• The Aftermath of Google's Penguin 2.0

    Penguin. The name might make you think of the adorable arctic creature, but don't be fooled. Penguin is a site-swiping web algorithm launched by Google last year. The newly revamped Penguin 2.0 was released several weeks ago and since it arrived, SEOs have been analyzing its effects.

    Matt Cutts (the head of Google's spam team) announced Penguin 2.0's arrival not long before it arrived. SEOs were very curious about its power since the first edition of Penguin (which was released in April 2012) made an impact on about 3.1% of queries made on Google. The following two updates (released in May 2012 and October 2012) had relatively minor implications (both affecting less than 0.5% of queries). This latest model, however, was known to be a major overhaul on the original system, hence the name Penguin 2.0. It was expected to introduce big changes that would go even further in Google's quest to crack down on websites using improper search engine optimization.

    Now that the Penguin's been released, we can announce that about 2.3% of queries were affected, according to Cutts. The websites whose visibility on Google will be most dramatically reduced include a large number of porn and game sites as well as bigger brands like DISH, the Salvation Army, CheapOair, Educational Testing Service, and REEDS Jewelers. Most of their mistakes were related to spam (obviously) and links (bad links pointing to their websites).

    Google views links as votes for a website (by one site, for another) and if the links pointing to your site are untrustworthy, disreputable, or of low quality, you could see your site's search engine traffic dropping. The quality of a website's links, the links' relevance, anchor text, and how quickly you acquired the links are all important factors. You should build your links at a slow and steady pace and greatly vary your anchor text. You don't want all of your links to use the same "money keyword" (CheapOair's links, for example, were 66% money keywords), especially when they outweigh your brand links (CheapOair's links were 21% brand). That's considered fishy behavior. And remember, penguins eat fish.

    So while the effects of Penguin 2.0 were not as dramatic as expected, they did succeed in wiping out more of the spam cluttering search results. Not quite the cute and cuddly animal you were first imagining, but not a game-changer either. Keep calm and keep making smart, slow, and varied links.

    Author: Nick Altrup
    Author Notes: 417 Marketing is a small business marketing firm that utilizes web design, SEO, and PPC solutions to develop successful online marketing strategies. The company's marketing blog features news, resources, and tips related to web design and marketing.
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