As we like to remind people, the inbound marketing industry is constantlychanging. Trends shift and mutate quickly, and changes in certain areas can cause massive, unexpected ripples in the proverbial pond.
Google Penguin has made that big of a splash. This is a new initiative by Google to change the way their search rankings are calculated, and if you haven't heard of it yet, it's high time you do so. These are the sorts of trends you need to stay on top of if you're going to make it in inbound marketing.
What Is Google Penguin?
Google Penguin is a series of updates that Google made to their search algorithms aimed specifically at enhancing the quality of content found in Internet marketing. These are mostly intended to undercut companies attempting to utilize grey- or black-hat SEO techniques that trick Google's ranking system.
Some of the major types of questionable SEO techniques targeted include:
Spam blogs (AKA "splogs")
Content duplication (AKA "Spinning")
Google estimates that roughly 3% of searches in English are ultimately affected by these updates.
What Effect Is Google Penguin Having?
Google isn't pulling punches with Penguin. In one high-profile example, Overstock.com got hit hard. The short version is that Overstock had been trading college kids store discounts in exchange for inbound links and saw their search rankings crash overnight after Penguin noticed this. Once they ended the program, their rankings rebounded nearly as quickly.
This is causing a lot of worrying in the inbound marketing industry. Some who defend "black hat" techniques say it's putting them out of business, which it hopefully is. More commonly, people fear accidentally incurring the wrath of the Penguin without knowing how or why.
First of all, it's currently unknown exactly how many people are getting unfairly penalized by Penguin. There is little doubt that it is happening to some extent, but the reports have largely been like that one: totally anecdotal, without any real studies into how many such claims are accurate.