There weren’t any Penguin updates this month, but a couple of Panda updates to “refresh”. Google makes these updates and claims 1% of queries are affected. It sounds small, but is actually billions of queries.
Google has in the past used a team of Quality Raters to examine certain search engine results pages, and has expanded that concept to regular web users. There are recent sightings of Google popups asking about the quality of the results. This could be tied into Google+, and could become a powerful social search feature over time.
Google Penguin is perhaps a greater threat than Google Panda lately, and a Google Penguin Update v1.2 is likely coming soon. While Google Panda targets thin and low value content, Google Penguin targeted content and links that have been over-optimized.
Google Penguin seems to penalize:
Over optimization, where keywords are used too much on a page or site.
“Spammy links”, like comments on blogs/forums that don’t seem relevant.
Anchortext of links that is too homogenous.
Links from spam/malware/bad neighborhood sites
In order to Penguin-proof future Google rankings, we are recommending diversifying links in these areas:
Diversity in anchor text
Branded anchor text
Diversity in the kinds of links acquired.
Balance low and high PageRank links.
Mix in some image links and nofollow links too.
Google just last week said they do not look at how many nofollow links a site though. We have seen nofollow links as well as 302 redirects showing up in webmaster tools lately. So there may be changes in the works as to how Google deals with these.
Since Google Penguin Update actually penalizes websites for links that may have not been created by them, for them, or for their best interests – the “Negative SEO” industry is getting quite a boost. Some SEO companies are also offering “link pruning” services, where they take the time consuming task of contacting websites to ask them to STOP linking – with varying results.
Bing, for it’s part, has created a tool to disavow bad links. Google is said to be working on a similar feature in Google Webmaster Tools.