This week, Google rolled out yet another update. The “Penguin” update is said to affect 3% of search results – a relatively minor update. Or is it?

Recently, we wrote an article on over-optimization. We wrote about how Google would likely release an update targeting websites that over-optimized. Is Penguin the update to punish over-optimizers?

Yes… partially. Matt Cutts has said this new update is about over-optimization and webspam, with a specific focus on webspam. This means that even if your site is over-optimized, you may not be directly affected. However, websites using “blackhat” SEO techniques to rank almost certainly were.

Blackhat SEO is a game that is—in virtually every case—not worth playing. This is especially true if you’re trying to build a brand and an authority website. By deciding to use blackhat techniques, you are openly fighting against what Google’s doing. And, as Google gets more and more advanced, fighting against the latest algorithms will prove even less rewarding.

So why would anyone use blackhat SEO? Well, it’s easy to see how beginner SEO’s would fall into the trap. SEO is a time-consuming process – everyone knows that. You may get a site ranking in a month, or it might take a year. Most beginners aren’t willing to wait that long to get a site on page #1.

Blackhat, on the other hand, promises incredibly quick rankings. By using spam techniques, it’s possible to get a site ranking a lot quicker than you could with whitehat techniques. Sounds great, right?

It’s not – a ranking achieved through blackhat SEO is essentially a ticking time bomb. It’s only a matter of time before Google finds your website, and penalizes or de-indexes it from the search engine positions altogether. 

So yes, you may be able to enjoy increased rankings for a few weeks (or days). But eventually, Google’s going to come along and destroy your website. 

This is what the Penguin Update’s all about – getting rid of websites that use blackhat techniques.

So what is a “blackhat technique?”

Techniques Specifically Targeted by Penguin

As you’ll see, there are many blackhat techniques that are very similar to over-optimization techniques. This is why the Penguin update was both the update we were expecting and something extra.

(Source: Google Webmaster Support)

  1. Hidden Text and Links
  2. Cloaking/Sneaky Redirects
  3. Automated Queries to Google
  4. Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
  5. Creating multiple pages with duplicate content
  6. Creating pages with malicious behavior (phishing, installing viruses)
  7. Doorway pages created specifically for search engines
  8. Affiliate websites that add no value other than affiliate links

Websites that used the above techniques were severely affected by the Penguin update. For readers, the reason why should be incredibly obvious. 

Websites using the above techniques are not giving value to their visitors! What kind of visitor wants to read duplicate content? What kind of visitor wants to land on an affiliate website that’s full of links and nothing else?

No visitor wants to land on that type of page. So Google isn’t going to let it stick around. That’s exactly what we’re seeing with the Google Penguin Update.

The Strength of a Good Brand

While the majority of the news this week is regarding sites that got penalized, there were winners in the Penguin update. Among them were big, reputable brands like,, and 

These websites had their rankings severely boosted. Why? Because each one of these sites provides a valuable service to their customers. So while sites that spam the rankings are being de-indexed, these valuable authority websites are flourishing.

Just a reminder – if you’d like to make a living online, you have to pick your battles. As we’ve seen time and time again, websites that fight against Google instead of working with them get penalized. Meanwhile, authority websites are doing better than ever.

Which side do you want to be on?

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