SEO News: Penguin Update Causes a Flap
We’ve seen numerous updates to Google’s search ranking algorithm over the last few months. In fact each and every month there are changes made to the formula that ranks sites, but they seem to be really pushing forward with the changes recently – March saw 40 updates while April saw 50.
On the whole, many of the changes are unnoticeable and will not affect the vast majority of search results. Some changes saw the demise of old ranking factors while others saw existing techniques improved or rethought.
So this brings us onto the Penguin update, launched on April 24th. It was rolled out to penalise those sites that had been spamming Google in an attempt to gain manipulate PageRank or positions – cloaking or keyword stuffing and such similar techniques.
You’ll know if you’ve been hit. Traffic would have dropped from Google overnight and positions would have been adversely affected. If you haven’t been affected, you might see an increase in positions or traffic as other sites drop back in the rankings and you move up.
Either way, it will be worth checking Webmaster Tools for messages that may have alerted you of such warnings. If you haven’t yet verified your site in Webmaster Tools yet there may be messages waiting for you which you’ll see once your verify ownership of your site.
So, if you’ve been hit can you recover? Possibly. Google state that this is an algorithmic update so that any penalties are applied automatically, which means that a reconsideration request will not benefit you.
With any update there is always a chance of innocent sites being hit also. So, Google has created a new form that allows you to report errors if you think you may have been hit by mistake.
Apparently, this is the ‘over-optimisation’ penalty that was talked about, although it was much less about over-optimisation but more about eliminating outright spam and the last few major updates show that Google is getting very serious with both link spam and on-page tactics that are designed to manipulate Google.