Quality, authenticity and integrity… yup, we’re talking search marketing here people!

by on June 14, 2013

The latest Google Penguin update

The search marketing world has been abuzz over the latest update to the Google Algorithm, being called Penguin 2.0 (unleashed May 22). OK, I know you’re not a search geek like me, but you are a business owner. And I figured that some of you may have come across the news and wondered: “Oh god! What does this mean for me?”

For the most part you have nothing to worry about. A very small number of search queries were affected: about 2.3% of English search queries.

But I thought it was a good opportunity to bring up some of the important factors in search marketing success and touch on a few points in the update that could be relevant to you.

Not that much has changed

Really, it’s all about what the first Penguin update was about: penalizing the garbage sites and scamming techniques.  Rewarding quality content while penalizing duplicate content. Authentic use of keywords. Being helpful. Writing for people (not search machines). Being active (again in an authentic non spammy way) on social media. Being considered an authority in your niche. Did I mention creating great content? (hello blog, hello e-book, hello helpful, valuable resources!)

That kind of thing.

If you’d like a little more clarification on that, the initial post about the Penguin update gives a good overview of what all this means. Zip on over and read it here.

New elements to look at

  • Over-aggressive anchor text linking. If you are always focusing on one specific keyword string in your text links (whether onsite or off), you should change things up. Use different variations. Don’t use the same one over and over. And of course keep things natural as much as possible. They shouldn’t always be keywords. Here’s a really great article from Audience Bloom that describes the different types of anchor texts you can use and how you should use them.
  • Poor quality links: I mentioned this in my previous Penguin post, but I wanted to bring it up again. Links pointing to your site from spammy, questionable or bad quality sites can have a negative effect on your rankings. Don’t put up a business profile or a guest post on a crummy site. Also, article marketing sites, where users submit articles about different topics (ezine is one of the more well known ones) are not looked well upon.
  • A natural link velocity. If Google notices a whole slew of links all of a sudden pointing to your site, they could flag this. 1,000 new links to your site might seem a bit fishy. Especially when you don’t have that much traffic. Or credibility.
  • Paid text links and other spammy advertising. That just doesn’t make send for your site. Don’t do it.
  • Google does not look upon a hacked site favourably. Make sure your website security is where it should be. I wrote a little while back about keeping your WordPress website safe.


  • Some business owners and SEO consultants are seeing drops that they can’t seem to explain. Ie. they were not practicing any black hat (spammy) tactics that they know of.
  • Some specific industries seem to be affected more than others.  The industry websites that got affected the most included retailers and real estate, of whom 33% were affected, according to SEOMoz.
  • Some specific types of keyword strings also seem to have been targeted. Eg. “Cheap” or “free” strings in some industries may be problematic.
  • Others are noticing that spammers and poor quality sites in their industries are still doing very well.

There tends to be quite a bit of freaking out when things change with search engines, especially with the big G. But the fact of the matter is, updates will continue to be rolled out. Search marketing is a constantly changing thing. Some of the tactics above, such as article marketing for example, used to be fine and were generally understood as genuine tactics to help your site move up in rankings. No more. So you have to be ready to evolve.

So, what can you, as a small business owner, do? Just stay on top of where you are with your search rankings and your traffic. Do Google searches every once in a while for your main keywords and make note of where you stand. Check in on your Google Analytics. If you notice any major changes (ie. your ranking spot drops dramatically or you see that your website traffic took a dip around the update and has not bounced back), then it might be time to take action. If you’ve worked with an SEO professional, just get in touch with them. Or find one if you’ve done things on your own, don’t think you’ve committed any of the faux pas above or just don’t really know how to address the issue. (I’d be happy to help – give me a shout)

Just remember, scuzzy, cheapo SEO services are likely to make things worse rather than help at this point.

Want to do a little more sleuthing on your own? Here are some great resources:

Search Engine Watch
Search Engine Journal
Yahoo Small Business

What have you noticed with your website and the new Penguin 2.0 update? Any changes?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather Stone July 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Hi Martina,
When you think about how the first page of a Google search generally looked for any given keyword a few years ago vs. now with the number of scraped sites you might actually have gotten on the front page, things have clearly improved. On the other side, of course, the question is what results Google doesn’t show you. There’s the issue that Google may be limiting and customizing your search results based on your previous searches. Google competitors like Duck Duck Go claim this is because Google tracks your searches and is putting you in a bubble based on that. All things you need to think about when considering how customers find your site through organic search.
Heather Stone recently posted..Gain Masses Of Free Exposure With HARO


Martina July 13, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Thanks for sharing your insights Heather! You’re right that the search game has changed dramatically. In many ways for the better, but certainly some legitimate sites have gotten hurt while some spammers still manage to mysteriously maintain their top rankings. It will be interesting to watch how Google’s algorithm continues to evolve and how they deliver results to searchers. Cheers!


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