As many of you may know, Google recently released their 2nd major iteration of the Penguin update. Penguin 1 primarily targeted manipulative linking practices. According to Matt Cutts, Penguin 1 focused solely on the home page of a site. Now, the mighty Penguin has returned with a vengeance to tackle interior pages and various other factors.
By observing some of our test sites, I have made some key observations that I am fairly certain are the result of Penguin 2.0. Here are the main themes I have noticed:
Social media is becoming a driving force in SEO. However, through my observation, Google Plus is appearing to hold more weight than other social media channels. This makes sense because by factoring Google Plus into organic SEO rankings, Google has the perfect opportunity to promote their social network.
Before Penguin 2.0 it was not uncommon to see sites with many social bookmarking links ranking highly. Those days are now long gone. While there are still some spammy sites ranking on the first page, social bookmarking appears to have been the kiss of death to a lot of sites that were relying heavily on it.
Exact Match Domain Names:
The presence of keywords within the domain name of a site started to matter much less after Google’s EMD update. In the wake of Penguin 2.0 I have started to see a resurgence of exact match domains. I wonder if Google scaled back on the EMD update and disguised this change with Penguin 2.0. I am not sure why they would have done this, but I have definitely seen more exact match domains ranking highly in recent weeks.
These are some very preliminary observations and I am sure more will surface as time goes on. However, I think Google has made its overall intentions clear with Penguin 2.0. Best practices moving forward are to get involved in social media and stop building links that have no true value to your site.