Google Penguin Update: What You Need to Know About — So Far

Google Penguin’s announcement on April 24 created quite a stir in search engine marketing circles even if Google tried to reassure in that announcement that the impact will likely affect only 3.1% of total queries, a fraction of the number of sites affected by Google Panda‘s first release.

Although findings remain inconclusive, no thanks to another update of Google Panda was rolled out on April 19th which blurred the line that separates Panda (an update that weeds out low-quality pages, not necessarily spammy ones) and Penguin updates (an updated really aimed at spammy web pages), many would point towards spam or low-quality link building exercise as the prime target of Google’s wrath. Among them are consistent  use of the same anchor text, blog spam and low quality article marketing.

Am I Affected by Google Penguin?
You can figure out by checking your analytics traffic right after the apparent algorithm change. If traffic has gone down, you could have been affected; if up then Google Penguin is just what you needed for a boost in traffic. Otherwise, your website may have not been affected.

What can we do to avoid getting penalized?
As speculated above, possible culprit identified in Google Penguin are low quality inbound links with exact phrase as anchor text. You may be doing massive comment placement using an automated software and left a signature using your preferred keyword that links to your website. Stop this. Also if you are into article marketing, asking someone to write articles and embed a link to your website, you could be affected especially if the quality of work is too shallow to be considered interesting.

Did Google’s algorithm updates produce acceptable results?
Not at all times. A classic example was raised by Danny Sullivan on viagra, a commonly spammed keyword. Take note that even for the single-word query, the official website does not appear on first page. A case of keyword being typecast as spam keyword?

Another keyword heavily optimized is make money online, and Aaron Wall discovered that the top ranking site doesn’t have content at all. Not to mention it is Blogger, a Google property. What’s going on?

[pullquote_left][I] saw a lot of syndicated articles using exact match anchor text leading back to sites that got hammered by Penguin. – HMTWeb[/pullquote_left]

I am affected, is there hope after Google Penguin for Small Businesses online?
Lisa Buyer compiles 17 ways SMBs can survive the dreaded Google Penguin update. As I read it, the message points to alternative ways to get noticed online apart from Google searches. Sounds losing grip on Google? Maybe not, but more likely just exploring the horizon and realize it’s more  than just Google.

Google Penguin and Small Businesses
Danny Sullivan makes no assumption that Google Penguin was generally bad for small businesses, whose site traffic coming from organic search play a huge role in success of their business but the lack of massive outcry from these merchants is a sign or relief.

Losing Value of Anchor Text
Microsite Masters provides a few graphs and an accompanying conclusion that Google is apparently demoting anchor text as a ranking factor. Because anchor text is easy to manipulate and I have grown mad at seeing certain websites deliberately attempt to game the algorithm. Needless to say, this is interesting.

Guidance, Tips and To Do’s
SEOMoz has a good low-down on this update, although some people might judge it as purely speculative (it begins with “What We Know”). Nonetheless, it is a good compendium of do’s and don’ts.