It’s been more than a year since we all hated Panda. It seems like now it’s time for another animal to be hated by webmasters.
The Google Penguin update is the name of the recent Google algo update which happened a couple of days back. Matt Cutts has confirmed this with his recent tweet.
- Read: Google Algorithm Updates 1998-2015
Like all other updates, this update affected around 3% of search engine results and affected a great number of high-ranking sites.
This is one of those updates (after Google Panda) which created a rage among webmasters.
People affected by this update have already started working on recovery and I have shared some of the working Penguin recovery tips later in this article.
In short, the idea is to maintain a high-quality site in terms of content and usability. Use the latest technology and keep an eye on important announcements from Google regarding changes.
What is Google Penguin?
Back in Feb 2011, when Google first launched the Panda update, we never thought this would be such a major turning point of SEO. Many things have changed since then. The web is becoming more social.
If you are aware of the recent Google attack on private blog networks, not only did they deindex such websites, they also nulled down the link value.
- Related Read: 5 Proven Ways To Optimize Your Site After Panda Updates
With the Google Penguin update, Google is targeting sites which fall under the category of “webspam”. This includes over optimized SEO sites, sites using black-hat techniques, keyword stuffing, and sites using link schemes to build backlinks.
Here’s the official announcement post:
In the next few days, we’re launching an important algorithm change targeted at web spam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted web spam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.
Last year, the Panda update affected 12% of search engine results and this Penguin update has affected 3% of results.
We have seen some major issues with this algorithm update.
- The keyword “Make money online” was taken by a BlogSpot blog with 0 posts.
- The keyword “Panda recovery” is showing irrelevant results.
WPMU has written a detailed article on this and about negative SEO which you can read here.
Most SEOs are referring to this as a bad SEO update.
According to the report, many quality sites like Geek.com, Cultofmac.com, and Digg.com lost a great amount of their high ranks.
Here are some of the reasons why your site might be affected by this recent Penguin update:
- Anchor text over optimization
- Low quality backlinks
- Link relevance
- Outbound link quality
- Link pyramid
- Serving duplicate content from sub-domain (Fixing WordPress duplicate content)
- Keyword stuffing (high keyword density, repeating keywords)
- Sending automated queries to Google (Ex software: WebPosition Gold)
- Websites with virus or spam warnings (Trojans, websites distributing malware)
- Affiliate websites with thin content and no value
- Hidden links and hidden texts (Black-hat SEO practice)
- SEO over optimization
- Any other black-hat SEO techniques
How to recover from Penguin update after traffic drop
First, you need to analyze which algo update slapped your site’s traffic. Check your analytic stats and notice if there is any traffic drop after April 19th, 2012 or April 24th, 2012.
April 19th the Panda data refreshed. April 24th was this recent Penguin update.
If it was after April 24th, it’s high-time you start working on Penguin recovery. (Damn! Penguins used to be such cute, flightless birds).
For April 19th’s traffic drop, you should consider referring to the Panda recovery guide. If your site has been penalized, it could be because one of the reasons mentioned above.
- Important: Every update adds on to the old signals of previous updates. Don’t just focus on recovering; instead, focus on building a high-quality site.
In particular, on-page optimization has become an essential part of SEO.
I have already shared two guides which will help you to fix major SEO issues on your site and will help in recovering from the Penguin update:
Apart from the above two, here are some additional tips…
Increase Anchor Text Distribution
Most micro-niche sites which got hit by the Penguin update are due to anchor text distribution.
Most internet marketers use proper keywords within anchor text to get quality backlinks. If you have done the same, you should work on increasing the diversity of links.
Try to get links to your pages with different anchor text.
If you have used those services which offer 5000 backlinks for $5, you are more likely to get penalized (if not now, then definitely in the future).
Either you should get rid of such low quality backlinks or you have to work harder on getting high quality links to maintain a decent ratio of good to bad links.
One of the major issues which has been seen in the recent Penguin update:
- Sites with a good number of high-quality links mixed with spammy links are getting penalized.
For example, Wpmu.org is a niche site for WordPress and it got penalized due to footer anchor text they were getting due to theme distribution.
Another reason for their penalty was the link variation. Many links were coming from non-relevant niches and spam sites.
Create a new link-building campaign and this time the focus should be on getting rid of old low-quality links and gaining new HQ links with the help of quality content, guest posting, and interviews.
Google Webmaster Tool Is Your Friend
The Google Webmaster Tool is an official product from Google.
It lets you analyze your site’s SEO in detail.
Recently, Google has even started sending emails to Webmaster Tool users if there are any issues or changes in your site’s traffic. If there are too many spam links pointing to your site (creating negative SEO), you will get a notification.
- Related Read: The Ultimate Guide to Google Search Console
Stop Building Unusual Links
This tip is both for link builders and for bloggers who allow guest posting.
I have already talked about the outbound link effect in SEO, which every blogger should know.
Most of us start putting up guest posts on any niche and grab 1-2 quick backlinks. Although those backlinks are not relevant to the blog topic, link builders still get a backlink. According to Google, such links are unusual.
For bloggers who allow guest posting, if you accept irrelevant niche posts, you are diluting the quality of your site.
You should stop now.
- Are You Converting Your Guest Blog Into An Article Directory?
- 7 Link Building Mistakes To Avoid
If you are keyword stuffing, you should stop doing it. Instead, use LSI words.
I prefer to maintain a density of 1.5% max and target long tail keywords which are easier to rank. If your old post is stuffed with keywords, it’s time to re-edit your content and make it genuine.
Maintain a decent keyword density along with LSI Words. If you are using WordPress, you can use the SEO writing assistant plugin for proper optimization.
While I was analyzing one of my client’s site for Panda’s impact, I realized he had been adding at least 12+ meta keywords and many of them are not even targeted or relevant. This is something very common with old micro-niche sites.
If you are one of those niche marketers whose niche site was badly affected by this update, I highly recommend you make changes in your content.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
There are a few plugins in WordPress (Income Search Alert, Search Term Tagging 2) which adds the search query result at the end of the post. This results in keyword stuffing.
At some point (if not already), your site will be hit by one of these algorithm updates. Bloggers who are using hidden texts for stuffing, this Penguin update will penalize such sites.
If you have been keyword stuffing, you should improve your content.
Write For Users first and then optimize for searches:
If you have been pushing low quality but on-page optimized articles, you might be the next victim. We have already shared about what high-quality content is from an SEO perspective.
Work on the quality of your articles and make them as informative as possible. Take care of heading tags (H1, H2, H3) and make your content presentable.
Stop SEO Automation
Many people have asked me, and my answer is this:
- Automated SEO is bad.
If you are using some automated ways to optimize your site (ex: “WebPosition Gold”) for sending automatic queries, it violates Google’s TOS and such practices should be avoided.
Go social and think social.
If you are working on micro-niche sites and have been penalized by the Penguin update, it’s time to look into the social factor of your site.
- Have you integrated social sharing buttons?
- Are readers sharing your content on social bookmarking sites?
If not, it’s time to make a proper strategy and work on building your social network.
If you are still thinking that Google hates SEO or SEO is dead, you are mistaken. Even on this official post, Google has made it clear that white-hat SEO helps in improving the overall quality of the site and is a necessary part of marketing.
The only catch is that you should not over do the SEO. Keep things natural by following quality guidelines and white-hat SEO practices.
I hope this article has helped you to understand the Penguin update and what steps you can take to get your site out of this Penguin penalty.
What do you think about such frequent and major changes in Google’s search engine? Do you think Google is justifying itself with such quick algorithm updates? Let me know in the comments!
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35 thoughts on “Google Penguin Update: Google’s Fight Against Web Spam”
Harsh, I have a query and looking for your advice on that.
Since “Penguin” update released by Google I’ve lost almost 70% of traffic, but the good news is since morning my traffic is slightly improved in Google image search. But my keyword rankings are still the same except few keywords where my blog visible in page 5-6. I’m surprised to see from noon my image search rankings are almost back. Is it possible to get my keyword rank back in next coming days?, as everyone mentioning on internet there are a lot of sites ranking high (even few new blogs) for my keywords.
These are some great tips, Harsh. Fixing crawl errors and looking for any warnings in your Webmaster’s tool and then fixing them are important as well.
I’ve noticing huge traffic drop on 28th April, is it due to the Penguin update? From 19th to 27th my traffic was stable.
Man, this time it’s a disaster, I lost almost 70% of traffic, last two days I’m getting less than 75% of my daily traffic. I seriously started hating panda; I have optimized my blog and removed around 55 low quality articles since last 2-3 panda updates. But my blog wasn’t hit by previous updates, this time I don’t know, what happened.
I just read an article in SEO Book, ( hxxp://xxx.seobook.com/penguin-update ) they pointed out few failure of this update. There is a link for petition against new update, do sign it please.
These type updates are essential for penalizing for those who using fool ways to rank better, but some loyal bloggers are penalized by these type of updates are not acceptable.
I think Google penalize if some guest authors write blog posts and link with anchor text which goes to their health or any non related niche site by author info underneath the post. Right?
Gotta check mine but recently got highest traffic ever on my low traffic site. So need more days to get an indicator
Is there any transparent method of finding out whether one’s site has taken a hit due to Penguin update otherwise than by making a guess from the visitor numbers (because sometimes the visitor numbers fluctuate randomly)?
Harsh you have been very kind to all bloggers who follow you and let me tell you that you save countless blogs by writing these articles.
Again i am one of those whose blog is hit by Google Penguin update but after reading this article i think it was my fault and i have to take some serious steps.
One question i want to ask you is that Google is showing search results for my blog both with and without WWW. Now i have verify my blog both with WWW and without it but still it showing results. Now please guide me how on earth i will remove one result from Google. Thanks
I kicked off Panda, Penguin (FLIGHTLESS cute bird) Kicked Off me. I am supposed to follow this tips now and i will be trying and spending 24×7 to workout on all blog posts.
This is awesome !
Finally now people wont take blogging as career or collegians wont run crazzy behind creating their own blogs, paply for click exchange or trouble good bloggers by re-wrtiing their articles.
Accepting that Google is little harsh,but yes this was needed!
One of the keywords I was ranking well for (and now I have now idea where I am – I couldn’t find my site in the top 100), interestingly, VUDU.com was ranking #1 for. Now they are ranking #51. I mean, this is a major brand!!! And even they got hit. This is clearly a lot more than a penguin – more like an ostrich 🙂 Here’s hoping the update will smooth things out a bit.
OMG!, Isn’t panda enough to scare us. One more. Google is going to be a bad Guy now. They are not leaving any space for SEOs. I think selecting SEO as career is ris.y these days
There is no exact keyword Sujth. Searched keyword is “panda recovery” and result showing is pandorarecovery.com. Its totally irrelevant because there is huge difference between “panda” and “Pandora”.
Outstanding post Harsh, very thorough and well covered. You have managed to “consolidate” some real good resources and I think that this will help deal for people to better understand what is going on and what to do in case the Panda, Penguin, or whatever other update Google is thinking of doing. I myself believe that the latest update “webspam”, was probably not the best of results as yet. There are some very weird results on the first pages and just like the feedback from the SEOers, I think that pretty soon, if it is not happening already, Google will make another, and another, and another, update. We’ll see how this plays out. Thanks for the mention BTW
Useful tips. I’m actually liking the way Google is updating their algorithms. Will try my best to follow all the recommendations 🙂
Irrespective of how much we blame these Panda and Penguin updates by Google, I personally feel that these updates are necessary and have improved the quality of search results in most cases (leave aside exceptional cases)
The Quality of Content on Google Search Results is now much better as all these updates have been targetted on those websites who were focussing more on SEO and less on Content. The message is thus very clear – No messing with Google Search Results 😉
Leaving aside exceptional cases..! Are you serious?. Would you say the same word if yours SITE gets affected.
I’am totally against with such frequent updates and i believes it is ONE OF THE GREAT IMMATURE steps took by the giant Google.
Why because, “works done in hurried has more chance of wrongly done” Yeah, i know it’s Google but mind it , nothing in this world is perfect and so Google comes too comes in. Because of that reason only They(Google) has also offered Reconsideration Quota.
But Really wanna know, “Why Google is in Too Hurry” ?
I think these new updates are blessing in disquise for new bloggers.
It gives us a chance to compete with those bloggers who have been there in the Industry for long. Dont see the fall that you’ve experienced – see the fall that your competitor may also have experienced.
Had such updates not been there – we would have never been able to rank a blog on Google as all the top results would have been already occupied by those bloggers who have been blogging for the past so many years and would have built millions of backlinks…
Always remember that with all these updates: Somebody’s Loss is Somebody’s Gain
PS: My Blog has not experienced any change with this update
Man.. Google and their algorithm names. Seriously if these animals would come to know about their names being used like this, they would surely die 😐
Actually My blog traffic gone on April 19th Update but from yesterday(24th) my blog regained the same traffic 🙂 No changes in my blog 🙂
For the keyword “panda recovery” Google must show pandarecovery.com. Nothing wrong or unnatural in that. Here the exact keyword in domain name, authority of the site, domain age won.
For the keyword “Jaguar”, we get “Jaguar international’s ” page on top of the Google search results, it doesn’t mean that Google algo is wrong.
Sujth, it is PandoraRecovery.com, and not PandaRecovery.com
The first result is not pandarecovery.com, Its pandORarecovery.com which is totally out of context with the search keyword. 🙂
Yes, Penguin is a cute one….
My blog/articles used to rank Top 10 in SERP for keywords like “money making online” and in 5-10 combinations of “money making” keywords that i used to chase every time. It was all ranking well for 2+ Years even winning over many hard n dirty Panda updates. You know I not even placed many Ads/Affiliate Links, in the first of year that blog focused only on “content”….
Post this Penguin update, everything changed and no longer ranking for those keywords. I guess (and from other discussions over web), keyword based niche domains are also hit now. But few of my other niche sites (they are also keyword domains) are still ranking !
However, in my case i did 2 changes recently that i may have to re-look:
– officially changed domain name from eMoneyMakingOnline.com to blasho.com for branding purpose <= probably, Google is still considering the domain name as keyword one or not giving importance for those keywords now
– Redesigned with a heavy premium theme <= probably, i have to go back to a simpler design.
Good, time-to-learn few more stuffs…
3 of my immediate actions items:
– diversify the traffic sources – don't relay much on Google
– stop building new niche sites
– change the business model – have to promote the product that i own, by bringing lot more affiliates
Thanks for the article Harsh! I will look into the recovery articles when I have time to go through it. Google has really overdone it this time =(
Looks like quality sites with great content have been replaced by old websites that have been forgoten long ago…