Buzz over the Thanksgiving weekend speculating that Google had rolled out a new version of one of its ranking algorithms — Penguin 3.1 — has turned out to be unfounded. Google confirmed Dec. 1 that changes noticed by search engine optimization experts and webmasters were part of the continued rollout of Penguin 3.0, which was released in October.
SEO industry leader Barry Schwartz reported for Search Engine Roundtable that dozens of threads on the forum Black Hat World popped up on Thanksgiving Day, as webmasters saw their rankings changing.
But, as Schwartz wrote in a later update, “that shockwave seemed to be mostly reversals of sites that got hit initially by 3.0.”
Holiday Rollout Concerns
There has been some negative feedback regarding Google’s continued rollout of an update during the prime shopping season.
“[T]he holiday shopping season is now in full gear, and it’s not very cool of Google to mess with people’s businesses around that time,” Chris Crum wrote for WebProNews Dec. 1.
On Nov. 16, 2003, Google released the now-infamous “Florida” update, which caused several large websites to disappear from search results altogether. The company has largely stayed away from updates during the holidays since then.
But, as Crum noted, many businesses have been eager to see if money spent cleaning up websites to meet current standards would pay off.
“For anybody trying to make some extra holiday sales that have been awaiting recovery, the timing might be a blessing,” he observed.
In general, he said, sites negatively affected by the update are probably guilty of shady SEO practices.
The Future of Updates
Overwhelmingly, sites that have never used illegitimate (“black-hat”) tactics to artificially inflate their rankings are seeing only small shifts as rollouts of new algorithms continue.
“Everything seems to be pointing to sites ending up where they rightfully belong in the SERPs [search engine results pages],” Aaron Friedman wrote for Search Engine Land Dec. 3.
SEO experts overwhelmingly agree that old techniques are no longer valid, as SEO is merging with traditional marketing methods, relying on unique content rather than technical chicanery.
Friedman summed up a simple strategy for SEO in this new era: “Create good, high quality content. Earn relevant and solid links because of the incredible content you build. Rinse and repeat to keep things fresh and make sure there is a constant supply of quality, useful, and valuable content being generated.”
And, he continued, “for all that is holy, stop worrying about the damn algorithm updates. Those days are over (unless you’re a spammer).”
“Staying on top of Google and their updates is a full time job,” says Steve Taplin, Managing Director at SEO Experts. “Find a SEO company that you can trust to handle all your internet marketing needs, it will be the best investment you can make for your business!”