What is the Penguin Update

The Penguin Update refers to a series of algorithm changes and data refreshes by the Google search engine . The aim of the adjustments is to identify and remove webspam in the search results. Google wants to reduce the manipulation of search results and specifically punish SEO measures that do not seem natural.

Penguin update against webspam

As webspam called Google SEO measures perform certain website operators or webmaster to their side in the ranking to bring up. According to Google, only the content and thus the added value for the user should be decisive for the placement in the SERPs.

Since the user does not benefit from SEO techniques such as unnatural link building, cloaking or keyword stuffing, the websites concerned rank too high from Google’s point of view. The Google Search Console guidelines define exactly what is not allowed in website optimization. Violations against this can result in a penalty from the Penguin Update. Of course, Google does not reveal the exact variables that lead to the penalty. However, on the typical “Penguin loser websites” you can see which violations of the SEO measures have led to this.

Mainly backlinks affected by the penguin update

The algorithms of the penguin update seem primarily to relate to the backlink profile of a page. The following factors, among others, are considered:

Topic relevance of the linked page to the linked page

The linked page should thematically match the linked page, as it is simply more likely and natural if recommendations come from similar subject areas.

Link texts with a high proportion of hard keywords

Before the Penguin Update, hard link texts with money keywords were common because they simply worked and brought the page up in the ranking due to the massive keyword links. However, a link profile in which more than 50 percent of the links consist of money keywords is very unnatural because the “normal average user” does not link in this way. Instead, the link profile should consist of a mix of general terms such as “here”, “so”, “more information”, brands and money keywords as the link text.

Further information on the classification of keywords: Lexicon article Keywords

Purchased links

If you look at the link in the sense of a “recommendation”, the purchased link is probably the biggest violation of Google guidelines. After all, the website operator only links because he receives money for it and not because he is convinced of the linked content and likes it. In this context, the Penguin Update punished entire link networks in which links were sold via platforms. In the meantime, Google not only uses the algorithm to track down bought links, but also imposes manual measures. In addition, the penalties do not only affect the pages with unnatural backlinks, but also the linked pages.

Additional information:

Outbound links: Google has issued tons of penalties

Google penalties outbound links

What we think of bought and sold links (Webmaster Central Blog)

Unnatural link growth

If the number of links suddenly increases by leaps and bounds, while a new link was only added every now and then, this also looks suspicious and speaks for an unnatural link building. Actions can lead to a sudden high increase in links, but this can then be traced back to the particular action.

Bad quality backlinks

According to GROWTHEOLOGY, bad backlink sources are links from inferior pages with no added value for the user or pages that only serve the purpose of linking and which therefore also lack added value. This applies, for example, to so-called link farms, web catalogs and article directories. In principle, it is not detrimental to the link profile if a link comes from a web catalog or similar directories, but the profile must not predominantly consist of it. After all, these are not recommendations, just entries you made yourself.

The development of the Penguin Updates

There have been seven Penguin updates so far, of which only four have been full updates and three have only been data refreshes. In the case of a data refresh, an analysis is carried out with the algorithm unchanged. The first update was initially called the Webspam Algorithm Update and was officially called the “Penguin Update” by Google a few days after it was released.

The following updates and data refreshes have been made so far:

April 24, 2012 – Penguin Update 1.0 (algorithm change)

May 25, 2012 – Penguin Update 1.1 (Data Refresh)

October 05, 2012 – Penguin Update 1.2 (Data Refresh)

May 22, 2013 – Penguin Update 2.0 (algorithm change)

October 04, 2013 – Penguin Update 2.1 (probably a data refresh)

October 18, 2014 – Penguin Update 3.0 (algorithm change)

October 9, 2016 – Penguin Update 4.0 (algorithm change)

The first Penguin update in April 2012 showed the most significant effects compared to the other updates and refreshes. About three percent of the English-language and German-language search queries were affected by this algorithm change. In Germany, t3n.de and lonelyplanet.de were among the biggest winners, gutscheinrabatt.eu and prepaid-vergleich-online.de were among the biggest losers. Larger effects were only noticeable again with the Penguin Update 2.0, which, according to Google, was a completely new “Penguin filter generation”.

Further information on the effects:

Penguin Update 4.0: Winner Analysis

Penguin 3.0 is online

Google Penguin Update 2.0: Analysis of the Losers

Recognize punishment from Penguin Update

The fact that a website has been penalized by the Penguin Update can be recognized by a drop in visibility in the search results or a visibility that tends towards zero. It is not known which exact algorithms are used.

Whether the major changes in the SERPs of the search engine are really due to the Penguin update and not have other causes, e.g. due to technical work that was carried out on the website at the same time, can be seen from the course in the weeks / months after the update. If the value remains constant at a low level after falling, this clearly speaks for the effects of the Penguin update. Improvements in ranking are then recognizable only after the next refresh or update, of course, only if appropriate action such as link degradation have made.

Example of impact from Penguin Update 2.0:

What can you do after a punishment?

Those affected by the Penguin Update should primarily analyze and improve their own backlink profile. In this case, improving mainly means deleting, i.e. removing links. Here, however, you should check carefully whether the link is really bad in terms of Google guidelines, otherwise you might delete good links and keep harmful links, which of course prevents the ranking from recovering. Successful link breaking requires a lot of experience just like link building.

Links that you can not delete itself, you can use the Disa v ow tools from Google devalue leave. The links are still there afterwards, but they are not used to assess the link profile.

What is the Penguin Update