Will somebody please turn up the heat? It’s cold enough for a penguin to be comfortable. Actually, this isn’t about the weather—it’s really all about Google’s infamous Penguin algorithm, which is used to target black-hat SEO tactics, low quality link building, and spamming. What do all of these tactics have in common? They are all designed to skirt white hat SEO tactics and get a better ranking by doing less. The thing about Penguin, though, is that it seems to have varying levels or degrees.
In fact, as Google’s history shows, some sites don’t seem to get a fair shake when it comes to the Penguin algorithm. While some sites have been issued warnings, they still see no difference in their web ranking. On the other hand, some sites get a warning but only end up with what you might call a slap on the wrist, as only the linked pages are negatively affected. Still, other sites receive a warning only to have Google remove their entire site completely from the rankings. So what gives? Why is the world of Penguin so chilly to some sites and partially sunny to others?
According to Matt Cutts of Google, one Webmaster had a “very mild case of Penguin.” Cutts recommended on Twitter that this particular Webmaster check his backlinks and do some house cleaning; but what does his statement about a “mild case of Penguin” really mean. One might conclude from Cutts’s tweet that there are different levels of cases being affected by the Penguin algorithm. On the other hand, could it be possible that Cutts was just telling this particular Webmaster to fix some old backlinks and get out of Penguin’s doghouse?
It’s true, Cutts could have just been telling this Webmaster to clean things up, but with the many different warnings and penalties sites have received, it seems that there is something to the idea that Penguin has several different degrees. So what questions need to be answered?
It may be impossible to know for sure exactly what Cutts was referring to in his tweet, but one thing is for certain, it set off quite the buzz in online circles. Site after site reposted his tweet with every one of them wondering how many degrees of Penguin exist and to what extent the punishment can be for each different degree. However, if you really want to avoid getting the big freeze from Penguin, or even a just a slight chill, then stick with white hat SEO tactics and make sure your backlinks are cleaned up.
Greg Secrist is the CEO and co-founder of BKA Content, a full service content creation company.