Penguin 2.1 has been launched 4 ½ months after the previous Penguin update, and although it appears to be a data refresh, some webmasters report getting hit hard by the algorithm change. It often takes several weeks to determine the impact from these updates as more webmasters come forward and share their own observations. While we certainly appreciate Google’s efforts to reward the best websites, these updates can be exhausting for webmasters.

So, here we are again. Below is what you need to know about the latest Penguin update.

  • This is the fifth confirmed release of the Penguin algorithm, but since it’s a slightly improved version of Penguin 2.0, the formal name is Penguin 2.1.

  • Matt Cutts – head of Google’s web spam team – assured us on Twitter that the update would affect less than 1% of searches to a noticeable degree.

  • Even though the update was said to be small, the response from the SEO community tells us differently. Either that or we’ve heard from each webmaster in that 1% group.

  • According to a poll on Search Engine Round Table, nearly 65 percent of respondents admitted they were “hurt bad by Penguin 2.1” (for drop in traffic).

  • Google Penguin targets sites that use spamming tactics but are still ranking well. Some of these sites use paid links.

If you’re one of the unlucky ones who got hit hard by Penguin 2.1, don’t let the numbers on Google Analytics scare you out of business. Remember, the goal is to have a great website – relevant content, high quality links, easy navigation – so some fine tuning will help you build a better site that will ultimately be resilient against future updates. Here are a few things that we suggest doing immediately:

  • Remove irrelevant or harmful links

  • Remove duplicate content

  • Remove thin content

  • Avoid over-optimization of anchor text

  • Use the disavow tool as a last resort

Moving forward to a world with Penguin 2.1, you’ll need to be smarter, wiser and more diligent about what gets posted on your site. Below are a few pointers for building a solid website that will hopefully bounce back.

  • Post unique content several times a week

  • Write for a human audience

  • Build natural link profiles with different domains and types of links

  • Get social signals back to your site (+1s, Likes, Stumbles, etc)

  • Engage with users on social media sites

We’ll meet again over another Penguin update, but until then, good luck. Patience, persistence and the above changes will help you recover from these updates and learn how to coexist with the great Penguin.