The lessons learned from Penguin 2.0

When Google rolled out its Penguin 2.0 algorithm update in May last year, the search giant set out to beef up its efforts to clean up questionable online strategies used by businesses to get on to page one of its search results.

testimonial 2 - The lessons learned from Penguin 2.0

The idea was to ensure that quality, authoritative sites were ranked higher than those that used black hat methods such as keyword stuffing, duplicated content and low-quality links. A couple of years before Penguin The Second, Google signalled its intentions by releasing its initial Panda and Penguin algorithms, which also aimed to promote sites containing high quality content sites to the top of the search engine rankings – and punish those that flouted the rules.

Penguin 2.0 ultimately was more of the same. Google does try to warn companies ahead of time these days, but the Interflora case (where the flower delivery company was severely penalised for “unnatural link-building”) should keep everyone on their toes. Since then, other algorithms have been released, such as Hummingbird and Pigeon. The former focused on increasing the quality of results using conversational searches, while Pigeon was about delivering improved local search results.

So, how have online businesses fared since Penguin 2.0? Well, despite the fact that many businesses have tried to clean up their link-building since they incurred Google’s wrath, it’s not necessarily a given that they’ll be pushed back up the search rankings.  This is because Penguin is an algorithm and is not incorporated into ongoing search engine refreshes. There’s even been talk of a Penguin 3.0 being introduced in order to get those sites penalised that passed under the radar last time.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that link-building is no longer the best strategy when it comes to building a coherent online business. Although there’s still a place for this if done correctly, building authoritative sites with strong, authentic content is a great way to make your site Google-friendly. This is how businesses should be reacting to the release of all these algorithms, especially if they are to avoid further problems in the future.

Here are a few tips to bear in mind when it comes to building an authoritative site and how to ensure you don’t get demoted in the rankings:

Avoid shortcuts:

It’s important to not fall back into bad habits. There are no longer easy ways of building a strong Google ranking.

Put your audience first:

Rather than seeing Google as a race to the top with no emphasis on quality, focus on making sure you create an engaging, interesting and informative site. Think about what your users want to read about and make sure you give them what they’re looking for.

Authoritative links:

If you want to gain links, make sure they’re from highly authoritative sites and that you do this through building good relationships with other site owners. Don’t pay for directories or anything like that. You will come to regret this.

Adverts or no adverts: that is the question:

If you decide to monetise your site, make sure you don’t swamp your site. Discretion is the key.

And if you get caught out…

Don’t panic! If you use Google’s disavow tool, you can ensure you disown any poor-quality links you may have acquired. This will help you to recover your rankings at least a bit.

It’s clear that the old game is up and that the days of black hatting are over. Take the long view and Google should reward you and your business.

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