In its continuing quest to clean up search engine results, Google released Penguin 2.1, a new search engine algorithm update. Since the October 4th release, some site owners are reporting drops in search ranks. Sometimes, this happens as a result of websites that link to you. If you hang with the right people, your site will rank higher in search engine results. Otherwise, the Penguin is going to get you.
Penguin is a search engine algorithm update that makes it tougher for websites to engage in shady (e.g. Black Hat) SEO practices. Including the most recent one, there have been five Penguin releases. Offending sites get pushed down the search results page, and in some cases, even banned from search engines.
The algorithm updates search for questionable tactics such as invisible text, keyword stuffing, paid backlinks, doorway pages, and text advertisements. The latest Penguin update digs deeper into page levels in order to find problems. A recent tweet from Google web spam team head Matt Cutts, Penguin 2.1 affects 1% of searches “to a noticeable degree”.
Someone once said “Any publicity is good publicity”. This person obviously never tried to get a website noticed on a search engine. If you associate your site with the wrong element, you’ll get caught in the same net that they do. This particular element is known as a “bad neighborhood site”.
A bad neighborhood site is one that engages in dirty tricks and questionable activities, all of these known collectively as Black Hat SEO practices, in order to manipulate their search ranking and/or negatively affect visitors to the site. They employ tactics like spamming, malware installation, cloaking, or employing tricks like link farms (websites with many links crammed into it).
If a bad neighborhood site has a link to your own site, this could be detrimental to you. An easy way of checking to see if a site is considered “bad neighborhood” is to search Google for links to it. If you find none, then it’s a good bet that the site has been banned.
You don’t want to be associated with such sites, as they will drag you down with them.
If a website uses Black Hat SEO, it stands a very excellent chance of being pushed so far down on a search results page that no one will ever find it. In other cases, such websites could be banned outright.
Keep an eye on your search engine traffic for about two weeks after the release of a search engine algorithm update. If you notice a significant drop-off in search results, you’ve been busted.
Should that happen, you will need to root out the problem and try to correct it. Start by identifying the source of the problem. This is a technical task, and may be better left to a professional to do a link profile audit. When the problems have been spotted, you can address the matter by contacting the sites in question and request a removal. Failing this, you can disavow sites by using Google’s Disavow tool.
There’s an old joke about a drunk who staggered out of a bar and wound up falling into a pig sty, and winding up using a pig for his pillow. Two church ladies walked by, witnessed the site and said “Hmph! You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep!” So, the pig got up and walked away.
Be the pig.