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How to Beat Google’s Penguin Algorithm Updates

Whilst users see search engines as a good way to find what they want online, the simplicity with which they appear to work belies the amount of time and effort that goes into creating algorithms to serve up the most relevant results. As the largest of the search engines, Google’s updates cause more upheaval for site owners and search-engine-optimisation experts than any other.

Sometimes techniques which had been effective in increasing rankings in the past are no longer acceptable and occasionally legitimate sites get penalized.

Google’s Penguin update was launched in 2012 and was primarily designed to catch sites which were artificially inflating their search results by using spamming techniques. So most legitimate sites should be either unaffected or benefit slightly as competitors who were cheating the system will have been taken out of the running.

If you have seen a decline in visitor numbers then it’s possible that you were employing some of the techniques which Google is trying to stamp out, albeit potentially unwittingly. Links were a particular focus of Penguin, so sites which have used link farms or paid links which add no relevance to their content will probably have seen a drop in their rankings and a decline in visitor numbers.

Checking each page for links which may go nowhere, link to sites which have little or no relevance or links which take you to pages filled with ‘spammy’ content and deleting any which might be harming your reputation will help. Using an SEO outsourcing company can help you to avoid accidentally including any elements on your site which might hurt your ranking.

All site owners or administrators should also keep a regular eye on Google Webmaster Central because once you verify your account, you may find that you have messages about potential spam. Google will often send messages through the system to warn users and give them a chance to clean up their sites. If you think you have been hit unfairly then you can also use Google Webmaster Central to file a request for reconsideration.

But be warned – with automated algorithmic updates such as this one, Google’s policy is not to make manual alterations. So if you report what you believe to be an error, it will probably only be corrected if they receive a lot of feedback about the same matter.

According to Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, there is likely to be another Penguin update in 2013 to add to the release in April 2012 and updates in May and October 2012. Being prepared for this update will could help to ensure that sites are not affected.

Since it seems likely that it is the biggest link networks which will be targeted, site owners will need to thoroughly review their sites in order to ensure that they are not including spammy outbound links, keyword stuffing or cloaking.
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