How Google Penguin Effects You and How to Win Against the Penguin

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two weeks you’ve heard about (and most webmasters will have probably felt) the impact of the Google Penguin update.  This update has played havoc with the SERPS and resulted in a lot of sites that had been doing SEO for themselves to drop out of the top pages on Google while lesser known sites that look rather weak have taken their place.  So what happened and how do you beat it?

Google’s Penguin update was meant to punish those people who do lazy SEO work in an attempt to climb the SERPS by tricking the big G.  There are a few things that come into play here…

1.  Onsite SEO.  If you are using your main keyword a lot: on the page title, in the H1 tag, in your meta keywords, on your sidebar, etc… then Google is now going to consider this the new keyword stuffing and you will get penalized.  Google wants everything to be natural, so naturally people would not be using a main keyword seven places till Sunday on their site.  You need to undo some of your unsite SEO (pretty messed up, huh).  Yup, Google is now going to dictate to you how you should build your site if you want to rank in their search engine.  They hold all the cards so everyone has to play by their rules.  Bing and Yahoo don’t care about your onsite keyword maximization so if you wanted to drop Google (which isn’t a smart move for your future traffic considerations) you can leave everything alone and try to rank solely on Yahoo and Bing.

2.  Anchor text of your backlinks.  OH NO!  Everyone always said (and did) anchor text for the backlinks.  If you were trying to rank for a few keywords you’d always use them in your anchor text.  Whoops, Google now checks your anchor text distribution.  This sucks for everyone who worked hard on their offsite SEO because Google now asks you to remove those unnatural backlinks (SAY WHAT?!).  Yeah, if you have your site in Google Webmaster tools and Google detects a funky anchor text distribution they’ll send you a message saying that your backlinks seem unnatural and to fix that.  Here’s the issue, natural backlinks would not always have an anchor text, a lot of them would have .  The anchor text would also be vastly different if the backlinks were natural, some people might link using your keyword, or your site name, or “Click here”, or “Go there now”, etc…  Yup, you tried to outsmart Google and they caught up with the SEO’ers on this one.  Lots of people are saying lots of things about what is the best way to backlink now.  I say trust none of them.  If anyone really had a secret formula they sure aren’t going to share it with you, they would use it to dominate the SERPS by themselves.  Now you have to do a lot of testing and see what you think works and doesn’t work.

So how can you beat the Google Penguin?  Like I just said no one is going to share the exact formula (if they came up with it) with you.  Here’s what I would recommend on a high level.  Don’t try to remove your old backlinks.  That could takes years.  Instead build new backlinks following what Google is looking for in relation to the backlink distribution.  Ideally, if you build enough they will start to even out your uneven distribution and your backlink profile will begin to look natural to Google.  Again, that is my recommendation, it is not proven, and I’m not the smartest guy to walk the planet (that would be Einstein) so take my advice if you wish.  Whatever you do, good luck in your attempt to beat back that cute little black and white creature from Antarctica and start making that money again.

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  1. something big is coming down the pike, M.Cutts announced the next update would be “jarring and jolting” we even wrote about it

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  2. So in other words just give up all seo knowledge and start fresh every 3 months, I got it…

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    • Stan – not quite, but you will need to adapt. Unless you have a totally kick ass site that is 100% natural that you never needed to create any backlinks for because your user/reader base is so enthralled with your site they are joyously spreading links around the internet to your site.

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  3. thanks for the interesting post on Penguin, I can understand why Google is doing this but I like the idea of linking to content whilst using keywords. If for example you are reading an article with a large section of content I don’t see a problem with linking from within the content with keywords. That way the link can be part of the flow of the document.

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  4. Thanks for the clean report. Just started seeing some of my sites sink in rank. Not a pretty picture. In studying the changes, I have encountered many view points, making it very difficult to decide what is the real purpose, goal and method.

    I’m giving a trial shot to SEOprofiler. It seems their suggestions are contrary to all that I have previously learned. Ie..

    * Only one keyword no matter how many h1-h6 tags involved.
    * Every word in a keyword phrase now counts in the total so that variations end up producing “over stuffing:.
    * Much More.

    Sometimes certain words don’t lend themself to substitue terms without causing the material to seem forced and contrite. Yet it seems that Google’s new standards force writers to turn their back on a normal conversational tone.

    Oh well. Maybe I just don’t get it.

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