Key Questions about Google Panda and Penguin Updates from Our Recent Webinar

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We recently hosted a webinar about Google’s Panda and Penguin updates. Presenters Merove Heifetz (Associate Director of SEO & Digital Strategy at AP) and Bonnie Herman (Senior Account Manager of SEO & Digital Strategy at AP) discussed:

  • Google Algorithm Updates: Background
  • Penguin: What Is It, Why Is It Important & When It’s Coming
  • How To Tell If Your Site Is Impacted
  • How To Prep for Penguin and/or Combat Its Impact
  • More Recent Google Updates: RankBrain, AMP & Mobilegeddon

At the end of the webinar, Merove and Bonnie fielded some thought-provoking questions from attendees. In case you missed the webinar, we’ve included some of the questions that were asked along with the answers our presenters provided.

How will Penguin impact sites built on Squarespace and Wix?

Google’s Penguin update will impact sites in the same way, regardless of the content management system or platform that they are running on. The Penguin update relates to your site structure, internal links and, most importantly, the external links that are pointing to your site. Therefore, it’s important to keep all the best practices in mind related to Penguin.

Can dirty tricks be played on my site by someone using a lot of “bad PPC” links to it?

Absolutely. We’ve seen negative SEO attacks, which is why it’s critical to always monitor your backlinks profile. Moz updates their Open Site Explorer index once a month and they send out emails when it’s updated. We suggest adding your website URL to Moz’ Open Site Explorer and consistently monitor who is linking to you so you can take action against bad links if you see them. Sometimes they are coming from other countries and even competitors. We suggest that you first reach out to them and request that they remove that link. If that doesn’t work, the “disavow” tool in Google Search Console that is available as well.

How do you figure out which sites have good domain authority that you’d want to have link to you?

One of the easiest ways is to install the Moz toolbar within your browser. This is a free tool that will show domain authority of various sites.

How can we get our website AMP ready?

AMP’s website is a great place to start. It breaks down how to implement it on your site.

How important is page load speed as a ranking signal?

Load speed is important for two reasons. One, yes, it’s a ranking signal and two, it’s an important factor in user experience. Numerous studies have shown that the longer a page’s load time is, the higher the likelihood that a visitor will leave. Once again, Moz is the best place to refer with regard to SEO and ranking signal. They’ve analyzed hundreds, if not thousands, of signals and ranked them in terms of their level of importance based on what webmasters and SEO managers have seen. So while page speed is important, it’s also just one of several thousand ranking factors.

How do I know if my website is being linked to from “bad neighborhoods”? Is there a way to scan the internet to see whether my website shows up on bad sites?

The two tools we recommend are:

You can type your entire website URL into both of these and see who’s mentioning your website and who is linking to your website. That’s the best way to see if your website is showing up in bad neighborhoods or being linked to from bad neighborhoods.

Are Penguin and Panda site-wide penalties only? Or can they penalize only portions of a site, such as an international sub-direct?

Webmasters have seen both scenarios. That said, the overwhelming majority that we have seen are site-wide penalties. The reason is that if you have tons of poor quality links pointing to your site or if Google feels you have low-quality content, they tend to look at those as broad indicators of your entire site as opposed to a particular section. It’s unlikely that you’ll get penalized for having two bad links or two pages with lower quality content, but nothing is 100 percent with Google.

How many links should I build to my website?

It’s important to look at links in terms of quality over quantity. One link from a strong, well-known, “good neighborhood” website can outweigh a thousand smaller, lesser-known sites. This is why it’s important to plug those sites into a toolbar and look at the site’s domain authority.

Domain Authority is the overall strength of the website and Page Authority is the overall strength of a particular page. It’s important to look at both of those metrics when looking to link build to ensure that the site has strong domain authority and that it’s worth your time and effort to reach out to the site. A lot of factors go into Domain Authority and Page Authority strength, including the age of the domain, how many sites are linked to it, how often it’s mentioned on different social channels, etc.

How might Panda and/or Penguin affect my affiliate program?

Even though affiliate marketing uses links, affiliate links don’t provide any SEO link “juice.” So affiliate links don’t provide any positive or negative affect on SEO.

Panda is the bigger question. It’s highly unlikely that there will be any penalties with regard to duplicate content (e.g. multiple affiliates using the same sample blog post), but in terms of best practices,  it’s ideal for every publisher’s blog post to be unique can customized by the affiliate to their readers. This is better for the affiliate and for the brands that they are promoting.  At a minimum, the title and intro of the blog post should be different from affiliate to affiliate, even if the promotional info (offer, promo code info, etc.) is the same.

To access the webinar deck and/or full recording, click here. Need help prepping your site for Penguin? Reach out to our SEO & Digital Strategy team!

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