This new Google penguin was eagerly awaited because it has been more than a year since there had been no update of the filter which penalizes over-optimization and bad external link profiles. After multiple announcements and rumors about its imminent release, it was finally released on October 18 and its effects will continue in the coming days. Ultimately it was only a refresh of the old filter rather than an actual update as expected. That said, some sites have gained positions and others have lost positions. It is therefore a good reason to take stock of the evolution of this algorithm and the efforts to be made by google to improve it …
First, we will look at a top 10 of the sites with the most lost or the most gained positions between October 16 and October 23, that is, before and after google penguin. Not working at Google, this is the only way available to know which sites are affected, so it is possible that other events could coincide with these sudden falls or gains in positions. so I voluntarily limited the list to a top 10 so that the differences are clear and without contesting, except big coincidence.
Next, I compared the profile of links between the first winner and the first loser, to find out a little more about the tolerance level of google and what it still misses.
What is Penguin already?
Like Google Panda, Google Penguin aims to reward good quality sites and downgrade low quality sites. Preserving the relevance of its results remains a top priority for Google. While Panda is mainly interested in the quality of content, Google penguin essentially penalizes external links and its bad practices.
Many sites have abused the importance of this criterion to spam the results of google by registering their site en masse on external sites, directories, site networks, press releases, link exchange, … External linking is still part the most important criteria in the google algorithm, but its weight is much more qualitative than quantitative today and for several years now.
For the Penguin filter, google analyzes the profile of external links associated with a site in relation to the link profiles of other sites in the same industry, competitors. The objective of this analysis is to see if the link profile is natural in relation to its competitive environment:
- Follow / nofollow link ratio;
- Ratio of links to home page / links to deep pages;
- Diversity and quality of the incoming domains;
- Geolocation of incoming domains;
- Theme of links;
- Anchors of links;
- etc …
After the Top 10, we are going to compare some of these criteria between the big winner and the big loser of this google penguin.
Top 10 losers
X sites and streaming sites, it somewhat reflects the browsing habits of teens 😉.
Top 10 winners
Sites like ladepeche.fr, automobile.fr or capital.fr were penalized in October 2013 during penguin 2.1 and they recovered their positions by being decriminalized on this latest penguin. It’s a relief for these top 10 sites because it took more than a year to find proper traffic. Watch this example on automobile.fr:
For other sites, there are still streaming sites. Google is not going to delete all the streaming sites either, it is necessary for all tastes and the decline of some benefits others. However, most of these sites use very aggressive SEO techniques. That’s why Google compares a site’s link profile to its competitive world. The universe of streaming being very “spammy”, the requirements of penguin on this type of sites are of course lower.
Comparison between sites affected by penguin
That’s good, the first of the top 10 winners and losers are two streaming sites. So I will be able to compare certain criteria of google penguin on this universe.
Deep links and home page links
We see that the penalized site, full-streaming.org, has more links to deep pages than to the home page and this ratio is higher than that of streamcomplet. Indeed, in general, a site naturally receives more links to its home page than to deeper pages. A site with an excessively unbalanced link profile will be seen as suspicious.
Follow and nofollow links
Here we look at the distribution of nofollow and follow links. The penalized site receives 60% follow links, more than the decriminalized site. So many follow links can mean an attempt to artificially increase the number of links to its site. In this case, google would consider that above 60% of follow links, the site enters the radar of google penguin.
Diversity of fields
The penalized site receives a lot of links from directories, unlike the first winning site, Stream-complet. In addition, the latter has a greater diversity of incoming domains. I’m not going to say that all of its links are very clean, quite the contrary, but its strategy of external links is more subtle. We see, for example, that the site has invaded a site on hummingbirds, a site that has left comments open to anyone and anything. Moreover, it is not excluded that the next update of penguin scheduled in a few months, the site in question will be penalized. The next penguin should logically review its criteria upwards and this time it may not pass.
This was only an overview of some criteria taken into account by google penguin, but it is clear that Google penguin is not yet thin enough to clean its index of all sites that use questionable techniques or black hat. The weight of external links being important and the relative aspect of the penguin criteria make it not easy for google. And whether for panda or penguin, it is better to carry out a referencing audit in order to prevent a penalty or get out of it. See you at the next penguin…