Google Penguin & Why Links Matter for SEO

What Was Google Penguin?

Happy National Penguin day. Everyone loves penguins, don’t they? Everyone apart from black hat SEO companies and those trying to game Google. Why? Because on 24th April 2012 Google unleashed the Google Penguin update that completely changed the SEO landscape.

Why Was Google Penguin Released?

If you want your website to rank highly in the Google search results then inbound links to your website are key. Before the Google Penguin Search Algorithm update, it was generally a question of scale. The more links you had, regardless of quality of those links, the higher your website would rank. That all changed with Google Penguin update.

Google was aware that it was too easy to game the link graph and that web 2.0 had opened the door to link spam on an industrial scale. Google had to sort our link spam so that the organic search results returned high quality sites.

“The update was aimed at decreasing the search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using now declared Grey Hat SEM techniques involved in increasing artificially the ranking of a webpage by manipulating the number of links pointing to the page. Such tactics are commonly described as link schemes. According to Google’s John Mueller, as of 2013, Google announced all updates to the Penguin filter to the public.”

The objective of the Penguin algorithm was for Google to gain greater control over, and reduce the impact of, link spam.

Penguin focused on ensuring that natural, authoritative and relevant links rewarded the websites they pointed to, while manipulative and spammy links were downgraded; and if there were too many spammy links a site could suffer a manual penalty.

What Was the Impact of Penguin?

Penguin sent shockwaves through the SEO industry. Google’s official figures are that Penguin impacted around 3% of English search queries. This seem like a small amount but when you consider there are approximately 3.5 billion searches a day on Google, then 3% is roughly 105,000,000 searches.

What Makes a Spammy Link in The of Penguin?

Penguin used a number of metrics to measure the quality of a link including the following:

Link schemes – the development, acquisition or purchase of backlinks from low-quality or unrelated websites

Private Blog Networks (PBNs) – A private blog network (PBN) is a network of websites that place a high quantity of links to another website. These link networks consist of low-quality links designed to manipulate search engine rankings.

Keyword stuffing in anchor text – Keyword stuffing in anchor text is the black hat tactic of loading a link’s anchor text with several keywords, or using the identical keyword in link after link. Keywords that are related to a product or service and not the brand name of the business. IE “Plumber in Bristol” or “New Order CDs”.

Link Building Post Penguin?

Penguin changed the way in which link building needs to be carried out. Get link building wrong and the effects can be devastating for a website. Building poor quality links can see individual pages or whole domains drop in rankings and business levels decimated as a result.

Websites now need few links to rank well but these links need to be relevant, good quality, on topic with clean anchor text.

Dentons Digital have an expert team of link builders who can help you build new links, clean up old link profiles and guide you through the complex process of building links in a post Penguin world.

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About The Author

Tony Heywood

Tony Heywood

Tony manages the Search Marketing Team at Dentons Digital. He has over 15 years’ experience in SEO and is passionate about helping businesses grow online.  Tony is Google Analytics Qualified and loves website data, behavioural economics and UX. He is also part time football coach and local community radio DJ.

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