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There is a new Google algorithm in town. Its name? Penguin (this is the algorithm formerly known rather conspicuously as the “webspam” update).

This latest Google revision has resulted in some unexpected hits and hard times for some web owners (Google quotes the number of glitches at 3%) and many frustrated SEO companies. In an effort to calm the tide of anger and bewilderment, Google has provided a place to complain or give feedback if you feel your site was wrongly hit by Penguin.

For those who don’t know, in brief, the Penguin update is targeted at reducing the rankings of sites raised by spammy links, keyword stuffing, exact match anchor text, paid links, link networks, etc.

In theory, such an update should benefit small business and SMEs, and provide a reward for SEOs engaging in white hat tactics. Assuming Google soon issues a fix for Penguin’s glitches, this attack on spam could be a very good thing for the web.

So what does “Penguin” (glitches and all) mean for businesses big and small?

1) This is a good reminder to stay aware and keep learning. If you think you know everything you suddenly know nothing. Having a (hard-working) student’s attitude is the best way to approach SEO. Search engine optimisation is an industry that is always evolving and adapting. Approaching SEO as a fully knowable field will inevitably cause problems somewhere down the line. Therefore it is wise to embrace unknowing and be willing to experiment intelligently.

2) SEO is now a team sport. If Google’s updates tell us anything it’s that the days of spammy linking, tricking the system and technical elitism are likely to disappear into history very soon. Effective SEO can no longer be a solo sport. As search becomes increasingly personalised it’ll not always be about that number 1 spot either. Now more than ever SEO must combine forces with marketing teams, content creators, PR specialists, design, social media and branding in order to create effective strategies.

3) Brand identity, trust, and awareness is becoming more and more important, even for search engine optimisation. Customers are increasingly concerned about trustworthiness and authority in businesses and products. This is especially important for e-commerce. If your site comes across as untrustworthy or uninformed, you’re not likely to see high conversion rates. How does this effect SEO?

It is very important to know a brand’s identity and unique voice (along with its goals and target audience) in order to write focused, optimised content that effectively communicates the brand personality, authority and credibility. This is something SEO content creators will need to embrace now, if they haven’t already.

If technological trends and advancements continue at the astonishing rate they are at now, the world we’ll exist in just a decade from now is likely to be very different from the world we see today. Our information is becoming increasingly digital. We aren’t burning books but we are printing less of them. Being prepared for rapid change means staying informed and rolling with the punches.

If your site was unfairly hit by Google’s Penguin Update, let Google know, then move on. The best plan is to embrace a unified online marketing strategy that combines PR, content, SEO, brand awareness and social engagement. The wider the scope of your online marketing and awareness efforts, the harder it will be to bring you down.

And yet? Ultimately, as Aaron Wall wrote in an article for SEO Book, the future is unknowable.

It is therefore wise to embrace the unknowing with optimism, creative planning, and wonder… not fear.

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