I don't blame anyone for being confused, I am confused.
We know that Penguin is automated and the unnatural link notifications are manual. So the clear distinction is if you receive a warning in webmaster tools for unnatural links, then it is that. If you saw a drop in rankings when Penguin launched or refreshed then it was Penguin.
But if you didn't have any of those details, how can you tell if a site was hit by Penguin vs unnatural links by just looking at the linkage data?
If I had to guess, I'd say:
- Unnatural links is more about link networks, paid links, blog networks and unnatural link patterns.
- Penguin is more about low quality links with weird looking anchor text, plus other SEO related link building techniques.
What do you think?
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.