We saw a lot of drastic steps taken by Google in the year 2011. Panda update was rolled out targetting low-quality link farms. I mean seems like Panda Update from Google was not enough. Google was going hard on webmasters exploiting loopholes. Furthermore, the 2012 update from Google was tough on everybody except the users. This is the first time when Google started integration Google Plus and user profile data in the Google SERPs. They rolled our penguin update, a 2012 update from Google which is also called as Google penguin update. Post this a lot of revised updates came including the most talked-about Penguin 4.0. Penguin algorithm changed the SEO completely.
There were a huge number of changes, starting with one called “search + Your world” in January. This was an aggressive measure by Google to integrate its Google+ and user data into SERP’s. Over the year 2012 Google released a number of updates all aimed at reducing the low-quality pages to appear in the search.
January Pre Penguin Update
In January 2012 Google changed its page algorithm. This was done deliberately to penalize webpages with too many advertisements. After all who wants to view pages full of advertisements. This was specifically to target pages where there were multiple ads “above the fold“. Especially those pages with ads of no value. Now, above the fold is a term used for the page section which you look at when you arrive on the page. The top part of the page. In order words whatever you see when you come on the page without scrolling is above the fold. Some webmasters referred to this as a top-heavy update.
February Pre Penguin Update
In February Google made around 17 changes to its algorithm. Spell check was also introduced, which was a little surprise to me. On the contrary, this suggested that Google is now paying attention to the minutest of things. In the same month, they came out with 40 more changes. SEO was radically changing. In march there 50 more changes including one that made changes to anchor text. (Scoring)
April Penguin Update
In April 2012, the Penguin update was not released rather unleashed. Overnight a lot of websites that were ranking higher in the SERPs came down. Google called this a webspam update, although this was already anticipated by the webmasters. First webmasters thought it was an update to penalize the over-optimization. Google renamed webspam update as penguin update. This penguin algorithm checked for a variety of spam techniques, including keyword stuffing. It also analyzed the anchor text used in external sites pointing towards a specific website. For people who do not understand what is anchor text, it is the clickable text in a hyperlink. This text should be relevant to content rather than any random text. Another set of over 50 update changes were announced in the same month.
May Updates From Google
An interesting update was announced by Google in the month of May. Knowledge graph was introduced by Google. This was a huge step towards semantic search. Semantic search is the technology that Google uses to understand the search happening on the Google search engine. Another Penguin update was launched Penguin 1.1. This update was doing a marvelous job of analyzing a better link scheme. This was happening as Google wanted to know if webmasters deliberately fabricated links to gain better rankings.
July Penguin Algorithm Changes
In July more radical changes were introduced. There was something called unnatural links. Unnatural links were fabricated by webmasters to manipulate rankings. These were low-quality links created by webmasters from spammy sites. Then webmasters used to link these to your good websites linking to potentially bad websites on the internet. Although Google gave the opportunity to webmasters to remove these links, however, it was not an easy task. There was another issue. Consider yourself as a webmaster, now you can remove all the bad links that you created. However, what about those webmasters who strategically placed links on their spammy website linking to your website.
Now if you were to go back to the webmaster who did this and requested him to remove a good quality link of your website, guess what answer you will get. it was never supposed to happen. So it’s not even your fault but then still you were getting penalized as your link pointed to a spammy website.
Google, later on, came up with the idea of not penalizing such website owners. Google said that they will come up with a link profile cleaner for all the webmasters to clean all the spammy links. They had to track back all the links and then they came up with this idea. They, however, did not incur any penalty. There were further 80 plus updates that were launched in the month of July.
August Google Updates
August was another month of fierce activity in Google offices redefining SEO. The update in the month of August came down heavily on website owners who were copying content. Google started penalizing sites that repeatedly violated copyright. DMCA or the digital millennium copyright act was a law in the US formed by then US president Bill Clinton. The idea behind DMCA was to form an updated version of copyright laws.
September Google Update
One major update during the entire year came in the month of September. Yes, the much-awaited EMD update. Domain name match, for which I have written an article earlier. Website using keyphrases was first ranking high in the SERPs. Even though the content was not as per Google standards. EMD update gave a big hit to these sites and overnight a lot of EMD websites lost their rankings. Google Penguin update came on hard on every webmaster who was trying to manipulate SERPs. EMD update launched adding more to Penguin algorithm was actually a good one. A lot of websites taking advantage of EMD got pushed lower in the rankings.
October Penguin Updates
Ok, so the last major update under the Panda algorithm came in the month of October. Since it was a little too tough on good websites using their link on spammy websites, Google came out with a Disavow Tool. This was an interesting tool as webmasters now had the ability to tell Google that they do not want Google to take certain links into consideration while calculating their rankings. So if your website ranking was being harmed by low-quality links, Google will not take them into account while calculating your ranking. But they still advised to clean all the bad links, simple disavowing them is not enough. The message still appears when you click the above line to disavow the links.
2012 update from Google brought a lot of good sites down along with bad ones. I thought that Google’s Penguin Algorithm will stop here and things will continue to sail for a while smoothly. Furthermore, giving time to webmasters to recover. However, then came the Penguin 4.0 update which changed the SERPs totally along with how SEO would be seen in the future.
Google’s Penguin 4.0 Update
Over the years Penguin went through a lot of changes and refreshed the algorithm. However, Penguin 4.0 came out with some important features. This update, first of all, wanted to credit the original content creator and give another opportunity to websites that were pushed lower in the rankings. (Due to anything wrong with anything) Many of the webmasters thought of this as a relief. Let me tell you why.
- Penguin 4.0 was a relief to a lot of webmasters. This was because the Penguin algorithm was not running in real-time. This update ran once in a few months. This means that if you were penalized for the spammy link under Penguin, the penalty would be lifted only the next time when Penguin was refreshed. Even if you removed the spammy link, still you would have to wait for months to get the penalty lifted. However, now when the Penguin update refreshes real-time, you do not have to wait for months.
- Before Penguin 4.0 update Google did not just penalize one webpage if it found any spammy link. Google penalized the whole website, so ultimately your entire website goes down in search ranking just because of one spammy link on one page. This was not the case after the 4.0 update was rolled out. The latest Penguin update is also more granular, which means Google will penalize individual pages as opposed to your entire website.
So summing up 2012 update from Google got every webmaster on their toes. Now Google was not just looking for links, rather was looking for quality that it can serve its users. That sums up the article even, if you have any comments please leave in the comment section below. I would love to discuss and answer them.