Last week I went to a meeting of the Seattle SEO Network where I had an opportunity to hear a talk on Blog Networks, Penguins, & Link Building by Geoff Kenyon. Geoff is an impressive young man who is a SEO Consultant at Distilled and a Global Associate at SEOmoz so my inclination is to accept him as an authority on the subject. The focus of the discussion was Google’s new algorithm released in April called Penguin. For some details on the changes visit Google’s blog: Search quality highlights: 52 changes for April.
Penguins and SEO
There has been lots of talk, hype and fears surrounding Google’s changes and Geoff eased my mind a bit on the subject. The primary goal of Google’s search engine is to help people searching for content find appropriate content. If you are looking for a shoe store in Seattle then Google wants to get you to a shoe store in Seattle. Google’s goal is not to help businesses find ways to get to the top of search results. Actually Google does have a way for businesses to get to the top of search results, it is called Google AdWords.
One of the ways Google has measured the validity and value of a website has been by how many outside links are linked to the website. For example in this blog I have already linked to Seattle SEO Network, Distilled, SEOmoz and Google. Soon these links will benefit each website because this blog, in essence, told Google that these websites were valuable enough to me to mention and link to in my blog. When Google only looked at the number of links, rather than where the link came from or the quality of the link it was fairly easy for websites to scam the system. There were a number of agencies willing to help business get more links, and a higher rank on Google search results, but by building so-called “Link Farms.” You have run across these when you have been searching for content. Usually it was a blog with very weak content on a nondescript website with a lot of links. The links may not even have gone to a website that made any sense. Another example is comment spam. If you have a blog you have probably received dozens of comments that sounded similar to, “Boy, I have searched the entire internet and have never found a better blog then yours. You really said the things I’ve been thinking….” The rest of the post was filled with links to male enhancement products or shoe stores. Google’s goal is to stop these kinds of practices.
Black Hat SEO
These past practices have made it easy for businesses with big budgets and those only concerned with ranking at the top of Google’s page results to beat out legitimate, smaller businesses. It encouraged the preponderance of “Black Hat SEO” companies and soured many businesses to legitimate SEO practices and link building. I applaud the changes and look forward to Google and Penguin promoting relevant businesses through legitimate, organic, SEO growth. This is one of the reasons Image Media Partners has embraced inbound marketing and legitimate SEO practices.
Has your website been affected by Penguin? What was the cause and what are you doing about it?
Photo Credit: Scott M. Liddell