Briefly: What is Google Penguin?

According to Google’s PankRank system, websites with links to other credible websites get ranked higher, as do websites that contain keywords more relevant to the user’s requested search term. These are just two of the over 200 factors, of course, but they are important ones.

A lot of high ranking websites are genuinely good ones. They have quality content. The links they provide and keywords used are respectively helpful and relevant. On the other hand, however, there are some websites, which attempt to game the system. They do this by employing what is known as “black hat SEO techniques.” It is an art based in manipulation which is carried out through a variety of methods including repeating unrelated phrases and purchasing links. The end result is a type of search engine spam which is neither helpful nor useful for the end user. In the Google world, this is a serious crime.

Google’s main priority is to provide quality information to its consumers. Although the term “Google” has become synonymous with “looking something up on the internet,” even the biggest of companies must fear what will happen if enough people seek their services elsewhere. To satisfy this goal, they’ve created various algorithms to rank pages in order of relevance to the search term. As with any other competitive activity, companies vie for the highest spots for their websites. After all, more visibility usually equates to more sales.

Over the past few years, Google has updated its algorithms more than 500 times. Google Panda and Google Penguin are the only two updates (so far) that have been named after otherwise innocuous zoo creatures. Penguin, in particular, targets the types of black hat tactics described earlier. It first went live in April 2012 and has had many updates since. It downranks websites that employ keyword stuffing, link schemes, and duplicate content. Specifically, websites that have a link in the header or footer on each page have been targeted as Google feels that, according to their previous analysis, these types of links are generally considered to be spam.

While the first Panda update affected 12% of queries, Penguin affected only 3% on its first run. Penguin 3, released in October, affected 0.3%. The figures could be skewed because Panda has only been used in the U.S. whereas Penguin updated Google’s interests all over the world. Or it could be the type of offenses each program was designed to target. Penguin effectively eliminates spam in the form of site-wide and low-quality links while Panda makes for a more enjoyable web-browsing experience by downranking poor content. The latter may be more difficult to quantify than the former.

Google operates in accordance to a certain code of honor. It’s easy to stay within their guidelines. They make them easily accessible and even give pointers on how you can follow the rules. It may involve a little more work, but running a quality website is better for everyone. Stick to the code, and we can all handle Pandas, Penguins, or any other type of cyber animal with the ease and grace of the greatest of zookeepers.

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