How to Make Sense of the Google Penguin Update?

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Following are the key pointers we have found out after having researched into the impact of the Google Penguin Update. Please note that just before this, there was a Panda 3.5 update on April 19th.

This was a Google Algorithmic update targeting mainly “over-optimization” and “web spam” – first published on Google webmaster blog and then Webmaster world on 24th April.

Search Engine Watch (24th April) – Danny Sullivan says web-spam encompasses the following:-

  • Keyword stuffing – A lot of exact match keywords present with respect to keywords targeted
  • Link schemes – Not exactly sure of which types of link schemes, but looking at our affected websites , it is many more blog network, links from completely irrelevant links to clients domain.
  • Cloaking, “sneaky” redirects or “doorway” pages – Not that big an issue as it is usually avoided
  • Purposeful duplicate content – Similar kind of content everywhere – Focused on killing article marketing websites

3.1 % English queries have been affected as a result of this update.

Google Provides online form to acquire feedback – 24th April

Barry Schwartz confirms internal name given by Google to update is “Penguin” – 27th April

Many blog posts about Penguin update and what all it targets, again all posts very vague in nature.- 27th April2nd May

Posts crop up about Penguin recovery2nd May

They basically say :

  • Remove blog links
  • Add more content
  • De optimize websites a bit
  • Do not perform aggressive exact anchor text matching keywords (i.e. instead of linking to using anchor text government grants all the time use “To visit Click here“)
  • Add Social signals – Specifically Google+ and Author markup to Articles posted.
  • Perform minor site cleanup
  • Avoid irrelevant links
  • Focus more on quality CONTENT – Completely avoid article spinning and writing similar stuff again and again

SEOMoz gets on the Penguin bandwagon and creates Whiteboard+ on Penguin with YouMoz post – 8th May

A summary:-

  • It’s (weirdly) not focused on improving search quality
  • It appears to affect some of the worst spam (but not all) and some very light forms of spam/manipulation (oddly)
  • Not tied to on-page or on-site necessarily, though out links may be looked at and several other updates occurred at similar times (making it tough to reverse engineer what might have caused a penalty)
  • Appears to affect a disproportionate number of web service industry sites (though that could be correlation, not causation)
  • Not yet clear if this a rolling update (though there are signs it may be)
  • Left a lot of very strange, “empty” types of results in many of the spamiest verticals/SERPs

Key Takeaways from the general online discussion about Penguin:-

  1. Difference between PANDA and PENGUIN
    Panda targeted – Scraper sites, high ad content domains, link farms etc.
    Penguin goes one step further and targets links that are built just for the sake of being built and not giving any user value.
  2. Variations of keywords need to be incorporated on websites.
  3. Link building – take cautious steps moving on ahead.
  4. Blog links are fine as long as the blog is relevant -This needs to be done carefully as blog networks are being hit.

We will attempt to draw more insights into the Google Penguin Update and will regularly share it on this platform, for webmasters benefit.

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