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Takeaways From Google’s Penguin Update

penguinYet another “surprise” for SEOs?

Google’s Penguin Update officially launched on April 24 and the overall consensus is that it’s the worst update yet.  The official word from Google is that this update is an “important algorithm change targeted at webspam” that is meant to “reward high-quality sites”. Then why exactly are so many people so upset?

As you can see from the influx of comments in related forum threads and news articles, webmasters are NOT happy with this update. The story is similar – sites with #1 rankings for months (or even years), have all of a sudden taken a drastic drop or have even disappeared. The infuriating thing is that many people are finding that spam sites, sites that haven’t been updated for years or even plain un-optimized sites are now out ranking their site. How exactly is this “rewarding” high quality content?

SEOs aside, looking at the user experience is not a pretty picture either. Imagine that you’re looking for affordable or cheap auto insurance, only to find spam at the top results. When Penguin first rolled out, some users pointed out how people would have to scroll past a couple pages before getting to a reputable, brand name auto insurance company. They argue that this update isn’t aimed completely at spam (since it is still prevalent in SERPs) but any site that is remotely optimized. Whether this is true or not, is a different story. Even one that we may not fully understand since Google hasn’t officially made a response to these reactions.

This is only day 3 after the update rollout, so we can hopefully see the changes settle down and smooth out. Whether it’s all just a coincidence or theory, Google is finding themselves in controversial waters, so get ready to read more about Google’s evil ways. Many people are commenting about Google’s motives and after reading about all the businesses that have been affected, it isn’t hard to see things from a different light. Perhaps, Google is trying to prepare their algorithm to take into account more social factors (especially Google Plus profiles.) This may make sense if you’re up to speed with the Facebook search engine news. Others feel that Google is putting less revelency into their organic search so that businesses will turn to paid ads. After all, this is where Google makes over 90% of their overall revenue…

On the less pessimistic side, the Google engineers are probably (and hopefully) taking all this feedback into consideration as they tweak the update or make note for the next update. We can’t expect algorithm changes to roll out so seamlessly and it’s important to remember that there will be some winners and losers with each new wave. It’s too early to tell how things will end up as results may take awhile to settle down, but definitely expect something to happen soon!

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