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Penguins and Pandas and more, oh my!

Penguins and Pandas and more, oh my!

So lately Google seems to be hell bent on making life difficult for businesses who simply want to be found in search results by their potential customers.

As Google adds more and more of their own content to SERPs, is there any room for actual website listing results?

Going forward, what is your organic search website result competing with on the page? Well, depending on the search, there could be Google’s own database information, called Knowledge Graph which will start to show up more and more often.

Google’s staff have been building their own massive database of information (500 million items so far apparently) that will provide direct answer to search questions – the sort of questions that will usually show a Wikipedia page as the first result. In the example below you can see an illustrated result for Mozart showing up on the right hand side of the page instead of Google ads.

If you happen to be logged into Google+ when you do your search, you may also get a “personal search result” showing at the top of the page, which gives you the chance to see relevant results from people you are connected to.

What the heck is Penguin?

Penguin is the latest algo change from our friends at Google – which basically means they are again trying to come up with ways to punish and devalue the kind of sites that they really don’t want to see showing up in search results.

Funny thing is that to me it seems quite simple – web spam (and the resulting search result clutter) largely consists of sites set up purely to gain revenue from AdSense (a Google advertising product) and affiliate marketing sites, which are largely driven by linkbuilding and PPC advertising via Google and Facebook.

Perhaps in order not to annoy the owners of those sites directly and thus cut off a valuable income stream, the Goog has created more and more complex ways of penalising those sites to a degree, while annoying everyone else, particularly those “innocent” genuine websites who happen to have been inadvertently caught in the net.

(If they really wanted to get rid of them, they could simply add an approval process for AdSense sites that was stringent enough to elmininate those simply set up to generate that advertising revenue.)

Within weeks of this latest algo being rolled out, there are cries of “unfair” echoing around the web, largely from small business owners who are hugely dependent on search traffic for their revenue, and who have suddenly dropped completely off the radar, through no real fault of their own.

The previous major algorithm change, dubbed Panda, also resulted in similar problems for many site owners, although it was designed to punish “content farms”, which once again exist primarily to gain revenue from AdSense advertising.

The answer: content, content and more content

Our conclusion, on behalf of our clients, is that the best way to avoid being penalised directly or indirectly by these shifts, is to make your website as “thick” as you can, content wise.

If you have been thinking that you just need to get the basics up on your site, you need to change that way of thinking to one more along the lines of “more is better”.

More quality written content (and yes that probably means a blog), more video content, more great images and … most importantly, fresh content.

In terms of your business getting found, that means you need to start thinking about a content strategy asap – what content can you add to your site, who is going to create it, when and how.

Our recommendation is to book a meeting as soon as you can with your digital agency or marketing consultant to start beefing up your site and making it a destination that simply cannot be ignored.

About Karen Foreman-Brown

Karen Foreman-Brown is a digital strategist and online marketer with a particular interest in social media, content marketing and delivering spectacular outcomes for client organisations.
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3 Responses to Penguins and Pandas and more, oh my!

  1. Thanks for the update Karen, appreciate the summary of Penguin.

  2. siteadmin says:

    Cheers Nathanael. What we have found is that Penguin appears to devalue links from certain sites, and particularly those that overuse “unnatural” anchor text.

  3. “(If they really wanted to get rid of them, they could simply add an approval process for AdSense sites that was stringent enough to elmininate those simply set up to generate that advertising revenue.)”

    Google doesn’t want to lose advertising revenue. It’s a slippery slope, but it seems to me it would be in their interest to sell more ads regardless of the quality of the website…

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