Is Penguin over-hyped?

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk by journalists and PRs about the latest algorithm update rolled out by Google. Our very own Rob Ashwell recently blogged about why Google Penguin is awesome.

I’ve also noticed a lot of electronics PR and digital PR agencies getting in on the act. Just yesterday I was contacted by one of my clients asking if they should be worried – they’d been contacted by a company with the offer of a whitepaper telling them how to get out of the Penguin predicament.

She wanted to know if they needed to do anything. I knew the answer but double-checked anyway – if only to backup my response with credible proof: their first page rankings were being maintained Google, and search traffic hadn’t been affected. So the answer was no, you’re in safe hands, and everything is going as planned.

According to reports the latest Penguin update has affected 2.3% of websites (the total number of websites indexed by Google is currently estimated at 600 million) of which B2B electronics sites make up a fractionally tiny proportion. Why is this important? Because keyword competition is less fierce, and any agency worth its salt won’t have needed to employ the black-hat techniques that would trigger penalisation by Google.

At this point I must come clean – I’ve have been guilty of using some unsavoury techniques in the past. Having said that, I’ve been implementing SEO for clients for 12 years now, and “back in the day”, automatic link building programs were quick, easy, cost-effective and generated the required results.

However, it wasn’t long before Google cottoned onto this, started rolling out updates to prevent it from happening. In order to get away with the same black-hat practices, SEO’ers needed to become more cunning.

Most digital marketing practitioners worth their salt abandoned dodgy link building years ago – adopting more ethical tactics – and following the guidelines specified by Google. In fact, it actually became easier to implement this than it was to keep one step ahead of Google.

If you’ve read my previous post on why you need PR for SEO, you’ll know that I’m in the somewhat luxurious position of being able to ply my trade with experts at this.

In a nutshell, the process can be boiled down to:

  1. Perform keyword research to define short & long tail targets that will generate targeted traffic
  2. Develop compelling content around these subjects
  3. Generate good quality inbound links from select sources
  4. Share with the right people, in the right places, at the right time

Of course, you need to ensure your onsite optimisation is up to scratch – this still plays a large part in Google’s raking factors. If you haven’t done so already, I’d recommend you perform a full SEO audit of your website to identify any problems that might be hindering your SEO activities. Search Engine Watch recently published a great post on the 15 most common problems found when undertaking an SEO audit – I found myself nodding in agreement to many of the points raised.

If you work at a B2B electronics company and you’re worried about Google Penguin, you’re probably worrying unnecessarily. But if you do have reason to be worried – i.e. you’ve noticed a sudden drop in rankings / visits from organic search visitors – call me.