What is Google Penguin and what do you need to know?
Google enjoys using cute animal names for their algorithms and their Penguin algorithm is number two in the list of things you need to know about.
Our last blog on Google Panda took you through a list of do’s and don’ts for the content hungry beast. But what about Google Penguin? What do you have to do to ensure you’re meeting the requirements and not penalised by this in the search engine rankings?
Google Penguin: an intelligent animal
Penguin was first rolled out in 2012, and focuses on backlinks – be sure to keep an eye out for our link building blog – this algorithm is one that SEO’s truly didn’t like when it started going.
It changed the rules on backlinks, making it harder for the old school link building strategies to be effective; SEO’s used to use the fact that a higher amount of links directly correlated to a higher ranking. Meaning that some sneaky SEO’s out there used to spam forums for everything that they were worth.
Links aren’t the only thing that Penguin looks at, but the other aspects are minimal in comparison.
Why are links to your site important?
A link is essentially a vote for your website – every time somebody links to you or your content; that means they’ve voted and said ‘I like this’. So, accordingly, if a well respected online authority links to your website, you’ve gone and got a much larger vote.
What that means is that these sites carry more trust by Google and carry more weight. This is referred to as ‘link juice’ bleeds out and in turn makes your website more trustworthy.
Smaller websites with less domain authority do this too, only it takes a lot more links to ensure this affects your ranking – and that’s where the problem used to be.
Sneaky SEO’s used to post links with specific anchor text in order to increase ranking for that particular topic; essentially meaning that this link to app developers in Northampton would have the anchor text of ‘app developers in Northampton’ nudging Google to see that, with enough of these links, your website is a great source for the search term.
If you’re now thinking “Great, I’ll go and get links from anywhere that I can, that’ll help my ranking!” … You’d be half right, and half wrong.
Your website can still rank without having hundreds of links, it’s all about link quality – and where Penguin is concerned, you’d be better off going for a less is more approach to your link building strategy.
What does Penguin do?
That’s the tricky thing – we don’t know.
Google plays its algorithm hand very close to it’s chest in order to make sure the public doesn’t manipulate the search engine. But one thing that we can be sure of, is that it doesn’t like is low-trust, low-quality, links.
So, what can I do?
That’s the easy part. All you need to do is ensure all your links aren’t ‘forced’ or manipulated. Essentially, are they natural links?
Do any of the links pointing to your site come from the following:
- Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
- Excessive link exchanges (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking
- Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
- Using automated programs or services to create links to your site
For in-depth information see Google’s Link Guidelines.