There was chatter in the SEO community as to if there was a Google update New Year’s Eve? The monitors and Search Engine journal say no. This just made me think about how much freak out happens about Google updating their algorithm and is it really that scary?

I think the answer is mixed. I have had 20 years’ worth of Google updates behind me and honestly very few have been as impactful as Panda and Penguin. Those were major for anyone that had been using what I would call a gray hat methodology. Which is where you did not exactly use black hat tactics, but you really pushed the envelope from pure white hat to a grey area. Panda and Penguin made us reevaluate and do things better which I think as much as it hurt was a good thing in the long run for search and SEO optimization as a whole.

I am going to cover these two in a little detail just to give anyone not familiar an idea of what these algorithms were all about.

Google Update New Years Eve

The Panda update goes back to 2011 so while it has been a while it had a serious impact on search engine optimization especially when it comes to using content to rank a website. Before this update people would and could get away with spun as well as low quality content with proper keywords being placed in it and rank with it. This killed that for the most part. Many affiliate sites got hit as well as sites that solely focused on selling ads on their sites. Unfortunately, as always sites that were decent sites also got hit just because sometimes good sites get hit with updates or there is enough bad content on the site to trigger a filter.

Here is what Panda Focused on:

  • Thin Content
  • Duplicate Content
  • Low Quality Content
  • Hi Ad to Content Ratio
  • Content That Does Not Deliver Based On Search Query
  • Low Quality Content Surrounded By Affiliate Links

With Panda any site that had any of these problems was hit and de ranked. You can quickly see that if you were running a site that was affiliate or ad based you were going to get hit by this algorithm.

Also, if you created content to solely just get ranked but did not deliver value to the searcher you were impacted. So gone are the days off just throwing up content to rank and not worrying about user interaction with it.

What Did Penguin Focus On?

The Penguin update focused on nefarious tactics for link building. It was released into the wild on April 24, 2012 and has since then been directly integrated into the core Google algorithm. It has also been made a bit more merciful. Upon first release if you were hit by Penguin you would not be able to recover even if you cleaned up everything until the algorithm was ran again. Which meant anyone that got caught up in this update could sit for 6 months or more waiting for it to come around again. Initially it also would affect your entire site where now it seems to be more isolated to the pages that you have bad links being pointed at.

What did Penguin Focus on?

  • Link Schemes
  • Keyword Stuffing around links
  • Low quality links
  • Link Anchor Text that was not natural
  • Introductions Of The Link Disavow Tool

This seems like a small list but if you built links that were things like comment spam, forum spam, low quality directory submissions, article directory submission and so on you were likely to get hit by this algorithm. these were easy links that you could easily create yourself and increase your sites power artificially.

How did this change the way SEO’s have to work? Before Penguin any link was a good link and after it you only wanted quality links to your site so quality versus quantity became the new mantra for link building.

One thing that really sucked is that you are now responsible for all links pointing to your site. Google has made you their link police by punishing you for links that are of low-quality pointing to your site even if you did not build these links.

This also introduced Negative SEO

Which is the practice of building bad links to your competitors to try and effect their website’s rankings negatively. While this does not work on a site with a strong link profile a weak site can be affected. The consensus on this is still out some professionals say it’s not possible where others say it is. Personally, I think it is possible, but you are better of spending time on getting your site ranking and reputable.

Google New Years Eve 2019 Update!

There does not seem to be an update that ran New Year’s Eve but here are my thoughts on this.

  • If you use Googles Best Practices, you will have little to worry about from updates. That does not mean you should not pay attention to them but have confidence that your SEO is on point and solid because you are using solid white hat tactics and not the latest loop hole or something that Google has not caught on to yet because the will.
  • I know updates are scary and you should certainly pay attention to them but also keep in mind even when you get affected to sit tight and see if its permanent. Sometimes things happen that coincide with an update, but they are not related.
  • If you do feel like you got hit by an update audit your site and take an honest look at what you are doing to optimize the site and if there is anything that could have gotten you in trouble. If so, take steps to clean things up.
  • Stay on top of updates and think about the bigger picture off what Google is trying to achieve with the update. Instead of gaming the system use the info they give you to stay ahead of things to come and try and understand the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

While there does not seem to have been an update New Year’s Eve also keep in mind that Google does monkey with things over the holidays and that it tends to favor bigger companies like Amazon, Walmart & Target for searches that involve purchasing intent. Also, there was a Google Analytics glitch that caused some sites to look like they were hit by something when it was just a data loss.

If you feel like you have been hit and need help feel free to contact us for a consultation on your site.

Dominik Hussl

Dominik Hussl has been working in search engine optimization since the mid '90s. He has over 20 years of experience working in SEO in many different industries from local to national campaigns. He has worked with energy companies, lawyers, real estate companies, dentists, medical clinics, car mechanics, Cigar shops, IT experts, staffing, corporate housing, CBD, Smoke Shops Cannabis businesses, and many more. He has also been on expert panels and a regular guest speaker at trade shows.