Any business with a website knows that getting ranked high on Google spells “money” to the bottom line. Getting banned or penalized with a lower ranking can easily be the death knell for a small business. Among many marketing firms, Google’s Panda is the equivalent of “the enforcer”.
Panda is the section of Penguin’s algorithm that seeks out sites that are not following the rules in order to beat the placement of businesses that do.
For those who use agents and writers that take Google’s guidelines seriously, the Panda-Penguin marriage became a welcome addition to determining Page Rank on Google.
For the past three years, since the first major rollout of Panda, SEO Gurus such as Matt Cutts, Neil Patel and Rand Fishkin have been warning individual businesses about using tricks and schemes in an attempt to “fool” the Googlebot and get their sites listed on page 1 or 2 in the results.
What Penguin 4.0 Rollout Means for Business Sites
In spite of their efforts, the temptation that some self-declared SEO experts and cheap content sites offer a small business promising major visibility on Google has just been too good to avoid. Well, kiddos – the party’s over – again!
Back in October 2016, Google announced the rollout of Penguin 4.0. As with all Google updates, the rollout takes place over several months and some have continued for up to as much as a year. The newest update is designed to reindex their SERP continuously
- scan every site
- identify low quality sites, pages and links
- penalize the businesses that contain poor quality, spam or Black Hat techniques
- increase the rank of quality sites
- banish sites and hosts with low quality
In the past, you could expect Googlebot to crawl the net and update its SERPS about every 45 – 60 days. Google says that Penguin 4.0 is “real time analysis” of every site indexed with them. That means, instead of seeing updates on Google every two months or so, they change the ranks within days.
On February 7th, Google sent out a very large, global wide, quality check on content. You’ve heard the adage, “Content is King”? It can also be the Ace of Spades if it doesn’t pass the quality check!
Panic is in the air as SEO experts analyze the major fluctuations of websites and Black Hat chat rooms are scrambling to see if they have been targeted.
Not only is the bot examining written content, it’s scrutinizing the quality of links that are inbound and outbound!
- So far, negative results are hitting those sites that use
- low-quality content
- links to the same low-quality content sponsored by link sellers
- links to low-quality sites
- links to banned pages, sites and hosts
- sites with backlinks from low-quality pages, sites, hosts and content
- sites that have setup other sites to funnel them into the main site
Too many small, mom-and-pop businesses fall for the lies that promise instant ranking on Google if only they do x, y, z and buy their services or products. Inevitably, these products deliberately and knowingly refuse to follow the Google guidelines that ensure positive placement for websites.
If you have purchased cheap content from a content provider or article selling site, you are probably going to experience some very negative rank results and possibly even have your entire website banned from a Google listing.
If you have purchased links, software to generate links or services that upload links to your website, you are in jeopardy of being penalized or banned.
If you have linked an article to a site that is considered low-quality or banned, you are flirting with Google’s penalties.
If you use exact match keywords and long-tail keywords on your pages, you can expect a slap on the wrist from Googlebot any day.
If you don’t know what sites are linking to your site, you could be penalized for low-quality links.
What You Should Do to Avoid a Penalty
The first thing to do – and do immediately - is to do a backlink check using one of the tools available online. Most are very easy to use and most offer a free trial so you can test out several and find one that you are most comfortable with. Neil Patel has a list of 9 tools for checking backlinks explaining how each works. These checkers will also remove low-quality links.
The second thing to do is make it a point to attend one of the many marketing events in 2017 and start discovering why an ordinary business person needs a minimum amount of knowledge before hiring content marketers. Granted some of these events may focus on information geared to professionals but if you focus on content rather than advertising, you should find one that will give you a great foundation for future decisions regarding good content schemes.
Finally, whether you are doing the writing and choosing the sites or pages to link to, it’s important that your content is unique, highly informative and concentrates on the issues and needs of those who follow you now and those you wish to attract.
When it comes to selecting links to insert into an article, the link must lead to something that is in keeping with the topic of the content and must offer information that the reader can use right away.
Knowing how to create content that will also inspire others to link to your page requires an understanding of why people choose a certain page or site for a link on their own page. One of the easiest ways to increase traffic to your site is to incorporate YouTube videos that address the topic of your article. YouTube has more traffic than Google and people find learning to do something through a video is easier than reading it in print.
Even though Google has yet to officially state that the chaotic volatility that was recorded in January and February and is expected to continue throughout the next few months, it’s important to learn the guidelines that Google has published and follow them. It is better to buy one high-quality article with high-quality links than to buy 10 cheap pieces of content that fail to get your business noticed.