Penguin and 52 Updates Later

This past week, everyone has been talking about the 52 Updates from Google.  Late last Friday, after I had just updated my blog about the Google Algorithm update, Matt Cutts wrote his latest post on inside search blog.

Penguin and 52 Updates

Penguin was officially released on April 24th, (again the day after I published a blog post on  People saw their rankings drop when Panda was realeased, some saw their rankings increase (but you don’t get to hear about these ones). Now everyone is talking about Penguin, but what is it?  Well some people have said it is an update of Panda while others are calling it a separate name, Penguin.  The  name not is as important as the actual update which focuses on 2 areas of a site: keyword stuffing and unnatural linking.

Some people have been using copyspinning tools to produce poor quality content such as this example. (taken from the Google blog)

Example of Content Affected By Penguin


You can blatantly see the links for loans have nothing to do with getting fit, and for a long time this has been a black hat technique.  Those sites that practice the above techniques which includes keyword stuffing and unnatural linking (and spammy links like exact match anchor text and guest posts on bad sites) will lose rankings.  So it is important when you are doing blogger outreach to target high quality blogs, no spam otherwise you will be affected.

What are the 52 updates?

There were 52 updates in April and  some of the other most important changes included Penguin.  There was also an update regarding more authorative results, no freshness boost for low quality sites, sub-sitelinks in expanded sitelinks and smoother ranking, for fresh results.  Content is king, and as Google loves fresh content, your site will have a higher chance of ranking if you update it regularly than if you do not.  Matt Cutts has said that if you feel your site has been unfairly targetted, to contact Google.

Google vs Spam

Google are constantly fighting spam, as there is apparently still a lot on the internet which is the complete opposite of a what the cofounder of Google, Sergey Brin said in 1999. I saw the quote from Danny Sullivan’s post on <a href=″> “Google’s Over Optimisation Penalty”</a> where he refers to the fact that Sergey Brin, said there is no spam and that they never ban anyone.  I am sure he didn’t know at the time how many updates they would carry out (it is up to 500 a year), but surely there has to be a time when Google says stop and appreciates the work the SEO world has been doing.

We seem to be bound by what Google say.  Yes they are the dominating search engine and I do use many Google products myself, but it just seems like they have become too big and we have no choice but to follow their rules. This update will just be one of many to come in the future.  I do not like seeing spam in the search results and am happy a search engine is trying to eradicate it, but as an SEO person, I would like to be certain that if I do work for a client which is white hat. This surely leads onto us having to justify SEO even more.

So what should we do as SEOs?

Well I think first thing is first, do not get your clients to focus on rankings.  Move away from this. Use this update as another opportunity (as I am sure you have tried this before) to show why looking at other SEO factors are important. Get your clients to look at natural search traffic and social signals.  If you have not been using a social media strategy before, this is even more reason to start.

(image from

3 thoughts on “Penguin and 52 Updates Later

  1. Kate

    You’re right, many SEOs complain about loosing their rankings obviously because of Penguin. Our website seo co uk has been unfairly targetted and disappeared from SERP. Unfortunately it seems like google isn’t going to respond our e-mail related to this problem. Anyway I agree link building should be natural but sometimes it goes too far.

    1. Jo Turnbull Post author

      Thanks for your comment. That is terrible your site has been unfairly targtted. Do you know the reason why or have you been in contact with Google about this? Matt Cutts has said you can contact them if you believe your site has been wrongly penalised.

  2. Kate

    Jo, maybe our link building campaign wasn’t natural in google’s eyes but I’m sure there was a mistake because we’ve been always trying to get natural high quality backlinks. I’m sure Google gets tons of emails with complains and questions, so I don’t think they respond to all of them:) So anyway I’d like to encourage those who have lost their rankings, with a phrase I heard recently: do link building for people, imagine that search engines just don’t exist:)


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