A few weeks ago, Google announced that it was refreshing its Penguin algorithm update. The Penguin update, as you might recall, targeted sites using shady linking schemes that include paid links, link wheels, and other questionable practices. Many site owners were impacted during the first iteration of the Penguin update, so news of the refresh sent waves through the SEO and online marketing communities. Here’s a breakdown of the updates and what you need to know.
Google officially confirmed that it was refreshing the Penguin update, the first adjustment made to this element of the search engine’s algorithm in over a year. A refresh is different than an update, in that no new factors are added to the algorithm. Instead, the algorithm is essentially run again. It helps websites that were impacted by the last iteration of Penguin and cleaned up their link profile to potentially recover higher rankings. It also allows Google to filter out new spammy sites that the search engine only recently discovered.
What’s the impact?
Google has indicated that the roll-out period for the Penguin 3.0 algorithm is several weeks, so its collective impact isn’t yet known. Experts suggest that 1% of the English-speaking queries will be affected. Monitoring your analytics, rankings and organic search traffic from the time of the roll-out forward through perhaps mid-December should give you an idea if you’ve been impacted. Sites that were previously penalized and took steps to improve their position should watch for a rise in rankings. If you have used questionable link tactics in your work and haven’t been “caught,” it’ll be important to watch your metrics in the weeks ahead to see if you’re impacted.
If you’re unclear on Penguin, it’s helpful to think about it this way. External links remain one of the most essential components of a high ranking website. As stated on Forbes, “Penguin rewards sites that have natural, valuable, authoritative, relevant links, and penalizes sites that have built manipulative links solely for the purpose of increasing rankings, or links that do not appear natural.” A sharp drop in rankings may be due to penalties for:
- Links you paid for (non-advertising links)
- Links built through a poorly executed guest posting strategy, based on poor content on sites not relevant to your business
- Random links on non-specific directories
- Links procured through link exchanges
- Blog networks or link wheel schemes
If you suspect that you’ve been penalized as a result of the Penguin 3.0 refresh, it’s important to take the time to audit your link profile and look for offending links. There are a number of tools that can help you understand what your links currently look like, including Majestic and Open Site Explorer. Work to have poor links removed, through manual requests to webmasters to remove the links and the judicious use of Google’s Disavow Tool.
Has your website been penalized by Google due to poor linking, bad content, or other issues? Or are you a business owner that simply needs help navigating the ever changing world of digital marketing? Contact us today to arrange for a personalized consultation and learn more about how our experienced team can help your site rise to the top of the rankings in the year ahead.