Having been introduced to SEO only within the past year, it was inevitable that I would eventually stumble across Google Penguin. For those of you that are not familiar with Google Penguin, it is a project Google have introduced to curb improper activities from website owners aiming to achieve a higher ranking in search engines. As I’ve discovered, it is a hotly debated topic in the world of SEO; Google do not reveal the precise details of each update, meaning that SEO buffs are left to dissect the occasional hints from Google’s webspam team.
Before the inception of Google Penguin, there were many who deployed underhand tactics to catapult up the rankings, resulting in increased web traffic. However, since April 2012, the team overseeing the Google Penguin project have been moderating the search engine results and amending the search algorithm to maintain good and proper practices.
What are the repercussions for bad SEO practices?
This is typically referred to as ‘Black Hat SEO’. Most of the time, if you’re doing anything that falls into that category, you’ll know about it.
Link farming – enlisting the help of a third party to place links to your website on other websites. That’s not to say it’s bad to have your website linked on other websites, it’s just you shouldn’t have to ask for it, you need to earn it.
Hidden keywords – those essential keywords you want to be found for on search engines; some people in the past have hidden them on the page they want to be ranked, but out of visibility to the viewer.
Spam keywords – this is where the perpetrator obviously spams the numerous keywords they want to rank for on a web page.
Fake pages – pages that contain many instances of the same keywords, but are designed only for search engines, rather than the visitor. These fake pages will redirect users to a different page that does not represent the content of the page displayed on the Google search.
Over the course of the past two-and-a-half years, Google Penguin has identified culprits to many of these ‘web offences’ and quite simply removes those pages from the results. The exact length of this ban is unknown, but many predict it can last for several months upon removal of the content that led to the ban. There is rarely notification from Google that your website has been removed, nor the reason it has been taken off the search engine results – although sometimes you can be notified through Webmaster Tools. You can submit your website for reconsideration by visiting this link.
How often does Google Penguin update?
The most recent update, Google Penguin 3.0, is known to have been released in October 2014. There is speculation, however, that Google Penguin implements changes to its algorithm over time as opposed to doing it in one hit. Many search engine analysts do not notice any instant changes as a result of an update announcement – see Moz’s take on the Google Penguin 3.0 update as an example.
Should I be concerned about Google Penguin then?
In my opinion, no – not if you’re going about your business on the web in an ethical manner. My understanding of Google Penguin is that it’s operating in a way that gives priority to those who have rich, original, informative content. If you’re so stuck for content that you’re having to stuff your website with keywords, you obviously don’t deserve to be ranking higher than someone who is publishing content that will benefit more people.
The innocently named Google Penguin has no official website, but there are plenty of websites providing more details. If you wish to further your research, we recommend you follow Google’s head of webspam, Matt Cutts, or simply check out trusty Wikipedia. This information is useful for those involved in web design and populating websites with content.
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