How did the Google Penguin updates change SEO?



The Google Penguin updates were first mentioned way back in April 2012, and many businesses that had low-quality backlinks were hit by a penalty. So as you can imagine many agencies were talking about the “Google Penguin updates” on their blogs and on social media for a very long time after the the first Penguin update was rolled out.

However for some the word “Penguin updates” now brings a sense of fear! And that’s because the businesses that were hit by a Google Penguin penalty, well, those businesses often seen their rankings drop and sometimes quite considerably.

Sure, you’re always going to have the white hat agencies, like us which follow the rule book, so we were immune from the Google Penguin updates. Even so, as an seo agency it’s still important to know what the rule book is, so most online marketing agencies had to learn quickly what the Google Penguin update was all about, and how it was likely to evolve.

So, here’s what our SEO consultants know about the update since it first rolled out.

So, how does the Google Penguin update work?

In a nutshell Google decides where websites should be ranked by using its complex algorithm.

Now, most business owners know that for a business to rank high on Google the website will need strong “ranking signals”.

So, building backlinks, and writing quality content marketing yes is very important, yet Google also has spam filters. This means that the businesses that try and cheat the algorithm, by using low quality methods of seo, well, often these business will incur a penalty.

These updates, like the Google Penguin updates are built into the algorithm, and therefore ensures that Google only delivers the best possible results when someone asks Google a question. Spam is therefore filtered out, and websites that use low quality seo methods will be weeded out.

Let’s give you an example, let’s say you’re a bit hungry and you fancy ordering a peperoni pizza, and why not none of like cooking every evening!

So, you ask Google to find you a local pizza take-away business, and you therefore expect to see businesses that are local to where you are.

Now because Google is focused on providing the best possible answer to your question, you will see a list of local pizza shops in the Google local business results, and then around 10 businesses will be listed in the organic business results.

Now, if Google didn’t roll out its Penguin updates, well this means that many businesses could have tried to fool Google into thinking their websites were better than they were. Meaning that some companies may have tried to make out that their SEO is the best, when it is not.


How could they do this?

Well, some businesses may want to try and fool the algorithm by using low quality backlinks. Yet thankfully the Google Penguin updates stops this, and penalises any business that uses low quality seo methods.

So instead the businesses that are on the first page are there because they deserve to be, and have used white hat seo.

So, for example, the pizza shops that are now shown on the first page of Google, may have links from businesses that have given that pizza shop an award for good customer service for example. They have therefore obtained backlinks in a white hat way, and not used low quality links.

This means that the businesses that have invested in white hat search engine optimisation, and have good quality links will now be rewarded with being ranked higher.

So, websites that have spam or low-quality backlinks linking to the website could be hit by the Google Penguin update. This is why its super important that your SEO agency ensures that your backlinks are of good quality.

Why was the update introduced by Google?

Google would have rolled out this update to clampdown on black hat seo methods. As mentioned earlier, for a long time prior to the Penguin updates many websites built low quality backlinks, this was in an attempt to try and fool Google’s algorithm into thinking the website was more important than what it was.

However Google’s always quick to notice such seo methods, and these were the websites that would have been hit by a Google Penguin update.


Is this why some seo agencies offer super cheap quotes?

Regardless of what the digital marketing agency charges, if the seo implemented is low quality then a website can receive a penalty.

Really cheap prices can be an indication that the SEO work may well be low quality, as in reality how much quality work can be offered at a low price?

With that said, even if you were to pay a small fortune for search engine optimisation this doesn’t always mean you will be getting quality seo.

So therefore you as the business you must ensure you are getting white hat seo.

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines

If you are interested in white hat seo, then we would recommend reading Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Simply put don’t use black hat search engine optimisation methods!

If we can labour the point some more, when it comes to online marketing, there really isn’t any shortcuts anymore.

We believe that the best way to build backlinks is offer quality information that will be useful to your customers.

For example, if you run a solicitor’s practice, and you specialise in the area of divorce, then you should offer advice that will help people during the divorce process.

Really good quality advice can help the business to obtain more backlinks.

For example, you may write a really detailed blog post with the title “how to start the divorce process”. If this information is of good-quality then other websites are likely to link to it.

For example, a website that blogs about helping couples who are going through divorce may read your blog post, and mention your work on their website. Therefore your business can earn a backlink this way.

However, your company must regularly check the health of your businesses backlinks as well.

That’s because if spam backlinks are allowed to accumulate, or the backlinks are of a low quality, then this could result in a link penalty being incurred.

So your digital marketing agency should be checking the health of your businesses backlinks on a regular basis.


What happens if a website does get hit by the Google Penguin update?

If a business does incur a link penalty, such as the Google Penguin penalty, then often this means the websites rankings will drop.

So, for example, the business may have ranked number one on the first page on Google for the term for “painters and decorators”- yet after the penalty the business may have dropped to say page 10 of Google.

Also, a link penalty can mean the business is removed altogether.

This is why its so important to only pay for white hat seo from a respected seo agency.

What does it mean to disavow backlinks?

Once a website has poor quality backlinks, or spam links a white hat seo company may recommend that the links are disavowed.

However disavowing links requires great skill, and you really should consult with a respected seo business.



There was once a time where if your business was hit by a Google Penguin penalty, there was sometimes a very long period before the company recovered.

This means that your website may have had low quality backlinks, and your search engine optimisation business may have tried to rectify this problem by disavowing backlinks.

Yet, even though an agency or the business might have disavowed the businesses backlinks, there was once somewhat of a pause between when the business would recover.

Many seo companies have stated that it can take 6 months to a year in order for a website to recover from a backlink penalty. However, with that said, some businesses have also stated that it can take much longer to recover from a Google Penguin penalty.


Why is so important to check the quality of your backlinks?

It is crucial that your seo business checks your companies’ backlinks on a regular basis. This is spot if spammy backlinks are accumulating and to see if there are any low-quality backlinks.

If your business requires help building backlinks, or with any part of the SEO process why not give us a ring?