Google’s Penguin update was released in April of this year, and because of what it targets, many have called it the “over optimization” update. Similar to Panda, Penguin checks content on entire websites and specific webpages and determines if certain keywords are being “over optimized” for. Penguin will apply a “spam flag” or penalty to a certain page, and sometimes an entire site if there are major or multiple issues. Penguin targets specific metrics to try and determine if a page is over optimized or spammy. Penguin checks if a page or site has repetitive keywords (keyword stuffing), footer and sidebar keywords, and repetitive anchor text on inbound links. In addition to checking anchor text diversity on inbound links, Penguin also looks at the quality of those links and if many of them are spam flagged as poor quality, the page and site being linked to could also receive a penalty.

Once Penguin spam flags a page, that page will give little (or no) linking power to other pages, and if a webpage has too many spam flagged sites linking to it, that page will also drop, as mentioned above. Many sites saw their keyword rankings drop after the Penguin update, and they found it difficult to determine if the issue was from on-site over optimization, or due to having too many poor quality links that ended up getting spam flagged. The answer was often that both issues were to blame throughout different areas of the website. We’ve seen examples of ecommerce SEO clients where entire sites came away unaffected by Penguin, except for a single page that received a penalty due to keyword stuffing; usually related to a brand name being written too many times in the on-page content.

If you believe you’ve been impacted by Penguin, the first thing you want to do is clean up your on-site content. Your written content needs to be unique, well written, and of course relevant to the page and site’s topic. Make sure there is no keyword stuffing in your content as well. You may also want to analyze your links and try to have any non-relevant or spammy links removed from your link profile. This will not give you a positive boost, but it will eliminate or lesson any negative effects you’re receiving from those poor quality links. You should also look for relevant and good quality sites to build links to your site. Links from relevant and “respected” websites will help improve your keyword rankings and overall site’s PR, while poor quality irrelevant links will only hurt you.

If you’re struggling to recover from a Penguin-related drop in keyword rankings, or would just like to improve your SEO and keyword rankings, contact us today for more information.