May SEO Update: Revenge of the Penguins!

penguins-300It’s finally here.  Penguin 2.0 has been released and the search results are chaotic.  But do not fear!  Remember, these updates are only bad news for websites using spammy techniques (well…usually).  In fact, for those of us who use whitehat SEO and get links by producing great content, these updates may move us up, taking down our competition if they’ve been trying to manipulate the rankings.  I’ll explain more in the video.

Of course, Penguin isn’t the only news from this month.  Actually, Google has been very busy lately.  So, there’s a lot to talk about…but I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible.

Video Transcription:

Hello I’m Kurt Steinbrueck director of marketing services with OurChurch.Com.  I’m here with your May SEO update so you can stay informed on what’s been going on in the search engines over the past couple of weeks.

Do you hear that? Can you hear it?!  That’s the sound of millions of webmasters and business owners moaning and screaming because Google just released Penguin 2.0.

Penguin 2.0:
Two penguinsThis is a big update for the year.  Okay, now if you’re not familiar with Penguin, Penguin was the update that Google released about a year ago (when it was Penguin 1.0) that focused on links. They’re trying to stop people from doing spammy links and purchasing links and doing questionable link building tactics that are just designed to try to manipulate the search rankings.  So, they want people to only be doing link building that is natural.  So, you’re putting out quality content and people are linking back to you because of it or you’ve put on a great product and people are linking to you because of that.

So, that’s what Google wants and so they put out these Penguin updates to try to devalue any spammy links or even, in some cases, penalize people for doing spammy link building strategies.

So, what do you need to do?  Well, first of all…


Okay, there’s always a time when Google does a major update when the search rankings are going to be bouncing all over the place.  This is completely normal. It’s trying to sift through everything and that takes a little bit of time.  So, if you see your rankings moving around, don’t think that necessarily means that you’re going to be hit by this update. It just means things are moving around. Give it a week or two and see where you land, see where the dust settles.

You may actually find that you’ve moved up!

You know, that’s one of the benefits or one of the things that people don’t always think about with these major updates.  They’re always afraid they’re going to get demoted, but when other sites who have been using these spammy techniques get demoted, if you haven’t been, you get a boost.  So, it can actually be a very good thing for you if you’ve been doing whitehat link building techniques.

What if you have spammy links?
spammerNow, what if you have some questionable links out there, maybe you didn’t really realize the danger involved and you did some questionable link building techniques.  What are you supposed to do about that?  Well, the first thing would be to actually try to get those links removed. If you have access to the sites, like may be built some forum links or something like that, go log into the site and get those links removed.

If you don’t have access to the sites, contact the webmasters and say,

“Can you please remove these links? I don’t want these links up there anymore.  I think it might be harming my website.”

Be aware, of course, you may get a response. You may not.   You know, some webmasters are responsive.  Some are not.  Some sites may not really even be active anymore.  They may just be up, but no one’s paying attention to them.

Also, there have been reports of webmasters who know that they have a lot of spammy links on your site and they started trying to charge people to remove them…probably not just to cover cost of time, but more they’re trying to make some money off of this.  It’s probably a questionable thing to do, but nonetheless those links you may not be able to get removed without paying for it.  And, if that’s the case, you have to make that call. Personally, I wouldn’t pay to have a link removed unless I really thought it was a terrible thing. Then even, I still probably wouldn’t    So, you have to kinda decide how you’re going to do that.

So, what do you do when you can’t get links removed?

Well, Google has what they call their “link disavow” tool.  And if you log into your Google Webmaster Tools account, you can get access to this tool and you can just put in the URL of any pages where you have questionable links and have them disavowed.  It’s basically just you saying, “Google don’t count this link for me anymore. I don’t want to have any credit for this link.”

Now, this is not the only thing that you should be doing. You really should be contacting the websites and try to get things removed, especially if you have a manual penalty.  Because Google is going to want to see that you’ve been putting some effort into fixing things.  If you submit a request for them to reevaluate your site, they’re going to want to see that you’ve actually contacted all the sites and tried to get links removed and then did some of the disavowing and then you’re finally contacting them.  So, you want to make sure that you’re making a considerable effort to get these links removed before you bother contacting Google.  And even when you do they may come back and say we want to do more.  That’s not an uncommon thing for them to do.

There is hope!
beach-jumpSo, if you’ve been hit by this, that’s the approach that you’re going to take.  It is possible to recover.  So, don’t completely panic, but know that it is a long road.  It will probably be several months. Plus, you no longer have credit for those links; so you’re now starting at a lower authority level and you’re going to have to build up your positive links.  So, while you’re doing things you want to be building up links in a very natural way, getting those whitehat links pointing back to you.

So, that’s the big thing the release of Penguin 2.0. Beyond that, there have been some other changes.  So, we’ll touch on those real quick.

Bye, Bye Google Instant Preview:
Google has removed the instant preview.  This was where, if you search for something Google, you would have the results on one side and if you hovered over one of the results, they would put up a preview of the site that result would lead to so you could decide if it’s really what you wanted.  Apparently, people weren’t using it.  So, Google removed that.  So, you won’t see that anymore.

Traffic from Google Image Search way down!
Google image search…if you remember a few months ago, Google changed their image search so that you were no longer going from Google to the hosting websites when you clicked on an image.  So, before, you would click on the image and it would open up a new window of the site that was hosting that image and you get to see that full image.

Now, if you click on the image, Google actually opens a space in the results and that’s where they show you the full-size image.  Now, they did put a link to your site next to it and then they even tried to say when they released this change, “Oh, we think people are going to get more traffic because we put this link next to it.”  You know, we all had a chuckle over that because why would you continue on to the site you’ve already found the image that you want? And it turns out we were right.

So, a lot of tests have come back and it seems that traffic from Google search to the sites that are actually hosting the images has dropped by about 63%. So, if you were getting a significant amount of traffic from Google image search, you’ve probably seen the pretty big decrease in your traffic.  There’s really nothing that you can do about that.  It’s just kinda the reality of how Google is doing things right now.  Just be aware that’s where that decrease in traffic came from.

You need to be an authority.
NCES3_48Another change…this an interesting thing.  Matt Cutts, who is Google’s head of web spam or detecting web spam, trying to get rid of it. He made an announcement about things that are coming up in Google. One of them is that they are working on ways to better identify who the authorities are in a niche.  This is going beyond link building to things like:

  • Social shares and
  • How much are people interacting with your company
  • How much is your company being mentioned in blogs and news articles and things like that

All these different signals that point to you being an authority within your particular niche.  Google is going to start boosting the search rankings for sites that they think are an authority the niche.

So, this means that it’s really, really time to start moving beyond basic SEO to how can I establish myself and my company or organization as an authority in my niche.  So, you’re going to be wanting to put out really good, quality content that people are going to find useful and authoritative, that they’ll want to reference in their blog articles, or link to, or share on Facebook, or whatnot.  You know, putting out good videos that people are going to actually want to watch…the whole thing.  Things like that.  You’re just going to want to work to build up your authority as an expert.

Use Google+
And when we use Google+ to do this in a lot of ways as well, because really pushing Google+ and there’s already some evidence that they’re adjusting search rankings based on how authoritative and trustworthy they think that your Google+ account is.  And that will probably continue to grow as they work to identify authorities in niches.  So, that’s something.  You’ll want to start to look beyond just Seo into all these different ways of establishing yourself as an authority.

Google Maps gets a facelift.
Google MapsLastly, I wanted to mention that, Google, it looks like there updating their Google Maps.  So, last month they updated the backend of Google Places for Businesses and now they’re updating the front end of Google maps.  And the big changes that it’s very focused on the map itself.  Where, before, you would search and you’d have the map on one side and the results on the other side, a list of businesses on the other side.  That list is gone, now.  So, it’s just the map.  Some of the businesses are listed in the map. Sometimes it’s just the pin points (which actually look a little bit different as well).  But, everything is inside the map.

So, this is going to change the way people search.  You’re going to see some fluctuation there.  It’s also harder to see more results now.  So, if you’re not in those top few results, especially the top 10, you may see a decrease in the traffic that you’re getting.  It’s really important to working on getting reviews and citations and links and all that.  That’s going to push you up into the top 10 for those local results.

Google Maps is personalizing based in Google+
Beyond that, they’re actually personalizing results as well.  We’ve seen tests where people are seeing the businesses that they have in their [Google+] circles showing up on their map, sometimes even before they do any searches or do searches that are not relevant to what that business is. It will just be labeled on the map and sitting there.  So, that’s a great way to be able to be very visible in people’s local searches.  If you can get them to put you in their Google+ circles, then you may be showing up even if they’re not searching for an organization like you.  So, you’re just always in their mind and always in front of him. That’s a great thing to be able to have.

Everything this month is pretty much Google.  Bing didn’t really do anything this month and Facebook only made some minor visual changes, nothing really important to the way GraphSearch works.

Remember, we live in the Internet age.  So, it’s important that you stay strong in the search engines so that you can achieve your goals and mission online.

God bless!

One Response to “May SEO Update: Revenge of the Penguins!”

  1. Thank you very much for this! I just fear that search engine algorithms are becoming more complex and it's getting hard to align the website to become more google friendly. If I make changes now, then later on Google will release another update. I see this is a never ending process. Thank you very much again!