Penguin, Panda, it’s not that black and white..

Yoast - Penguin updateWe’re getting quite a few site review requests and SEO consultancy requests recently for people that have been hit by a sudden drop in traffic after the recent Google Penguin update. Because there has been quite some news about Google’s Penguin update and before that its Panda update, people are blaming those. In our perspective, whether you’re blaming Penguin, Panda or another update from Google isn’t really that interesting if you’re not an SEO. What matters most is: you’ve lost traffic, how are you going to get it back?

Why you’d want to know whether the Penguin update caused it

The idea is that if you know which update caused your traffic to drop and you know what that update targeted, you only have to fix that specific issue and your rankings will be magically restored. The reality is that it’s really not that black and white. Quite often now people blame one update, but if we look at the SearchMetrics stats for their domain, they’ve had a gradual decline over the last few months with a bigger decline in recent weeks. If we based our actions solely on what Penguin update targeted (and that’s not even really clear yet within the SEO community) we might be missing other issues.

There were other updates that didn’t get named by Google in the same way but had a huge impact in some countries. We’ve seen sites with over-optimized anchor text being hit from the beginning of the year already, but suddenly people now attribute that to Penguin. The end result for you as a site owner: it doesn’t matter.

You need to fix all your issues, not just the ones that this specific update “targets”.

How to get “your” traffic back

First of all, it’s not your traffic. It’s Google’s traffic. Being mad at Google, or anyone else for that matter, won’t help you one bit, it’s Google’s traffic and they can do what they want with it. So to regain the traffic your website was getting from Google, you need to play by their rules and in all honesty: those rules haven’t changed all that much over the last 10 years. The only thing that’s happening is that all the ways people found of bending those rules are slowly breaking.

Don’t try and play a game with Google if you don’t understand what you’re doing. There are dozens of great blackhats out there whom I respect, but that’s because they do their own research and they don’t start complaining publicly when Google catches them. If you have to read about and apply other people’s tricks, you’re probably not going to win. As the old saying goes: if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

So how do you get your traffic back? By getting your site re-aligned with Google’s values. If you’ve lost in the Panda update or Penguin update and now recently lost a lot of traffic again, Google is sending you a message: your website doesn’t fit our idea of quality. Fix that. Don’t try to remove the one or two links that you think might have hurt you.

Now of course, you’re more than welcome to order a website review and get our opinion, but please don’t expect us to come up with a silver bullet. There are no silver bullets in SEO, just a lot of shiny silver drops of sweat, coming from your forehead.

Yoast.com runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis theme frameworkThe Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Whether you're a novice or advanced developer, Genesis provides you with the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Read our Genesis review or get Genesis now!

85 Responses

  1. JonathanBy Jonathan on 14 May, 2012

    But both Pandas and Penguins are for sure black and white animals..:)

  2. Stuart CondeBy Stuart Conde on 14 May, 2012

    Great read Joost and I agree. The latest Google updates haven’t effected any of my clients site rankings at all (yet anyway) and the reason – I always take the long way up the mountain. No short-cuts. I’ve worked in SEO for about 6 years now and unnatural signals and link profiles have always been an issue to my knowledge but its only now that it is getting the headlines.

    • Gustav NovakBy Gustav Novak on 9 June, 2012

      I do totally agree with the fact, that whenever possible go the “nice” way.

      The only concern I have, as well as you should have is the fact, that nowadays negative SEO is possible. There are numerous cases about this on the internet, just try to find some. I am wondering what would you start saying about “zoo” updates if one of your clients sites got an “unnatural links alert” because your blackhat competitor can not take it as a game lost.

  3. Gus FergusonBy Gus Ferguson on 14 May, 2012

    Exactly… Google’s been giving the secret to their sauce for years: ‘quality content’. We’ve all sighed at the cliché it’s become, but with these updates it’s now time for marketers to get marketing, and work out what Google actually means by quality. It is now skills in profiling customers, creating useful information that attracts, engages and converts these target audiences, marketing this content effectively and creating a seamless user experience that will get us the traffic we want. I discuss this further at http://www.omnlondon.com/fighting-google-pandas-penguins-with-content-marketing/

  4. Navin KunwarBy Navin Kunwar on 14 May, 2012

    i know the fact… ” if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.” should we stop blogging ? what if were not using any blackhats method ?

    • Rafael MontillaBy Rafael Montilla on 14 May, 2012

      We should never use any blackhats method!

      Keep blogging but Quality content.

      • Navin KunwarBy Navin Kunwar on 16 May, 2012

        that;s what i was doing but i loosed traffic by 75%. :(

  5. Jacob StoopsBy Jacob Stoops on 14 May, 2012

    Great points Joost! I think the biggest shift with SEO tactics may occur in the switch of thinking of what is best from a search engine point of view to what is best from a user point of view. Focusing on producing quality content and not trying to game the system with your link building efforts will be paramount to avoiding penalties. For those that got caught, you’re right in saying that they might not regain their traffic…

  6. James McBrideBy James McBride on 14 May, 2012

    Very well said, although there so seem to be quite a few innocent sites geting slammed pretty hard by Penguin, do you have advice for the “collateral damage” websites?

    • Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 14 May, 2012

      Google has released a form for those sites, but to be honest, I personally haven’t seen any sites yet that were hit that were really that clean…

      • Brad DaltonBy Brad Dalton on 15 May, 2012

        My site has been hit hard and i have never done any link building ever. Every update including all the Panda updates where positive for me. I actually starting losing traffic on the 13th April not the 24th.
        I can’t help it if others are spamming my links to bad sites. That’s negative SEO but i pay the price.
        My contents mostly tutorials and i only have 1200 linking domains.
        Why isn’t my site clean Joost?

      • MukeshBy Mukesh on 15 May, 2012

        But how many times shall we report to Google?? I have reported around 5 scrapper sites till date. Still there are many others. Is there some blunder mistake on Google Algorithm? Can’t they just track their index for older sites? Isn’t it simple to write/implement? That the old indexed sites are original and the newly indexed sites with the same/copied content are scrappers. But why Google is just acting the opposite? Seems like Google is treating old sites as Scrappers. It’s weird to think so but I have started thinking that there is something wrong in Google Algorithm !!

        • Brad DaltonBy Brad Dalton on 20 May, 2012

          You’re not alone there. I just reported another one that scraped my entire homepage of 20 posts and out ranked me in Google SERPS

      • NiallBy Niall on 22 May, 2012

        So even http://wpmu.org/ is not that clean?

  7. Rafael MontillaBy Rafael Montilla on 14 May, 2012

    Great one Joost!
    There should be a tool to make it easier, we get a page with 80.000, then we get this “Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected unnatural links to http://www.domain.com/“, we remove the links what we know are bad, but still it is not enough, it is very hard to go one by one to try to find out which likes we must remove.

  8. David Peterson (@TersoIT)By David Peterson (@TersoIT) on 14 May, 2012

    That Jonathan is I’m sure the joke whhich is implied in the title! :-D

  9. MukeshBy Mukesh on 14 May, 2012

    My Blog has been slammed hard by Google recently. And the scrappers (those copying contents from my site) are getting on top of me in Google search result. I have notified Google through DMCA form that they provide. But there are many Content Thieves out there. How many times to report ?? I am really disappointed !!

    • Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 14 May, 2012

      Are you using XML sitemaps? And the RSS footer section in my wp seo plugin?

      • MukeshBy Mukesh on 14 May, 2012

        Yes. I am using both.

    • waqasBy waqas on 14 May, 2012

      report them here. tell them the whole story. google knows who is post what and when.

      https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreport?hl=en

      • MukeshBy Mukesh on 15 May, 2012

        But how many times to report Google?? It’s killing my time a lot !! I have already reported around 5 sites that have copied/theft my content. And Google doesn’t remove those indexed sites from its Cache. So, I have also requested cache removal of those sites links ONE BY ONE through this page:- https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/removals?pli=1

        It’s really a hectic work. Still there are other similar sites/scrappers. And, in future there might be more.

        How long shall I be doing this? For my lifetime?? Nowadays, instead of writing new posts on my blog, I have been working hard on removing the scrappers link from Google Search.

        Isn’t it a simple logic to know that the old indexed sites are original and the newly indexed sites by Google which has the same/copied content are scrappers?? Then, why is Google acting the Opposite. Seems there is some fault in Google’s Algorithm. It is acting as if the old indexed sites are Scrappers.

        • RaymondBy Raymond on 20 May, 2012

          I think people should stop complaining and start doing some work rather than every time depending on Google. Work to get paid, and don’t expect your employer (Google) to work for you.

          When you file a DMCA on scraper sites, you are actually helping Google to clean up their search index and in return, they remove the scrapers and puts your site on top where you eventually get paid by Adsense.

          You may think that it’s a simple algorithm but it could be a more complex algorithm that could affect millions of websites.

          If you find that it is a waste of time, hire people to do it, or hire a programmer to code an automated tool.

          By the way, you have too much ads above the fold.

    • Andrew ThomsonBy Andrew Thomson on 25 May, 2012

      Try using googles authorship markup feature so it is clear it is your content. Also adjust the info your RSS feeds send out (ie just do a summary or put a link in the first few sentances) so that people using rss etc to take your content find it harder to do.

  10. Fritz BarnesBy Fritz Barnes on 14 May, 2012

    It really does, always, seem to boil down to this: “give Google what Google wants.” But it seems like such a small shift from there, to “make Google think you have what Google wants.” The longer term success obviously comes from the former.

    • Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 14 May, 2012

      Both are wrong. Make sure you have what the *user* wants, as that’s what Google’s algorithms are bound to reward the most in the end. I didn’t get such great rankings by thinking about Google all day, I got them by helping people with real tools.

    • waqasBy waqas on 14 May, 2012

      You’re right up to some extent. few years ago google was wanting backlinks and keywords. now suddenly in past 2 week, every seo gurus are saying that google don’t need these things much as they used too..

      On the other hand googel is not wrong.. people have been playing with google ranking. it became a child’s play. but now google has informed all those trick lords, Don’t trick us.

      In my case, after penguin, I’m getting three times more traffic than before. a month ago I migrated from blogger to wp. Already my organic traffic was very low but now I’m happy.

  11. Helen FaberBy Helen Faber on 14 May, 2012

    Great post Joost! We are seeing an increase in inquiry calls in Canada as well related to a drastic drop in rankings / web traffic. What is really interesting is that most of these prospective clients cannot tell you what their SEO agency has done for them.

  12. Gerwin van der FeijstBy Gerwin van der Feijst on 14 May, 2012

    Hi Joost, Just been reading your article as we try to discover why some sites have improved while others are losing traffic. Turns out you are located about 20 minutes from our office so maybe we can discuss this topic one time IRL.

  13. Deane AlbanBy Deane Alban on 15 May, 2012

    Well said and makes a lot of sense intuitively. Yet, but this still doesn’t explain all the bad, even nonsensical, search results since Penguin. I’m going to play by the rules, but I hope to see better results, not just as a website owner, but as a search engine user.

  14. Gary ShouldisBy Gary Shouldis on 15 May, 2012

    Well done Yoast, I’ve been hearing so much complaining the past few weeks how someone’s website got “spanked” by Google for no reason. LIke you said, if you look back, I’m sure almost all of the sites can look back and see areas where they were walking a thin line between good seo and not so white hat seo. I think it’ll take another year or two (or 5) before seo’s realize that the days of link wheels, article blasting and comment spamming are over.
    P.S. i’ve been a long time listener of your podcast…..even when I read your articles I can still hear your accent coming through. Thanks for the great stuff

  15. Brad DaltonBy Brad Dalton on 15 May, 2012

    This Penguin update is causing php and subscription files to rank on the first page of Google! http://goo.gl/a4oSy

    • JonathanBy Jonathan on 15 May, 2012

      What does that have to do with Penguin, Brad? Not sure what you’re talking about.

  16. Dan O'NeilBy Dan O'Neil on 15 May, 2012

    Although I understand and agree with you about much of what you are saying I’m also angry.

    It seems as though you are putting everyone who has been hit by the updates in one of two pigeon holes: they are either stupid and haven’t a clue what they are doing (or what their SEO company are doing) or they have been doing naughty things for a while and their rankings have been suffering anyway, so what do they expect?!

    Please don’t forget that there are some of us out there (the “little people”) who do deliver quality content and have been doing things right for several years, where their traffic was actually steadily increasing before one of the updates knocked their small business out of the game…

    To see 80% of your business disappear in one day is a painful experience… surely finding out what you did wrong is a good place to begin – then you can remove anything that’s in your control while you keep building your quality content that is so important.

    • Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 15 May, 2012

      Hi Dan,

      if you’ve been doing that for years, you’ll have a loyal fan base now right? So you’re not that dependent on Google? If not, I’m sorry to say you’ve indeed been doing it wrong…

      • Ant WakefieldBy Ant Wakefield on 16 May, 2012

        Wow. What kind of response is this mate? Dan brings up some very important issues that many people have voices, and you render everything down to to the fact that he does or does not have a loyal fan base? You just come off sounding like a complete DICK.

        • Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 16 May, 2012

          By now, after your Facebook comments, it’s clear that you disagree Ant. In itself that’s fine. If you don’t like what I do / write: sorry about that but not too big of an issue either. Calling me a ****, well, that makes you look a bit dumb, but apparently you feel you have to do that to get your point across.

          My opinion is very simple though: I’m yet to find the first *real* false positive for Penguin. Many who are crying foul are people who’ve been building websites with search engines in mind first and users second. My comment above is one from experience: none, literally none, of my clients got hit. They do SEO, but keep things real and build other traffic as well. If you’d done that I doubt this update would matter you do much.

          • Brad DaltonBy Brad Dalton on 16 May, 2012

            I think its best not to use descriptive keywords. This is what Google are talking about as over optimization. Use words which aren’t keywords in sub headings. They don’t want too may similar pages on the first 3 pages of the SERPS. What they want is a more natural content which doesn’t use keywords. This is in reference to keyword stuffing.

            Using descriptive keywords even after you’ve written the post for your readers is not something they want regardless of whether you are only trying to be descriptive.

          • RuudBy Ruud on 16 May, 2012

            people who’ve been building websites with search engines in mind first and users second.
            I still think : in common webmasters create content
            for visitors, after that, to be found, the seo
            comes in.

  17. jewelrazBy jewelraz on 15 May, 2012

    I have also heard many webmasters are blaming penguin update for their site affected. But I don’t think their site has been affected without any reason. Google must have found something suspicious on those sites and as a result it’s penalized. What about this blog? Is this blog penalized? I don’t think so. So, if anyone is playing the game nicely and maintaing and following google webmaster rules then they are on the safe side.

  18. RuudBy Ruud on 15 May, 2012

    Make sure you have what the *user* wants, as that’s what Google’s algorithms are bound to reward the most in the end. I didn’t get such great rankings by thinking about Google all day, I got them by helping people with real tools.
    ————-

    as the criterion, there remain few on the internet about. 1 supplier of jeans is enough. There is already a Google shopping, all other shops away.

    I translate this text with Google translate from Dutch to English, who thinks that this is not correctly translated, tell Google: this is a poor user experience. Will you do it anyway, who are you Google, for other people to rebuke.

    usually is the result of Google translate to hilarious.
    ————-

    I fully agree with Dan O’Neil

  19. TBBy TB on 15 May, 2012

    This post made me chuckle. Your points are well taken — don’t play with Google, just have good quality content and tag things well; don’t try to get around their rules or it’ll probalby catch up with you. Since I’m a new blogger, this isn’t too hard for me to follow because I don’t know how people try and play tricks or whatever!

  20. JohnBy John on 15 May, 2012

    As I am an owner of 15 websites, 2 of mine were hitted. I didn’t do any link building for it, but I think I optimized each page too much. I mean using these kind of title tags

    For example: How to do SEO – Search Engine Optimization – Online SEO

    Also, I think that each H-tag is too much keyword focused.

    I changed the way I write articles dramatically now, but I really want my rankings back.

    I’m citing you: Don’t try to remove the one or two links that you think might have hurt you.

    From this I can conclude: Those pages that are “f$%^cked up” can’t be rescued anymore, but focus on new pages…

    My question: Does Google “hate” my website now and everything that will come
    in the future from my website…

    Because I have to mention. Some of my articles didn’t lose their rankings. They
    had some social love and comments on it. They are still serving 50 visitors
    per day from Google.

    But there are also pages that were hitted dramatically by Google. They had page 1 rankings and now are chilling on page 9.

  21. OscarBy Oscar on 15 May, 2012

    Great humoristic last sentence Joost!

  22. henkosuruBy henkosuru on 16 May, 2012

    google panda pinguin mybe will evolution again.

  23. RuudBy Ruud on 16 May, 2012

    @Brad Dalton:
    can you explain this a little more in detail ?

    Using less keywords is mostly resulting in a place lower than position 50 ;-)

  24. Brad DaltonBy Brad Dalton on 16 May, 2012

    Not anymore. I don’t think you need to use that many. I think what Google are trying to do is take out content which is just another rewrite of content that already exists in the results.

    I think Google gives far more credit to older sites with a high domain authority and long standing quality links from high DA sites especially, within the same niche.

    Smaller sites with low DA which have targeted the same keywords won’t have much of a chance unless the content is totally unique in some way.

    New keyword competitors are doing research on the first page results and using that content to build lists (cornerstone content) simply for attracting links and higher results in SERPS.

    Google want the content shared, commented on and used in a positive way so it reflects on them having quality results

  25. Jeremy DixonBy Jeremy Dixon on 16 May, 2012

    I think at the end of the day, Google and Matt Cutts have been saying the same thing over and over and it is paying off for a lot of people who follow. I have been hearing it from the get go that content is King and it didnt sink in till a couple of months ago. Make a GREAT website that people will enjoy and stop worrying about Google. “If you build it, they will come.”

  26. ToddjirBy Toddjir on 17 May, 2012

    One thing I am doing now is really taking a look at keywords and the writing I am doing. I am making sure each keyword and article are spot on.

    I went through many articles on site I own and really asked myself, if I were searching for this keyword would I really want to see this type of article? Sometimes the answer was no. So I would rework the article or delete it.

    A simple elementary version of what I am doing is this: Lets say I wrote about the keyword “auto repair shop”. And, I just wanted to rank for this keyword, so I wrote a how to find good auto repair shops article. Well, in this case it really doesn’t cut it. Because Google is trying to return actual results for auto repair shops and most likely local results.

    Quit trying to rank for keywords you find on market samurai or some other keyword software just because the numbers look good. Make it about relevance. Pick a topic and stick with it.

    One last note: What I should of done with the auto repair shops keyword is choose a better suited keyword like “how to find a good auto repair shop”. Or some other variation for a good how to article.

    Quality also means being relevant and on topic. Check out your local newspaper for relevant writing examples.

  27. Nick KerBy Nick Ker on 18 May, 2012

    Very well stated. I have also been swamped with audit/review and “remove the penalty” requests. Many are from people who hired dirt-cheap SEOs, or do it yourselfers who tried every “tip” they ever read.

    Most, if not all, of the “rules” in the recent updates have always been in Google’s guidelines. But a lot of people either never read the guidelines or thought they were smarter than all the big brains at Google.

    The upside of this black & white critter hysteria is that a huge number of websites are getting cleaned up, spammy links are getting taken down and the overall quality of many sites is improving as webmasters and SEOs attempt to analyze or guess their way back to previous levels of visibility. Some may claim that the updates did not do anything to improve search results, but I disagree. Even if the SERPs aren’t looking better to some right now, once everyone finishes doing their “housecleaning” there will certainly be more “quality” sites showing up on top.

  28. GyanendraBy Gyanendra on 18 May, 2012

    the google search engine updates has major impact on websites which are over dependent on so called seo trick.
    If any one has quality content then they have no major effect.

  29. Fiona BlackBy Fiona Black on 19 May, 2012

    I am still going to go with adding lots of content. I’m still new to wordpress and still have lots of content to add and by that time google will probably have changed everything to Snake.

  30. Brian GreenbergBy Brian Greenberg on 19 May, 2012

    I’m really hoping a google penguin update happens soon. It is really hard to judge what to do when depending on Google running an update. I really wish penguin and panda were part of the algorithm and not just updates.

  31. kevin redmanBy kevin redman on 20 May, 2012

    At last someone tell it like it is google has been saying this for years just that we(me included) ignored it my traffic has been cut in half but hoping with advice I have recieved here will get it back

  32. Jack Liebsch IIBy Jack Liebsch II on 20 May, 2012

    Dealing with the loss in web traffic and trying to understand the changes can be frustrating in the short term. However, in the long run it will be beneficial to all who learn to adapt since it will encourage site owners to improve upon their own content which will ultimately provide a better experience to their customers and visitors. Those who adapt will look back at the algorithm changes as an opportunity to gain on edge on those who do not.

  33. IoannisBy Ioannis on 21 May, 2012

    I was struck by the Penguin, too. Just one week later after the panda pushed my blog to new records. The week before the Penguin update my blogs visitors almost tripled. A week later they were gone again thanks to the Penguin.

    So what is the conclusion of this? Do i have good quality content and was unlucky with my backlinks or anchors ?

    Sounds kinda weird to me. So what is the next step to get the traffic back ?

  34. LovelyBy Lovely on 21 May, 2012

    Algo change is always nightmare for me, but got so many hits by Panda, now i learned that don’t cheat with Google, Play safe and also Google never ever Cheat you.

  35. ZgredBy Zgred on 22 May, 2012

    Each update is a nightmare … but finding the right clue is the winning chance to solve the problems :)

  36. SulistyoBy Sulistyo on 22 May, 2012

    Hope this Penguin is smart, and Google have it well-trained.

  37. OzhanBy Ozhan on 22 May, 2012

    I agree with your opinion about alignment with Google’s values. I think Panda is awarding content which is applying best SEO practices and people who are not blinded by commercial passions.

  38. SandraBy Sandra on 23 May, 2012

    Excellent article. Thanks for reminding everyone that quality, like honesty, is always the winner. I’ve just started using your SEO on my blogs and want to thank you for that also. Nice to see that you are a level headed writer – researcher – developer – blogger.

  39. Lee MichaelsBy Lee Michaels on 23 May, 2012

    I think Joost is wrong about good sites not being a problem in Penguin. If he’s not wrong then it’s time to start building some crap sites because that’s most of what I see in the serps in a lot of niches.

    Just because someone got hit by penguin doesn’t mean they were doing it wrong and just because they are on top of the serps now, after penguin, doesn’t mean they were doing it right. Blanket statements of right and wrong are totally absurd.

    I do lots of searchs and analysis of results and the serps now seem to be as bad as they were when you could rank high with hundreds of outlinks on your site. MOF it looks like that works again. ;)

    I’m seeing lots of sites with one page, little text and a search box with the term in it out ranking great sites for the same term.

    Even finding an authority site is a problem now as most of the top 30 are filled with pr 0 – pr 2 sites with crappy content and little help to the surfer.

    You might want to watch the blanket denunciation of sites who were penalized and the strong approval for those now in the top of the serps.

    Google has never had an update that I know of in my 15 years of using SEO that didn’t also catch a bunch of sites they didn’t mean to catch. If the current serps are what google considers the best sites we may as well all give up on google and work on MSN.

    It’s not as black and white as some would have you believe.

  40. Lee MichaelsBy Lee Michaels on 23 May, 2012

    Joost, I’m curious to know if we should still be using your SEO plugin. Seems to me that it begets over optimization or is it still okay to do everything it suggests?

  41. DragosBy Dragos on 24 May, 2012

    I just don’t understand why so many people complain about being hit by this Penguin. For now, the Google Zoo has only two animals: a penguin and a panda bear. What will you do when the Google Tiger update will hit you? because it will come at a certain point…
    However it looks to me that Google is moving slower than some “smart guys” that have been manipulating the serps for years; also, in my opinion, the most affected were the manipulators wannabees rather than actual ones.

    I fully understand how it feels to try and create a nice, relevant, high quality content website and be left behind some other less relevant web sites.

    Instead of losing time on finding a fix, you should focus more on new content.

  42. Sergei BaranovBy Sergei Baranov on 24 May, 2012

    Joost, your ‘Don’t try and play a game with Google’ is my slogan too for many years. It is not just because I am very honest and decent person. This is result of year’s experience of hardship to ‘work around’ Google policy. Shortly speaking, it does not work. How it would silly sound, but my advice to everybody is to re-read Google Webmaster Guidelines.

  43. Craig SmithBy Craig Smith on 24 May, 2012

    Without gloating too much I seem to have benefited greatly from the recent updates. I stick to my plan at all times and just try and stick to my own code of conduct.

    As much original content as possible. Keep keywords to a minimum. Get links from sites because they actually like what I’m writing and are interested in what ive got to say!

    • Dave YatesBy Dave Yates on 27 May, 2012

      Craig, you’re spot on.

      Reading the wide range of comments here, is a “case study” in how much folks understand what Google is, and who Googles “client” is.

      Lot’s of remarks from folks that are *issed because they were “doing everything right” and they still got slammed… which begs the question… what do you define as “right”? Doing SEO right?

      Ask yourself, honestly, what your definition of SEO is. If your focus is on “adequate or so so content”, and making same search engine friendly, you are not trying to provide value to your “customer/reader/surfer”. Whether you can admit it or not, you’re just trying to sell s*** to people, but spending too much relative time treating Google like THEIR your customer… you’re trying to “sell them” on the idea that YOUR pages are the most relevant to Googles clients.

      Who are Google’s clients? Any human being typing a search term into their search engine. When companies that spend thousands or millions advertising with Google, are being kicked to the curb because their keyword search relevancy sucks for the user, you’d think folks would realize who the real client focus should be on.

      When your content is engaging and delights users, and your pages are structured so the user can keep finding additional delightful content, thus prolonging their time on page and on site, odds are good your site will do nicely in the SERPS.

      As Joost said, the traffic is Googles… they can do what they want. Googles client is a human doing a search, no matter how much PPC $ you try to throw at them… if your not relevant, they could care less about your money.

      If the search user ceases to be the client of focus for Google… then their business model is finished.

      You may not like it… you may believe you’ve done SEO right and shouldn’t be getting slammed… but if you’re not providing value, REAL value, to those who land on your pages, and you’re trying to list high in the SERPS… your website has a easily recognized flashing sign that is saying “I’m trying to get people on my site based on SEO tricks”.

      Clearly, Google is going to have to work out some kinks in how it delivers results in the long run. Supposedly, they have brought on tons of “human operators” to do eyes on pages that their Penguin biased bots have tagged as potential problems.

      In a very real way, Penguin has delivered a huge search advantage to folks starting out, who are building an online property that’s primary focus is on providing value to users above everything else.

  44. JayBy Jay on 25 May, 2012

    What I dislike about Google (yet completely understand) is they should accept there is a whole business sector out there dedicated to ‘mastering’ SEO and Google is the #1 priority.

    Whilst I dont think Google should reveal all, it could do more to promote a healthy seo business. Maybe they should stop trying to put all their hands in all the other pies (yeah I am looking at you G+) and get back to basics.

    I dont know how they could promote a healthy seo industry, but chopping and changing the way they work rarely benefits most people and in fact puts jobs on the line when something that was almost gospel for a while, suddenly become blackhat – just because google ‘says so’.

  45. ClaudeBy Claude on 25 May, 2012

    I couldnt agree more about the fact that SEO rules have not change, but the ways of bending those rules are breaking down.
    Nice formulation and good job.

  46. MichalBy Michal on 25 May, 2012

    Small problem. A lot of quality sites, especially blogs, do not know anything about SEO and Google requirements. They are made by people who just needed simple tool tu publish their thoughts or ideas. They buy ready made solution or they “rent” some free hosted page. They do not look for links so they have almost none link exchange or some that is made by request from second side(can we exchange links, why not, no analysis about that stuff). This pages in past were very solid source of knowledge now articles from them are almost invisible (or are listed from some aggregators).

  47. MikeBy Mike on 25 May, 2012

    I will just stick to video marketing instead of seo from now on, all this changes with google is frustrating.

  48. BekahBy Bekah on 25 May, 2012

    So many good people are working hard to provide quality content to the Internets, but the past emphasis on “tricks” like metatagging, linkbuilding, etc., has really skewed the picture. The startup web publishing platform I work for has seen some really impressive results just by using structured data and organizing our sites in such a way that descriptions and tags are easily accessible by the crawlers. It comes down to being honest and authentic–knowing what kind of user you’re targeting and communicating your purpose as clearly as you can in a format that is accessible to the search engines. Thanks for the article, Joost. The tech world needs to hear this over and over.

  49. JimBy Jim on 28 May, 2012

    my website keeps reacting to all these updates,
    i never knew about penguin but am sure this must have also pushed my website here and there..
    but i am still on, i keep experimenting and do get results at many times…

  50. SketcharBy Sketchar on 29 May, 2012

    Google isn’t too frustrating, though fitting the variables of high search rating content is difficult.

  51. DavidBy David on 30 May, 2012

    I just started doing my own SEO on my site and have to say its pretty time consuming but I will continue to press on. I am still in the early learning stages but every little bit of information helps. Thanks for the truthful article.

  52. AndyBy Andy on 31 May, 2012

    From my own experience, I think rather than spending time on looking for other websites tricks and ranking tips, every website owner should start educate himself about Google ranking system from Google webmaster tools and obey to Google rule !!

  53. fooBy foo on 31 May, 2012

    search engine will always updating their algorithm in order to make their search result better and better

  54. Helmut RossmannBy Helmut Rossmann on 31 May, 2012

    I will try to disclose the secret by a question: What have all the people to do now who need the traffic form google??? They have to line googles pockets by adwords! I will hold any bet that tihs is (maybe the unconscious) driving force for the black and white animal updates.

  55. elaineBy elaine on 3 June, 2012

    does anyone know if it is still advisable to use online press release services such as PRWeb? Not for link building etc but for a genuine press release on a new product. I was concerned after panda that an online press release may affect my site.

    Anyone any ideas?

    And thanks once again for an informative article!

  56. Navjot TomerBy Navjot Tomer on 5 June, 2012

    Hi Joost, thanks for another great and informative article. But what about the sites which have most of the content user generated. I have a classified site and almost all the content is user generated. And people post same ads on different classified too. Now what should such site do to maintain their search traffic.

  57. loc nuocBy loc nuoc on 6 June, 2012

    I think whatever Google changes we obey their rules, focus on updating content of our site, and using ethical method in SEO, we don’t have to worry about this

  58. Oliver WebMatrosBy Oliver WebMatros on 7 June, 2012

    True words Yoast. People just need to realise that it’s all about being relevant to the search terms the user is inputting.

    At least that’s how I choose to think about SEO.

  59. AdamBy Adam on 7 June, 2012

    Hello Joost, it’s my first time to read your blog and it is very informative. I’m going to find my ways myself. By the way, thank you for the SEO plug in!