Google’s Penguin Update Nails Spammers

- May 8, 2012

Google has recently launched its biggest algorithm update since the Panda update from last year. It’s called Penguin and it’s another way Google is actively fighting search spam.

While Panda primarily targeted shallow content, Penguin is specifically an anti-spam update that is punishing sites for techniques like keyword stuffing (using the exact same keyword an excessive amount of times on a page) and cloaking (showing a version of a webpage to a crawler that is different from what a human user sees). It’s easy to see if your site has been affected by Penguin. Just look at your Google Analytics page. Watch the data for April 24, when Penguin went live. Affected sites will see a sharp, immediate drop in traffic — indicating a Penguin penalization.

There has been some buzz about Google launching an update to penalize sites that have been “over-optimized.” Penguin looks to be just that, however the term “over-optimization” is a bit of misnomer. Sites that have followed a balanced, white-hat SEO plan will be negatively affected by Penguin. Sites that have excessively optimized via keyword stuffing need to watch out for Penguin.

It is possible you may have been keyword stuffing by accident with no intent to spam or otherwise game the system. Take the following URL as an example: product page/blue widgets/size10widgets.aspx

It seems like a perfectly normal e-commerce site ticking off product category progression, right? However, Penguin may see it as stuffed with the keyword “widget.” A preferable URL would be: product page/blue/size10.aspx

Another stuffing technique Penguin is looking for is internal links on your site that point to the same webpage using the same anchor text every time. When writing the copy for you pages, you’ll want to use synonyms for your primary keywords for the best optimization. This not only helps people using different search terms find your content, but it helps you avoid keyword stuffing as well. By balancing your SEO plan and producing quality content, you will be able to rank higher and avoid any Penguin penalties.

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