Today, we no longer have to wait to see the effects of Google algorithm changes, as the long awaited Penguin Live Update is now in live refresh.
For those unfamiliar with Google’s obsession with black and white furry animals, Panda and Penguin, we are talking here about one of the automated ways that Google applies filtering to the search results, or SERPs as they are referred to.
The use of automated rules or algorithms, helps Google with their mammoth task of deciding who should be listed at #1 in the SERPs, and who is worthy of position two, three, so on and so forth – up to millions of places for those in the running for ranking.
Penguin Now Live Refresh
Now the Penguin algorithm is a set of rules that attempts to intelligently analyze who has been playing naughty and who has been playing the right Google game when it comes to links from other people’s websites. At the very heart of the way Google decide who is worthy of a top spot in their SERPs, is the ranking factor of links (actually votes) from other people’s websites, that determine who should be seen as the authority and claim the number one spot for any given search term or keyword as they are referred to.
So the thing that Penguin is attempting to do, is deciding which links are real or earned and which links have been paid for or bought. Google is desperately stamping out anything that openly flaunts their rules with the Penguin algorithm, and that means even websites that have not done anything wrong other than rank too well for a competitor, who has no problem with hiring someone on Fiverr.com to do a “negative SEO” attack on the competitor’s site (as in your site). This is usually what has happened in the situation where someone didn’t want to do Google allowed or approved SEO but wanted to remove a competitor from the search results so that they could ascend instead.
Negative SEO Is Real & It Hurts Bad
If you have ever had this happen to your site, you will know how devastating this is for traffic and conversions, and how much of a nightmare that follows in trying to get the penalty removed. Google has provided tools and means for achieving this end but the process has been horribly slow due to the fact that the penalty is only removed when Google gets around to refreshing the Penguin algorithmic index.
The last time this occurred was in October of 2016, so even after disavowing low-quality links and having links from dubious sources removed, a site may technically be out of penalty, it remains in a state of fallen grace until Google updates Penguin which now openly ignores worthless links.
The promise of the “Live Refresh” of Penguin, is that in a penalty situation from overzealous or unscrupulous backlinking by you, an SEO firm or a hacker on Fiverr will be instantly removed. This essentially makes negative SEO a thing of the past.
Overcome Negative SEO With Ease – Really?
Let’s take a situation one mind find one’s site in, with a negative SEO attack.
This is how it used to be done, before the live Update Refresh, but it still holds some relevance in today’s SEO toolkit or arsenal.
You login to your site’s Google Analytics platform to discover that yesterday’s normal 200 visitors have turned into 2. At first, you think it is just a bad in search but then this continues for a few days, and realize something has changed. On digging deeper you discover a message in the Google Search Console alerting you to the fact that your site has drawn a penalty for low-quality backlinks. You then phone your SEO team and get them onto the case. They quickly identify the toxic sources, disavow them and within a few days the penalty has vanished and it is back to business as normal.
When I say that the effect is instant, it is only by comparison to the old way of waiting, months (years?) for any effect to be seen. The important thing to remember is that Google needs to go and index those toxic links again before they discount their association to your site, so this is why it can take some time, maybe days to see the release of the penalty to occur.
Is this then going to mean that because a negative SEO attack can be reversed relatively easily or is this going to mean it will continue for years to come? Many in the SEO industry have been arguing for years with Google over their stance on low-quality links. There really need be no benefit or deficit from a low-quality link, Google could and should just ignore such links. As they say, “ignore it and it will simply go away”. Why do they have to hand out a penalty for a low-quality link or a million of them, if they could simply set a threshold on the effect of a link based on where it was a quality link or not?
So Who Has The Upper Hand Here?
The real reason I believe is that Google wants to punish, not just deny any favors, but actively punish people for trying to manipulate the SERPs to their benefit. This is what SEO is about after-all. Giving your site a boost, be it from whatever means, either Google sanctioned or otherwise. It is about you getting ahead and this puts someone else behind or further down the page. Google needs to show they have the power to decide about who ranks and who doesn’t to the point that they deny the reality firstly of negative SEO and they see this far more important than trying to consider the plight of the damned who have fallen foul to the Penguin penalty due to someone else’s actions.
So here we have the search giant acting in their best interest before the interest of those who they are supposed to be serving with their search engine. Their customers have been put through undue pain and suffering all because they want to be seen as the authority on who gets to rank. Google would argue it is their search engine and they can do what they so please, but this ignores one important fact and that is without their customer’s website information, the content that we the other party create, their search engine would have nothing to show. They are a parasite living off the backs of someone’s work and they need to remember this. Then again who am I to tell Google what to do? It is Google telling me what to do since they are in charge right?
Don’t Panic Just Walk Away…
There is no need to panic if your site, your branded website that is listed in all your advertising and represents your practice, for this to be taken down just because it no longer ranks. You need to keep this site for many reasons, and one of those is your existing patients (or customers) who will come back to your site and will not be needing to search via Google to get there. Even a negative SEO damaged site should stay – just make sure you build a new one to make sure the old site still retains its regular visitors. When you choose the right team to do this for you, you will be glad you did.