Google Penguin Introduction
Google’s Penguin algorithm caused a number of web sites to see a significant drop in their Google page rank. Their latest version is 3.0, but reportedly has not had much of an effect on website owners, especially when compared to its original version released on April 24, 2012. Google has consistently tightened up the criteria in determining a site’s page rank with its predecessor Panda, and the goal is to arrive at the most accurate ranking for the consumer. It is important to realize that Penguin, like other modifications of Google’s algorithm is not intended to punish companies but to ensure the search engine user gets the best result possible from their search engine criteria.
The main purpose of the Penguin algorithm was to check on a web site’s backlinks to determine whether they were authoritative, valid, or were suspected to be spam or linking to spam. If any of these conditions were true, the web site would see a significant slide in page rank.
There are two specific types of content the algorithm searches for. The first is the presence and value of backlinks, and the second focuses on anchor text. There are other targets, but these are the two primary focuses that can bring a page rank tumbling down.
When you think about the importance of a link or backlink to your website, think of it as a magnet for Internet traffic. Links that connect to more authoritative websites, or websites that have a reputation for quality information and reliability, will likely attract more visitors because the quality of the link is directly connected to the web page it is on. For example, if you go to www.irs.gov, the reputation of the website having accurate content is very high, and any links that appear on the site are presumed to have equal authority. So, any backlinks that link to other than the highest quality sites will take a hit on the page rank.
The other suspect is the anchor text. Simply put, anchor text is text that is highlighted on a web page that, when you roll your mouse over the text, will connect to a link off the page. This is a similar situation to the backlink. When the Google search engine looks for specific terms, anchor text is also searched. The way a web page could manipulate the algorithm into believing the web page deserved a higher ranking was by using variations of word order. For example, “Geico insurance,” “insurance from Geico,” and “ buy Geico insurance” all point to “Geico insurance” but are hardly need to be repeated in a single paragraph.
Penguin had other web site targets as well. Their impact on the overall page rank can be noticeable, but far less than the two major suspects. Here are some of the major minors.
Automatically generated content, or content that is produced through a bot or other type of non-human process, is on the list because AI generated text will almost always sound like it belongs on a voice translator.
Redirects that attempt to fool the algorithm into believing they are valid backlinks or link to authoritative sites seems like it should incur a heavy penalty, yet is not a major ranking issue. Also falling into this category are hidden text or links that can negatively affect the user experience.
Loading a page with irrelevant keywords may seem counterproductive, but there may be reasons for this. Google defines irrelevant keywords in the same breath as keyword stuffing. The general idea is repeating a keyword or keyphrase that is not natural for the context of the page.
Obviously, creating pages with phishing scams, installing viruses or trojans, or other malware will get your website to take a hit, but it is unclear why it took until 2012 to include this and why it has a lesser effect on page rank than backlinks or anchor text faux pas.
When we use the term “recovery” in Penguin, it means that SEO processes and website content is modified to remove backlinks and anchors that are subject to being perceived as suspect or spammy. Lesser issues under Functions are also addressed, but with a different priority and urgency.
The most direct way to Fix Penguin assault is to fix your backlinks and anchor text. There are links that you may not be able to remove simply by deleting them, in which case you would want to use the Disavow tool provided by Google available from the Google Webmaster Tools kit. The general advice is to expect to wait about six months before seeing any uptick in your page rank, and perhaps another six months depending on when Google sweeps through the Internet with its latest version of the Penguin algorithm.
There is some debate on the overall effect Penguin had on websites. Some companies cried foul because it affected them significantly, while other said it has little or no effect at all. Even when incorporating recovery procedures, most websites saw little or no upward of their page rank. The progression of the Google Penguin algorithm is to look more closely at website content rather than design or structure. The Hummingbird algorithm, released September 26, 1013, demonstrated this and like Penguin had some website owners scrambling to once again adjust their SEO practices.