05 Jun Google Penguin: Why an Ongoing Update Could be Good for SEO
What’s black and white and red all over?
Why is a penguin embarrassed?
Because, after more than three years and
six updates, there are some websites that still don’t understand Google’s
stance on quality.
As you’ve probably guessed, we’re not talking about any
real-life penguin here; those ones are too preoccupied huddling up with their
buddies in Antarctica to give a damn about the content of this post. The
penguin we’re talking about is that of the algorithm variety – one that’s a
whole lot less cute and rules with fear. This penguin is one that wouldn’t
think twice about slapping David Attenborough, even if he is a national
treasure. This is Google’s Penguin and it’s here to stay.
The Unforgiving Penguin
Since first appearing on the scene back in 2012, Penguin has
made a habit of rubbing SEOs up the wrong way. Version 1.0, which effectively
signalled the beginning of the end for classic black hat methods like keyword stuffing
and link buying, affected 3.1% of all search queries. A year later, also hell
bent on stopping practitioners of the dark arts, Penguin 2.0 hit 2.3% of all
queries with its iron flipper. Fast forward another year and Penguin came back
with a vengeance in 2014 – more determined to bring down the SEO bad guys than
Bruce Willis in Die Hard.
In classic Google fashion, Penguin 3.0 brought a data
“refresh” that the company didn’t tell us anything about, but the impact wasn’t
quite as bad as many industry-types were expecting – only around 1% of queries
feeling the effects. Not bad considering the long wait. Well, not bad if you
weren’t affected of course.
Typically, when a Penguin update drops the whole SEO industry
goes into panic mode and those hit go into recovery mode. Then, after a long,
hard slog for some, things calm down, the tremors subside, a formal
notification of completion is released by Google and webmasters get back to
their – now decidedly more quality focussed – ways. This time, though, things
are different and if you’ve been awaiting a message from Google, you’ll be
waiting on long time.
Call this a throwaway line if you like, but I wouldn’t
recommend you ignore it. During a Webmaster
Central Hangout late last year, Google’s John Mueller basically confirmed the continued rollout of
Penguin 3.0 and followed it up by saying: “we’re hoping that these things will
just keep on updating.”
The company’s intentions were reiterated more recently by
Gary Illyes at SMX Advanced, as covered by Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz
A Penguin update with no end in sight? Are these guys
But what if I told you that an ongoing update isn’t quite as
infuriating as face value dictates. What if I told you – and don’t close your
browser on me when I say this – that an ever-present Penguin could be a good
Think about it…what’s the biggest current threat to your
Google search ranking?
What if there was something there to constantly remind you
that your standards mustn’t drop?
Penguin could be that thing.
Google is watching
Search engine optimisation is an ever-growing and changing
landscape in which you can never rest on your laurels.
You can’t cut corners in this game; doing so could kill your
With Penguin always looking over your shoulder and
threatening to take you down if you even think about doing anything unethical,
your SEO would always be on point – there wouldn’t be any other choice.
No more getting a penalty, recovering from a penalty and
slowly getting pulled back towards the dark-side – the all-seeing Penguin eye would prevent it, Big Brother-style.
Moreover, if you do find a way to deceive the flightless
bird and get caught, constant updates might work in your favour too, helping
your website overcome a penalty faster – so long as you put the work in, that
Of course, this would also work the other way too…try
anything untoward and you’ll get caught faster, and knowing this should be enough to
keep you right on top of those links.
So, just like Shaggy has Scooby and Hans Solo has Chewbacca,
a consistent Penguin update will see you have an animal sidekick of your own –
just don’t expect this one to have your back when things go wrong.