Google Penguin 2.0 Update and What It Means for Small Businesses

Penguin 2.0 was rolled out on Thursday May 23rd. The effects of this significant update can be easily identified if you are monitoring your Google organic traffic on a continual basis. The Penguin continues to target “unnatural” incidences of content and incoming links to the affected website.

Have I Been Hit by the Penguin 2.0 Update?

If you have seen a significant decline (over 20% in Google organic traffic) starting Thursday May 23rd and Friday May 24th compared to the previous days and week, there’s a strong likelihood that the cause is Penguin 2.0. Here’s what it looks like.

Penguin 2.0 Update Drop in Traffic Example

Why Have I Been Hit by the Google Penguin 2.0 Update and Why Did I Lose Organic Traffic?

There might be several possibilities:

a) Weak, Low Quality, Duplicate Content

Retail and Ecommerce sites seem to have experienced the hardest hit by the Penguin 2.0 update.

Google suggests that you create content that users love, and come back to your site to read that content. Engaging, compelling, copy that makes users want to come back.

So, what does that really mean? Matt Cutts always makes generic statements such as the one above.

(See video here)

The only way that users would want to come back to your site is if you provide ongoing value i.e. valuable content or cool / powerful user functionality. Clearly, we believe that you MUST publish/update content (products descriptions, blogs, articles, shopping guides) weekly for the purpose of increasing engagement, time on site and overall positive signals that Google is measuring. If your content performs, your content will rank.

b) Paid Links and Unnatural Links

Advertorials and Paid Links (sponsorships) must have a no-follow tag! If you have any paid links that still pass the link juice with a “follow”, get rid of them or make them “no-follow”. This is what it should look like;

<a href=”//www.optimum7.com” title=”Marketing” rel=”nofollow“>Optimum7 </a>

– You must NOT have hundreds of links coming from one domain. It’s just unnatural, not credible and might yield a penalty.
– You must NOT have too many backlinks with duplicate anchor text such as “internet marketing”. It’s unnatural; a much more natural link profile includes many diverse anchor texts reflecting relevant diverse topics and categories of content.
– You must NOT have a ton of backlinks from low quality article and directory sites. You really shouldn’t have any that are low quality. You can have a few exceptions but that should only exist for a good business reason. Judicious use of the Google Disavow Tool would be a good strategy combined with direct requests to webmasters with sites with low quality links to you.
– You must indentify and remove any involvement with link networks. Link networks link to each other and often are hosted through the same server or C-class IP. This is an absolute no-no.

Matt Cutts also stated in his video that certain spammy industries like payday loans and pornography were affected greatly since Google received a lot of negative feedback from users seeing these sites for unrelated searches.

c) Your Site Has Been Hacked

There’s a possibility that you have malware on your site and it may not be visible to you. Penguin 2.0 will cause you to lose ranks if you have malware present. The best thing to do would be to check Google Webmaster Tools to see whether or not malware has been detected on your site. If you do not have Google Webmaster Tools, sign up for it here: www.google.com/webmasters/tools/‎

d) Your Site Lacks Focus

Do you sell general merchandise on your site from 20 different categories and 200 different manufacturers? If so, you might be out of luck. Google is cracking down on sites that try to provide “too many” products or services. If you wish to be the next Amazon or EBay, you better have a lot of resources to back it up.

Matt Cutts stated in his video that Google is looking for authority sites in specific niches or categories. So, while I might be an expert in Internet Marketing as a whole, it might be smart to specialize in a specific sub -specialty of Internet Marketing like “Reputation Management” or “Sponsored Search“. If your site is trying to do too much, narrow your products/services down. Instead of offering 20K products and providing no value, offer 1K products and build value through focused offerings, unique offerings, supported by plenty of quality content including well written articles, user testimonials, video demonstrations and more

e) You Have Multiple Results on the First Page for a Specific Term

According to Matt Cutts, Google has limited displaying multiple search results from the same source for a specific search. So, if you are used to dominating search results for a niche term or keyword, you may lost that, and the traffic that comes along with it.

What Does the Google Penguin 2.0 Update Mean for Small Businesses?

First of all, Matt Cutts also stated that if you were hit by the previous updates, Penguin 2.0 attempted to lessen the effects of that update possibly restoring some traffic back to websites that might have been hit unfairly or a bit too harshly. This is actually Google’s way of saying, without directly admitting, that “algorithms are scalable, however there’s a margin of error.”

We believe that this margin of error mostly hits small business and small scale websites. This is what I mean:

Perform a Google search for “ID Badge Holder”

This is a very niche product, and one of our clients happens to sell 2,000 different types of ID Badge Holders, which also means we know this product very well indeed. Now look at the search results below. Why would Wal-Mart and Staples, two giants who have nothing to do with this very specific niche, selling ONLY ONE relevant product type, show up on the first page? This is the margin of error we are talking about. I could provide hundreds of examples, but you should get the point. Big names are favored above relevance and authority in certain cases.

Penguin 2.0 and What it means for Small Businesses

Conclusion

Week over week (May 23-24 vs. May 16-17), we see lost traffic that ranges from 10-35% The update rolled out on Thursday. It’s not really enough time to make a final assessment. We hope that the information and reasoning provided here are useful for you in understanding the ramifications of Penguin 2.0 We will be posting a Penguin 2.0 Reversal Strategy shortly. In the meantime, if you have any questions or need assistance with Penguin 2.0, contact us.