Google Penguin Forces Small Businesses into a Tizzy

Recent changes to Google search algorithms delineated the fine line between black hat and white hat search engine optimizers. “White hat” search engine optimizers are defined by those dedicated to improving their site usability and to creating unique content. This method not only works for the search engines but for the users as well.

“Black Hat” search engine optimizers are the exact opposite of white hat search engine optimizers. Often referred to as black hat webspam by Google, it is the pursuit of higher rankings with the use of techniques which Google feels do not benefit users. Google further believes that many black hat search engine optimizers find loopholes and short-cuts by compromising on the quality of information and by means of keyword stuffing and link schemes.
The new  April 24, 2012 ranking and algorithm changes attempt to eliminate the “black hats” and webspam. In doing this, Google aims to help searchers find sites that build on exceptional user experience and that fulfill user information needs.


 I.  Recent Changes:

Google has consistently targeted webspam in their rankings. They have been doing more so within the last 12 months, first with the introduction of Google Panda and now with Google Penguin on April 24, 2012. These changes are set to decrease the rankings of sites which violate Google’s existing quality guidelines. The only problem with this is that these changes are unannounced.

The world of internet advertising and internet marketing is now in shambles. Teams are now charged with the duty of identifying unacceptable practices, which are vaguely defined by Google.

II. Effects on Small Businesses:

This latest shakeup is having online small businesses scratching their heads. It is frustrating for online small business owners who play by the book and make every effort to create credible content that is not only unique but enticing as well. Many are now faced with the inevitable consequences of rising prices, especially for hiring a copywriter.

Google intends to punish those who over-optimize, but hurts small businesses who cannot afford large internet advertising campaigns as well.

III. Alternatives:

Focusing on Google is not the only key to our answers, despite the fact that it owned 66% market shares and had 11.7 billion searches in the month of February (2012).  There are other alternatives to Google search which online marketers could consider.

The main alternatives are: 

1. Bing/Yahoo is the second largest and the second most well established search engine; second only to Google. Yahoo is powered by Bing search results as of 2011 and is thus included in this alternative. Accounting for 5.1 billion searches in February of 2012 or 29% of the market, it is steadily growing to become one of the most powerful alternatives. There are slight similarities with Bing, as the search engine features many tools that Google has to offer. Two notable examples are the Webmaster Toolbox and Webmaster Center Blog.

2. Facebook is the second largest alternative and competitor on the market. In 2011, Google launched an alternative to Facebook by taking the biggest leap yet. Google Plus (the alternative) is the new social networking service which includes many of the same features that Facebook has been providing for now over 7 years. Although not all features are the same, Facebook should not be left out of the plane field. Facebook users can use the same keywords they use on Google to find businesses and friends. They do not have to know or befriend the person or the business to find what they are looking for.

3. Duck Duck Go is making use of public concerns over Google privacy policy changes. They encourage other vendors to do the same. The company does not collect or share browsing history and articulates comprehendable privacy policies. Their motto is “Google tracks you. We don’t.” At approximately 45 million searches per month, it is steadily growing. It has potential but is a minor player compared to Google and Bing.

IV. Conclusion: 

The quality of Google search engine results will vividly decrease in the upcoming weeks. Emphasis will be strongly placed on low quality and outdated content and YouTube links. It remains to be seen if Google will lose its place on the web or revamp the current changes.

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