Last Tuesday, Google quietly unveiled a new algorithm update that is intended to target and subsequently help to eliminate webspam. Dubbed the “Penguin Update”, this particular change is taking aim primarily at link farms, spun articles and keyword stuffing, which are all known to be utilized by practitioners of black hat SEO techniques.
Although the Penguin Update is seen by many as merely an extension of the Panda series of updates, it is designed as more of an evolution of Panda. Penguin identifies spam and differentiates it from relevant content in the SERPs more effectively and efficiently than its predecessor. Thus far, roughly 3% of search queries have been affected by Penguin. While that figure pales in comparison to Panda’s 12%, the pages penalized by the more recent update were previously ranking for highly spammed keywords. Google is clearly setting its sights on black hat SEOs and black hat practices and both the Panda and Penguin updates are essentially changing search engine optimization on a long-term basis.
However, these changes should be welcomed by white hat optimizers as they work in favor of SEOs that emphasize high-quality content. The creation and implementation of relevant on-page content and search engine-friendly HTML code are going to be more crucial than ever as it pertains to organic rankings. Additionally, factors such as domain names and backlinks are being more carefully analyzed by Google.
The Penguin Update marks another innovation for Google and is likely to be just one of many algorithm changes impacting “over-optimization” strategies. Even sites which have not been affected by Penguin should continue to monitor their rankings in the months ahead, as any future updates could impose more stringent guidelines on pages and their content. While no online marketers may be able to accurately predict the future, quality is a core principle of white hat optimization and will always produce the best results in any campaign.