Monday, June 11, 2012

Google Penguin Update


On April the 25th Google released an update that rivalled both the Panda and the Florida updates.  The Penguin update, initially called the ‘Over Optimisation Update’ by Google wreaked havoc amongst the SEO fraternity as the update was rolled out across all of Google’s global indexes.

Matt Cuts, Google’s ‘Top Dog’ at fighting web spam, announced Google’s intent to target over optimised websites earlier in the year however very little was known about exactly what the update would target.

Six weeks on and the Penguin update appears to have focused on:
  • Comment spam;
  • Content spam;
  • Links from blog networks (blog farms);
  • Paid links;
  • Site-wide links from footers or sidebars;
  • Anchor text spam (unnatural anchor text links);
  • On-page keywords stuffing.
Although Google sees this update as a positive step towards reducing web spam, it did come, initially at a cost to the user and some unsuspecting webmasters.  Google’s mantra has always been to provide a quality product, relevant search results.  However, there were several instances where the quality of the search results had been negatively impacted. Searchengineland.com wrote an interesting article comparing search results before and after the Penguin update but by most accounts, the NZ results have been largely unchanged.  

Innocent webmasters were also affected by this update with many respectable sites experiencing a drop in organic traffic.  An example of this is WPMU.org a highly respected developer resource and a distributor of free WordPress themes. Organic traffic to this site dropped from 8,590 visits per day to 1,527.


      Image supplied by webpronews.com.

The Sydney Morning Herald interviewed Matt Cutt’s about WPMU.org’s situation and was told by Cutt’s that backlinks from questionable sites linking to WPMU.org may have been devalued and thus damaged the sites rankings.

This has led to the fear of ‘Negative SEO’ attacks where competitors could hire Blackhat SEO’s to spam sites.  Aaron Wall from SEO Book wrote about this in length and provides a case study where a website owner experienced a negative SEO attack.

Been Hit By the Penguin Update?
Matt Cutts pointed to two very specific videos in recent interviews that people should watch if they want to clean up their sites and recover from the Penguin update.

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