Unnamed Yet Unnerving
Early in January, Google users began to speculate about a possible update to the search algorithm. Rankings changed significantly, and a significant number of people posed questions to Google. On January 12, Google confirmed that it did, in fact, launch a January 2016 Google update. So what does this all mean to your SEO efforts?
Shortly before Google announced the update, online forums were buzzing about ranking changes. Some users even speculated that Google may have launched the latest version of Penguin. However, Google representatives later stated that, although an update had been launched, it had nothing to do with Penguin. The update was a core ranking change designed to improve the quality of user experiences. It had no official name, and Google didn’t provide any additional details about its nature or purpose.
The January 2016 Google Update: A Precursor to Penguin?
Although this most recent update had nothing to do with Penguin, we can expect to see a new version of Penguin soon. According to Inquisitr, Penguin 4.0 is expected to roll out in the next few weeks. The last link-related update was launched over a year ago. The purpose of this last update was to alter the search engine’s link spam algorithm, and it affected only 1 percent of search engine queries in the United States. Google hasn’t been forthcoming about the content or purpose of the upcoming update.
No one is sure exactly what the next update of Penguin will look like, but it is unlikely that it will improve the situation of any site that has already been penalized by Penguin. The purpose of Penguin is to decrease the rankings of sites that use black-hat SEO techniques, such as link manipulation, to boost rankings artificially. Thus, if you noticed significant changes to the rankings of any of your pages following the initial release of Penguin, your rankings are unlikely to improve with the upcoming update. Furthermore, if Penguin has not yet affected your rankings but you have used black-hat SEO, it is possible that your pages will be penalized with the next update. To avoid penalization and recover website traffic, remove the links associated with the penalty, invest in a high-quality link building campaign and submit a reconsideration request to Google.
Update Proof Your Website
Wonder how you can “update proof” your website? The recipe is really quite simple. First, regularly produce quality content that answers questions posed by your customers. Second, keep a clean link profile while adding relevant inbound links from credible and authoritative websites in your industry. Changes to the algorithm – like the January 2016 Google update — are aimed at websites and webmasters trying to cheat. When you follow the rules you’re rewarded.
Did your website have a bumpy ride in January?
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photo credit – top: Uri Baruchin