May 8th, 2012

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The Penguin has Landed – Google’s Latest SEO Algorithm Update

Google has released its latest set of changes in April, code named Penguin (announced April 24th, 2012).  The last update was Panda, which was primarily associated with content quality by trimming away poor quality content farms.  Panda was also associated with the code name, Farmer, which made more sense as in Content Farmer (large amounts of low quality content cultivated).  Unofficially, my best guess on what Panda means is that a Panda needs to consume tons of leaves to derive a small amount of nutrition ergo a ton of “low quality” content would equal a small amount of really good quality content (therefore balance is achieved in the SEO world).   Now if you ask me what Penguin means (metaphorically speaking), I am at a loss for words.   If anyone can give me a clue why the name Penguin and why SEO is now becoming a Zoo, please let me know.   Now back on track with the technical SEO details of this latest change with Google’s Penguin update.

The top factors of Penguin relates to the improvement of link score quality, with one area of focus being the “anchor text” or the text in the hyperlink being used.   When you used a keyword in the anchor text, in the past this sent a strong signal to the ranking score for that keyword for your website.   Now a stronger weight is given to the quality and relevancy of the website in from which you receive the link.  Also exact match (or the keywords that exactly match a keyword phrase you want to rank on) also plays a bigger part.  If Google sees that you are going out of your way to produce link spam e.g. 60% of your anchor text is an exact match for a keyword and it doesn’t look natural (it’s not your company name) then that will end up with a huge red flag in your link profile and adversely affect your ranking score.   Here are other factors to consider with Penguin:

  • Paid Text Links
    • This has been a factor before, but now improved
    • Comment Spam
      • There is a whole industry of people spamming forums, blogs, and other websites in hopes to get this one link from the comments section, which now is being addressed with this new update
      • Quality and Relevancy of the Website Link
        • Links are now downgraded if they are from poor quality websites
          • This includes postings or links on websites filled with low quality articles, spam or malware
  • Links from niche or relevant quality websites will be weighted higher
  • Duplicate Content
    • This also has been a factor before, but also has been significantly improved
    • This includes duplicate content on your website, subdomains and microsites
      • Please note microsite content would be a big plus if done with high quality non duplicated content
  • You may get dinged twice, once for duplicate content and again for links from a poor quality website
  • Freshness Boost
    • Google gives a boost in ranking score for websites that have fresh content, now Google identifies low quality content as well as duplicate content and removes any freshness boost to those websites

Our main rule of thumb is to never chase the black or grey hat SEO trends, but to rather focus on natural buzz building for a company with a goal of increasing traffic and sales as the ultimate benchmark.  Don’t forget Google is chasing the ultimate algorithm for surfacing up quality content to their users, so let Google chase you, don’t chase Google.   You’ll end up with less grey hairs after each major update ;-)

As a webmaster starting out in1995, I remember link building used to be for getting quality visitors to your website and content writing was to help convert those visitors to customers or advocates.

Here are a few additional resources for a detailed list of changes brought about by Penguin.


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