Last week on April 24, Google released another update to it’s search algorithm, officially named the Penguin update. According to Google Blog:
“We’re launching an important algorithm change targeted at webspam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s quality guidelines. This algorithm represents another step in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content”.
The change in algorithm was not as much of a scare to search engine optimization agencies as many thought, as the update only affected roughly around 3% of all English search results. The update was mainly targeted toward low quality over-optimized or spammy websites utilizing black hat SEO tactics. The Penguin update was a warning shot from Google cautioning all to stray from cutting corners with black hat or spammy tactics and to play by Google’s rules or forever be unseen in Google’s SERP. In case you weren’t clear of what Google defined as web spam, below are 5 tactics that could get you in trouble with Penguin and how you can avoid doing them.
- Keyword Stuffing: This is the practice of filling a webpage with keywords in an attempt to rank high in Google’s search results. This is a common practice among non SEOs who don’t know any better. Simply copy and pasting “cellphone covers” will do the opposite of ranking you high for cellphone covers. To avoid this penalty, monitor your keyword density, but most importantly, create quality content that informs and engages readers.
- Link Schemes: Selling text-links, utilizing blog networks, linking to spammy sites, all of these tactics are considered link schemes and Google will penalize you. Avoid linking to web spammers or “bad neighbor” sites as these will lower your own PageRank. Instead link to quality relevant content and perhaps you will receive a few links back in return.
- Cloaking: Cloaking is the act of deceiving search engines by providing different content for search engines and users. An example is writing html for search engines and then showing users flash or pictures about a completely different topic. Google perceives this as deceptive and the best way to avoid it is to focus on creating content for users not search engines.
- Automated Queries: Software that is used to submit pages, or check rankings on a regular basis are prohibited by Google and violate it’s terms of service. Stay away from programs such as WebPosition Gold™.
- Using Black-Hat SEO Tactics: In general, if you practice black-hat SEO, you most likely know that you are doing something deceptive to manipulate Google. Instead of trying to manipulate SERPs, create quality content for users and link to quality relevant sites. If you try to practice the latest “get-rank-quick” schemes you may experience high rankings for awhile but eventually Google will catch on and penalize you.