Friday 4 January 2013

The Google Penguin Update In 2012

Google Penguin
The Penguin algorithm update was released in May 2012, and sent shockwaves among the SEO community. Penguin was a the latest in a long line of major algo updates stretching back almost a decade to the "Florida" update in 2003, to the Panda update in 2011. The general principle of all Google updates is that they are there to improve the quality of the index, whilst at the same time making life more difficult for black hat webmaster's and SEOs, many of whom are looking to game the algorithm.

What is Penguin?

Penguin came as a shock to many black hat SEO's - it enacted harsh penalties for web spam, such as over optimisation of anchor text, and most important of all - the crushing of many of the blog link networks that spammers had been using to rank since the early days. These blog link networks are the modern inheritor of the "link farm" and utilise linking between many low quality "spun" blog articles to create a link network, which then builds up fake Page Rank, and is then pointed to a site that wants to rank for a certain term. Bingo! Instant rankings. Or so it was. Penguin was the game changer for these spammers and their link networks.

What Caused Penguin to Be Introduced?

Many SEO's cite SEO industry leader Wil Reynold's post on SEOmoz 8 weeks before Penguin as the trigger for the whole process, though it was obviously in development a long time before then. In his blog post, titled "How Google Makes Liars Out of the Good Guys in SEO", Reynolds argued that Google simply wasn't up to scratch, and was making the white-hatter SEO's look stupid, by rewarding web spam in many competitive keywords niche's. Reynold's griped that he was: "...getting killed by a website who is just targeting tons of anchor text only links on GARBAGE sites and is KILLING my client in the rankings" He argued that Google was being hypocritical in asking for SEOs to stick to the "content, content, content" rule of SEO, then not rewarding the sites that used that tactic. Google then responded with the Penguin update which answered many of the gripes that Reynolds had.

The Good Side of Penguin

There is a good side to all this. Although many black hat SEO tactics were punished in the Penguin update, many white-hat SEO's (myself included) were glad to see the update introduced - personally speaking, the vast majority of my page one rankings were largely unaffected by Penguin. I was glad to see Google finally clamping down on the spammers and levelling the playing field for the rest of us who are actually (largely) playing by the rules.

Penguin worked for users too - many Google users reported a rise in quality and relevance of results following the Panda and Penguin updates. By that measure, it was a success.

Recovering From Penguin?

As part of their 2012 Penguin rollout, Google sent thousands of Penguin penalty notifications to Google Webmaster Tools accounts. If you received one of these messages, it meant you were in for the chop. For sites that were penalised, Google gave the advice of trying to remove some of the spam links, then sending a reconsideration request to Google in GWT. However, not every webmaster/SEO found this to be an effective process:

"Link Removal is NOT cost effective, if you can move domain you should. Even if you're a large brand, if you can get a domain which is close enough then move. I've worked with clients who have cleaned up 1000s of links and huge portions of their profile to essentially be fobbed off with the standard Google response." - Mike Litson


Industry leader Rand Fishkin pointed out a basic fact about Penguin:

"[Penguin targets] unearned links - those that aren't naturally created as a result of doing #RCS (Real Company Stuff)"

The RCS concept was introduced in 2012 by Wil Reynolds, partly in response to Penguin. RCS means doing what big, real brands do every day- building relationships with their customers and other stakeholders; adding value where it matters. This quote from Nathan Grimm sums up many SEO's views on SEO as it currently stands, in light of the recent Google updates:

"If my company had embraced #RCS (Real Company Stuff) a long time ago, we'd be in a much better spot today. We're now focused on tactics that create real relationships, real content, and real influence (you know, with people). IF we succeed, no matter how Google decides to measure authority and trust, we'll have it in spades."

What Nathan is talking about is a point made by Matt Cutts many times in the past - that marketer's and SEO's should not follow the algorithm, but should follow what users look for - that is, great content - since that is what Google looks for, and has consistently over the years. The algorithm naturally follows users, so if SEO's follow users, then they can't go wrong! This is the real message from the Penguin Google update in 2012.

About The Author: Armishaws Removals are one of the leading removals firms in Bath and the South West. They also specialise in European and worldwide removals.

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Related articles:
Google's Disavow Tool: Use With Caution
5 Helpful Tips To Recover From Recent Penguin Update
Cowboy Internet Marketers: Beware Of The Mighty Penguin!

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