Matt Cutts announced this week that Google update ‘Penguin 2.0’ has been rolled out and has affected about 2.3% of English-US queries. 

With Google so keen to cut down on webspam, where does SEO go from here?

This is a major update and will likely have an impact on the Google rankings for an abundance of sites. The reason Google is calling this ‘2.0’ when there have in fact been four Penguin updates is because this is the first update of Penguin that has changed the algorithm, instead of a refresh.

Matt Cutts:

It’s a brand new generation of algorithms. The previous iteration of Penguin would essentially only look at the home page of a site. The newer generation of Penguin goes much deeper and has a really big impact in certain small areas.

So what does this new update focus on?

Advertorials

Google wants to crack down on advertorials. This is no surprise as it goes against its standard link buying terms and conditions and has been a popular tactic for SEOs over the last 12 months.

Paying for content placements, such as sponsored posts on blogs, is longer going to be the accepted process for SEO results. Google will request that any paid placements should include a disclaimer and only use ‘nofollow’ links.

Black Hat techniques

Any manipulative activity to benefit your SEO rankings is always going to be something Google will fight against to help them remove the spam from their results.

Link spam

The general concept of buying links, directories, blog commenting, forum posts and other techniques used to gain links will be tackled with the latest update.

To be honest this is something that has been tackled for as long as I can remember so Google specifically saying ‘link spam’ isn’t anything new.

The Penguin updates have been more effective than previous alogorithm updates at actually tackling manipulative links; even if Google can’t spot them all it is getting pretty good at it now. The safest bet is to avoid any tactics that could be interpreted as link spam..

Hacked sites

A site that is hacked to add links to other sites without the owners knowledge is become more and more common as popular Content Management Systems get hacked and people don’t update to the latest versions.

This has traditionally meant the site gets kicked out the results by Google and penalized through no fault of their own but Google is now trying to help Webmasters a bit more and tell them through Webmaster Tools that the site has been hacked and give them time to sort it out.

Authority

This is the major change is where SEO is heading and the future of SEO. For a site to be successful they need to become an authority within the topic they expect to rank for.

Brands tend to have a major benefit here as a lot of them are already authorities, hence why brands have tended to do well with the latest rounds of Google updates. There are general steps that need to be looked at in order to become an authority in Google eyes:

  • Author Rank.
  • Google Plus.
  • Social shares.
  • Structured Data / Rich Snippets.

The key area that is making this possible is the introduction of AuthorRank into Google Plus. Its time that you setup your Google Plus account and its time that you associated your Google Plus account with your content so Google can link your content back to you.

Within Google Plus you also have your Circles so Google can see your network (and identify the related topics for influence). Conversation within Google Plus helps Google to see the relationship and engagement within your network.

You then have a relationship the sites you are a contributor for, all helping Google to understand that you are an influencer and your site is, therefore more influential and should rank for the relevant topic.

The general process here is:

  • Write quality content that gets Social Signals (pluses and shares).
  • Attract natural links to the content.
  • Encourage engagement and sharing on the site.
  • Build up your ‘PageRank’ for quality signals.
  • Attract mentions/links from other influencers.
  • Build up your relationships within your Circles.
  • Take a ‘PR’ approach to website promotion (get mentioned for natural reasons).
  • Develop a content strategy that generates engagement and regular interactions (earned media as opposed to paid).

These factors means you need to have a look at your site for a number of different areas:

  • Have you integrated Structured Data for Rich Snippets and Author Tags?
  • Don’t build a brochure website, build a ‘Social Site’.
  • Your site needs to be built around usability and performance – (design and architecture, as well as conversion process improvements are always required).
  • Become a Social Business. Social marketing needs to flow through the whole organisation, this will generate more content and reference points in the social web. With multiple authors being associated with your site and encouraging all employees to create regular content is only going to strengthen your authority within your choose topic.
  • Content strategy is essential (on site & off). You need a content area with high quality content.