What is Penguin ?

Google Penguin is the latest version of its Page Rank Web Crawler which improves its spam detection. It is better at detecting cloaking, keyword stuffing and duplicate pages. It is in place to better organic searches.

How Google Penguin Works

Google Penguin targets websites that have built spammy backlinks to game Google’s results and achieve higher rankings. Google’s algorithm scores each website on many different ranking factors. Some of these are known such as website speed and HTTPs, others are lesser known. To give you an idea of the type of backlinks Google Penguin targets, here are some examples of backlinks:

  • coming from low quality websites
  • that have the same, or similar anchor text
  • were obviously built using a bot or tool
  • that were paid for or incentivized
  • that come from strange countries
  • that were built in high quantity in a short period of time
  • from questionable countries

As Google crawls each of a website’s backlinks, Penguin scores it based on quality. If you’ve reached a low enough threshold, your website will be penalized until you can clean it up. In what is quite possibly the most famous example of webspam, Google gave used this as an example of a tactic that would be targeted by Google Penguin:


It has been said by Google in a live video that the Google algorithm “labels” your links, which is a great way to think about backlinks mentally. They gave a few examples such as:

  • footer links
  • links that were disavowed
  • Penguin impacted links

The easiest way to understand how Google Penguin works is to look at the “link schemes” section of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. They spell out in detail the types of link schemes which could negatively impact your website:

  • buying or selling do-follow links
  • exchanging links
  • large scale article marketing
  • advertorials
  • advertisements that contain do-follow links
  • forum comments or blog posts containing links
  • links in footer or templates (site wide)

It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out what “negatively impact” means. If you have enough of these links pointing to your site, you will probably lose rankings in Google.

There are times when some of these backlinks or websites might not be easily identified by the human eye. In the past few years, spammers have gotten very good at making Blackhat links look like white hat. This has been a big challenge for Google, as many SEO’s are writing high quality content and using them on low quality sites, dropped domains, and private blog networks. It is a constant cat and mouse game: Google launches a new update, SEO’s respond with a new tactic, Google responds with an update to target that tactic.


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