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Have you avoided offending the Penguin? [SEO Wednesdays]

Last month, Google launched an update called “Penguin”, aimed at spam-fighting, following on from another initiative called “Panda” last year. It’s been designed to target pages when there’s been some serious search engine manipulation going on, and it’s highly unlikely any business such as yours will have been affected. Experts reckon that sites penalised by Google have mainly been hit because of bad linking practices: poor quality reciprocal linking, purchased links or participation in linking networks. I don’t know many companies who use these techniques in-house, although – as I’ve warned before – many “SEO consultants” (especially cheap ones) regularly use these tactics to get quick results for their clients. Every day you continue to pay SEO consultants who you don’t trust thoroughly increases the chance of your company’s website being wiped from Google. Don’t do it: there are good SEO consultants out there, but they’re not cheap. They can’t be, with the effort required to do things properly.

Even if this update appears to have targeted external links, future ones will return the focus to on-page signals, so it’s crucial that you don’t do anything daft, intentionally or inadvertently. Spammy page titles like “UK Widget Supplier :: UK Widget Manufacturer :: Widget Supplier UK :: Cheap Widgets UK” (and I’ve seen loads like this) are going to be red rags to a bull as far as the search engines are concerned. The appearance of certain terms loads of times on a page, or multiple pages appearing to rewite the same content, are both dangerous too.

Many people have complained over the years that Google is progressively favouring “brands” over third-party information sites. But there’s a reason for this: people want to visit manufacturers’ sites directly. As a supplier yourself, you should welcome this. The key to SEO success is increasingly going to be to differentiate your site from third-party sites and their desperate attempts to appear higher in the results than they deserve.

1 thought on “Have you avoided offending the Penguin? [SEO Wednesdays]”

  1. On the topic of Penguin. There’s an industry of negative seo which seems to be benefiting from this algo update. Basically people are offering to negatively affect your competition’s search positions by building a bunch of spammy links to them. In the past Google used to ignore these irrelevant links, and this was fine. But now your rank can be affected by the actions of others. Not a step forward in my opinion.

    And as for future updates, the big themes coming out of Search Expo London are social engagement, link profile and brand signals.

    To me, this sounds like to win in the search results, you need to do a better job right across all the digital marketing channels. SEO isn’t just about tweaking a few keywords any more, it’s about becoming the authority in your niche and becoming something people want to talk about.

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