In April 2012, Google launched its Penguin Update in response to websites who attempt to boost their search rankings via unscrupulous means. Penguin seeks to catch websites who spam search results by purchasing links or utilizing link networks designed primarily to artificially manipulate rankings. The goal of Penguin is to encourage more natural, organic search results based on genuine back links, rather than producing a list of websites who have basically paid third parties to increase their rankings.

google_penguinSo what does this mean for website owners?

For starters, the best way to increase your search rankings is with valuable content created on high authority websites linked back to your site. This optimization method, while it involves significant old-fashioned work, is the only form of link building that you should ever allow to be performed on your site. Reciprocal link exchanges with other website owners, while they may seem tempting, should be avoided.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between buying links and paying a professional writer to create content for you and post it on third party sites. Remember that the search engines love high-quality content. So if you are the ones creating it, it will have long term positive effects on your site and its rankings.

Penguin does not target “good” links, such as links on StumbleUpon, links from strong blog posts, or other established and respected social media sites. If those are the only types of links a website has, its owner has little reason to worry. Penguin algorithms are designed to target links from websites who have no other purpose than to provide purchased links. Therefore, there is no need to scramble to remove good links. Bad links, however, should be removed right away or a website owner risks compromising his entire website.

If your website has been penalized by Penguin, it may have a second chance to regain its ranking in the future. It will however, require you to remove all bad links.

Google does not perform regular updates of the Penguin algorithm, like they do with Panda. However, another Penguin update is set to hit the web soon. In fact, Google has announced that the next Penguin update, which will be released sometime in 2013, will be one of their largest and most talked about algorithm updates this year. Google has specified that this update will target some large link networks, so website owners would be smart to remove any suspicious links before the next update removes their sites from search results indefinitely.

Protect yourself from being “Penguined” by insisting on high quality content on and off your site and avoid buying or exchanging links.