Whether Google had one of Batman’s nemeses on the brain when they named their most recent algorithm change, or just wanted to keep with the black-and-white “P” animal theme they’ve been working with since the Panda update, we may never know. What we do know, is that approximately 3.1% of all queries have been affected by the Penguin update, which until now was simply called the “Over-Optimization Update.”
Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Web-Spam team, announced back in March at SXSW that this update was on its way, causing a lot of website owners and SEOs alike to worry. Speculation about what “over-optimization” really entailed ran rampant across the Web. For a while it seemed like maybe any optimization would be too much and would be penalized. Luckily, Cutts recently clarified that Google really wasn’t going to target any site that had user-considerate SEO.
What exactly the Penguin update is targeting has started to become clear:
-Manipulative internal links (site-wide links, spammy footers, etc.) and keyword stuffing
-Shady backlinks (think spam blog comments, forum signatures)
-Too much exact-match anchor text
This update shouldn’t hit as many sites as hard as Panda did, which affected around 12% of search queries, because honestly most of these things are just terrible practices. Penguin’s focus seems to be links more than content, which Google can take a much less subjective look at. However, some sites have unfairly been penalized and Google is ready to admit it can make mistakes. If you think your site has wrongfully been affected by the update, which rolled out on April 24th, don’t hesitate to appeal to the Web Spam team itself.
And if you think you might have been affected but aren’t quite sure whether or not you did anything to deserve it, check out this video from Rand Fishkin over at SEOmoz detailing what site owners should do to save themselves from Google’s wrath.