Google recently unleashed one of the most powerful algorithm updates of the year. This update, known as the Penguin Update, targets “spammy” sites and websites that have used questionable link building tactics to propel themselves to the top of the search results.
This update has been extremely effective at bringing down spam sites so far, but if you believe that your website has been unjustly punished, you can always use this form that Google’s Search Quality team set up specifically for this matter. Fill out the form with as many details as you can about your website, and Google shall investigate further.
That said, here are 3 things you should work on if you want to minimize your risks of getting hit:
Improve Your Content Strategy
It has been said since the beginning of SEO that Content was, is and will always be King. With Google’s Penguin Update, the main goal is to reward websites that offer compelling and useful content and to penalize those that provide spammy, plagiarized and/or irrelevant content. Simple huh? Here a few points to work on when it comes to content:
- Produce useful content and produce more of it! if you have a static website that hasn’t been updated for months, you can be guaranteed that your competition will outrank you. The days of static websites are over. Today, Google wants your website to be dynamic, content-rich and engaging if you want to be ranked high.
- Share your content across all your social media channels & beyond! Social signals are more important today than ever before. If you have been avoiding social media marketing for whatever reason, it’s time to change your mind and embrace it. You have no choice really. You don’t have to spend your whole day posting on Facebook/Twitter/Google+, but at least share your new content and encourage people to Like it and Retweet it.
- Link to Authority Sites in your Niche. Your OBL (Outbound Link Profile) is just as important as your Inbound one. Linking to authority sites in your niche from your articles will show Google that the information you’re providing is accurate and trustworthy.
Clean Your Backlink Profile
If you have some unnatural backlinks pointing to your site, even if it’s a small amount, you can be guaranteed that the Penguin will eventually hit you. (if it hasn’t hit you already!)
Using a tool like Ahrefs, you can see who’s linking to you. Kindly contact the webmasters of those untrustworthy sites and ask them to remove your links. Don’t attack them, threathen them or accuse them of being evil spammers! That won’t get you anywhere and can actually backfire. Instead, act professional and thank them for wanting to link to you.
If they have no contact page, you can always try to find the owner of the domain by searching on the public Whois. If their information is “private” on the Public Whois, consider using the form that we talked about in the 1st paragraph to let Google know that those backlinks are sending you negative SEO and their owners are refusing to remove them.
The Penguin Update wants to make a point that Google will not tolerate anything but Pure Whitehat. Grey, Blue, Green or Pink hat is just as bad as Black for Google. Even if les than 10% of your backlinks are from spammy or untrustworthy sites, you are at risk of getting hit by the mighty Penguin.
Enhance Your User Experience
Remember that any update that Google deploys is meant to please the Google Search users. Google doesn’t care much for marketers and SEO’s. Their main goal is to stay ahead of the search game and avoid losing parts of their market share to Yahoo and Bing.
If you are using a tool like Google Analytics, you can be certain that Google is taking those numbers into consideration in their ranking algorithm. For instance, if you have high bounce rates or a very low amount of pageviews per visitor, this is telling Google that users aren’t finding your website useful or relevant to their search terms. Why else would they spend less than 30 seconds on your site?
High bounce rates can also mean that your website’s layout/design is hard on the eye. Do a quick survey amongst your clients. See what they think of your design. If the opinions aren’t great, consider re-designing and re-structuring the site. If you are using a CMS like WordPress or Joomla, consider getting a new theme. There are millions of them out there!
You also want to make sure that your website’s navigation is intuitive and easy to follow. You don’t want your visitors to get lost in there. Consider adding a breadcrumb to your pages so that your visitors always know where they are and how to get back. Make sure your navigation is a standard as it can be! Keep it simple, too fancy isn’t always the way to go.