You website is your baby and you woke to find out that Google Penguin update threw it out with the bathwater?
So reading up on the latest Google attempt to kill an insect with a hand grenade the Penguin Update that just took place at the end of April, 2012.
This has been rumored to be the over optimization penalty update and will whack a site that appears to have unnatural back links or rate of back links. Google is thinking they can monitor link trends and determine what is natural for a site and penalize anything unnatural. This attempt to find a formula for the randomness is yet again going to be a fail that hits as many innocent webmasters as spam sites.
A lot of what goes on in the world of the internet and page design has been around for years an is perfectly natural but would trigger this “penalty” or “Google banning” for nothing malicious by the website owner.
It is important at the same time to remember that this website is not just some fan page a person put online as a hobby, but in many cases can be half or more of a company’s business. These sites can often represent a family’s livelihood. For Google to always try to split the atom for something as simple as web spam amount to hunting for squirrels with a flame thrower.
An article on the Google Penguin Update I am reading here at SEOMOZ, talks about site wide links being a top trigger for what is unnatural.
Well, WordPress has had a “blog roll” section for as long as I have used it. You like another Blogger website, so you add them to your blog roll. Lets say you have a blog that has been online for 5 years and you write tons of hand entered content on up to date events IE: great content for users. Now I link to my friends great informative blog in my blog roll that is in my sidebar. I just created a site wide link in my sidebar, away from any paragraphs or content and it is on everyone of my 2,000 pages. This is a completely natural link on a quality blog. This is actually a high quality link since it is my “human” recommendation of a relevant website.
By the thinking of the new Google Penguin update isn’t this 2,000 site wide links on a highly templated layout? I also have Adsense displayed on the sidebar and the links are listed in an unordered list as bullet-points and not inside of content or a sentence.
It looks like my very natural high quality personal recommendation link is black hat by the “one size bans all” formula of Penguin. Ironically, this blog you are reading now which has never built an unnatural link has dropped significantly from Penguin this past month as well. Also A news blog that I once did work for years ago and has thousands of hand written posts from a dozen different guest writers also vanished after 5 years on page 1 or 2 for major search terms. I know that neither of those examples has ever had a link built on it’s behalf other than viral links and natural links. Not even emailing to solicit links have ever occurred.
I also have a real estate website for Charlotte that has been online since about 2005, listing homes, office, contact information, photos of houses. None of this information is automated or from feeds, the entire site is hand written with nothing duplicated. This site has sit on page one (+-#4) for half a decade and is gone as of the time of this writing.
And what about those “website design by Sellaholics” links in the footer of client sites? Those are very natural advertisement, just like SOLD signs on a front lawn are for realtors. Will these site wide footer links appear unnatural to Google? What if a webmaster decidees to add them to client sites? Say they have 15 clients, some WordPress blogs some Joomla sites. He adds this to his footer to try and get visitors that like the website to see who authored it?
Well by most line graphs of incoming links and site wide links his site just may be missing the next day. He did nothing black hat seo but at the same time Google’s attempt for a “one size bans all” solution has removed his livelihood from the internet.
When I think of the cost of engineers that has gone into coming up with the last few updates, I am confident it could have paid for a “spam center” with 5000 employees working around the clock giving 15 second CTRL+A reviews of websites and flagging spam sites in a safe and reliable manner. When I think of the good PR that Google would also achieve with this hand reviewed model the benefits are doubled.
A shame that Google wants so bad to be “ahead of the curve” that they plow their curve right over 1 innocent site owner that relies on his website for every 5 spam sites they erase.