Google’s Penguin 2.0 search algorithm update went live on May 22, 2013. For those of you that don’t know (aka anyone who doesn’t perform Search Engine Optimization for a living), Penguin 2.0 was an algorithm update targeting websites with a high proportion of low quality backlinks—i.e. spammy blog comments, directory link farms, automated article syndication sites, etc. Those websites had their rankings in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) decrease significantly.
This website is one of those that were penalized.
Before Penguin 2.0, like a lot of other sites that have been around for a while, we had some history of questionable SEO practices:
And now we’re paying the price.
Right about now, you may be asking yourself why we did these things in the first place. The answer, as Chuck Price calls it, is The Google Paradox. When Google’s search algorithm was less advanced, having a ton of links, regardless of their quality, was a great way to boost search rankings. Now that Google has smartened up, as Mr. Price states, “the same methods which once made [SEOs] successful have now led to their downfall.”
In the week after Penguin 2.0 went into effect, we saw our rankings drop for many of our important search terms. One keyword dropped 19 spots; another dropped over 30 spots; and a third dropped from the #2 overall search result out of the top 50. [We’ve since begun to recover, but I’ll save that for a future blog post.]
Despite all of this, I support the Google Penguin 2.0 update. Here’s why: Because Google is campaigning for a better web.
Google has more than its fair share of detractors, calling it everything from a bully to the all-knowing and future-destroying Skynet from the Terminator movies. And in regards to data mining, those detractors may be right.
But in terms of search, Google is number one (with about 2/3 market share) for a reason. They are constantly trying to improve the relevance, authority, and accuracy of their search results, and they’re doing a pretty good job of it.
Penguin 2.0 is simply an extension of that. A website that has 100 links from real, human-edited websites is much more likely to be a reputable, authoritative, high-quality result than one that has 1,000 links from automated directories.
Google is also focusing on factors like accessibility and site speed (especially important for mobile web users). The addition of Google Authorship, as Google’s Matt Cutts states, helps move from an “anonymous web” to one with “some notion of identity and maybe even reputation of individual authors”—which helps differentiate high-quality, authoritative content, from the rest of the “noise” out there.
All in all, Google is doing its best to make sure its search results—and the internet as a whole (which Google certainly has a huge influence on)—are genuinely valuable. No gaming the system, no cheating your way to the top—the only way to rank well is to have quality content, naturally linked to by web influencers.
I guess there’s no way around it, Content is King.
About the Author: Dan Rapoport is the Digital Marketing Strategist for DotcomWeavers.