • Websites with virus or spam warning (Trojans, website distributing malware)
  • Affiliate Websites with thin content and no value
  • Hidden links and Hidden texts (Black hat SEO practice)
  • SEO over optimization
  • Any other black hat SEO techniques used

How to Recover from Penguin update traffic Drop?

First, you need to analyze which algo update slapped your site traffic. Check your analytic stats and notice if there is any traffic drop after April 19th 2012 or April 24th 2012. April 19th drop was due to Panda data refresh and if you notice a drop after 24th April, it means your site is affected with latest penguin update. It’s high-time you should start working on penguin recovery. (Damn! Penguin used to be such cute, flightless bird). If you think, your site is penalized with Penguin update and it’s a mistake, you can fill out this form and inform Google about it’s a mistake. For 19th traffic Drop, you should consider referring to panda recovery guide again. So, now if your site is penalized, it could be one of the few reasons mentioned above.
One thing which you need to understand, every update adds on the signal to old signals, and if your site is penalized, you should not limit to penguin recovery, but should work on over all optimization of your site. Specially, onPage optimization of page has become one of the essential part of SEO.
I have already shared two guides, which will help you to fix major SEO issues on your site and will help in recovering from Penguin update:
Apart from above two, here are some additional tips.
Increase Anchor text distribution:
Most of Micro-niche sites which got hit by penguin update are due to anchor text distribution. Most of IM’s uses proper Keyword with anchor text to get backlinks from everywhere. If you have done the same, you should work on increasing the diversion of links. Try to get links to your site and pages with different anchor text.
Link quality:
Now, if you have used those services which offers 5000 backlinks in $5, you are more likely to get penalized (If not now, in future). Either you should get rid of such low quality backlinks or you have to work harder on getting high quality links to maintain a decent ratio of good:bad links.
Though, one of the major issue which has been seen in recent penguin update: Sites with good no. of high quality links with spammy links are getting penalized. For example, Wpmu.org is one niche site for WordPress and it got penalized due to Footer anchor text they were getting due to theme distribution. Another reason for their penalty is: Link variation and niche. Since many links were coming from non-relevant niche and spam sites, it added more into penguin impact.
Create a new link-building campaign and this time target should be: Getting rid of old low-quality links and gaining new HQ links with help of Quality content, Guest posting, Interviews.
Google Webmaster tool is your friend:
Google webmaster tool is official product of Google and it let you analyze your site SEO in detail. Specially, in recent time Google has started sending Email to webmaster tool users, if there is any issue or changes in your site traffic. If there are too many spam links pointing to your site (Negative SEO), you will also get notification for the same.
Stop Building Unusual links:
This tip is both for link builders and for bloggers who allows guest posting. I have already talked about Outbound link effect in SEO, which every Blogger should read. Now, most of us start putting guest post on any niche and grab 1-2 quick backlink. Though those backlink is not even relevant to the topic but still as a guest post policy, link builders get a backlink. According to Google such links are unusual. Even for Bloggers who allow guest posting, you are diluting the quality of your site and you should stop accepting guest post from irrelevant niches. Else, what’s the difference between your site and an article directory?
Keyword density:
If you are doing Keyword stuffing, you should stop doing it. Instead use LSI words. I prefer to maintain a density of 1.5% max and target long tail Keywords, which is easier to rank. If your old post is stuffed with Keyword, it’s time to re-edit your content and make it genuine and maintain a decent Keyword density along with LSI words. If you are using WordPress, you can use EasyWPSEO plugin for proper optimization.
While I was analyzing one of my client site for panda impact and realized he has been adding atleast 12+ meta keywords and many of them are not even targeted or relevant. This is something very common with old micro-niche sites. If you are one of those niche marketer, whose niche site is affected by this update badly, I highly recommend to make changes in your content and then only put reconsideration request.
Avoid Keyword stuffing:
There are few plugins in WordPress (Income search alert) (Search term tagging 2), which add the search query result at the end of the post and it results in Keyword stuffing, Many people has asked me about the same, and my answer is automated SEO is bad and in some time (If not now), your site will be hit by one of such penguin updates. Even for who are using hidden texts for stuffing, they are also penalized with this update. If Keyword stuffing is one of the reasons, you can make changes in your content and put a reconsideration request from here.
Write for users and not ONLY for search engine:
We have already shared about what is high quality content from SEO perspective and if you have been in practice of just pushing low quality but On page optimized articles, you might be next victim. Work on quality of your article and make it as informative as possible. Take care of heading tags (H1, h2, h3) and make your content presentable.
Stop SEO automation:
If you are using some automated ways to optimize your site for example: software’s like “WebPosition Gold” for sending automatic query, it violates Google TOS and such practice should be avoided.
Go Social:
Go Social and think Social. Google has been giving all the clues importance of social media with Google+1 metrics in Webmaster tool and analytic tools. If you are working on micro-niche sites and is penalized by penguin update, it’s time to look into social factor of your site. Have you integrated social sharing buttons ? Do you have Google plus page for your site? Are readers sharing your content on social bookmarking sites? If not, it’s time to make a proper strategy and work on the same. Specially, if you have not yet implemented Google plus button, it’s time to add it instantly. You can grab the code for latest Google plus share button from here.
If you are still thinking that Google hates SEO or SEO is dead, you are mistaken. Even on the official post, Google has made it clear that white hat SEO helps in improving the overall quality of the site and it’s a part of marketing. Though, the only catch is you should not over do the SEO and keep things natural by following good quality guidelines and white hat SEO practices.
I hope this article helped you to understand Penguin update and what steps you can take to get your site out of this penguin penalty. What do you think about so frequent and major changes in search engine? Do you think Google is justifying itself with such quick algo updates?