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What Is Google Penguin?

Google’s Penguin update was first rolled out in April 2012 as a new way to reward high-quality websites and downgrade the rankings of websites that engaged in black-hat SEO techniques such as manipulative link schemes and keyword stuffing.

Prior to the Penguin update, many website and blog owners used “spammy” tactics such as using link farms (which are deceptive backlink placements) and used tools to rewrite (read: steal) online articles so they could produce their own blog posts without putting in any real effort. This had a serious impact on the quality of the websites that were ranking on top of search engine results pages (SERPs), as these sites were nothing more than poorly designed, poorly written, and poorly delivered marketing vehicles for the site owners.

Google was not pleased. After all, their search engine was supposed to deliver organic results that answered a user’s query, not serve as unwanted ads. The company decided to take action by developing and rolling out a new algorithm update for their search engine: Penguin.

Penguin hit spammy websites with the intensity of a dinosaur-killing meteor. The first rollout in April 2012 impacted 3.1% of English language search engine queries. Between 2012 and 2016, Penguin went through 10 updates, as it learned how to better address the black-hat practices plaguing the internet. In 2017, Penguin became a part of Google’s core algorithm.


Which Black Hat SEO Practices Did Penguin Address?

Link schemes: The outright purchase of backlinks from low-quality or unrelated websites, or by developing links in niches that are completely unrelated to yours.

Keyword stuffing: Inserting an unnaturally high number of keywords and their variations throughout your website. Keyword-stuffed content sounds forced or artificial, and is clearly aimed at gaming the search engines for higher rankings.


Is Penguin a Google Penalty?

You must have realized by now that Penguin, is in fact not a Google penalty. However, if you’re still confused, it helps by understanding what a Google penalty actually is. When your site gets a Google penalty, it either affects few of your pages (as is the case with manual penalties) or it affects your whole site (when you get hit by an algorithmic penalty).

In either case, your search engine results suffer. Your keywords do not get a search engine ranking causing your site to drop out of search results. You lose out on your target audience as a result of Google penalties. Google penalizes your site when it detects too many spam and bad links on your website or when the content is low quality. Mobile unfriendliness is another factor. Too many keywords or misplaced anchor text also can be the cause of a Google penalty. You can read this article to learn how to tell if your website’s been hit by a Google penalty.


How to Recover From Penguin

If your website has been affected by the Penguin update, all you have to do is fix the issues that Penguin’s on the lookout for and you’ll be on the road to recovery. Sounds fair, right?

Here’s what you can do to recover from Penguin:

  • Clean up your backlink profile by removing all unnatural links, such as links from low-quality sites and irrelevant niches.
  • If you can’t remove a link, at least disavow it.
  • Review your content to see if it sounds natural. Are there places where your content sounds less like a person talking and more like a bot trying to repeat certain keywords? That’s keyword stuffing – get rid of it.



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