A Penguin’s Tale: Responding to the latest update
What should SEOs do to make the best of the new Penguin update? Perhaps not much. Columnist Dave Davies notes that while Penguin 4.0 was indeed significant, things ultimately haven't changed that much.
For the last four-plus years now, we’ve heard a lot about Penguin. Initially announced in April 2012, we were told that this algorithm update, designed to combat web spam, would impact three percent of queries.
More recently, we’ve witnessed frustration on the part of penalized website owners at having to wait over a year for an update, after Google specifically noted one was coming “soon” in October of 2015.
In all the years of discussion around Penguin, however, I don’t believe any update has been more fraught with confusing statements and misinformation than Penguin 4.0, the most recent update. The biggest culprit here is Google itself, which has not been consistent in its messaging.
And this is the subject of this article: the peeling away of some of the recent misstated or just misunderstood aspects of this update, and more importantly, what it means for website owners and their SEOs.
So, let’s begin.
What is Penguin?
Note: We’re going to keep this section short and sweet — if you want something more in-depth, you should begin by reading Danny Sullivan’s article on the initial release of Penguin, “Google Launches ‘Penguin Update’ Targeting Webspam In Search Results.” You can also browse Search Engine Land’s Penguin Update section for all the articles written here on the topic.
The Penguin algorithm update was first announced on April 24, 2012, and the official explanation was that the algorithm targeted web spam in general. However, since the biggest losses were incurred by those engaged in manipulative link schemes, the algorithm itself was viewed as being designed to punish sites with bad link profiles.
I’ll leave it at that, with the assumption that I shouldn’t bore you with additional details on what the algorithm was designed to do. Let’s move now to the confusion.