“Attack of the Penguin!” It only sounds like a horror/comedy movie starring Jim Carrey. At the end of April 2012, Google updated its search algorithm from “Panda” to “Penguin.” The Penguin Update has wreaked havoc for everyone working in SEO because it’s a significant change to the rules for the SEO game – like the difference between checkers and chess.
First, the Background
There are a great variety of ways sites can attract links, from an organic approach that doesn’t incentivize links to link building approaches that wear a Black Hat. Google’s Penguin Update is its way to try and level the playing field and cut off some of the most blatant scams.
The Penguin Update uses its new formula to deduce which ones are pretty much organic and which ones are blatantly bogus. But, just like in war, even the war on link-spam, there is collateral damage. Some sites were scooped up in Google’s net for all the right reasons. Others weren’t so lucky.
Here’s what you should do to recover if your sites and clients were attacked by the Penguin and your white hat techniques were mistaken for black hat mischief.
- Take down links to your sites advertising sites, content farms, and domains with bad online reputation. Google’s Penguin knows about these parasites in the Internet’s food chain and the cute little bird just won’t digest them.
- Remove links from exact domains that the same keywords as the link’s anchor text.
- Strike links from sites Google has identified as dangerous.
- Vary link anchor text from legitimate sites to make it appear to be more natural. If you have hundreds of links pointing to your site that anchor the exact same text, it doesn’t look natural. And if it doesn’t look natural, “organic,” then Penguin will turn up its nose.
- Focus on contextual links. All those links stuffed into sidebars and footers typically don’t relate to the content on the page and Penguin believes these smell like spam.
Overall, there one best way to stay in Google’s good graces: only cultivate natural links. Here’s what Google says about it:
“The best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community. The more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.”
On the one hand, Google’s Penguin Update has proved to be a major pain for some sites, especially sites that are small or understaffed. On the other hand, Penguin is helping sort out the wheat from the chaff and help every site — that’s playing by the rules.