The internet is abuzz thanks to the Penguin update. Many SEO’s and internet marketers are calling this update Google’s “worst update yet.” Due to the nature of the update, unlike most updates, we haven’t seen any improvements in the search engine rankings.

In fact, for the most part, the quality of the rankings has declined significantly. For many keywords, viagra and gambling advertisements litter the results.

Most people look at these results and think, “wow, Google’s really messed up this time.” But have they? Or is Penguin simply doing what it was designed to do?

What? Why would Google design an algorithm that makes the search engine rankings worse? I thought “New SEO” was all about making results better! Well, it is, but bear with us for a minute.

Historically, Google’s released two types of updates: updates designed to eliminate spam or “black hat” websites and updates designed to make the algorithm better. Now, both of these updates can work towards the same goal.

What is that goal? Well, we’ve said it before: Google’s looking to make sure their results are always high quality and relevant.

Sometimes spam elimination is about making the search results better. And sometimes algorithm updates are designed to make the results better. But sometimes Google throws out “big picture” updates – updates that may not make sense in the short term, but over the long term help Google considerably.

So it’s not time to switch to Bing yet.

Many SEO’s are discouraged because their websites get bumped down the rankings, only to be replaced by a blatant spam black hat site. But fear not – in a short time, Google will get rid of the black hat sites as well. Just because the algorithm had a hole in it doesn’t mean Google’s going to let viagra advertisements stay where they’re at.

In the meantime, let’s discuss why good websites may be dropping in the rankings. Penguin is all about spam and over-optimization. And let’s face it – there are a lot of websites that use “grey hat” SEO. This includes certain types of link building, on-page optimization, etc.

Now, Penguin is not about making the search engine results better. No, it’s about reminding website owners about the quality guidelines. Google’s made it clear multiple times: if you’re doing something to game its algorithm, it’s going to come back to bite you. 

But online business owners continue using shady SEO tactics. As a result, an algorithm update like Penguin comes back to remind us what the rules are. 

In this update, we’re seeing a lot of websites go from rank #1 to rank #8. Or from page #1 to page #3. 

These aren’t huge changes. These aren’t penalties, necessarily. They may be due to link devaluation. If you’ve done any type of link building and your site is now being affected, it’s time to look at what types of links you built. There’s a good chance Google devalued specific links you built without penalizing your website. This accounts for the drop in rankings.

So the main point is this: with any update, don’t get caught up in the noise. Google hasn’t released an update like Penguin in a long time. So naturally, people are questioning what Google’s thinking (there have even been articles written that call for Matt Cutt’s dismissal if you can believe it).

Google is a long-term business. While this update may seem harmful in the short term, it’s almost certainly a part of a big-picture plan. And, just like with past “clean up” updates, we’ll likely see the balance being restored to the search engine rankings. But this time, people are going to know what kinds of tactics will bring a penalty. As a result, they won’t use them.

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