What is Google Penguin?

For those who are not yet familiar with this concept, you just need to know that Google Penguin is a filter that aims to penalize sites that do not respect its SEO guidelines, particularly on backlinks. It is integrated into the heart of the Google algorithm.

Why was Google Penguin created?

Before the Penguin algorithm, the scoring of a site by Google, was determined by the presence of a high volume of links pointing to that webpage. In other words, a page was more likely to rank on SERPs with more backlinks. The issue with this strategy (having a lot of backlinks pointing to a page) was that low-quality content and websites would be highly positioned in organic search results.

Following this issue, the Penguin algorithm was announced in 2012 with the goal of targeting keyword stuffing and link schemes:

  • Keyword stuffing – Excessive use or repetition of keywords to improve ranking
  • Link schemes – when you buy or acquire backlinks from low-quality websites in order to manipulate Google for the purpose of increasing rankings.

Google penguin update

How does it work?

Google Penguin mostly target backlinks (links going or pointing to a site). So, the penguin examine which sites are connecting to you, not the sites you are linking out to.

In order word, they target:

  • Backlinks from low-quality sources or sites
  • Backlinks with the same anchor text
  • Paid backlinks
  • Fake backlinks made with a bot or tool
  • Backlinks from countries or areas known for black hat technics
  • Numerous backlinks made in a short period of time

What’s new with Google Penguin

From now on Google’s Penguin algorithm will no longer penalize for bad links. Instead, it will neutralize the bad links without counting them. One of Google search advocate (John Mueller), said that the algorithm will now ignore the spammy links unless there is a huge number of them pointing to the site. As a result, Penguin may distrust and penalize the site.

In order word, sites can get out from Penguin update if they have less low-quality backlinks.

Is Penguin penalty still relevant?

John responded that if the systems identify that it cannot ignore and isolate the set of links throughout a site. In the case we notice a lot of links (strong pattern), then it can happen that our algorithms say well this site is no longer trustable at the moment based on the bigger picture on the web.  We kind of need to be more careful with this website’s ranking and content in the SERPs. That’s where you will notice a drop in the visibility there.”

How do I know that I’ve been hit by Penguin?

You may have been affected by this filter, if you see a drop in traffic or rankings on a date a Penguin update was announced. Also, make sure the drop is not due to a seasonal factor or any unexpected cause (Covid, public holidays etc.). Evaluate whether your linking practices or keyword optimization would be judged spammy by Google.