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Andrew Redfern

Google Penguin Update – HitSearch Assesses the Damage

As the dust settles on the greatly anticipated Google Penguin 2.0 Update, HitSearch has examined the impact it has had here in the UK.

Google Penguin was originally introduced in 2012, as a means of combating the rising amount of spam which invaded Google search results and just a matter of weeks ago the technology received a comprehensive update.

The online community had plenty to say in the run up to the big release, after popular Google Spokesperson Matt Cutt described the update as 'a big one'. But now, several weeks after the latest incarnation of Penguin arrived, has it lived up to the hype? And how has it affected the landscape of the search listings.

While many previous Google updates could be accused of sticking it to the small fish, but benefitting the big, the same could probably not be said of Penguin 2.0.

Interestingly, while designed to target spammy websites, many sites that could be described as such have benefitted in the day following the update. An array of spammy sounding payday loan providers and other money lenders are amongst the biggest winners, as illustrated by the findings of econsultancy.com; and while a number of similar names have also lost position in the aftermath, they've taken a number of big brand names down with them, including Axa Insurance, Direct Line and Compare the Market.

It could be argued that the more established sites have fared worse in most cases than the spammers, but there is no way of definitively proving that various spam sites, achieved a higher position as a direct result of the algorithm change.

Still, that's not to say that the update could be considered a success. An array of high profile SERPs, including 'payday loans', '12 month loans' and 'online casino' are still overpowered by less than legitimate results.

This might be down to the tactics used by the worst of the spammy sites. While Google has cracked down black hat link networks through the data collected by the disavow tool, the worst offenders appear to have found methods of secretly placing links on sites, without the webmaster realising they are there.

Despite the recent change in Google's interpretation of links and link building strategies, links remain a valuable commodity, and a major bearing on the Google algorithm. One change introduced with Penguin 2.0, however, is the significance of linking root domains to SERPs success. There is a clear connection between the number of linking root domains pointing at a site, and that site's position in the search results.

Many of the site's that have benefitted from the update have more than double the number of linking root domains that those that have lost out. Of course, these sites have more links in general, but not with so great a disparity.

It's worth bearing in mind, however, that Google Penguin will continue to be a work in progress. But it is becoming more important to secure links from a diverse range of high quality sites, and it is becoming less advantageous to cut corner; just not perhaps as quickly as some had anticipated.

If you have a business in the financial sector and would like to up your marketing game or receive some expert information about digital marketing for financial services, then get in touch with a member of our team!

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