Google Penguin Algorithm

What is it?

Before Google started considering the quality of backlinks, webmasters everywhere would scour the internet for as many backlinks as they could possibly find. It made sense at the time, as Google operated solely on the amount of backlinks that you had, so every link you acquired was like a “vote” for your site. These backlinks weren’t necessarily helpful to the user, though.

Previously, if a website selling flowers had received a backlink from a forum about hydraulic engineering, it would have been allocated the same amount of power as a hydraulic engineering website receiving a backlink from the same site. This led to a lot of low quality websites surfacing in Google’s search results, purely based on the amount of links they had.

This all changed when Google introduced the Penguin algorithm update, which looked at the quality of backlinks to a website, and penalised webmasters for any “unnatural” links. Penguin also looks at the anchor text you use within your backlinks, and will penalise you for over optimisation.

What does this mean?

Again, it’s not that hard to avoid a penalty from Penguin. All you need to do is make sure that your citation campaign is healthy, and not filled with “spammy” or paid links. Questions you should ask yourself before acquiring a backlink are:

  • Is this website relevant to my own?
  • Will this link add value to any users that land on my page?
  • Does the website I’m getting a link from follow Google’s guidelines?
  • Is this link free?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, step away. That’s exactly the kind of backlink you want to avoid. You also don’t want to include the same anchor text in too many links. Google actually prefers links that include your brand name, allowing about 5% (they’ve never specified the actual amount) of keyword targeted anchors.