Google Penguin Penalty

Avoid The Google Penguin Penalty

The Google Penguin penalty is probably the most devastating algorithmic punishment that the search engine levies on sites. I know some folks may beg to differ by telling me about their Google Panda punishments, and while I admit that one is no picnic, the Penguin penalty is just down right brutal.

I'm going to do a high level overview of the penalty in this article. Future blog posts will cover how to check your website for possible red flags and recovery.

What Is The Google Penguin Penalty?

This penalty is commonly known as the "web spam" penalty. Penguin was rolled out April 24, 2012. It mostly punishes spammy websites that promote excessive linking schemes to cheat the search engine into ranking pages higher than they deserve by creating low quality sites that are nothing but links whose anchor text contains keywords in thousands of text links.

google penguinSites that are determined to be in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines under Penguin lose traffic and rankings. It's not usual to be deeply buried in search results many, many pages down.

Other examples include buying or selling links to pass Page Rank, which is pretty hilarious nowadays, considering that Google hasn't updated Page Rank since 2013.

Also included is exchanging links for compensation like free products or for a fee.

Automated link creation programs are also targeted in this penalty.

Throughout 2012, Penguin was rolled out fairly regularly - several times during the year. In 2013, it was rolled out less frequently, and there was only one Penguin rollout in late 2014, in October. This last implementation was noteworthy because it lasted much longer than previous Penguin rollouts. A typical Penguin algorithm update usually goes on for several days, but it appears that the October 2014 implementation lasted several weeks.

So far in 2015, there's been no Penguin rollout. This is making SEO professionals very nervous, because the general feeling is that when Google finally pushes it out, it'll be hell unleashed. We'll see.

Google Penguin Facts

Penguin has to be manually programmed into the algorithm, and turned on. Unlike Panda, it's not baked into the search formula. Google engineers have to insert Panda into the algorithm, program it on, and program it off.

What makes Penguin so devastating is that after you've done link clean up, your site won't recover until the next iteration of Panda. If that rollout is several months or a year later, the economic impact is brutal.

Not only that, there are no documented cases of 100% recovery. At best, recovering rankings and traffic is partial.

Some websites have been hit so hard, they've had to be taken down and started over again with new content and domain names, as the Penguin penalty follows sites that are 301-redirected to new ones.

In a future article, I'll go over how to analyze links pointing to your site and determine which ones put your site at risk.

In the meantime, here are some link building strategies to read about.

If you'd like to learn more about how to get your site to rank better, why not come to an SEO course and learn both on and off-page SEO? I hope to see you at one soon!

Alternatively, you can now get SEO trained online with Invenio.

Meanwhile, stay safely between the ditches!

All the very best to you,

Nancy McDonald

Image courtesy of porbital at

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