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Neil McNulty

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Why You Should Take Google Updates Like Penguin Seriously

What with Panda, Penguin and Possum, Google’s family of algorithms are quite the menagerie! But when it comes to updates, they are not to be taken lightly! Let’s take Penguin, for example. Launched in 2012, it’s been two years since the last Penguin Google update but some very big changes were made recently.

Google designed Penguin to catch out websites who were buying links, or obtaining them through link networks designed to boost Google rankings, to boost their own rankings. Fair enough, right? You might not know it, but Google uses more than 200 signals to help you find what you’re looking for, when you search. These includes things like specific words – or keywords, region, freshness of content, and so on. Penguin is one of these ‘signals’.

Major Game-Changer

Penguin 4.0 is a major game-changer for Google Search. Firstly, it has switched to real-time. This will prove to be a big problem for websites that are spamming Google rankings, but a bonus for those that have mended their ways!

Let me explain: While most Google algorithms refresh instantly, Penguin was spasmodic in doing this. That meant that if you were caught and ‘punished’ for spamming Google rankings, you could change your ways immediately but that would not be reflected in your search results for months.

Equally, those who were spamming those rankings could get away with it for months, until the next Penguin update.

Avoid Search Engine Manipulation

By operating in real-time, this will all happen instantly now. When you rectify the spamming issue, your site will be refreshed immediately; if you don’t, your site could be penalised the second you hit search rankings.

The recent Penguin algorithm upgrade also focuses on search engine manipulation, probably prompted by Google’s legal battle with a publisher earlier this year. Headlines at the time suggested Google was trying to kill SEO, but that’s just not true.

SEO and Local Search is all about providing users with the information they are looking for; search engine manipulation is about businesses manipulating search results for their own benefit. Remember, Google’s priority is the user, not you. So if you play by the rules and provide the best User Experience – UX – you’ll be fine.

Keep Your Content Fresh And Relevant

Since the update, Penguin is also more focussed on specific pages, rather than the whole website. This will affect rankings. The solution is to ensure every page of your site is aimed towards UX, with fresh, relevant, professionally written content; up-to-date information, and mobile responsiveness.

Whilst these changes may terrify some businesses, those that are delivering the best service to the user will be fine. This is actually a very positive move by Google, and it should see a major improvement in the quality and usefulness of websites, and SEO.

This Google Update will most certainly help users, by providing the most useful and relevant response to their search. I think it will also help businesses in the long run.

If your website isn’t up to scratch and giving users what they want, or it isn’t mobile-friendly, or your content is out of date and badly written, this is your wake-up call! Remember, YOU will benefit from making improvements, as your site will then attract more users which, in turn, will mean more conversions.

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Neil is a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), but has an extensive knowledge of a wide variety of software, operating systems and web development processes.