April 24th 2012 is a day that most SEO’s will never forget. This was the day that Google rolled out their infamous Penguin Algorithm update. This was shortly followed by another update on May 25th referred to as Penguin 1.1.
Penguin was designed to combat link spam. Sites that were affected found themselves no longer ranking for key terms. It sent a clear message to webmasters. Google was now taking link spam seriously and was prepared to take action.
Penguin was a major milestone for the SEO community. Subsequently a whole cottage industry has sprung up to help sites remove penalties and clean up links. Toolsets have developed dramatically and link analysis is a skill that any self-respecting SEO should possess.
Perhaps the biggest change is with respect to content. Developing the skills to devise and execute a brand and customer focused content strategy are crucial for any serious SEO in-house or agency team. Every serious conference will now have sessions dedicated to the creation of audience centric content and speakers will preach about the necessity of doing things by the book.
Since the original update Google has rolled out a further five Penguin updates.
- Penguin - April 24, 2012
- Penguin 1.1 - May 25, 2012
- Penguin - October 5, 2012
- Penguin 2.0 - May 22, 2013
- Penguin 2.1 - October 4, 2013
Source: Google Algorithm Change History
As you can see there is normally a full algorithm refresh every May. Whilst I’m no Nostradamus there is currently a reasonable amount of chatter and speculation that another Penguin update is just around the corner.
But what does this mean? Is there going to be an update? Is Penguin 3.0 about to happen? Will there be an SEO apocalypse? Whilst I can’t say for sure, I’m certain there will be more updates, and on the whole this is a good thing as it ensures the quality of the content of the internet has a much better chance of improving long term. If anything, the passing of Penguin’s second anniversary serves as a poignant reminder of the people and brands who have gained and lost from the update, and the need to execute SEO as well as you possibly can.