In basic terms, the updated Penguin is designed to work out if you’ve purchased poor quality links from spam dealers, then penalise your site in search rankings accordingly.
This new update, dubbed ‘Penguin 4.0’, works in real-time so it’ll be more responsive to corrective changes. For example, if your site has received a Google penalty for poor link practices, you can fix it and have your rankings restored quickly.
Previously, it would take a long time for Penquin to re-assess and reinstate rankings after a penalty was delivered. This is a good change, but the announcement also serves as a reminder that Google is always refining and improving their spam detection practices.
In essence, if you’re looking to buy links to up your search rank, Google will work it out and you could suffer penalties.
The process of poor link detection makes perfect sense – Google makes money based on audience, the more people who use Google, the more ads they can serve those visitors.
As such, Google needs to provide the best, most relevant search results in response to every query – if they don’t, or they let their results get scammed by cheats, the user experience suffers.
Google knows that consumers have a range of choices for search these days. Not only in the form of Bing or other dedicated search providers, but also in social networks. Facebook, for example, facilitates more than 2 billion on-platform searches every day.
For website owners, Google’s latest update means that you need to check your link-building practices and ensure you’re not doing anything that could trigger Google’s anti-spam radar. Some things that could spell trouble for your SEO are:
- Buying or selling links – Exchanging money for links is always risky, and should be avoided
- Participating in reciprocal link exchanges – Google’s systems are now much better at detecting links from link exchange networks due to their non-related link patterns
- Using large-scale rich anchor links – Using overly specific anchor links can trigger red flags with Penguin, most notably when done at scale
- Using automated link-generation robots – Don’t use link robots or automated linking systems
These are just some of the signals Google’s Penguin Algorithm looks for and will penalise if it sees a pattern.
The best way to avoid a problem is to work to build links in a more natural, contextually relevant way. This is why many consider content to play a much bigger part in SEO these days, because rather than focusing on specific keywords, you’re focusing on creating relevant material which can be referenced a linked to in a more natural and informed way.
In some ways, it’s better to not approach content with SEO in mind – write for your audience and to their needs, then work to generate best response - analyse, refine and repeat.
Of course, you do need to include keywords in there, but if you’re writing about a specific topic related to your target terms, chances are you’ll include those keywords anyway, without having to go overboard.
It’s worth reviewing and ensuring the right terms are included where you can, but don’t go overboard. Google’s systems are getting smarter, more refined – they can understand context better than ever.
Avoid the spammy link tactics and concentrate on serving your audience. It might take more time, but it will deliver the best results.