Businesses Need To Re-think Their SEO Strategy After Google’s New Penguin 4.0 Update
Has your site’s traffic levels been hit by Google’s algorithm update? Here’s a quick overview of how it might affect you – and what to do
Google has just finished rolling out its latest algorithm update, Penguin 4.0. There are several practices required to get your website to the top of Google, including content, site speed and user experience. The practice of getting to the top of Google is known as search engine optimisation or SEO, for short.
Penguin 4.0 is dedicated to how Google interprets the links that are pointing to your site, which is a major SEO factor. It follows the premise that the more quality links directed at your site will make your brand seem more relevant and result in better rankings. However, Google makes regular updates to its algorithm to punish those trying to ‘game’ its system and use shady tactics, known as black hat SEO.
Links are not the only factor that Google has changed over the years. The search engine giant regularly updates its formidable algorithm such as giving stricter content guidelines known as the Panda algorithm and in April 2016, introduced a change that rewarded websites that were mobile-friendly.
What does Penguin 4.0 means for your business?
Any business in the UK that has an online presence or uses SEO proactively needs to be aware of the recent algorithm change. Although it has only affected 1% of Google’s rankings, this translates to millions of websites worldwide and since Penguin was first started, it has affected 65% of Google’s search results. (Source: Techround)
With the extent of this update able to make your website drop 10 pages from Google, this can result in significantly less traffic and revenue for a business. Especially for those companies that are reliant on their organic search traffic, their business can change drastically overnight.
Some industries are more prone to black hat techniques where SEO agents are inclined to use risqué practices to rank competitively. Those firms offering insurance, gambling and loans are typically at the highest risk of penalisation.
What has Penguin 4.0 clamped down on?
Google is looking for your links to be ‘earned’ rather than bought or paid for. They want you to generate healthy PR and write useful content that is naturally linked to as a source of reference.
Since Google started Penguin updates in April 2011, Google has become stricter with the links you have pointing to your site, looking for the most natural forms of PR possible and de-valuing anything that resembles a directory, paid submission or reciprocal link (you link to me, I’ll link to you back).
Another unpopular practice is generating links with the exact match keyword. So if you are a company offering short term loans, you would avoid linking to ‘short term loans’ significantly more than other links.
The reality is that some SEO techniques are well-received by Google but overnight can be put on their naughty list, causing a website’s rankings to drop dramatically. For instance, 10 years ago, it was common practice to get as many links as possible. But since the introduction of Penguin, there has been an emphasis of quality over quantity.
What you need to re-think as a business
If you are a business that pays for SEO, whether outsourced or in-house, the latest Penguin 4.0 algorithm offers much food for thought.
If you have been hit hard by the algorithm change, you may have to re-consider who you use to do your SEO. Whilst it is possible to recover from the penalty within a matter of days, weeks or months, there is always the fear that you will never recover and may have to use another specialist to get you back up the pecking order. Similarly, you can may need to re-train staff to expand their knowledge in an ever-changing industry.
If you have been so badly hit by the algorithm change, some SEO experts say that it could be worth scrapping your domain name and starting with a fresh one. If your current domain has thousands of poorly built links, the time taken to recover and reinstate your position can take several months – so starting from domain becomes a viable option.
A business may also need to consider the income it has lost due to a fall in rankings. Does the company need to invest more in pay-per-click advertising as a result? As PPC is more expensive, this will certainly put a squeeze on current margins.
For those businesses not affected by the Google update, this is a strong incentive to double check your current SEO position, spend and ensure that you are able to withstand future algorithm updates.