Google Update: Penguin – The End of SEO?

Google Update 2012 April - Penguin - The End of SEOThere is nothing like jumping on the bandwagon, the latest update to the Google algo was aimed at getting rid of yet more “Web Spam”. It all sounds good so far, so why are so many SEO’s saying this is the New Panda and the end of SEO?
Are they all just being a little stupid, jumping on the bandwagon and actually being the sheep of the web? Answer: Yes.

What is a Search Update?

Before I delve into this subject to deeply I want to explain what an update is, why it’s important to keep track of them and why they can get some SEO’s into a flap.

An Update is at it’s most basic form a change to the formula (or parts of said formula) used to give each webpage a search ranking. From this ranking you get listed on search results pages. If you want to know more about how SEO works check out this video.

Updates from Google and Bing are many and often, indeed its believed Google will roll out close to 500 updates each year. Occasionally though, a bunch of updates will form together to create a larger update and these often have names like Venice, Panda and now Penguin. More often than not the updates are named after someone in the Google search team, I am not sure about Penguin or Panda though.

When a Big update rolls out it can often cause a stir in the SEO communities across the web because in general a few % will be banished from search results, punished or just drop ranking – though it’s likely just as many will gain from a given update. The Panda Update in 2011 for example downgraded lots of article websites and the worth of the links they gave and so lots of websites lost decent rankings and so lots of moaning ensued. So there you have it, that is what an update is.

Meet Penguin, Google’s Latest Update

On April 24th Google rolled out Penguin, an update / tweak to the algorithm to cut down on what it called web spam. Note: this is not the “over-seo update” @mattcutts referred to at south by south west earlier in the month.

In this update the aim is simple: to removed spam websites which are being used to manipulate search rankings.

The idea is sound and has done well in cutting the web spam seen by many. I snook out of my Lycos 30 day challenge for 5 mins to try a few tests and found that sites with 50 links saying the same thing at the bottom of a page removed, I saw link directories gone and I saw scraper sites gone for the most part. For me this update has worked well, none of my seo clients have been hit by this and nor would I expect them to be.

However, for a tiny proportion of websites (as with Panda) the update has caused update due to lowering of rank. In an even smaller amount of cases these are genuine websites and Google’s Matt Cutts admits that. Matt issues a tweet (below) which links to a form where you can tell @Google why you think you’ve wrongly been hit by the update, it will be reviewed and you could see the update reversed for your site or at least ranking restored.


But be warned such a link could also trap you if you are a spammer. Using the form would mean a manual review and if it’s decided you are spam or a spammer you could end up even worse off. You’ve been warned.

Moving the Goal Posts

If you’ve owned a website for sometime or are an SEO who has been in the field for sometime you will know that Google is forever moving the goal posts. You will also know lots of SEO’s are likely to moan across the web about how they were hit by this or that, but actually if you look into what they say it was fair they were hit by the update.

The solution to not being knocked down by these updates from Google, Bing or even Facebook is to “be good”. Do not go building stupid numbers of links on bad websites, crap forums, doing vast amounts of pointless commenting on blogs, buying links etc. But you should build great content, build a great website structure, build good solid links that will last and of course interact with consumers on social media.

What are your thoughts on Google Panda?