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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

One of the most important aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) is staying current with the latest updates to the Google algorithm.  At the end of last month, Google announced their latest update: Penguin.    

The goal of this update to how the search engine ranks websites is quite simple and consistent with previous updates – to eliminate spam in Google organic search results. Each time a new update is released, rankings of established sites change.  This is due to the way in which Google weighs the authority or importance of a website.  

Which websites were impacted the most?
Google has yet to share their secret sauce with us, but we know that algorithm updates have an impact on existing search results.  Where you’re ranked for a given keyword is based on a number of factors such as web site age, site load speed, inbound links, and so on.  Sites that have a significant number of inbound links that were acquired in an unnatural way have been largely discredited. 

Due to the nature of SEO, Google can detect if you acquired inbound links quickly or from non-authoritative sites.  As such, they have removed their authority or influence when calculating search rankings.  Google sees artificial link building as ‘gaming the system’ and therefore discredited sites that depend on this method for inflating their own authority.

Google has openly encouraged websites to improve their rankings through natural link building instead of artificially.  Sites that create valuable content including white papers, widgets, or other quality content, attract links from other websites pointing to their content.  In addition, social media sharing and bookmarking signal to Google that a particular site is seen as valuable.

Which Sites Survive the Penguin SEO Update and Which Get Burned?
Sites that engage in link building in an unnatural way are more easily identified and therefore impacted by the most recent Google algorithm changes.  Examples of poor link building techniques include: paying for links, duplicating anchor text, submitting duplicate content to article directories, and acquiring links from questionable sites.  Your authority is directly related to the quality of the sites pointing to your website.  If you’re only getting links from a bad neighborhood, that doesn’t look good.

The truth of the matter is that Google’s Penguin update took another step forward in their quest to provide quality search results.  By discounting sites designed simply for the purpose of passing authority from one site to the other, as well as non-authoritative sites, Google is focused on improving the quality of their results.

The best strategy has been, and always will be, the development of quality content for your website.  If you want to stay in Google’s good graces, think differently about your link building techniques.  Focus more on your own website and the value you can create for others.  By creating value and a positive user experience, you’ll attract links from other sites naturally and improve your rankings.


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