When I first heard about Google’s Penguin Update, the first thing that came to my mind were the cute penguins in Madagascar and Happy Feet. But after it was released last April 24, it’s image changed into a super villain – The Penguin – for some.

Penguin is worse

The update was aimed at webspams, which involves keyword stuffing or cloaking, which is not allowed by Google.

The initial response, for some, is of course negative. Lots of sites were affected by the update. It is much worse compared to the reaction and panicky situation right after the implementation of Panda.

Dr. Pete, using an internal SEOmoz.org graph, illustrates how Penguin hit the search engine queries. He added, “… the core point is that the impact of Penguin dwarfed either Panda 3.5 or Google’s 4/16 glitch.”

The immediate impacts seem bad but as always there should be a balanced view of things. There have been other updates before that also caused initial effects for some but not for all.

Why were they penalized?

Micrositemasters.com’s analysis show that there are some patterns to the stats of the sites that were immediately affected by the update.

The sites that were negatively hit by the update use these money keyword as anchor text for more than 60% of their incoming links.  But it is still not a guarantee that having less will not affect a site’s ranking.

“Google is trying to replace or devalue “anchor text” use with “niche/content relevancy of linking sites” as a primary link relevancy, (or “quality”) signal. “ – micrositemasters.com’s admin

Another important observation was that the sites that were penalized have very few links from domains and sites that have the same niche as theirs.

The remedies

There are some tips from an article in SEOmoz.org on how to deal with the Penguin. First, do take a deep breath – assess and pinpoint which traffic your site lost.

Also audit your SEO, check when the changes in the ranking occurred (maybe it was not caused by Penguin after all), and double-check IT issues.

There are also some things that shouldn’t be done. Cut some links especially the ones that are paid links, the ones from sites that are already delisted by Google, exact-match anchor links found in footer links, and other exact-match anchors in the other pages of the site.

Just because over-optimized sites are also targeted by the update, do not de-optimize without a clear plan in mind. Also, do not send a reconsideration request if your site is already hit. It’s an algorithmic update so it’s the system itself that cause those changes in the ranking. It is not clear if sending this form can manually clear your site.

There’s just a flood of these tips now. But we need to stop and ask. Why update again?

The root cause – negative SEO

These are some of the negative SEO practices – use of malwares, hacks, and injections (robot subtext file to block Google bot or by injecting malwares, and viruses), spam reporting (which is manipulated by some against their competitors), and pointing nasty links to your site. Some competitor sites actually use these in order to bring down good sites.

Other than “cleaning” the search engine’s system, the Penguin is really aimed at making user experience better.

Closing points

I advocate the importance of the experience of end users in the issues regarding the Penguin Update. It’s just annoying to search for something and some promotional and totally unrelated sites appear on top of the search list.

Some are really badly hit by this update but some also benefit. We can only objectively know its impacts maybe weeks or months from now.

Finally, did it really make the search results better?

 

Sources:

Penguins, Pandas, and Panic at the Zoo
Negative SEO: Myths, Realities, and Precautions – Whiteboard Friday
Google’s Panda And Penguin Updates Are Great For Bloggers, Marketers And Businesses
Google Penguin Update Recovery Tips & Advice
Penguin Analysis: SEO Isn’t Dead, But You Need to Act Smarter
The Penguin Update: Google’s Webspam Algorithm Gets Official Name

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