Penguin 2.0: What it Means for Publishers

Just when you thought you could breathe a sigh of relief, Google launched the next major update to its search engine and ranking algorithms. The previous Panda and Penguin updates caused panic among bloggers, content writers and businesses and this new update is no different.

The new set of updates is aptly named Penguin 2.0 – meaning that it continues to improve on the work that the original Penguin algorithm update had started. Google has always maintained that it wants to improve the overall quality of content on the Internet and that it wants to provide people with the best and most relevant search results.

Penguin 2.0 was developed and released to help Google slowly clean up online content. This algorithm update, as the name suggests, is the next version of the Penguin algorithm update and it is better than the original Penguin update at detecting suspicious link building activities. With this update, Google is hoping to improve the ranking of original, well-written and interesting content and weeding out the websites using bad link building techniques to improve rankings.

Purpose of Penguin 2.0

Online content creators, publishers and web masters often include links in content that are not spammy but are completely irrelevant to the topic and the content. This is done to gather as many inbound links as possible but the links make no sense in the content. Google wants to put an end to this link building technique. According to Matt Cutts, bloggers and online writers should follow the example of researchers and academic papers. A link in online content should be like a citation in academic papers – completely relevant and useful to the content. Basically a publisher should link to other articles only if they have actually used those articles as sources or inspiration.

Publishers cannot simply link to other blog posts to get some traction for old content. The links need to be completely relevant to the content of the blog post if a publisher wishes to remain unharmed from Penguin 2.0. This latest algorithm update was released a month ago and quite a few websites have been hit hard because of it.

Publishers beware!

The Penguin 2.0 update is specifically targeted towards guest-blogging. Many businesses and bloggers use guest-blogging as a means to get more inbound links to their websites. Most often, the guest posts are riddled with links to the author’s website and product pages that are not relevant to the content of the guest post at all. As a publisher, stop linking to your site and other articles from your content. Don’t guest blog just for the sake of building links. Instead, use guest blogging to build your reputation.

Moreover, when you are posting on your blog, do not link to archived posts just to drive traffic to old content. Instead, link to sources that have actually helped you write your blog post. Make sure you link to quality web pages and refrain from linking to one web page several times. It actually helps if you link to many authority sources of information. Most importantly, this update goes to show that you do not have to link to other web pages when you publish content. So if you have written an original and interesting blog post without referring to or lifting material from other websites, then don’t put any links in the post at all. Google wants quality content – not a bunch of links!

Keep AuthorRank in mind

Matt Cutts has also said that Google will be focusing more on AuthorRank with this new algorithm update. This means that Google is on the lookout for authors or sources of information that regularly publish excellent content and content from these authors or sources will automatically rank higher. The history of content from an author is crucial. Make sure your blog has only high-quality and relevant posts. Remove the ones you think are too spammy or poorly written.

Make it a point to publish good quality content from now on that people will love to share. You do not have to worry about publishing content in the same place. Google will find your high-quality content irrespective of where it has been published as long as you have published it under the same author name.

Improve infographics

Infographics are all the rage nowadays as they are interesting, visually appealing and informative. However, many websites are misusing infographics and publishing poor-quality ones just to get more shares and engagement. Penguin 2.0 is the first algorithm update that is also targeted at finding and penalizing poor-quality infographics. Such infographics have no relation whatsoever with the content of the website or have been copied from other blogs and websites. Either create your own high-quality infographics or use only ones that are relevant to your content.

Most importantly, as a publisher your focus should be on creating content that is extremely share-worthy instead of on link building. Use social media channels to promote your blog posts but refrain from suspicious link building activities.

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  • Spook SEO

    I suggest to use links that are relevant to the content because in this way you will be prevented from suffering penalties. Thanks Jessica for giving us an update on this.

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  • Nick Stamoulis

    Your content strategy can’t just be about getting links, which is what this update is getting at. You need to use your content to help build your online reputation, become a thought leader in your industry, brand your company, and develop a following. Content marketing is an opportunity to get more links but that can’t be the end-all goal of creating content.

  • Andre

    What nonsens,

    “Moreover, when you are posting on your blog, do not link to archived posts just to drive traffic to old content”

    And how would the algorithm determine if the content is “old” or not?

    One of the best ranking domains ever, wikipedia, relies a lot of this strategy, as long as you link to something that’s somewhat relevant.

    And guest blogging is still a very powerful.

    “Most often, the guest posts are riddled with links to the author’s website and product pages that are not relevant to the content of the guest post at all.”

    I wouldn’t think so. If you have the opportunity to publish content somewhere, of course you will not fill it with irrelevant links.

    Penguin 2.0 is all about trying to penalize people who use automatic software that scrape others content, and spam with irregular links everywhere.

    you can and should continue guest blogging and link within your site or blog, but of course everything should be relevant.

    Quite funny that this post is published here, since the zemanta plugin often sugests to link to “whatever”?!

  • Daniel Lee

    I definitely think reverse link value gets overlooked as people try to ‘hoard’ PageRank. Make sure you link out to relevant, high quality, high trust articles. It’ll make your content look more natural and I believe it will help increase the ‘relevance’ of your article in Google’s eyes.

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  • Lisa Buben

    Jessica, very interteresting point on the infographics, many sites encourage others to copy theirs. Great warning not to anymore :)

  • Andrea Hypno

    Maybe I’m wrong but it seems to me that everything Google does affects primarily one author blog owners who don’t have resources, time and money to make everything as Google wants. While top dogs with big wallets can and will.

    Also as regards ougoing links how this will affect services like Zemanta and Outbrain?

  • Shawn

    This is actually not what Penguin 2.0 is about at all. Penguin 2.0 looks at a website’s backlinks from external sites and attempts to determine whether or not those links are intended to be manipulative. In other words, let’s assume your website is about dog supplies. if you’ve built 100 links to your website over time, and 50 of those links have anchor text that says “dog supplies”, Penguin 2.0 is going to algorithmically penalize your website, and you will no longer rank highly for “dog supplies”.

    Penguin 2.0 has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you link to an old blog post on your site. Now, if, within a new blog post, you linked to 25 other blog posts just for the sake of trying to get those old posts to rank better, then you might have a problem.

  • wwday3

    Hmmmm. I have enjoyed the Zemanta related links to other sites’ article component. I have had many other sites link back to some of by content, and I’m sure I’ve boosted the posts of several authors and blogs. I generally choose 2 or 3 related articles when I write a post.

    How will Penguin 2.0 affect this functionality? Should we keep using it? Or, will we start getting a penalty if we link out to too many, or perhaps to a article that’s interesting but maybe a bit off topic?

  • Shawn S. Lealos

    Two questions:
    1. Some content sites have a “other articles by this author” space – do those links have a negative effect?
    2. What about people who use Infolinks as a source of advertising income for their sites? Do those have a negative effect?

  • Adam Pervez

    Fantastic advice. Thanks for sharing. I think lots of bloggers took a hit with the last update and this information helps us stay up to date with what’s happening in the SEO world. Thanks again!

  • Jonathan García

    thanks Z!

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