Penguins and Pandas and Panic – oh my!
June 15, 2012 Author: Tim Aldiss
So for the SEO world it’s the end of another very long week of Penguins & Pandas… (for those of you not that au fait with Search Engine Optimisation these are affectionate names given to improvements to Google’s algorithm ) …I’m sure they’ve even featured in my dreams this week!
First things first – as an agency the clients that we are currently working with appear to have been effected by the Google Panda and Penguin updates due to legacy issues, and in one case a client has been effected due to no fault of their own (or any of the agencies they may have worked with previously).
To try and make sense of the situation I wanted to write down what we have dicsovered as an agency following the weeks of testing that we have conducted and the stacks of reading we have been doing. Obviously there’s a caveat to this for novices – NOBODY KNOWS the real factors behind the update – we are all still feeling the way. This is the way it has always been. Ever since the Google Florida update of 2004 it has been important to realise that the best course of action is not to panic. However…
Thankfully we are now at a stage wehere we can simply classify these two latest Google algorithm updates as follows:
PANDA : content
PENGUIN : links
The Panda update started out (more than a year ago now) to rid the world of useless web pages (a valliant effort) but has ended up unseating a vast number of long established and well linked to websites simply due to downgrading the importance of websites that link to them, seemingly to serve no other purpose than to farm links and serve irrelevant pages.
Penguin has more recently been introduced to clamp down on the potential abuse of over optimisation of back link anchor text.
Penguin really is the update that has thrown the cat amongst the pigeons (sic!). This is the one that appears to be a real about-face by Google. It appears as if it’s going against Google’s previously acknowledged direction towards the semantic web. It must also have it’s Neuro Linguistic Programmers up in arms and here’s why.
In our tests there are obvious correlations between the number of links that feature a keyword and it’s dropped rankings in Google as a result of the Penguin update. Now we’re not talking hundreds but in some cases just a couple of dozen links are enough to see rankings drop for that term. And it’s for relevant anchor text here folks. This update appears to imply that brands will no longer be semantically linked to generic keywords. Historically a popular car company who receives lots of traffic and has lots of links using just the keyword ‘car’ would automatically rank for this term. Now we are seeing sites being penalised for this kind of relationship.
Whilst it is important to understand that this update like most others is likely to get rolled back to an extent the SEO community is up in arms. I’m sure as I type that there are hundreds of requests being filed to (automated, php) web directories all over the world to request changes to anchor text. Any practicing SEO will know that the response rate from this kind of activity is pretty low.
And what about on-going link building activity? Google of course still has links as it’s USP over Bing and Yahoo but what do we link build for now – ‘click here‘! I imagine this will open a deluge of forum and comment spam as in Google’s plight to define what a natural back profile looks like they are bound to weaken a different part of their algorithm by looking the other way.
But that last point is what gets me. Surely Google isn’t that dumb. I’m kind of hoping that whilst there’s the fog of war going on over in this corner Google have actually considered the deluge of crap that they may well have now led into their SERPs and tightened up on how they look at themeing for example. We’ll have to wait as see as the first signs don’t look that good.
So as of the end of this week we have a little more insight. The dust is starting to settle. There is still the inevitable confusion post-update. This time it’s seemingly more complex with two very similar updates so close to each other. Panda 3.7 and Penguin 1.1 seem to almost be effecting the same factors.
What’s most concerning is that whilst those of us with experience enough to sit calmly and write rational blog posts there are figureheads in the industry telling us to launch a new site. Google’s propaganda machine has never seen more broken.
Footnote: I’ll try and add links to a few of the other decent articles worth reading on the matter.
Here’s a great guest by Neil Walker on Dave Naylor’s blog: Unnatural Link warnings, Conspiracy theory?
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