Google Penguin: A Short Introduction

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You may be aware that Google uses an algorithm to determine which websites best suit your search results. But how does it work, and how might your website be affected by it? Join us as we dive into the murky waters of search listings and meet Google’s Penguin algorithm.

Back in April 2012, Google launched an algorithm known as Penguin 1.0. It was designed to weed out those websites pushing themselves to the top of search results by nefarious means. One of the ways Google determines if your site is worthwhile or not is by the number of websites that link to it. If a website tried to improve its web presence by spamming blogs or low quality directory sites- in short, creating low-quality links- Penguin would notice this and adjust search results accordingly. Contrariwise, if a site focussed on populating itself with quality content and building links organically, Penguin would push that website further up the rankings.

The latest release of Google Penguin, Penguin 2.0, is different in that it looks deeper into the website than before. Earlier Penguin releases focussed only on the homepage and links to it: now, Penguin will investigate pages within the site and links to it, adjusting search listings accordingly. As ever, the quality of your content (and the links that emerge) is the deciding factor.

Sites affected by the Penguin update (fairly or unfairly) can do several things to improve their search rankings. One of these is make use of Google’s Disavow Links Tool. This allows you to ask Google not to take certain links into account when assessing your site. While it’s a useful tool in the right hands, if used improperly it can seriously compromise your site’s rankings and it can take a while for the action to come into effect. In any case, it should be used as a last resort: a site maligned by black-hat techniques should do all they can to take down suspect links and ask suspicious websites to take down their links before using the tool.

Of course, you may have dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s, and your search rankings are still low. This is a multifaceted process, but there are a few questions you can ask of your site that will potentially improve things. First, have a look at how quickly links to your site were acquired. If you acquired a lot of links over a short period of time Google may construe these as dodgy and adjust your rankings accordingly. It’s also worth looking at your anchor text, and if it’s coming across as too keyword-intensive. If you’re trying to sell, for instance, “cheap notebooks”, and you use that phrase too much in the links you’re trying to build, Google might view that as suspicious. Finally, and most obviously, look at what content your site features and think about making guest posts on relevant, high quality sites.

Google’s Penguin algorithm, in short, focuses on weeding out dodgy practices: spamming sites, building low quality links and trying to cheat the system in general. Focussing on a high-quality SEO strategy, among other practices, is a good way to improve your search rankings, and all that implies.


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