Google Penguin Update Guide

Google Penguin

Targets | Recovery Strategies | Case Studies | Update History

Penguin was originally announced on April 24, 2012 intended punish sites with over-optimized or unnatural backlink profiles. It tends to be a keyword specific / page specific algorithm as opposed to a site-wide punishment. It was integrated into core search in September 2016 and is now a real-time element. If you were affected by Penguin, there is probably something wrong with your off-site SEO.

UPDATE: See the Penguin 4.0 Announcement (September 2016)

Other Update Guides
Google Algorithm History | Panda | Penguin | Hummingbird | Webmaster Tools Warnings


Penguin Targets


Anchor Text Over Optimization

Penguin targets sites with too many of the same anchor text. In the past, you could just hammer on building links with your target anchor text. Now you need to diversify.



Penguin Recovery Strategies

Audit Links

Do a complete audit of your link graph and find where your site stands for the keywords that you dropped for.

De-Optimize Links

Change links with exact anchors to be more natural by either using naked, brand, benign, or phrase-match instead of exact match.

Remove Links

If you have low quality links with exact match anchors, remove them if you can.

Disavow Exact Match Links

If you can’t remove exact match links, you can disavow them inside of Webmaster Tools. You’ll have to wait until the next Penguin update to see a change.

301 to new domain

You can copy your site to a new domain or subdomain, 301 everything. This is typically a temporary solution.



Penguin Recovery Case Studies


How WPMU recovered from the Penguin Update
High profile case study, includes removal of lots of sitewide footer links.

Double Penguin Recovery
Includes removing directory links, using the disavow tool.

Penguin 2.0 Case Study (Link Research Tools)
Analysis of Cheapoair. They had too many exact match anchors.

Penguin 2.1 Case Study (Link Research Tools)
Analysis of – “excessive use of rich keyword anchor texts and excessive links from high-risk and toxic sites”

Penguin 2.1 Case Study (Link Research Tools)
Analysis of a german site, citing that the penalty was caused by too many exact match anchors, too many low power / trust links, unnatural link growth.