On the 24th of April 2012, Google launched its Penguin update, which was meant to minimise spamming, most especially in search engine page results.
The official word from Google is: The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content.
What the new Google Penguin algorithm requires is the use of white hat SEO techniques and not those which use keyword stuffing, doorway pages and other black hat SEO strategies. So, in order to use this update to your advantage - you must be able to use efficient SEO strategies that are ethical (white hat) as well.
The proposed changes were in fact not as discouraging as they first seemed. Put simply, Penguin was introduced as a means to target sites that relied on “black-hat” SEO techniques (such as keyword stuffing and content duplications) to achieve first page search results.
SEO agencies which concentrate on building a site’s profile through transparent, trustworthy approaches are likely to find their positions are largely unaffected, hence will have pretty happy clients.
For companies that have been hit by the Penguin update, one common theme appears to be a severe lack of natural links, or an over supply of the following:
- Paid text links using exact match anchor text: For companies that want to rank for a certain term (such as “burnt toast”) one way to accomplish this is by buying links from other websites with that exact matching anchor text. This is against Google’s guidelines, as Google would consider this a paid link that exists solely to manipulate PageRank, rather than to provide any value to visitors.
- Comment spam: Two things proved problematic for websites trying to unnaturally rank for specific keywords: signatures in comments that contained exact match anchor text; and people who used a spammy user name (e.g. Best Australian SEO Company) as exact match text.
- Guest posts on questionable sites: Although guest posts are a legitimate way to earn links to your site, sites pinged by Penguin had links pointing to their website from sites filled with low-quality articles where the focus was on the anchor text rather than the content.
- Article marketing sites: Thin content featuring links with exact match anchor text were another common factor among affected sites.
- Links from dangerous sites: Do you have inbound links from sites that have been flagged for malware, numerous pop-ups, or other spammy issues? This was another factor that caused websites to lose their Google rankings, so links to and from web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” are a danger.
Ultimately, the Penguin update didn’t really change anything that Google has deemed unacceptable. Google has just evolved its algorithm to catch up to those who try to loophole their way to higher Google rankings (and, to be fair, some who simply don’t know any better or fully understand SEO). If any (or all) of the above are your sole link building tactic(s), you probably aren’t doing enough to rank prominently long-term on Google anymore.
As in the beginning stages of any major algorithm update, positions have a tendency to fluctuate. Due to so many different sites being pushed up and down the rankings, even those whom Penguin was unlikely to affect greatly may have seen their positions alter on a regular basis. This was all to be expected in the early stages of such a significant overhaul, and for the majority, these changes have already begun to settle.
Overall, has the Penguin update been a success? Many would argue that it is still too soon to tell, but early indications would suggest that less spam and low quality links appear to be seeping through than previously.
- Sunil Jain is the Online Marketing Manager at Newpath WEB
This entry was posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2012 at 8:58 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.