Understanding the Penguin Update and Its Effects on Your Website

Google is in the business of making sure its search results are the most relevant to a searcher. If they're not, then searchers won't want to use Google and will use Bing, Yahoo!, or other services. So, in an attempt to make sure these results come from authentic, high-quality websites, Google tinkers with its algorithms constantly.

One major tinkering came in the form of the Google Penguin Update, launched in April, 2012. The Penguin Update targeted a specific way website owners were attempting to game the system and attract traffic away from websites that were creating genuine, high-quality content – using illicit link building strategies  to boost web ranking.

Here, we'll talk about the Penguin Update and explain how your web ranking can suffer if you use the same link building strategies Google has become determined to punish.

What is the Penguin Update?

What is the Google Penguin Update?The Penguin Update is an attempt by Google to punish websites who are cheating, essentially, to generate lots of backlinks to their website (among other black-hat SEO tactics). After its release in April, the update affected just over 3.1% of English searches, which translates into a tremendous number of websites. Subsequent updates have also impacted web rankings for thousands of websites.

A backlink is a link that goes from somewhere else on the internet to your website. It is a way people on other websites and online properties can make it to your website. Google figures that if a website has a link to your website, it sees value in what is on your site – and so will users. So, it rewards websites with high-quality backlinks from other websites that are relevant and authoritative.

To lower the web ranking of websites that make use of “cheating” to gain backlinks and pull traffic away from higher-quality websites, the Penguin Update penalizes websites that make use of:

  • Purchased backlinks from websites that exist solely to generate them
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Doorway pages that exist solely to appear high in a results page, not provide information (they frequently    link to other pages as a way to drive traffic to them)
  • Hidden or invisible links
  • Creating shell websites that all link to each other

How Bad Link Building Strategies Hurt Web Ranking

The above list is an example of what goes on with bad link building strategies that are only used to generate traffic against Google's guidelines.

The temptation to use these and other techniques is understandable; after all, traffic is the lifeblood of a website. But if you use link building strategies that go around Google's guidelines, your web ranking will suffer.

For example, website owners try to find any way they possibly can to get links back to their website. Throwing out a bunch of bland, unoriginal, and unhelpful content to submit to an article directory for a backlink is one method (Google frowns on these websites).

What Google does is essentially “black list” a website for being unauthoritative, irrelevant, and a source of spam. Any website that is connected to that black-listed website, then, is guilty by association. Google assumes these connected websites are the same and doesn't rate them as highly.

How You Can Improve Your Web Ranking

Link Building Strategies to Improve your RankingFortunately, there are plenty of good, helpful link building strategies that can stay free of the Penguin Update penalty and boost web rankings. 

Look to connect with authoritative websites in your field or topic. A reputable and popular blog is one source; try and get a guest blog post with them. Also, take advantage of social media, and use it to distribute unique, original content you've created. Give others a reason to affiliate themselves with your website.

The key is to promote your website online so other websites see it as valuable. If you hang out with the right crowd of other experts, you'll be able to gain a lot of good attention from Google by association. These high-quality links back to your site, then, set you apart.

Learn more about how EntrepreneurWeb.com can help you generate high-quality backlinks the right way. Contact us to get started.

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