Each time Google changes its search algorithm, the Internet and online entrepreneurs wake up in a new world. Websites that had been dominating search results often get buried in deep in search results. Google’s Penguin update has been one such algorithm change.
Google’s main business is to provide the most relevant and useful search results to its users. The search engine giant keeps modifying its search and indexing algorithm to improve search results. With roll out of Google Penguin on 24 April, search results have changed. However, one cannot say for sure that it has improved the quality of search results.
It has been quite some time when Google rolled up its sleeves once again and unleashed the penguin. As a result, a large number of websites, particularly web link farms or backlink networks, have died into oblivion. Many websites are languishing. However, not all sites that have seen a huge fall in search engine traffic were necessarily spammy sites. Some of the badly hit sites include extremely popular and trusted sites such as WPMU.org. WPMU.org has regained its search traffic, but it is still difficult times for many sites. (If you are wondering how did WPMU.org recover lost traffic, SEOMoz has the story.)
Why did WPMU.org get hit? Websites such as WPMU.org have been publishing website templates and plug-ins with credit links to their sites. At Specky Geek, I have also released a few popular WordPress themes. As these website templates get used by hundreds of thousands of websites, you get backlinks from a wide range of sites. Not all these sites are legit. There is no way you can ensure that only legitimate sites get your freebies. Links from pirate and other illegal sites has been a big reason for the drop in search engine rankings.
Specky Geek has also suffered a major blow despite having links from many reputed sites, including WordPress.com. I have never been very active SEO link builder. Most of the backlinks are by-products of other online activities that I enjoy. Now, I have stopped bothering about Google search traffic as well. I can do so because Google-led traffic brings in less than one-tenth of my online income.
In the past, backlinks through website templates and other freebies was considered a great way of gaining trust in the eyes of Google. Now, it has turned into a curse. Backlinks from pirate and other malicious sites have resulted in penalties.
Is Google right in penalizing websites for such bad links even when the linked site has quality content and reputation? When will it have intelligence to differentiate between a spammy site and a good website?
Currently, Google shows not-so-great websites in search results even after more than 45 days since the Penguin update. For instance, a Google search for ‘whois’ gives a page with Whois.net at #2. Ironically, Whois.net does not have any description and has ‘noindex’ meta.
Moral of the story is that do not bother to release freebies with your links. A bad website using your freebies can do you more harm than good. If you really need to release freebies, do so without backlinks. (What good is a freebie if you do not get the credit?) Alternatively, add the backlink to your homepage with the name of the website as the anchor text. Anything else can be treated as paid links by Google. Wish websites didn’t have to rely on Google for search traffic.