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There are some really, really hacked off people out there at the moment who claim that Google’s latest penguin update has ruined their business. This is due to getting kicked out of the search index or significantly losing rankings in the search engines. I have read a lot of emotional outbursts on forums and comments on blog posts from business owners that are angry at Google because their income has gone down the pan. What fuels the fire, is that really bad sites are now getting good visibility for some search queries whilst other legitimate businesses are now positioned miles behind.
For those of you that missed the special occasion, the idea behind the update was to get rid of sites that practised excessive and poor quality linking, keyword stuffing and sites that were making poor content just to ‘bag’ more traffic from the search engines.
I think Google’s intentions were good but they cocked up a little bit here by bringing out an algorithm update that clearly needs a lot of tweaking. Google’s number one job is to bring relevant search engine results to a users query however a lot of people are not seeing this. There has been a lot of people online saying they are now using Bing as they are getting more relevant results and it is showing them sites “they used to see on page one in Google”. I can understand that getting good results is important, but I find it even more fascinating that people actually like familiarity in the results. I was never an advocate of personalised search results because I felt it was limiting the possibilities of me finding something really new and interesting because my favourite sites kept getting preferential treatment - anyway I digress...
Targeting Black Hat SEO
I don’t have a lot of sympathy for those who have got angry online and then drop the fact that their SEO practice was a shade of darker than dark grey, verging on black (hat). The algorithm was made for people practising bad SEO, so it is of no surprise they are hurting now. It’s easy to play by the rules of Google, however the “Google gamers” out there are now feeling the pain of malpractice often fuelled by greed to get more visitors and more revenue illegitimately. So not only is penguin a lesson of good SEO practice, it’s a moral lesson too. (See link at the bottom of this post for Google best practice guidelines and refer to the bible for life lessons.)
I think for everyone this update brings to the forefront of our minds how much of a monopoly Google has. They can make and break people far too easily so here’s my 2p on the situation – follow the rules and guidelines as outlined by Google because there are a lot of anti-spam penguins and pandas out there, and probably more monkeys and whales and the rest of Noah’s ark spam zoo to come...
Here is a nice document by Google which outlines what you should be doing on your site.