Google Penguin 2.0: All You Need to Know

So Google’s latest major update to it’s search engine algorithm – titled Penguin 2.0 – was finally rolled out last week, on 22nd of May to be precise.

According to Matt Cutts – the head of Google Webspam Team – and his blog, the algorithm update affects “about 2.3% of English-US queries, to the degree that a regular user might notice.”

While Penguin 2.0 might be the 4th Penguin-related update, it is the first major update to Google Penguin 1.0 algorithm update, which was rolled out last year on the 24th of April 2012.

 

Penguin: A Backgrounder

For those of you who don’t know what the Penguin (and the Panda, it’s older sibling) is all about, here’s a little backgrounder: ‘Penguin’ is the code-name for Google’s search engine algorithm that was aimed at countering web-spam, and decreasing the search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

The update was specifically aimed at those websites which employed black-hat SEO techniques – including (but not limited to) keyword stuffing, cloaking, participating in link schemes, deliberate creation of duplicate content, and so on, in order to increase their rankings in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Google Penguin was actually Google’s second-biggest update (with Penguin 2.0 being the 3rd in the series) after Google’s first such update – rolled out all the way back in February 2011 – called the Google Panda. Simply put, the Panda was aimed to lower the search engine rankings of low-quality websites from the SERP, and return higher-quality sites near the top of the search results.

So since 2011, Google has pretty much been rolling out a major algorithm update one after the other on an annual basis.

Which brings us to Penguin 2.0.

 

Penguin 2.0

In May 2013, Cutts put up this video on his blog and on the Google Webmaster Youtube Channel, telling SEO and webmasters what to expect from Penguin 2.0. The video was aimed at giving people an idea of what to expect in the coming months as far as Google’s new update was concerned. Here’s it is:

 

While in the video, Cutts does a good job of explaining what to expect from Penguin 2.0, here’s what we know (and what you need to know) about the all new Penguin:

In a nutshell, Penguin still serves the same basic purpose as its elder brethren – it has been designed and introduced to penalize and de-rank websites that continue to use black-hat SEO techniques in order to generate backlinks and rank on top, as compared to websites which are using legitimate ways and techniques to rank better – websites that are putting content that is valuable and share-able content, for instance.

Cutts specifically mentions that the update and all the changes that accompany it will help small and medium business websites looking to make their mark and rank better by offering value – as long as they avoid illegitimate techniques to do so.

Cutts also spoke about “cluster results,” where users conmplained that some pages down the SERP, the results are dominated by a cluster of links from the same website – an issue which has been addressed in Penguin 2.0. This means that now, search results should be more balanced where one particular site doesn’t dominate the search results.

Penguin 2.0 also targets certain search queries that have a reputation for being affiliated with spam (e.g. Payday Loans).

As far as link-building goes, in a nutshell, avoid links from bad neighborhoods, and work towards building backlinks through safe, legitimate ways (watch this space for a post on this very soon!). In addition, building links too quickly all of a sudden will definitely be a red flag as far as Google goes, so keep an eye on how you build links as part of your link-building campaign.

Furthermore, avoid exact-match anchor-text; it was, is and will remain a big no-no in Google’s eyes. Penguin 2.0 will probably include measures to penalize sites that have an abundance of links with exact-match keywords in the anchor text. It would be a good idea to run a link-audit and make appropriate changes before your website takes a hit. Your anchor-text needs to be diversified – use a combination of keywords, naked URL’s, and generic text as far as the anchor text is concerned.

Also, something that you need to consider as far as your SEO campaign is concerned: get links from high-quality, relevant sites only. Link relevancy will be of utmost importance in the Penguin 2.0 era as well. Too many backlinks from irrelevant sources or sources with a bad reputation (such as the aforementioned bad neighborhoods or link-farms) will almost certainly have an adverse affect on your rankings.

Finally, and correct me if I’m wrong here but I haven’t heard whether Penguin 2.0 takes measures against the abuse of guest blogging – something which was expected to happen. But since Penguin 2.0 targets webspam, over-optimization and poor-quality link-building could end up hurting your rankings. As far as guest-blogging goes, low-quality links should be avoided – if your website has many different links coming in from unrelated low quality blogs or websites, it will in all probability take a hit.

The solution? Like always, concentrate on posting quality content and getting links from, and building links to credible, valuable, high-quality, and of course relevant sources. And don’t forget to diversify your anchor text!

 

Thoughts, questions, comments

Has your website taken a hit? Have you noticed an increase or decrease in your rankings and traffic in the past few days? Perhaps someone you know has been affected by Penguin 2.0?

Please share any and all of your thoughts, questions and comments about Penguin 2.0 with us!

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