How to Please the Penguin: Making Friends with Google’s New Ranking Algorithm


What is Penguin and why do we care?

Penguin is Google’s cutesy name for a powerful secret formula, a special blend of factors that currently determines Google search rankings. Penguin, just like Panda and previous Google formulas or algorithms, is part of the company’s ongoing mission to highlight Good and penalize Evil. In the Google Universe – the Googleverse, if you will – good web content is original. Good content is relevant to search terms. And good content is naturally popularized; it doesn’t rely on shady tactics to get a #1 ranking. Read on for specific tips about how to please the Penguin.

Mind Your Keyword Use

Was your website unfairly penalized in the Penguin switch? Google knows that the best content isn’t always detected by a formula. If you think that your website was unfairly targeted, use this Google web form to request a human review of your website’s ranking

The Penguin likes keywords, but only in moderation. Articles written by keyword stuffers (i.e., writers who go keyword-crazy) suffered major hits when the Penguin started patrol. How can the offending sites recover? You don’t need to order all new articles with lower keyword densities. One strategy is to use synonyms or near-synonyms as substitutes for overused keywords. For example, if you’ve used the keyword 2013 Lexus GS too many times in a review, replace some occurrences of the phrase with words like luxury hybrid or powerful vehicle. Besides that, the Penguin likes anchor text diversity. Varying the words used in your links may help improve your website’s ranking. In particular, it’s a good idea to monitor your use of “money keywords” versus the alternatives.

  • Money keywords are the words and phrases you’re trying to rank well for.
  • Non-money keywords are words and phrases such as “this blog post” or “our website.”

Microsite Masters has found that the new Google formula discourages sites that use “money keywords” as anchor text in 65% or more of inbound links. Thus, it could be advantageous to actually use your domain name or a straightforward “click here” invitation as your link text.

Have Authorities Vouch for You

The Penguin is wary of strangers. Inbound links from authorities in your niche resonate with the Penguin. When an authoritative domain in your industry posts a link to your site, the Google ranking program becomes more confident about your relevance and high quality. After all, an authority link can’t be manipulated through gray-hat or black-hat tactics.

Penguin Survival Tip: Banish Duplicate Content

Duplicate content hurts your ranking now more than ever. If you’ve taken great content from someone else, have it rewritten for unique value. Has someone stolen web content from you? Use Copyscape to find out. If you’ve been ripped off, you can report the offender to Google.

Conversely, spam recommendations will raise red flags. Excessive forum posts and low-quality blog comments are examples of inbound links that can hurt your ranking. If you’ve been a link farmer in the past, it’s time to prune your crop! You might find that removing harmful links is time-consuming, expensive or impossible. If that’s the case, focus on developing high-quality links through legitimate means such as guest blogging, content marketing and gaining authoritative recommendations. Also, submit a list of stubborn bad links to Google and explain how you’ve worked to remedy the matter.
Remember: The More Things Change…
Penguin algorithm has the same overall vision as its predecessors: to showcase original content that’s useful or entertaining. Now more than ever, Google can avoid highlighting the low quality or copied pages that have only risen through aggressive back linking and other shady means. When you provide great articles, videos, infographics and so forth for web surfers, you’ll give the Penguin what it wants and you’ll become viewed as an authority by a wide web audience. Everybody wins.  

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