What You Need to Know About the Google Penguin Update

By: Wes McDowell | May 1st, 2012 | 18 comments

Share this:

Google has updated its ranking algorithm again. This time around, they are focusing most heavily on penalizing sites that use “over-optimization” and sneaky web spam tactics to generate links. The official name is “the Penguin Update.” Coming on the heels of the latest “Panda Update,” Penguin is a more fine-tuned version that is targeting those that are violating Google’s quality guidelines.

Those of us who don’t rely on outdated, spammy tactics don’t have much to worry about. The update is mainly affecting websites that have little to no quality content, and are abusing inbound linking strategies in order to game the system and get undeserved traffic.

Glenn Gabe at G-Squared Interactive has been researching those websites that have been hardest hit over the past week, and has come up with some thoughtful observations regarding the specific issues that webmasters should concern themselves with. If any of these SEO strategies apply to your site, you might want to address them sooner than later.

Exact-Match Domains

This involves companies that want to rank well for a certain set of keywords, and buying domain names with these words in the title. Having a keyword-rich url is a good tactic for showing up high in the search engines. If it makes sense to do so, it is probably fine, and you won’t see any penalties. But some companies do abuse this, by buying up numerous urls in order to dominate a given market, and this crosses a line. At this point, it is unclear if the Google Penguin update is actually going after this, but experts do believe that even if they aren’t targeting exact-match domain abuse now, future updates will.

Paid text links with exact anchor text

Google makes it very clear that they don’t condone paying for links. When a site has an unnatural number of inbound links with anchor text that is just “too perfect,” it raises a red flag. When a site gets a natural link to it, usually the anchor text is varied, since (in theory,) different people are adding the links. In most cases, these types of links are paid, and Google is well aware.

Comment Spam

I run a blog on my website, and the amount of comment spam I get is insane. It is usually auto-generated and stuffed with keywords and links, and nothing to say. It is easy for Google to see this, and penalize sites that use such tactics to generate backlinks.

Guest Posts on Questionable Sites

Guest posting has always been a great way to build quality backlinks. In most cases, guest authors are actually contributing to the online community, and that is exactly what Google wants to see. Where people can get in trouble, however, is by adding posts to websites that are set up purely to make money on the guest posts, based on the links they would generate. Not all blogs are created equal, and guest authors should focus on writing for quality sites.

Article Marketing

Article marketing often involves webmasters writing a very under-developed article which focuses heavily on keywords and anchor text links within the article. They are usually not necessarily written to be read by humans as much as by the search engines, and are often mass-distributed around the web. Article marketing has long been a link-building mainstay, but its days are numbered.

Final Thoughts

The main thing to remember is that Google is getting smarter every day. SEO tactics that worked in the past, may still work now, but as we move forward, they are going to be continually phased out. It goes without saying that Google wants good quality content to be pushed to the top of the pile, and the only way to do well in search engine rankings for the longterm is to create good content that people will want to link to. Then promote the hell out of it.

18 Responses to What You Need to Know About the Google Penguin Update

  1. Penguin update is good for users as well as business. It’s time to end the era of web spam and black hat SEO.

    Thanks for sharing the information.

    • Wes McDowell says:

      Tell me about it. I can’t believe that it has taken so long for Google to really start cracking down on it. I’m hoping it will only get better, and that good, quality content will be rewarded over massive amounts of junk links.

  2. Jose Gil says:

    thanks for this, can you also share what thing we can do to recover from penguin update if our sites was hit. many seo providers client was hit and they will greatly appreciate if you share some strategies to recover the rankings

  3. James McMinn says:

    I completely agree with you, I believe that the update is good, because it gets rid of spammers. However, I am having an issue with a couple of my clients. I have 3 clients that have simple one page sites and I use the same SEO methods for all 3, however one of them has fallen off the map after the update and 2 of them are doing great, which I don’t understand. I wrote about the penguin update myself which has my take on the update. Please take a look and let’s start a conversation.

  4. Sean L says:

    I think this upgrade has caused more collatatoral damage than solved a problem. They’ve got to try something. I couldn’t keep up with the spam in my own blog, and just shut down the comments altogether.

    • Wes McDowell says:

      Hey Sean, have you tried a spam filter for your blog? I use the Akismet plugin for WordPress and it works great. Good luck!

  5. Samuel says:

    Now I know how to destroy my competition.

    Just I will put many links from irrelevant sites and with repetitive keywords to Websites of my competitors. That´s all….

    ! Google thank you very much! … Good job

    • Wes McDowell says:

      Aw Samuel, don’t go using your Google powers for evil. Google is like Santa Claus, they know when you’ve been sleeping, they know when you’re awake…

  6. Neil says:

    This should level the playing field, a bit. Now, we can focus more on content, quality and helpful content rather than obsessing over number of links, which I used to before.. :-(

  7. brian zeng says:

    nice post about penguin.
    obviously,google penguin updates reward white hat seo,and hit black hat seo hard again,i think former deindexation of blog networks is part of it,punishing spun garbage.

  8. vijeth says:

    Thanks a ton for sharing this information regarding google penguin update. I am a newbie and this info helped me a lot to take me into the long journey in a white hat way. Also can you more post some information on how these logarithms work. How can they may out bad things as such? sometime it might give penalty to white hat sites? if so how to tell Google to correct the mistake. Is there way for it? thanks for your suggestions in advance.

  9. It’s good to see that online marketing is getting closer and closer to real world marketing. I look forward to the day when there is no longer any such thing as an SEO expert!

    Good content + good brand + good user experience + good company should = good web traffic.

  10. Gouri says:

    And finally the low quality EMDs are out!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Is How To Let Them Know ]What to Do if Your Search Rankings Were Hurt by Google's Penguin Update What You Need to Know About the Google Penguin Update Maybe if you get something significant out of one of these articles you can repost it [...]

Leave a Reply