black-hat-seoYou may or may not have heard about this – but Google came out with another announcement on Monday that it is yet again updating its complicated algorithm. This update is dedicated, as Google’s Matt Cutts said it, “to try to find black hat web spam” and address that issue.

The updates are being called Penguin 2.0 by Google’s internal team, and Penguin 4.0 by other SEO authorities in the market. The update is promised to be more comprehensive than Penguin 1.0, so there may be a lot of sites affected by this. However, Cutts assures us that if your site is a good site that offers good quality, original content that is targeted to make a good impression on users, then your site “shouldn’t” be affected.

Google posted a YouTube video of Matt Cutts explaining the changes, so check out the whole video if you are curious. I have pulled together a list that describes most of the changes below.

1. Find advertorials that “violate Google’s quality guidelines” and ensure they do not pass page rank

We had a pretty comprehensive discussion around advertorials last night at our Boulder SEO meetup about this one. Many of our SEOers use advertorials as part of their overall marketing mix to increase site traffic, but most of us were surprised to hear that advertorials weren’t already banned from floating page rank. There was some concern among bloggers that if they are paid in say, free product, to review that particular product, will their blog site take a hit? Cutts does mention that he doesn’t see anything wrong with an advertorial, however it should not float page rank and should be clear that it is an ad.

2. Going upstream to deny the value of link spammersgooglepenguin

Your guess is as good as mine as to what, exactly, this means. It sounds like Google is attempting to make link spamming less effective, which is a good thing, but the “going upstream” part of that sentence is what is somewhat concerning. My advice is to check your links, inbound and out, through something like Link Detox, which will help identify how many toxic links there are to your site, and clean them up! Better safe than sorry.

3. Work on better detection for hacked sites, and better communication to webmasters

This update is obviously a good one. Hacked sites are never good for anyone, and it will be nice if Google Webmaster gets better at alerting us of any problems or potential problems. ‘Nuff said there.

4. Detecting authorities in certain spaces, ensure they rank higher

I think we all can say this is something we really hope they figure out. However, in our SEO meetup last night we started discussing the “how” of this update and we think it may have something to do with Google Authorship. This turned into a pretty big discussion on whether or not Google is trying to turn us all into publishing companies. However, for those of us that do a large amount of content publishing, this is not going to be a bad thing. It could be difficult for small mom and pop’s that aren’t really in the business of being an authority on something small, say like custom stamps. We will have to see how this one plays out.

5. Out of nowhere, Matt Cutts introduces a Panda update

google-pandaGoogle is working on finding “additional signals” of quality from sites that are on the border or gray area and soften the impact of Panda for these gray area sites. Does Google feel bad a couple years later for hurting a lot of these border-lines sites? Perhaps.

6. Less clustering on search pages

This sounds like once a user sees a website’s cluster of links they are less likely to see that website later in the search results pages. This is a nice thing, I think. It gives others a chance to be shown in page 2 or later for the small percentage of people who actually go to page 2 in SERP’s.

 

There are other, less impactful updates he mentions, and of course he cautions that these may change as they start making their changes this summer. All I know is this is shaping up to be an interesting next few months as Google rolls out their updates. Stay tuned, our digital marketing experts will continue to update our readers as we uncover more information.