Google Penguin: Keep Calm and SEO

What is Google Penguin?

Google is constantly updating its algorithm to improve search results and combat spam. Larger updates, such as Panda and Penguin, are named. Penguin is also known as the “webspam algorithm” update as it targets black hat SEO practices, such as link schemes, keyword stuffing and other forms of over-optimization.

The first Penguin update was announced on April 24, 2012 (although it was rolled out on April 22, 2012). The latest iteration of Penguin hit on May 22, 2013.

Practices on Penguin’s Radar

Keyword Stuffing

Repeating a keyword over and over again on a page in order to rank for a term is considered keyword stuffing. Instead of thinking in terms of keyword density, think in terms of keyword inclusion. Is your target keyword on the page, in places search engines will look and given prominence via HTML markup?

Without overdoing it, include your keyword in the following locations:

  • Page title
  • Meta description (for higher CTR)
  • URL
  • Image names and alt text
  • Link text and title text
  • Headings, especially the H1

Additionally, use the tag at least once for your keyword, but use it sparingly. Your pages should read naturally. Chances are if it looks like spam to you, it will look like spam to Google, too.

Link Schemes

Links are an extremely important part of SEO, but Google can now identify if the links to your website are too perfect or unnatural. Having too many links with the same anchor text can trigger Google to take negative action against your website, be it algorithmic or a manual penalty.

If you’re building links manually, spend more time building citations than anything else. Reference your brand name in anchor text instead of a keyword and use reputable business directories instead of low-quality websites.

It sounds obvious, but the best links you can get are the ones that come naturally. Creating resources or something entertaining and then promoting it can attract links faster than you can build them.

Spun Content

Google has gotten smarter in identifying spam and spun content is one of the worst forms. You may have seen spun articles online and as comments on your blog. There is software available that can take content, spin it by changing words and create something somewhat unique.

Aside from being unethical, these articles are just plain horrible to read. (Trust me, read one out loud for a good laugh.) And Google is on to them, so don’t do it. Take the time to create something really engaging or useful and you’ll see much greater success.

The Lesson: Google will continue to combat spam and will continue to find ways to help the cream rise to the top. Technically optimize your site for search engines, create amazing content for people and promote your best content to help your target audience find you online.

Penguin Resources


Chris Countey is a Senior Digital Marketing Specialist for Delphic Digital. He writes about technical on-site optimization and digital marketing strategies.

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