Darn penguins! One minute you’re flying high at the top of the natural search listings on Google, the next you’ve dropped into the ocean of pages beyond, never to be seen by anyone but the most patient of web users (and there are very few of them).
Google’s Penguin update finally rolled out in September this year, having been originally announced way back in 2012. Principally, it was designed to decrease the search engine rankings of websites that employed ‘black hat’ techniques to reach the top of results pages. So, if you were fiddling the system by artificially increasing the number of links to your website, Penguin was likely to rain down pretty hard on your parade.
If you feel you’ve been unfairly hit by the Penguin update and have seen your website’s rankings slip since September, any disdain felt towards these once lovable antarctic-based creatures would seem entirely justified. However, it may not be Penguin’s fault that your website has disappeared from page one. Here’s why:
1. Other factors may be at play
Let’s start with the reason you probably don’t want to hear; Penguin had nothing to do with your demotion on Google, simply because there were other problems with your website. Timing was therefore entirely coincidental.
Bad links, duplicate content and numerous other SEO faux pas may be at play here, and could have simply been bubbling away behind the scenes, reducing your ability to rank naturally. Speak to your SEO person and get them to take a deeper look under the hood - they may stumble across the real reason you’ve disappeared from view.
2. Penguin doesn’t exist
OK - conspiracy theory time. And, admittedly, this is a little far-fetched, but the truth is none of us know exactly what Google is doing. It’s the bane of every search marketer’s life, but one that can’t be influenced in any way. Google is Google, after all.
Who’s to say Google rolled out anything in September? Or if it was as big a change as originally suggested in 2012? This theory is worthy of consideration and, more importantly, will put the spotlight back on your website again, rather than pointing the finger of blame at an algorithm update.
3. Penguin hasn’t finished rolling out
Google updates take a fair amount of time to propagate, and even though we’re now nearing November, there’s a good chance Penguin is still rolling out.
If that’s the case, it may not even have hit your website yet. For that reason, it would be fair to suggest that you should simply continue optimising your site as normal, keep adding fantastic, original content and give it another month or so to see if things improve. They just might.
4. You forgot to replace bad links with good
This is quite possibly the most likely explanation as to why your website has dropped since the Penguin update. If you discovered that you did indeed have a significant number of bad links and did the right thing by removing them, were they replaced with the good quality stuff?
Removing bad links and forgetting to start again with a positive link building strategy won’t fix the problem. If anything, it’ll make it worse, because you’ll have swapped bad links for no links, and no links means very poor rankings indeed.
Google is a funny beast. None of us can control it, nor predict what it’ll do next. We can only follow guidelines, best practices and work together to devise SEO strategies that work to our advantage.
Take a closer look at your website - the Penguin may not be to blame.
If you’ve had positive or negative experiences with the Google Penguin update, we’d love to hear them, so do get in touch!