Portent, a Seattle-based Internet marketing agency, has released a report offering new insight into Google’s Penguin algorithm. The report, based on primary data gathered by the agency, suggested that Google has been “applying a stricter standard over time.”
In part, the report reads:
In the initial Penguin update, the only sites we saw penalized had link profiles comprised of more than 80 percent manipulative links. Within two months, Google lowered the bar to 65 percent. Then in October 2012, the net got much wider. Google began automatically and manually penalizing sites with 50 percent manipulative links.
Although the report refers to Penguin a penalty, Penguin isn't a penalty. A penalty is a manual action taken against a site.
Yes, the Penguin update has demoted the rankings of sites, but as Google's Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts has explained, Penguin is an algorithmic change, not a penalty. We explain this more in "Google Penalty or Algorithm Change: Dealing With Lost Traffic."
If Portent's findings are correct, then Google is likely becoming more confident with the accuracy of its Penguin algorithm in terms of minimizing false positives.
What does this mean for webmasters and SEO professionals? Continue to diligently clean up your inbound link profile.
Identify bad inbound links, then remove them or disavow them. Google’s next iteration of Penguin could lower the tolerance level for spammy inbound links even further; this might even be what Matt Cutts was referring to when he stated at this year’s SXSW that the next Penguin release would be significant and one of the more talked about Google algorithm updates this year.