A couple of days ago Matt Cutts announced through Twitter that the first official update to their Penguin algorithm launched back in April has just been rolled out.
I’ve written about the Penguin series of algorithmic changes a few times, but in case you missed it, this update to Google’s search algorithms has been almost exclusively focused on dealing with web spam. We’ve all known for some time that many of the results which appear higher up the search results pages are there only because they have been using underhand tactics and techniques.
It’s hard for those of us who slog away developing fresh, new and engaging content on a regular basis, fulfilling all of Google’s criteria as best we can, only to see some sites rocket ahead of us based on poor quality and underhand approaches which don’t do anyone any favours. It is good therefore to see that Google is tackling this problem, not just by tweaking their existing algorithms, but by bringing in a specific suite of algorithmic changes and filters designed to tackle this head on.
But There Is A Problem With Google’s Penguin Update
One of the problems inevitably from this is that there have been several instances of false positives. This is where a site appears to have been penalised, despite not using any of the spam techniques detailed by Google. In order to help deal with this Google did publish a form which you can fill in to report either your own site or another site which appears to have been inappropriately penalised as a result of the Penguin update, and following the recent report by Matt Cutts of the latest changes, this form is again available.
I won’t go into the techniques which you should now be avoiding as you can read all of my advice about protecting your site from Google’s web spam algorithm in my previous blog post. But what I think is important to point out is that in some cases these so-called false positives may not necessarily be the result of a website having deliberately used underhand techniques to achieve a good rank position, but that they may have in part relied upon links from other sites which in turn may have fallen foul of Google’s web spam filter.
In some cases you may well not have been aware that those sites linking to you either had as much authority as they did, or that they were using inappropriate techniques to bolster their apparent rank and authority. With those sites in some cases now severely penalised, this may well have affected your site by extension.
So Should You Be Worried?
Don’t worry, if this is the case as there should be no real reason why your site should be actively penalised simply because it happens to have been linked to from a site which has now been penalised. If your site seems to have lost traffic or dropped down the search results either in response to the original Penguin update back in April, or as a result of the recent algorithmic refresher launched this week, then you have three choices.
You can either use Google’s form to report the fact that your site appears to have been penalised for no good reason, although I wouldn’t necessarily expect anything magical to happen as a direct response to this. You could also look at how those sites which have been linking to you have been affected, perhaps adapting your SEO strategy to focus on creating links from sites which have escaped or even benefited from the Penguin algorithms.
But The Best Strategy Of All…
But perhaps the third and most recommended strategy to employ now is to focus on creating good quality, solid content and resources aimed at real people, and not merely at algorithms. By focusing purely on quality, thinking about your audience and what they are looking for, and delivering consistent quality content you are not only likely to benefit in the short term, but your site is far more likely to ride out any future algorithmic updates which Google is almost certainly planning already.
Has your site been affected either by the original Penguin update or the recent updates? Have you found your site has been affected by losing high-value links from sites which have been penalised? Have you changed your strategy recently in order to protect yourself from the current and future algorithmic filters? Please share any thoughts and comments below.