Google Penguin – What Is It?

Written by Phil Birss: Group CEO.
· 4 minute read

Everybody in the SEO world is talking about ‘Penguin’, the latest Google update. But if you aren’t too familiar with SEO and the world of Google updates, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about!

What Is A ‘Google Update’

The engineers at Google are constantly updating their search engine algorithm – the algorithm is what ‘decides’ what results you are shown when searching the web, these updates are intended to improve Google users search experience, hopefully showing more accurate results of high quality, relevant sites.
Google is known to update their search engine algorithm up to 500-600 times a year, although most of these changes are minor and can go unnoticed. However, every few months Google rolls out a significant algorithm update which has the power to affect search engine results in a huge way! These changes have a big impact on search engine optimisation and what we do.

The latest update – Penguin

Google’s most recent major update goes by the name of ‘Penguin’, announced in April of this year.
Google doesn’t often release many details of their updates, but what we do know is that this update is certainly aimed at reducing ‘webspam’ and ‘sites that are violating Googles quality guidelines’.

Googles Quality Guidelines

  • Taken straight from Google, their quality guidelines that they expect sites to abide by are as follows:
  • Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
  • Don’t use cloaking or sneaky redirects.
  • Don’t send automated queries to Google.
  • Don’t load pages with irrelevant keywords.
  • Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.
  • Don’t create pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware.
  • Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines, or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.
  • If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.

These guidelines cover the most common methods of manipulation used by sites in order to achieve better rankings.. in the wrong way!

Web spam
Web spam, or ‘search spam’ is the way in which some sites attempt to improve their search engine rankings through spammy methods, such as keyword stuffing, participating in link schemes or networks, cloaking or duplicated content.
Google has always tried to target those sites who are using these web spam methods as a way of achieving better rankings, but the latest update, Penguin, has taken this fight against spam to a new level by rolling out an update of better ways to detect these methods of manipulation.

How Does Penguin Fight Spam?

“We’ve heard a lot of solid feedback from SEOs who are trying to do the right thing and who don’t want to see webspam techniques rewarded, and we feel the same way,” – Matt Cutts, Google.

As already mentioned, it is difficult to know exactly what Google is up to with their algorithm updates as very few details are released, but what IS clear..:

  • Penguin has penalised sites that are involved in artificial link networks
  • Penguin has penalised sites that have a large percentage of links with the same keyword anchor text. This is what has affected most sites hit by the Penguin update, meaning anchor text diversity with natural looking anchor text is more crucial now than ever before
  • Penguin has hit sites that have very few incoming links from websites in the same niche, meaning link quality and relevance still plays a big part in Googles algorithm

From Penguin, it is obvious that Google are determined to cut out the number of sites that are reaching the top of the search engine results pages unfairly by penalising those who participate in web spam.

Here at UPSearch, we are pleased to say that not one of our clients have experienced any negative effects due to the Penguin update – in fact, our clients rankings have improved. This is because our SEO team are dedicated to building SEO strategies that are natural and abide by all of Googles quality guidelines, meaning our clients rankings go from strength to strength!