What is the Google Penguin Update?

SEO is such an important ingredient for any website success and we shouldn’t forget that Google sets the rules. While Bing is starting to move up the search traffic list, most traffic still continues to be delivered by Google. When Google updates their rules we need to pay attention. If you’re not familiar, Google rule changes are delivered in the form of an update to the algorithm that regulates the ranking of a given page against a search query. The Google Penguin 2.0 update was released on May 22nd. With this update, Google continues to target black hat SEO techniques.
Black hat is internet slang that covers using shady or illegal tactics to boost your site’s search ranking. White hat is the opposite and refers to an ethical computer hacker or a computer security expert.  The exact definition for what falls into what color depends on understanding the changing rules of the game. In the early days of SEO, pretty much everything was white hat. Spamming keywords in hidden areas of a website was common. Creating networks of websites to link to a legitimate site for an SEO boost was an easy money maker for many webmasters. Not surprisingly, Google figured out these gaming methods and started labeling them black hat. Make no mistake, that today Google actively punishes sites that uses these tactics.

Many times Google updates are relatively minor and target a small number of sites. While others are more volatile like the recent Panda update. This update focused on the quality of legitimate sites and their content, attempting to boost sites with high quality content while reducing the ranking of low quality content farms. The Penguin update looks to remove sites from rankings if they are found to be using certain types of black hat techniques. Luckily Penguin has a fairly fixed definition of what is considered a black hat technique. Here are a few of the tactics that Penguin flags for punishment.

Cloaking Code is used to cause the search engine to see a different content than a user sees visiting the page.
Keyword stuffing When keyword density becomes so high that it could be an obstacle to the quality of the content.
Link schemes Creating a network of machine spam site with the intent to link to a legitimate site with the intent to boost incoming links.
According to this study by Portent, an Internet Marketing company, Google is reducing tolerance for web spam. Portent analyzed almost 85,000 links pointing the top-50 sites on the 2012 Inc 5000 list. Their conclusion is that Google is starting with worst link spam offenders and working its way down. Just because you survived Penguin 1.0 doesn’t mean your site will be safe from Penguin 2.0 or any later update. It’s clear that Google wants to do away with web spam, and I don’t think anyone would argue that’s a good thing! Ultimately, this improves the quality of search engine results and levels the playing field for everyone.
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Thomas Robbins

I spend my time working with partners and customers extending their marketing and technology to the fullest.


Jon White commented on

Thank you very useful to those new to SEO and webmasters in general, I think this article best highlights the need for webmasters and others to read about Google and understand them, by this i mean look into what they are trying to accomplish with search and why these algorithm changes are made, then you can best configure your site, not by using 'tricks' but by being on the same wavelength as them.
Many people just read what others think they know about SEO without actually listening to what Google says (c'mon they ARE search!).

Useful resource:
Google webmaster blog:

Also, watch the webmaster videos by Matt Cutts on youtube. (head of spam)
I can't believe that a lot of his videos don't even go into 5 figure views. It's crazy how useful they are and hardly anyone seems to watch them!