When Google’s Matt Cutts announced in 2012 the creation of an algorithm to punish websites with spam, website owners grew nervous. On May 22, the algorithm was updated to better weed out link schemes, which are methods of putting a website higher on Google’s listings by adding unnatural links pointing to a page. That is an admirable goal, but since the update, innocent websites have been punished by being dropped in Google’s rankings. It particularly penalized companies with identical anchor text that they endlessly repeated and companies that put their links somewhere other than in the main content. Companies unfairly affected have filed an online petition with Google, hoping to hasten another revision that will refine the algorithm so the innocent won’t suffer. Since The Penguin algorithm has to be run in order to do its work, the number of websites actually getting audited is a small percentage of the websites up and running. Still, it has website owners scrambling to eliminate links that could be even remotely suspicious. It doesn’t help that John Mueller of Google announced that another update, Penguin 3.0, is very likely for 2014.
John Mueller said in a September 8 conference that he felt that webmasters were fixing the problems on their sites, but that the algorithm was not taking that into account. He did not want to say when the Penguin 3.0 revision was coming out, since he didn’t know. He suggested that webmasters focus on improving their sites, rather than worry about his algorithm.
The end result is a boost in sales for companies offering to audit links for spam-type problems. Webmasters want the approval of the new algorithm so they can stay in the rankings.People have been cutting out any links they got from cheap overseas link-building companies and they have been discontinuing automated links, which look suspicious to the algorithm. They have been running the Penguin Penalty Tracker Tool. The Penguin Penalty Tracker checks the amount of traffic a website received before the rollout of Penguin and then compares it to the amount received after the rollout. Even if the company in question is not affected by Penguin, it must work to be in full compliance with Google’s standards for search engine optimization. Those who have been hit by Penguin can only hope that a refresh of the algorithm will bring them back up in the ratings. People who have made their career in search engine optimization have had to examine their practices, and a few have quit all together. There have been a few who have resorted negative SEO, which Google encourages people to report.
Some have had to find organic ways to boost traffic without Google. Improving content has become the way to go. Companies might have months to wait before the update refreshes and gets them back on the ratings if they have been dropped, so the echoes of Penguin will be heard for a while yet.