Things may not be absolutely stable just yet, but it isn’t hard to say Google’s last update, called “Penguin”, is going to change the way people approach SEO not only in Japan, but in the whole World, to an even greater extent than Panda.
Last year’s Panda did a good job, removing a lot of low quality contents from Google’s index. There were a few collateral casualties, but they were quick to recover, and objectively the relevance of search results improved significantly.
Now, Google decided to take things a step further and try and hit the bad SEO guys, black hats, spammers, call them what you want. I say, great! There is yet a lot in this field to do for sure. So, Google rolled out a new update to take down sites that were “overoptimized”, especially regarding incoming links.
And this is when s*** happened…
Long story short, relevance of results significantly decreased from what I’ve seen on a number of English, Japanese and even French requests. Some quite decent sites have disappeared although they had clean link profiles, and worse still, some awful ones made it to the top of results, helped with… keyword stuffing. You know, that dumb tactic from the 90’s? Some sites exclusively relying on directory links, using always the same descriptions and anchors, seem to have held up exceptionally well.
So what is causing this? Well, after discussing with lots of webmasters and SEOs from different countries and backgrounds, it seems Google decided to hit certain types of links in priority. Especially those from PR sites and blogging platforms with optimized anchors seem to be having really nasty effect. This is leaving out a LOT of really terrible blog networks and low quality directories, which kind of blows my mind. My feeling is that we’re facing a half-baked update, which doesn’t only need to be better balanced, but also do what it is supposed to do thoroughly: take the crap out of the Internet.
What to do for now? I’m not sure. I don’t expect Google to let such a poor update out without reacting quickly, and I would advise webmasters/SEO people not to panic and give it a few extra weeks. As a first, safe measure, you could review your current backlinks and, when possible, edit those that may seem “too good to be genuine”, particularly regarding anchor texts.
So far, this blog seems to actually have benefited from the update, but trying to have a reasonable look at things, there’s just no way our little penguin will remain as it is. Learn manners, my little friend, and come back prettier!