​A new report found that Google enforces stricter standards when evaluating sites' link profiles.

​Earlier this month at SMX West, Google’s Matt Cutts hinted at new versions of the search engine’s Panda and Penguin algorithms. While Cutts noted that these updates have become more streamlined and integrated into the ebb and flow of Google’s daily operations, marketers and business owners still pay close attention to traffic metrics to determine when the updates hit exactly – and for good reason!

A recent report released by Seattle-based internet marketing agency Portent has found that Google’s Penguin algorithm applies a much stricter standard today compared to its initial release. The company notes some interesting discoveries about how Google has increasingly tightened its grip on link-building protocol and honed its technology to identify weak and spammy situations. The source notes that the first Penguin update penalized link profiles with manipulative links comprising​ around 80 percent of their link portfolios. However, within two months, Google targeted sites with closer to 65 percent weak links, and by October 2012, Google lowered the bar to hit 50 percent.

While business owners might fear these algorithmic updates, as they deal with lost traffic and affect their bottom lines, Google’s Matt Cutts emphasizes that Penguin does not penalize companies in and of itself. Penguin is meant to outline a new standard for website optimization, and professionals​ should focus on white hat SEO practices to remain visible online.

Brands must allocate resource toward maintaining SEO-sound web presences. With the margin for error growing smaller, companies should focus on incorporating content for SEO gains, relevant links, a quality user experience and social cues into their online efforts. Together, a combination of internet marketing practices and a clear understanding of SEO will help brands thrive on the ‘net.

Ted Karczewski is an Executive Communications Associate at Brafton. He works to develop his own voice and apply his passions to the evolving world of SEO and content marketing, but he doesn't shy away from writing for fun. After graduating from Suffolk University, Ted used his Communications degree to test out Sports Journalism before Marketing at Brafton.