Are small businesses now afraid of penguins? After the latest Google search algorithm update, dubbed “Penguin,” many small-business owners are seeing a drastic change in traffic to their websites. The results are not all positive.
Google announced last month it had rolled out a new technology known as “knowledge graph,” which aims to deliver more relevant search results. It is using a database of over 500 million people, places and things to figure out what users are really searching for and what results would be most beneficial to readers. This now means that the most "optimized" websites may not always rank highest on the list.
Small Businesses Hurt by Penguin
Max Tetrault at Ship It Media states that on his site, Coupon Monster seems to “have completely vanished, apart from searches for our brand in particular." His site depended heavily on Google search to help grow and maintain his brand. For Ekanen Ebinne at Overturekids.com, Penguin has made his company drop off the first page when users are searching for kid’s music in Houston. Now his site is relegated to the fourth or fifth page, and he predicts a downturn in his business. Pete Juratovic, President at Clikzy writes that his rankings dropped overnight with no real warning since "Google determined my content was either duplicate, low quality or I was keyword stuffing. My site went from getting 140 to 200 clicks a day (which equates to us receiving 1 to 2 leads per day) to now receiving 8 to 10 clicks per day."
What can small business owners do to combat the Penguin? Here are some suggestions:
1. Forget about questionable link exchanges with other websites. Google was monitoring this type of spam manually, but Penguin now does it automatically. This includes removing links from blogrolls. It’s okay to have mutual links from two websites, but ensure the content is relevant. More importantly, attract natural links from other sites. This will take time, but it will help search results in the long run.
2. Don’t “over-optimize.” Experts say this happens when search optimization is a little too perfect. For example, when most of the links to the site are using the preferred keyword term as anchor text. The penalty also applies to what’s commonly called "keyword stuffing" where the selected keyword is placed too many times into content. This is actually more harmful than under-using the term.
3. Write excellent content. Post information that is useable to readers not just for robots and search spiders. Sonia Simone at SEO Scribe says that “If you write well, you will rank well. No Google update has ever altered that." There is no better time to build a content marketing strategy. A good place to start is with CC Chapman and Ann Handley’s book, Content Rules.
4. Diversify, diversify, diversify. Senior Product Manager Duane Forrester at Bing says not to become too get dependent on any one source of traffic. Understand where all the traffic is coming from especially referrals and try to foster similar links.
5. Quality, not quantity, wins. It always earns beneficial backlinks, social media sharing, and more traffic. Smaller sites with fewer pages seem to have a positive effect now on search rankings.
Penguin has eliminated many shortcuts to getting higher Google rankings. Trying to achieve quick results with shady practices no longer works. Like most other things in small business, effective search engine optimization takes time.
How has your businesses website traffic been affected by the Google Penguin update? What changes have you decided to make as a result?
Photo credit: Google