A few weeks back, Google launched the Penguin update, targeting websites that use a variety of tactics to boost page rankings on Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page). From a ‘consumer’ viewpoint it’s often difficult to gauge the validity of a website on a SERP: that’s what Google’s algorithm is all about. With each of these updates, Google aims to bring you the best results possible for any keyword search by refining the algorithm to eliminate or reduce the rankings of those websites that employ “black hat” SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tactics.
Black Hat? What’s that?
By nature, every SEO is looking for the edge, the opportunity to maximize their exposure (or their client’s) on the web and push a website to the top of the SERP. Common “black hat” tactics include keyword stuffing, cloaking and redirects, duplicate content and linking schemes all of which are designed to supersede the rankings of competitors and, ultimately, generate more business. There are a hundred different analogies we could incorporate here (i.e. Star Wars, Talledega Nights) about good vs. evil, but to boil it down, SEO’s need to play by Google’s rules.
Is your website’s page rank about to get whacked? Probably not. By their estimate, Google expects that only 3% of English websites will be targeted and most will receive a notice or warning from the search engine explaining why. If you are an egregious offender (or you hired one for your SEO/web design), receiving an email from Google shouldn’t come as a surprise. In the case that you honestly didn’t know you were being bad, all is not lost. Re-optimizing your website to be Google compliant will make your website and your brand stronger in the long run.
But How Can I Be Sure?
Whether or not your website is in danger of falling down in the SERPs, you can expect to receive spam emails advertising to “fix your website after Penguin,” for one low, low price. The fact is you’ll know if you’re in trouble. Any business with a quality website will, if anything, see a slight boost in their SERP ranking! However, if you have a lot of duplicate content or are stuffing it with keywords that make your site rise to the top, then your site will be more likely to sink post-Penguin. A quick analysis of your website will expose the flaws Google is targeting with each one of their updates. The one ‘black hat’ strategy not found within the architecture of your website is link schemes.
From Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, these are:
Again, most webmasters, SEO’s and marketers know if they employed these tactics to boost their page rank and, if you are the business owner who doesn’t, Google will send you an email.
Where Do I Go From Here?
Like most things in life, however, SEO requires a long-term approach to boosting your exposure on the web, working in conjunction with the graphic design and functionality of any web page. . The architecture of the page is also a factor in your page rank, taking into account the labels or ‘tags’ of images on the page, header text, link structure and more. Webmasters must take all of these attributes into account when designing webpages, thinking of how the end result will appear to a search engine to help determine the page rank.Regular generation of quality original content, targeted marketing, optimization and legitimate networking all go much further to establish your website as an authority and boost your page rank. Original content can be ‘bought,’ but we highly encourage our clients to be diligent in writing articles for their own website. Search engines will recognize the unique nature of the writing and, at the same time, this content can be used by posting it to your company’s social media outlets and industry professional websites.