Google’s Latest Algorithm Change: Enter the Penguin

On April 24, 2012, Google does what it does hundreds of times a year: tweaked its search algorithm. These pass unnoticed most of the time, but the exceptions tend to send website owners into a panic. Are we angering the search gods? Is Google going to penalise us? The “Penguin” update, as it has been nicknamed, rolled out in late April in an effort to fight webspam. Google indicated that just 3 percent of sites would be affected; has this turned out to be the case?

It depends who you ask. According to Business Insider: “The effects of this algorithm update have been felt far and wide, and certainly have damaged what feels like, to many people, more than 3% of queries….Though a Penguin is a much smaller and seemingly less menacing animal, the algorithm change is proving, for some, to be as devastating as Panda was.” But what is the problem? If your site isn’t spammy, you should be all set, right?

That’s not necessarily true; Comcast, a major provider of cable television and internet services, saw its visibility drop by about 31 percent. The site in question is clearly not spam; it has information for customers and potential customers on products, programming, and deals. Digg and Dictionary.com were other legitimate sites to receive a hammering courtesy of the adorable, harmless Penguin.

What to do if your site has been affected, too? First, determine that the Penguin update is the reason why your site seems to have been penalised. Do a link audit and see which sites are linking to you. Are they of low quality? This impacts your search rank. Have you inadvertently overused keywords, do you have duplicate content, outdated content? Have you purchased links with exact anchor text matches?

In addition to this, focus on social media to boost organic search and concentrate on building your presence there to complement the traffic you receive from Google. Algorithm changes are a part of web life; check in a few weeks and see if you’ve budged.

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