Did a Penguin Just Put the Squeeze on Your Practice Website’s Search Results?

Google, Penguin 2.0, search, SEO

Wondering what a small, flightless bird native to the Southern Hemisphere has to do with your practice website and its ranking in search results? If the bird in question is Penguin 2.0, the latest update to Google’s search algorithm, the answer is everything.

Rolled out late last month, Penguin 2.0 promises to fine-tune Google’s already powerful search engine and penalize websites that violate its guidelines.

It’s going to have a pretty big impact on web spam, said Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, on the “This Week in Google” webcast. It’s a brand new generation of algorithms. The previous iteration of Penguin would essentially only look at the home page of a site. The newer generation of Penguin goes much deeper.

At its simplest level, the latest update zeroes in on linking practices based on the premise that the sites that link to yours are a good indicator of the quality of your content. Websites that feature low-quality links, lots of comment spam and other frowned-upon elements in an effort to improve visibility will be penalized with lower search rankings.

Unless you’re fluent in SEO, determining what impact Penguin 2.0 may have on search rankings and taking corrective action are jobs best left to your web manager or marketing agency but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the issue entirely. Your website is nothing less than your digital storefront and the last thing you want is for someone to take a look and move on or, worse, not see it at all.

As Cutts says,

Try to make sure you make a great site that users love, that they’ll want to tell their friends about, bookmark, come back to, visit over and over again, all the things that make a site compelling. If that’s your goal, we’re aligned with that goal.

Doctor Takeaways

1. Quality content attracts better links

If you consistently publish generic, impersonal content, you’re unlikely to attract links from other respected websites. Conversely, timely, relevant content — regular blog posts on topics that your visitors have expressed interest in, for example — do more than just offer value to those visitors. They also establish you as an authority and attract links from other reputable websites.

2. Bad links make for bad search results

Conducting a link audit is the only way to find out if bad links — those from sites with paid links, for example — are impacting your SERPs. If you’re comfortable doing so, sites like Open Site Explorer can show you who’s linking to your sites; otherwise, your webmaster or marketing agency should be able to tell you what they’re doing to combat the problem.

3. Good links are good for business

Penguin-friendly link-building entails engaging with other reputable websites. Claiming your profile on all major social networks, contributing articles to local media outlets and answering questions in online forums are all ways to reach a larger audience that might not find your practice website on its own. It’s no silver bullet — effective online marketing takes time, energy and an ongoing commitment — but it’s the best way to ensure you don’t run afoul of Penguin 2.0.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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