Google Penguin Update: Google’s Fight Against Web Spam


Google Penguin Update
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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.

Google Penguin update
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Before I go more into this update, let me tell you that SEO is an integral part of maintaining the quality of a website. SEO is much more than building backlinks. It consists of many other factors like page layout, user experience, page load time, website social signals and more than 200_ other signals.

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.

Penguin recovery
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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,, and 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:

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.

Link Quality

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, 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.

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.

Keyword Density

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

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.

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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Authored By
A Blogger, Author and a speaker! Harsh Agrawal is recognized as a leader in digital marketing and FinTech space. Fountainhead of ShoutMeLoud, and a Speaker at ASW, Hero Mindmine, Inorbit, IBM, India blockchain summit. Also, an award-winning blogger.

35 thoughts on “Google Penguin Update: Google’s Fight Against Web Spam”

  1. rohit arya

    yesterday i got this message from google:- “Google has detected that some of your pages either contain hidden text or use keyword stuffing techniques. This critical issue attempts to artificially boost your site’s ranking in search results. Such unnatural ranking would cause irrelevant or low quality search results for Google Search users. Therefore, Google has prevented the offending pages from appearing in search results. This manual spam action has been applied to To reinstate these pages, remove the sneaky text, and file a reconsideration request. After we determine that you have complied with our guidelines, we will remove this manual action.”

    how to resolve this, plz help

  2. Abhijit Guha

    good post , just want to know something, if you can bear the pain to reply me.

    Penguin 2.0 hit my website & I lost all my high ranking keyword from google. After that hit , I have posted 4 new article on my website, but all the 4 article are coming on google 2nd page. Which never happend with me – when Ever I post anything on my website it came in 2nd or 3rd position immediatly after indexing.

    So I want to ask that if a domain get penguin hit, then will it suffer for ever? I mean all my new post will also suffer from it?

  3. Ravi kumar

    Definitely Harsh, It is surely needed to have such changes in the search engines algorithm, It is demand of time, so that people can believe on the search engine listings.


  4. Jay Castillo

    Hi Harsh, I can see your RSS feed also contains backlinks to your article and website in “Article Title” is a post from “Website” format. I also do the same for my RSS feed as a way to get back at scrapers who grab my RSS feed and publish on their sites.

    Before, I used to think that this was a good idea. Now I’m concerned this technique will do more damage as Google will now think my site has a lot of low quality backlinks coming from scraper sites and MY SITE will be penalized.

    Am I just being paranoid or is this something we should be concerned about?

    If this is something which we should be concerned about, and since we have no control over scraper sites, should we stop the practice of using an RSS footer that creates backlinks? Would this justify the use of Google’s Disavow Link Tool?

  5. Pritush

    I was able to recover from penguin after being hit in April (following Panda recovery guide in SML), but again in June 12-13 i got hit by Panda even I tried really hard I’m still not being able to recover from it.

  6. rtt

    This update affected far more than 3% of search results, and it wasn’t just the SPAM sites affected or blackhat techniques.

    I’ve seen so many examples of normal white-hat sites with great content which were affected.
    This is simply just a scheme by Google to try and scare people into using their AdWords system which most have abandoned or are starting to since Google price fixes the CPC and artificially and unfairly increases the advertising costs.

    If anyone thinks Google is doing any of this to make results better, I would think twice and in fact most users have noticed worse and less relevant results with the recent updates.

  7. Kyle Carson

    Recently My website Ranking drop down.. earlier it was keep on improving but last week it drop down.. what i have to do now.. i used various keywords not only targeting 1 or 2 .. i tried variety of keywords and urls to use so looks natural.. i used less competitive and long tail keywords also.. like click or read more this and that information.. ( sorry i cant reveal my client information here )..

    I used articles and press release for back links.. nothing else.. and all articles are fresh and unique.. and all the work go on slow pace .. hardly 5-10 hrs per week.. work.. only submitted to good sites.. i worked on squidoo, hub, weebly etc.. to publish our articles..

    but even i hit by google 🙁 .. can i know what more i go to get my positions abck . i hit by 10-20 positions back.. Earlier i was on top 10 and 20 for all my 20 keywords.. now almost every keywords is dropped by xyz counts ..

    it would be great if any one add more information what i have to fo get my positions back..

    1 More thing so i use social media code on site as .. google is more concerning about this social media marketing

  8. deep karmakar

    Brilliant!! Excellent piece of work from you Harsh. Now here is one thing that i’d like to ask you. Acquiring quality backlinks is now the ultimate priority thanks to Google Panda Update. This isn’t easy at all because high quality back links can be acquired only from high quality content. Now you must be aware of the SEO procedures in India before the arrival of Panda and Penguin Update. Everything was spammy. Even still now most webmasters are still following the old school procedure. Cost is now a big concern in SEO and Clients aren’t willing to pay that much to us for ethical SEO services. The situation in SEO is highly critical here in India.


    The ‘Penguin’ tanked my small biz site completely. I was ranking in top 3 positions for few keywords and now I am not even in first 20 pages.

    My site was not a spam site nor was it over optimized nor had I written any articles for the search engine. Still I have faced the music this time. The sites which are now appearing on first page are 4-5 page sites who have not done any SEO in the past.

    All work for past 2 years have been wasted.

  10. Deepanker

    i have few blogs and the 1 which had highest traffic got penguin hit although i always enjoyed better traffic in each panda updates. When i looked at my blogs, i got to know that the reason was simple. That blog is on blogger platform which had no option for using nofollow attribute (it was added last month.) I had many posts which liked to mediafire links and hotfile links.. SO i think penguin think it as link spam. From last 2 days, i am trying to edit all my 700+ posts to see the quality of links and adding nofollow it it.. i hope next update will increase my traffic..
    But really 40% drop in traffic is panic..

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