The following was a post I wrote for the IGB magazine to co-incide with the IGamingSupershow Amsterdam event.
There have been a lot of column inches written about Google’s latest version of the search link algorithm called Penguin – both pre and post the launch of Version 2.0 late last week. For many including myself, I had expected more, certainly from conversations as late last year at the IGB conference in Barcelona when one of the speakers mentioned a huge update in the offing.
Certainly the usual rhetoric from Google seemed to coincide with the doom and gloom outlook that many were predicting. A significant proportion of queries, rid the world of blackhat spam, make SERPs like payday loans less cluttered from churn and burn affiliates out for a quick buck.
So has Google succeeded ??
Well one only has to look at a search for Blackjack to suggest it’s certainly not been the game changer many predicted. Aggressive affiliates still are seeing significant success in many verticals – and payday loans serp is still full of churn and burn affiliates out for a quick buck. So one would have to suggest the answer is a big fat no.
There is no doubting that this has had some form of effect. I have seen a number of sites significantly affected by the update, however were many of the issues outlined by Mr Cutts impacted, I would disappointingly have to say again no. Perhaps this comes down to the way I would suggest Penguin was designed to work – much of which does not affect the slash and dash approach used by some in the affiliate space. To some this presents on-going opportunity – and one as an affiliate that many will choose to explore and exploit until the time Google works out how to close the loop – however I would suggest that time is still a fair while off particularly as there is only one winner in a bad serp (and that’s Google – and one might argue the owners of the bad serps) – and that’s Google particularly in mature verticals such as Payday Loans and Online Gaming. Certainly the brands in these sectors are the losers and many will have to pay money to ensure visibility in an increasingly competitive search landscape.
I would suggest therefore we are at a crossroads. Short term gain against longer term sustainability. I certainly believe the short term game is just that – short term. I do believe Google will get better – and I think the increasing role of social will have a big part to play in that. As Google spreads its means of consideration wider and wider – and moves beyond simple and easily manipulated metrics – we will see a less opportunistic landscape for affiliates in particular. If we are all honest, Google can still do far more if it really wants to achieve what they claim from the various claims from the Webspam team
Opportunities will still be there for affiliates looking to develop their propositions and offer value – however the wild west days of the past I think are limited in terms of their lifespan moving forward. That said, those opportunities are still there. Google isn’t perfect and never will be.
What Google have achieved is that they have certainly continued to give SEO’s food for thought and keep us light on our feet. However this won’t be the last update they do, and I do believe they are getting things right slowly but surely.