Google's Penguin Update: The Basics

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Google's Penguin Update: The BasicsThe Google Penguin update certainly sounds adorable, but this new development has started to strike fear in the hearts of some SEO experts and internet marketers. Rolled out recently, this update is seen by many as a game changer for how sites are marketed and promoted on the internet, altering how people go about building up traffic for their sites.

Google's Penguin Update: The Basics

Today's post is from guest author Frederic Lawrence. Frederic is a SEO and online marketing specialist, guest blogger, and a member of mac how community. His interests include economics, politics, music, IT, and science.

The Google Penguin update certainly sounds adorable, but this new development has started to strike fear in the hearts of some SEO experts and internet marketers. Rolled out recently, this update is seen by many as a game changer for how sites are marketed and promoted on the internet, altering how people are going to go about building up traffic for their blogs and websites.

There is much confusion around the Google Penguin update. With misinformation coupled with a bit of panic, it seems that many people haven't gotten the real scoop on what Penguin means.

What is Google Penguin?

Google Penguin is the search giant's newest algorithm update. Announced late April, 2012, this new update is supposed to hinder the search result rankings of blogs and websites that violate Google's terms for webmasters. The idea is that techniques known as black-hat SEO like cloaking, link schemes, duplicate content, and keyword stuffing would become more easily detectible. Penguin was recently updated again on May 25, 2012, and it is now in version 1.1.

What Does Google Penguin do?

As mentioned, Google Penguin is supposed to detect techniques webmasters use that are in violation of Google's policies. In languages like English, Chinese, Arabic, and German, the percentage of searches that are affected by penguin are about three percent. As Penguin finds unnatural links and other indication of black-hat SEO, it will end up docking the site's ranking in the search results, putting the pages further back down the list. In severe instances, Google may strike the pages from search results altogether.

How is Penguin Different?

Google had previous search algorithms. The first was Panda; it came out in February 2011. User experience was something that Google was concerned with at the time, and Google Panda was designed to reduce rankings for sites that didn't provide a good user experience. Google wanted the sites that would be at the top of search results to be high quality. The algorithm's logic worked to determine the quality of a site. An update to this previous version early in 2012 looked to target sites that had very little above the fold content. That being said, Google Penguin is different because it is not looking at quality issues; it is trying to put an end to spam on the web.

Is My Site in Trouble?

If you utilize black hat SEO techniques, yes, but then again, it always was. However, if you have a lot of unnatural links, you may be at greater risk now. If you have paid text links that have perfectly matching anchor text, you may be a target, as it looks like you are trying to manipulate PageRank more than anything. Spammy comments with links back to your site, guest posts on low quality sites, heavy use of article marketing sites, and links from sites that have been flagged for harboring malware all happen to be issues that might get you in trouble.

Can I Fix My Site?

You can fix your site, even if you already have gotten in trouble with Google Penguin; you may not be able to rise back to the top of search results, however. If you haven't had issues due to Penguin yet, you should start to undo the previously listed link problems that could get your site in trouble. Then you should go about remedying any other issues such as cutting out things like keyword stuffing or cloaking. You should do all you can to keep your site on the up and up, as the algorithm is being changed all the time; just because your site won't be flagged by Penguin today doesn't mean that it won't get found out tomorrow after another update.

Conclusion

This was just some information about Google Penguin. For many webmasters, Penguin truly is nothing to fear. For many, Penguin is truly something to be celebrated, as this new algorithm may finally give other sites a chance to rise to the top of search result rankings. For those who used spammy techniques and blackhat SEO, they may find that their sites are in trouble, and switching to more legitimate means to build traffic could be just the ticket. While some marketers thought that this update could be the end of the web as we knew it, it appears that isn't going to be the case, and even if it was, would an end to low quality, spammy sites dominating search results be a bad thing?

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