On May 22 Google rolled out its updated Penguin algorithm. This is the fourth Penguin update meant to fight web spam, and it was the one to have the biggest effect on a wide scale. The previous updates scanned website’s homepages, whereas this update has had a deeper look in the subpages and smaller details.
Expected from the Penguin update was to see small, lower quality and lesser known websites as the “losers” and more significant sites and household names under the “winners” section – but the reality looks very different. Several “spammy” websites and illegal movie portals are amongst the winners. Being a winner means that you have increased traffic in clicks and some of these sites have had an increase of over 1000%. Some of the losers were www.directline.com, www.cheapoair.co.uk, www.metro.co.uk, and www.comparethemarket.com. As an example, CompareTheMarket lost rankings for several of their main terms, such as ‘compare car insurance’ and ‘travel insurance’, and thereby had a decrease in clicks by 29%.
Although the result of this Penguin update seems to have had the opposite effect of what was expected, it did target and successfully penalised some of the sites engaging in not so legitimate SEO tactics. They might not have dealt with the situation sufficiently, as some of the worst offenders have now been pushed towards the top search results – pushing legitimate sites down, causing them a significant loss in organic traffic.
The most important ranking signal is still the root domains of a site. The more high quality links linking into a site determines its quality. However, these links needs to be from different root domains and not have excessive linking from the same site. Penguin 2.0 gives a strong indication that the more unique linking root domains, the more of a winner you are.
As the outcome of the Penguin update is not what was expected and probably not entirely what was intended by Google, we are bound to see changes soon when more updates gets rolled out. Until then, all we can do is to keep our well-rounded SEO strategy to secure our place in the search results.