Since Google unleashed the original Penguin update, there has been a lot of finger pointing at the search giant. That continues to this day, and will likely continue for the foreseeable future, not unlike we've seen with the Panda update. There have been plenty of stories about both algorithm updates leading to job cuts.
Google has said on more than one occasion that it considers the Penguin update a success. While the company has also acknowledged that no algorithm is perfect, they seem pretty satisfied with the results. Of course, they'll continue to push data refreshes, but it seems that Penguin is doing what Google wants it to do.
Many webmasters are now scrambling to recover, and we've seen proof that it is possible, but still the finger pointing continues. If your site was hit by the Penguin update, was it your own fault or was it Google's?
Here's a conversation Google's Matt Cutts had on Twitter yesterday:
@marshmallocreme we have 2 make changes that we think will improve our search results. Users that are confronted with spam will leave Google
@mattcutts still... it's tremendously sad. i wonder how many families lost their primary source of income overnight.
@marshmallocreme Penguin was just the implementation of things we've said clearly many times. If people were ignoring that clear guidance, ?
Danny Sullivan, who spoke with Cutts in a keynote discussion at SMX Advanced, writes in a blog post, "If you were hit by Penguin, don’t want to be hit by it in the future or are serious about winning with Google in the long-term, it’s crucial to understand that easy links will always be vulnerable. It doesn’t matter if easy links worked in the past. It doesn’t matter if easy links still seem to be working now. It doesn’t matter if you think easy links are now some type of potential negative SEO issue that Google isn’t policing well. None of that, valid or not, is going to help you with the winning game of earning the hard links, the links that will matter."
"I can’t stress this enough," he adds. "I’ve read too many comments where people want to blame Google for the fact that the easy links they got before no longer work as well."
Penguin was designed to enforce Google's quality guidelines algorithmically, and Google believes it has done its job. The guidelines have been around for much longer than the update, and Google has always said to follow them. They've penalized sites (manually) for the same things for much longer than Penguin has been around. Penguin just makes Google better at doing what it always tried to do.
Todd Bailey at Search Engine Journal writes, I’ve talked with many web-masters who have been affected and seen some difficult situations. All of which fall within the communities assessment of Penguin. The reduction or outright disappearance of spam in search results may be advantageous to practitioners of white hat SEO, but the perilous Penguin has even struck unsuspecting webmasters. In fact, many of the 700,000+ recipients of GWT messages from Google were not previously aware of the spam content and low-quality links associated with their brand online. Since the update first swept the SERPs, some cases have shown recovery at refresh 1.1. However, many businesses and Internet marketing firms are left wondering what must be done to rebuild their rankings."
I'd suggest starting with trying to abide by Google's quality guidelines. You may soon have a tool that helps you tell Google what links you want it to ignore as well. That will make a lot of webmasters happy.
A new report also suggests that Facebook shares are even more significant than links. You know how to get both? Create good content that people want to share. Then, keep doing that.