The brand new Penguin Update comprises the search engine mammoth’s latest set of algorithms implied to check spam, cloaks and likewise fraudulence on the web, that have been menaces when it comes to safe and quality web browsing.

Google Penguin Update
Photo Courtesy: Jeremy Kunz

But as with all the human creations, this one too had caused an uproar among many websites, which were hit by the update and is no longer listed on Google Search results. In case you are in a way confused what this fuss is all about, I will try to help you out a little bit in explaining what Penguin is and how can you avoid it affecting your website.

What is Google’s Penguin Update?

First and foremost, it is important to know what all Google Penguin will cover, as in adult material or deceit on the web. Spamming, cloaking and ‘over keyword optimization’ are the common activities that are busted by Penguin. It is not that Google is doing this for the first time, they were all along trying to improve their algorithms with each updates, and Penguin seems the most potent of all.

Spamming includes hidden links, phishing and sneaky redirects. Cloaking includes loading pages with irrelevant keywords, and deceiving users by providing different content to search engine than which is actually published in the site. Spamming and cloaking, if found could do serious damage to site viewership. Websites engaged in malicious activity like dispatching viruses and Trojans are immediately excluded from the list. Google’s Penguin update would not entertain substantial duplication of content.
However, there is a chance that your site is hit by the Penguin for no fault you are aware. Recheck your site for ‘cookie cutter’ contents and other possible over-the-top SEO, if you are damn sure that you are neither spamming nor cloaking.

If your site traffic has reduced to a great extent lately, it could be because Penguin is at work. Google does report some spamming offences through mail, but you have no direct way of knowing this unless they do so. If your search-related traffic has reduced recently you can assume Google has penalized you.

In fact, dates are important if you want to confirm the truth. Penguin came into full swing on April 24, and if you find a drop in traffic from this date onwards, the case is clear. However, if you find the same has happened from April 19th, the reason may be the 3.5 version update Google has added to its Panda algorithm. Panda Update deals with a completely different issue than the Penguin; it checks quality of the substance in the website.

What can be Done?

Sadly, there is little chance your site will be reinstated in the search results if you are found guilty. You may try a reconsideration request via Google Webmaster Central, but it is likely to bring no effect. Google stated that it will be an algorithm-driven penalty. It is an automatic change and a manual exception can never be made.

Unfortunately, this was also the case if Google is exiling you for its own fault. But lately the head of Google’s web spam team, Matt Cutts, shared a ‘form‘ via Twitter for feedback on false charges. I hope this could bring up some results. You can also notify Google if you have found a spam page worth reporting via another form.

However, Penguin is expected to bring a great deal of quality control to the search engine giant’s operation. Honesty is the best policy will work well here for the website owners. You will be spared from Penguin attack if your content is original and optimize your site for users, but not search engines.

Deviating from online gimmicks for search engine rankings, avoiding unauthorized links and affiliations would be worthwhile for long-term existence in the web world.

List of Penguin Updates Till Now

  • Penguin Update 1.1 or Penguin Update 1 – This update took place on April 24, 2012.
  • Penguin Update 1.2 or Penguin Update 2 – This update took place on May 26, 2012.
  • Penguin Update 3 – Friends at SEL changed the numbering scheme to be more generic. So from now on it would be simple. This update took place on Oct. 5, 2012.
  • Penguin Update 4 – Aka Penguin Update 2.0 named by the Anti-Spam Man himself. This update took place on May 22, 2013 and affected 2.3% of the English-US queries. First hand loser analysis by SearchMetrics can be found here.
  • Penguin Update 5 – Aka Penguin Update 2.1. This update took place on October 4, 2013 and Matt Cutts tweeted that this would affect ~1% of searches to a noticeable degree.

Updated: October 4, 2013.