Google recently announced that it had released its newest update to Penguin, which we’ve been looking forward to for quite a while. When you hear the word, “Penguin” you’re probably thinking of that cute, swimming bird, star of the film, “Happy Feet.” But that’s not what we’re talking about here. So what IS Penguin, and why should you care?

Well, Penguin is a filter, or signal, that Google launched in 2012 as part of its core algorithm. You see, Google uses over 200 distinct signals (like clues) to help you find a site when you do a search. These are things such as how fresh the content is on a site, what words appear, and even the region you’re in. The purpose of Penguin is to find spammy or bad websites and keep them from coming up in Google searches.

Some site developers have used so-called “Blackhat web spam tactics” to get around Google’s webmaster guidelines so they can get their sites ranked higher and quicker. That hurts your legitimate website because it means your site will be listed further down the page—and therefore harder to find—on someone’s google search.

Penguin also would penalize sites with too many ads or with poor quality links. Once found, the spammy or bad websites would be penalized, and their ranking would be affected negatively.

All of that is a good thing, but this update to Penguin will be of even more benefit to you. The first thing that the update fixes is that it is now in real-time. Previously, Penguin only ran periodically—and it would sometimes be even months before it would run again. So if your site had been caught in the past, but you made the needed changes and cleaned it up, it might be a long time before Google would call your site “recovered.”

Now, Penguin will free up your site each time Google re-crawls or re-indexes pages, which is a constant process. However, this can also be a negative thing if for some reason you are trying to “game” the system. It means that if you are working with an SEO agency that uses unethical tactics, your website is at a higher risk than ever before.

The second thing that is covered by the Penguin update is that it is now unique to each page, not just the entire website. They call this “granular.” For instance, if one page of a website is considered spammy, it will rank that page separately, instead of ranking the whole site.

WHAT NOW?

The most important thing for you to know and be reminded of, is that it’s very important to make sure your church website is regularly updated and that the content is current, useful, helpful, and relatable to the people you’re trying to reach. A good way to do this is if you record your sermons either with audio or video, you should then get those transcribed, and post the transcription on your website over a couple of different blog posts. Honestly, you can jump on fivver.com and video transcribe for next to nothing.

Society has changed—people no longer find a church based on denominational loyalties. Instead, they find their next church based on their understanding and trust in Google. There’s so much that goes into how highly your website is ranked, and it’s more than the average person can keep up with.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the key to ranking any website at the top of Google, Yahoo, and Bing. That’s why it’s important to utilize an expert in SEO to take care of this for you. For more information about SEO and helping people find your church on Google and other search engines, jump on my email newsletter (LEARN SEO), where I will be sending out a step by step guide on how to help people find your church on the web.