On May 22, Google’s Matt Cutts announced the official rollout of Penguin 2.0, the latest iteration of an algorithm designed to reduce spam on the search engine’s results page. The original Penguin was released over one year ago and impacted approximately 3.1 percent of all English queries. This newer version is slightly less ground-shaking at 2.3 percent, but it nonetheless has broad implications for small businesses and their SEO campaigns.
What Has Changed With Penguin 2.0?
Penguin targets the black-hat practices that exploit Google’s algorithms to push unworthy pages to the top of the rankings. These methods tend to rely upon spammed articles and low-quality content, published only for their valuable links and keywords. Penguin 2.0 improves existing quality control methods put in place by the previous algorithm versions, offering more sophisticated detection and communication programs. It digs further into websites, past the top pages, and examines how quickly a domain acquires new links.
This will be especially noticeable on queries that are traditionally filled with spam, such as niches related to payday loans. Any sort of paid link scheme will also be punished more harshly going forward. Advertorials, or paid blog posts and pages, must now be clearly identified as paid for and use “no-follow” links, and quality detectors have made it easier to identify spam directories.
Google has also introduced a page to manually submit spam sites for review. Although this seems prone to exploitation by malicious competitors, it should help Google continue refining its code to catch the sites that still fall through the cracks.
Who Penguin 2.0 Hurt and Helped
These changes are likely to benefit any small business using responsible SEO strategies. In a video release announcing Penguin 2.0, Cutts noted that the algorithm was designed with small- and medium-sized businesses in mind to remove those who buy their ranks from contention. Anyone reliant on spammed links and other shady methods, however, will need to make a major course correction in the coming months or risk swift obscurity.
How Penguin 2.0 Affects Small Businesses
For those who avoid the “get-rich-quick” mentality and build SEO the way Google has endorsed, Penguin 2.0 should march past without repercussion. Searches for keywords are more likely to turn up useful, relevant results, making it easier for customers to find the products and services they need.
Creating a Penguin-Friendly SEO Strategy
Google’s efforts to clean up its results are beneficial to both business owners and searchers, but it has also made SEO a far more subtle and time-consuming art. It is no longer enough to throw a few keywords into hasty blog posts or submit to a massive link farm. Improving a page’s standing now takes time, finesse, and constant study.
Because of this, hiring an SEO consultant is more advisable than ever. A good consultant can manage all of the necessary publishing, research and analysis to keep a website at the top of its game, leaving business owners free to pursue their livelihoods.
Preparing For Future Updates
In his video announcing Penguin 2.0, Cutts took the time to discuss Google’s plans for the summer beyond this update. Some of these may have been included at least partially in Penguin 2.0, but most have not been fully implemented.
One of the most helpful new goals will be faster detection for sites that have been hacked, including quicker take-downs and more communication with domain owners. The search engine will also be reducing the amount of times a single domain appears for a query. This is part of an effort to stop certain websites from dominating results and choking out competitors. Author ranking, or assigning credibility to publishers across multiple websites, is perhaps the most revolutionary change coming to Google in the next year.
With Penguin 2.0, Google is once again affirming its commitment to useful, quality information and positive user interactions. By staying with the tried and tested SEO methods, small businesses can benefit from their power while surviving the inevitable Penguin 3.0 or other Google algorithm updates unscathed.