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The Google Menagerie

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In case you’re not familiar with Google Penguin, this is the colorful name given to the search engine’s latest algorithm update. The update is directed at websites that violate Google’s webmaster guidelines by using black-hat SEO techniques (keyword stuffing, cloaking, link-building and swapping schemes, copyright violations and deliberate creation of duplicate content). If you’re tracking your SEO rankings—and you absolutely should be—you may have noticed some changes by now.

Another aspect of the update is the greater emphasis being placed on social media, which is also impacting website rankings. This shift with Penguin and Panda, a site-ranking algorithm released in 2011, was Google’s attempt to reduce the rank of low-quality sites or sites laden with advertising while raising the rank of higher-quality sites. Both algorithm shifts are designed to thwart companies that attempt to game the system, as Google continues its efforts to deliver relevant content. Relevancy is a key term here, as quality content should always be the goal. Link swapping, link building and link farming have always been bad business, while pertinent, relevant, useful content will always rank most highly with Google—and your prospects.

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Alan Blume is an author, and as founder and CEO of StartUpSelling Inc., he works with small businesses on lead generation, sales, marketing, website design and branding. For more information, go to