In some respects, the field of search engine optimization (SEO) is kind of like the field of law.
How quickly SEO changes, though, is not one of them.
SEO changes constantly. The rapid evolution of the field is why there are no good books on SEO: By the time the book gets printed, more than half of it is out-of-date.
The past week has been no exception. Google – by far the dominant player in the search engine world – updated one of the most important elements of its search algorithm, significantly changing how websites get penalized and changing SEO, yet again.
Google’s Penguin Penalty
Google regularly checks your website for changes, to determine if your rank for targeted keywords should be improved or diminished. One of the things that it’s looking for is links to your site, from other sites. These backlinks are one of the strongest indications that your site is important and reputable.
Because it’s well known that Google uses backlinks to determine the quality of a site – and, therefore, the site’s ranking – SEO professionals in ages past used black hat tactics to plant backlinks across the web. To combat this practice, Google created Google Penguin – an element of its search engine algorithm that penalized sites for using these black hat tactics.
There were two inconveniences with Google Penguin, though. The first was that it was not a “real-time” penalty: Instead of the penalty tanking your site’s ranking immediately when it was imposed, or improving it immediately when it was lifted, Google Penguin took months to affect your website. This made it difficult to determine what the problem had been, and whether it was fixed.
The second inconvenience with Google Penguin was that it affected your entire site. If one page was flagged for a penalty – say, your workers’ compensation practice area page – then your entire website would be impacted.
New Google Penguin Update Aims to Fix These Problems
On September 23, 2016, Google announced that it was finally rolling out long-awaited changes to the Google Penguin element of its search engine algorithm. The two most important changes included in the update? Real-time penalty changes and a more “granular” approach to penalties.
By having Google Penguin penalties being imposed or lifted in real-time, rather than periodically, means that it will be easier to detect problems with your website and – perhaps more importantly – easier to figure out if any problems have been fixed. With the update to the Penguin program, the days of restructuring your banklink portfolio, sitting back, and watching your site for months for the sudden and sharp jump in your ranking that you’re hoping for are done. Now, the process will be much quicker.
As for whether the update will actually turn the site-wide penalty into one that only impacts individual pages on your site, though, signs are more confused. SEO pros are hoping that the Penguin update will contain penalties to the particular pages that offend the program – a perfectly “granular” approach. However, Google has been a little vague as to whether the update will go this far. When asked for a clarification as to whether the update would make a Penguin penalty be perfectly granular, Google said the penalty would have a “finer granularity than sites. It does not mean it only affects pages.” So, if there was a spectrum that runs from a Penguin penalty impacting the ranking of your entire site, on the one end, and the ranking of only a single page on your site, on the other, Google said that it was only somewhere between these two extremes.
Not entirely helpful.
Myers Freelance and Legal Blogging
One of the takeaways from the new Google Penguin update is that Google is continuing to hone the elements of its search engine algorithms to ensure that quality finds its way to the top of its search engine results pages (SERPs).
The best way to give Google what it wants, and reap the results of a well-ranked law firm website, is to host a quality legal blog on your domain. That’s where Myers Freelance comes into play. Our legal writers have been behind some of the top legal blogs on the internet. Contact us today to get started with your firm.