Google recently announced that instead of having specific dates for their Penguin algorithm update, it will now be continuous. This seems logical as technology moves forward and it is easy to make little tweaks and adjustments. Before I go in to my thoughts on this, I would like to provide a little background on algorithm updates.
Catching the Cheaters
For many of us who do SEO the right way, we look forward to algorithm adjustments because it means Google is getting better and better at catching the cheaters. Since showing up in Google is so important, there are always people out there looking to find ways to game the system or exploit the holes in the algorithm to gain an advantage. For the most part, if you follow the ethical rules of SEO, you don’t ever have to worry about getting penalized or adjusted greatly from an update. Because of that we often look forward to our clients moving up every time Google figures out how to penalize another cheat. That being said, sometimes a shift will kill an ant with a sledgehammer and will be a little too big and all encompassing to prove a point, so updates don’t go without any nervousness. Google tends to have some hypocritical aspects of their algorithm that make gray areas confusing.
Benefits of Naming the Algorithm Changes
I would say the best part of having large named algorithm changes is the marketing end of things. It is great they are finding better ways to make the algorithm work and at the end of the day, as long as it is getting better, it doesn’t really matter. Also, Google has only said that Penguin is going to be continuously updated now, and not all updates, so we don’t know exactly what that means for other things like duplicate content, etc. Will those be continuous as well?
When I’m trying to explain an already confusing world of SEO and algorithms to small business owners, having a face for each major algorithm change has really helped with understanding. I’ve even spoken to groups with a stuffed Panda or Penguin in my hand to help drive the point home. Google makes these updates to stop the cheaters. It is great to say to someone that this update was to stop this and that update was to stop that. It puts a name on it and helps them understand. I’m sure we will find other ways to explain this stuff, but I have to say I will miss this teaching aid.
Naming the Hero
It is also easy to point at articles about Penguin or Panda or even Pigeon for business owners and they can see all of this content and information about it and it helps establish an understanding. With many small, subtle changes, this will be lost a bit. I know Google probably thinks they have gotten a lot of the bigger issues so many adjustments will be subtle going forward. However, there are always new scam techniques around the corner and some of them could be massive. For example, there is an entire industry growing out there to fake online reviews due to the importance of such things. I have already written about how I think these reviews should eventually be an organic factor, once Google and other folks figure out how to control them much better. Google still doesn’t count real reviews and counts many that are not, so they have a long way to go.
I would love to see a “Zebra” update that has mastered online reviews and be able to speak to that, but perhaps that is not our future. Maybe that will just be fixed late some weeknight and then the next day all is right. I kind of like giving credit to some black and white animal.