On October 2013, Google rolled out Penguin 2.1, also known as the fifth version that was implemented for the filter. The webspam update also got an upgrade after the core algorithm went through a significant overhaul with Hummingbird, which was launched in August.
The webspam-fighting update entailed slight improvements on Penguin’s second-generation technology. Penguin 2.0 improved on the algorithm itself to detect websites that utilize black hat or spammy techniques to game the search engine and deceptively gain higher ranks in the SERPs.
One particular target for the Penguin filter are websites guilty of buying paid links to manipulate search bots into thinking that they’re an authoritative source of information. Google uses the number of backlinks you get from other sites as a signal that users can trust your content. That’s why some site operators purchase links to boost their rankings.
Bad links typically come from these three categories:
Panda began the work of cleaning up the SERPs from low-quality content and Penguin supplements the process by understanding the links that were associated with each website in the search engine’s index. This filter made sure that organic links coming from trustworthy sources benefited the sites they’re linking to while those with spammy links were devalued.
According to a tweet by Matt Cutts, Google’s head of the webspam team at the time, they estimated the impact of Penguin 2.1 to affect less than one percent of queries. While it may seem inconsequential, it was noticed by the webmaster community with a lot of site operators suffering a significant drop in traffic when the update rolled out.
On the fortunate side, others recovered after being hit by previous updates and a small portion of those who haven’t been affected by the filter before gained traffic with Penguin 2.1. There were also sites that saw no change in their rankings and traffic volume.
It can be challenging to recover from being penalized by Penguin. Google has explicitly said that they can’t honor reconsideration requests for this particular update since the system applies the penalty automatically and the developers opted not to override the algorithm’s decision manually. Instead of thinking that Google wrongly imposed a Penguin penalty on your site, your mindset should be to figure out where things went wrong and fix them.
Here are some tips on how to clean up your links to ensure that your domain stays in line with the search engine’s quality standards: