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Any time Google’s search algorithm is heavily updated or even changed in structure, the whole SEO scene is alerted to it. Since 2011, Google has made major changes with the Panda update and with the Penguin update which was added in 2012. Google has frequently cleaned up its SERPs with these two updates. The third biggest algorithm adjustment was rolled out in October 2014 with the Penguin 3.0 update.
What is the purpose of Penguin?
With the launch of the Penguin update on April 24, 2012, Google began its fight against webspam. Websites, which are characterized by an unnatural link profile were and still are affected by this algorithm change. The Penguin update, also known as the “webspam update” could therefore also be called “link profile assessment update.”
What has happened so far
After the rollout in April 2012, Google performed two data refreshes as part of the Penguin update in the same year. The consequences were enormous for many webmasters. Visibility losses of up to 70 or 80 percent were not uncommon. Penguin 2.0 followed in 2013. After the initial adjustment of the algorithm had affected many websites, the impact of Penguin 2.0 was more or less moderate.
Even the supposed data-update of October 2013 had far less extreme effects as the update in 2012. Nevertheless, Google aimed at an ever more precise analysis of link profiles with continued readjustments. It is assumed that Google, similar to the Panda update, does not perform major adjustments at longer intervals, but undertakes monthly adjustments to the algorithm.
What websites are affected by Penguin?
The Penguin update hit particular websites with conspicuous link profiles. These included pure keyword links with money-keywords and obvious paid links. Moreover, links which were obtained from article directories or were built through bookmarking services got devalued. In general, it applied to all links that do not look like “natural” link growth.
Penguin 3.0 - all, as usual
Long awaited, feared by many, the Penguin update was rolled out in October 2014 according to Pierre Far, a member of the Google team. Although some have suggested that the rollout process took longer, Google’s John Mueller confirmed that it was completed.
But the big impact of Penguin 3.0 failed to show. This could have various reasons. Firstly, it can be assumed that many webmasters have learned since 2012, especially with regard to link building. Secondly, it is also possible that the adjustment screws that Google tightened with Penguin 3.0 did not have such a great impact, because it concerns preparatory measures for regular adjustments probably on a monthly basis.
Therefore, Barry Schwartz suggested in his post, that Penguin 3.0 is not as expected, a complete algorithm update, but rather a refresh, “They did not add any new signals to the algorithm to find Penguin related sites, it was just a refresh.”
Hands-on: Google Penguin 3.0
Should you observe visibility losses for a website in the near future, it may be an indication it was affected by Penguin 3.0.
What should you do then?
- Identify the subpages on the rankings, which have lost visibility.
- Verification of incoming links for the pages in question. Are there noticeable link sources such as link networks, article directories or bookmarking services? Was the page always linked with the same money keyword? Have similar anchor texts been used?
- After determining the “bad” links, they should be quickly removed or devalued to regain visibility once again. One possibility may be to write to the webmaster in question and ask them to remove their links. If that is not possible, the backlinks can be invalidated through Google’s link disavow tool. For this purpose, the website has to be set up in the Google Webmaster Tools.
To avoid a penalty as part of the Penguin update, alternate options should ideally be used for backlink procurement. In any case, it should be ensured that they comply with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines
The publication of really interesting content can entice users to link to it on a voluntary basis. Expert knowledge, for example, can help to create quality content articles.
Additionally, it has to be ensured that a website is up to date technically and in terms of content and design. Although Google still places importance on backlinks to assess a website, on-page factors for optimization can be very important. Short loading times, an attractive design, a meaningful user guide, current content or quality images not only increase the length of time a visitor stays on your site, but also the CTR. These are both values which are included in the ranking of a page.
It can often be useful to take on the viewpoint of a visitor to your website and consider what content would be important for
any page in question. Backlinks from article directories should be avoided.
- Google Plus Post by Pierre Far 10/21/2014 plus.google.com. Accessed on 10/28/2014
- Google Penguin 3.0 Done Rolling Out seroundtable.com. Accessed on 10/28/2014
- Google Penguin 3.0: Worldwide Rollout Still In Process, Impacting 1% Of English Queries searchengineland.com. Accessed on 10/28/2014
- Google’s Webmaster Guidelines Google Support. Accessed on 10/28/2014