I’m not sure where this rumor started, but I have heard it from two people now. Here is one email I received:
I heard that Google are going to penalize all WordPress sites because so many spammers use WordPress. Should I switch back to a static HTML site?”
When I first read this email, I had a little laugh to myself. Then I had time to think about it a little more …. and had another little laugh to myself.
Sorry, I am not making fun of the people who sent me the email…Really… If this ever happens, then I’ll join the bandwagon of Google haters. Until that time, I’ll continue to (naively) believe that Google’s motives are to clean up their search results.
Why Google will not Penalize ALL WordPress sites
WordPress may be used by spammers, but it is also used by major Corporations like Sony, CNN, Samsung, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Wired, Forbes, Reuters, need I go on? Do you really believe that Google is going to penalize all WordPress sites?
Perhaps you think that sites like those mentioned above will be tagged with a special field that makes them immune to penalties?
Sorry, but that just isn’t the Google way. They like to identify features of poor sites, and penalize the features. That way they can avoid less “collateral damage”.
For example, if Google find out that a WordPress template is being given away with a course that teaches people how to build websites that they believe are spammy, then Google will identify a footprint unique to that template and penalize all sites with that footprint. This is something they have done in the past, but penalizing ALL WordPress sites? That is something completely different.
Sure, Google have introduced things like the page layout algorithm (they were very transparent about it) which some may argue is Google throwing their weight around and forcing webmasters into NOT using a particular layout. If we are talking about Google penalizing a layout, or a template in the previous example, then is it too big a step to think they might penalize WordPress sites? I think it is. I’d argue that they introduced the page layout algorithm to make the visitor experience better. I mean how many people enjoy landing on a webpage with no text at all above the fold? Is that a good experience? Wouldn’t it better if the sites you landed on gave you the answers you wanted without having to endlessly scroll past graphics, banners and advertising to get to the good stuff?
If (and I know a lot of you believe it is a BIG “if”) the recent changes at Google are an attempt to make their search results better, why would they penalize WordPress sites? WordPress sites can be the most professional, high quality sites on the web. People landing on a good quality WordPress site may have a great user experience. It’s a bit like recalling ALL brands of car to get the brakes checked just because the Toyota plant found a serious fault in a batch of brake calipers destined for the 2012 Toyota Prius.
Make no mistake. There are a lot of crappy WordPress sites built by spammers that offer little value to visitors. These are the type of WordPress sites that Google will penalize, and rightly so. What I believe Google WILL do (and is already doing for all types of sites, not just WordPress sites), is to identify features of these crappy sites and then create an algorithm that penalizes the sites with these features. This probably involves setting up the new algorithm for their human raters and showing them side-by-side SERPs, with and without the new algorithm. If search results are improved with the new algorithm, it may go live. Will there be “collateral damage”? Probably. However, Google are being a lot more transparent about what is, and is not, acceptable. If a good site gets hit, it is often a case of visiting the webmaster guidelines to see where the site was going wrong, or where it was breaking those guidelines, and fixing it.
So, to summarize, in my opinion, there is no chance that Google will penalize ALL WordPress sites. I hope they do penalize the bad ones though so webmasters like me and you can get better rankings with our high quality websites .
I have heard a few stories of people assuming that WordPress sites are penalized, because after they switched their site to HTML, their rankings improved. I have no doubt that this could be the case for a lot of websites. Not because Google penalizes WordPress sites, but simply because most people struggle to setup WordPress correctly to minimize issues like duplicate content (which WordPress is known for). If you are a beginner starting out, I can recommend my WordPress for Beginners Kindle book. That will show you how to minimize the problems with duplicate content. For those wanting to take their WordPress site building to a new level, join my Insider’s Membership Group where we used more advanced methods.
A final thought. If Google did penalize ALL WordPress sites, simply because Spammers use WordPress, what next? Spammers will just switch to building static sites using HTML. Will Google then ban static HTML sites because spammers have switched to using HTML?
Sometimes if we hear a rumor from enough sources, it’s difficult to ignore. I mean “no smoke without fire”, right? Not in this case. I recommend you ignore the rumors, relax, and concentrate on providing quality content for your readers.
What are your thoughts on this rumor? Please leave your comments below: