Many attorneys I have met were victims of Penguin in April of 2012. They were told that Google was not penalizing them, but “improving search,” by hurting sites that had too many exact match anchors, or if the links pointing to their sites looked suspicious. So just the Penguin became a sort of tax on your productivity, with the payment made being loss of ranking, income and work productivity, chasing, disavowing and removing links you “thought” Google might not like.
Now we are being told that the new “continuously updating Penguin” is not ready for prime time. But honestly, hasn’t Google had the technology for quite some time to simply not allow a bad link any ranking power?
The Strange Bedfellows Google Algorithms Make
As many of my readers know, had there never been a Penguin, we lawyers would have never formed the Circle of Legal Trust. Search engine optimization specialists and their clients appear to rarely be happy when the algorithm updates over at Google. To a business that looks to consistency in budgeting for its website, reputation management, site management, site security, etc, even a small change to the algorithm can mean the difference between success or failure even with the early ques from Google about its intended changes for the future of search or a change upcoming.
- Blame the Algo
Blame it on the algo is the new mantra of many the professional SEO. It won’t be wrong to say that the most killer and scary update Google ever made was the Penguin update. Of course, it has been noticed that the nicer the update sounds, the more terrifying it is for the SEO experts. Since its inception over 3 years back, Penguin has been terrifying the SEO industry with subsequent small and big updates. However, the recent news about this update has something nice for the people who belong to search engine optimization industry.
The announcement was made by Gary Illyes who works as an analyst of Google Webmaster’s trends. According to him the next update of Penguin will start to roll as this year draws close to its end. In this particular update there is good news for the SEO experts. The good news is that this time Google will add the feature of processing the disavowed and removed links by webmasters in real time. This will allow webmasters to play their role in real time to recover from the effects of Google’s penalties. Previously, you had to wait for nearly months before any action could be taken.
- Will Google Finally End the Penguin?
Bruce Clay speculates that Google has within its power, the ability to simply kill off the Penguin. I tend to believe this is something that is achievable, if not achieved already. I am not so sure Google wants to simply ignore any negative effects of a link. This system has contributed a lot discourage spammers has it not? Therefore, no matter what technology exists, I am chasing what I am not even sure are bad links all day long, trying to cut them out like a cancer scalpel.
- When and How Did Penguin Update Begin?
In my opinion, prior to the vaunted Hummingbird, there has always been negative SEO, which is really what Penguin is. Basically, a “good link” could push you up, and a bad one could push you down a bit. Google knew this, and in the past had even said they had it under control. About a month before Penguin came to be public, Google changed its guidelines relating to effects of negative links. As stated at the intro, Penguin started rolling out in the April of 2012 and this was the slashing knife from Google to tear apart any websites that were not complying with the webmaster policies and guidelines as instructed by Google’s highly subjective and constantly changing view of what “quality” is.
We know that Google has had the ability to whitelist certain sites from the effects of algorithm updates for quite some time. We also know that American courts and law firms in particular have been totally inept at understanding what is happening. Victims have been getting their lawsuits tossed (asses handed to them) at summary judgment, based upon failing to state a cause of action upon which relief could be granted, or providing enough facts to prove an unfair business practice as seen in the more recent wave of unsuccessful Yelp! lawsuits.
This update was believed to cause websites that were using black hat techniques for getting better rankings in search results a great damage. However, things did not happen exactly as they were expected. Instead of only affecting the websites using spammy methods, this Penguin update also caused huge damage to websites that were following Google’s webmaster guidelines.
These innocent websites were punished for having many backlinks pointing to their websites, which was something that was considered in compliance to Google’s SEO guidelines. However, the Penguin update focused on quality and punished quantity. If you had many backlinks directing to your website, they had to be clean, strong and quality links. If these links were weak and bad quality links, you were going to get penalized. This is exactly what happened to many of the websites. They got punished because they had thousands of links pointing to their websites from websites that were not reputable and trustable by Google.
Compensation For Penguin Update’s Unfair Treatment?
Google had to do something to calm down the owners of the websites that were hit by Penguin update notwithstanding the fact that they were still following Google’s guidelines. Google even announced that it had done some fixes that were meant to de-penalize the websites that were penalized unreasonably. This did not help much and so Google had to come up with the Disavow tool. This tool came into being in 2013 and the purpose of this tool was to allow SEO experts to remove and disavow any links that they did not want to be considered as backlinks directing to their websites.
Penguin updates kept coming with time and the disavow tool kept helping webmasters in recovering from the Google’s penalties. Major Penguin updates were made in May and October of 2012 and 2013, and the October of 2014 as well. The latest update is expected to come by the end of this year and is also supposed to bring some good news for the webmasters and search engine optimization experts. Looking at the type of algorithm update that Google was using, it was already expected that almost all the different types of websites were going to become its prey.
There were websites that were fully adhering to Google’s guidelines and coincidentally had only quality links directing to them. They were safe from Google’s penalties. Some websites followed Google’s guidelines but had doubts that a few links could end up attracting penalties from the search engine giant. Some websites had received warnings of penalties from Google and had to work to get rid of all the factors that were going to pull a penalty on them.
- Reconsideration Request
It is safe to say that many of the websites received Google’s penalty for no reason. They were following Google’s guidelines and still got pushed down the rankings. In such a case, Google has made available the reconsideration request feature. If by any means you think you are not at fault and it is Google’s fault that it has pushed you down in the rankings, you can submit the reconsideration request and hope to recover out of the penalty. In any case, you will have to remove many of the links that are pointing to your website and have been considered as spammy links by Google.
- Care Is Better Than Cure
Remember, it is always better to be careful than to recover with a cure. If you think there are links that could cause you trouble, you should use the disavow tool as soon as possible and get rid of the bad quality links that are pointing to your website. Values of the backlinks can be checked with the help of Searchlight and other similar tools. Educate the people working on search engine optimization of websites as much as possible so they can meet the guidelines issued by Google. You can always get help from the page rank guidelines’ page run by Google to help webmasters.
Posts by Michael Ehline
- Not the First Time Google Abused Such Power?
- PR, Social Media, Content Marketing & SEO – A World of Rapid Changes
- How Will Google's EU Fines Affect PPC Bids?
- EU Slaps Google with More Antitrust Allegations
- Google Lawyers Up Over Extensive Probe
- Fight Between EU and Google Just Warming Up
- Tech Lobbying Money a Troubling Trend
- Google Seeks Self Driving Car Safety Exemption
- The "Right to be Forgotten" and Legal Precedent
- Gmail a Potential Security Minefield