April 24th, 2012. This day will be remembered in the history of SEO as the day Google rolled out an algorithmic adjustment which was intended to end with web spam. The penguin update as it is known, have had a deep impact in the SERPs (Search Engine Page Results) and the way Google treats some websites depending of the search query. If you want to optimize your content to be Penguin friendly, I suggest you to read 3 Ways To Rank Your Blog Posts Quickly.
Before going on, I would like to point out a crucial factor. Panda update was designed to evaluate user experience and usability of a website, which is directly related to on page optimization, while Penguin update is related to anchor text over-optimization and evaluation of the quality of back links (offsite optimization). However, according to my investigation, there might be an over-optimization penalty related to on page factors (keyword stuffing, meta description spamming, heading tags spamming, etc.)
The penguin hit my site. Why?
Well, nobody knows the exact answer, but what we know is that certain websites are more likely to be penalized by Google’s quality team. These are some common factors that might have triggered a penalty on a website (the order is not relevant):
- Too many anchored backlinks.
- Not enough anchor text variations.
- Too many backlinks coming from a single source (Build My Rank, Authority Link Network, external blog networks, etc.)
- Inconsistent link velocity.
- Backlinks coming from websites totally unrelated to your niche. Links present in highly spun and barely readable content might raise a red flag.
Content is king
If you care about your websites then you should already know that content is king. It’s important that you produce quality, unique and engaging content to help visitors to find what they’re looking for. There’s a general misconception about this topic. Not every article have to be 1000+ words long.
Just match what the users are looking for with appropriate content. If you offer useful information, the visitors will have a good user experience, regardless of the length of your article. Nowadays people is too busy to read an insightful blog post, and they just want easy to understand information, precise and concise. If you don’t know how to generate this kind of content, try different alternatives, for example, outsource your content writing.
Learning by example
As a blogger, I’ve noticed that SERPs are showing a lot of “quick answer” styled pages in the top 10. I was doing keyword research when I found that this site was ranking #1 for a moderate competitive keyword.
The answer is 32 words long. You don’t need to write an essay to rank well, just keep users and not search engines on mind and produce useful content.
If your site has been hit by the penguin, there’s a lot you can do to try to reverse the penalty. If your site has some authority and the content is top notch, this will be a lot easier. This is a list of things you should do to try to recover your rankings and get the penalty lifted.
- If you have spam links pointed to your site, try to get rid of them. It will be an enormous task, but it’s well worth.
- Use a backlinks analysis tool to study your anchor text distribution. Try to avoid unnatural amount of anchored links.
- Get quality links. Either by producing a resource (infographics, online tools, reports), or guest posting. A quality link has a lot of value and will help a lot to your site.
- Analyze your analytics. Match the search queries with your content. Pay attention to metrics like bounce rate and average time on site to determine wether your content is being useful for your visitors.
- Study your competition. Find out what kind of content they’re producing, and try to mimic what they’re doing. Never copy/paste other’s content. That’s a terrible behavior.
- If you want to go further, analyze your competitors’ backlinks and try to identify what kind of sites are helping them more. There are a lot of tools available on the market (Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, SEMrush just to name a few)
This post was written by Alan Medina, who is a tech blogger, WordPress and SEO enthusiast who writes about tech news, Windows tips and Web apps at BitsEverywhere.com, a multi-author website.