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Search Engine Optimisation

Google Penguin – a simple guide

By 17 May 2012No Comments

Penguins are cute right?  Well maybe not this one.  You may have heard that Google published an update by the name of this chirpy, flightless bird at the end of April.

What is the Penguin?

For those of you who are still none the wiser, Google launched the Penguin Update on 24th April as a way of detecting website search spam.  Basically Penguin looks at over optimised sites and assumes they have been purposefully spammed.  As a result those sites are immediately penalised and drop in the search rankings.

One site reported losing 4/5ths of their visitors after this date with site visitors dropping from just over 5,000 to just over 1,000.

Google said that Penguin would decrease rankings for sites that they believe are violating Google’s quality guidelines.  You’ve been warned!

This is not good news for smaller businesses that are unfortunate enough to be targeted by the Penguin, as being further down the rankings in the search engine could mean you miss out on business.  And as Google is the UK’s favourite search engine – 9 out of every 10 searches uses Google – you want them to be on your side.

Google maintain that they are just looking for spam not trying to deter bonefide searches; however you will need to stick to their guidelines to remain in their good books.

What is Penguin looking for?

Google doesn’t publish exactly what they did in detail!  But it would seem that they have penalised link spam and over optimisation.

  • Penguin is looking for relevant links.  So if you’ve engaged in artificial link networks – these are usually paid for services that send out an article or blog to a network of sites just to build links, then watch out for the Penguin!
  • Mostly this type of copy isn’t intended to be read by humans just by search engine robots so that you climb the search engine rankings
  • Or if a huge number of your anchor text i.e. your keyword links are identical – we’re talking 75%+ – then Penguin alerts Google.  They are calling this Keyword Stuffing and it’s a new problem.  Previously SEO-ers were advised by Google to optimise using keywords.  Google has now decided that too much could be something more sinister so has reacted to this

This goes against Google’s rules and regs!

How can you be sure that you won’t offend the Penguin?

  • Website content should contain what is sometimes known as White Hat SEO or transparent SEO
  • Use a handful of keyword/anchor text links in your page copy
  • But instead of repeating the same keyword searches over and over in your webcopy, you can use generic text like ‘click here’ or even use your URL in full as the link

What can you do if the Penguin has hit on you?