The Penguin update is one of Google’s most well-known updates and one of the company’s most important algorithm updates. The update was launched on April 24th 2012 with the aim of giving a ranking advantage to quality websites, and lowering the rankings of spam generating websites that employ invalid SEO methods.

This update comes in addition to the Panda update which was released on February 2011, and the Page Layout algorithm update which was released on January 2012, and it aims to tackle spam that the previous updates have failed to deal with.

The Penguin update deals with the same spam issues which Google have notified of over the years, but shows an improvement in Google’s ability to identify such websites.

The update addresses a number of different issues:

  1. An unnatural website link profile – links from spam websites, a large amount of links with exact anchor text, paid URLs, and a large amount of inbound site-wide links.
  2. Website keyword stuffing – pages that are loaded with keywords for the sole purpose of promoting the website and have no actual user value.

The Penguin update goes through periodical ‘data refreshes’ every few months. If you were impacted by one of the Penguin updates and made changes to your website in order to fix the problem, you’ll have to wait until the next data refresh in order to see if your efforts have been fruitful.

Dealing with the update:

  1. Removing site-wide footer links that are referring to the website. While 10 years ago such links were an easy and simple way to raise your website’s rankings – ever since the release of Penguin these links now simply harm the website when there are too many of them.
  2. Creating diversity in the website’s link profile. If the website has too much exact anchor text, we’ll have a problem. In cases where the website wasn’t impacted by the update, we’ll simply need to act to make sure any future links we’re obtaining are more diverse. In cases where the website was already penalized, we should also consider editing some of our historic links in order to create diversity. This method is less recommended since it’s considered less natural.
  3. Checking our website’s link profile in order to find backlinks originating from spammy or poor quality websites, if we find any such links we’ll need to remove them or use Google’s Disavow Tool.
  4. Paid links or links appearing to be paid. The update also comes to penalize websites that have paid for links. In case we did purchase any such links, we’ll need to decide what to do – whether removing the bad links (the desired state for Google), or changing our purchase strategy so that our legitimately obtained links wouldn’t appear as paid links.
  5. Searching our website for pages with high keyword density and editing them. Unlike previous updates – Penguin impacts the entire website if the website contains enough problematic pages, rather than impacting the problematic pages alone.
  6. More helpful advice can be found in this post.

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