This is the second algorithm update that Google applied to their search engine that affected the results you will get for a particular search term. The previous one was called the Panda.
It upset the web developers apple cart. Well, actually, only the ones that were cheating at the SEO game.
Because Google does use ‘backlinking’ to your website as an indicator of popularity, many companies were hiring companies to manufacture links and developing ‘link farms’ and ‘link wheels’ and they were quite innovative about it.
Google, being the ever progressive company, was able to track these imposters and then went about ‘de-listing’ all the websites that didn’t offer any value. And thereby removing the ‘social value’ applied to the link from that website.
Some peoples rankings in Google plummeted if their entire network of backlinking strategies were fake. Many website owners couldn’t even find themselves in the search engines using their domain name for search. OUCH!
As always, the world has its dark elements and after this update some evil competitors started to do “negative SEO” practices to their opposition. Which meant they paid money to hire these link farms to apply unnatural linking to their competitors website to try and bump their competitor out of the search engines.
It has been several months of cyber carnage.
This is a brief history of events for 2012.
First to introduce a man buy the name of Matt Cutts. He is the guy whose face was most seen when making Google announcements and on March 10 he made the announcement that there had been a change to their algorithm regarding ‘over optimization’ which penalized websites for being too keywordy.
For example if you had an article on your website that said “Halifax Widget company offers widgets in Halifax for halifax widget people…” was looked upon by the algorithm as being ‘over optimized’. Keywording should be natural they say.
The ground shook when several high profile and highly profitable “blog network” businesses were effectively shut down. Although not literally put out of business but every blog that was providing a link to every customer that had purchased the service was deindexed.
The websites who were in receipt of the links lost their rankings and some feel not only did they lose the power they had initially with these fake links but also were penalized for having purchased them.
This also meant that the small local business owner who used an SEO company to provide services – also lost BIG.
I guess the moral here is the same with just about everything – if you cheat, eventually you will get caught. Except of course for those chosen few who seem to always get away with everything 🙂
Many web owners got the bad news in their email. It was a notice from Google that identified their site as being part of the unnatural linking and were told to get rid of the links to reduce the penalty being levied to their site.
“We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
This went on for a while.
You may also guess many web developers were saying “I didn’t do it – it was someone else!” and pleaded ignorance to the Google stating they had no idea how those nasty links were pointing to their website.
Then the Penguin algorithm was to target webspam aka “spamdexing” – basically useless sites that were ranking because they are keyword stuffed or whose purpose was to redirect.
Some people have complained that Google has been too aggressive and they have made a few mistakes but they keep correcting them.
The basic lesson we can all learn is to keep it above board. Even if it seems like your competitor is getting ahead using Black Hat SEO methods, its best to hold your ground and do things ‘naturally’.
Does it take more time? Probably.
Does it cost more? That depends on your goal, so yes – and – no.
Other areas of the Penguin that were penalized were what is called anchor text. Anchor text is the clickable phrase of a link. The part in this sentence that is is blue is the “anchor text“.
If you had too many links that had the same anchor text, the Penguin assessed it as “unnatural” believing that all the links to a particular page on your website couldn’t possibly be using identical words to link to your site.
Diversity is the cream.