High rankings on Google’s search results pages should be a top goal lined out in your SEO strategy. Google is the number one search engine in the world, and for good reason. Their webmasters do a stellar job of providing an amazing user experience.
One way they ensure that they’re ranking quality sites at the top of their SERPs is by creating algorithm updates like Penguin, the one we’ll explore in this article. Penguin is an update that filters out sites that, according to its links, Google’s web crawlers deem manipulative. We’ll give you a rundown of Penguin’s triggers, how it assesses sites, and how you can build your site to avoid being downranked.
Initial Launch Date: April 24, 2012
How often is Penguin Updated? Though Penguin launched in 2012, it’s been part of Google’s core algorithm since 2016. In other words, the Penguin algorithm isn’t really “updated” anymore, like other algorithms, but it works in real time. Panda was Google’s first concerted effort to tackle low-quality sites. After Panda rolled out, Google’s team noticed there was still quite a bit of spam showing up in their SERPs. Penguin was designed to take care of the leftover spammy sites that Panda didn’t catch.
What Google Penguin Impacted
Google’s Webmaster Guidelines explain what your site needs to include for Google to find, index, and rank it. They also outline what you need to avoid so you’re not punished or downranked according to the updates, like Penguin. If Google deems your site to be spammy or manipulative, you’ll feel it in your rankings on their SERPs.
When designing your site, avoid at all costs the following:
The main goal of Penguin is to locate and punish sites using spammy or irrelevant links. Google is very aware when sites are carrying out link schemes to boost their rankings. When a site is buying links or procuring them through networks designed to boost Google rankings, Penguin will sniff it out.
Over-optimized anchor text
Your anchor text should bring users to a link that is relevant to your page. Too much anchor text on your page is a red flag for the algorithm, as is manipulation of anchor text at the expense of the user experience.
How Penguin Algorithm Works
If you’ve got spammy or annoying links or an unnatural amount of anchor text, or anchor text that’s deceptive, Google’s users will be annoyed. And the team at Google will do anything to prevent that from happening, hence the creation of Penguin.
It’s normal (and good for your SEO) for you to have links on your site. But if you’ve got over-optimized anchor text or an unnatural amount of links, that’s a problem according to Penguin. More and more, Google is able to identify good content versus links posted simply for the sake of achieving a higher ranking. If you’re manipulating the system to boost rankings, you’ll feel it when Penguin hits you with a penalty and your rankings drop.
How to Fix Your Website If It Was Impacted By Google Penguin
Because the goal of Penguin, like all other updates to Google’s algorithm, is to showcase high-quality sites, work to improve your affected pages or your site by doing the following:
It is crucial for your website rankings that you audit your links. You can have quality, useful websites linking to you, and they can have fantastic rankings themselves. But if you’ve got links coming from questionable sites, all of those good links might be for naught. Use software or a backlink checker to do an analysis yourself or, better yet, hire someone to do it for you.
If you’ve been penalized on account of links that you can’t control, make good use of Google’s Disavow Links Tool. The easy-to-use tool allows you to ask Google to disregard these links when assessing your site.
You also need to evaluate your own site. Are there any links that are spammy or unhelpful to your users? Or do you have too much anchor text?
Out with the old, bad links and in with the new. Now that you’ve gotten rid of the links Penguin targets (and hates), work to build better, more relevant, and helpful links. Link to legitimate, authoritative sites. And to get links to you, create great content that other brands want to share with their users.
Create an Excellent Experience
The best bit of advice we can give site builders and web designers is to do the work to give users a fantastic experience. Build links, create quality content, and avoid taking shortcuts that you think will increase your rankings. Google’s webmasters know what they’re doing, and the Penguin update enables Google’s algorithm to find every spammy and irrelevant link. Your SEO strategies can no longer include repetition or cramming hundreds of links onto your site just to increase your rankings. Make the needed changes and, because Penguin works in real time, enjoy better ranks the same day.