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Google Penguin Friend or Foe?

The Penguin filter is Google’s well known attempt at preventing Webmasters and SEO providers from sleeping. Over the past few years many companies have been building links to their sites using methods ranging from automated software tools to link networks and even high volume low quality packages offered by some “SEO companies” (a term used very loosely). Well, now this has to stop.

Bad link building practice in recent years has been commonplace and those promoting an ethical SEO strategy have often been labelled as time wasters when other companies can show examples of good results despite the poor techniques. The big surprise however came when the SEO community reacted badly to the Penguin and Panda algorithm change. After all, this is Google’s way of cleaning up their results pages.

Unfortunately, both the Panda and Penguin updates have led to many businesses losing a source of leads and even closing, but Google couldn't go on forever the way they were. With the web growing and evolving, the world’s largest search engine needed to evolve too.

In reality, what does this actually mean?

Those who enjoyed good ranking due to shady link building practices, preferring to concentrate on mass link building programmes, mindless blog placement and even less sensible commenting, are now paying the price. The days of “my competitors have got way more links than I”, are now gone.

What will work now?

Effectively undertaking SEO without ranking intention. This sounds counterintuitive so let me explain. If you simply add layers of content, navigation etc onto a site which adds value for visitors not search engine bots, you have made a great start. Google is looking for such evidence and is slowly tailoring its ranking criteria to match. Remember if your intention is as stated then ranking is the by-product or reward.

How are we tackling this?

For the past 7 months or so, our in-house copywriting has reflected this. We intentionally took on a team with no SEO copywriting knowledge or experience, just copywriters in their own right. This ensures that they research the client product or service without any key phrases in mind, sticking only with what will add value to a visitor’s experience. This has worked wonders and we have witnessed client rankings improving more speedily than we have ever seen.

What's next?

Whether you’re a website owner, an agency or a SEO professional, it is high time to audit all SEO practices currently undertaken. We did this last year and have been implementing slowly since, we suggest you do the same.

Friend or foe?

Google Penguin and others which will follow is welcomed by us as SEO for some time became a dark place full of shady methods all culminating in filling up the web with a lot of nonsense. This will force quality to slowly become the all important ingredient and I for one cannot argue with that.

Qasim Majid About the author
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