Whenever Google alters its search engine algorithms, it creates a ripple effect on ranking among businesses over the Web. The rise and fall of any business depends on the ranking of its site in the Google search results. It’s been a topic of debate since the release of Google Penguin update that it has impacted many small businesses that heavily rely on the Google ranking results for their existence.
Google released its Penguin update on April 24, 2012 in an attempt to penalize over-optimized websites that were loaded with keywords (keyword stuffing) and follow ‘black hat’ SEO tactics.
Before the release of the Penguin update, the links were given top priority. A site or webpage receiving a lot of links, was considered to be of high-quality. These links impacted the ranking of that page in Google and other search engines. Many websites used these tactics to make their sites rank high in the search results.
“The Penguin update targets all the practices that search engine optimizers have been doing for the past 10 years, such as getting paid links or spinning content articles and distributing them just to improve their ranking,” said Todd Bailey, search engine expert and vice president of marketing at WebiMax. He added “If you had done a lot of these things, as of the release, you have seen dramatic shuffling of search indexes and drops in ranking.”
Penguin’s Impact on Small Businesses
Navneet Virk, director of optimization at Roundarch Isobar said, “The Google algorithm is now going to try to see if the link structure is natural. If the linking structure is unnatural with everyone linking using the same word, Google is saying that is spam.”
According to The Wall Street Journal’s latest coverage, the search algorithm changes have affected many small businesses that followed unconventional practices to boost their search engine ranking. It reported that the sales of a small business owner dropped to $25000 this month from $68000 last month. Also, a small website owner saw a decrease of 30% of traffic to his site after the update. There are so many other small business owners who claimed that they have suffered devastating losses due to the update.
Small businesses are unable to react to the changes brought by the Penguin update since they lack immediate fund and support to change their SEO measures according to Google’s norms.
On the other side, Matt Cutts, a Google engineer claimed that the Google Penguin update has been a huge success. He said, “The Penguin algorithm update was designed to reduce Web spam, which is when websites try to get a higher search ranking than they deserve by deceiving or manipulating search engines… In many cases the affected sites had been spamming for a long time.”
What can businesses do?
Businesses can come up on the ranking if they focus their SEO measures around quality content. Irrelevant and hidden links have to sorted out. Keyword stuffing must be eliminated. Google’s quality guidelines must be followed.
Bailey said, “Businesses need to get rid of the philosophy that they need to get as many links and as much content out as there as they can. They need to look at a public relations strategy and try to produce quality content by pitching news outlets, doing press releases and guest blogging. The other options are social media campaigns and other multichannel options such as referrals and using CPM advertising.”