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Categories: SEO

About a week ago (24 April 2012), Google announced another update referred as Penguin Update, which is another step to reward high quality sites, according to Official Google Webmaster Central. This is a major update, which significantly impact on a lot of websites since the Google Panda update, despite the claim of affecting around 3% of the queries by Google.

Google penguin

What Is Google Penguin?

The Google Penguin update is essentially a roll out from the over optimization penalty announcement by Google in March 2012. According to the Official Google Webmaster Central:

“The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.”

As per the classic Google style, you will need to refer to their quality guidelines and focus on high quality sites. Subsequently, Google provides an example for keyword spamming, which is not a good example as that kind keyword spamming has been caught by Google many years ago. So, I would think about another advanced level of interpretation about keyword spamming or “over optimization” for on page SEO.

Another example that is provided is about unusual linking pattern, which refers to low quality article spinning with anchor text backlinks. There are a number of blog networks that are hit hard by Google, including the close down of Build My Rank. So, I will expect the over optimization penalty includes the excessive backlinks with anchor text (without much variance), based on the examples given in the Google Webmaster Central.

Penalty Pattern

Unfortunately, so far there isn’t a logic pattern about the penalty based on the ranking of my niche sites and discussion on a number of forums. I have 1 site completely lost the ranking (i.e. beyond page 10) for all keywords. 2 sites lost the ranking for 50% of the keywords. However, the ranking for another 2 sites improved significantly. 90% of the targeted keywords reached the front page ranking from page 2 and page 3.

The sites mentioned above are considered decent quality and not the typical sniper sites with a few pages. Another thing that worth to mention are my old auto blogs, which does not seem to be affected because they are still ranked on the front page of Google for some of the low competitive keywords.

For the decent niche sites, I do use blog networks like Linkvana, Article Ranks and Authority Link Network to build backlinks for each of the site. The reaction of each site varies so I can’t reach a conclusion about the penalty pattern. For the autoblog sites, which I have kinda abandoned for 2 years (except renew the domain) without adding content or building backlinks, are still ranked on the front page of Google.

So far, Google is still tweaking the algorithm and there are a ton of ridiculous sites that ranked on the front page of Google. Feel free to check out the Google Webmaster blog to see the comments with the keywords example if you are interested. Some of those sites mentioned might be disappeared because of the algorithm tweaking.

What’s Next For SEO?

As per Matt Cutts stated in the Google Blog:

“We want people doing white hat search engine optimization (or even no search engine optimization at all) to be free to focus on creating amazing, compelling web sites. As always, we’ll keep our ears open for feedback on ways to iterate and improve our ranking algorithms toward that goal.”

If you believe Google is there to help you when you create amazing content, just stick to it (Yeah, I only need to study hard, get a good job and I will be fine)!

I don’t want to bore you to repeat create good quality content because I know you must hear it every where, plus it is a default to me and nothing to do with SEO.

For the backlinks, I will only do direct linking to my money sites from a high authority sites such as web 2.0 sites and decent article directories such as Ezine Articles and ArticleBase.

Does it mean I will stop using blog network? No… However, I will think twice to link directly to my money sites, which is a risky thing to do since Google is targeting the unusual linking pattern. Instead, I will only use blog networks to link to web 2.0 sites, which eventually link to my money site. I.e. I am using the backlinks as second tier backlinks. Check out the post below for the concept of 2nd tier backlinks:

Web 2.0 sites like YouTube, Squidoo, Hub Pages, etc…are authority sites with tons of links pointing to their domain / pages everyday. Do you think they will be taken down by Google because people building blog networks link to them? I doubt that (It will be funny to see YouTube to be penalized by Google because of the blog networks, lol) . Out websites are a lot different comparing to these web2.0 sites in terms of page rank, authority and traffic and hence we are not immune by the penalty.

Also, get as many social signal as you can via social medias such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc… and bookmarking sites since these are the signals that Google is looking into for SEO purpose.

Negative SEO Alive?

What is negative SEO? An example would be competitors who build tons of spam backlinks (such as forum profile, blog comments, etc…) to your site with the intent to let Google penalize your site so that they will get the benefit to move up in ranking. It is a can of worm that Google was afraid years ago. Once it started, it will never end since competitors will attack the sites that ranked on the first page.

However, since the roll out of the over optimization penalty plus the 750,000 unnatural backlinks warning messages sent out to webmasters, this might become a problem.

Having said that, I will think it is rather a big problem to Google than our problem as the war of negative SEO will get very nasty.

Your Voice

What’s your take on the Google Penguin update? Do you think negative SEO will come alive? What’s your next step for SEO and online marketing? Keen to hear your thoughts! Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving me a comment below.

To Your Success,
Ming Jong Tey

35 Responses to “Google Penguin Update – What’s Next For SEO?”
Read them below or add one

  1. Chris says:

    What I am about to say may seem like a lot of Bull. Since last August when everyone was scrambling around watching their site fall in Serps, getting de indexed, and networks going up in smoke. I was focusing on who was left standing, and who didn’t get touched. I noticed something in the SERPs and I asked myself why they were left standing.

    I looked at all the metrics in clear point a good portion of the sites I looked at should have never have been in the top 10. Clearly sites on the inner pages out weighed many from PR, Index Cache, DA, On Page SEO, Trust backlinks.

    What I found was most shared the same Registrar which is is owned by Thomson Reuters, who’s motto that can be found on their site is to Police and Govern the Global online marketplace.

    Who is registered under

    and many, many others.

    Now you may call this a conspiracy theory. I really don’t care. But lets look at some facts.

    The Internet was an equal librium where any mom and pop site could compete equally along with major corporations and conglomerates. Now though is not the case. On page SEO is near insignificant. Those that deem good back links and are considered good back links are folding into one umbrella. Ever wonder why forbe ranks so well with junk content, take a look at their backlinks and their relationship with those backlinks. You will trace a good portion of those who share markmonitor as a registrar.

    So is this about spam or about control? Are these updates fair, or is it a way to those to get rid of the competition?

    We know the end result. Those with the money and connections will dominate the serps and be able to dominate the market place as well as sway public opinion through media outlets.

    What about the small business man, what about the mom and pop sites.
    Chris recently posted..Auto Pilot Traffic Suite 2.0

    • Ming Jong says:

      @Chris: Hey Chris, thanks for sharing your observation. Some of the authority sites like you mentioned like Wikipedia, Forbes definitely outrank tons of websites, purely based on their supreme authority.

      As we know, Google’s intent is to end search so that they complete their job. If majority users keep go back to Google site after site, certainly those sites will have significant bounce rate and not rewarded by Google. This is something to do with the content quality.

      Most of the time, Wikipedia or Forbes are not the type of sites that I am after. Eventually, Google is still a algorithm trying their best to filter the spam (yeah, the real crappy content) and rank the relevant “quality” sites.

      So, if you are still in the game, just stick to their rules and carry on playing the game :)
      Ming Jong recently posted..Build High Page Rank Backlinks Easily With This Free Backlink Tool

  2. Umar Rashid says:

    I have lost my two websites which where fully optimized, and can’t retrieve them yet. I think there is not any way to get back your position again ever in your life. I have tried out every possible technique. Now shifted to blogger :(.

    • Ming Jong says:

      @Umar Rashid: If you were hit by Penguin, you will need to check the distribution of anchor text profile. Take a look at your competitor sites (top 5 sites) and find out their anchor text variation. You can try the new tool – link disavowal by Google and see if you can remove some bad links. I will only try it out in a month or 2 because we still don’t have any clue what effect can the tool bring to us (could it be a trap to confirm you are manipulating the SEO?)

      I think it is better to find other sources of traffic to supplement SEO but still do whatever we can to optimize the site. Google is constant changing its algo and whatever works today might not work tomorrow (no matter what the courses promise, lol)

      I have updated a generic guide on the anchor text variance when doing link building incorporating the Google Penguin Update, check out the post below:
      Ming Jong recently posted..5 Simple Steps To Write A Converting Web Copy

  3. The next Google Penguin update is going to be beneficial for genuine bloggers, who are writing good content and not involving in link farming. Penguin update is related on link farming issues prominently.

  4. Radu says:

    I don’t know if it was their best move with this update. I understand the need of cutting the unethical websites but they strike them to hard.

    • Ming Jong says:

      @Radu: Yeah, Radu. It is their call for the update…It is also their interest to provide the “quality user experience” to search the information. I have seen some quality sites that I follow drop out from the first page…

      It is just a matter of time for SEO players to catch up the game to please Google.
      Ming Jong recently posted..Track, Analyze And Improve Your Blog

  5. Jake says:

    Now in the world of SEO, nothing is for sure. You can take the lead with no difficulty at all, but you can also land the bottom very easily. Google is not like to old times anymore. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow.

  6. Fahad says:

    After these updates page rank of my blog is increased from 0 to 3. Traffic has also increased.

    Thanks to Google for these updates.

  7. Toddjir says:

    One thing I am starting to take a look at is keywords after the penguin update. After going through some of my blogs, I started to notice a few keywords where I started to wonder if what I wrote about was really relevant or not.

    For example one keyword was “digital marketing agency”. Now, I wrote about how to find one and how to find a good one. But I really started asking myself, if I were searching for this keyword do I really want to see an article like the one I wrote? My answer was no! In searching for that keyword, I want to see results from agencies i can work with. So, I started changing my keyword strategies to really reflect writing content and perfectly matching the keywords.

    I know this seems elementary but since I have started doing this I have seen some lost pages move back up.

    Many of us forget Google wants quality results. So, maybe really start looking at each keyword you use and try and make better use of your keywords. It stinks and it’s just more work but I have seen positive results.
    Toddjir recently posted..The most important way I build backlinks!

  8. shenoyjoseph says:

    after doing some seo techniques my blog is recovering from Google Penguin update. it was most happiest thing in my life and my blog runs with full energy.
    shenoyjoseph recently posted..Top 5 Best Games for iOS 5 Apple iPhone 4S

  9. Back links are secondary to on page relevance , so pay attention. For example if Jim had 100 links, and Joe had, 10, but Joe had more on page relevance, he (Joe) most certainally will appear first.

    Regarding relevance with the new update , it appears you should also post you articles as close to relevancy as possibly , and not be concerned about close categories.

    Other more interesting features of the update you will start hearing about making your contextual links more like a 40% Brand link, 40 Percent Generic Links, and 20 percent Target Linking.

    You should also consider rotating your target keywords base on long tail variances.

    • Ming Jong says:

      @Mike@Marketing: On page will certainly give lots of leverage for off page SEO. Anchor link variance is also a major component in the update. Since Google doesn’t want the exact same anchor text link back to your site so to significantly vary the anchor text is a must. I don’t have a magic number now for that but 4,4,2 seems very conservative enough since only 20% for the targeted keywords.
      Ming Jong recently posted..Adsense Account Banned! What To Do?

  10. Gautam says:

    this google penguin update harm my most of niche sites and some of give me higher traffic which sites i seo they sites are decreased in search engine ranking. so over seo is harmful in this update.

  11. Joe Finn says:

    Re your comment about the lack of logic with this update, what we are seeing is bucket testing in action. Watch my video here: and understand what bucket testing is about… In this case the Penguin update is so far only partially rolled out and has not been applied to every last web site. That is why you’re seeing some sites with penalties and other sites that have not been penalized but that do exactly the same thing as sites that have been penalized.
    Joe Finn recently posted..Google Gone Crazy? No, It’s Just Bucket Testing…

  12. Shalu Sharma says:

    Lots of things are happening in the world of SEO. Sometimes you are not doing enough and sometimes you need to do more. Now SEO is like a double edged sword. Which way do you do. Double jeopardy.
    Shalu Sharma recently posted..How To Murder Your Blog

  13. bbrian017 says:

    Hi Ming, that’s one powerful statement from Matt Cutts. In other word don’t worry about helping us find you, we will find you and rank you how we see fit in the search results. It’s very ignorant in my opinion and in fact Google needs some healthy competition as they are controlling too much of the market share and web activity.

    With that said my motto has always been, work hard online, do your marketing the the SEO and links come naturally. don’t go out of your way to build backlinks. Take blog engage for example, the benefit in my opinion is the social media aspect not the backlinks, the beacklink just comes naturally.
    bbrian017 recently posted..The Blog Engage $500 USD Guest Blogging Contest #3

    • Ming Jong says:

      @bbrian017: Hi Brian, I agree on the social media aspect. There are a lot of sites for direct traffic purpose rather than obtaining a backlink. However, I do think SEO is needed and we can’t rely on Google alone to evaluate and judge if your site is qualify to rank on the front page of Google. Now, the sites being penalized are not low quality but building links that Google think violates their terms and conditions.
      Ming Jong recently posted..Over-Optimization Penalty By Google?

  14. shenoyjoseph says:

    my blog was badly effected by both of this updates. now searching for how to recover from it and get back into good state to drive more traffic. :)
    shenoyjoseph recently posted..Samsung Galaxy S3 Review Specs & Features

  15. Henry Bolden says:

    Hi Ming Jong

    Google is at it again. I think it will be reasonable for many not to rely solely on just Google for traffic because it is hard to satisfy this beast. As long as you continue to provide original quality content, one should be okay in the long run when the Google dust has settled. I do think it is really unfair when good honest webmasters suffer from these algorithmic changes from Google.
    Henry Bolden recently posted..Over Optimization And Google

  16. Mohsin Ali says:

    One of my blog is also hit by Penguin update which was supposed to be my best blog and the other blog which has very minimum content has improved its rankings. So i guess Google wants us to focus on creating great content not on SEO.
    Mohsin Ali recently posted..McAfee Internet Security 2012 Free License Keys

  17. Jayne Kopp says:

    Hi Ming, how are you?

    Well… I sure got ‘Penguined’ and frankly I’m a little ticked because my blog is simply a blog of original works with no un natural backlinking. To be honest I only have a few backlinks, 300+… but always did well for the majority of my posts, many on different self growth topics.

    I do know there may be a few where I used the keywords a little more often, but certainly nothing like the example Google shows. (That would be ridiculous) :-)

    I also have written posts before where the keyword has just ‘had’ to be mentioned a few times to go with the flow of my topic.


    In any event, I’m refusing to get my nickers in a twist. I’m just going to start writing and posting a little more frequently and just be sensible. Google is a huge beast and all any of us can do is our best.

    Getting caught up and freaking out won’t do a thing. I have noticed my traffic is starting to increase as of these last couple of days so perhaps google is tweaking. I have heard some innocent sites were brought down too… I count myself as one of those.

    I just knew something wasn’t right when I looked at my traffic a few days ago… this is before Mr. Penguin was getting as well known.

    You know.. I understand Google wants a good user experience and I agree there are often real spammy sites at page 1… but it’s a pretty big project they have going on. I wonder if a computer can actually be objective at the end of the day??

    As far as negative SEO… one would think Google with its infinite wisdom would not alter anything there. That as you say would be a huge can of worms giving competitors the power to de rank the sites of others.

    Anyway… this is a blog post… thanks for letting me unload!

    Jayne Kopp recently posted..How to be Happy With Yourself | Do You Put YOU First?

    • Ming Jong says:

      @Jayne Kopp: Hi Jayne, I am good, thanks. To be honest, Google is not doing a good job for this Penguin update, unlike previous Panda update… There are just so many “weird sites” ranked on the front page at the moment and seems like Google prefer the high authority domain like and other web 2.0 sites, yet the quality of the blog ranked on the front page is inferior.

      I am sure there are a lot of manual penalty come in when Google saw the comments flooded in their Google Webmaster blog for numerous keywords. So, they are still tweaking the algorithm…

      Don’t worry too much at the moment because Google is still testing the water. Give it a week or 2 to see how it goes…

      Thanks for stopping by :)
      Ming Jong recently posted..Is Warrior Forum WSO Turning Into ClickBank?

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