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What is Google Penguin?

Google Penguin was an algorithm update that demoted the rankings of sites that engaged in manipulative link-building schemes. The update targeted sites with many low-quality backlinks and sites that engaged in keyword stuffing. 

In a blog post announcing the update, Google mentioned that Penguin would affect sites that engaged in subtle spamming practices that are hard to detect without deeply analyzing the webpage. These sites appear to engage in white hat SEO on the surface but will be uncovered as webspam on closer inspection.

Timeline of the Google Penguin Update

Google released the first Penguin update on April 24, 2012. At the time, Google said the Penguin update was going to affect 3.1% of English search queries and 3% of queries in languages like Arabic, Chinese, and German.

However, Google added that it expected this to rise in languages that are more heavily spammed, for example, Polish, which was expected to see a 5% change in queries.  

Google released several updates to the Penguin system until September 23, 2016, when it mentioned that Penguin had become part of its core algorithm. This means Penguin is now updated in real-time.

Before adding Penguin to its core algorithm, sites that improved their content after getting hit by a Penguin update only recovered when another update was released to the Penguin system. 

Penguin also got granular when it was added to the core algorithm. This means that instead of penalizing the entire site for spammy content, Google now targets and demotes the specific pages or parts of the site that contain spam.

Types of Sites Affected by Google Penguin

Penguin specifically targeted sites that engaged in link schemes that violated Google’s quality guidelines. Some of these manipulative link schemes include:

Paid Links: Paid links are hyperlinks that are obtained in exchange for money or other forms of compensation. These links are intended to boost a site’s search engine ranking by increasing its authority and link popularity.

Tarnung: Cloaking is a deceptive SEO technique in which a site presents different content or URLs to its human visitors and search engines. The site manipulates search engine rankings by showing high-quality content to search engines while delivering low-quality and less relevant content to visitors. 

Link Farms: Link farms are groups of sites created solely to build artificial backlinks to one another. These sites typically contain meaningless or irrelevant content and deliver little value to visitors. 

Keyword-Stuffing: Keyword stuffing is a practice wherein content contains excessive amounts of keywords. The keywords are often irrelevant and out of context, making the article sound unnatural and hard to understand. 

Spammy Anchor Texts: Spammy anchor text refers to the practice of using excessively optimized or irrelevant keywords in the clickable text of a hyperlink. In the case of webspam, the anchor text is typically unrelated and irrelevant to the rest of the page’s content. 

Benefits of the Google Penguin Update

The Google Penguin update marked a significant shift in how Google handles webspam and manipulative SEO practices. It was important for Google, searchers, and bloggers. We will now address a few benefits of the update below. 

1 Improved Quality of Search Results

The Google Penguin update significantly improved the quality of content returned on search results pages. Before Penguin, search results pages sometimes contained irrelevant, unhelpful, low-quality pages that left searchers with a negative user experience. 

2 Encouraged Ethical SEO Practices

The Penguin update led to a more level playing field, where high-quality content and legitimate SEO strategies were rewarded while low-quality content that ranked using black hat SEO techniques was demoted. This motivated bloggers and SEOs using white hat SEO techniques. 

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