While many webmasters have been affected by these updates with mass losses in rankings leading to huge traffic dips and subsequent revenue losses, this really has not come as a surprise to the leading online analysts of SEO.
For years webmasters have used shady practices to acquire links to promote their websites and gain rankings using manipulative tactics. Google’s Panda and Penguin updates take steps to curtail this type of activity and keep their search results clean.
About Panda Google Panda, first launched on February 23, 2011, with several smaller tweaks since is an algorithmic update that targets websites and blogs with low quality content, also labeled web spam. The biggest example is the eradication of the many article directories that published duplicate articles on a mass basis. But, there were many other sites affected as well, and notably many ecommerce sites that were a kind of collateral damage since most ecommerce sites do not focus as much on written content, but are more product based venues. Affiliate sites that offered nothing more but affiliate links were hit hard as well.
About Penguin Google Penguin, first launched on April 24, 2012, along with various smaller updates and tweaks since focused on getting rid of sites that use SEO or link building techniques that are against Google Webmaster Guidelines.
This update targeted both on site and off site SEO practices. On site included things like, keyword stuffing and invisible text and off site included targeting link buying, unnatural anchor text link profiles, mass links from spammy resources and general unnatural link profiles used to manipulate search rankings, you can learn more about bad versus good links here.
As a result of the above updates hundreds of thousands of sites lost mass traffic and of course as a result their earnings.
Unnatural Link Profile Messages To Webmasters Another interesting development with Google is the fact that they began sending unnatural links notices to webmasters who had accounts with and their websites in Google Webmaster Tools on July 20th of 2012 .
Matt Cutts, the head of the Google Spam Team confirmed that webmasters should not ignore these emails. He stated that this means there is some loss of trust in Google’s eyes to the site, and while these webmasters may not see a huge drop in rankings, it is most definitely worth their attention to address the link profile.
The anger from many webmasters over the updates was widespread as can be seen in many discussion boards, forum and blog post comments that relate to these changes as seen in Google’s own Webmaster Blog where Penguin and Panda announcements were posted. Is the anger justified? It is in some cases because as always the algorithm is not perfect and innocent sites did get affected with lost rankings and traffic, while obviously spammy and very low quality sites still remained on Page 1 of Google SERPS for many keywords, and in some cases are still there months later. Or the innocent ecommerce sites that scrambled to fill their sites with pages of content in hopes of getting back in Google’s good graces.
Final Conclusions The never ending debate of Google overstepping their bounds rages on, while many believe that they are unfair and just plain scandalous, it is their search engine, and used by millions of people worldwide, so is it not their prerogative?
And, in the end it comes down to one simple fact for webmasters and marketers, if you want Google traffic you have to play by their rules.
In general, the old easy days of slapping up some over used PLR on a site or building a quick thin affiliate site and then and buying a bunch of links, blog comments or blasting the site with 5000 forum profile links and enjoying high rankings are gone.
The sites that rank are full of original content which is linked to naturally by related sites. In many ways these changes have actually made it easier to run an online business, whether it’s affiliates or ecommerce site owners there seems to be a lot more clarity now of what works and what doesn’t, which essentially can save a lot of time and effort.
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