Matt Cutts, everyone’s favorite spam killer, has done it again and improved the World Wide Web experience for everyone except for a small number of web site owners. If you’re one of them, this story is for you. Back in late April, Cutts made an announcement that rocked the tranquil web world. Let me give you the translated, actual meaning, of what he said:
Attention Google Slaves:
I hereby give you Penguin. Enjoy.
This set everyone to scratching their heads. Penguin? What’s that? A few trusting souls thought it might be a new candy bar. The wiser folks knew better. Cutts doesn’t give out candy. He’s Google’s Lord of Punishment in charge of squashing spam.
In the moments after the announcement, web masters stopped scrapping web sites and pasting duplicate content to ponder and reflect. This could be more trouble, they thought.
Penguin had been loosed. In the ensuing hours, cries of anguish from Google peasants echoed across the Web plains.
Penguin introduced itself: I am Penguin, here to apply ligature on links and bring agony to anchors. Know me well, or I will plunge you into sandbox darkness.
This was serious stuff. Even the link farmers stopped tending their herds to watch.
What Penguin Means
In a nutshell, this Penguin algorithm was designed to punish website owners who didn’t stick to Google’s guidelines. That means no black hat SEO. Manipulation to rank high in SERPs (search engine results page) is also taboo.
Various website owners reported big drop-offs in traffic. That meant lost cash for sites relying on Adsense. Fortunately, the men in white hats were on duty and quickly surveyed the damage from the Penguin footprint.
Worry not, Google peasants, said the white hats. We have the solution if Penguin stomped your web site into the dirt. First, Google penalties are not forever. Through careful analysis and applying solutions discovered by professional web masters, Penguin can be appeased, and web pages can regain high SERP and visitors.
Penguin Recovery: A 3 Step Process
The web masters at searchengineland.org were gracious enough to offer a three-step plan for Penguin recovery.
Penguin Recovery Tip# 1
The No. 1 recommendation to appease Google Penguin is don’t break Google’s rules, said Amine Rahal in an article titled “3 Post-Penguin Online Marketing Tips for Small Businesses; Focusing on the User!” Rahal is the CEO and founder of IronMonk Solutions, an SEO and social media marketing agency.
That’s a great recommendation as Cutts has stated that one of the goals of Penguin is to punish web pages that don’t follow Google’s guidelines. Using any other technique that falls outside these guidelines in order to gain a high page ranking is manipulation, said Rahal.
Rahal also recommended that web masters “diversify…sources of traffic.” People who rely completely on Google for traffic are operating a flawed business model, Rahal said. Different ways to generate traffic to a web site are available. They include:
- E-mail marketing
- Social media
Smart web masters engage in marketing research to determine where their customers hang out. Once these places are identified, a method is developed to reach them with a compelling message.
In order to improve a web site, Rahal recommends that web masters first improve the UX. UX is a marketing acronym meaning user experience.
The last indicator that a web page owner wants to see is a high bounce rate for a web site. A high bounce rate is a signal that the visitor is having a bad UX. The content could be less than compelling. The message could be wrong for the visitor. The navigation could be substandard, confusing or difficult to understand.
Rahal reminds web site owners that both Google Panda and Penguin are designed to downgrade web pages that give visitors a poor experience. The primary goal for Google is to provide visitors with a good experience.
If the Penguin algorithm detects a high bounce rate, that’s a sign that the web pages are not giving a visitor what he wants. The result is a downgrade in page ranking.
Rahal recommends that web site owners look at the stats in web analytics for the past few months. Any pages with a high bounce rate should be candidates for a rework. The written content may need revision. The navigation may need an upgrade. Perhaps the page design is flawed. Dull and boring is a web page killer.
Rahal said that web masters need to achieve a low bounce rate and a high pageviews rate per visit. UX can be improved by looking at competitor web sites and kicking around ideas with colleagues.
Penguin Recovery Online Marketing Tip# 2
Next on the list to appease Penguin is to give visitors valuable content constantly. Injecting a web site with new and valuable information on a consistent basis is a winner in the eyes of Google Penguin. If your articles are 10 months old, that’s not new. Hiring a content mill in India or China for $5 per article is also not a good plan. Great content takes time and money to generate. Articles of high quality get liked, linked and tweeted.
Penguin Recovery Online Marketing Tip# 3
Finally, get social, Rahal said. A web site should be active in two or three social mediums. Then the web master needs to engage these people and grow a fan base.
Rahal recommends three strategies in social marketing:
- Consider social advertising. Launch an ad campaign tied to a fan page.
- Try giveaways and contests. People love free stuff, and it makes them feel appreciated and loved.
- Share fun and useful content every day. Sharing bolsters the brand name and generates likes, tweets and links.
Meeting the demands of Penguin is not an insurmountable task. It takes work, forbearance and creativity but the payoff is huge.