“Penguin” is what Google codenamed internal updates to the all-powerful Google algorithm, which ultimately decides Google’s rankings of websites. Understanding Penguin updates and their implications will help webmasters to avoid over-optimization penalties to their sites.
To summarize, Google’s Penguin Algorithm actively fights web spam.
The Penguin updates will focus on tighter restrictions on web spam, such as unnatural links (whatever that means, Google never tells us exactly what “unnatural” means) and duplicate content. Buying links or building pages with scraped content are steps that webmasters might make in an attempt to manipulate rankings, something that Google has been working for years to crack down on.
It was originally reported that Matt Cutts, Head of Webspam at Google, told webmasters, “You don’t want the next Penguin update” and that the next few updates will be “jarring and jolting.”
(After the uproar that followed his comments, Matt Cutts came back and said that site owners should not be overly stressed-out about the upcoming Penguin updates.)
What We Know About the Upcoming Penguin Updates
While we won’t ultimately know the full extent of the effects Penguin will have until after they actually happen, here is what Google has revealed:
- The Penguin update will involve new signals to improve the Google algorithm, fighting manipulative links and content
- Because of the significant changes, this Penguin update will have a much more noticeable impact than previous updates.
Anything Matt Cutts says should be taken with a grain of salt, but the second point is interesting. According to a recent poll on SEO Roundtable, about 65% of SEO companies reported that their sites were hurt from the previous Penguin update. So for Matt Cutts to consider the upcoming update “jarring,” its impact on the SERPs will probably be even more significant.
What the Updates Tell Us
- The upcoming Penguin update is definitely consistent with Google’s continued hatred of spam and manipulation. Google has never liked how unnatural, spammy links can affect their product (the search results).
- The Penguin update will probably penalize some “clean” sites that haven’t actually participated in manipulating SERPs activity. However, Google is OK with this potential collateral damage, because they believe the updates will ultimately result in better search results for the user.
Takeaways for Site Owners
- Be honest with yourself about what you’ve done to your site and any black-hat SEO steps you’ve taken.
- If you are doing any of these things now, such as buying links in an unsafe way or manipulating content, you should probably stop.
- Realize that all SEO companies are not the same. If you are buying “50,000 links for $50” from a questionable SEO service, understand that your site will probably be hit.
However, if your SEO company is working to creating quality, SEO-friendly content so your site will naturally rank well, your site will probably not be negatively affected because of these steps.
- If your site is dirty, this is the time to get your affairs in order!
We’re Not Worried About Our Sites
At Oxiem, we are not worried about the Penguin updates; we work to make sure all our SEO activities are done in a strategic, safe way.
Google has always worked to prevent people from manipulating search results. While doing “bad SEO” may have brought your site positive short-term results, even Google’s older algorithms eventually caught and penalized or de-indexed sites with poor SEO practices.
If you have additional questions about Penguin or organic SEO, we’d love to chat with you, give us a call at (866) 432-8235.