Google’s major updates may sound cute and cuddly, but their effects are anything but. Even though the world wide web was still recovering from the bite of Panda, in April 2012, Google rolled out a new major update dubbed Penguin.
Google’s updates are grouped in terms of their effect. While Panda’s role was to punish poor, repetitive, spammy content, Pengiun’s role was to peck out bad, broken and spammy links. Sites that had spent years building up a vast network of linkage to promote their site as authoritative plunged down the rankings as most of these links were found to lead to places that no one had any wish to visit, or were dead ends altogether.
Google armed Penguin with the ability to sort out good links from bad links. One significant trick that it tackled was manipulative anchor text: a keyword linking to a page to manipulate its importance. This previously reinforced the keyword; post-Penguin, it didn’t. Google knew that this kind of keyword text was very difficult to embed in content naturally, so it was able to deduce that content containing repeated anchored keywords made it likely that the content was of low quality.
The curse of over-optimisation
Penguin began penalising over-optimisation. Google wanted to weed out sites that were optimised to the point of being mechanical, since they offered less useful content and neglected the design of their sites.
Prior to Penguin, SEO experts used a high ratio of exact-match keywords to anchor. After Penguin, keyword anchor text was considered a no-go area. Not only was it unnatural, it did not create any advantage in search.
You just can’t get the links
Google was founded on the principle that the more sites that linked to a website, the higher that website was ranked. It was a great idea, as it enabled Google to quash all its search engine rivals while helping the best sites rise to the top.
It also gave rise to the idea of link trading, where sites would link to each other. Sometimes, the process was automated. Often, the two sites had nothing to do with each other. And many times, the links resulted from comment spam.
With Penguin, odd inbound links were highly penalised. Webmasters were suddenly tasked in finding all of the spammy links and eradicating them from other people’s sites. A lot of these sites were abandoned, making removal difficult.
Feeding the Penguin
If a site was penalised heavily thanks to Penguin, various changes would have had to be rolled back: frequency of keywords in anchor text, location of incoming links, and then a long-term outreach programme to appeal to the blogs where the links originated. Webmasters also used the Disavow tool to try to cancel out the effects of links that could not be removed.
Some sites found Penguin so difficult to deal with, they simply ignored it. This is never a good strategy, since the site will never regain its original position in the SERPs.
Modern SEO means earning links from high quality websites without over-optimisation. Keyword anchor text should be eradicated, with natural links being used in its place. It’s always difficult to build links quickly, so quality content is the best way to get people looking at your site.
You can also try to induce natural links by participating in forums that are related to your sector and publishing appropriate YouTube videos. When used sparingly, high profile, high-quality guest blogs can play a part in your strategy.
To avoid being hit by penalties in future, hire JJ Solutions to give your site a complete SEO audit. We’ll handle the ongoing optimisation strategy to ensure you make best use of the business reputation you’ve built.
We have also helped companies recover from a Penguin penalty through disavowing links.