Google Penguin 4.0 and Search Engine Rankings

Google has finally rolled out Penguin 4.0 as of the 23rd September 2016, this builds of the official release of Penguin in 2012. Not much has changed since then, initially it was built to prevent spamming methods that was deemed bad for users. Many sites that were using these spamming techniques were penalized back then. Newer sites that were not around then may be caught in the most recent update. Moz detected large fluctuations in search engine results at the end of September, most namely for image search results.

In reality Google only did 2 things with the update:

  1. They have Penguin now runs in real time. Webmasters impacted by Penguin will no longer have to wait for the next update to see the results of their improvement efforts — now, changes will be evident much more quickly, generally not long after a page is recrawled and reindexed.
  2. Penguin 4.0 is “more granular,” meaning that it can now impact individual pages or sections of a site in addition to entire domains; previously, it would act as a site-wide penalty, impacting rankings for an entire site.

This also has its benefits as users can make amends for previous mistakes. There is still some confusion in the community what the best steps are for the most recent update,

What are the spamming techniques

Keyword Stuffing

This is when you add multiple keywords that are similar to one page. If you do this Google may penalize your site. Review your keywords to make sure you’re not overusing them. Also make sure not to use the same keywords on different pages, this can affect the overall ranking of your site. Make keywords relevant for the page.

Paid Links

Buying links to increase your backlink profile is a “black hat” method for SEO and if caught (which you will eventually) can lead to heavy penalties from Google.

Hidden Text

This is where you hide text on the page, either by making it white, or by hiding it with CSS. If users can’t read it then it shouldn’t be there.

Thin Content

This is when content is not adding real value to the customer (even if relevant). For pages that may be deemed “thin”, you should look to improve the content to make sure its relevant and actually adding value for users.

Note that Google is discounting bad links, rather than demoting the end site.

To help bounce back it would be useful to learn how to disavow bad links, MOZ provides a great article on how to use the disavow tool here.

Other Reasons why your site may have lost rankings

There are over 200 factors that make up Googles search engine rankings, and Google (and other search engines) are constantly changing rankings and weightings of factors. If your content is old and no longer relevant you may see some adjustments. Like anything those who work on their SEO more regularly and continually write valuable content will see the greatest results. Those who are relying on old content may be affected.

Do Flothemes Affect SEO?

If you’ve been using Flothemes for a while now, drops in your ranking are not related to your Flotheme, we have put measures in place to make sure that the themes score highly for SEO, if you’re changing content Google will re-crawl your site and if there are adjustments it will update as required. This can go both in your favor and against it. If you’re not ranking as highly, its time to take action and address the SEO on your site.

If you’ve moved from another provider you may actually see increases as WordPress as a platform allows for greater control over your SEO. So make sure that your content is up to date, relevant and that you’ve added relevant keywords for all your pages and posts.

What Can I Do To Improve SEO?

There following 5 simple things will help you to improve on site SEO:

1. Keywords or Keyword Phrase

Make sure that you have added a relevant keyword or phrase to your pages. Make sure the keyword makes sense, and is something a user might actually search, as well as one that you will hopefully rank for. Don’t use something like Wedding Photgrapher Ireland, whilst it may be relevant, chances are its too difficult to rank for. A keyword such as Wedding Photographer in Cork Ireland is a much better term. You can use tools such as Moz Keyword Explorer to check for difficulty for specific keywords.

2. Relevant Content

If you take away anything from today, it should be this. Googles objective is to provide relevant content to those people who need it. Make your content relevant and valuable even with little SEO implementation Google will still rank quality content thats relevant to users. Think about writing articles that are going to be useful for your users, make sure to add descriptions to pages, write more about your services, all of these things will help Google understand your site better.

Also note that fresh content allows your site to be crawled and indexed again by Google, people who continually add new and relevant content to their site will rank higher. Just because you ranked highly before for a particular phrase doesn’t mean that it won’t change. If you want to stay on top, you have to work for it.

3. Image SEO

Make sure to add relevant names to your images and add alt tags also, using keyword in the title can really help. Label images like Wedding-in-castle-leslie-ireland.jpg rather than dsc0029019.jpg it will make much more sense to Google and your users. If you haven’t added good file names to previous images it might be a good idea to upload them again, but don’t remove the old from WordPress or you can end up with 404 errors.

If you haven’t added alt tags previously, don’t fret, you can still add them in WordPress. Just go media > library, in grid view click on any image and then add the title and alt tag:


4. Page and Post Titles

When adding page and post titles make sure they are descriptive. This is particularly relevant for blog posts, its a great chance to add titles that include searchable terms, an example would be “A Farm Wedding in County Wicklow Ireland”. This would allow you to add a keyword phrase such as “farm wedding county wicklow Ireland” so its relevant. To really add icing on the cake you can add a 2-300 word into for the blog post describing a farm wedding in county Wicklow Ireland. All this relevant content will allow the pages and posts to be better understood by Google.

5. Meta Description

Adding relevant Meta descriptions to your pages and posts is another great way to get users to click into your content, take time to update these (using Yoast SEO its simple, check out the guide here) and again you can include your keyword phrase if relevant.

Learn More about SEO

The above 5 steps are just a quick into into some ways that you can boost your on site SEO. Of course there are hundreds of factors that come into play. Want to learn more about SEO, sign up to our free SEO eBook  for a more in-depth look at implementing SEO with WordPress, and we’ll also notify you about any SEO webinars or useful SEO content.

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