What Is a Penguin Update?

When Google set out to improve the quality of their search results, they focused on two things: Content quality and link quality. Their Panda update took care of the content quality issue, while Penguin was targeted at link quality. The Penguin algorithm is, more or less, a spam hunter. It’s designed to catch websites that are using spam links or purchasing links to game their way to the top of the search results.

Who Was Penalized by Penguin?

Sites that were creating or purchasing manipulative links were penalized by the Penguin update. Links that are caught by Penguin may include:

  • A large number of links with keyword optimized anchor text
  • Paid links
  • Low quality links
  • Link exchanges
  • Link schemes

The Aftermath of the Penguin Update

Penguin was the nail in the coffin for quite a few websites that were already penalized from the Panda update. At the time of the release, there were unethical SEO service providers offering online marketers and businesses alike the promise of quick rankings. These rankings were generated by poor quality links, or links that were purchased on private blog networks or other from other sellers.

As a result of the Penguin update, SEO service providers had to make some major changes to their link building practices. The focus had to shift from link quantity to link quality.

Recovering from Penguin

Much like Panda, Penguin also receives updates from time to time. If your website was previously hit by Penguin and you have taken the steps to clean up your link portfolio, you may be able to regain your rankings with a new Penguin update is released.

  1. Pinpoint Offending Links. In order to recover from a Penguin penalty, you need to first determine which backlinks are causing you problems. Perhaps you purchased some links a few years ago and those links are now coming back to haunt you. In some cases, site owners are victims of negative SEO campaigns in which their competitors purposely create low quality backlinks in an attempt to hurt the site’s rankings. In either case, you need to take a look at your link portfolio to look for suspicious or manipulative links.
  2. Removing Offending Links. Once you have determined which links are causing the problem, you need to start removing as many of them as possible. In most cases, this will mean having to contact the website owner and asking them to remove the link. You may not be able to remove all of the offending links with this route. Use Google’s disavow tool for any remaining links that you were unable to remove on your own.
  3. Create a New Marketing Strategy. Your first instinct may be to abandon link building altogether, but inbound links are still incredibly important. The goal is to now replace those poor quality links with new high quality links. This can be done through guest blogging, viral marketing and link bait. In addition to building links, you should also focus on creating quality content for your own website as well.
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