Rumors have been flying the past couple of weeks. In fact, my friend’s cousins dog trainers nephew lives next door to some guy named Bob (I think he’s a landscaper) whose ex-girlfriend was recently stopped at a red light and saw someone walk by that looked kind of like Google’s Matt Cutts, but with black hair and a nose ring. Well, she overheard him say that Google was going to start punishing sites that use SEO and we should all drop into the fetal position and clutch our Yellow Pages for dear life.
So is it true? Well, yes and no. You see, Google releases updates to their algorithm on a very regular basis. A majority of these updates go unnoticed for the most part, but every now and then they publicly name an update and that’s when it gets interesting. Last year their Panda update had everyone in a tizzy scrambling to patch the holes left by over-enthusiastically writing and indexing worthless articles. This time around the culprit is Penguin.
Personally I would have chosen Platypus…they are so much cooler than Penguins! Is it a duck? Is it a beaver? Is it an otter? Yes!
Why Do They Keep Doing This to Us?
Google’s number one job (besides driving around in people-less cars) is to return results that are relevant with the term being searched. Period. When the results become less and less relevant, so does Google…just ask Yahoo! (Ohhhhh snap!) Would you still use Google if you had to rummage through 5 pages of garbage to get the result you were searching for? Of course not. So, Google has no choice but to continue to change things up in order to keep improving the quality of their results.
The purpose of the Penguin update was not to punish sites that use SEO. Search engine optimization is a sound strategy for driving traffic to your website and likely will be for some time so you shouldn’t stop what you are doing but you may want to consider changing your strategy a bit.
If you are doing anything that could be considered “gaming the system” it is very likely that Penguin is going to get you…and you thought Happy Feet 2 was bad! It appears that spammy techniques like keyword stuffing, duplicate content, questionable linking practices, creating fluff content and basically anything with the sole purpose of misleading Google is getting penalized. Look, I know it hurts, but strategies that are used to make up for a lack of content or activity on your website should not be rewarded with a first page placement on Google.
So, what is the solution?
For fear of over-simplifying a fairly complex problem, the fix is simple. Make yourself more valuable and create extraordinary content…and lots of it.
I’m sure this isn’t the answer you were hoping to hear, but it is the answer you need to hear. Whether it is Panda, Penguin or Platypuss (click here to sign my petition to have Google name the next update Platypus) Google is not going to stop making changes. In the coming months and years they are going to come down harder and harder on questionable techniques that are used in an attempt to cut in line. If you are abusing the system and you haven’t been punished this time around, don’t get too comfortable because you aren’t out of the clear just yet. You’re next.
I know what I am suggesting is much harder than outsourcing your link building. It’s much more difficult than hiring someone overseas to write 100 articles at $5 a piece. It’s much more time consuming than some automated software that is going to dump your link on forums all over the Internet. But eventually there is going to come a time where it’s going to be nearly impossible to beat the system, and then what?!?
Instead of waiting, start now.
- Create a blog and consistently build up your site into a wealth of valuable content.
- Work with a PR firm or read a book and start writing legitimate press releases on a regular basis and post them on your site.
- Visit blogs within your industry and leave valuable feedback in their comments section.
- Link out to other valuable resources within your industry that would benefit your visitors.
- Share everything you are creating on 2 or 3 of your favorite social media sites of choice.
- Position yourself as an expert.
Do this and every time a big update is released you will not only be able to sleep at night but you will actually benefit as others get penalized. If you need specific techniques that you can use right now to ethically increase your search engine ranking without having to worry about the coming of Platypus, make sure you download my free SEO e-book!
Have you had any negative effects from the Penguin update? What techniques are you using to make up for these big changes in the last year? Have they been working?