Google has been very busy in the past month or so. First they rolled out an update to how they handle anchor text, during March. Then we had another Panda tweak. And finally, the big daddy “Penguin” update hit in late April.
Google Penguin Information
For those of you who don’t know about Penguin yet, it has caused quite a stir. Google originally dubbed it the “Over Optimization” Penalty. That threw much of the SEO world into a panic, so they retitled it the WEBSPAM update (a.k.a. Penguin). The thought is that they’d systematically drop sites that exhibit spammy behavior from the index.
What defines spammy behavior in this case? Some of the types of behaviors I’ve seen mentioned include:
- Creating a link farm, or link circle
- Having a link profile stacked with questionable backlinks to the website
- Selecting a keyword-rich domain and launching just shallow content
- Publishing low quality content that is clearly machine generated
- Keyword-stuffing on the page or entire domain
Hopefully your website survived all these changes unscathed. If so congratulations, but don’t just sit on your laurels and enjoy it. You need to know what behaviors are out of bounds, so it’s crucial to read all you can about Penguin. There’s something called negative SEO that has been the buzz. That’s something you don’t want aimed at you.
Google Penguin Resources
Of course, I have to start with SEOmoz. They are my favorite source for interpreting pretty much anything Google says about SEO. Start with this article first, and peruse the blog listing for other related posts. They are all valuable.
The following are some of the more interesting and insightful posts from other sites that I’ve found covering Penguin. If you see anything else worth adding, let me know and I can update the post.
Here is the official announcement of Penguin straight from Google. They did a lot of advanced commentary, but this was when we knew it was set in motion.
This is both a refresher on duplicate content and commentary on managing it in the age of Penguin. There are a bunch of educational videos embedded at the end, so consume this one when you have time to watch all the Matt Cutts cameos.
This post does a great job of explaining what the new rules of backlinks are. This is a different kind of algorithm update. It’s the first one I can recall where they can penalize your website for the lack of quality of those who choose to link to it. The days of volume backlink campaigns is over, my friend. Quality is now a defining factor.
Website Magazine chimes in on everything with at least a high level overview. This does that and hits on a few areas where spammy behavior might be identified. Quick read if you don’t mind a more high level view of the situation.
First, this post is not advocating the belief that SEO is done, dead, or otherwise obsolete. It does cover some of how it will need to change moving forward, and also includes a list of sites that were impacted, either positively or negatively, from April 24 forward.
Hubspot does a good job of explaining how you can figure out if you’ve been penalized by Penguin. It also provides some basic tips to take into account if you do get hit. Most importantly, it links to the form you can submit to Google for their review if you think you’ve been penalized in error. Just be sure you’ve fixed whatever they told you to fix in Webmaster Tools before you submit, and your chances of success will higher.
This one has some good tips about how to address any concerns you have over Penguin. It also outlines some areas to start with if you are in remediation mode.
Google just wants everyone to remove the shortcuts and play by the same rules. This talks about some realities around content marketing. It also touches on how the white hat SEO practitioner can insulate against further algorithm jockeying.
This ties to the March announcement, which was a precursor to Penguin. They’re cracking down on shady offpage practices, and you need to alter your backlink efforts accordingly. Exact match anchor text is no longer the way to go.
Even the FTC is getting in on the fun
Have you heard about the FTC antitrust investigation surrounding this update? That is probably the only way we’ll ever see Google even consider rolling back an update. Although it’s a very long shot that this will be successful at proving any guilt, it’s worth watching. The last time we had a major investigation like this it was Microsoft, and that was quite a ride!
Thanks for reading!