Most Web professionals and search engine optimization (SEO) specialists have come to expect (and often lament) Google’s frequent Panda updates, but in late April they were surprised with a new wrinkle – the Penguin update.
Although the black and white seabirds are arguably less intimidating than their matching friends, the same cannot be said of the effects Penguin is having on websites since it was rolled out April 24th. Webmasters and site owners are reporting drops in rankings across the Internet and conforming to the new metrics before time runs out is a real struggle for some businesses.
The Penguin update was revealed to be an entire algorithm swap-out and the results are anything but cute and cuddly, as the name so misleadingly suggests. Unlike other updates, Penguin has caused such a disturbance in the Force that The Wall Street Journal reported that many small businesses are in fear of being relegated to the ever-expanding netherworld of Internet spam.
Google’s goal with Penguin is much the same as it always (says it) is: to improve its users’ search experience. This time their target for elimination is Web spam, but the problem for website owners is that Google’s definition of Web spam may differ from their own, and in any event is likely more stringent. Google defines many of its ranking parameters as a means to provide guidance to Web professionals, but it does not disclose the nature of most of its algorithm changes in an effort to keep spammers from adapting to the modifications too quickly.
Despite the usual secrecy, many experts have drawn conclusions about how to navigate the new algorithm change and boost rankings back up to pre-change levels. Many sources for advice like Search Engine Watch, WebiMax VP and Business 2 Community focused on the need for more high-quality original content that is published on reputable websites rather than paying for links, copying content or stuffing keywords.
While Google ostensibly has the best user experience at heart when it makes changes, the fact is that a few flips of the switch at HQ can shutter business doors and put people out of a paycheck – which this latest change has apparently done. Experts tend to agree, however, that for businesses that are operating legitimate websites with real products to market the Penguin update will be a great help by further eliminating the clutter of disreputable websites that are only out to rook consumers by teasing them away from genuine value.
Photo found on Guwashi999’s Flickr Page