On April 24, 2012, Google updated their algorithm under the not-so-ominous codename “Penguin”. Penguin targets websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. But what does that actually mean? As an SEO Manager, here are some ways I’ve seen Penguin alter the search engine optimization landscape:
It has become increasingly important to make title tags and meta descriptions more succinct and natural-sounding. Websites with overly long title tags and/or meta descriptions can be downranked by Penguin. The repetition of keywords in the metadata can also result in a decrease in rankings.
Websites that link back to your site should be relevant to your business or area of focus. More importantly, the backlinks should be high quality and non-spammy. Black Hat SEO practices like link farming are a surefire way to kill rankings.
Webpage content should be high-quality and relevant to the keywords. Each webpage should have unique content. Ixnay on keyword stuffing and duplicate content.
- Robots.txt and Sitemap.xml
Google has searchbots that crawl your site. If you imagine a Sitemap.xml as a city, Robots.txt is the map that the Googlebots use to get around. With the Robots.txt file, you can tell the Googlebots where and where not to go. If Google can’t access your site, then how can they determine if you are relevant for certain keywords?
This goes back to having unique content. A common problem I’ve seen is if you click on the home button navigation for a site, it will take you to a page that looks identical to the homepage but has a URL that is something like briancarverwebsite.com/index.php rather than briancarverwebsite.com. This is a no-no. Google views these as two separate pages with duplicate content and may hurt your rankings accordingly.
- Quality Results for Users
This is the biggest change I’ve noticed–overall quality search query results. Google wants you to find what you’re looking for…and fast. Gone are the days of clicking on various spammy links until you find something relevant to your search.
Play by Penguin’s rules and prosper. Break the rules and pay the penalty!
Brian Carver is one of the Account Managers at SEOhaus. If you would like to stay up-to-date on all of the latest SEO industry news and tips, you can subscribe to our blog here. Thanks for reading the SEOhaus blog!