Google’s Long-Awaited “Penguin” Update Has Finally Landed: Here’s Why That Matters
This past Friday, Google started rolling out a long-awaited update to its Penguin algorithm. It’s been over a year since we have last seen a major update to the scammer-busting algorithm, with this latest version being unofficially dubbed “Penguin 3.0.”
The Penguin algorithm, which was first released back in Spring 2012, is designed to punish publishers who use shady (or “black-hat”) SEO techniques to artificially increase their website’s ranking. It joins Google’s similar, animal algorithms, Hummingbird and Panda.
Why Google Needs Something like Penguin
Google is always trying to give its users the most relevant search results possible. They want the most suitable webpages to rise to the top of the results page, even if they aren’t the most obvious ones in regards to links or keywords. When you need to know whether Matthew McConaughey got hair plugs or not, you need to know now! One result and done.
In the past, a large part of how Google ranked a website was based on backlinks. Backlinks are links on one website (Website A) that link to another website (Website B). When Google crawls a page and sees that Website A is referencing Website B, it’s assumed that whatever the subject of the linked site may be, Website B is an authority, a hallowed space of search relevancy.
Thus—especially if the site has many backlinks across a host of reputable sites—Google concludes that website B must have good information and content, and so it makes it easier for searchers to land where the answers are.
End result: More happy Googlers, fewer people slamming down their fists and shouting “A pox on this infernal search machine!”
How Shady Webmasters Try to Work the System
Some more cunning webmasters try to take advantage of this setup by link spamming. They artificially increase their site’s ranking by going to as many other sites and web directories as possible and adding links that point back to their own pages—whether the relationship makes sense, or not. Google frowns upon this because it provides less relevant search results, frustrating users and making the search engine look bad, too.
This is what Penguin is all about—penalizing sites that use those shady techniques to try and increase their rank. Trying to sneak ahead in line? Head to the back, buddy!
And I would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for that meddling bird!
The best way to avoid being penalized by Google is always to follow their guidelines. Make pages for users, not for search engines. And don’t try to deceive users. If a site links to your website and it has related content to yours, Google will view that as a strong backlink because it views it as a genuine link. In these fine cases you will be rewarded with a higher rank, an increase relative to the authority of the referring site.
Once again: Always keep the user in mind.
Going Forward: Make Sure You’re Not a Part of This 1 Percent
How many websites will this new algorithm affect? Once it’s fully rolled out over the next few weeks, Google estimates that about 1% of sites will be penalized to some degree (keep in mind of the number of sites out there, and how few of them even have active webmasters.)
So if you’re not already trusting Strathcom Media to handle your website and SEO services, make sure the “black-hat” is rid from your wardrobe.