What Is Google “Penguin” And How Will It Affect SEO?

Black and white and a little on the wobbly side, penguins are cute, cuddly and considered to be relatively harmless. However, when we’re talking about a Google Penguin, we’re talking about a real angry bird. After the huge Penguin update (some call it an overhaul), there are more than a few web experts spreading the word that SEO is quickly dying on the vine.

Google has never shied away from making huge updates to their entire format. Since Google owns the lion’s share of Internet searching, almost every online businessperson in the world (outside of China) relies heavily on Google for their search results, traffic, clickthroughs, sales, etc. But the problem Google has always had is that they focus on the larger, able-to-pay-millions advertisers, while the little guys get thrown under the bus. Enter Penguin.

In short, Google’s Penguin update was supposedly an attempt to clean up how search engine optimization is performed and how sites are subsequently ranked. Starting to hit sites directly via search results in April of this year, Penguin has crippled many. But is it really all bad? Well, that depends on how you perform SEO.

The Good

Take a negative SEO campaign for example, wherein you seek to implement tactics to drive your competitors down while increasing your ranking simultaneously. Penguin affected this practice directly. If your competitors are instituting poor quality SEO, you can increase the effectiveness of your campaigning, primarily because Google now provides a stiff penalty for three key factors:

  • Ratio of non-moderated, poor links on junk blogs
  • Ratio of on-site activity versus a site’s inbound links
  • Ratio of anchor text that matches exactly in low-quality articles

This signals to the SEO world that Google, with Penguin, has put its proverbial foot down on the messiness of online advertising practices. They’re seeking to clean the game up, and this also means increased penalties for black-hat SEO practitioners.

While it’s good to get rid of the messy guys out there who stuff junk links into any and everything they find, this means that Penguin has its eye directly on you! If you’re not overly careful—and willing to over-optimize your site—you do run the risk of taking a penalty hit and losing rank.

The new need for incredibly strong brand links means you may have to work extra hard to ensure your links are relevant, high-quality and that they match niche, site activity, and that they’re not just simply strewn about the Internet.

Unlike the previous Panda update, which focused primarily on content, Penguin puts its focus more on links. This is yet another change Google is making in its linking practices, forcing older methods like link-farming and exchanging out. Hence the cries that SEO is dying.

The Bottom Line

If you create high-quality content already, you should have little to worry about. It’s estimated that Penguin only affected 3% of sites thus far. That’s not to say Penguin’s done; not by a long shot. But if you’re willing to adapt and to create better links, you shouldn’t have any issues.

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Since graduating from Leeds University in 1997, Eddie Yu has been involved in various Entrepreneurial activities throughout his career, and eventually having built up a part time business between 2001-2003, he went full time in 2004 with Lady Luck Media. Before then, he has worked for British Aerospace, FNX and Derivatech, where he consulted for top tier banks such as Bank of America, ABM Amro and Bank of China. Eddie firmly believes that with social entrepreneurship and technological advancements we can create a world without offices and impact climate change for the betterment of our planet.