Earlier this month, Google’s head of spam, Matt Cutts announced on Twitter that the latest Penguin update was coming, and hinting it was going to be significant.
Google refer to it as 2.0, Searchengineland call it Penguin 4. Regardless of the number, this latest update is expected to cause the biggest ripples in search engine results since the first Penguin update in April 2012.
So What Exactly is Penguin?
I asked our Tech Director (Lee) this very question and he gave a very interesting and succinct response.
“It’s effectively an anti-spam filter” he replied, “Google’s way of fishing out sites with back link patterns that look outside of the boundaries of normality, or who give a poor experience.” “This latest update is aimed at continuing Google’s efforts at decreasing search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”
Based on the first Penguin update a general rule of thumb of what Google considers beyond “normal” seemed to be…
• Using the same anchor text on more than 50% of back links
• Participating in link building schemes, or having lots of poor quality, unrelated links back to your website.
• Having more than 20% of your content on any page duplicated.
• Stuff keywords on web pages.
• Domain cloaking
Whether the above ‘rough yardstick’ is now obsolete remains to be seen but Google’s continuing emphasis on quality content and naturally earned recognition would make a tightening of this criteria a likely target.
Our SEO experts have noticed some fluctuations in rankings as the new update starts to take effect. Much like a plane hitting some turbulence, it’s time to pop the seat belt on and ride out the bumps. Some sites will go up, some down – and the reasons behind these fluctuations can be down to a number of factors some of which you can’t control.
If you are experiencing some ranking fluctuation then it’s worth asking the following questions:
• Is your anchor text diverse?
• Do you give users a good experience when visiting your site?
• How much content on your site is copied?
• If you were keyword stuffing, have you removed it?
• What are your competitors doing?
Every website is different and there’s no one all encompassing answer, explanation, solution, and the turbulence from Penguin 2.0 will likely continue for a few weeks so brace yourself for the bumps that may lie ahead.
We will continue to monitor the latest industry updates, news and debate and will keep readers in the loop.
But just like the last bumpy flight you had, remember this will pass in time and a good quality site will be all the better for it.