Google has attempted to be as open and honest as possible in regards to its search algorithm, but when in-house tweaks lead to plummeting page rank, Webmasters will come calling. The latest (relatively quiet) uproar has been named the Penguin update and it’s an attempt to quiet webspam.
“In the pursuit of higher rankings or traffic, a few sites use techniques that don’t benefit users, where the intent is to look for shortcurts of loopholes that would rank pages higher than they deserve to be ranked,” Google engineer Matt Cutt said via the company’s search blog. “We see all sorts of webspam techniques ever day, from keyword stuffing to link schemes that attempt to propel sites higher in rankings.”
According to Cutts, so-called “white hat” SEO tactics won’t suffer from the changes, and while the scope of this update is rather large (it will affect 3.1 percent of search queries), it’s no Panda (which affected 12-percent).
All of the things that Penguin is punishing have been targeted in algorithm updates before, but it’s likely that Google is trying to use new, perhaps better, methods. What those methods might be, however, remain unknown. Google is tight-lipped when it comes to the secret sauce behind search, but the general consensus appears to be that Penguin is an attempt to close some loopholes that sites have been exploiting.
The Penguin update comes at the same time as Panda refresh, so the results are a little difficult to interpret, but there are still some early winners and losers predictions. You can see the list below, which was formatted by SearchMetrics.
So what do you do if your site has been punished? Same as always: improve your content. Google has said time and time again being a source of fresh content and limiting your linking is the path to better page rank. Of course this hasn’t always proven true, so the advice is to be taken with a grain of salt. Still, in response to negative reactions, Google has a form to collect feedback – and if that’s not enough, you can sign the “Google: Please kill your Penguin update!” petition.