Penguin Update – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly!

Almost a month after the fact, some of the noise has died down, some of the pain has become clear, some of the successes have been celebrated, and a new greater danger has surfaced!

This post describes what I have observed as an SEO consultant based in New Zealand.  I have noticed some major impacts to search results while researching keywords for clients – post Penguin.

Please feel free to share this post via the social buttons at the top or with any business that has a website or has paid an SEO provider in the past or is currently doing so.
Google penguin update
Wow! Firstly, it has been a hell of a big year for Google so far! 

They have clearly signaled their intentions to rid their search results of any spam, any borderline SEO techniques and any “black hat” stuff.

In the last few weeks we have had Blog Networks de-indexed (my post about the massive effects of this one here) and penalities dished out, a free parking  bug, two Panda updates in quick succession and to top it all off Google rolled out the nukes on April 24th…

The Penguin Update!

This one has had a remarkable effect on search as we know it. The idea behind it may have been noble but…

Did it work?

What really happened?

What are some of the shocking repercussions of this update?

Google’s Penguin Update was a direct and aggressive assault on the rise of black hat SEO, manipulative search practices, spam, poor quality websites cluttering the top positions in search…

And who would berate them for cleaning up this frustrating and time consuming (and revenue sapping) annoyance? After all, the success of Google relies on delivering the best possible results for any search query.

But, you know what? Penguin was never only about improving search results. It was a more punitive roll-out.

It was about webspam pure and simple!

So, let’s take a look at who won, who lost, who was destroyed and a major new threat to online business.

Maybe we should start with the positive stuff:

The Good:

White hat SEO

Ever typed a phrase into Google then been frustrated about the results you are getting?

Yes, the first one is a government site, or Wikipedia, or Amazon… not quite right

Then the next couple are not really what you are looking for…

Then you hit position 4 and BAM! It is a crap site with no relevance to what you are searching for and it is a cheap-ass landing page to get you to click on some lousy banner or to purchase something you don’t want!

And that is a mild version of how spam and black hat SEO pollutes search results.
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The War Against Blog Comment Spam And How To Gain The Upper Hand

Blog comment spam… What exactly is it?

How do you know whether you have become an easy target?

How do you stay ahead of the comment spammers?

Spam in blogsI decided to put this guide together for two reasons which I will outline below but first let’s look at what blog comment spam is and why it has become such a major issue.

Blog comment spam is sometimes called spamdexing, comment spam, spam in blogs and a number of other variations on the same theme.

The reason why it exists is purely because of the value of links in SEO. One of the most important aspects of gaining good results in the search engine results pages is having a large number of back-links pointing at your website. These are seen as votes for your site by Google and the other search engines and are therefore counted as a powerful factor when allocating positions.

So, obviously the more links you can get the better your site will do (I have used an over-simplification here to avoid a full search engine optimisation explanation – you can read a fairly comprehensive explanation here)

Unfortunately when it comes to working online many people prefer to find ways to circumvent the safeguards which have been put in place to protect the integrity of the search results. By using “black hat techniques” many marketers break most of the compliance regulations in order to avoid the large amount of manual work and the patience required in implementation of “white hat SEO” techniques.

By sending massive amounts of automated spam out across the web with the attitude that some of it will “stick” these cowboys become the nuisance that we all have all grown to seriously dislike…

Google made a major change way back in 2005 to address this issue. By adding a nofollow attribute to links from comments and trackbacks the theory was that this would discourage automated blog comment spam as there would no longer be any SEO benefit from the comments. Google’s post is here:  Preventing Comment Spam.

Unfortunately there are millions of blogs which do not have the nofollow attribute (we voluntarily set our comments as dofollow in order to reward real comments but understand that we need to be more vigilant about spam because of this decision).

Blog spam software launches millions of comments per day at the web and the main problem is with the number of blogs where the owner auto-approves any comment. It is not unusual to find a blog of very low quality which has thousands of spam junk comments per post… Uggh!

Fortunately Google seeks out websites which have a disproportionate number of these low quality comment based links and penalises or even bans the websites which are using these techniques. Frustratingly though, it can take a while for them to identify some of the perpetrators and so ethically SEO’d websites can be relegated below the cowboys for periods of time.

The two reasons why I have created this guide?
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Tactical Twitter Techniques To Drive Engagement With Influencers

Who are the influencers in your industry niche?

How do you find them on Twitter?

How do you begin to engage with them on Twitter?

There are a number of techniques which can be highly effective in finding and beginning conversations with the influential Twitter users who you would like to build a relationship with.

Twitter for social media But first of all there is an extremely important point to be aware of…

Stop pitching!

Yes, if you want to be taken at all seriously in social media circles then you MUST stop the hard sell!

It is the first thing that will turn off the engagement tap for any users – not just influential ones. You have heard a thousand times that social media is where you build relationships, give value, join conversations… and I am telling you this is 100% the reality!

There has been a very powerful shift away from the pitch and it probably has a lot to do with consumers drowning in advertising messages, some overt and some covert. People hate being sold to and they particularly hate being sold to in a social or community space.

Next up – how is your online image?

Pay attention to how you look! What is your image like? Is it really cool to use the image of you with the wrestling mask on?… or your dog?… or an image you pinched off Google?…

Use a really good image! Not a posed photographer’s studio shot, but a warm, interesting human photo of you!

The most powerful short message about yourself is your bio!
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Social Media and SEO – NZ Businesses in Growth Mode Using These Strategies

How Social Media combined with SEO creates opportunity for New Zealand business

With social media and SEO – NZ Businesses have the most incredible tool at their fingertips to propel their business into another orbit!

If you are using this powerful combination to generate more web traffic for your business, then you are definitely on the right track and you already appreciate the massive potential of these two methods of Internet marketing.

What other marketing tools give you access to a massive audience of potential customers either globally or locally targeted?  And what other communication tool can turn inter-active dialogue into sales?  For effective conversion nothing else comes close!

If you still think that social media is where you post your holiday snaps and talk to family – think again…

Social Media for business growth

Let’s dig a little deeper and look at some facts.

  • Social networking now accounts for 22% of all time spent online in the United States and this is growing every month!
  • Twitter averages almost 40 million tweets per day and has over 200 million users.
  • Facebook has over 500 million registered users.
  • Social media usage in New Zealand is skyrocketing!

Most businesses here are now getting new profiles on Facebook and Twitter – mind you the execution of many accounts is woefully inadequate.  To avoid making big mistakes that can affect your online business persona, make sure you are listening to the right advice.

Why is it so powerful?
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Small Business Internet Marketing | Google Maps SEO Power

Google Maps To Accelerate Small Business Internet Marketing

If you have a business which may benefit from leverage in Google Places (maps) and Local Listing websites there are a number of major benefits to getting this technique right – first time.

The sort of businesses which will reap the rewards from this type of campaign are typically retail or service oriented. If you have a retail store or you are in any business which involves the need for customers to be somewhere relatively close to you : Doctors, mechanics, plumbers, therapists, lawyers, accountants, retailers, fitness centres, restaurants and so on.

No use trying to book an appointment with some business in another city or even country. So if you are in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch or you are searched on the Internet by a customer from your own suburb in New Zealand by using these strategies you will show up for keywords above some pretty heavy duty SEO optimized sites even if your website has minimal page rank.

And it doesn’t matter which country you use this technique in – your local searchers will find you!

This is why Google has created this very powerful option.
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