What is Google Penguin, and why it matters

Don’t get caught out by Google Penguin

This is about Google Penguin and what you can do about it if you believe you’ve been affected. Google is a search engine whose primary objective is to provide quality search results. Consequently, over the years it updates its algorithm for listing search results, with a view to improving visitor experience. When it does this, it seems to like animal names, so if you’re asking “what is Google Penguin?”, the answer is, that it’s the name given to one of these significant updates.

Until Google Penguin, many internet marketers were able to obtain top search engine rankings for poor quality websites, simply by aiming a multitude of links from other websites back to their own, usually with their chosen terms as “anchor text”. Among the favourites were article and directory sites. Bloggers would ride on the back of the high “page rank” of these referral sites and infuse “link juice” back into their own website. If you practised “deep linking” to internal pages and not just the home page of your website, you did even better.

Unfortunately, from Google’s perspective, the whole thing smelled of manipulation. The backlinks, or votes, for these websites were not natural, nor based on genuine linking to quality content. The release of Google Penguin on 24/04/2012 was the first major attempt by Google to fix this.

There were other tricks that website owners were also using which Google frowned upon. “Black Hat” SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing and cloaking (where content presented to the search engine spider is different from what you see on your internet browser), spreading duplicate content to other sites with links back to your own, and automated link schemes which violated Google’s Webmaster Tools guidelines.

Although Google has given out its rationale for the Penguin algorithm update, it has been widely felt in the content marketing world that the results were too extreme. Many internet marketers saw an immediate fall away in traffic – and although they had sites with good quality content, yet because they had engaged in some unnatural link building activities in the past, were penalised.

In summary, Google is looking for a steady growth in links to your website that appear as a natural vote for your great content. If you want to avoid the ravages of Google Penguin, the first step is to remove all traces of unnatural looking links to your site. Start with multiple article directories containing duplicate content and remove it. Remove link farm connections from poor quality sites and any other questionable links which may cause Google to see you in an unfavourable light. Cultivate links from other sites with similar or related subject matter to your own. In time, the other search engines will follow Google’s lead, so if you’re in it for the long term, you cannot afford to ignore this.