Google's most recent update was launched to combat the apparent over-optimisation of websites.
Over-optimisation is something of a misnomer, really – the Penguin update really sought to punish sites with ‘unnatural’ link profiles, or ‘keyword stuffed’ content.
The update caused considerable upset in the world of SEO and internet marketing – mainly because sites using genuine, ethical SEO tactics were among those penalised, presumably accidentally, by Penguin.
Several very well-known and respected organic sites that had not suffered problems with previous updates found their rankings were damaged.
Google claims that only 3% of websites have been hit by Penguin, but the buzz through the online community suggests considerably more have been affected.
Suffice to say that these good-quality sites unfairly losing their ranking has caused something of an uproar, which Google has acknowledged to an extent, by implying that there are still 'spammy' sites sitting high in the rankings, while some honest sites have been inadvertently targeted.
What can be done about affected sites?
Google has stressed that equilibrium should be restored in due course, but in the meantime site owners and webmasters have the opportunity to state their case via a form if they feel they have been wrongly targeted. Alternatively, black-hat sites that have not disappeared from the search engines can be reported.
In addition, there is the option to submit a reconsideration request to Google in order for the situation to be reassessed. Google deals with all claims on an individual basis. Any webmaster who is unsure about his position on Google following the update would be wise to find out if it has directly affected him.
There are two ways to go about doing this: first, most of the sites likely to be affected would have been sent a warning message by Google about the quality of their links, via Webmaster Tools, during January and February 2012. Second, those who use tracking for their keywords in Google Analytics need to check if there has been any fluctuation in their organic search traffic, a downward trend would suggest that there has been an effect.
Up until now, things still do not appear to have reached anything like equilibrium, the aftershock of the algorithm continues, and the saga is on-going. Google has made no further announcements regarding Penguin, bar a ‘refresh’, dubbed Penguin 1.1, last week.
The internet marketing world can only watch and wait to see if things begin to level out.
In the meantime, there are still two very spammy sites returning on the first page of an “Internet marketing” organic search, mocking us.