The Search News Round Up: Strict Penguins, Possible Panda Sighting, DMCA Concern and Paid Link False Positives

In this week’s Search News Round Up, four of Google’s most formidable algorithmic tweaks vie for your attention. Read on to find out how you may be affected this week.

Study reveals Google’s Penguin updates getting stricter

Google Penguin Spam Ceiling

North American internet marketing company Portent has put out a study confirming what many in the industry have long suspected: that the periodic tweaks to Penguin algorithm updates have gradually been getting stricter. Portent suggests that back when Penguin first launched, it was only being applied to sites with link profiles that were around 80% “manipulative”. The concept proved, this value was adjusted down to 65%, and since October it has been 50%.

The worst offenders were caught out first and served as a warning that Google were unhappy with manipulative link tactics, and that further repercussions would follow for those who refused to take action. Portent poses the question of where the ‘floor’ is, but the imperative to cleanse over-optimised profiles has been obvious for some time.

Panda 25 announced (but not confirmed)

As you’ll remember from Search Engine Land thinks they’ve spotted the roll-out, but Google no longer seems willing to confirm it.

Webmaster concern over Google DMCA algorithm

Removing duplicate content has been a priority for webmasters since Panda hit, but duplicate content of a less ambiguously fraudulent type – content subject to a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice – is now back in the spotlight.

Back in August, Google announced that sites served with a high number of DMCA requests would start seeing ranking penalties algorithmically. The problem is, DMCA notices have always been of dubious validity: Google themselves claimed three years ago that “57% of takedown notices […] were sent by business targeting competitors”. Now there is understandable concern that sending DMCA notices has become a formalised black hat technique, with Search Engine Roundtable noting that DMCA filings have spiked.

While the consensus is that it will take more than a handful of DMCA requests to be filed for the algorithm to kick in, Fresh Egg recommends any website accepting user generated content exercises due diligence.

Google Spam Team answers paid link assumption question

In recent weeks, Google has returned to its disdain for paid links with renewed zeal, prompting one webmaster to contact the Google Spam Team to ask whether ‘followed’ links to useful websites will automatically be flagged as paid links.

Thankfully, it appears that Matt Cutts and his team acknowledge that the internet is built on such linking practice. He goes on to add that paid link penalties may inhibit a site’s ability to pass on authority, but any penalty incurred won’t directly affect how the site itself ranks.