Update on Penguin 2.0

Rockhopper Penguins

Google rolled out Penguin 2.0 in mid-May to great trepidation. Website owners and SEOs are understandably skittish when it comes to cute black-and-white animals. Have the effects of the algorithm update been major as feared, or have the vast majority of websites escaped unscathed?

The first iteration of the algo change targeted unnatural links, and Matt Cutts indicated earlier this year that the changes brought in with Penguin 2.0 would be significant.   According to Glenn Gabe of G-Squared Interactive, who conducted an analysis of thirteen sites believed to have been affected by Penguin 2.0, Google went “deeper” into that territory, but not “broader.” That is, unnatural links are still a target, but other webspam factors, such as scraped content or keyword stuffing, do not appear to be.

Note: that doesn’t mean you can start content scraping or keyword stuffing! It just means that Penguin 2.0 seems to be targeting unnatural links. Google spiders are still on the lookout for hundreds of other factors.

In his analysis, Gabe found obvious attempts to game the system. Particularly blatant were links with exact match anchor text. Some sites had thousands of such links, which featured “money keywords.” Unlike Penguin 1.0, which only examined the homepage link profile, 2.0 examines the linking profiles of pages deeper into sites.

The good news is that the damage appears to be limited to sites obviously engaged in spammy practices. Unlike some previous updates, there seems to be little in the way of collateral damage. A drop in traffic doesn’t necessarily indicate that Penguin 2.0 is the cause, but it is worth examining your link profiles and removing as many suspicious links as possible.

The Link Disavow Tool can be used, if necessary. Unlike a manual penalty, algorithmic penalties can be “lifted” when your link profile is cleaned, Google runs the algorithm again, and it re-indexes your site.

Leave a Comment