Beating the Penguin: How to Safeguard Your Website Against the Latest Google Changes

Scott Calonico

If you keep a close eye on the traffic to your website, you may have seen an increase or reduction in hits in recent weeks.


If so, this may well be due to “Penguin,” the latest significant change to Google’s search algorithm. If your website has dropped down the rankings it may be time to conduct a Google Penguin recovery exercise.

Throughout the year, Google makes hundreds of changes to the algorithm used to determine where sites appear in search results. While some of these changes are minor tweaks, others such as Penguin and its predecessor known as Panda, are far more significant.

The Penguin update is intended to prevent low-quality sites using manipulative tactics to improve their positions in Google’s search results. Sadly, some of these tactics are exactly the things that SEO specialists and technical websites have suggested doing in the past.

If your website is struggling as a result of the changes, here are some simple steps you can follow as part of a Google Penguin recovery exercise. Following these should help to reduce the damage to your search positions and put your website in a good position for future Google changes.

1.     Follow Google’s Advice

Google posts information on algorithm changes, detailed advice and useful optimization tools via its Webmaster Central blog. Although Google are fiercely protective as to the exact details of their algorithms, (as they have to be to prevent people trying to beat the system), this is the place to get the best idea of what Google are looking for. (

2.     Tread Carefully with Link Purchasing and Exchange

Anecdotal evidence suggests that many of the sites that have been penalized in the recent Penguin changes are those that have purchased large numbers of poor-quality incoming links.

Beware of anyone suggesting that this is still a good strategy to improve your search rankings. Google’s search algorithm constantly evolves to be more accurate and tricks that may have worked in the past will not work now. If you have used this strategy on your site, reducing the number of low quality links could be a valuable part of your Google Penguin recovery strategy.

3.     Don’t Rely on Google

The fact that businesses can be seriously affected every time Google makes a change highlights the fragility of relying on Google search placements as a primary marketing method. Safeguard your Web marketing strategy by ensuring that there are plenty of hooks into your website beyond those provided by Google’s organic search results.

4.     Choose SEO Services Carefully

While many Search Engine Optimization specialists do a good job, Google’s constantly moving goalposts make their work difficult. Always use well-recommended SEO experts for work on your site. Amateurs employing black-hat methods could end up doing long-term harm to your Web presence.

5.     Concentrate on Content

This is always the most important rule. Ensure your content helps those browsing the Web and provides good quality, well-written and genuine content.

As algorithms become increasingly sophisticated, ways to trick them become few and far between. By producing genuinely good content that helps readers and potential clients, you will please those arriving at your site as well as the search spiders. Revisit and polish your content as a priority as part of your Google Penguin recovery exercise.

The largely automated way that Google uses to determine what appears where on the search results means that, with every change, some webmasters are going to feel hard done by. Sometimes sites will be unfairly dropped down the rankings. However, by concentrating on quality and ensuring your marketing methods are diverse, you can protect your business from serious impact next time Google make changes.

Here's a fun video from Matt Cutts of Google on "How to Rank #1."

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