Google Penguin is an algorithm which targets and aims to stop manipulative links from having an impact on Google search results.

It was first released on 24th April 2012, when it created ‘quite a stir’, despite it only impacting 3.1% of queries according to Google. Although it was always possible to get in to trouble for the links pointing to a website in the days before Google Penguin, in the form of invisible manual actions, it was a much rarer occurrence.

What is Google Penguin?

Google Penguin was Google’s first attempt at combating manipulative links on a large scale. If a website has been identified by Google Penguin as using manipulative links it will be algorithmically penalised for specific keywords or phrases. Google Penguin will never penalise the whole site from ranking on it’s own. However, if the algorithm detects that the link spam then it will flag the website to be reviewed by the Google search quality team. Upon inspection by a real person then it could possibly also have a partial or site-wide manual action applied. This would be in addition to the original Penguin algorithmic devaluation, if this has occurred.

How can you identify a Google Penguin issue?

Up to and including 17th October 2014 (the Penguin 3.0 update*), it was relatively easily for non-Google-penalty experts to identify a Google Penguin issue. However, following this update Google revealed that they would no longer be doing stand alone refreshes. Instead, moving forward, Google Penguin would be incorporated within the main Google algorithm, running constantly, making it much harder to identify link based issues after this date. For this reason many people will be unaware that Penguin is to blame for their website’s loss of Google organic traffic and keyword rankings.

Google Penguin Recovery

Google Penguin itself is algorithmic, meaning that if you do the necessary work you can get the Penguin ‘penalty’ lifted, but that doesn’t mean you will automatically jump back into the positions you once held. You will need to replace the link equity, through earning links and trust, in order to do this. Having said that, if you didn’t really need the manipulative links in the first place, once a forensic manual review of all your links has been conducted by an experienced Google penalty consultant, then a site can literally just ‘pop back’ into its previous search engine ranking positions.

How a site reacts to a Google Penguin clean up and review differs widely on a case by case basis. The simple question to ask yourself is, without the manipulative links pointing at your website, will it deserve to rank on the other natural links it has?

Want us to take a look?

Even if you have had someone audit your link profile before, it doesn’t mean that they did a thorough enough job for it to have an impact. We’ve developed our own specialist processes and software to resolve Google Penguin issues. Get in touch to find out more.

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* Technically speaking, Penguin 3.0 wasn’t an update, but a refresh of the algorythm. This was confirmed by Google engineer Pierre Far, but unfortunately the name had already stuck.

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