Hi, and welcome to my first blog post here on ThinkBasis. I’d like to say a few words about the most recent wave of panic that’s been sweeping the world of SEO and has everyone talking on the Wild Wild Web. Yes, I’m talking about the cartoonishly named update called Penguin from Google.
A few good hours spent reading white, gray, black and rainbow colored SEO forums has left me feeling like I’m currently in a post-apocalyptical part of the web, where spammers are given more power instead of being put in their place, businesses are given the green light to bomb and blast each and every one of their competitors, and Google idly sits on the sidelines, either enjoying the mess they created or scratching their heads going “Hey, that’s not what was supposed to happen!”.
Do no evil, right Google?
At first glance, Penguin looks like the single most well-thought and sensible update from Google in their constant war against spam. Matt Cutts even dipped the whole thing in honey with examples of spam-filled blogs and websites that were supposed to be wiped out by this update.
And then, out of nowhere, NegativeSEO! Some guy over at http://trafficplanet.com started a brilliant thread and tested what we all speculated: Can you de-index your competitors with exactly the same kind of link-building tactics that everyone used just a month ago to rank with? Apparently, yes you can!
It was all downhill from there. From gigs on Fiverr offering to bomb your competitors with thousands of links, to more devious plans of making a website look bad in Google’s ever-so-watchful eyes, like duplicating blog content and re-publishing it on various websites, before the original can be crawled and indexed by Google itself. Google hates duplicates, and in this scenario, your original blog content would be seen as duplicated by big G … and down go your rankings.
So what’s left now: Should we all point our SEO “guns” at each other and blast away, or just put our trust in humanity and hope that our competitors don’t overload us with spammy links?
Easy it is, to be swayed by “the dark side” but deeper analysis would show a post-war of SERP’s displaying nothing but irrelevant content, mainly because all competitors would be down in the gutter, making room for all the mediocre 2-5 page results to float to the top. I seriously doubt anyone wants that.
That’s not to say the results right now are down in the gutter already. The worst offenders would be exactly the websites that Cutts gave as examples of on his blog, which still rank on the first page, weeks after Penguin was rolled out. Nice one Google!
So instead of fighting spam, websites with 20,000 spammy backlinks are protected (theory: Google assumes they’re giant businesses because of a high number of links pointing to them) and small businesses are getting trashed and pushed down on heck knows what page, or even worse: penalized and de-indexed.
Google hereby deems your article unworthy!
Another issue Google’s been trying to solve with this update is overly spun articles. Here’s a hilarious example:
“When it obliviously comes to provisions I’m drawbridge sweet fussy. I don’t meat too precisely cooked or too rare, and scout about has to be very soon right. She did all the old fashioned way. ”
Kudos to them for trying to remove such garbage from the web, but when I later found out they seem to frown upon guest posts as well, I felt quite a bit drawbridge sweet fussy about it to say the least.
Since content is king and G usually loves fresh material, it’s anyone’s guess why they would downgrade this option of creating backlinks, especially when the blog owners themselves state on their blog that “guest posts are accepted”, as well as the blogs themselves not being auto-accept link farms and they are moderated by a human with a following of readers interested in the topic of your guest post. Big G probably assumes they’re paid links, and smacks your rankings right down. Speaking of content…
An average Joe, wife and two kids, mortgage on the house, that kind of Joe. He has a huge passion for household electrical maintenance. This drives him to create his own local business, and eventually his own website that promotes his services. Joe hits the first wall when he finds the standard wordpress/blogspot themes are “spammy” by Google standards so he naturally goes looking for solutions on the web.
He finds that fresh weekly content would do wonders for ranking higher in SERPs so he starts a blog writing about cathodes, conductors, faulty wiring and changing lightbulbs, but honestly now, how many people would be interested in that sort of material? How many articles and permutations on the same subject can Joe come up with before giving up, only to keep up with Google’s freshness algo?
On top of that, our Joe is left with managing Twitter, Facebook and Google+ while battling competitors on GooglePlaces that gave him false negative reviews, instead of actually gathering clientele and offering them his services.
Nevertheless, Joe gets a second mortgage on the house and hires a white-hat SEO company that manages to rank him for his main keywords on the first page of Google. Creeping out of Google’s algo factory comes an abomination called Penguin, meant to “help” small businesses and eradicate spam. However, Joe’s rankings plummet and he has no idea why. Careful examination of his backlinks point to tens of thousands of links created over-night, links he did not create, but for which he was seriously penalized.
Joe cries out for help and Google gladly and promptly respond with their favorite email these days:
“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.”
“Hello webmaster. It seems you have some not-so-cool links pointing to your website and we don’t like that. We know exactly which of your 50k+ links are the bad ones, but we want you to spend countless hours, manually going through each of them, finding the dodgy ones and then deciding for yourself if they’re the ones responsible for your rank drop or not.
In the meantime, would you be interested in running an AdWords campaign?”
And so, after spending months on creating rich content, a compelling website and social media following, our poor Joe is left searching through piles of links, some which he has no control over or no means of removing, in hopes of “maybe” getting back in Google’s good graces and having a chance at his website being reconsidered for indexation.
Where did those links come from? Was it a mistake on Google’s part with the new algo? Was it Bob, his main competitor, doing some shady business, dipping his toe in NSEO? Who knows!
I for one, anxiously am awaiting the Unicorn update. Rumour has it that it’s supposed to offer spam-free, relevant SERPs and constructive competition between rival companies that will result in creative websites with relevant and helpful articles that will promote friendly user-business interactions. Too bad the unicorn is just a myth…