Google released a major algorithm update aka ‘Penguin’ on April 24. This algorithm update targets websites that don’t have very high quality content and/or have had their ranking signals over optimised.
This Penguin update has been rolled out across all Google data centres, including Australia, and will affect around 3.1% of English Google queries. Further to this, the update will also have an impact on around 3% of German, Chinese and Arabic search queries and 5% of Polish search queries.
Based on initial analyses and reports, sites affected by the Penguin update tend to show the following patterns:
- They possess high traffic, keyword matching domains;
- They have a high proportion of links with the same anchor text;
- They have a lower number of site pages; and
- They generally have higher keyword density throughout the site.
This update has been targeted at reducing the the prominence of less reputable websites in the search engine results. However, as with all Google updates, some genuine sites have also been affected. Google often makes changes in the following weeks to correct any obvious adverse algorithmic side effects.
So what is the purpose of the Penguin update?
This seemingly harmless penguin has been released into the wild with the sole purpose of penalising any site which it believes is involved in ‘Over Optimisation’.
The general consensus within the SEO industry is that this crafty Penguin is actually hitting some websites harder than its black and white cousin – last year’s Panda update.
The sites that have seen significant drops for a majority of their keywords (drops of between 50 – 100 places for major keywords) are those sites that have been marked as receiving too much obvious over optimisation. However, sites that have only dropped a few positions appear to have only had a few of their search signal factors over optimised.
Have you been affected by Penguin?
Here are a few quick tips to discover if the Penguin has waddled through your site:
- Check keyword rankings for your high rankings terms and compare now with dates prior to April 24;
- Check your webpage analytics to see if there has been an obvious traffic drop after April 24. Another way to confirm this would be to compare weekly traffic from April 24, with previous traffic;
- You should also note that, if your rankings and traffic have increased since April 24th, you might have actually benefited from the update!
How to recover?
The Penguin update targets sites, which they believe have been involved in over optimisation. If you are one of those affected by Penguin, we recommend following these tips:
Vary your anchor text: Penguin hates optimised anchor texts. For example, if you’re targeting the keyword ‘Hotels Sydney’, and you’re building links using the exact keyword, Penguin may penalise your website. We recommend building links to your site with varied anchor texts. For example, use anchor texts like ‘Hotel Accommodation Sydney’, ‘Your Brand name’, ‘Accommodation Sydney’ etc.
Get Social: Google plus has changed the way Google ranks organic results. Social Media should be an integral part of any SEO strategy. We recommend promoting your site on Facebook, Twitter and especially Google Plus.
Usability: Redesign your website to ensure visitors find what they are looking for. Follow Google’s guidelines to ensure, you are not affected by any search algorithm updates. For more information visit http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35769
Content: There is a saying in SEO Land ‘Content is King’. Quality content provides value to users, which make them stay longer and hopefully recommend it to their friends through social media. This in turn will generate more backlinks to your site, without any link building!
And on a final note, stay away from keyword spamming, high keyword density and remember to write content which provides that extra value to your users.
If you find that your site has been penalised by mistake, Google has provided form to submit reconsideration request.
Let us know in the comments section below how the Penguin has affected you. Was the Penguin warm and cuddly or did you get a flipper slap?