On April 24, 2012, Google posted on its blog a notice alerting the masses of its intention to release a new algorithm playfully nicknamed “Penguin.” This new update rewards websites using white hat search engine optimization tactics and punishes those sites using black hat tactics.
Black Hat v. White Hat
For those of you who are uninitiated in web terminology, “White Hat SEO” refers to SEO strategies centered around catering to a human audience rather than search engines. What this means is that a website that delivers quality content, has exceptional user interface, yet is optimized for search engines through organic rankings, is employing white hat SEO tactics.
In contrast, “Black Hat SEO” refers to tactics that focus on catering to specific guidelines that search engines use to rank web pages only, instead of catering to human readers. This is achieved by keyword stuffing, inorganic links, duplicate website content, etc. Google uses the term “webspam” to distinguish it from email spam.
Cutting Out The Fat
Google’s Matt Cutts stated that this new algorithm would affect about 3.1% of queries in English. This change has already been felt by many, especially affiliate marketing sites. Cutts didn’t specify what the new update would focus on in order to not give offenders a chance to fool the system, but did recommend that webmasters focus on creating and maintaining their websites in a way that offers a good user experience.
Survival Of The Fittest
Neither of Google’s latest updates (Panda and Penguin) focus on or implement any new rules, yet many websites will be affected by the new algorithm. While it is unfortunate for some folks who might have worked hard to earn their rankings, in the end this will only make good websites better and bad websites disappear from online queries, and that can’t be a bad thing.