There’s still a large amount of misunderstanding about the Google Penguin and unnatural link warning amongst the SEO doers. The confusion starts when Google rolled out the Penguin 2.0 in May 2013. This is basically an algorithm update that has been rolled out by Google as a way to gain a better identifying and also to penalize certain websites whose rankings are based on unnatural link building techniques.
Before we start to figure out the differences between Penguin and unnatural links penalties, it’s rather beneficial to know the brief description of both terms. The main purpose of Penguin update is basically to automate the manual assessment performed by human reviewers. The Penguin updates are actually machine-based and also determined algorithmically.
When a website is affected by Penguin update, the web owner or administrator will not get a notification or warning from Google. On the other words, the rank of an affected website will automatically drop when it has been updated or refreshed by Penguin algorithm. The Penguin update will not tolerate low quality links with strange or weird anchor text.
The unnatural links notifications are basically manual so the web owner or administrator will receive a warning in advance. Unnatural links consist of link networks, blog networks, paid links and unnatural link patterns. Usually, Google will detect a website that tries to manipulate the search engine results. Thus, Google will ask or suggest the web administrator to remove those unnatural links which can be really time-consuming.
Based on the descriptions above, we can simply figure out that the main difference between the two terms is that the Penguin penalty is an automated or algorithmic issue while the unnatural links penalty is manual. The manual penalty is conducted by a human reviewer and it will usually affect one website at a time. The Penguin penalty is performed by machine algorithmically and it will affect more than one site at a time. When a website has been flagged by Penguin updates, the rank will directly drop and there’s no human being directly involved in this process.
Moreover, the Penguin will commonly affect a site on a keyword level or a page. So, when the Penguin has affected a page, then this particular page will not have good rank anymore. Penguin will not influence the whole site but a page at a time. Conversely, the unnatural links penalty will influence the whole site and not just one keyword or a page. In some case, a website can be penalized and removed from the Google index and search results page totally.
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