Google Penguin Update – How It Affects Marketers From Now On

Google Penguin Update – How It Affects Marketers From Now On

Google is at it again… their latest Penguin update is another one in the series ever since the Panda update of 2011, where they deliberately modify their algorithm to lower the ranks of what they term low-quality sites. It is all very interesting for a number of reasons. The first one of these is that Google (and many users of the Internet) claim that search results are filled with spam and advertising websites; but the fact remains that Google makes most of its money off advertising revenue. So then Google isn’t against advertising specifically, but business owners who it considers to be manipulating their algorithms to raise their rankings and thus their bottom line.

So what has Google been preaching for years?

Moving forward, the Google Penguin update is really just another logical step in what Google has been saying for years no  there is no point trying to manipulate their algorithm in any way, because the way to raise your rankings is by providing quality content that readers will naturally share. Thus, Google’s advice is very simple: you handle the part of your business that you do best, quality; and we will handle the ratings for you,  provided people like what you’re doing.

So is this bad news for SEO-based ventures?

The short answer is not at all. Every few years, Google and any other technology company comes up with a way that makes it difficult to succeed using previous methods. But as with all technology, it is only a matter of time before people figure out how to use the system to their advantage. That is why Google is releasing the Penguin update now, just over a year ago it was the Panda. One wonders what cuddly animal they will use in next year’s update to represent their opinion of the unofficial advertisers (the ones not officially on their affiliate list, that is).

So how should SEO-based industries respond?

Should writers give up on trying to get their sites ranked by optimizing for keywords?

What exactly does ‘natural’ writing mean anyway?

Can Google really define (and does it even have the right to do so), what the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ of the Internet is? Do niche-writing websites need to close up shop now?

Absolutely not! Every now and then there is going to be an update like this and the only way to keep going on is to simply change and adapt. Eventually a new list of SEO tips and tricks will be developed, Google will make another update and the cycle will repeat. But the strongest will survive and for every company that gives up, more will be established.

In detail then: what has changed?

Google has now implemented developments to modify its algorithm to seriously eradicate what it considers web spam from its search results. They claim that this spam comes from low quality networks and they have added a few sections of code that specifically filter out certain things:

How To Do Links

Google does not like it when companies purchase links. They prefer if the links are organic. In essence, what this means is that if your content, product, service or whatever you are selling is good, people will share it on their own accord on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and a host of other sites. Google picks up on this natural traffic and rewards you by raising your ranking. The Penguin update can now recognize whether your links were paid text links.

Links that are not related fully to the content

Google can now also identify links that are not fully related to the content (these are considered paid text links as well). In other words, the Penguin update recognizes that an article about North Pole Penguins makes no sense when the word Pole is linked to a website about the history of Maypoles. On the other hand, if some other blogger referenced your North Pole Penguins article and commented on it on her own blog, then you will get ranked up. Again, natural traffic is what they are rewarding.

Paid for comments

Many companies have chosen to pay for comments as well, but the Penguin update can now recognize signatures in comments that contain exactly matching anchor text. They have also filtered out many very common spam usernames (Best North Pole Penguins, etc.).

Be careful where you post!

Google Penguin also wants you to be extra careful where you post. They want writers to preserve their reputations and they discourage posting on questionable sites, that may be filled with low quality articles. Therefore, if you do guest posts on other sites that are low quality, and you link to those, then your ranking may go down as well.

The threat of malware lives on

And again, Penguin targets sites that are loaded with malware as well, so if you link to these, or you write for these, then your ranking will go down again. You will be considered part of the quarantine zone of the Internet by affiliating yourself with these.

So what changed in essence?

Again, the Google Penguin update was not much of a change. It was just an update to the algorithm that took into account many factors that evolved over the last year since Panda and stop-gapped some of the loopholes that people were abusing after having figured out some of the inner workings of the algorithm. They will do it gain next year for sure and every year after that. It is nothing to be too concerned about if you have got your mandate clear.

Are you creating great content that is either informative or entertaining? Are you selling quality products or services that people talk about and share naturally? Are you using word of mouth marketing and social media services in a way that is considered ethical by most people? If you can answer yes to these questions honestly, then no doubt you will not have an issue with the Google Penguin update and your rankings will have not changed by much at all, in fact, they probably just went up!

To find out what you should do since this Google Penguin Update read my blog post.

11 comments to Google Penguin Update – How It Affects Marketers From Now On

  • Mmm, nothing to worry about? So, so much to comment on… but let me just focus on one. Well, I’ll broach two if I may.

    Bad neighbourhoods and “Penguin targets sites that are loaded with malware”.

    A whole bunch of my sites got hacked yesterday and my visitors kindly left their trade name, So I went to Google to see if anyone had a quick way of rescuing from those particular events.

    For an organization that is so keen to deliver quality content (I can do a long number on that topic too), how does Google rationalize front page results (god knows how many pages they have cached) that list the /posts/ from these clowns? In these posts, they list the actual sites they have defaced – notches on their guns, boasting and pointing others to the same targets.

    (BTW: this is the 3rd lot of attacks and I have “hardened” my sites with every kind of protection recommended all over the place – but if you are on shared hosting apparently they can still come in via sites you know nothing about and cannot control)

    I can talk more about that too. But the one that really spun me out — these guys have a fully loaded and branded YouTube site where they tell you (and they recruit there too) how to hack a site with simple code and free software that is also freely available on Google.

    The YT page has other links to hacker forums and other hacker tips also on Google.

    While Google penalizes anyone who GETS hacked and has redirects to bad neighbours or secret malware planted without the owner’s knowledge — they allow and rank these same clowns so that they can increase their businesses.

    Blackhat backlinking, eh? Compared with the morality and damage of these clowns, why is Google putting so much effort into bringing down small time online businesses but not even hindering the hackers?

    There is a train of thought going around that this change is all about driving money from SEO to PPC.

    Something certainly smell.

    • Colleen

      @Peter Guiliano, yes that is more than disturbing, i had a recent repeated attack also. these people really need to find better things to do.

      I agree with you entirely Peter.

      I wish they would.



  • John

    Did you really say not much changed with Penguin.

    • Colleen

      @John, No there are actually quite a few changes but if your marketing strategies are good and your content is unique and good quality you shouldn’t be too affected.



  • Hey Colleen – Thanks for the post. Yes much of the recent update seems to affect sites that have “over-optimized” offsite…that is, too many links with targeted anchor text. I had a site affected, like many others, but the problem is that this seems to be a penalty rather than link devaluation. At first I thought it was just a devaluation, but many people are having a hard time regaining rankings again.

    This simply means that I can sabotage a competitor by spamming his site with 50K links with same anchor. Not a good thing!

    • Colleen

      @Bill, It’s important not to panic at the start because after a week or so things can reverse again while google figures it out better. Quality is king, whether it’s content or link building.


  • Morris Murphy

    Thanks Colleen. This is why I stay on your list, you always give me great content and only promote or make quality products. For that I thank you. Your friend always, Morris Murphy

  • ben running bear

    Well I was going to go and get some paid links, thanks to this article that idea just went out the window. I will get back links the old school way, and hopefully will not hit all the bad sites, I think if the panda and penguin updates do thier stuff then someone who is getting back links the tried and true way then the rest of the folks adding content to other sites to get backlinks will be safe. Hopefully I’ve got this right, and somebody will let me know if I don’t.

    • Colleen

      @ben running bear, Hi there, i’m still buying some paid links but am just careful about how I do it. My sites have generally been unaffected with penguin.

  • Colleen

    @Dexter, That is absolutely it Dexter, have good quality unique content on your sites and you should be fine.


Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>