Google calls it Penguin 2.0 because there are major changes to the way the algorithm works but for us normal folks, this is the 4th Penguin update we’ve had so far. There are two bits to this update:



  1. A data refresh – If you’ve managed to decrease the amount of spammy backlinks to your site, then great, that would be reflected in your rankings but if you’ve acquired more bad links or did not manage to get rid of those links which are hurting your website, then you will either be more affected or won’t see any change. External links are the hardest to control but remember over optimisation of On-Page elements will trigger a penalty as well.
  2. Algorithm change – It seems the Penguin algorithm got better at detecting spam, well that’s what they claim. So new signals are being incorporated (not sure what they are) and their spam detection techniques have been improved. Hence they call it a major update.

Have I been affected?

Hell yes! A couple of sites I own have plummeted in rankings. I’d say the traffic have decreased by nearly 50%. Obviously I’m not happy about that but what is more frustrating is the fact I hardly build links to these sites anyway. Notice the word “hardly” which I’ve used and that’s because sometimes when I’m on a blog (with great content) which is relevant to the niche of my website(s), I tend to leave a comment on the page. More ever than not, I will enter my company/brand name rather than  my personal name but my brand name does not have any keywords in it. For example, the name could be something like “AirBubble” for a site which deals with web design, so there’s no way I’m trying to leverage the power of anchor text to increase rankings. My line of thought is to create brand awareness out there and in a month, I’d be lucky if I have been able to comment on 10 different blogs.

So what do I think about it all?

To me, it either seems Penguin is too strict or the people behind the algo have got something really wrong this time. Assuming there’s been no other algorithm change, it means all lost rankings can be attributed to Penguin itself. And if my websites are not acquiring many links (let alone spammy ones), then the algo is flawed.

It might still be too early to jump to conclusions but things are not looking right at the moment. Some SEOs have the tendency to blame others about being involved in black/grey hat techniques and hence they have been penalised but that’s not always true and if you’re one of them to think Google Updates are 100% accurate, you’re very ignorant. Many times, genuine websites get caught in filters just like when fishing for crabs, you might end up with unwanted fish and therefore it is foolish to assume a perfect win/win situation for everyone. The change might be correct for 95% of webmasters but that 5% innocent websmaters who got trapped unfairly can have their businesses ruined overnight.

My conclusion

Just like with any other Google updates, you will need to read and follow what other webmasters are reporting and try to locate the problem which is causing a drop in your rankings and find a solution for it. This is not as easy as it sounds unfortunately but the good thing about algorithm changes is that once you know what is triggering the penalty and can fix it, you’ll be released when the algo is renewed.

If your website has been affected negatively or you have benefited from this update, please let us know in the comments.



24/May/2013

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