Written by Colin Skinner on 24 August 2012
If there were ever a good excuse to have a ‘spring clean’ of your website, it was the introduction of the Google Penguin algorithm.
Launched back in April of this year, it has caused disruption amongst many online businesses after cracking down on any sites that were breaching Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. These guidelines state that websites should be created for people and not for search engines. It aimed to make the internet a better place for search users, as well as ridding it from spam where possible.
Punishing keyword stuffing, unnatural linking, poor website interfaces and inadequate content, the update aimed to improve the quality of what we search for on the internet.
Although making adjustments for Penguin may be a diversion from your website strategy, it is essential to make changes in order to benefit in the long term, particularly for your branding and reputation as well as potential conversion rates.
If you want to ensure your website benefits from Penguin, make sure you review the follow areas:
If your website’s number one goal is to drive online sales, unfortunately it’s no good just having a really great store. Your visitors need to be given a reason why they should purchase from you and not your competitors – so why not include this with high quality content? Although this may have been neglected in the past because of budget - particularly in the case of smaller businesses – it can really boost your branding. Not to mention the fact that the Penguin update has punished poorly written content. So, if you run a site selling DIY tools, why not dedicate a microsite to tips, video demonstrations or step-by-step guides on DIY projects. The more trustworthy and helpful this is, the more trusted your products become as a result.
It’s important not to forget that these Google updates are intended to improve the user experience of the internet, so make sure this remains the foundation of your design strategy too. Ensure your website has a clean design, making it easy to navigate. Make call-to-actions crystal clear. And if you’re stuck for ideas, have a look at what your competitors are doing.
Penguin is punishing websites that make their internal navigation structure hard to use. As over-optimisation was something Penguin wanted to reduce, if you are using exact match anchor text for your internal linking, change this now. Although it may have once been helpful for using your desired keywords, now these links could be discounted, making your navigation harmful to your search rankings.
For newer businesses, it is not always uncommon to purchase a domain name which already receives a high amount of traffic with the intention of personalising it to your requirements. The problem here is, when you buy the domain name, you also receive the baggage that comes with it. Think about why that website was receiving high traffic - was it because it was a useful and interesting website? If not, the Penguin update will issue punishments for using spam techniques to attract visitors - and your business will pay the price. If the domain had incoming links from low quality websites then these will soon be discounted leaving you with less traffic and less authority, meaning a drop in the SERPs. Remember, it’s about quality, not quantity. Connect with your target audience to receive more natural links. Although it’s tempting to purchase an existing domain name in order to hit the ground running with a new venture, it is actually more effective to start from scratch and tailor your site to your audience.
The Penguin update was not a phase, and it won’t pass. If you haven’t made any changes since April then it’s about time you look into future proofing your website. Google have launched over 50 updates this year alone - who knows what the next one will be targeting. Make your content useful and relevant to ensure you get more organic links and you should avoid future Google punishments. Remember, SEO is a marathon and not a sprint.
The emphasis on increasing the quality of content was enormous from Penguin and it’s aiming to ensure that the linking profile to your site is one that is natural. To rebuild and recover from this algorithm you need better links, from trusted websites, with good content to climb back up the SERPs. Penguin wants to make sure your websites are aimed at people and not robots, so write and design with this in mind, and you should be rewarded.
Author Bio: Colin Skinner is a digital marketing specialist at Return On Digital – a digital marketing agency based in Manchester who work with website designers and developers to get the best results for their clients.