Google Penguin, an update to the Google search algorithm, was released in April 2012. While the previous update in 2011, known as Google Panda, aimed to downgrade the ranking of low quality sites, the Penguin update went a step further to target websites that operate in violation of the webmaster guidelines provided by Google.
The update and the various mini-updates in between have affected sites that use so-called black hat techniques including link cloaking, participation in link schemes, blog spam, over-optimization, keyword stuffing, illegitimate redirects, unnatural link building and purposely duplicated content. Phew. It sounds like a major upheaval. You may be surprised to learn that by discrediting these techniques, the Penguin update, although described by some as a de-indexing frenzy, is reported to have affected only 3.1% of English search queries, compared to the 12% affected by the previous Panda update.
The overall goal of all of the recent search algorithm updates is to improve the user experience by displaying higher quality sites toward the top of the organic search engine results. To that end, those site owners who have retained a focus on legitimate techniques, the so-called white hat methods, like providing quality content and distributing useful articles to credible platforms should have seen very little change in their search engine ranking as a result of the Google Penguin update.
If, on the other hand, your site has stared the Penguin in the face and lost, there are certain things you can do to aid in your site's recovery. Hopefully it won't need to be a major overhaul but if it is, then it's time to get real about what you are putting out there and start focusing on doing things properly. Look at things like your titles to make sure they are authentic and sound like a human actually wrote them. The same goes for your content. Take a look at your linking strategies. Keep it logical and mix up your anchor text so it looks natural. Another important thing to look at is your backlinking strategy. The updates frown upon links from spam rich sites like link networks, article marketing sites, paid blog networks and the like. Focus on getting links from quality sources on related pages instead. If you aren't using Google Webmaster Tools, it's time to start. This can give you valuable insight into what you're doing right and wrong.
Google Penguin, and the updates that came before it, have rendered the face of search somewhat of a moving target for those who aren't sitting on the right side of the SEO fence. In May 2012, only a month after the initial release, Matt Cutts, the head of the company's webspam team, announced an additional update to the Penguin algorithm. Describing it simply as a data refresh, the Penguin 1.1 update reportedly affected just 0.1% of English searches. It is not immediately clear in what way, but legitimate site owners should have precious little cause for concern. Truthfully, it will take some time for the scope of all the changes to become fully understood, but the reality is that they will ultimately be for the better for both legimate site owners and Internet users.
Google Webmaster Central Blog: Another step to reward high quality sites
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