May 29, 2014

What is Penguin Update and How to Get Over It?

Penguin Update Recovery
A "Penguin Update" is a name for Google’s change in organic search result algorithm, which can change the ranking of many websites involved in deceitful link building activities. During this update, Google verifies all the links pointing towards a website on various parameters and downgrades/upgrades the search engine ranking of that website.

The period of 2010-2012 can be termed as a revolution in the field of link building. Almost all the website owners used to follow it as a ritual in SEO and ignored the quality of links they were building. But doing anything in excess definitely hurts one or the other day, which actually happened when more and more websites with poor user experience started outranking high quality websites in search results, which in turn made Google to take strict actions against those websites.

Following are the confirmed penguin updates shared by Google so far:

Penguin 1: On April 24, 2012 (effecting around 3.1% of queries)
Penguin 2: On May 26, 2012 (effecting about 0.1% queries)
Penguin 3: On October 5, 2012 (effecting around 0.3% of queries)
Penguin 4 i.e. Penguin 2.0: On May 22, 2013 (effecting 2.3% of queries)
Penguin 5 i.e. Penguin 2.1: On October 4, 2013 (effecting around 1% of queries)

Reasons for Getting Hit by Penguin

  1. Building backlinks in irrelevant or poorly built websites. 
  2. Unnatural growth in backlinks due to automation or bulk link building. 
  3. Building hidden links and hidden texts. 
  4. More than half of the inbound links are anchored to targeted keywords rather than brand name. 
  5. Backlinks from articles and guest posts with thin or duplicate content. 
  6. Backlinks from link farms or link networks. 
  7. Meaningless use of keywords in comments, user names, page titles and footer links.

If you noticed any decline in your regular website traffic, since any of the above listed penguin updates, then your website might be facing a penalty. Though there is no good news on massive success of websites recovering from this update, but there are few actions you must perform before submitting your website for reconsideration.

How to Defend The Website

  1. Learn about hummingbird update of Google. Adhering to both the updates will give you maximum benefits.
  2. Identify and remove offending backlinks if you have access or request the link owner to remove it from their websites. Disavow tool should be very last of the last options if nothing works.
  3. Don’t seize SEO activities, but totally keep it under Google’s webmaster guidelines.
  4. Create and promote quality content to earn social links.
  5. Acquire links from high quality and influential platforms.
  6. Build brand name links in higher proportion than keyword based links.
  7. Don’t use the disavow tool unless you have tried all the other options of bad link removal.
  8. Kill unnecessary and poor content pages on your site.
  9. Shift towards optimizing user experience of your website.
  10. Master the art of building linkable asset.
  11. Remain vigilant to the addition of backlinks to your site.
  12. Publish articles to share knowledge and value rather than multiple links. 
  13. Minimize the number of new links as much as possible; build rankings slowly.
  14. Turn off any link building automation immediately.
  15. Use different keywords to link back from article published on different platforms.
  16. If you think your links are lying on quality sites, then just work on anchor text.
  17. Narrow the number of blog posts for each keyword in your website.
The websites churned under last penguin update are struggling big time to get their lost ranking back, so please take Google seriously and withdraw any activity carried to trick the search algorithms. To keep your website safe from any update, follow ethical SEO practices.

Please let me know through comments, if I forgot to mention any important point here.

For Further Reading:

33 Search Engine Optimization Points for Beginners
50 Inspirational Marketing & Advertising Quotes

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image : detanan/


  1. Thanks for sharing this useful information..

    SEO Training

  2. It's good to know that there's Google Penguin where spammers are penalized. Copying of content is a no no and is not acceptable for the real authors. I'm really impressed with your article. I would like to thank you for sharing these guidelines. It would help me a lot in my internet marketing course.