When it comes to Google’s now notorious animal updates, there are always winners and losers. Though the end goal is to provide quality to searchers, the results may not always reflect the objective.
Many affiliates and advertisers faced the harsh realities of a Google-run internet in the past week. Whether they experienced a drop in rankings or a complete deindexing, the sites using “unnatural link building” saw the hammer drop.
Despite the 700,000 notifications sent out to webmasters, the move shocked site owners and confused many in the SEO world.
The Wrong Step in the Right Direction
A collective “Yes” can be heard amongst the anguished sighs on the Internet. While the update harmed undeserving sites, most can feel hope about the move Google attempted to make. Wanting quality content instead of SEO-packed pages is an honorable request that serves searchers well.
The action didn’t mimic the intentions, unfortunately. Perhaps the algorithms that came with this update were immature. Maybe the plan was not fully mapped out before it was launched. Either way, reports of poor websites climbing the ranks and genuinely good sites dropping into the abyss indicate potentially fatal flaws in the Penguin update.
Google’s Lack of Consideration
While it’s understandable that webmasters are supposed to follow a certain set of rules, it’s hard to oblige Google when it risks the survival of a business. Since Google has struggled to keep black hatters off of page one, legitimate businesses have always felt the pressure to bend the rules.
Using blog networks was one of the major gray hat areas online entrepreneurs turned to when they saw scum rising above them. It didn’t feel slimy or unsavory and Google seemed less worried about those links.
The problem with this attack on blog networks and the sites that used their services is that it fails to consider one major reality:using blog networks doesn’t mean that the site lacks quality. By making the two synonymous, Google overlooked their biggest standard. Quality should come first.
In many cases, those using blog networks as an SEO tactic were looking for a boost, not a free ride up the SERPs. Since Google’s algorithm still isn’t sophisticated enough to truly assess quality from a human perspective, assumptions are sometimes made that are just flat out wrong.
Older Sites Suffer Most
The sites that will feel the biggest impact are the ones with longer histories. People who have spent years testing and trying to succeed at SEO are likely to have a trail of rotten breadcrumbs leading to their site. With each update rules shift and actions that were passable are rendered unforgivable.
The reality is, that no matter how many notifications were sent out or how much warning is given, some things simply can’t be undone. A site that once used paid links or blog networks or other tactics deemed “evil” likely contain thousands of pages and more links than could feasibly be tracked down.
Webmasters who relentlessly pursued these tactics likely deserve to be taken down a few pages or possibly deindexed. Unfortunately, those who dabbled in old school attempts to win over search engines and reformed as time moved forward, still felt the force of Google in the update.
Quality content was lost and whole businesses were destroyed by Penguin, but it served as a steady reminder that Google can’t be your boss. To truly make a living online you have to depend on other resources to supply you with customers and conversions.
We can all cross our arms and puff our chests and swear to never use Google again, but what will that do? Your customers will still use Google. The best strategy for moving forward will be to adhere as closely as possible to Google rules, but find another means of drawing people into your sites.