Googles latest algorithm update – Penguin

19th Dec 2014

The big news in search engine land this month has been Google’s roll out of the Penguin 3 algorithm update. You may have heard about it already, and there’s an awful lot of chatter and contrasting information on the web to get your head around. But don’t worry; we’ve read and digested the most trusted sources on your behalf to give you a concise summary. So read on to find out what Penguin means to you as a website owner.

Penguins, Pandas, Pigeons – what’s it all about?

Google use many signals and sources of information to decide what your website should be found for and how highly it should rank. To this extent, the search engine uses a collection of algorithms to make decisions about your site; some relating directly to your site and some indirect. The Penguin algorithm looks specifically at incoming links to your website – it looks at where your site, or pages of it, are mentioned and assesses the quality of the external sites referencing yours. The aim of the algorithm is to identify spammy, irrelevant or paid for links, and penalise webmasters who partake in such practices accordingly.

Why all the fuss?

Algorithms are changed regularly to refine and improve search results. The ultimate aim for Google is to offer up the most relevant and useful results to users. Of course, there are unfortunately many webmasters who seek to manipulate search engine positions by exploiting whatever methods they can. Linking is one of the key signals Google use, and Penguin is designed to penalise sites that have indulged in exploitative or spammy linking.

The reason this latest update is making waves is the length of time that has elapsed since the last update. Penguin is not something that runs every time a user enters a search query, it is an algorithm that effectively ‘rolls out’ across the internet in one big convoluted hit. That means that when a site gets hit, to a large extent it stays hit until Penguin revisits. Google have described the latest Penguin update as a ‘refresh’ rather than an overhaul of the earlier algorithm. However, the last major update was a year ago and hit some sites quite hard. There are methods and techniques to recover, the first being to ‘disavow’ unhelpful links, but ultimately penalised site owners have been waiting for the Penguin to revisit and recognise that they’ve now got rid of their spam links.

Will it affect my website?

Ultimately it appears to us that if Penguin was going to cause you problems, it would more than likely have caught you the last time around. The rationale behind this ‘refresh’ of the algorithm seems to have more to do with checking how previously affected sites have responded, rather than seeking to scoop up spammers.

At Realnet your websites are monitored as a matter of course, and we never indulge in any exploitative or ‘blackhat’ practices, neither with the code we write for your site or any ongoing SEO campaigns we run for you.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should not be vigilant. Whether or not you agree with how Google set the rules, they do still own the playground that most people want to play on. If you’ve toyed with the idea of actually paying for links and references on other websites, blogs, etc., then remind yourself that this is against the rules,

and eventually an algorithm named after an animal will track you down and penalise you.

Or you could of course relax, safe in the knowledge that Realnet have you covered. If you do have any concerns, or want to know more about SEO, then do get in touch. We use a number of diagnostic tools to keep an eye on your websites’ general health, but if you spot any symptoms or choose to engage in risky behaviour, then contact us for a check-up. Also, remember to keep an eye on the Realnet blog for tips and information about search engine best practice.

Realnet is an established Cambridge digital agency, we have been helping all sorts of organisations with their online presence since 1998. From website design and ecommerce to digital marketing and PPC campaigns.

Contact us to make your website work harder for you.