Google’s core ranking algorithm works all the time and adjusts the rankings of pages on the Internet for their relevance to keywords. In addition to this, the search engine applies a series of other algorithms that are termed “filters.” Each filter targets a different set of characteristics that Google wants to discourage and so these filters keep SEO experts in business. You may have experienced some volatility in the rankings on Google for your law firm’s Web pages over the past month. This is because Google recently changed its Penguin filter and reapplied it to its rankings. Search Engine Land has been keeping a close eye on this new version of Penguin, which is called Penguin 3.0. This round up also includes articles on Penguin from Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Journal.
Search Engine Land has a reputation for identifying and naming Google filters and their new versions. The rest of the industry follows their schema. For example, when Google created a new algorithm to enhance rankings of small businesses in local searches earlier this year, Search Engine Land spotted it and named it. That algorithm got the name Pigeon from Search Engine Land, not from Google. In this article, you will read that Penguin 3.0 was rolled out in October. As filter roll outs usually take about a week, how can Penguin 3.0 still be affecting your law firm’s rankings? It seems there have actually been a series of adjustments.
After posting the above article, Search Engine Land’s editor, Barry Schwartz kept his ear to the ground (or his bot to the Web) and noticed more changes. You will find a schedule at the end of the article which details the Search Engine Land opinion on the dates those extra updates occurred. If you have seen worrying and inexplicable movements in your law firm’s rankings, check down this list of dates to see whether you problems were caused by Google.
If your law practice is a small firm and you are trying to manage your own website in between case work, this article is a godsend. The flowchart embedded in the article gives a good strategy for monitoring your site’s rankings. If you click on it, a larger version will appear in an overlay. However, if you right-click instead you can select “Save image as..” and download it. Print it out and pin it to your wall.
Penguin down-ranks sites that have links from link farms and use scams like doorway pages or keyword stuffing to get unnatural advantages in the rankings game. The links that point to your law firm’s website from other sites are beyond your control, which opens up an avenue for competitors who may apply dirty tricks to pull your rankings below theirs. If you clean up your site, you will still have to wait until Penguin is run again before the penalties you were given by the previous run disappear. One solution is to just put up a new page that will get indexed in the normal way. You then have the dilemma of how to retain the following your old page attracted. A redirect is one method for doing this and this Search Engine Watch article discusses the merits and detractions of this technique.
Search Engine Journal has found a reason for the unusual duration of the Penguin 3.0 roll out. It seems Google intends to keep applying Penguin over and over again forever. This is good news and bad news for your efforts to keep your law firm’s rankings up. Google doesn’t announce any of the changes to its algorithm, so a high frequency of Penguin runs gives them a handy slot into which they can slip a major change whenever they feel like it. On the other hand, you won’t have to wait a year to recover your rankings once you have corrected any Penguin-provoking mistakes on your site. If this is true, the redirect method may become defunct.