The Penguin Update: Google’s Latest Algorithm
As you may have heard, on April 24th Google launched its latest search algorithm. Unlike Google’s Panda update and other page layout algorithms, the Penguin update is a “webspam” algorithm designed to target those who spam search results or intentionally violate Google’s Webmaster guidelines in order to receive better rankings. Google has always worked to eradicate webspam from its rankings and Penguin is their most recent addition.
“The opposite of “white hat” SEO is something called “black hat webspam” (we say “webspam” to distinguish it from email spam). In the pursuit of higher rankings or traffic, a few sites use techniques that don’t benefit users, where the intent is to look for shortcuts or loopholes that would rank pages higher than they deserve to be ranked. We see all sorts of webspam techniques every day, from keyword stuffing to link schemes that attempt to propel sites higher in rankings.”
Feeling the Effects of Penguin
The big question everyone seems to be asking is “was I affected?”
Post from Google’s Inside Search and Webmaster Central blogs:
“The change will go live for all languages at the same time. For context, the initial Panda change affected about 12% of queries to a significant degree; this algorithm affects about 3.1% of queries in English to a degree that a regular user might notice. The change affects roughly 3% of queries in languages such as German, Chinese, and Arabic, but the impact is higher in more heavily-spammed languages. For example, 5% of Polish queries change to a degree that a regular user might notice.”
This may seem like a very marginal number, yet there are plenty of people feeling the impact. A number of people will tell you that the Penguin update is detrimental to small businesses and that it’s Google’s way of killing SEO. But there’s no reason to be nervous yet because for every loser there is a winner and in reality there are plenty of small businesses excelling while some big businesses are not. Searchmetrics provides list of the biggest winners and losers from the Penguin update on their website.
As for your own website, there is no direct way to know if you were hit by the Penguin update. While you can always just run a simple search and see if your site dropped in rankings, this may not be the most accurate method. A better way, recommended in a post by Danny Sullivan – editor-in-chief of Search Engine Land, is to look at your search-related traffic after April 24th (Penguin launch date) and see if you attained a gain or a lose. If you did, then you were most likely affected by the update.
Keep in mind that no search algorithm is perfect. If you were hit by the Penguin update there was probably a good reason for it, but sometimes things can slip through the cracks. If you feel that you have been wrongly penalized you can let Google know through this Feedback Form.