There’s a lot of web chatter concerning the new Google algorithm update — set to roll out this month — and what to expect for the rest of 2013 with regards to SEO for Google. I think this latest algo update will send a lot of people who have been doing shady SEO scrambling. Penguin 2.0 is likely going to be harsher in penalizing websites with questionable/blackhat SEO links.

What is Google Panda?

  • Ranking factor added to the Google algorithm designed to indentify “low quality pages”.
  • Better rankings for high-quality websites
  • Panda focuses on websites providing a poor user experience i.e. sites with low-quality pages. This means websites with keyword-stuffed pages engineered for search engines rather than website visitors.
  • Identifies websites that obtained low-quality backlinks (SPAM links or “spamdexing”). An inflated number of backlinks can signal that the links were bought, rather than acquired naturally.
  • Named after Google engineer Navneet Panda

Panda-proofing: Take out the poor performers

  • Make sure all content on your website is high-quality
  • Remove least-visited pages determined by your web analytics

What does a link scheme look like? Sort of like this one-size-fits-all linkbuilding package…

linkspam linkbuilding package
In short: Anything that’s too good to be true.
If an SEO company contacts you with linkbuilding packages that promise to “rocket you to the top of Google” with thousands of backlinks, you can bet they are using what Google considers “link schemes”. Yes, they are creating backlinks, but it’s on websites that no human would ever care to visit or even stay on. It’s rubbish, and while your website’s rankings will likely rise for a month or two, it won’t work in the long run. Of course, by that time, the SEO company that took your money is probably not answering your e-mails. In cases like these, the blackhat SEO uses linkbuilding automation tools to create “tiered linkbuilding” or “link wheel” packages to artificially inflate the number of backlinks to a website in a very short amount of time.
[blockquote align=”right” cite=”— The Digital Marketing Glossary”]Tiered link building is the process of using different tiers of backlinks for black hat SEO purposes. The goal is to try to give some PR or link juice to websites or pages especially created to host backlinks pointing to the money site, aka tier 1 backlinks. It aims also to protect the money site from potential sanctions with Google’s Penguin. Most often tiered linking is based upon 2 or 3 tiers. In a tiered link building scheme, the higher the rank is, the lower is the quality of the backlinks.[/blockquote]

Do Follow Google’s Own Quality Guidelines

  • Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
  • Don’t deceive your users.
  • Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
  • Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.

This is a video from Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team. SEO nerds like myself anxiously await his announcement as anxiously as Apple’s hipsters looked forward to Steve Jobs’ periodic announcements. To paraphrase Cutts, the algorithm filter has “iterated” to date but there will be a “next generation” coming that will have a major impact on SERPs (search engine results pages).

Why not simply play by the rules? Think twice when you buy links instead of doing them yourself (or hiring a reputable SEO consultant) . Of course it takes much longer, but it’s better than looking over your shoulder in fear of the day when the Google algorithm figures it out – and that day will come.