How Google’s Penguin Update could affect your small business website

The Penguin Update and your small business websiteGoogle Penguin

Google recently announced an update to their search ranking algorithms that in most part only affects what Google terms “spammy websites”  but with that being said, there is in my opinion, some unintended affects to small business websites…so I thought I would cover them here in my blog.

Why Google’s Penguin Update is creating so much hype

Obviously if you found my post, you too have heard of the Google Penguin Update.  For most small businesses, this update will not affect them in the least…in fact Google estimated upon launch that this update would only affect 3% of searches, but with over 600 million searches being performed everyday in the United States, that equals out to 18,000 searches or 12.5 searches every minute being affected (as of about 2 years ago).

In my experience, Google “affected” ratios often are off, i.e. the dreaded “not provided” metric for organic searches on Google Analytics.  When this was first rolled out, Google claimed that at the most 10% of searches would be included in this “not provided” category…but I have seen as much as 30% of some of my client traffic here.  So if we apply this to Google’s new update, we could surmise that 54,000 searches each day, or  37.5 per minute are changed.

Is Google’s Penguin Update bad?

In my opinion, absolutely not.  The Penguin update is targeted at websites that are trying to gain SEO rankings through spam activity, and Penguin specifically targets websites trying to create links to their site by buying them or other black hat methods.

What is the focus of Google’s Penguin Update?

Google’s Penguin Update in not like a lot of other updates they have had in the past.  Below is what this update is specifically designed to do:

  1. Penguin does not improve search results.  The Penguin update is specifically targeting websites that Google deems as being “over-optimized”.  What does that mean to you as a small business trying to achieve rankings on Google?  It means that if your website has been deemed by Google as a web property that has manipulated their search algorithms, and even if your site is the best match for a specific consumer query, they really don’t care (to an extent) they will down-grade your site ranking because of this update.  Before anyone runs screaming…Google has provided a form for you to fill out if you think your site has unfairly been penalized… and whaalaa here it is: Google Penguin Update Form
  2. Removed link value.  If you were previously ranking high for certain keywords, and now your position has dropped, and you’re certain you haven’t been engaging in black hat practices, you may have been unfairly penalized based upon in-coming links to your website.   One of the items Google did with this update is remove link value, or often refereed to as “Link Juice” from so called spammy websites.  If you had some…or a lot of these sites linking to you, you may have been affected…in which case fill out the update form above.
  3. Manipulative linking. This update seems to be focus for the most part on manipulative links.  Most small businesses will encounter this type of penalty when they subscribe to a service that promises hundreds…or sometimes even thousands of links, or sometimes referred to as back links to their website, in hopes of garnering positioning on the first page of Google for desired keywords.

man with mag glassHow Google’s Penguin Update can affect a small business

Unfortunately many small businesses don’t pay as much attention to their internet marketing strategy as they should.  Correctly marketing your business online takes dedication, or a internet marketing company that has your best interests in mind.  With many small business owners I have seen that they often buy what advertising seems to make sense at the time, with little to no regard to how it will affect them in the long run.  Having a truly successful internet marketing campaign takes time, dedication and research.  If you decide to outsource you internet marketing, the below list will help you decide if your working with someone that truly has your best interests at heart, I do need to point out that everything I talk about below pertains to SEO…because anyone can get on the 1st page if they pay for it…

  • Promise of first page of Google.  Although not impossible to achieve, if you’re a new website…and someone comes in and says they can get you on the first page of Google for that impossible keyword such as “Carpet Cleaning”, do your check book a favor and tell them “no thanks.”  Highly competitive keywords take time to achieve rankings for.
  • Hundreds of links (or backlinks) to your website.  Many business owners get hit everyday by solicitors or emails promising hundred…and even sometimes thousands of links to their websites, all for only mere cents or dollars a day.  What you as a business owner doesn’t realize is this exactly what Google’s Penguin Update targets, and scams like this have been going on as long as commerce has been alive on the internet…want to check it out?  Google “Link farming” and see what you find…or you can watch a video explaining what link farming is.
  • Spammy Small Business Websites.  Small business owners are often “presented with a great opportunity” to buy preexisting domains that already have a large amount of traffic coming to them.  These websites often will have very generic names such as (but not including as the following urls are only examples): portlandinjury.com, pestcontrolvancouver.com, autorepairbeaverton.com and so on.  The problem with these sites is that the traffic is built upon black hat techniques, and eventually they will get penalized.  What happens then to the small business owner who spent a lot of money for a website that now is doing nothing for their business?

I think the old verbiage of “if it sounds to good to be true” can be applied to internet marketing.  A good rule of thumb I use to determine if an internet marketing strategy is truly on the up-and-up is asking myself, if I had to explain my Google strategy to their board of directors…would I be embarrassed?

Well, would you?

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