What is Google Penguin?
Google Penguin – A Google algorithm update focused on analyzing the quality of links pointing to a site, or more accurately, the overall quality of a site’s backlink profile. First announced in April 2012 and updated periodically after this release, similar to Google Panda. This algorithm targeted so-called “black-hat SEO” tactics that manipulated search rankings by creating links to sites in an unnatural manner. Google analyzes all of the pages which link to a specific site and determine whether the links are a benefit to users, or if they simply serve to manipulate search rankings and adjust the site’s standing accordingly. Google estimates that Penguin affects 3.1% of all searches in English, a relatively large number for one algorithm. (See also: Backlink, Black Hat, Google Algorithm, Google Panda).
Following on the heels of Panda, the Penguin update was announced by Google as a new effort to reward high-quality websites and diminish the search engine results page (SERP) presence of websites that engaged in manipulative link schemes and keyword stuffing.
The initial rollout of Penguin impacted 3.1% of English language search engine queries. Between 2012 and 2016, the filter went through 10 documented updates, evolving over time and influencing the SEO community’s understanding of the problematic practices Penguin sought to address. As of early 2017, Penguin is now part of Google’s core algorithm.
Penguin targeted two specific practices:
- Link schemes – The development, acquisition or purchase of backlinks from low-quality or unrelated websites, creating an artificial picture of popularity and relevance in an attempt to manipulate Google into bestowing high rankings. For example, an insurance company in Tampa could fill Internet forums with spam comments linking to itself as “best insurance company in Tampa”, falsely inflating its appearance of relevance with these unnatural links. Or, the same company might pay to have links reading “best insurance company in Tampa” appear on an unrelated third-party article about dog grooming; content that has no relationship to the topic.
- Keyword stuffing – Populating a webpage with large numbers of keywords or repetitions of keywords in an attempt to manipulate rank via the appearance of relevance to specific search phrases.