Penguin Algorithm Updates & What It Means To You

From Wikipedia – The update is aimed at decreasing search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using now declared black-hat SEO techniques involved in increasing artificially the ranking of a webpage by manipulating the number of links pointing to the page. Such tactics are commonly described as link schemes.

What is Penguin?

With about four major updates and numerous revisions, the Penguin Algorithm has now been made a part of the Google core ranking system and anyone working in the digital realm should know about it.

Penguin, not to be confused with Panda, used to be a major bone of contention between business owners and the search giant due to the fact that it updated infrequently. When you got hit you had to wait for months to see if your business would be forgiven.​ This all of course is just part of Google's ever continuing battle with link spam. Linkspam which of course is one of the ways to subvert Google's original and core algorithm, PageRank.

Google’s PageRank Algorithm & Quality Backlinks

The original idea behind PageRank was to count the number of links pointing at a page to decide how important it was. In the early days of the interwebs this was, along with the modern, uncluttered user interface caused a sea change in the online landscape. But of course this simple system was open to abuse which reached it's peak in late 2011. 

The Penguin Update Vs Webspam

Webmaster's learned they could game the system by pointing masses of low quality links at their sites and laugh all the way to the bank. ​And despite Google's pre Penguin attempts to stem the flow of the tide, it wasn't until Penguin was introduced that things began to settle down.

Oringianlly Penguin was an algorithm that was run periodically to clean up the search engine results and penalise sites that had used spammy tactics to climb the SERPs. Once a site was penalised, it was pushed to the depths of the results and the drop in traffic signalled to the webmaster to make changes.

​This algorithm used machine learning to identify backlink profiles that were composed of low quality links or spammy linking structures. Scanning all the sites in Google's index took enormous amounts of computing power and this is one reason why it was only run once every few months.

At Danang Digital, we are very happy to run your website through our penalty analysis and recovery process. If we identify a penalty and can't get the rectify the situation within 6 weeks, you get a full refund.

The Evolution Of Penguin

Penguin 1 - Page Level Update

This was a page level update that rolled out in three stages, each tweaking the results and was generally considered a success.

Penguin 2 - Domain Level Update

This was an update that had a great impact on big brands effectively reducing their exposure for their brand name and allowing competitors to rank for their company name, which led to 'brandjacking'.

Pages with Geo-Location modifers are not currently penalised. But for how long? Better to future proof your content.  

The other serious consequence of this update was that domains were effected as opposed to just pages.​

Penguin 3 - Refresh

This rollout of the algorithm was considered a refresh of the previous version and little changed.

Penguin 4 - Realtime Update

Interestingly, Google took a very different approach with this update in that they now devalue the spam links rather than the linked domain. Which is an interesting reversal as it not only removes some types of negative SEO but also a SEO pros to test new strategies without being penalised for mistakes.

It should also be pointed out that this update is more granular and can effect your site on the domain level, the folder level and the page level. It could also effect thematic topics and their related word groups too.

Why Penguin 4 Is Great For SEO – Despite the many worries that go along with any changes made by Google, this one can only really be seen in a positive light. The fact that changes in rankings will happen much quicker, allows SEOs and internet professionals to measure how different types of links effect SERP results much faster. This will mean allowing more testing with quicker results.

About the Author

Foley has been helping businesses increase their revenue and boost their online presence for 4 years. He enjoys jogging, beer and tinkering with the web.