Google Penguin Updates 4.0- Is it going to be easy on you?

If you are a business owner who has just stepped into the world of digital marketing for business, then the term SEO might have crossed your news feeds quite a few times. What is SEO? Why is it so important that everybody keeps talking about it?

SEO for Small Businesses

What is SEO and why is it important for your website?

SEO is “search engine optimisation” of your website. It is an investment of time and effort that you make today to reap the benefits in the future. It’s an “Evolve or Decay” situation, as many call it. If you choose to ignore it now, you might end up regretting that decision later. This post will explain what SEO is and how Google’s Penguin 4.0 updates might affect your business online. Master SEO and it will make your website visible and rank better on Google.

Google is king

Why is the ranking on search engines so important? Almost 2.2 trillion search queries are made on Google annually.

75% of the searchers, never go beyond second page, while running a search query. Surprised? Well, the competition doesn’t end there. Being top ranked on first page means your website will get 32.5% of the traffic. Not a huge number? But imagine if you are on the second page of a search engine. The chances of the average traffic coming to your website drops down to 1%. The fight for the top rank is brutal.

Though activities like PPC campaigns and social media organic/paid campaigns do result in increase in traffic to your website, Google searches is the most popular way people find your website. It should be a priority on your list of online marketing strategies.

Your goal for your website should be to rank top on the first page of a search engine.

Important SEO  ranking factors

The most important ingredients of SEO: 

  • Keywords: What are searchers typing in while looking for a product similar to your business? These are the most relevant searches (in relation to your business) done by the searchers. If your website is optimised for keywords, you will rank well.
  • Content relevancy and quality: One can no longer get away by having a website with a few web pages and minimal content that is just sitting there. The quality of the content is one of the biggest factors that Google takes into consideration. Having content equipped with proper grammar, spellings that reads well defines quality. Content is relevant when it relates to the user search query. For example if a search for: ‘Importance of SEO for SME’ lands on a page that only talks about SEO activities and not it’s importance, then it’s not “relevant” content.
  • Link Building: There are two types of link building: Inbound and Outbound links. The links that point towards your website are inbound links.
SEO Inbound links and Outbound Links

Google likes it when you have lots of inbound links, but it can also penalise you for links that are not relevant. Since you have no control over who links to your website, a SEO audit for these “backlinks” is a must. The “outbound links” are the links pointing towards other websites from your website. You have more control over these. Choose links that are more relevant to the content on your website.

Having discussed SEO and it’s importance for your website, let’s examine what “Google’s Penguin 4.0 Update” means for your business.

Penguin Updates 1.0 – 3.0

The first Google Penguin Update was launched in April 2012, to catch sites that were spamming the search results. These especially include those sites that were “buying links” or obtaining them through “link networks” in order to boost their Google Ranking. The old penguin also didn’t care if only a few pages were hit by spammy links. It would penalise the entire website.

Google Penguin update 1.0-3.0

Websites with  “spammy inbound links” suffered in these roll outs. If they removed these links, they had a chance to get penalties lifted. But this was only possible when a Penguin update roll out again. This could mean waiting for months!

Penguin 1.0 to Penguin 3.0 was designed to penalise the practitioners of spammy links, but the way they did it (the wait), affected those caught in the crossfire unknowingly. The long process was painful for small business owners who didn’t know what infected their website.

Penguin 4.0 and it’s impact on Small Businesses

On 23rd September 2016, Google announced the release of Penguin 4.0. Wondering how it might affect your website and it’s ranking?

Google's Penguin Update 4.0

Initial rollouts of Penguin was a long process.

But those websites that weren’t affected by the last rollout- time to watch out now.

Penguin 4.0 has become real time! This implies that your website’s page ranking may change each time Google updates the information. Basically, more changes on a regular basis.

Good news for those, who were waiting for their penalties to get lifted.  But, if your business is suspected of spammy link scams or the ‘black hat’ activities of buying spammy links, then get ready to face the hammer!  You will be penised much faster than you expected.

What SME’s can do?

If you think your website is associated with “sketchy links”, or have noticed a sudden fall in your rankings on Google, then it’s time for a SEO audit. Before Google makes a check on your website, you need to optimise your “backlink” strategy. 

There are several tools available to do this audit. Google Search Console (previously known as Google Webmaster tools) is one of the most powerful tools to check your site’s presence on Google search engine. And it’s free. It gives a wide variety of insights about your website. Which search queries resulted in your site appearing on search pages? Were they traffic magnet search queries? Is your site optimised for mobile?

In referrence to the issues of back links – you can check which sites are linking to your site. Doing a critical audit of these links, would highlight the relevant and irrelevant links (spam) linking to your website. Segment them and submit these spammy links to Google’s Disavow Tool. Make sure that you don’t include relevant links, as disavowing them might affect your ranking on Google. 

This seem like lots of work, time, money and effort. But in order to save your website from Google’s Penguin updates 4.0, it’s better to invest now and save yourself from the “real time” wrath!

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About the Author

Ashima Bhutani is a Digital Analytics Expert at Iolar Digital Marketing, Dublin, Ireland. Loves to scrutinise and analyse everything and anything!! A mother to an angel, A Digital Marketer by profession and A Lover of Life