May 2, 2012

What We Know about Google's Penguin Update

Google’s Penguin update is an algorithm by Google to catch people who spam its search results or purposely do things to rank better that are against Google’s publishers guidelines.

The Penguin Update launched on April 24. It was a change to Google’s search results that was designed to punish pages that have been spamming Google.

In the ‘Google Webmaster Central’ blogs Google has written about the penguin update in these words: “In the next few days, we’re launching an important algorithm change targeted at webspam.

The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content”.

What is “webspam” or search spam?

Pages that try to gain better rankings through things like:

• Keyword stuffing
• Link schemes
• Cloaking, “sneaky” redirects or “doorway” pages
• Purposeful duplicate content

Through this step Google wants to differentiate “white hat SEO” from “black hat webspam” to encourage people to continue with SEO best practices.

Google wants the webmasters to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience.

Google believes that the new update will impact about 3.1% of queries in English; 3% in German, Chinese and Arabic. The percentage might be higher for languages where spam has been slipping through even more, such as in Polish, where 5% of queries are expected to change.

With an intention to get higher rankings or traffic, a few sites use online techniques that don’t benefit users. Those sites actually aim to look for shortcuts that would rank pages higher than they deserve to be ranked. In fact, Google observes all sorts of these webspam techniques every day. Hence, to restrain this practice Google has launched this algorithm.

Google’s Penguin update is a welcome step for all the genuine users, searchers and surfers but on the other hand it is a harsh blow to the cunning web crooks who want their sites to gain traffic following shortcuts.

Google has provided these steps for genuine surfing:

1. Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
2. Don’t use cloaking or sneaky redirects.
3. Don’t send automated queries to Google.
4. Don’t load pages with irrelevant keywords.
5. Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.
6. Don’t create pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware.
7. Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines, or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.
8. If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.

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