Insider talk: more about Google’s new Penguin algorithm

In a podcast, Google’s Gary Illyes revealed more information about Google’s latest Penguin algorithm update. Here are the most important statements of Gary Illyes from that podcast.

insider information

1. Penguin is mainly (but not exclusively) about link spam

Although Google says that Penguin is a web-spam algorithm, it focuses mostly on link spam. If your website was penalized because of the Penguin algorithm, you have to focus on the links.

“[Penguin is] not just links. It looks at a bunch of different things related to the source site. Links is just the most visible thing and the one that we decided to talk most about because we already talked about about links in general.

But [Penguin] looks at different things on the source site, not on the target site, and then makes decisions based on those special signals.”

2. The linking site is important

It’s not just the link that can cause problems, it’s the website that links to your site (the ‘source site’). If the majority of links to your site come from empty profile pages, forum profile pages and similar sites, Google’s new Penguin algorithm will discount those links.

“For example, like I was looking at the negative SEO case […] and basically, the content owner played hundreds of links on empty profile pages, forum profile pages. Those links with the new Penguin were discounted.

But like if you looked at the page, it was pretty obvious that the links were placed there for a very specific reason, and that’s to game the ranking algorithms. But not just Google’s but any other ranking algorithm that uses links.

If you look at a page, you can make a pretty easy decision on whether to disavow or remove that link or not. And that’s what Penguin is doing. It’s looking at signals on the source page. Basically, what kind of page it is, what could be the purpose of that link, and then make a decision based on that whether to discount those things or not.”

3. The new Penguin algorithm ignores these links

The old Penguin algorithm penalized websites that had a lot of these links. The new Penguin algorithm simply ignores these links, i.e. they have no value at all (positive or negative).

“So in general, unless people are overdoing [links from these sites], it’s unlikely that they will actually feel any sort of effect by placing those. But again, if they are overdoing it, then the manual actions team might take a deeper look.”

4. Google labels your links

Google adds labels to links and a link can have multiple labels. For example, a label can classify a link (‘is footer link’) or add an attribute (‘was disavowed’). These labels help Google to rank a web page, and they can be used by Google’s manual action team to determine if they should apply a manual penalty to a site.

“If [the manual action team sees] that most of the links are Penguin real-time labeled, then they might actually take a deeper look and see what the content owner is trying to do. […]

There are tons of different kinds of links on the Internet. There are footer links, for example. There are ‘penguinized’ links, and all of these kinds of links have certain labels internally attached to them, basically for our own information.

And if the manual actions team is reviewing a site for whatever reason, and they see that most of links are labeled as Penguin real-time affected, then they might decide to take a much deeper look on the site.”

Do not use automatically created links to get better rankings on Google or other search engines. Better use white-hat SEO methods that lead to lasting results. If you haven’t done it yet, try SEOprofiler now:

Try SEOprofiler risk-free!

Johannes Selbach

Johannes Selbach is the CEO of SEOprofiler. He blogs about search engine optimization and website marketing topics at "".