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Why Penguin 2.0 is Google’s Gift to the Web

exclusive-seo-bIn late May, Google launched the much anticipated update to their Penguin algorithm, dubbed Penguin 2.0. Now that the dust has settled, it’s clear the impact has been fairly significant, and that Google has effectively (but certainly not flawlessly) furthered their mission to identify and penalize webspam and black hat SEO practitioners. Ultimately, although it may be frustrating to experience the shifts and changes of the algorithm updates, content creators should be celebrating Penguin 2.0, as it wholly supports the creation of quality, user-friendly sites and content.

Need some tangible reasons to rejoice about the latest updates? Keep reading and prepare to become a Penguin fan.

HowPenguin 2.0 Rewards the Good Guys

“White hat” SEO optimizers are those who are looking to improve the user experience. They work to create valuable content, a seamless user interface, and ultimately strive to manifest the best overall experience in their niche for each visitor. These are precisely the folks Google is looking to reward with Penguin 2.0. What’s good for search engines is also good for users, and that means Google will not rest if webspam continues to reach top ranking positions in their search results.

As a rule, white hat tactics also indicate good marketing strategies. If a company employs integrity and care in their SEO, they likely carry that attitude through all their business practices, using creativity to entice customers, not trickery. Although Google continues to be the search engine powerhouse, sites like Bing are providing healthy competition, motivating the leader to ensure their user experience is superior. That means highlighting the best sites available for every last search. And that means those professionals who have tirelessly worked to truly provide quality experiences to their users are getting more and more attention and well-deserved prominence.

Expertise Trumps Black Hat SEO

If you run a search for “best plastic surgeon in Hollywood,” you’re obviously looking for the most trustworthy and experienced professional you can find. To help determine this authority, Penguin 2.0 is giving more prominence to author rank, and helping to elevate bonafide experts in each field. Again, the best customer experience equals the best search engine; Google has become increasingly savvy in developing ways to identify who the experts are, and who might is blowing smoke to garner page views.

In a recent video describing the Penguin 2.0 changes, Matt Cutts, Google’s search ambassador, had this to say about identifying experts:

“We’re doing a better job of detecting when someone is more of an authority on a specific space. You know, it could be medical. It could be travel. Whatever. And try[ing] to make sure that those rank a little more highly if you’re some sort of authority… we think might be a little more appropriate for users.”

While they obviously won’t reveal the specific methods to ascertain expertise, this is fabulous news for those marketers and content creators that truly are highly knowledgeable in their field. In essence, Google is looking to reward hard work and dedication. That’s a tough mission to argue with.

Rewards for Honest Link Building

Building a network of reputable and reliable link partners is perhaps the most challenging aspect of white hat SEO, and Google is working harder to reward best linking practices with better rankings. In many ways, this is the heart of Penguin 2.0. The best SEO professionals devote a significant amount of effort into attaining inbound links from relevant and respected websites, ideally those on a small list of approved sites that Google calls Hilltops.

A Hilltop is a site Google ranks as the best of the best, and gaining their recognition (in the form of a link) requires two key components. First, the content you offer must clearly be entertaining, solve a definite problem, or showcase some level of remarkable content. Secondly, the Hilltop site must have an obvious resonance with the business it links to. These two principles are near and dear to the best content marketers, so the compatibility is obvious. Hilltops hold a high level of trust in the eyes of Google, as each are operating under the same stringent quality ethics. If you also do not settle for a mediocre experience and can showcase that via your own site, court a Hilltop link and Google will aptly reward you.

Offset Any Negative Effects from Panda

Panda, Google’s other algorithm tour-de-force, has certainly ruffled some feathers with some more mysterious shifts. If you’ve followed content quality rules without engaging in webspam and you’ve still seen your rankings drop, Penguin might just help balance the scales. Best practices with off-site SEO tactics (like social mentions and link building) are some the aspects that Penguin rewards, and an excellent effort in this arena may help you balance the dings of duplicate content, older posts, and other Panda frustrations. Even Matt Cutts acknowledges that Panda can and will be “softened.”

“We are looking at Panda and seeing if we can find some additional signals, and we think we’ve got some to help refine things for sites that are kind of in the border zone… if we can soften the effect a little bit for those sites that we believe have some additional signals of quality, that will help sites that were previously affected… to some degree [by Panda].”

Top Off-Page Tips for Maximum Penguin Benefits

We’ve already outlined that high quality content brimming with expert commentary and a sincere attention to a seamless user experience are the on-site tactics for high rankings. There are a gaggle of off-page signals that can help you increase your rankings through Penguin’s updated algorithms too.

Here are a few of the best practices:

1) Social mentions – These are becoming more and more critical. Engage your fans and followers on social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, and Twitter to share your news, like your content, and otherwise interact with your social offerings. And by all means, do not forget Google+ – you better believe Google notices when mentions are coming from their social hub.

2) News sites – A great PR strategy that generates buzz from any of the major news outlets is a huge boon. Positive mentions and articles on sites like The Huffington Post are extremely powerful.

3) Industry niche sites and blogs – Likewise, finding partnerships in the blogosphere or via other industry experts are also integral to good off-site practices. If none of the experts in your field are giving your company accolades, you lack the credibility Penguin is searching for. Reach out to those folks who are talking about your industry, create a link share, and give them reason to spread your message. Not only is this obviously a critical marketing strategy, but search engines love it too.

4) Print publications – Any offline content can be quoted and cited online, whether it appears in magazines, newspapers, or trade publications. If experts are talking about your site, online or off, Google wants to know.

Google’s mission is simple: to return the best results on the web for any keyword search. To reach this goal, Google is becoming craftier at rewarding the marketers and sites that are working the hardest to give the people what they want. For those content creators and site owners that have always followed rules of quality and integrity, Penguin 2.0 is a godsend. For those that continue to employ sneaky tactics with the hopes of flying under the radar and achieving top rankings, the glory days are over. It’s always good news when the good guys win the battle.

Thanks, Penguin 2.0, for getting us closer to that reality. You may not be flawless, but your intentions are golden.

Tell us about your experience with Google’s recent algorithm updates in the Comments section and whether you have benefited or suffered.


Digital producer, game designer, Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs, Tina Courtney-Brown has been shaping online businesses since 1996. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, social networks and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and true cooking diva. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.

About the author

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Tina Courtney

Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach.  Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Visit My Google+ Profile

61 Comments

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  • I agree with you Tina Courtney-Brown. The concept behind this algorithm is to stop spam and black hat seo technique users. But there are many false results where the spam links are still in top SERP pages which makes me crazy that why they have not been hit by any of the algorithm updates. When I check my clients ranking I see many sites which don’t have any relative relevancy with the search queries. So I am a bit confused about this algorithmic update.

  • This is the dumbest article that I have read. If you operate in a competitive industry, you can easily find sites that are practicing negative link building. They are the ones at the top and who buy enough adwords where Google doesn’t mind. Would you care to see some some examples?

    • Lol – no examples needed! Look, you’re right that for many, many years the network of link builders have reigned supreme. But the fact is that Google IS attempting to eradicate the fakers and create rankings that highlight the best conceivable user experience. There’s certainly some crafty fakers still hitting the top, but these numbers are dwindling. And if Google has its way, the days are truly numbered for these sites, which is a win-win for consumers and honest business owners too.

  • First up! thank you so much Tina for this rather informative piece of writing. I totally agree with the comment above, with all these penguin updates showering like the rain, “black-hats” are still flourishing with top rankings and guys like me who only rely on “good” tactics go way down the list in SERPs. What a shame 🙁

  • Don’t believe everything you read. I was one of the good guys who did everything by the book and saw my business die a slow and painful death at the hands of Panda and Penguin.

    In NO way was it a Godsend!!!

    My business had the highest quality content in my industry and niche, had only honest link building campaigns over the years, was spotlighted on many top news outlets, and I was certainly an expert on my field dating back to the late 90s.

    Like I said, don’t believe everything you read. This was a nightmare for my business and staff that I had to let go one by one.

    It’s laughable that this article urges people to celebrate Google’s take down of many, many legitimate businesses. I know that I’m not alone.

    That’s my reality with Penguin 2.0 and I was one of those good guys you mention. Some things you believe to be true aren’t what they seem to be. Again, don’t believe everything you read… It doesn’t apply in all cases.

    • Likewise my site suffered a temporary dip. I had to perform SED–search engine deoptimization to get back my lost rank.

    • James, I’m so sorry to hear you are indeed one of the good guys who suffered at the recent updates. There’s no doubt many honest business owners are attempting to follow the rules, and still seeing results tank. I’m not suggesting what Google has executed is flawless. I do trust the intentions, and that’s really the spirit of the article. But I do truly feel for all those who are fighting the good fight and losing…at least in the present moment. I hope you don’t give up!

  • I agree with your article. Google is looking to bring out the best content and website usability to match user experiences. The sooner that SEO and webmasters realize this and stop gaming the system, the better the search results will become.

  • Nice article Tina, it looks like you’ve covered the key elements in helping your web-pages to go viral. Of course, a little luck wouldn’t hurt 🙂 and we all know that content plays a strategic part in getting your pages to a viral level. I might add one thing to your list and that is images.

    Depending on the particular theme of your sites and web-pages, images might be considered part of your content. A few months back I read an article on how many bloggers are incorporating more images into their posts and are discovering new levels of awareness. Like I said, a lot of this has to do with your sites theme, but I can see how adding specific images that relate to your sites could easily create additional feedback, interest and stickiness.

    As you mentioned, content and quality backlinks plays a major role in how well your sites are received. There’s also the thought that being creative can also make a world of difference as well.

    Thanks again,

    Abhinav

  • The latest Google penguin 2.0 algorithm has seriously affected my search results over the last month. Its so frustration as I have been no1 on Google for many keywords for the last 3 years, now we are not even on page 1!

  • Very good article!
    I agree with you. Times are changing and it is about time Google changes too.
    It is difficult to play nicely when there are too many black hat SEOers and they are effecting your statistics with black hat tricks daily.
    I’ve read few more articles about the penguin 2.0 and it sounds too good to be true.
    I hope this update rewards the good SEOers like us. Time only will show!

    Keep it real SiteProNews!
    You have our full support.
    The A-Webdesign.co.uk Team

  • Whilst getting rid of spam and poor quality sites is a good thing, it is worth noting that not everyone is good at writing excellent web pages, nor do many people understand the various things google wants. Google should send messages to people in webmaster tools with a CLEAR LIST of what they dont like, IN CLEAR LANGUAGE NOT GEEK-SPEAK, instead of letting us all guess. An example would be a message like “We have detected the following problems: too many 404’s, 2 items duplicate content, too many keywords on a particular page, these 4 pages have the same mneta tags etc etc.” A sort of “You’re not doing so well in the search, fix these particular issues and you will return to your position in search”. Just make it SIMPLE to follow! Google must understand that mom and pop sites have just as much right to be in search as the big corporations.

    • I agree with you. If Google would be clear on what they want I would try my best to comply.I have not engaged in anything “black hat” etc. Our business is run by 2 people, spending all our time trying ti figure out what Google ants leaves little time to advertise and grow our business.
      Sometimes I think Google doesn’t want small businesses with limited budgets to survive.

    • Maybe because Google Webmaster is aiming at webmasters and not do it yourself websites that rely on the knowledge and expertice of the the providers of the software/template used – hence you are better off with somebody who really knows what should be done

  • Yes!!! Google its very good for website admins thanks and thank to sitepronews who share with us intresting things

  • In my competition i saw website which majorly depend spam blog commenting, fake facebook fans etc doesnt not get effected.

    Also website with 5-6 pages running regular PPC gets top rank ( no link profile, no ageing etc)

    wikipedia, blogs and news website also taken good ranks.

  • We’ve been focussing on good-quality content for years so this update has been great news for us. Just a shame that so many people have been and continue to be ripped off by bad SEO companies!

    • None of the web sites I have designed and developed have suffered as a result of any of the changes, to the contrary. And I cringe at the cost of SEO services offered and was sick of the bombardments of email offers re buying links and clicks.

  • I dont see this personally, this is just more use Google+

    Google are imo just shaking this market up every few months to keep things changing and to force ppl to move to AdWords rather than use SEO.

    Everyone who is applauding this is actually killing there own business long term.

    Google are imo no longer a good search engine, this mix of social and search is awful the two have no link so why link them.

    When I search for a new product I rarely care what my friends found/searched for, nor do I want birthday reminders in my search engine.

  • Very nice article. I have 5 webdirectories.
    What is your opinion about using webdirectories according to the new google updates?

  • It always amazes me when people talk this kind of rubbish. Google uses the idea of content is king so that it does not have to discuss e-commerce sites. These are the guys that Google wants to use to push the auction prices up on adwords. Thats the Google cash cow. Compare the results for ecommerce search terms and its nothing to do with quality or best results. its simply down to the fact that the bug brands get 90% of the first page now has the same shops on it as your local shopping mall. So much for the world wide web. I am sure the content kissers will disagree but they should speak to independent businesses that have seen Google change the way things work purely to control the spend on Adwords. Oh, and yes I am aware that Matt Cutts said Google doesnt do that kind of thing. they are an ethical business. Yeah rite! Pull the other one it has bells on

  • Thanks for sharing such a nice piece of work. In present time work of SEO has been changed for good, thanks to google as there was instance of very negative marketing and now due to this panda update, SEOs are thinking positive and working good.

    Thanks
    http://technologiesinternetz.blogspot.com

  • What a load of tosh! Google has absolutely no idea what “good content” is!

    If Stephen Hawking wrote a website page on on quantum physics that only 6 people in the world could understand, how would google know if 5 of them thought it was utter rubbish?

    Google is trying to use some obscure factors to guess and as a result will create loads of totally useless results.

    Never forget…. one day google will go the way of myspace and napster. DO NOT design your sites for anyone except your customers – especially not google!

    • Hi! Thanks for reading and sharing – it actually sounds like we agree tenfold. The spirit of the article is trusting that Google wants what is best for user, and to highlight rankings that actually deliver best on the search terms. To that end, I totally agree people should always, ALWAYS design sites and experiences with their audience in mind. Whether or not you trust that’s Google’s intent too, that’s absolutely the golden rule of web design 🙂

  • From the point of view of an online seller, this has more hassle than good points. It feels like the folk at google are trying to force companies to take on a tech department specifically for SEO. Since I do all the SEO work on my own site, google are literally just creating more and more work for me, as an online seller I can say they arent doing me any favours with this…

  • LOL!!

    “Rewards for Honest Link Building””

    Hopefully one day google will just ignore links all together as a ranking factor to stop this POINTLESS practice of writing articles for other website just for the pure purpose of getting a face back-link which isn’t natural at all.

  • This is such b.s. What they’re saying is their mission is not coming out at all in the results. As a webmaster who is also a journalist, I’m increasingly frustrated at how content sites and blogs have been given 2nd-tier status behind big brand websites who can afford to crush the little guys with million-dollar ad spends. Look at the results for almost any travel or tech subject now and the first page is dominated by big companies and big brands. Often with little to no actual useful content on the page unless you’re buying that particular hotel, tour, or product. It’s become a shopping portal instead of an information search engine.

    I’m using Bing for all my personal searches now as the results have much more meat to them when I want real information and answers.

    • Down with Google. Their trade practices are questionable if not down right illegal. The changes to to their search have one purpose and one purpose only–force users to uses their other–often second rate–offerings like Google+.

  • Glad I was not the only one reading this and thought it was pure nonsense. These article should be deleted as they really are just Google speaking out of a bloggers mouth.

    • With all due respect, Niall, suggesting we delete an article because you don’t agree with it isn’t exactly fair journalism. You don’t have to agree that Google’s intentions are good, as I suggest, however; there’s certainly a case to be made either way. But there are many, many of the “good guys” who are seeing huge successes and ranking increases thanks to the recent algorithm updates, and they deserve to feel good about their efforts too.

  • Lol pure proof above Patrick has the spammiest SEO title on the planet;
    Custom Websites, Quck Setup Websites,Mobile Websites,Network Solutions

    No offense I can see why you do this, it works but mega lol here.

    Again they say one thing and do the opposite, pure madness.

    Don’t believe the hype Google are an Ad Sales company who own a search engine, the heady days of don’t be evil are gone.

    Google is making the internet into television, I am sure pre advertising in the 60s that TV had an open source element to it, hey music used to at one stage. But some goon in a suit came in and said I know how we can monitize this.

    All you have to do is look at Google’s hiring, what are they always looking for telesales people, why cause they sell ads all day long and that’s all any part of there business is geared towards.

  • I’ve had my ranking drop slowly for the last two months. I haven’t been practicing black hat, in fact I don’t link build. I’ve only built a site with more and more content fro the last 13 years.

    Funny, the same site does okay on Bing and Yahoo, but dead to Google.

    Not a godsend.

  • Thanks for sharing such a useful information regarding google. I think it will change black hat seo tactics and we can find useful information on google easily rather than web spams.

  • I can’t speak about what others feel (good or bad) just upon my personal experience with my website. I have a legitimate website offering high quality products in the area of holistic healing and I have been affected by these updates despite having good SEO and using Google Adwords PPC. I do agree with a person who commented that Google is pushing businesses to their new platform of Google Shopping. It seems my business goes up and down in ranking every time Google tinkers with their algorithm and how ironic that the only saving grace seems to be that I pay them a nice fee for Google Adwords to stay in the hunt. Coincidence? I think not.

  • I think it is in Google’s best interest to let the best sites rank highest. Once users queries start pulling “junk” they will switch browsers. I feel Bing/Yahoo are watching very closely and are waiting. In any case I feel content is king and in the end will be the gold standard for website design and SEO. But then again I’m in the toys and baby clothing industry?

  • I am new to SEO activities, and I this article as it clearly defines what google is doing. If any site is content oriented and looks towards giving good experience to user or visitor, the site must get a high rank. I represent modlingua group, one of the top 10 translation agencies in Delhi, India and it seems this new change has automatically improved our site ranking.

  • @Harlan

    I am with you. My website preceded Google and had good rankings prior to Penguin. Even after panda, Google would send to me messages in my Webmaster Tools like “Yay! We noticed a surge in traffic to your site!” It was all about content: Quality, originality, authority.

    I never put effort in link building. Link-building gave birth to Google — then it killed Google! Link-building was the easiest to manipulate, by paying to a bunch of junky directories. Also, many webmasters started to exchange links. And thus, Google foundation collapsed.

    Google went to the other extreme: Lower the relevance of the searches and increase the click-rate of the AdWords. It is the infamous business practice known as MONEY-WORDS. Even the governments know about that (illegal, actually) business practice. Empty pages are now ranked very high by the monstrous Penguin. The “rationale”: empty pages were not built by SEO! Now, Google actually revived AltaVista. Google is AltaVista! We see the same stuffy results: pages from one domain repeated ad nauseam, and irrelevant results.

    I have written tirelessly about Google, both positively and negatively. I am really disappointed with articles like this one. They encourage Google in continuing its devilish path. That DracGoogla path started in 2004 (with the Florida update) and was monstrously aggravated in 2012 with the Penguin.

  • FWIW, via 20 years’ experience, Huffington Post does nothing for your web traffic. And can even harm it by being regarded as the original source for your article/topic — forever. I’ve found the same thing for other large sites/publications.

    In the end, good usability (e.r., useit.com) and entertaining/helpful content, which garners returning users, is the only lasting way to success.

    Many sites get 10% or less of traffic via Google/search engines. Unless something goes viral, even less from social media (Pinterest used to be very different for women’s sites, but they’ve tanked and appear to be doing nada to stop their downward plunge.) So neither are worth much of your time.

    Regardless, at this point, SEO means nothing.

    The biggest trick now is: there are no tricks. Just serve your audience, and serve them often, and serve them well.

  • Penguin DESTROYED my internet business. And my website is 99% original content … so much for content being “king”. If google is going to change the rules about links submitted to web directories now, they should NOT make it retroactive. I have hundreds of links on directories google deemed good enough to attain high page rank themselves, that google deemed good enough for YEARS. Now, I’m penalized because they suddenly say they are not good now? Fine, they are no good. Discount them but don’t penalize people for doing something that was ok til May. Hugely disappointed in google right now and, for the first time since being online for a decade, considering leaving online business for good.

  • Penguin 2.0 has helped offset a little the web spammers and Black Hat optimizers of this world. All to often I see that Nice Guy’s(White hat” SEO optimizers) finish last in search results. The changes to who’s on top has been affected a little but not too much, keep in mind this is only for the industry niche that I build sites for and work with. Sadly it’s always going to be an ongoing battle because someone is always going to try to find loopholes. Hopefully Google will continue to be devoted to regular updates of Penguin and provide further refinements.

  • Niall Flynn said it best above … “Everyone who is applauding this is actually killing there own business long term.”

    @Ion Saliu … Well put! A lot of Penguin pain to spread around.

  • I am more concerned about how it improve my ranking?

  • We need to find out from the article, the content of it, maybe it allows us to think more clearly.

  • I don’t know,,traffic on my site is going down these days..It’s really difficult to get honest links from the Hilltops…But we should keep moving forward

  • Dear Tina, I think Google still can be fooled. Because I seek certain keywords (short and long) and Google still can’t bring appropriate results.

  • Well never saw worse results than after your praised update of Google’s algorithm.
    Sites that are completely empty but each page is stuffed with links, which again lead to other pages with no content but lots of links ->thus sites that have no content at all are ranking on page 1 place 3. More stupid it can’t get.
    I have chosen this industry as an example because those people spend lots of money on online marketing and also SEO, by far more than any other online industry.
    A search in google.co.uk for escorts london – will let you see what I mean, turn your web history off and guys delete those cookies first.
    Sites which respect coding standards, have good content rank on page 10 or 50.

    If you are honest then you have to admit it’s still the same story: links count – nothing else the bot is not more clever than it was last year – quality in search results went away 8 years ago.
    If you wanna rank then Google wants you to get AdWords – business for them slowed down last year. So it’s not about improving the web and search results but it’s simply their wallet that counts.
    It works like this -> people are supposed to interlink web sites but then in their own industry please, to achieve good ranking – yet do you really think that links are placed on corporate sites linking to the competition? This concept of the search was created NOT with e-commerce in mind, in the stone age of the internet it was designed, when the net was one happy family. Google never changed since then. Google wants those commercial sites using the advertisement channels of Google – which in fact create a financial bottomless pit where clicks go up in price per day. For small businesses this is not possible to finance. I run several AdWords accounts the same amount of money bought 5000 clicks in a month last year – this year it brings you 1200 users then the budget is gone. Conversion is low as people use the internet to compare prices and look around. So it’s the same as in politics they tell you one thing and do the other 😉 and always show you what they want you to see and to know.

  • A true SEO strategy always focuses on quality therefore the good SEO analyst always recommend white hat SEO techniques. The white hat SEO practices are always appreciable by Google and a simple way to cover websites from Google’s new update Penguin 2.0.