Those who have heard of search engine optimisation but aren’t to confident about it may have come across something called the “Penguin” algorithm during the course of your research. For those who are perhaps unfamiliar with SEO all of this talk of backlinks and penalties can be somewhat intimidating. With that in mind we thought we would try to break it down a little bit and explain exactly what Penguin is and how it could affect your website.
So what is Penguin?
Penguin is essentially an update to Google’s general search algorithm that allows the company to keep better tabs on a website’s backlinks. A backlink is essentially a link from one website to your own and Google wants every backlink pointing towards your website to have been created naturally. This means that you, as a siteowner, must not have had any personal interaction that resulted in the creation of the link. While this isn’t a solid rule, and there is leeway for sites that need to place their links on other organisations pages, the intent is to prevent websites from building thousands of poor quality links.
Why did Google implement it?
Simply put the company had identified an issue whereby siteowners were building tons of poor backlinks to their websites. These links were given a certain amount of weight in the search algorithm and thus could be used to manipulate search rankings in favour of a particular site. However, because these links had been built manually, rather than gained through the natural quality of the website, Google took the view that websites using these tactics were often looking to inflate their search engine rankings, which could in turn mean that Google would be serving inferior results to the people using their search engine. It is important to remember at this point that Google’s customer is not the website owner. It is the person making a search using their search engine.
What effects can Penguin have?
Penguin can have a number of effects depending on the backlink profile of your website. If your website has a profile that contains lots of links from online directories, poor quality article sites, blog comments and similar then there is every possibility that Penguin will cause your website to drop in the search rankings. If the site is identified to be a particularly bad offender it may even be manually punished by Google and removed from the results entirely.
It’s not all bad though. Penguin can also have a positive effect on the position of your site. For one, if websites above yours are being penalised, that means that your site should have the potential to rise further up the rankings. As such, assuming your site keeps a relatively natural backlink profile, over time you should see improved results. This is especially the case as Penguin is refreshed every so often to account for new sites and changing backlink profiles.
So in essence Penguin is Google’s attempt to ensure that all websites only have backlinks from natural sources. It is by no means 100% effective, and many site owners could point to examples of websites that haven’t been caught out yet, however at the same time it signifies Google’s intent when it comes to website ranking over the next few years.