Penguin 2.0 Google Update

Posted on May 23, 2013 • Written by Brad Anderson

Google’s latest offsite (link building) algorithm update, dubbed ‘Penguin 2.0,’ was released Thursday, 5/23/2013. If you have noticed any wild swings in traffic, and or your search engine rankings on Google, you may have been impacted.

This post is more to start a conversation than to be a definitive source of information about Penguin 2.0.

Most large, well-known brand sites are doing just fine, as usual. Some not-so great, spammy sites continue to rank well, unfortunately. These sites have a few things in common including:

  • They participate and host forums and include a link to the forum in the footer of their sites. The forums hosted are often labeled something like “Powered by XYZ.”

This is further evidence that Google continues to favor sites that foster active conversations about their subject matter. By hosting a forum, the site positions itself as an authority on their topics. Having an active community of users producing discussion and commentary about their content also makes that content seem more valuable, as it provides evidence that the content is being read and that people find it useful or interesting enough to spend time commenting on it.

  • Exact match anchor text is back in play.

Exact match anchor text means that a text link from one site to another uses a keyword phrase that the site is trying to rank for, as opposed to the company name or the words ‘click here.’ In the past, sites which have relied too heavily on inbound links using exact match anchor text have been targeted for penalties, under the assumption that such links are likely to be artificial rather than natural. With Penguin 2.0, however, Sites that have link profiles composed of over 37% exact match anchor text links are ranking well.

  • Sites that have no site wide links are ranking well.

Site wide links are links which appear on every single page of a site. The most significant example is probably blogs, which often feature a sidebar of links on every single page. For a large blog, adding a link to the sidebar can result in that link appearing on thousands of pages. The concern is that a site suddenly gaining so many links from a single domain could look unnatural. However, there is evidence that at least some types of site wide link are acceptable. For instance, the previously mentioned forum links in the footer do not appear to stop sites from ranking well.

  • Sites that link to two competing sites vs. one are ranking well.

For instance, if a site A is a news site that links to two sources of information to illustrate a point, site B and C, it will rank better than if it just links to site B as a source. Varying the link text slightly by using a plural version of a word to differentiate is better. This is evidence that Google places more trust in sites which use multiple citations to back up the validity of their information.

  • Sites that have a limited number of inbound links from reputable websites are ranking well.

For example, websites with links from very well-known sites like or continue to rank well. Links from wikipedia seem to act as a safety measure to limit the severity of a Penguin 2.0 penalty. Google’s emphasis on quality over quantity means that it values a small number of links from high-quality sites far more than a large number of links from low-quality sites, and it seems that having high-quality links can even serve to counterbalance other flaws which might earn a penalty.

  • There seems to be some cross over with sites that were previously impacted by Panda.

For example Hubpages seems to have made a big gain back where as Tumblr got destroyed (or that could just be because Yahoo bought them).

Stay Tuned for Comparisons of Websites that were Negatively Impacted by Penguin vs Websites that were Positively Impacted

We will have more data to share as time goes by and the sample size of our data grows. Use our FREE Google Penalty Checker if you think you’ve been hit with a penalty.

Discuss your questions, comments and findings below.

Brad Anderson

Written by Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson is the Executive Director and Founder of Fruition. Brad’s focus is supporting Fruition’s team to enable sustainable growth and excellent client satisfaction (EBITDA growth). With a strong statistical background, Brad built Fruition’s in-house software that is used to manage client success.

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