Like the October 8, 2011 announcement that Google would begin to stop the practice of passing a user’s organic search term to Google Analytics; the deprecation of the Service Provider dimension on February 4th, 2020 may live on with similar disdain. While we mourned the loss of the search keywords data that helped value our SEO efforts; at least there was a reason – better security and privacy.
The “Penguin” algorithm update from Google has certainly taken web spammers down a peg (or SERP ranking) by dishing out penalties for things like overused anchor text and duplicate content. However, it’s not just nefarious websites receiving a penalty. Many well-meaning companies can have spam elements on their site specifically targeted by Penguin. In many cases, these problem areas of a website are a matter of taking some shortcuts with content development. But, there are no shortcuts in quality SEO! If you’re concerned about Penguin penalizing your site, devote some time to these areas:
Titles — To be effective for both user experience and SEO, title tags need to be informative and descriptive. Google has only gotten more critical of title tags — often changing them entirely when a page ranks for certain search results. The title tag is not the place to cram keywords and branding — exactly the kind of thing Penguin is frowning upon. Make sure your titles are true to the theme of their respective pages.
Internal Links — Out of all SEO elements, internal links have probably drawn the most ire of Penguin. When building site content [https://www.morevisibility.com/services-seo-copywriting.php], you are totally in charge of what pages to link to and what anchor text to use. It’s all too easy and tempting to over-link to certain pages and/or continuously use the same anchor text — often a perfectly optimized keyphrase. The same goes for giant page footers filled with internal site links. Overdoing this type of optimization will raise a red flag. Include variety by blending synonyms for your keywords and calls to action in your anchor text.
Back Links — While you have less control over your back links, you should be discerning about them when you can. For your company link building efforts, shoot for variety (with different types of sites, content, and anchor text) and quality (by creating original content for sites that are reputable and relevant to your business).
Content Layout — Of course, your site should be content rich. But when you start repeating yourself, you’re treading on thin ice. Two pages meant to target slightly different versions of the same keyphrase are not helpful to the user and could be flagged by Penguin as being duplicative. Read through your site and ask yourself whether a page really provides new and useful information, or if it just retreads information from another page of your site.
Google has recently launched its biggest algorithm update since the Panda update from last year. It’s called Penguin and it’s another way Google is actively fighting search spam.
While Panda primarily targeted shallow content, Penguin is specifically an anti-spam update that is punishing sites for techniques like keyword stuffing (using the exact same keyword an excessive amount of times on a page) and cloaking (showing a version of a webpage to a crawler that is different from what a human user sees). It’s easy to see if your site has been affected by Penguin. Just look at your Google Analytics page. Watch the data for April 24, when Penguin went live. Affected sites will see a sharp, immediate drop in traffic — indicating a Penguin penalization.
There has been some buzz about Google launching an update to penalize sites that have been “over-optimized.” Penguin looks to be just that, however the term “over-optimization” is a bit of misnomer. Sites that have followed a balanced, white-hat SEO plan will be negatively affected by Penguin. Sites that have excessively optimized via keyword stuffing need to watch out for Penguin.
It is possible you may have been keyword stuffing by accident with no intent to spam or otherwise game the system. Take the following URL as an example:
www.example.com/widgets product page/blue widgets/size10widgets.aspx
It seems like a perfectly normal e-commerce site ticking off product category progression, right? However, Penguin may see it as stuffed with the keyword “widget.” A preferable URL would be:
www.example.com/widgets product page/blue/size10.aspx
Another stuffing technique Penguin is looking for is internal links on your site that point to the same webpage using the same anchor text every time. When writing the copy for you pages, you’ll want to use synonyms for your primary keywords for the best optimization. This not only helps people using different search terms find your content, but it helps you avoid keyword stuffing as well. By balancing your SEO plan and producing quality content, you will be able to rank higher and avoid any Penguin penalties.