Why the Google May 2013 Penguin Update was a Good Thing

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In May 2013 Google rolled out what was considered to be a significant update.  The purpose of this update was to target certain SEO techniques  that violated Google’s quality guidelines.  So things like keyword stuffing, cloaking, deliberate duplicate content, participating in link schemes and so on.

In the end, the update seemed to not harm as many sites as some thought, surely less than the first Penguin update which affected almost 3% of Google search queries and who knows how many websites.  I will admit I was slightly concerned with this update.  After all, Google updates have been notorious for being too aggressive and affecting sites which should not necessarily have been affected.

In addition to that, Google has built in the ability to run this algorithm more frequently.  Monthly in fact.  And this scares some in the industry.  But not me.

I see this as an opportunity.  Prior to this, we’d hear about an update coming but never know when to expect it nor what the outcome would be.  Now we know it will be at least once per month and after some analysis we’ll be able to figure out what was done and how to accommodate for it.

Think about it.  Would you rather have an annual update that affects 3% of search queries, potentially those you are ranking for, or 0.3% of searches every month?  To me it makes more sense to put up with monthly updates, find out what the targets are and work around it.

Plus, we learn a little more about Google after each update.  They previously moved Panda into a monthly update and most people have already adjusted to that – rankings for the most part don’t seem to fluctuate to much monthly because of this so why can’t our industry do the same for this new monthly update?

Sure each month will have a new target, but each month will allow us to understand better how the algorithm works.  Maybe we’d even begin to predict what future possible targets are and prepare for them before they happen?

I know, it sounds a little like warfare talk but in reality it is kinda that way.  Because Google is SO large and SO powerful, even slipping off the first page of a search result can devastate a business.  We need to think in these terms to ensure our clients can maintain and improve their rankings or we are out of business right beside them.

So the next time you hear about a major Google update becoming a monthly update, consider the benefits.  It can be learned from and adapted to just like any other algorithm.

And because it is an algorithm and not a person it is based on a set of mathematical rules. Rules that can be inferred if not completely understood and then models designed to exploit the weaknesses in the mathematical models.

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