On Friday Google announced a new version of the Penguin algorithm via Matt Cutts on Twitter (shown below) and a blog post on the inside search blog.
This isn’t surprising as we know that some of the sites which Google themselves had said were not good enough quality weren’t hit by the first Penguin update so some tidying up was needed.
As we had thought Google Penguin is an algorithm overlay similar to the Panda update and will be reapplied at regular intervals, this time being a month after the launch of the original update in April.
Google reiterate in their blog post that they are aiming this update at “black hat spam” techniques which don’t offer any value to users and are just on a page or website specifically to create rankings for the website. Google use Keyword Stuffing and Link Schemes as an example of this kind of spam.
Google’s aim has always been to deliver great sites that users want to see in the SERPs rather than a list of low quality of websites with nothing to offer.
Once again this highlights the need for good quality content-driven SEO rather than the older SEO methods we used to use in the early 2000′s.
If your website has been hit by this latest Penguin update then you probably need to have a look at your website and review some of the optimisation or pages on this to make sure that this is not what Google now considers spam.
The first place to start with this is a rank check of your core keywords to see if you have been hit. As you can see from Matt’s Tweet above Google reckon that less than 0.1% of searches have been affected across English speaking Google results, (despite the impact of these algorithm updates generally being a bit higher than Google’s estimates normally).
If you have seen all or most of your keywords disappear from the rankings and you can also see a lower than normal level of traffic over the weekend then you might have been hit by this latest Penguin update.
So moving onto what you can do, here are just a few ideas:
Remove big lists of Footer links which are just a recreation of your keywords or a display of your sitemap from the bottom of pages
Read through your content and make sure it reads well and not like keywords have been over used or shoe horned into the results.
Check Webmaster Tools to make sure you’ve not had an unnatural link penalty warning – this may mean you’ve got a link penalty and need to review your link building
Make sure that the rest of your site looks natural and not like it’s been designed for rankings and not for visitors.
Don’t shoe horn links to your core pages into your content, link in a way that helps visitors. Unless the link offers them a clear benefit they are unlikely to click on it and Google are unlikely to think that the link has value.
Review your content strategy, remember visitors will expect to read good quality content on your website. Make sure that you regularly update this quality content too with the latest news and things like blog posts. Make sure your content isn’t spun content.
Google pointed readers to their blog about High Quality sites from May 2011 in their post on Friday and it’s worth reading both this and their webmaster guidelines.
The main thing to remember is to keep calm and not panic, making sure the steps you take aren’t knee jerk reactions and you don’t believe the hype from the scare mongers out there.