The days of crowbarring keywords into your website copy to boost your search engine rankings are long gone, as web users are far more demanding these days.
It was a common trick to tenuously use keywords as often as possible so websites could be found by people searching for those terms.
But who was it helping? Certainly not the web users, as they often ended up clicking through to sites that didn’t contain any relevant, pertinent and high-quality information.
As a result, they simply clicked away and the company behind the site missed a chance to drive a conversion.
Something had to change, as it was simply a waste of everybody’s time.
In recent years, Google has sought to eliminate this practice by altering its search algorithms, so good-quality sites are rewarded and irrelevant sites with badly deployed keywords are punished.
Google’s Penguin algorithm was first launched in 2012 to identify the most spammy websites and has just been updated again – the first time it has been refreshed in two years. Click here to view Google algorithm change history.
The most notable aspect of Penguin 4.0 is that it works in real-time, with its data being more regularly refreshed so changes are visible much more quickly.
It means that the hit for firms penalised by Penguin for falling foul of its best practice guidelines isn’t as great as it used to be, provided they make the appropriate changes straight away.
But conversely, it means bad links will be censured by Google more quickly as well.
In other words, you can’t get away with having a spammy website for very long and you can only rise up the search rankings if you genuinely have a high-quality and compelling website.
The new real-time nature of Google’s search algorithms also mean that your rankings in the results pages could change every few hours. This means the challenge isn’t just to get high up in the rankings, but also to stay there.
It’s a further incentive for webmasters not to rest on their laurels and to continue ensuring their site is engaging and relevant to their target audience.
By placing such a strong emphasis on a high-quality user experience and meaningful online content, Google is giving marketers a very strong incentive to evaluate their brand objectively and make sure they’re getting strong returns online.
You might also want to bear in mind that Penguin devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, which means a whole site’s rankings might not necessarily be hit if it contains spammy keywords.
Ultimately, that means the consequences of a Google censure can be very hard to predict.
Will specific pages of a site be impacted, or will Google penalise large swathes of a site and leave other sections untouched?
Again, it’s a strong motivation for you to be consistently on the ball when it comes to web design.
Each page of your website really needs to count and be tailored with your specific audience in mind – otherwise, you risk falling foul of these tough search algorithms and Google’s criteria for what makes a high-quality website.
Read more news and tips here.