Launched in 2012, Google Penguin is an update to Google’s collection of named algorithms, like Panda and Hummingbird, that influence the entirety of Google search rankings. Many companies started scrambling while this SEO agency was able to stay the course with white hat best practices. While Google Panda, an update released earlier in 2011, focuses on ranking due to the quality of content a website provides, and Hummingbird, released later in 2013, is Google’s dedicated system of handling conversational search queries with more precision, Google Penguin specifically evaluates the quality of links that a website provides.
Google implemented this system with the overall goal to catch websites that are spamming its search results, especially using black hat and otherwise what are considered nefarious means in order to increase their web ranking. Penguin reduces the trust that Google’s search engine has in sites that have cheated the system and therefore allows trustworthy and authoritative domains to stand out above the rest.
What did it change?
While Penguin focused on tackling website spam in various ways, the largest and most important factor that was introduced was how the search engine deals with low-quality and unnatural links. Web sites that Google Penguin detects as having increased their search volume by buying or nefariously acquiring links using black hat techniques can receive penalties every time it runs. Each time this lowers the website’s overall ranking by a large amount and takes away large chunks of their search traffic.
An example of the change brought by Penguin is the drop in guest blogging, which before Penguin was a reliable way to build links and improve web traffic. Now, however, unless you are very careful about which websites your content is linked on, guest blogging has a greater chance of hurting your overall score. This also applies to things such signature backlinks, commonly used in online spaces like forums that can now be picked up on by Penguin and negatively impact the ranking of the website it leads to.
While Penguin drastically changed how Google deals with backlinks to a site and how they contribute to its ranking, it’s important to note that Penguin only deals with incoming links, not outgoing or internal links.
What about links?
As anyone involved in SEO would know, links can have a massive impact on the rating of a website and its google overall ranking. A common analogy used to describe a link is like a weighted vote cast for your website. If another well-respected site links back to yours, then this is a recommendation for your site and Google Penguin looks at this. If a small, unknown site links to you then this vote is not going to count as much. However, a large number of these small votes is also accounted for and can add up to make a large difference. This is why before Google’s implementation of Penguin it was beneficial to get as many links as possible from anywhere, but now the quality of these sources is finally taken into consideration.
How Does it Affect You?
The goal of Penguin was to improve the accuracy of Google searches in directing high-quality results. By cracking down on websites using black hat techniques that allowed them to rank highly without demonstrating trust or authority, Google Penguin makes searching the web more useful as well as safer for those performing searches while also promoting an environment that allows reputable domains to succeed.
What the Future Brings
Like its sibling updates Google Hummingbird and Panda, Google Penguin has been run in various intervals ranging anywhere from a few months up to about a year. However, every time it’s run the impact it produces is usually massive, causing major changes and overhauls in the search results. Google Panda will continue to be updated and refreshed every so often, and every time the internet will get shaken up. It does seem that these updates are becoming few and far between and causing less of a stir. Contact us today to keep you safe in the Digital Marketing Zoo!