When Penguin 2.1 was launched last October, it created madness in the SEO community. Thankfully, we all survived. But while this was going on, MathSight was quietly gathering data to uncover the secret to beating Penguin 2.1 and hopefully other updates in the future.

Google is generally very vague with their updates, telling marketers that they need to focus on high quality websites with good links and regularly updated content that is well written and researched. Of course, we want to know more.

The SEO community acknowledges that maintaining a great site with great content is key, but we also want to know what ultimately separates one site from another in Google’s book. It looks like we may have found one of these factors, thanks to MathSight.

Readability: Is This the Secret?

MathSight’s research indicates that Penguin uses the Flesch Kincaid and Dale Chall readability tests to evaluate linking content. While these readability tests aren’t the only measures used to calculate linking content, the research shows that they have a large impact on the links based on the number of words per sentence and the ratio of rare and common words. What are ‘rare’ words? They can be defined as words and search terms that aren’t used much with broadview content.

The purpose of readability tests is to cut out the online businesses that have paid for links in order to improve their page rank. With more businesses using this tactic for quick results, Google has had to implement new algorithms that look beyond the volume and quality of links. By targeting pages with poor readability, poor links and web pages are discounted in the process. Penguin 2.1 may not be perfect, but it’s reality for today.

Well Researched Content Still Matters

Additionally, MathSight’s research confirms that the Penguin 2.1 update favors web pages that are well written and well researched. Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Google has been telling us this information for quite some time.

Even so, marketers often forget that even short, simple content that is posted regularly won’t cut it anymore. Instead, Google is looking for sophisticated, seasoned content that is specific to the industry. This actually forces marketers to hone in on information and advice that only business insiders would know about, in turn raising the bar in terms of quality, innovation and value for readers.