Last Friday, October the 4th, 2013, Google released the fifth Penguin update. With an aim to reduce spam on the web, this update has floored many webmasters and you might not be the only one hit.
Google Penguin aims to remove unnatural links which some website owners might be using to get better ranking. Along with that, it also penalises those websites which have been using this way of securing better rank. This is as per the clearly stated guideline of Google and thus there is no room to whimper.
Among other, Penguin punished the following type of backlinks most severely.
low quality links
lots of backlinks with exact anchor text
Text ads passing Pagerank.
Any other types of linking which have been prohibited by Google.
Penguin has updated itself many times since it was launched in April 2012. This is the fifth installment in which the there have been minor improvements over Penguin 2.0 which was launched in May 2013. That is why it is not called Penguin 3.0 but Penguin 2.1
According to Google, Penguin 2.0 was a “next generation change” in the algorithm of Penguin. It was the second biggest Penguin as it affected around 2.3% of search queries. Matt Cutts called it a better Penguin which went deeper and had a bigger role in removing web spam.
The main change between Penguin 1.0 and 2.0 was the algorithm. Penguin 1.0 was after the homepage of any site while Penguin 2.0 can read the internal pages and take actions accordingly.
Although Penguin 2.1 will not have such a big impact, it will still touch around 1% search queries which a big number, given that Google handles queries in billion. Also, please remember, the impact was rather severe. This refresh or update is the 3rd biggest Penguin by the amount of search queries affected.
While it is too early to tell what has changed in this update, there has been some early analysis and case studies which can shed some light on the nature of this update. Although, with a glance, it may seem that the Penguin 2.1 will target the same link scam which was targeted by the previous versions, especially Penguin 2.0.
The difference lays in the way the update analysis and understands links, the way to go even deeper than Penguin 2.0 and identify the links which are pointing to those deeper pages and take actions if needed. Thus, the recovery strategy need to remain the same like Penguin 1.0 but this time one should concentrate on pages deep inside the website and not only the homepage.
Google has also released another update called the Hummingbird recently. One must not confuse Panda and Penguin with Hummingbird. The Hummingbird was designed to understand complex and conversational search queries better. When we use a voice search option, we us a natural language query which wasn’t handled by the Google algorithm too well, till now. With Hummingbird, Google can understand these queries better and also present better results for these queries. While Google Hummingbird will improve the algorithm itself, Penguin and Panda will work towards better results and less manipulations.
To know whether your website has been hit by the Penguin or not, you should watch your search engine traffic for at least a couple of weeks. If the traffic drops drastically, perhaps you have been hit by the Penguin. Google Analytics, which is free, can do the monitoring job easily for you.
Often Google penalises those sites manually who somehow can escape the algorithms, thanks to some super clever SEO managers. When they do it, they inform the webmaster notification area. You should receive a mail if your site has been demoted manually.
It is not easy to recover from any Google update, be it Panda or Penguin. In my experience, I have seen a few sites which can pull this off successfully and quickly. It is possible with abundant of money, manpower and time but why waste each of these resources when the best way is to avoid the punishment. It doesn’t take a scholar to understand how to avoid the punishment either. Just read and follow the Google handbook for webmasters where Google has said everything in black and white. Follow that guide closely and you are done.
Pushpendra Shukla works for Search Eccentric and specialises in SEO, SMO and related activities. His present interest lies in Google Penguin Recovery Services. With an experience of half a decade in SEO industry, he is a known figure internationally and often shares his expertise, inputs and thoughts on various online platforms.