3 SEO Lessons Learnt By Google's Penguin 2.0 Update

Published on: 16th July 2013

It's been about two months since the release of the Penguin 2.0 update, and in the aftermath of the major algorithmic change many webmasters are still struggling to regain their positions in the SERPs. While recovering from a loss in rankings may not be fun, the lessons that can be learned in the process can be invaluable to your skills as an SEO. Below we've summarised the 3 most important lessons you can learn from the Penguin 2.0 update:

1. Manipulative Linkbuilding Efforts Are Becoming a Thing of the Past

The primary focus of the Penguin 2.0 update was to improve Google's efficiency and accuracy in detecting manipulative link profiles. A site has a “manipulative link profile” when a large percentage of its inbound links are of a low quality or are generated artificially through inorganic methods like link buying, advertorials, mass article marketing, blog commenting, directory submissions, forum signature links and so on.

If you're familiar with the initial Penguin 1.0 update then you know that Google's ongoing anti-linkspamming agenda has remained the same; the major change with Penguin 2.0 is that the algorithm has gotten better at using social signals and other indicators to recognise unnatural links versus genuine editorial links.

Combined with Google+ the Penguin update is ushering in a new era of SEO in which set-it-and-forget-it linkbuilding tools and poorly written outsourced content will no longer be enough to bring lasting success in the SERPs. If you want to obtain page 1 rankings that last you'll need to avoid the run-of-the-mill link spamming tactics and put in some hard work.

2. Ethical and Value-Oriented Linkbuilding is Still Acceptable and Necessary

The fact that Google continually revises their algorithms to become better at penalising sites that use  “blackhat” methods should not come as a surprise to anyone with any SEO knowledge. Unfortunately, many people are taking this to mean that they should stop attempting to build links completely. It should be emphasised that linkbuilding is not a thing of the past, manipulative linkbuilding is.


It is definitely still worthwhile to be listed in reputable directories, engage in discussion on quality forums and blogs, share content via social media, and by all means you should still leaving comments on your favourite blogs. These activities, like most SEO methods, can be used in a blackhat or whitehat fashion – the choice is yours.

When a linkbuilding or content marketing campaign is carried out with the primary focus of providing value to readers it is guaranteed to promote the growth of your network, increase brand/site awareness, and help establish you as a presence in your niche, in addition to potentially earning you higher search engine rankings. 


3. Guest Posting Still Works, But Only With Quality Content and Proper Site Screening

A major concern of SEOs everywhere was that sites that used guest posting as a linkbuilding method would suffer a drop in rankings after the Penguin update. Fortunately, the only sites that lost rankings were the ones that guest posted for links on low-ranking sites, sites in “bad neighbourhoods” (i.e. - an adult-themed or gambling site), or on sites that had a high number of low quality posts.

We can attest that sites that used guest posting properly have suffered no such drop in rankings, and to the contrary have actually benefited. However, there are strict rules that must be followed if you're going to incorporate guest posting as a beneficial component of your overall SEO strategy.

First, you'll need to be distributing high-quality valuable content to notable blogs in your niche that already have plenty of great content and search engine rankings of their own. Second, you'll need to put aside the sole focus of “linkbuilding” when writing and proposing guest posts – think of the process as more of an opportunity to gain exposure and credibility with a wider audience in your industry.

Your content should also contain links other than just a link back to your own site. Preferably you'll want to link out to several resources within the guest post to provide more value to the reader in case they want to dig deeper into the topic, and to add validity to your statements. When writing the guest post your primary concern should be providing value to the reader; the small hyperlink or two you get to put in the article should be a side issue.


 The Penguin 2.0 update has not changed Google's approach on indexing and ranking pages, it has only given them an enhanced ability to “punish” sites that don't play by the webmaster guidelines while rewarding those that do. After all, the Google webmaster guidelines are there to help the internet become a better place, where information and ideas can be easily accessed without having to sift through an endless sea of spam. 


Adam Livermore

Adam Livermore

Author Adam Livermore is the Director of Consult3 Ltd a Preston (Lancashire) Based Online Marketing Consultancy. He has been involved in online marketing and web since 2003 and offers Training, Consultancy and Project Management for Businesses wanting to improve their online footprint, increase leads and convert more of their website visitors. View my services for more details