Google Penguin Update – Understanding What It truly means (in plain english)

Jasmine Batra


“Oh no!! My site rankings have dropped.  I have gone from being on Rank 3 to rank 7!! Is it because of the new Google update I heard about this morning?”

Does this sound like you? What exactly does Google’s new update mean for your website from an SEO perspective?

If you are worried about the Penguin 2.0 affecting your website…don’t be. As long as your website is well maintained and is ethically optimised, which is exactly what we do here at Arrow Internet, then you will still be ranking well on the Google SERP.

Experiencing a slight dip in rankings?

We got a call earlier today from someone who is still on ranking strong on page 1 of Google but they were very concerned about the Penguin update. The site went from rank 3 -7 and the client thought that it was due to the latest update from the search engine giant.

Website rankings are not fixed and will move Penguin , Panda or Pelican 😉 As they say change is the only constant and it applies particularly well to Google Rankings.

Shift in rankings doesn’t mean that your site has been affected by the Penguin update! And just like stock prices, it is very normal for websites to go up and down on Google Search results.  If your website was affected by Penguin 2.0, it wouldn’t still be on page one for most terms.

So, here’s a little tip to help you overcome your worries about being affected by Penguin 2.0.

First of all, don’t automatically jump to the conclusion that your website has dipped because of the Penguin update. The update has affected less than 3% of English queries.  Simply check the rankings for all your keywords and key phrases from last week / month and compare them to your rankings post May 23rd 2013 and see the movement. Let’s say you tracking 10 keywords and you have improved in 3 terms with each of them going up 80 positions and dropped in 7 terms where each of gone down 3-5 positions should you be concerned that 70% of your keywords have dropped?

The answer is NO.. However, if 70% of your keywords have completely dropped off and have lost 100+ positions OR you can’t find your keywords til 20 pages which have been steady in the top 2 pages, then there is a very high chance that your site has attracted the attention of the Penguin webspam sheriff.

You must understand that Google was and always will be reviewing the sites returning for key search terms to ensure that they are relevant to the user query and are not manipulating Google’s search algorithm to get on the top. All these updates are really an effort to clean up what originates from Google’s own algorithm of weightage given to links in rankings.

To get higher up you needed more such links. The issue with Google’s ranking method was that sites which would participate in link farms or buy links were able to make it to the top.

Good SEO companies always knew that this is black hat and would stay away from such practices. Read my Interview in Smart Company in 2010 on our stand on why these practices are too risky and will only bring in short term gains. This short term has lasted 3 years for some. But it had to come to an end.

The penguin update is a Spring Clean for Google. Yes, it is spring in US land while many here get ready to face the winter blues.

It is also important to note that these updates have been happening ever since Google was launched more than a decade ago. They are all designed to simply get rid of webspam so that you the user (and Google’s customer) can get better experience and relevant results for what you are searching for.

In 2008 itself Google did 500 + update. However, the recent interest in media and public awareness about what Google does makes this news HUGE compared to the previous updates that stayed within the SEO circles. With 85% of Australia using Google has their preferred search engine this is now a news that has a wider appeal and media likes to use the fear play card on how this may impact you.

In fact, throughout the existence of Penguin, Google has already initiated 27 mini updates called ‘data refresh’. Surprised?

There is no reason to panic over Penguin 2.0 if your website has been properly and ethically optimised. If you have been ranking well the past year and you still currently are, then there is really nothing to worry about.

The highly credible SEO software company, SearchMetrics, has shared its initial report on the types of websites that have been affected by Penguin 2.0. Its founder Marcus Tober said, “Our first analysis shows that many thin sites, sites with thin links and especially untrusted links face the problem. In addition, some small business sites were hit because they haven’t taken SEO serious enough.”

You must understand that websites with ‘thin links’ lurk around ‘bad neighbourhoods’ which are considered as webspam, and that is why Penguin seeks them out. Links that are submitted manually are 99% of the time legitimate and that is exactly what your SEO company should be doing. So say Good Bye to those “Get 1000 links for just $39”

If you are guilty of succumbing to this in the past, talk to us to get a link profile check and get an honest review. Don’t fall prey to sharks out there who use updates like this as scare tactics to get business.

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