Penguin was such a far reaching update that narrowing down its real intent is kind of tricky. During CAP’s recent SEO Roundtable, How iGaming Affiliates Can Recover from Penguin, we asked some top SEO experts: What three factors they thought Google looked at when they created Penguin?
Here’s the three factors Bastian Grimm; Kay Schaefer; and Dave Snyder saw behind the big update:
#1 Link Profiles
All three panelists pointed to bad, and unnatural, link profiles as the biggest culprit behind Penguin. Google definitely wasn’t happy with how many webmasters were gaming the system with piles of paid links that weren’t much help for readers.
Grimm pointed specifically to the “crappy” quality of auto-generated links. So many sites were generating so many links that quality became a serious concern.
Schaefer agreed saying that many sites were stung by Penguin more for backlink history than for the website itself.
Not surprisingly, plenty of affiliate partners have been spending the months since Penguin came on the scene feverishly, and manually, cleaning up their link profiles.
#2 Anchor Text
Our three panelists all also saw anchor text as another big factor behind the Penguin update. In particular, they saw unnatural anchor text distributions as the big problem.
By now, most webmasters have figured out that Penguin took aim at what seemed to be some pretty innocuous anchor text. Footers on WordPress templates, for example, caused plenty of headaches for site owners.
No matter how innocent they seemed, it’s pretty clear that Google saw them as a major distraction that took away from relevance.
Still looking for a way past the Penguin? Check out 10 Easy Steps to Link Building in the Post Penguin World.
#3 Over Optimization
Over optimization sort of brings together the two previous points and was mentioned repeatedly during the SEO roundtable. Our panelists all said that Google was trying to crack down on over optimization with the Penguin update and it’s tough to argue against them.
The fact that link building and anchor text were singled out over and over point to the fact that plenty of folks were misusing them. Given that there was no official penalty for going that direction, it’s hard to really blame anyone for using as many link exchanges and paid links as they could come up with.
Bonus Conspiracy Theory:
Dave Snyder voiced a conspiracy theory we hadn’t heard before that might be worth thinking about. He told the CAP audience his thought that the real motive behind Penguin was sewing fear in the SEO world.
When SEO practitioners are scared and turning on one another, he said, they’ll be forced to turn SEO budgets towards PPC. Just keep that one to yourself, if you know what I mean…
What do you think the motivation behind Penguin was? Post up your thoughts in the comment section right below this article.