Google Penguin and Pigeon Released into the wild!

The Google Zoo recently opened a few cages, releasing both non-flying and flying birds-Penguin and Pigeon. Once again, Google's attempts to improve their filtering of bad content will require a little maintenance on our part. Here's a quick summary of what these updates do and how they might affect your sites.


Penguin is now part of our core algorithm
“Penguin is now real-time. Historically, the list of sites affected by Penguin was periodically refreshed at the same time. Once a webmaster considerably improved their site and its presence on the internet, many of Google's algorithms would take that into consideration very fast, but others, like Penguin, needed to be refreshed... [Penguin] changes will [now] be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after we recrawl and reindex a page…” - “Penguin is now more granular. Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.”

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What Your SEO Needs to Know:

Google's Penguin first launched in 2012, and until now, Google has been manually initiating its crawls. The update is now live as part of their core algorithm and applied to all pages crawled by Google. The Penguin crawls are now continuous within a regular crawl schedule. This helps Google keep the data clean, as well as penalize those who have learned how to regularly scam the system.

Amongst mundane things like checking pagerank and region, it tries to answer questions like "Is this content fresh enough?" and "Do important words and links on this page seem relevant?" Other than that, Google has decided to continue its regular practice of keeping many things shrouded in mystery.

Here are some actionable Penguin insights: 

  • Take off your black SEO hat. Penguin is progressively cracking down on keyword stuffing, and other less obvious forms of spam.
  • Work hard to make sure your viewers are getting the information on the page that you promise them is there.
  • Don't send people places they don't want to go. Evaluate every link and make sure it sends the user somewhere productive and informative.
  • Stay on topic and don't branch out too much from your intended conversion topic.
  • Pay attention to research and data from trusted sources when designing and updating your website.
  • Listen to your SEO agency. They spend lots of time and money learning and understanding these principles so that they can give you the best search optimization bang for your buck. Lots of ways we are trained to think as "marketers" are changing due to the presence and breadth of digital media, and traditional methods of marketing no longer have the vibrancy they used to. People are changing the way they view and expect content.

How Does It Affect Your Business:

The best way to adapt to Penguin is simple- do not try to cheat the system. Google is going to fight you every step of the way, and you will still not be earning the trust of real people to make real conversions.

You need only one basic mindset in order give Penguin a favorable view your site: Be honest. Really sell your credibility, expertise, and authority. Don't sneak in things disguised as what you think people want instead. Be authentic. Believe in your product or service and make it valuable to people.

Keep your sights set on creating great quality content for your site. Work with writers, designers, artists, and SEO experts (see above). Stack your team with talent who know how to listen well and balance expert advice and pleasing your partners and customers. If you're truly seeking out the best and brightest to help you do the right thing, an expert team will help you accomplish those goals.



Google “Pigeon” Updates Local Search Algorithm With Stronger Ties To Web Search Signal
“The new algorithm is currently rolling out for US English results and aims to provide a more useful and relevant experience for searchers seeking local results. Google didn’t share any details about if and when the update would roll out more widely in other countries and languages.
Google has not commented on the percent of queries impacted by this algorithm update, nor if certain web spam algorithms were deployed in this update.” 

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What Your SEO Needs to Know:

The Google Pigeon update was released to provide a more useful, relevant, and accurate local search results. They are tied closely to traditional web rankings, however these changes will be most noticeable in Google Maps and local-only searches. Most of the changes are behind the scenes and will utilize features such as the "knowledge graphspelling correctionsynonyms, and more." This update is extremely new, so don't be surprised if it's followed by numerous updates over time.**



Connected Customer Experiences Are At The Heart Of Digital Transformation
“Digital transformation is the realignment of, or new investment in technology, business models, and processes to create new value for customers and employees and more effectively compete in an ever-changing digital economy.”

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The Six Stages of Digital Transformation - Graphic Credit: Briansolis.com


What Your SEO Needs to Know:

Speaking of Google updates, this article is a good way to sum up their importance and the spirit behind them.

Google's last three major updates (Panda, Penguin, and Pigeon) are all aimed at filtering, demoting, and otherwise discouraging those sites that cheat at web marketing to steal your attention instead of earning it.

  • Panda addresses page style, design, readability, scannability, and on-page elements to directly increase the on-page user experience.
  • Penguin cracks down on black-hat SEO practices designed to steal pagerank without offering real value.
  • Pigeon updates the process of filtering out non-local content when you only want local and other steps to improve the ability to identify your intent by your Google search.

How Does It Affect Your Business:

 This topic is very broad and extremely focused at the same time. Your customer experience truly is at the heart of every conversion for which you strive. And despite our best efforts, some will continue to try and cheat the system, to embody the used-car-salesman caricature of the interwebs. Google is continually trying to develop efficient ways of spotting the usurpers.

Your organization might toss around the words "relevant," "productive," "balanced," "robust," or "informative" resulting in a nebulous or vague prioritizing of the most important communicative elements on your site. A better way to consider these concepts is by solving one problem at a time.

Regardless of the particular adjective, your main customer experience objective is to communicate to your customer that they can trust you with their time and money. The quality of your content is that key.

When we say "content," we mean everything on the page that affects any user's on-page experience:

  • Page Content
  • Language and tone of voice
  • Headlines (H1, H2, H3 tagged titles)
  • Meta Titles and Descriptions
  • Navigation layout and interactivity
  • Color scheme, Fonts, Icons, buttons, colors, styles, and placements
  • Header image size and design
  • Good mobile experience
  • Productive and relevant internal links
  • Informative listings
  • Social sharing options
  • Seamless online purchase experiences
  • And many, many more...
Brian’s article contains a good reminder of our function as authorities in our field. We should proceed with anything except “business as usual.”

Our goal should be to become an adaptive entity that continually provides the valuable return on the investment we promise so boldly to our potential customers. Attention to the customer experience will either reward the digital user... or not.



Summary of this week’s SEM GEMS
  • Google Penguin will help us in the long journey to eliminate ranking thieves and system hacks and point us in the direction of more valuable digital Google marketing.
  • Pigeon will provide some small but necessary improvements to local search, spell-correction, synonyms, and more.
  • Successful digital marketing starts with a desire to transition from a "business as usual" organization to a truly innovative and adaptive problem solvers.

**Destination marketing organizations are generally not eligible to appear in these results and will not likely be affected.