Last weekend, Google rolled out its first Penguin update in over a year. Originally launched in April 2012, Penguin is an algorithm that penalises websites which are guilty of manipulative or ‘spammy’ techniques.
If you haven’t already, now would be a good time to delve into Analytics. Any major changes in traffic over the past few days can probably be attributed to the Penguin update, unless you’ve made any key website changes or launched a new marketing campaign.
Want to know more about how Penguin 3.0 will work? Read on…
The History of Penguin
When the first ever Penguin update was released, it affected around 3.1% of search queries and had a huge impact in the SEO world. After a number of rollouts during 2012 and 2013, the last known update happened on 4th October last year. Speculation over a new Penguin update has been growing steadily this year, and in true Google fashion, the newest update was rolled out somewhat unexpectedly last Friday.
The Most Recent Update
Over the course of the weekend, many unsuspecting websites may have noticed their rankings rise or fall, whilst changes are expected to continue over the next few days. Your site may not be affected at all, however keep an eye out over the coming weeks, just in case. When Google launch a major update, it’s common for them to roll out more smaller tweaks shortly after.
The Penguin algorithm focuses mostly on external linking. It rewards sites with relevant, natural links, while penalising sites with manipulative links. This means that if you’ve committed some ‘black hat’ linking offences, Penguin will punish you. If you have backlinks from low quality blogs and networks, Penguin will identify these manipulative techniques and send you hurtling way down into the murkier depths of the search results. Early evidence has shown that travel sites have taken a big hit in visibility since the newest update.
The good news is that if you’ve worked hard recently to kill off spammy links to your site, Penguin should reward you. Many sites have simply been waiting for this update to take hold after cleaning up their unnatural links months ago.
What To Do If You’ve Been Affected
Has your site been affected by Penguin 3.0? If so, here’s what you need to do:
- Identify the bad links to your site. This includes directory links, links on irrelevant forums and links that appear in spammy content. Even if you think you’ve been careful with your link building tactics, a sudden drop in traffic in recent days will most likely point towards a few suspicious links.
- Make attempts to remove all the bad links you find. Contact the webmasters of the problem sites and ask them to remove these links. If this doesn’t work, use Google’s Disavow tool.
- Move your focus away from link building. It’s more important to get links naturally by creating quality content, rather than building lots of links.