A cold chill has hit the world of Search engine optimization consulting and online business over the past few months. An arctic chill, to be precise, as Google rolled out its search algorithm update, Penguin 2.0. Online business and SEO forums are aflame with debate about the effects on site portfolios of this latest Google “housekeeping” update and of course, the main question that is being asked is “how do we get around it?”

Why has Google released Penguin 2.0?

To understand how to “get around” Google Penguin 2.0[1] requires that you understand the point of it in the first place. For the past ten years, Google has been the search engine powerhouse of the internet and no other company has managed to oust them form the top spot. Google’s goal, apart from making money, is to make sure the results it returns to searchers are valuable to them. The more relevant and high quality the results, the more money Google makes and the better the user experience for everyone. Google is investing heavily in algorithmic updates to weed out the junk, spam and downright illegal and that’s where Penguin and its predecessor Panda[2] come in.

What is Penguin?

Penguin 2.0 is Google’s attempt to weed out sites that use keyword stuffing, duplicate content and keyword cloaking. Penguin 1.0 was first released in April 2012.

post penguin update
They’re cute, right? WROOONG!
Image by geekdashboard.com

What links are affected?

Panda was all about thin content and poor quality user experience. Penguin is all about manipulation and poor content. In July of 2012, Google sent out unnatural link warnings to around 1.5 million webmaster tools users. These are links that are solicited, black hat, bought or found through link directories and which help a mediocre website work its way quickly up the search engine rankings unnaturally. In combination with Penguin, Google is taking direct action on sites that use these unnatural linking methods and are bringing down sites manually from their high ranking positions where abuse or blissful but spammy ignorance is found.

Which links to get post-Penguin?

If you want to recover your search engine rankings after taking a beating from Penguin, or you just want to make sure you only acquire clean, white hat links, then follow the guide below.

    • Anchor Texts: Pre-Penguin, anchor texts were rewarded for being keyword rich. Now the tables have turned and your inbound linking strategy should appear as natural and diversified as possible, with no over-optimisation.
    • Quality Content: This is and always will be one of the best ways to get good quality links and avoid the wrath of algorithm changes. Good quality content is what the internet is about and what Google is aspiring to achieve. Keep your spam anchor texts to a minimum even in good content, write at least 500 words per piece and keep your keyword density at around 1% for the almost perfect, Penguin-proof website.
    • Image Links: These are loved by Google post penguin and will do wonders for ranking your site providing the alt tags are correctly optimised and explain the image to users who cannot view it to prevent inadvertently showing Google something users are not seeing.
    • News: Google also loves news for link building, so think about press releases, company news and comment on recent events through your site or blog. It provides rich quality content whilst offering you the opportunity to build some great quality, Penguin friendly links.


Which links to AVOID post-Penguin?

In general, Google rewards sites which have an overall tendency to organic, high quality SEO and high quality, user-friendly content. Any site, network or other vehicle for artificially building rank for “thin” sites is out post-penguin. Here are the main links to stay well away from (at least for now) or Matt Cutts will show you this:

penguin penal by Matt Cutts
Image by seotrainingsw.com
  • Blog Networks: These networks have been hot big time by Google. They have gone as far as to de-index altogether any blogs found within these networks. Popular link building blog network Buildmyrank.com was almost decimated in April by the first roll out of Penguin.
  • Link Directories: Except for respectable and long-standing directories such as Yahoo and DMOZ, no other link directories are safe post-Penguin. You will find it difficult to be listed with DMOZ unless your site is top quality.
  • Article Marketing: Thanks to the very poor quality of many articles on the web and the usage of them solely to rank spam and poor quality websites, article directories have taken a huge hit in Penguin 2.0. Many of the article repositories are taking measures to clean up their submissions process so this formerly fantastic way of getting links is a temporary (hopefully) method to avoid.

Oliver Ortiz works for Expert Market, a division of MVF Global. Expert Market is a B2B UK based provider of a wide variety of business related equipment. Our services include helping your business acquire trackers for vans. Follow us on Twitter and connect with us on Facebook.

1. Google Penguin – 2.0 or 1.2 | State of Search

2. Google Panda | Wikipedia