Google Penguin Algorithm Update: What you Need to Know

With Google’s ever-changing algorithms, websites too are continuously changing their SEO from time to time.

However, these algorithm updates go a long way in changing the way how search engine page results work and how the page rankings of websites are affected.

One such update is Google Penguin. In this article, we will know all about this update that Google launched and how it has affected the rankings of webpages.

Google Penguin Algorithm Update

But first, let us delve deeper into understanding what it is.

What is Google Penguin Update?

Google Penguin update is actually a codename for one of Google’s algorithm update.

According to this update that was launched in April 2012, Google decided to decrease the search engine page rankings of web pages or websites that violate the terms of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

A lot of websites used to spam the search results on Google either by buying links or through obtaining links using the black hat SEO techniques. These link networks which practiced black hat SEO were designed to boost a website’s page ranking on Google.

When new Penguin updates come out, the websites that were previously affected by this update can get back their high rankings on Google if they have taken efforts to remove those links that they obtained.

After the first Penguin update was launched, it is reported to have affected almost 3.1% of search results in the English language, and even more for other languages that were highly spammed. Again in May 2012, another Penguin update was launched, known as the Penguin 1.1.

With this update, Google planned to penalize those websites that were using bad links, purchased or obtained somehow to get higher SERPs.

It also aimed at recognizing and rewarding the high-quality content that other websites were used by boosting their page rankings. As a result, quite a few websites totally lost their search engine rankings and had to mend their ways.

What Is The Difference Between Google Panda and Google Penguin?

Google Panda is another update in Google’s algorithm that was launched in 2011. The basic aim of Google and its algorithms is to provide high-quality content to its users.

Google Panda aimed at eliminating all the websites that it thought had low-quality content and instead boost the rankings of those sites that actually followed Google’s guidelines and had high-quality content. This update actually affected the very old websites. These websites did not have good content, but they would attain high page rankings through paid ads or whatever other techniques.

Google monitored its users’ behaviors on a website. When it saw that users are visiting a website but quickly exiting it due to whatever reason, Google pushed down the ranking of those websites significantly. As a result, a lot of website page rankings were affected and the actually good ones came up on top.

The main objective of both Google Panda and Google Penguin updates are the same, that is to provide top class quality content to users. But there are some basic differences between these two updates. Let us discuss the differences in detail with different aspects in mind.

The main concept of the updates:

Google Panda targets websites that basically have low-quality content and where users do not spend much time. These websites generally have shorter contents, more ads, poor website design, etc.

On the other hand, the Google Penguin update targets and penalizes those websites that use Black hat SEO techniques to buy links or obtain links from other networks and boost their web page rankings.

When were they first launched and by what name?

Google Panda was first launched in February 2011 and was known by the name of Farmer Update.

Google Penguin update was first launched in April 2012, as Over Optimisation Penalty.

How do websites survive these two updates?

The only way to survive a Google Panda update is to actually modify the entire website content.

All the content that is deemed as low quality has to be modified properly following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and the ads have to be placed strategically on a certain web page.

Only then it can get back it’s ranking. Also, pages on that website that are too much-optimized need to be checked.

The websites that were affected by Panda need to work on re-establishing a brand image for themselves. They also need to run social media campaigns to retain the brand image.

Most importantly, the particular web pages that were affected now have to be separated from the ones that were not. It’s quite a long procedure.

On the other hand, websites that were affected by the Penguin update completely need to stop using black hat SEO techniques. These websites also have to keep in mind that they cannot do keyword stuffing, excessive link building and have to stop adding irrelevant content to their web pages if any at all. These are the ways in which a website hit by Google Penguin Update can recover.

Has Google itself released any tool for websites from these updates?

For Panda, Google has not released any tool. But for Penguin updates, Google has a tool called ‘disavow links tool’.

What are the recovery options for websites hit by these?

For Google Panda, the harm is mostly made to web pages. So the way to recover is to work on the affected web pages and also on the website as a whole.

Check for plagiarised content, optimize the content, including the FAQ section and make the website look complete.

For websites that are hit by the Penguin update, websites have to check their links and make sure all of them are from the same domain. They should not look like they were bought from somewhere.

Using the disavow tool to recover, websites can eliminate too many links on web pages.

How much time do the affected sites take to recover?

For websites that are affected by the Panda update, if the only problem is poor content then as soon as the website owner changes the content and makes it fit to meet Google Webmaster guidelines, then all it needs is a refresh and the website can recover.

For websites that are affected by the Google Penguin update, they need time to recover. Just changing the links and hitting a refresh will not work. However, it is not known how much time it will take.

Now you have a clear understanding of how Google Panda is different from Google Penguin in every aspect.

What Do You Need to Know About Google Penguin Update?

The latest update of Google Penguin is the 4.0 version. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

Penguin update is now a real-time page ranking factor:

Earlier, Penguin needed a global refresh from Google that was done manually to be able to detect fake links. But with the latest update now Penguin’s data is going to be constantly updated as Google will keep crawling and indexing pages.

This means that now webmasters can easily recover and also recover much faster if there is a ranking drop of their website due to keywords.

But this new update has also made it more difficult for websites to use Black hat SEO as these fake links will now be discovered faster and penalized faster.

Penguin is granular now:

Previously what used to happen with Penguin was that the entire site would be penalized if there were a lot of spammy links to a website.

But with the latest update of Penguin 4.0, it will now work on a granular level; which means that now if there are lots of spammy links to any website, only that certain section of the blog or website will face the penalty and not the entire website.

Penguin 4.0 is applicable for the languages that exist in the world, not just the basic ones.
This means that whichever language your website or blog is in, if you are spamming it with black hat SEO, Google will identify it and penalize your website.

Penguin 4.0 is no longer a separate entity

Earlier, the Penguin Update used to function as a separate entity, even though it was launched by Google. But now, Google has announced that Penguin is a part of its core algorithm now.

What does this mean for you?

Well, it means that Penguin and Google together now have more than 200 signals that can detect false links and affect website rankings accordingly.

It is now difficult to identify which websites are affected by Penguin:

Like earlier when Penguin needed manual refreshes from Google, it was easy to identify the difference in website ranking and whether it was affected by Penguin.

But now since Penguin works real time, it will be difficult to tell whether a website’s page ranking was affected by Penguin or not.

How to Recover from a Google Penguin Penalty?

Here is everything that you can do to recover from a Google Penguin penalty once your website has been affected by it.

First, create a list of all your backlinks:

You will find many tools online that can help you make a list to follow backlinks.

The best way would be to use 3 tools together and get the list. The number of tools you use, the more data you collect.

This way you will make sure that none of your backlinks are left out. Make an excel sheet of these and maintain the backlinks. You might even need them for future use.

Secondly, check the links for quality:

The reason why Penguin penalizes your website is that there might be lots of fake links that are redirecting to your website.

The kinds of links that Google penalizes are- links from non-indexed sites, links from websites that have low page rank, links that are from untrustworthy websites, links from blog network, links from article directories and forums and so on.

So, after making a list of all your backlinks, check all of them if any link is one of those that Google penalizes.

Third, make a list of the links you want to remove:

Once you have identified the links that have led to a penguin penalty, get rid of those links from your website. Also, include details of the links that you have modified like URL, contact information, etc.  this will help you keep your website clean.

Lastly, use the ‘disavow’ tool that Google offers to get rid of the penalty:

When you know which all spammy links you have to remove, you have to go on with removing them. For this, reach out to webmaster on the web and straightaway ask them to remove the links.

When you start getting requests from webmasters for your offer, you can then use the ‘Disavow’ tool to remove the links. Then you are done.

But you have to make sure that once you have successfully recovered from a Penguin penalty and have removed all the bad links and backlinks, you do not get charged with another Penguin penalty again.

After you have covered, keep a constant track of all your links to make sure they are all proper.

Wrapping Up:

If you are remotely related to SEO and the techniques of digital marketing, you would know everything about Google Webmaster guidelines. Google takes its policies very seriously and one of its major motives is to provide high-quality content to its users.

Google will penalize and sometimes even block any website or any source that violates its guidelines in any manner. A lot of early websites or low-quality websites which thought getting traffic would be easy, all got penalized by Google Penguin update.

Sometimes you do not even realize that you have created spamming backlinks and get penalized by Penguin. In such cases do the above steps and then make sure you blindly follow white hat SEO practices.

Only that can help you from getting further penalized or warned or your website from getting blocked permanently.

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