The new anti-spam Google Penguin algorithm has provoked much buzz in the digital marketing world recently. Since April 2012, when it was launched, till now endless reviews and blogposts have been published with the single aim to reveal what is so really dangerous about Google Penguin. Everyone seemed concerned about just one thing – how to protect the website from Penguin, retain its high Google rankings and generate tons of highly targeted traffic.
Google Penguin holds in awe even such major SEO-sources as SEOmoz and Search Engine Land, giving birth to numerous superstitions and myths. Now it is time to break the most dangerous and confusing myth about it, namely – Penguin can throw your website off the search because of your “wrong” external links portfolio.
Let`s take a closer look at the new algorithm and figure out what is basically true and false about it.
On-site SEO matters
Wikipedia says Google Penguin is aimed at “decreasing search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using black-hat SEO techniques, such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, participating in link schemes, deliberate creation of duplicate content, and others.”
As you can see, 3 of 4 reasons why Google Penguin may penalize your website belong to the on-site SEO problems. And this is the point – the only thing that Google can be sure about is the website content and the website quality as a whole. That`s why perfect on-site optimization should become a cornerstone of your SEO strategy. All other things like link schemes, link farms etc. may be easily manipulated by your competitors. Over-optimized anchors? Insufficient anchors diversification? If so, Google just won’t treat such links as worthy, and your link building campaign will bring no positive effect.
Google doesn’t care about your anchors
But let’s get back to Penguin. We’ve analyzed the links portfolio of 3 websites with medium and high competitive keywords that haven’t been affected by Google Penguin to prove that this algorithm doesn’t penalize for commercially oriented anchors. The backlinks were parsed by SEOmoz’ OpenSiteExplorer. This is what we see:
Website #1: real estate
Total backlinks – 634, commercial anchors – 640, “natural” anchors – 15.
Website #2: pharmacy
Total backlinks – 1064, commercial anchors – 780, “natural” anchors – 284.
Website #3: online gambling
Total backlinks – 10,129, commercial anchors – 9,863, “natural anchors” – 266.
We were trying to find out if the common SEO rule for 60% commercial links vs. 40% natural links has been observed in any of the above examples, but we… failed.
The truth is that all the websites which were indeed penalized by Google Penguin had lots of on-site “health” problems – duplicated content, poor navigation and internal linking, broken Google-indexed pages, etc. And not a single trace of their links portfolios among the factors for penalizing.
Keep calm and carry on… your link building
As we can see, Google Penguin is just a new way to evaluate the website quality. It uses a comprehensive multi-factor analysis and penalizes only those websites which really deserve it. You don’t need to change your link building campaign dramatically (unless you use some automated linking software or other tools for uncontrolled link building). Just keep an eye on your on-site SEO factors and Google will like your website as much as you do.