In April 2012, Penguin was launched by Google to target those websites which were deemed spamming search results. More specifically, this algorithm had to work against those websites who were boosting their Google ranking by purchasing links or gaining them via link networks. These websites were penalized and they had to wait for the next Penguin update to reverse this penalty.
Penguin 4.0 Update
Google has launched the update for Penguin on 23rd September 2016. SEOs and marketers were waiting for this update as it has enabled the Penguin algorithm to run in real time. The v4.0 has significant features which were not available in previous versions. Following are the details you have to know about Penguin 4.0:
- Core Ranking Algorithm
Google search algo has over 200 different signals which are used to rank websites. Panda algorithm is one of them. But with this update, Penguin has baked into this search algo and becomes part of Google’s core. This fact will not have any kind of impact over the search results and won’t be visible to Google searchers. Instead this means that it will work as a part of main core rather than being a mere filter. It will consistently view your website unlike hitting you once in a year.
- Worldwide Application
Previous updates were first applied on English queries and restricted countries. Then later other countries and languages were targeted. However, this Penguin update will simultaneously roll out to all countries and languages. SEOs worldwide will feel its impact and the resultant rank fluctuations as it has started rolling out.
With this version Penguin algorithm has become real-time. Many SEOs, marketers and site owners were waiting for this development. Real-time means now site owners don’t have to wait for the next update or refresh in order to recover their sites from Penguin penalty. This update has enabled the algorithm to refresh in real-time so any changes in ranking will become visible faster than before. Rankings will affect as soon as Googlebots recrawl and reindex your webpages.
- More Granular
Google has announced that the update has made Penguin more granular. But what does this exactly mean? Some SEO experts have explained that it would now target internal webpages which have spammy links rather than just focusing on the homepage. However, this explanation has not been collaborated by Google itself. Google said that Penguin will not only affect pages but also finer granularity. It devalues spam and for this purpose it adjusts rankings depending on spam signals, instead of impacting the ranking of entire website.
- No Further Updates
Google has made cleared that it’s not going to publically comments about Penguin updates or futures refreshes. This exactly matches with Panda algorithm as when it was changed to a continuous cycle; Google had stopped commenting on its updates and refreshes. Now, Penguin can be updated on daily basis and SEOs won’t notice any significant changes in Penguin algo.
How to Protect your Website from Penguin?
Now, you have detailed information about the latest update. The next question is how you will protect your website? Following tips will help you out in this task:
- Get Rid of Low-quality or Spammy Backlinks
There are many factors contributing to your overall search rankings and backlinks are one of them. Quality backlinks will boost your ranking to certain extent and low-quality backlinks will act in opposite direction. You have to ensure your website is linked to only good quality and trusted websites.
You can check this by performing a backlink audit. Manual audit is time consuming so we suggest you to use a tool such as Monitor Backlinks SEO. You can also contact those site owners to remove links to your site but sometimes it can become difficult to reach them. You can disavow these links by contacting Google.
- Evaluate Anchor Text Distribution
It is also an important determinant whether Google is going to penalize your site or not. For example, majority of your backlinks should contain anchor text with your website’s name. All of your external links should have your brand, URL and long tail keywords instead of having exact match keywords. In real time, exact match keywords have to face drops in ranking.
When your SEO strategy is using a certain keywords and other websites linking to you are also using the same keyword, Google will deem it spammy. The link or anchor text which is leading the audience to your site should be diverse and organic. If one of the linking website is using the same keyword, contact them to change the anchor text.
- Evaluate Internal Links’ Quality
Not only your backlinks are being targeted by the Penguin 4.0 but your internal links as well. So you have to analyze them for protecting your website from penalty. You have to make sure that links on one of your webpage to another webpage should not be repeated or using the exact match keywords. For example, not each of your page paragraphs should have an internal link.
Every hyperlink of your pages will be followed by Google crawlers, so if your pages have too many them it will confuse the crawlers. They will not be able to properly rank your website. There are number of tools available online which can help you in this task like Screaming Frog.
- Check out for Unusual Increase
Every SEO and marketer wants to have increased number of backlinks pointing to their site. However, they should not ignore an unusual increase in this number. You have to take a look on previous data and analyze the total number of referring domains and referring pages. If there is a drastic increase in number over a short span, this will deem suspicious by Google.
You can eliminate this risk by using the link removal or disavowal process as described in first point. You can monitor backlink profile by using the Ahrefs tool.
- Audit Competitors’ Links
All of the above points will help you in managing your website more prudently. But in business you have to know about your competitors’ strategy. There are two reasons which dictate necessity of this approach. Frist, the SEO and marketing arena is a zero-sum game. Your loss is your competitor’s gain and vice versa. Secondly, healthy competition is essential for business growth.
Identify your competitors and then understand whether or not they are penalizing by Penguin. If they are being admonished by Google, you have to know how you can save yourself from falling into the exact situation.
Image credits: marccx